A few years ago, two film students from Ann Arbor had a vision of creating something that captured the essence of horror films. Enter: Three Corpse Circus International Horror Film Festival. The purpose was to create a modern event in Ann Arbor that supports the horror community through the expressions of music, art, and film…and the festival has done just that.
Since its start in 2010, Three Corpse Circus has brought films from all over the world to hundreds of movie-goers and horror film fans. They’re dedicated to showcasing all the variety horror has to offer. With films from 13 countries (including some from Michigan!) the Three Corpse Circus brings frightening films that are viscerally and psychologically unnerving.READ MORE: Former MDHHS Director, Robert Gordon To Receive $155,000 Payout After Resignation
…and just in time for that spooky time of year – the festival will take place in downtown Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater, from October 2nd through the 5th. You can visit their Facebook page for more information – and for how to purchase tickets!
CW50 was able to track down two of the festival’s creators, Jonathan Barkan and Christopher Anderson – and lucky enough to snag an inside interview with them, to learn all about how the festival was created to where they plan to go with it. Check it out!
So, tell us, where did the idea for the film festival come from?
Jonathan – I’d been wanting to put together a film festival for a while under the Bloody-Disgusting name, but that wasn’t possible at the time. So, I brought up the idea to Chris, who I’d met just a little bit beforehand, and because of his extensive experience with putting on shows, we figured we’d give it a shot!
Chris – I helped build the EMU Student Video Film Festival and I work as a freelance videographer. When Jonny came to me, it seemed like a good fit and an opportunity to bring something fun and new to Ann Arbor.
What about you two, tell us who you are!
Jonathan – I’m born and raised in Ann Arbor and have lived here my whole life. I graduated from WCC with an associate’s as well as a certificate in music production and engineering. After a few years, I went and got my BGS degree from the University of Michigan with a focus in communications, business, and music. For fun I like to play guitar, cook interesting meals, listen to albums on vinyl (horror soundtracks sound phenomenal!), and go to different bars and restaurants in the SE Michigan area.
Chris – I was raised in Ann Arbor and have always been a part of the art scene here. I studied photography at WCC, broadcast television at EMU, and film & theater production at the University of Miami. In my free time I enjoy Japanese Anime, baking pies from scratch, and in the summer I work for a theater youth camp.
Jonathan, you also write for Bloody-Disgusting (an online source for all things horror, from movie reviews to exclusive interviews to news), could you tell us about that?
Jonathan – I’ve been writing for Bloody-Disgusting for five years. I got into it by pestering the owners, Tom Owen and Brad Miska, until they brought me on-board, haha! Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to interview some of the biggest musicians around, including Rob Zombie, Sebastian Bach, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Danzig, Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, and many, many more. I’ve also been able to connect with like-minded people around the world, from Japan to Israel, the UK to Australia, and more. It’s been nothing but amazing, and I haven’t had a single day where I didn’t enjoy myself.
Give us your “elevator speech” for the Three Corpse Circus Film Festival…
Jonathan – Imagine going to a film festival where you scream, cover your eyes, laugh, and cheer all in five minutes. Then imagine doing that several times in a row. That’s what it’s like at Three Corpse Circus.
Chris – It’s as if we threw the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, and the Outer Limits into a blender. Shake with equal parts art show and topped with community partnership and a uniquely genre experience. Add international flair to flavor. The Three Corpse Circus is just a delicious experience.
How has the fest changed since the beginning?
Jonathan – We began in 2010 and the idea was to generate an annual festival. The first year went very well, especially for something so monumental and difficult. Since then, our numbers have been growing, attendance continues to rise, and we’ve attracted the attention of some truly incredible and renowned filmmakers and industry folk. It’s beyond humbling to see how many people want to be a part of our festival, and I really couldn’t be more proud of the programs we’ve had over the years.READ MORE: Blue Cross of Michigan CEO Earned $11.5M in 2020
Chris – Our first year we exhibited 18 films from 7 different countries, this year we will be showcasing 40 films from 13 different countries. I am amazed at the quality of work we receive year after year and I am excited to see how our show will grow in the future.
So, what about this year’s fest? Anything you can share with us?
Jonathan – I could tell you, but that would ruin the surprise! But to be honest, each film is something special, and we curate the films very selectively, wanting to bring our audience exciting and thrilling shorts that will stick with them for a long time!
Chris – Check our Facebook page for film showings and times and for official film festival announcements.
How do you select the films for the fest?
Jonathan – Christopher is the man for this question. His eye for films and his ingenuity for planning and scheduling the program is really incredible.
Chris – I look for unique horror and nightmarish films that are more than just blood and guts. The horror genre, in it’s base form, is a morality tale. I want our audience to experience catharsis and grow because of it.
Who do you work with, to make this happen?
Jonathan – For the actual festival, we only work with The Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor. Firstly, it has a visual aesthetic that is absolutely wonderful for the festival. Secondly, the people there are as passionate about film as we are – if not more so! They’re an absolute delight to work with and their support has been incredible over the years!
From there, we also receive sponsorships from local businesses and we do everything we can to ensure they get promoted and recognized for their belief in us. We appreciate every gesture and want people to know that!
Chris – New to this year, we have a partnership with Dreamland Theater and the Neutral Zone. The Dreamland Theater will perform the Cryptic Tryptic, a series of marionette horror plays to be performed at the Michigan on October 5th. The Neutral Zone will be hosting a film exhibition in their unique style paired with a concert at the end of the showing.
What’s your goal with the fest?
Jonathan – Our goal was and always has been to create a centralized horror community in the Southeast Michigan area. We want people to come to us for all sorts of horror projects and ideas. We want to grow Three Corpse Circus into monthly events and activities, working with children, adults, writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and more. We basically want to support and encourage those who understand that horror is important in society and, historically speaking, always has been.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Jonathan – I’d simply like to thank everyone for their continued support throughout the years. It means the world to us!
Chris – Come one, come all to the gravest show on Earth!MORE NEWS: 17 Puppies Turned Into Detroit's Michigan Humane Society
To find out more about the Three Corpse Circus Film Festival, or to purchase tickets, visit their website here! And don’t miss this year’s festival – taking place October 2nd through 5th at The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor!