What do you call a homegrown movie anthology series that routinely attracts the best local filmmakers each year?
Well, if that home is Maine, then you know the answer is “Damnationland,” which returns for a seventh blood-curdling year with its world premiere on Friday at Portland’s State Theatre.
Since its (perhaps unholy) inception back in 2010, “Damnationland” has become a Maine movie-making institution. Each year’s film is comprised of a (possibly clawed) handful of short horror films from Maine directors who are increasingly drawn to display their darkest visions in what’s become one of the state’s most respected cinema showcases.
Here’s the 2016 Damnationland official trailer:
“We try to get the most talented people we know of,” said this year’s “Damnationland” executive producer, Charlotte Warren. “Our mission hasn’t changed over the years, but how close we get to successfully completing that mission has only gotten better. Some people come to us, sometimes we reach out to people we don’t know yet because we love their work — but ‘Damnationland’ is always fresh, and continues to grow.”
As ever, this year’s “Damnationland” looks to keep you unnerved and happily jumpy with its signature mix of cinematic styles.
“It’s interesting to ask people who aren’t necessarily ‘horror filmmakers’ to explore that side of themselves,” said Warren. “We shrug off the label of ‘horror’ and ask people to just make something dark. That way, there’s a lot of diversity.”
This year’s crop of dark delights includes:
— Director Ross Morin’s “A Peculiar Thud,” which sees a man wake up in the middle of the night to a mysterious man at his door, demanding to be let in — and not taking ‘no’ for an answer.
— Anna Gravél’s “Fractal,” where a woman’s visit to her estranged sister and her childhood home unearths some buried secrets.
— “Killer Spacemen from Outer Planet X,” a black-and-white comic horror homage from sibling filmmakers Peter and Thomas Campbell about a trio of interstellar adventurers who run afoul of the natives when they land on an uncharted planet.
— Christine Louise Marshall’s “Peppercorn Heart,” which sees an unwelcome visitor disrupt the memorial service of a member of a staid Maine secret society.
— “Rock Paper Scissors,” which finds a desperate mother seeking her daughter in a fiendish labyrinth in a film from Big Damn Heroes (a.k.a. Ty Gowen, Charlie Widdis and Anna Halloran).
Here’s the “Rock Paper Scissors” trailer
— “White Drift,” from Corey and Hailey Norman of Bonfire Films, which features a twist on a classic monster tale, as a veteran, arriving in a small Maine town, battles a creature hiding in plain sight.
— And “Storytime” (from “Damnationland” co-founders Eddy Bolz and Allen Baldwin), this year’s wraparound film, in which the residents of an assisted living facility spend their Halloween party telling scary stories — that turn out to be this year’s films.
In keeping with the fact that “Damnationland” remains a pretty big deal on the Maine film scene, this year’s State Theatre world premiere boasts plenty of added entertainment for those bold enough to brave the best Maine’s most fiendish filmmakers have to offer.
In addition to a post-screening Q-and-A with “Damnationland” directors and cast members, there will be live pre-show music from Colleen Clark and the Damnationland Five and an after party at Geno’s Rock Club.
For additional screenings, including Monday’s at the Nickelodeon in Portland, visit damnationland.com.
For Warren, who’s been involved with “Damnationland” in many capacities for the past four years, the annual event is a uniquely valuable – and increasingly beloved – event.
“It’s a labor of love for everyone involved,” she said. “Even though we’ve picked up sponsorship from businesses like Bull Moose Music in the last few years, it takes a lot of sweat and love to make it happen. Even with sponsorship, ‘Damnationland’ happens because people – filmmakers and audiences – love it.”
“Damnationland 2016” has its world premiere on Friday at 7:45 p.m. (Doors open at 6:45 p.m.) Tickets can be purchased through damnationland.com at the State Theatre and are $12 on the day of the show or $10 in advance. This year’s film is recommended for mature audiences or youngsters with parental guidance.