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story.lead_photo.caption Bill Volland, director and founder of the annual Hot Springs International Horror Film Festival, stands behind the memorabilia counter at the Central Theater in Hot Springs. The festival will begin Thursday. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

Bill Volland, the director and founder of the annual Hot Springs International Horror Film Festival, or HSHFF, said everybody has a particular horror movie that just relates to something happening in one’s life.

“It just affects you,” Volland said. “I’ve always liked the thriller and sci-fi or psychological movies, not so much the slasher genres.

“I like the ones with a little bit of plot and story to them, not just a monster walking around slashing people up.”

The sixth annual film festival, which is presented by the Hot Springs Arts and Film Institute and the Hot Springs Central Theater, starts Thursday at the theater, at 1008 Central Ave. in downtown Hot Springs. The festival — which lasts till Sunday — will feature films from all over the world, including Spain, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. Volland said the festival also has a couple of films that were made by local people, as well as a student category.

A range of tickets for the festival include $11 for a single movie, $20 for a day pass, $50 for a four-day pass, and $95 for a VIP pass, which includes all films and seminars. Guests can also purchase individual tickets for the educational seminars at $20 each.

According to a press release from HSHFF, the festival is “an independent film festival conceived with the idea that filmmakers know films and that talented film-making will inspire, amaze and educate.”

“Everybody comes out for a different reason,” Volland said. “Some want to see some good films, others are filmmakers, and some just want to see the celebrities that we have here.

“Others are just people who are bored, and they want something to do because it is too hot to stay outside.”

Highlighting this year’s event are appearances from R.A. Mihailoff, who is primarily known for playing Leatherface in the 1990 movie Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, and Michael Berryman, who starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Hills Have Eyes.

Mihailoff will screen his movie Ride Hard: Live Free at 8 p.m. Saturday. A question-and-answer segment will follow the movie.

“It is a sci-fi, apocalyptic biker movie,” Volland said. “He will also have a biker run from Rodney’s Cycle House in Little Rock down to here, and R.A. will ride with everybody.

“When they get here at 8 p.m, we’ll show his film.”

In a phone interview, Mihailoff said he almost hates to describe his movie as an “apocalyptic biker movie” because he doesn’t want people to associate it with other films like Mad Max.

“It is nothing like that at all,” he said. “It is basically what happens to motorcycle clubs 50 years in the future when there is no government and there is an interesting war between opposing motorcycle clubs.”

Mihailoff said his manager put the deal together for him, and Mihailoff started talking to the executive director, Steve Lowry, and the two hit it off well.

“It depicts a lifestyle that is very close to my heart and is a pretty cool movie,” Mihailoff said. “What’s not to like about it? I get to go to the desert, ride Harleys, shoot automatic weapons, hang out with motorcycle clubs and harass teenage girls and not go to jail.

“It was a blast. I got to be good friends with the executive producer, and we are bouncing ideas around for more projects.”

Mihailoff, who co-stars in the movie with Emilio Rivera from TV’s Sons of Anarchy, said this will be the first public screening for the movie.

“We are hoping to get a couple of dozen motorcycles lined up under the marquee [at the theater],” Mihailoff said. “I’m a big biker guy myself, so this movie was right up in my wheelhouse.”

Mihailoff said he signed on for the festival because he is good friends with John L. Burton, a co-producer for the event.

“He has been with the festival since the beginning and has invited me to attend every year, and this year, I had a new film coming out, so it gave me a chance to screen as part of the festival,” Mihailoff said.

However, this will not be Mihailoff’s first trip to Hot Springs.

“I love barbecue, and I have driven hundreds of miles out of the way to visit McClard’s in Hot Springs,” he said.

Volland said that because Spa-Con is the same weekend, he believes the events will have a bit of spillover back and forth, especially since the film festival will send its celebrities over to the convention for autograph sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

Volland said there will also be several seminars throughout the weekend, including photo opportunities and demonstrations with Alfred Hitchcock’s camera crane, which reaches 32 feet high. It will be located in the parking lot next to the Central Theater.

“There will also be seminars on how to do your own blood and guts and how to make your own masks,” Volland said. “So there are lots of reasons for people to come by — not to mention the popcorn.”

“I am looking forward to seeing as many of the films as I can see,” Mihailoff said, “and meeting the other filmmakers and seeing my good friend John.

“I am very excited about the run, and I am also going to drop by at Spa-Con on Saturday and Sunday and do a little bit of signing as well.”

For more information on the festival, including a full schedule, visit www.hotspringshorrorfilmfestival.com.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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