October is upon us and it’s that time of year to celebrate all the things that go bump in the night! Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday! Of course, every day is Halloween in our spooky abode! Scary films, creepy creatures, ghoulish delights… Tons of Frights! Ok… that’s enough of that…😛
We also LOVE horror films and so does my friend, JoAnn Thomas! She and her husband Mike love horror films so much that they created a film festival to celebrate the indie horror genre and the fiends that make those films so freaking awesome! For the 3rd year in a row, The FANtastic Horror Film Festival will be held in San Diego on Halloween weekend, October 28th, 29th, & 30th. They’ll be handing out awards in various categories, and what better way to showcase the amazing people who are keeping the indie horror scene at the forefront of cinema for today’s terror hungry maniacs!
JoAnn was kind enough to take the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about the festival, some film and book recommendations, and even gave us a delicious recipe for us to savor! Enjoy!
MM: Greetings, JoAnn! Thank you for the interview for Mystic Meals! Ok… Let’s get started 😉What was the first horror film that you remember seeing and how did it have an impact on you?
JT: Back in the 1950’s I recall watching some scary sci-fi/horror movies but to be honest I do not remember more than a few scenes that terrified me back then.
MM: Do have any all-time favorite horror films? How about a top 5 favorite horror actor/actress?
JT: Although most of my favorite movies have a thread of horror in them, they are not actually horror movies. That being said, I would have to say that at this point my all-time favorite indie horror movie stars my favorite horror actor, Bill Oberst Jr. The original director’s cut of the film “Children of Sorrow” takes the #1 spot. Some of my other favorite horror movie actors/actresses include Tim Curry, Lynn Lowry, and some newer actresses on the scene who are coming into their own; Kristin West, Sheri Davis, and Tiffany Fest.
MM: How did you and your husband/ co-founder of the FHFF, Mike Thomas come up with the concept and name “FANtastic Horror Film Festival“?
JT: The fest started as a casual comment at a very disorganized festival in the Los Angeles area, and if I hadn’t come back to San Diego and ran with it, that is where it would have stayed. Our experiences with screenings, fests, and conventions were varied and sometimes down-right disappointing. Making fans “hurry up and wait” sometimes hours after the film was scheduled to screen, did not create a fan-friendly atmosphere, quite the opposite.
So, the question became ~ what do filmmakers, producers, actors and actresses have in common with their fans? The answer, although, not obvious, was we are all FANS of the genre. Thus the name was selected, with our goal of treating everyone equally. We have had our challenges, but we are proud of our successes.
MM: This is the FHFF’s 3rd year! Congrats! How has running the festival changed things in your lives? What kind of gruesome bits and pieces can we expect from the fest this year?
JT: This year we are screening 12 Feature Films and 27 Short Films. Of those, we can boast 11 International Films from Austria, Canada, Great Britain, India, Italy, and Spain. We have a Seminar/Panel Discussion ~ Get Your Film Distributed! As well as, a fabulous Award Ceremony in store for our filmmakers. In 2014, the first year of our festival we ran into a plot twist that turned out to have become a tradition. We invite our filmmakers, and some of the other attendees to join us in presenting the awards to their colleague’s. It is always a last minute thing and everyone seems to enjoy it.
MM: Being so busy, what do you meows do to help yourselves relax and unwind? Do you like to read? Any book recommendations?
JT: What does “relax and unwind” mean? 😛The Fest is a year around project and there is always something to do. Mike, however, goes to the movies to relax.
As far as reading is concerned I spend most of my time reading the screenplays that are submitted to the festival’s Screenplay Competition. My favorite writer is Stephen King. My favorite book of his is “The Stand”. There are a couple of writers that have caught my imagination in the past few years that might be of interest ~ Sue Dent , a self-published writer. Nathaniel Jones has a horror novel, “The Coin” available on Amazon.com; and Brian Bowyer, who’s books can be also be found on Amazon.com.
MM: I noticed that you and your husband often post pictures on Facebook of your lunches and dinners. Mostly salads! What are some of your favorite salads and dressings?
JT: Tuesday night is salad night in the Thomas household for the most part, except when Festival priorities come into play. I am a big fan of the 15-minute prep time that my salads take to make. Generally, I go to the market pick up whatever salad fixings that are on sale that day and that is where I start. I prefer to use leaf lettuce, red, green, or romaine which makes for a nice basic presentation and add tomatoes, and whatever colorful things I have in the frig, throw in a few staples I have on hand and “poof” ~ salad. We keep a variety of dressings on hand but I do not make my own.
MM: Are you both vegetarians? If so, when did you stop eating meat and why?
JT: If I tried to take away Mike’s meat I doubt that I would be here talking about it. Neither he or I are vegetarians, although we do like vegetables a lot.
MM: What are some of your favorite go to fruits and vegetables? Would you mind sharing a recipe with us?
JT: I love berries of all kinds, as well as grapes. Veggies include cabbage, carrots, celery, snow peas, red and green peppers, generally speaking whatever is in season.
I really love stuffed cabbage but unfortunately I don’t get along well with boiling water so to satisfy my taste buds I came up with this recipe ~
1 pound of lean ground beef
1 medium Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
Seasonings to taste, I use celery salt, garlic salt, and parsley If incline replace these seasonings with your favorite taco seasoning for a Mexican flair.
1 head of cabbage, chopped and then wilted in the microwave until it just starts to become translucent
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with celery, onions, and green peppers (if you have the time you can make your own)
Drain the excess grease from the ground beef mixture and then combine the ground beef with the cabbage and diced tomatoes. Place in a 350o oven for approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
Top with 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce and shredded cheese ~ Cheddar or Colby-jack and return to the oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
If you want to give it a horror twist ~ use a meat cleaver to serve. 😉
MM: That looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it out! If you could have dinner with a horror icon, living or dead, who would it be?
JT: Being an organizer of a horror film festival, I must say that I have had many opportunities to hang out with some very impressive horror icons, too many to count. May I also say, with some fantastic up-and-coming folks who will one day become icons in their own right!
If I had to choose, I would choose to have an intimate banquet with Lon Chaney, Jr. & Sr., Vincent Price, Stephen King. Mary Shelley, Elsa Sullivan Lanchester, Tim Curry, Lynn Lowry, Bill Oberst. Jr., and a few others.
MM: That’s an impressive guest list! This next question’s for both you and Mike. If you could describe yourselves as a drink, entree and dessert, what would they be and why?
JT: For me it would have to be blueberry wine from either Michigan or New Jersey ~ colorful, tasty, and sweet; some homemade soup ~ chicken noodle or beef vegetable, makes me feel like being wrapped in a cozy blanket on a crisp fall day; and for dessert ~ homemade pineapple upside down cake like my grandmother used to make in a cast iron frying pan in the oven, with whipped cream.
Mike on the other hand would be a rip-your-face-off red wine to pair with a medium rare rib eye steak with corn and asparagus, followed by lemon sherbet. He has his reasons.
And of course, we’re left in suspense!!! Very sneaky, JoAnn & Mike… 😏 Be sure to check out the FHFF’s website for more information and purchasing tickets if you’re in the SoCal area! It’s going to be a frightfully fun filled weekend! Thank you meows for hanging with me! Until next time… Cheers, hugs & meows! 😻
Nikki Meow 😊✨