It's fright time at the Twin Cities Horror Festival

Harold is one of seven pieces at the Twin Cities Horror Festival.
Harold is one of seven pieces at the Twin Cities Horror Festival.
Image courtesy Four Humors
There's a new place to get your spook on for Halloween, one that offers seven varieties of chills in one easy -- if a bit scary -- location.

The Twin Cities Horror Festival features seven pieces presented at the Southern Theater from Thursday through November 3. The productions run a wide gamut of styles, from the comedic scares of Mike Fotis's Ghost Force: Searching for the Truth to the straight-up frights of the insane-asylum-set Senseless to the re-scored version of Night of the Living Dead by the Poor Nobodys.

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The idea was hatched after Four Humors presented Harold at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. The company wanted to perform the piece locally, but they also wanted to do more than a single festival-length piece. "We started talking to groups of people we knew. Once everyone was together and on board we said, 'Let's do a festival,'" says Ryan Lear of Four Humors.

It didn't take much arm twisting. "Pretty much everyone we talked to was excited about it," he says.

The other pieces in the festival are The Legend of White Woman Creek from Nick Ryan and Katie Hartman, dance piece Bump in the Night from Erin Sheppard, and Tim Uren's God Damned Son of a Bitch.

"Halloween is my favorite time of year. I've wanted to do a Halloween themed dance show for ages," Sheppard says.

"All bets are off," says Tyler Olsen of RawRedMeat Productions, who are bringing Senseless to the stage. "You can do whatever you want. I tend to do shows that are fun and funny. To have the opportunity to do a show where I can go really deep into horror is very exciting. You have the permission to go as far as you want with horror."

Olsen has training in grand guignol, the French "theater of terror." The show is built up from that influence, though the piece is about a woman in a mental institution, and plays "on the style of Japanese horror. Disorientation plays into you feeling very unsettled by the whole thing. It's bloody and violent. It's not for kids. It's not for the faint of heart," he says.

Fotis's piece builds on his fascination with true ghost stories and the endless parade of ghost-hunter programs that clog up the Syfy schedule. "My show is more of a tour of the Southern Theater. Taking factual elements and creating stories around them," he says. "Part of the genesis is that I find the Southern kind of terrifying. The space is a character in and of itself."

For Bump in the Night Sheppard, the choreographers, and the dancers have crafted a variety of pieces that are both scary and whimsical. "I like things that are cute and sinister. They are a little too adorable, and then something terrible happens," she says.

Four Humors' Harold involves a pair of brothers who travel to an isolated spot to herd goats. Alone and bored, they create a scarecrow as a friend. It gets freaky when the scarecrow starts to act back. 

The seven-piece Poor Nobodys have crafted music for films in the past. This time, they tackle a bona fide horror classic: George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead. The group has gone through and removed all of the original score and sound effects, to be replaced with their own. 

"I really like the themes of his movies. Everybody dies, but because of their own issues. If they had worked together, they would have survived," says band member Chris Hepola.

The season is a popular one for actors -- playing dress up is part of their job, after all -- and the Horror Festival offers a new outlet for that. The event has been buoyed by a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $7,000, which covers the initial costs and gives the nascent festival an audience. 


Twin Cities Horror Festival
Thursday through Nov. 3
Southern Theater
1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
$13-$15; $70 unlimited pass
For information, visit online

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