By Lynn Venhaus
For the second year, Paul Hibbard is channeling his passion for horror movies into the Hysteria Fest, currently playing Oct. 18-22 at the Arkadin Cinema and Bar, a microcinema right in the heart of Bevo at 5228 Gravois Avenue. He’s coming fresh off a triumphant showing at Franki Cambaletti’s Haunted Garage Festival of his locally shot “Some Visitors,” which has been on the festival circuit and wraps up this month.
As I said to Paul — it’s well-made but highly disturbing. He delighted in that because it is bloody, intense and really creepy — all effective elements when putting that genre together.
He truly cares deeply about filmmaking and travels across the country, attending festivals and meeting filmmakers. His festival schedule is a well-curated list from veterans and up-and-coming filmmakers. For a complete schedule: https://arkadincinema.com/hysteria-fest-2023-oct-18-22/
Paul and I have been on film juries before, for the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, and he’s been a guest on our PopLifeSTL Podcast last year and this year, talking enthusiastically about his projects. He also writes for www.ZekeFilm.org. Here’s more on the man who beats to an artistic drummer in all areas of life.
Where can you find “Some Visitors” this October? Check out this schedule for the final month of its festival run.
October 7th – Eerie, Pennsylvania – Eerie Horror Film Festival – Warner Theater – midnight
October 13th – Walnut Cove, NC – Horror Movie Freaks Film Festival – The Palmetto Theater. Start time TBD
October 13th – Atlanta, Ga – Atlanta Horror Film Festival – Limelight Theater
October 14th – Dickson City, Pa – NEPA Horror Fest – The Circle Drive-In – All day horror fest that ends with a screening of Rob Zombie’s Halloween with cast/crew in attendance
October 18th – Thunder Bay Ontario Canada – Terror in the Bay Film Festival – Maple Tops Paramount Theater
October 20th – Madison, Indiana – The Horror at the Ohio Film Festival – The Ohio Theater
October 21st – Chicago, Il – The Chicago Horror Film Festival – Facets Theater
October 28th – Port Richey, Fl – Necro Nancy Horror Film Festival – Cinema 6 Theater
Take Ten Questionnaire
1. What is special about your latest project?
“Some Visitors” was my last film. First of all, it was special because it made its premiere at Panic Fest on a double bill with Gaspar Noe’s “Lux Aeterna.” Noe is a director I’ve been obsessed about for years, especially the way he pushes the envelope, and to book me alongside his film at a major festival was amazing. That screening was a special experience.
And Some Visitors is special because I used it to start my own film festival. It’d play at film festivals and the other directors would watch it and message me saying how great or gnarly it was. I’d tell them I loved their films also, and I’d ask if I could play their films alongside mine at Hysteria Fest. I probably would have started a film festival eventually, but Some Visitors helped me get access to the best horror filmmakers on the festival circuit.
2. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?
I love film and just knew that at first. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a critic and on the festival side or a filmmaker. So I kind of did both. But at the heart of it is a love of film. I directed a play once and the critic said it was entertaining but felt too much like a film in the blocking. I wrote a novel once, and again people said it felt like a film. Everything goes back to my love of films.
3. How would your friends describe you?
Intense. Political. Funny. And with a crippling self-awareness.
4. How do you like to spend your spare time?
Watching movies, reading and running. Currently training for a half marathon.
5. What is your current obsession?
At the moment I’m super obsessed with the Criterion Channel’s High School Horror collection.
6. What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I don’t believe in ghosts. People always try to tell me ghost stories when they hear I’m a horror writer. I also make super-violent films but think true-crime is exploitative and irresponsible. I like to challenge, but relishing in real death I hate.
7. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?
It may honestly be when “Some Visitors” played with “Gaspar Noe” at a huge genre festival. That felt so validating for a film that was almost impossible to make. I also made a really political satire/comedy called “The Blair Trump Project: making fun of Trump and it played in 2019 on a double bill with The Blair Witch Project” for its 20-year anniversary at the Salem Horror Festival. That was great.
8. Who do you admire most?
My late older brother. He taught me to be strong-willed, political and speak my mind.
9. What is at the top of your bucket list?
I’m not much of a traveler, but I really want to visit Korea someday,
10. How were you affected by the pandemic years, and anything you would like to share about what got you through and any lesson learned during the isolation periods? Any reflections on how the arts were affected? And what it means to move forward?
Like a lot of people, I would get upset at others who didn’t take the virus seriously and grasped onto anti-science beliefs. I think to me it was a breaking-point in how I viewed life and the arts. I realized then that no matter what, appealing to the masses is impossible, because some of the masses believe in lunacy, and it’s okay for me to become more uncompromising. I thought to create art that was uncompromising. Appeal to the niche market with similar tastes and ideas about art, because you may not appeal to everyone, but when you are trying to appeal to everyone, you are appealing to some with insane beliefs and morals. A film like “Some Visitors” I think I would have been more hesitant to make before the pandemic, but afterwards, I was in the mentality to do what I want. Some will absolutely love it at the expense of some who absolutely hate it, but the ones who love it will fight for it. Which is what has happened.
11. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?
Go to the Art Museum. I live in walking distance. I’m a member. I go at least once a week. it’s my sanctuary.
12. What’s next?
We had some traction on turning “Some Visitors” into a feature with some named talent attached, but the strikes stopped all of that. I think I’m just going to focus on Hysteria Fest. I don’t really want to make shorts anymore. I’ll go big with a film if given a chance, but otherwise would rather be a critic and curator.
More About Paul Hibbard
Birthplace: Arnold, Mo
Current location: St. Louis (Dogtown)
Education: Bachelors in Political Science
Day job: Freelance
First job: Movie theater. The old Lindbergh 8
First movie you were involved in or made: I was involved in a film called “Time to Die” that played at the first Showcase ever. My buddy directed it. I was just a background person.
Favorite jobs/roles/plays or work in your medium? Writing is the best. And editing. Both are storytelling. Brian De Palma used to say that directing a film was the dark tunnel between writing and editing. I feel that.
Dream job/opportunity: Film critic at a publication that paid a livable salary. I don’t think that exists anymore.
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Some Visitors has won a ton of awards, and all of them I’m proud of, but any time the lead actress Jackie Kelly wins, I’m most proud. Because directing acting used to be my weakness. Not that she needs much directing…
Favorite quote/words to live by: “I know nothing of life except through the cinema.” -Jean Luc Godard
A song that makes you happy: “Strange Magic” by ELO
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.