Locally produced film “Witchtown” harkens to goofy grindhouse horrors of old

. April 24, 2018.

Horror films have had a box-office resurgence in the past few years. The success of movies like A Quiet Place and its more recent remake, show that audiences still love to be freaked out at the cinema. In Toledo we have access to home grown horror films like Shelved and the New Blood series. Now, a new horror film called Witchtown, instead of trying to scare you, wants to gross you out while you’re having a good time.

Witchtown is the work of director/screenwriter Stephen Biggin and producer J.J. Kenczewicz (they also star in the film as Patches and The Professor).  Witchtown tells the tale of those two attempting to resurrect an ancient evil force, with expectedly terrible results. The film, recently released, has  been in the works for the past three years, and is now touring film festivals around the country, including the Motor City Nightmares International Film Festival in Novi on April 27th. Biggin took time to speak with the City Paper about his view of modern horror, his influences, and how they got the film made.

Witchtown From Scratch

Biggin is a Toledo School for the Arts graduate who has worked in industrial film, producing digital media for various companies. A few years ago, he and Kenczewicz, hanging out and discussing movies,  had an idea to make their own. “We really didn’t have ambitions for making a movie before,” Biggin said, “but that night we filmed ourselves goofing around.” From those test shots, they began writing a script for what would eventually become Witchtown.

Over the course of the next three years, Biggin and Kenczewicz pieced together their film. Biggin, the only one with previous film making experience (including most of the actors), knew enough about movie magic to make the shoots work. Shooting took place in and around Toledo, with a few scenes shot at Ft. Meigs in Perrysburg. “If one location didn’t give us the look we wanted, we would get it by piecing shots together,” Biggin said.

Gross Absurdity

This patchwork style reflects the older feeling Biggin wanted to get out of the fim. Witchtown’s biggest influences are the kind of films normally relegated to late-night cable channels, like Re-Animator or the works of David Cronenberg. Those films were at the height of “practical effects”, before computers rendered all the blood and guts. “Those movies weren’t about being scary,” Biggin explained, “but being gross and shocking.” That was the goal with Witchtown; “We wanted our ambitious effects to really stand out, and we can’t believe what we did with such a small budget.”

Witchtown will be screened during the 2018 Motor City Nightmares International Film Festival in Detroit on Friday, April 27.

For more information about the film, and future show dates, visit witchtownmovie.com