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The Brilliant Terror

A feature length documentary about grassroots horror filmmakers, The Brilliant Terror’s inspiration comes from being intimately included behind the scenes of microbudget genre filmmaking. Witness the obsessive lengths to which people will go to bring their greatest fears to life on screen—and why. It’s not just about blood and boobs, zombies and vampires.

Shot over the course of seven years, the film follows the life of small-town auteur Mike Lombardo as he writes, directs, shoots, and reshoots (and reshoots) “The Stall.” Viewers are privy to candid moments that inform his inner drive—from his giddy triumph at successful DIY special effects to his painful personal crises to the everyday tedium of working at a pizza shop. Along the way, interviews with fierce women filmmakers, other grassroots directors, horror experts, and misunderstood fans bring fascinating diversions and unexpected viewpoints.

At times hilarious, at times repulsive, and at times weirdly moving, The Brilliant Terror is not only for horror fans, but for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. It helps us understand why we all, in some way, need a place to belong—and why that place may well be lying with friends on a cold, dirty bathroom stall floor wrangling (and re-wrangling) bloody, slime-covered tentacles. Speaking to the psycho-entrepreneur in us all, Lombardo says, “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be awesome.”

  • Julie Kauffman, Paul Hunt
    The Sitting Machine
  • Julie Kauffman, Paul Hunt
    The Sitting Machine
  • Mike Lombardo
    Key Cast
    I'm Dreaming Of A White Doomsday
  • Julie Ufema
    Key Cast
  • Jeremiah Kipp
    Key Cast
  • Paula Haifley
    Key Cast
    Central Park
  • Jason Pohlig
    Key Cast
    The Chameleon Club
  • Heidi Honeycutt
    Key Cast
  • Micah Ginn
    Key Cast
    Night of the Loup Garou
  • Thomas Norman
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Horror, Genre
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 17 minutes 58 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 17, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • FrightFest
    United Kingdom
    August 26, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • A Night of Horror International Film Festival
    October 18, 2021
    International Premiere
    Official Selection
  • New York City Horror Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    December 4, 2021
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • San Francisco Another Hole in the Head Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    December 5, 2021
    California Premiere
    Best Documentary Feature
  • GenreBlast Film Fest
    United States
    September 3, 2022
    Best Documentary Feature
  • Montreal Requiem Fear Fest
    September 17, 2022
    Canadian Premiere
    Best Documentary Feature
  • Cine Underground
    Busto Arsizio
    October 8, 2022
    Italian Premiere
    Best Feature
  • Thrills, Chills, and Kills Film Fest
    United States
    October 21, 2022
    Official Selection
  • South Carolina Underground Film Festival
    United States
    November 7, 2022
    Best Documentary
Director Biography - Julie Kauffman, Paul Hunt

Filmmakers Paul Hunt and Julie Kauffman frequently collaborate on independent documentaries, as well as pieces for nonprofits and enterprises. Their third feature “The Brilliant Terror” goes behind the scenes of the grassroots horror phenomenon to see how and why low-budget filmmakers put their greatest fears on screen. Their previous feature “The Sitting Machine” about education and inventiveness, was a top 10 audience favorite at the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival. Hunt and Kauffman are currently based in Pennsylvania where they have fun telling character-driven stories of creativity, humanity, and wit.

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