On the heels of the orchestra, the crowd awaiting the fifth installment of the Killer63 film festival poured in. Still-warm seats vacated moments ago filled with movie-goers of a more sinister bent.
The string musicians were only barely packed up and off-stage when Josh Stafford rang in the film festival for 2010.
If you were one of the unlucky few with a clown phobia, this was not your night - but, on the other hand, it was a licensed event so you could have a beer to calm your nerves.
All 13 films were horrific in their own right. Clowns, revenge, myths, and plot twists galore; each film brought something evil to the now blood-spattered screen.
"I don't think there were that many horror 'horror' movies," said filmmaker Roberto Cantu, "but more like a mixture of comedy and drama mine was one of the few that was purely horror, and a little creepy." While all had horrific elements, there was much experimentation, like the modern-day silent film complete with antiqued filigree title cards between each scene.
There were other first time participants to balance out the veterans like Chris Chitaroni who has has a film in Killer63 every year it has run.
"It's like a great showcase for the local underground stuff that most people don't even know is happening." This year, he had three entries that were shown spread out through the other 10 entries.
Tight deadlines and general mayhem seems to be what fuels Killer63 year after year.
"This was a very 'last-minute' year." said Josh Stafford, filmmaker, organizer, and Mayfair Theatre partner. "A lot of things came in way after deadline. Our deadline was October 6, and I was filming a short on October 6 so I broke my own deadline."
For the first time, Killer63 drew an entry from overseas. Seance, previously mentioned on Ottawa Horror, made it into the festival once the filmmaker gave the go ahead by the "magic of the internet".
"That was our furthest away for sure," Stafford said, "Before it would have been Montreal or Toronto, so this is the first one to go off the continent."
There were also animated efforts, and the stand-out freak of the bunch was White Room by Chitaroni. For fans of the Twilight Zone and Robot Chicken, this is a hybrid molded from play-doh just for you.
There was gore-galore in the animated bits, and plenty of terror in the live (and undead) action, though maybe not as many physical effects as would be expected. Some pieces could be labeled a tribute to the genre, which is the point of a festival like Killer63 - paying tribute to not only the hardworking filmmakers who scrambled to produce these gutsy gems, but the inspiration of the screen and things that all of us see down our own dark alleys.