Originally from Springfield, Justin Russell knew plenty of wide open spaces in his hometown where he could have shot his horror film, Death Stop Holocaust, which premieres at the Cedar Lee Theatre (2163 Lee Rd., 216.321.5411, clevelandcinemas.com) at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 11. (It shows again there at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 16.) But he wanted to shoot in Cleveland, and after some serious location scouting, he was able to find the appropriately barren setting.
"Cleveland gave back pretty good as far as locations are concerned," says Russell, who started filming in August 2008. "I wanted a desolate area, which is hard to find around Cleveland. I grew up in Springfield and to find an empty farm field there is easy. They're all over the place. But I can't knock Cleveland; it gave me everything I needed. We went to Litchfield and Aurora and ended up only filming a little in Springfield. I guess Cleveland did me all right."
Taking cues from "gritty old ambient horror films" such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and Salem's Lot, the movie follows two young women as they go on vacation on an island. They're hunted down by three masked guys who kill and torture the outsiders.
Currently, Russell, who has a day job at the Mayfield Heights-based Think Media Studios and also runs his own production company, is speaking with distributors and has had some interest from Fangoria and After Dark Films. Find more information at deathstop.com.
Several local independent films will screen at this year's Ingenuity Festival, taking place July 10-12 at Playhouse Square. At 10 p.m. Friday, July 10, Scenarios USA presents three short films by teenage filmmakers, including the award-winning MANchild, written by Clevelander Earlaina Kemp. And at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 11, you can bring your sleeping bag and snooze through the nine-hour multi-media installation Tanner Menard: A Concert for Sleep. Find a complete schedule of all the film- and video-related events at ingenuitycleveland.com.
Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa shows as part of the Summer Film Classics for a Cause series, benefiting the Akron Civic Theatre and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve. So move it, move it to the Akron Civic (182 S. Main St., 330.253.2488, akroncivic.com) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, for the screening.