Front entrance and marquee for the Film Festival

HP Lovecraft Film Festival – Portland

I don’t plan to write overly about events and locations in Portland – there are plenty of other folks who have far more opportunities to fully discover fascinating things there.  However, I will deign to cover some places and events that are particularly interesting or deserving of attention.  The HP Lovecraft Film Festival is an example of the kind of event that just begs for further investigation and eventual musings and discussions.  The event is hosted in the fall and has been located in the Hollywood theater for the last nineteen or twenty years.

Arriving at Hollywood Theater – Friday

Of course I couldn’t get off work early, but I normally get out earlyish anyway, so I was able to head home and wait for B to arrive so we could pick up Nic.  The drive to Portland can be a mess, but I think I’ve developed a good route.  We got to Nic’s, picked her up and went to the Hollywood Theater.  I was the only one who’d got the kickstarter (definitely recommended) but I hadn’t picked up my packet early.  I was able to while walking to the theater.  I’d been a little reluctant to visit the pool hall down the street from Hollywood Theater, but that was where the Kickstarter packages were to be picked up at.  As soon as I went inside it turned into an awesome place that I knew I’d definitely need to visit again and do a story on.  There wasn’t really any kind of line to get my badge (ticket proof) and I was able to join Nic and B in line in very short order.

Hollywood Theater and HP Lovecraft CthulhuCon
Hollywood theater is a landmark in Portland, it’s been here over ninety years and still has amazing films shown all the time
Brass sign on wall of Hollywood Theater explaining past and other facts
There is a beautiful brass sign outside the theater that explains some of the theater’s past and other interesting facts about the Hollywood Theater
The overhead light rows are typical of vintage theaters that remain historically accurate
While waiting in line I saw the lights overhead – they are like many that have been in movies and pictures, the lit-from-overhead lighting that seems typical for this kind of building

Inside Hollywood Theater

I was able to get in first (thank you Kickstarter) and found our favorite seats unoccupied.  The seats I always try to get are the ones just behind the audio and visual technician who run the sound and lights.  The idea is that there is plenty of room to stretch out and if I end up falling asleep – like I always seem to do, that I won’t be a bother to everyone.

Far left seat in the second section of seats - great view.
The view from my seat is perfect, I’m able to stretch out my legs and they take much longer to fall asleep – they eventually do, but that is what the breaks are for, right?

As soon as I “reserved” our seats I wandered back to the lobby area.  During this event, as in years past the lobby has quote a few vendors and various things to purchase and peruse.  Fortunately the events I’d scheduled that night Shorts Block one and two all were scheduled to be in the main theater – which has the most comfortable seats and the biggest auditorium.

There were several different shorts in the first shorts block, one of the things I like best is the variety of different shorts that are shown.  You never really know what you’ll get. I remember some years when there were several music videos and other years when he best things the shorts features were fake movie trailers.  In this case there were two that particularly stuck out in my mind.  The first one “Book Return”, though only two minutes was fantastically creative and was in the form of an animated voicemail message.  I really enjoyed it and it was a fantastic way to start the festival.  Another one that I particularly enjoyed called “Eternal Harvest” was very original.  That’s one of the things I enjoy about these shorts, there isn’t enough time to fully develop characters, so there has to be a central idea that is resolved during the relatively short time the movie is shown.  This last one was only twelve minutes but was another one I particularly enjoyed.

The second block of shorts had one in particular that Nic really found objectionable – it’s content was somewhat awful if I’m honest, that’s one of the things about HP Lovecraft’s stories, they are bizarre and can be very unpleasant at times.  I won’t spoil it except to say that it wasn’t one of my favorites of this block either.  Another short shown during block two called “Sound from the Deep” was really good.  This short film actually won two different awards, one for the best short film and the other one was the Audience Choice award.  All of us really enjoyed though I’ll admit I did doze for a couple of minutes during it, but hey, I stayed awake for most things, so give me a break!

There is some concessions available, and I always try to get a couple of things because I know that’s how the theaters make most of their money – via the concession sales.  The pizza at Hollywood Theater is from a super good New York style place just around the corner and it just fantastic.  You’ll need to wait in line to get the pizza but its definitely worth it.  The beverages available at the concession center are also pretty good and I was able to get some fantastic black cherry for myself and ginger ale for Nic.

The concessions stand is very well stocked for a theater, you’ll pay a bit more than at the store, but I found it’s cheaper than regular cinemas

The first booth is where specific event items can be purchased.  There are event t-shirts and posters and there are also newspapers that show the scheduled and have lots of different articles ranging from obituaries that attendees write for themselves, reviews of the feature length movies, and short synopsis for the short films.

Volunteers staff the first booth where event items can be picked up – t-shirts and posters as well as event newspapers

HP Lovecraft Film Festival Opening

The festival hosts all welcome everyone to the twenty-second annual HPLFF
Gwen and Brian, the current HPLFF hosts along with Andrew Migliore opening the festival accompanied by Cthulhu herself!

As is normal the shorts blocks we watched were fantastic and we left on Friday night feeling both elated at the creativity of the film makers and inspired to make our own movies in the future.  I was (also normal) super tired after being up since four am and drove Nic home and went back home where B grabbed his car and headed to his own place.  We’d start in the morning and be able to watch a full days worth of fantastic HP Lovecraft inspired works on Saturday but for a Friday I was super tired and went to bed gratefully.

Day Two – Saturday

I love the entrance for the Hollywood Theater, especially glowing golden the beautiful morning sun

Today it was just B and I – I wanted to make sure Nic wouldn’t have nightmares forever as some of the content can be a little distressing, who knew??  The author of such favorites as “The Rats in the Walls” and “The Dunwich Horror” wrote distressing stories.  Yeah, they can be scary.  The schedule for the day was a pretty easy one, we’d decided to watch head to the main theater and watch the third block of shorts then watch the Dark Adventure Radio Theater live presentation of “The Thing on the Doorstep”.

Second Floor Vendors and Artists

But first I’d decided to wander around the second floor – where there was more concessions and artists setup.  A curving ramp is the means to get to the second floor, and upon entering the lobby there was a large group of tables.  Some of the more interesting ones had a painter and another had many original books and stories (and the author was there as well!).

View of a couple of the vendors on the second floor
There was a painter and author here with his newest books
Another artist has HP Lovecraft themed black and white etchings in postcard and poster form Etchings artist at HPLFF
Ramp from first to second floor
The ramp leading downstairs is different from most means to access a second floor, but at the Hollywood Theater it fits perfectly – it practically screams “Vintage Portland!”

Shorts Block Three and Dark Adventure Radio Theater’s “The Thing on the Doorstep”

Shorts  Block Three had quite a few fantastic shorts but the one I remember best was one called “The Jovian Project”.  It had a very stylized three dimensional rendering – I believe done using motion capturing.  The story was great as was the visuals and voice acting.

Once the shorts were done the Dark Adventure Radio Theater presented a live performance of “The Thing on the Doorstep”.  Now, I already knew the story for the Thing on the Doorstep, it was one of HP Lovecraft’s better stories, and one that I particularly enjoyed, but it was a whole other thing seeing it performed live.  What a treat!!

The Thing on the Doorstep live performance was fantastic
Watching the live performance was amazing it really adds something to the experience to see the voice actors performing the show

After the morning showings was a chance to get dinner, then it was back for the world premier of “They Remain”.  It was a pretty good movie and ended up winning the award for the best feature film in the festival.  It’s always nice being one of the first people to see a new movie – several years ago I was able to see a first showing of “The Revenant” (not the Leonardo De Caprio film) which wasn’t even finished but I enjoyed it immensely.  This one was similar – I really enjoyed it!!

I was super tired after the film so decided to call it a night.  I was able to get back home much earlier than the day before and was looking forward to Sunday’s showings.

Day Three – Sunday

I parked above the drug store just north of the Hollywood Theater.  I was super tired on Sunday, it’s rather like an endurance race to get to watch everything the show offers.  Gwen and Brian really do a fantastic job of deciding which shorts to play and in what order.  For Sunday I’d decided to watch the “Lovecraft Under the Gun” shorts which are original stories entirely made during a seventy-two hour period.  It’s amazing to see what the creators come up with.  The second thing I wanted to see was the one man show of “Rats in the Walls”.

The view from the upper parking lot above the nearby drug store looking at the marquis at the Hollywood Theater

Shorts and One Man Show

The Lovecraft Under the Gun competition was very well done.  It’s fantastic to see what the filmmakers came up with during the very short time they have to create their short.  My favorite was one that had everything made during the competition – it featured a rust monster and hand-made three dimensional sets, including a tornado!  The one man show was pretty good as well – it was a gentleman performing the story “Rats in the Walls” in it’s entirety all from memory.

Restroom and Vendors

So yeah, this’ll be a little weird, taking a couple of pictures in the restroom, but in the entry before the toilets there are some fantastic furniture items.

This cabinet int he mens room seems a bit out of place but it works really well for the rest of the esthetic at the Hollywood Theater
Vintage furniture at Hollywood Theater
The vintage chair, cabinet and wall decoration are also fun the men’s room and might be a little odd but considering the rest of the furniture and decor in Hollywood Theater

I hadn’t had a chance to visit all of the vendors on the second floor and wanted to get a couple of things – it’s always nice to support he artists after all.  I ended up stopping at the Pamela Offret Designs table first, her art is a combination of organic and metallic, she also does some glass blowing!

Pamela Offret specializes in different types of media and really appeal to my synesthesia brain
Glass marble and metal designs
The eye-type pendants here really appealed to my sense of order the glass and metal structures were amazing to look at
Pamela Offret’s electroformed wasps and nests
Pamela also takes deceased wasps and parts of nests and electroforms them.  The end result is just stunning.  I’d be afraid to touch any of them

The other artist I visited was Valerie Herron – her art is taken from a specific volume of several HP Lovecraft stories.  One of the best thing about Valierie’s art is that it started out originally as black and white print and for this year’s HP Lovecraft Film Festival the black and white images were changed to Marti-Gras colors: Green, Yellow and Purple.  The artwork is super detailed and I fond that I absolutely needed one of the Mardi-Gras signed prints.

Valerie Herron’s artwork at the HPLFF
Valerie Herron’s artworks is very detailed and original.  I just had to get one of them to remember the festival this year
HPLFF exclusive colored Valerie Herron artwork
The Mardi Gras colors definitely worked for me, growing up in New Orleans I can certainly appreciate the theme the colors represented Valerie Herron’s beautiful artwork

Summary and Rating

In conclusion, the HP Lovecraft film festival is a three day event that has happened for the past twenty-two years.  I’ve gone a handful of times and have always had a fantastic experience. It definitely deserves five and a half Heywillamettes.  The film festival only happens once a year, so makes sure your schedule is clear and you can attend.  Look for it in the fall year and try to attend, I’m sure that you’ll love it.




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