GREENSBORO — The Vermont Folk Horror Roadshow will be bringing Transformations (1972) and Walter Ungerer’s The Animal—two eerie films shot and set in Vermont—to Brattleboro, Greensboro, Montpelier, and Woodstock just in time for Halloween.
The tour will visit the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro on October 27.
The term folk horror describes films that draw elements of folklore into the conventions of horror cinema.
Often used in reference to British films that explore rural landscapes, paganism, witchcraft, and other sources of fear, the Vermont Folk Horror Roadshow emerged through pondering the question, is there such a thing as Vermont folk horror?
In search of an answer, folklorist and VT Folklife Center Associate Director Andy Kolovos turned to the collection of Vermont-made films preserved by the Vermont Archive Movie Project.
Kolovos was already familiar with the short film Transformations, preserved by VAMP in 2015.
“More than anything else, Transformations is a celebration of the 70s women’s movement and the importance neo-pagan spirituality within it,” said Kolovos. “At the same time, it is filled with night fires, music, and ritual, and permeated by the presence of hidden power, it soundly fits the folk horror bill.”
Kolovos and VTIFF executive director Orly Yadin then began to explore the idea of staging a Vermont folk horror film tour for Halloween.
The pair reached out to Vermont film historian, horror authority and cartoonist Stephen R. Bissette for his thoughts on other Vermont films that could fit the folk horror bill.
Bissette’s answer was immediate and brief, Walter Ungerer’s “The Animal.”
Ungerer’s haunting, avant-garde film The Animal highlights rural isolation and the winter landscape as sites of loss and terror.
The Vermont Horror Roadshow will make stops at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro on October 26, the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro on October 27, the Savoy Theater in Montpelier on October 29, and Pentangle Arts in Woodstock on October 30.
Bissette will introduce the films and lead a question and answer session at the Brattleboro, Montpelier, and Woodstock screenings.
Filmmaker Walter Ungerer will be at the Woodstock screening.