If you go
› What: Frightening Ass Film Fest 5.
› When: 11 a.m. Saturday-1 a.m. Monday.
› Where: Carmike Cinemas Majestic 12, 311 Broad St.
› Admission: $30 wristband allows the wearer to attend all movies, shorts, panels, interviews, costume contest and after party; $10 tickets are available for some individual events.
› Schedule: facebook.com/events/536157 683206916
› Tickets: chattanooga-film-fest.myshopify.com
Vicious, relentless Irish fairies are coming to Chattanooga on Halloween. Human-sized and horrifying to behold, these fairies are nothing like Tinker Bell. They steal babies.
They are the unholy stars of a new Irish horror movie, "The Hallow," which Chris Dortch will introduce at his 5th annual Frightening Ass Film Festival.
Dortch spends months negotiating with film distributors worldwide, convincing them to give him a deep discount and permission to show their films. Many of the distributors have never heard of Chattanooga, Dortch says.
"Horror people don't care that Outside magazine awarded Chattanooga this year for 'Coolest City' because horror fans are indoors people who care about scary movies; we don't care about the outdoors," Dortch says, laughing.
"The horror genre is a small, weird, wonderful world. I have to convince the movie distributors that Chattanooga has the critical mass of nerds and geeks and bloggers who love horror and can keep a national conversation going about their movies."
Last year, he convinced the Australian makers of "The Babadook" to let him introduce Chattanoogans to the chiller at his filmfest. The movie, which received 98 out of 100 on the Rotten Tomatoes website, is about a single mom who becomes certain that her son is being stalked by a monster in a spooky storybook they found left mysteriously in their house.
Dortch wants each year's film festival to have a mix of new releases, little-known classics, movies he believes should become classics and some occasional misbegotten madness that probably should never have been filmed but is car-crash-fascinating to watch.
"As a festival programmer, my work is a lot like a baseball scout's," he says. "I spend countless hours on websites and looking through trade magazines. Usually, when I see a great horror movie for the first time, it's on my laptop when I'm alone."
Locals can also submit their own homemade horror shorts and win a prize. The festival's Facebook page says the prize will, according to organizers, "increase the winner's quality of life by a solid 17 percent."
Dalton native Jeff Burr's feature, "From a Whisper to a Scream," starring the late horror icon Vincent Price and filmed in Los Angeles and Dalton, will screen, and Burr will be at the festival to discuss it.
"Jeff drove to Price's house in California and parked in front of it until Price agreed to talk with him about making the film," Dortch says.
That creative obsession could be a thematic thread for the 2015 lineup, which includes "Dangerous Men," a feminist horror tale of revenge that already has an online cult following due to bits and pieces fans can find online. The plot is simple. After Mina witnesses thugs murdering her fiance, she vows to clear LA of all "human trash."
"The movie is so full of crazy energy, it melts your mind," Dortch promises. "Even while some of the audience will be saying, 'This is a terrible, terrible, terrible movie,' everyone will agree afterwards it was the best night they had at the movie theater all year."
Judging by the trailer alone, "The Hellions" may be the scariest movie shown at the festival. A young unwed woman learns she is pregnant and isn't certain how she feels about the news. On Halloween, she dutifully puts on a smile and a rhinestone-and-tin tiara to hand out candy on Halloween, but some very strangely-costumed trick-or-treaters come to her door. And they're chanting "Blood for baby."
Contact Lynda Edwards at 423-757-6391 or ledwards@timesfree press.com.