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Popcorn Frights Film Festival is now chilling in Fort Lauderdale

Hello, nightmare fuel: the Popcorn Frights Film Festival is bringing summer scares to the big screen this weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

The horror festival will take place Aug. 10-16 at downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Savor Cinema, leaving behind its old home of three years at O Cinema in Wynwood. Savor Cinema’s auditorium, at 216 seats, is twice as large as O Cinema’s theater, which motivated organizer Igor Shteyrenberg last spring to relocate Popcorn Frights to Broward County.

With an upgraded venue, Shteyrenberg says Popcorn Frights can ratchet up the horror programming. New this year are 22 feature films, including the festival’s first horror documentary, “Wolfman’s Got Nards,” which recounts the making of the 1987 cult film “The Monster Squad.” Paired with the screenings are live performances by theater troupes, director Q and As and live DJ music.

“The best experience at a film festival isn’t just passively watching a movie anymore,” says Shteyrenberg, who also programs the Miami Jewish Film Festival every January. “We want to leave a lasting impact on our horror lovers. Think of it as a cinematic apocalypse.”

Here are five films not to miss during Popcorn Frights, as recommended by Shteyrenberg.

“Havana Darkness” (7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10): Billed as the first English-language horror movie to be filmed entirely in Cuba, director Guillermo Iván’s slasher film follows a New York historian and his friends as they investigate a lost manuscript believed to belong to Ernest Hemingway. But their search for literary treasure attracts a masked assassin, who hunts the trio through an abandoned building in central Havana. The world-premiere screening will include an appearance by Iván. The apocalyptic short film “Riley Was Here” will screen before the movie.

“Anna and the Apocalypse” (9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10): Described by Shteyrenberg as “like the show ‘Glee’ but set during the zombie apocalypse,” director John McPhail’s musical zombie comedy (zomb-edy? Zom-com?) offers as much carnage as it does crooning. The peppy production numbers are sung by Anna and her high-school friends, who discover their sleepy Scottish town has been overrun by the walking dead. Think Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with more goreA zombie-themed performance by theater troupe Infinite Abyss Productions will accompany the screening.

“Satan’s Slaves” (7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11): Filmmaker Joko Anwar sets this occult thriller in early-1980s Indonesia, where a widowed husband and his four children pick up the pieces after the death of their matriarch, Mawarni. They battle all manner of otherworldly demons, including Mawarni, now a vengeful spirit who hunts the family down. The film’s Florida premiere will be accompanied by a screening of the short film “We Summoned a Demon.”

“Piercing” (7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16): The most critically acclaimed thriller of the bunch, director Nicolas Pesce's wacky sex-and-violence tale of weird fetishes stars Mia Wasikowska (“Alice Through the Looking Glass”) as a rambunctious prostitute who fends off the kinky (and murderous) advances of a john. It’s the “horror geek’s answer to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ” the online publication IndieWire blurbs. The short film “Rewind” will screen before the movie.

“One Cut of the Dead” (11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16): The first 40 minutes of Shinichiro Ueda’s horror-comedy is an exercise in gory excess: one long, uninterrupted take of “sheer zombie brutality and mayhem,” Shteyrenberg says. Say no more. The film will be preceded by a screening of the short film “She Came From the Woods.”

The Popcorn Frights Film Festival will take place Friday, Aug. 10, through Thursday, Aug. 16, at Savor Cinema, 503 SE Sixth St., in Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $12 per film, $99-$169 for festival passes. Call 954-525-3456 or go to PopcornFrights.com.

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

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