The fourth Twin Cities Horror Festival saw record crowds over opening weekend. I was able to make it to about half of the shows in this year’s festival, with plenty of creepy action, darkened theater spaces, and the occasional torrent of blood displayed onstage. The festival continues through Sunday. Here's some thoughts on a few shows that didn't make this week's print edition.
The Unrepentant Necrophile
You get exactly what it says on the tin in the Coldharts’ latest piece. It’s inspired by the story of Karen Greenlee, who was caught with a corpse in 1978, and later gave an infamous interview where she described her love of loving the dead.
To make things more intriguing, this is a raucous rock musical, with Coldhart Katie Hartman playing mortician Lee (and guitar), fellow creator Nick Ryan playing creepy assistant Steve (and bass), and Nate Gebhard playing the corpse John Reese (and the drums).
After the opening tune, Gebhard is dead, but that doesn’t stop his slowly stiffening corpse from banging away at the skins. (He’s method enough to stay in character until after curtain call, which means Ryan and Hartman have to cart his “corpse” offstage.)
The story is pretty simple: Reese is a Vietnam vet who committed suicide. No funeral is planned, just a burial. This gives Lee a weekend for, as she sings, “fucking in the woods.” She relishes this chance, but Steve seems to be around every corner on her journey.
It’s absolutely wrong on so many levels, but incredibly watchable nonetheless.
The Deep Dark
Plenty of things frighten us, but there are fewer and fewer dark corners of the world. At least, on land. However, the vast seas are still mysterious, unknown, and deadly. Sean Dillon and Oncoming Productions explore this in The Deep Dark.
The play centers on two sisters, Annie and Kara, who survived a boating accident as children that killed their father. One has rejected the sea, refusing to even go swimming; the other has embraced it and makes exploring the waters off Cape Cod her life.
It all comes to a head one evening, when she believes she has found the wreckage of the High Hope, their father’s houseboat.
At times, the plot comes off as needlessly fussy for a short play like this, and the opening and ending video montage could be effective, but the sound in the Southern makes it hard to hear. Still, once we get into the water’s depths, the show enters a dark place that is more about the human soul than the cold dark around the characters.
The Thermos Bottle
Ghoulish Delights' latest work is more cerebral than scary, but the complex, time-shifting tale is still plenty absorbing. Based on a short story by local author Pat Harrigan, The Thermos Bottle gives us a string of characters and stories that don’t seem to be related at first.
Those connections unfold, and seem to be centered on an experiment at a super-secret science facility (they always are, aren’t they?) where an experiment into teleportation has let something into our world. Will they be able to solve the mystery before the ultimate breakdown arrives?
Tim Uren’s adaptation is necessarily elliptical, but the company crafts intriguing characters that keep our interest as the story untangles into something quite moving.
Kaidan: Stories and Studies of the Strange
Green T Productions uses a trio of Japanese ghost stories as inspiration in this elegant piece. Characters are haunted by grotesque, faceless sprites, a massive creature that eats the dead, and the spirit of a graceful swan killed by accident.
The acting is occasionally stiff, but the choreography makes up for these moments. There’s a simple beauty to the origami birds as they quietly swim on the water, or the giant spider creature made up of the company. And blank-faced ghosts? Always scary.
IF YOU GO:
Twin Cities Horror Festival IV
Through November 1
The Southern Theater
1420 Washington Ave., Minneapolis
$14-$15 individual tickets; multi-show passes available
For tickets and more information, call 612-900-8386 or visit online.