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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Two Vermont-Made Movies Bring The Scares In 'Folk Horror Roadshow'

"Transformations" and "The Animal," two Vermont-made "folk horror" films, will be part of the VTIFF/Folklife Center "horror roadshow" film screenings.
VTIFF/Vermont Folklife Center, courtesy
"Transformations" and "The Animal," two Vermont-made "folk horror" films, will be part of the VTIFF/Folklife Center "horror roadshow" film screenings.

In a good horror movie, it's easy to identify what makes it scary. Maybe it’s the chainsaw-wielding maniac that makes an indelible impression on the viewer, or the killer clown or other supernatural monster tormenting those plucky protagonists. But can the landscape itself inspire horror? Two Vermont-made films screening across the state the week before Halloween aim to do just that.

Over the next week, the Vermont International Film Foundation and the Vermont Folklife Center are bringing the Vermont Folk Horror Roadshow to cinemas in Brattleboro, Greensboro, Montpelier and Woodstock.

The roadshow features two "spooky, atmospheric films shot and set in Vermont."

Those films are the 1972 short Transformations, and the feature-length 1976 film The Animal.

The two films are examples of what horror writer Stephen R. Bissette calls "folk horror," a subgenre of mostly British horror films like The Wicker Man.

"The landscape impacts the filmmaker," Bissette tells Vermont Edition, calling the folk horror movies  "slow, meditative films" that "steep the audience like tea bags" into the experience of the movie, creating what he calls "very eerie, effective" horror movies.

Bissette, who teaches at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, is also a cartoonist, writer, editor and publisher who's written books and articles on horror films and TV shows, including films made in Vermont.

Bissette is leading discussions on the two Vermont-made films and the folk horror subgenre at roadshow screenings in Brattleboro, Montpelier and Woodstock. Additionally, the Woodstock screening will feature the filmmaker behind The Animal, director Walter Ungerer.

Listen to the interview above to hear more about folk horror and the Vermont horror roadshow.

Broadcast live on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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