Last year was somewhat of a rough start for the After Dark Horrorfest, and I'm basing that statement solely on the movies the event had to offer. The eight "official" titles were The Abandoned, Dark Ride, The Gravedancers, The Hamiltons, Penny Dreadful, Reincarnation, Unrest and Wicked Little Things. I've seen 'em all and I'd call The Gravedancers the best of the bunch, with the dry-but-passable The Abandoned a close second. The rest ... meh.

So it is with much geeky excitement that I share a new opinion: Horrorfest 2007 is guaranteed to be an improvement over last year -- and I can say that with some confidence because I've already seen three of the chosen flicks, and all three of 'em are worth seeing. Regarding the other five, I heard good things about some and really negative things about others ... but here's what the overall slate looks like for this year. (Synopses are taken from the official Horrorfest website.)

Borderland -- "When three Texas University students travel to a Mexican border town on the eve of their graduation, the last thing they expect is to face their own deaths. Without warning, they fall prey to an ancient blood cult hellbent on finding candidates for human sacrifice. Based on true events, Borderland tells a story which blends the raw fear of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the stark reality of In Cold Blood, evoking a world soaked in paranoia, fear, and dread." (Starring Rider Strong, Jake Muxworthy, Brian Presley and Sean Astin, directed by Zev Berman) ** I saw this one last March at SXSW. It's southern-fried survival horror with a splash of satanism mixed in. Full review here.

The Deaths of Ian Stone -- "On an otherwise ordinary night, the young Ian Stone encounters a mysterious creature and is forced into the path of an oncoming train. Rather than facing certain death, Ian finds himself reborn into a new life that feels strangely familiar. After his second death, it becomes apparent that Ian is being hunted by an evil presence, and will be forced to die every day until he can solve the mystery of his own life." (Starring Mike Vogel and Christina Cole, directed by Dario Piana) ** I know next to nothing about this one.

Frontier(s) -- "When a small gang of criminals takes refuge in an isolated country inn, their welcome is less than warm. As the evening wears on, the young outlaws are subjected to a macabre nightmare where blood flows and screams flood the night." (Starring Karina Testa and Sameul Le Bihan, directed by Xavier Gens) ** Caught this last month at Toronto. Full review here.


Lake Dead -- "Three beautiful sisters learn of a long-lost grandfather, but only make this discovery upon the news of his grisly death. Enticed to visit grandpa's old home after hearing of an inheritance, the sisters take a trip to the back country with some friends. We quickly follow the group of friends through the gates of a redneck-infested hell. The psychotic family occupying the inherited property goes on a long-awaited and much-enjoyed killing spree." (Starring Alex Quinn and Tara Gerard, directed by George Bessudo) ** Thanks to BD.com for the plot synopsis on this one. Sounds interesting enough.

Mulberry Street -- "The city that never sleeps may shut its eyes for good when a deadly infection turns its residents to savage creatures. There is only hope for a small few, including six recently evicted tenants who must protect their crumbling apartment complex as the city around them is thrown into chaos..." (Starring Nick Damici and Kim Blair, directed by Jim Mickle) ** Also caught this one at SXSW '07, but for some reason I didn't review it. Suffice to say it's indie all the way, but definitely worthy of a look.

Nightmare Man -- "After receiving a mysterious mask, Ellen Morris believes she was attacked by an evil being she calls 'Nightmare Man'. Her husband, Bill, believes she is crazy. On their way to the mental hospital their car breaks down and Bill goes to get gas, leaving Ellen alone. When Nightmare Man appears, Ellen takes off into the woods, unsure whether she is hallucinating or not. She stumbles upon a cabin filled with friends who unknowingly becoming prey the moment Ellen steps inside." (Starring Blythe Metz, Tiffany Shepis, Robert Donovan and Richard Moll, directed by Rolfe Kanefsky) ** Tiffany Shepis AND Richard Moll? I'm in.

Tooth & Nail -- "A small group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world take refuge in an empty hospital with plans on re-building society. They rescue a young girl who is the victim of a brutal attack, but soon discover that they were followed by a savage band of cannibals known as Rovers. The Rovers begin to kill them one by one, and the trapped survivors must find a way to outwit their stalkers." (Starring Michael Madsen, Rider Strong, Vinnie Jones, Robert Carradine and Rachel Miner, directed by Mark Young) ** This one I gotta see!

Unearthed -- "A vicious creature that's been trapped for 900 years, gets unearthed during an archeological dig in the middle of a desolate town. As the carnage escalates, the local sheriff and a group of stranded civilians must find a way to destroy the creature that only has one mission – complete annihilation." (Starring Emmanuelle Vaugier, Luke Goss and Beau Garrett, directed by Matthew Leutwyler) ** Well, I liked the director's first flick!

So there you go: From November 9 to 18 you can check out any or all of the above titles. Check the official site for trailers, theaters and assorted what-not. (And to those of you who feel a little jealous that I've already seen three of the eight movies, well, I'll be out of the country when these movies screen, so I'll have to wait for DVD on the remaining five! Wah!)

[ Also check out our visit to the Horrorfest house right here -- AND our recent report on those lovely Miss Horrorfest finalists right here. ]