The Fourth Annual Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge

Back in 2012 I had this bright idea to start a movie competition on Cinefessions. I admittedly borrowed the idea from people who were much smarter than myself, but did my best to turn it into something unique to my interests, and, thus, the first ever Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge (CSSC) was born. Now, four years later, CSSC has become one of my favorite events to look forward to all year. June is our Super Bowl here at Cinefessions. Our Wrestlemania. Our World Series. It’s our favorite time of the year.

We started CSSC with nine participants. CSSC2 saw fifteen movie lovers partake. Last year, CSSC3, we had an even dozen. The goal this year is to make CSSC4 the biggest, and best competition yet. The only way that’s possible, though, is with your help. What makes this challenge fun is when we get to discuss our movie watching with other participants. Traditionally, we have used Twitter to make these connections, and will continue to do so this year. But another addition this year in an effort to make this as sociable as possible, we will also be attempting to utilize Google+ Communities as a sort of message board for CSSC4. Once you sign up for the challenge (info below), you will receive an invite to the Cinefessions Community, and we will all be able to connect easier than ever before!

So you’re new and have no idea what the Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge is? Excellent! Read on to find out how you can join in, watch a crap ton of horror and sci-fi movies, and even win some awesome prizes!

Just like in the past, the goal of CSSC4 is to watch as many horror and science fiction films as humanly possible in the month of June. As we watch, we log all of our daily viewing in a blog post of some sort (more on that below). Each viewing earns the participant points, and the person with the most points at the end of the month wins! Simple as that. Kind of.

If you are interested in the final results from last year’s challenge, take a look here. The main objective of this challenge is to have fun, and though there are some great prizes again this year, it’s still really about just having a good time with our favorite genres.

This challenge is nothing without its participants, though, and that is where you come in. Though the official rules below may look daunting, I can assure you this is just for fun, and is really easy to join in on. All you need is a blog of some sort to post your list (Tumblr works great, and is quick to set-up), and the ability and dedication to update that blog post throughout the month of June with the movies that you watch. Your list can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them, I just ask that they have the titles of the films, are numbered, and list the date you viewed said movie so I can easily add up the scores throughout the month. Please keep a running tally of points scored on the list as well. These four features will make it infinitely easier for me to keep track of the Challenge throughout the month of June.

Interested in joining? Great! Take a look at the rules below, and then follow me on twitter, email me, or leave a comment below and let me know to expect the link to your list. Take a look at my list from last year to see a simple version of how your list could look. As the rules state, though, this is all about being truthful, and anyone that cannot abide by the honor system is asked to stay out of the Challenge as it will ruin the fun for everyone involved.

Please also note that the inspiration for this idea comes straight from the DVDTalk Forum’sOctober Horror Movie Challenge” and “Summer Sci-Fi Challenge”. I am essentially taking those two challenges, adding to them, combining them, and moving them to June.

GENERAL
-Participants earn points based on the number of horror and sci-fi films they watch in the month of June.
-The Fourth Annual Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge runs from 12:00 am on June 1, 2015 until 11:59 pm on June 30, 2015.
-The Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge only allows participants who can be truthful. It runs on the age-old honor system, and “cheating” can ruin the fun for everyone, so only participants who can follow the guidelines are asked to participate.

LISTS
-Because Cinefessions does not have a message board, all participants are required to create a Tumblr,WordPress, Blogger, or other blog to share his or her list.
 If the user can make a Facebook note work for this, that would be acceptable as well. It just needs to be editable over the span of the month.
-If a participant already has a blog of some sort (or once they create a new blog), they need to create a new blog post entitled “Fourth Annual Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge – [Username’s] List”. For example, my blog post would be “Fourth Annual Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge – Branden’s List”.
-Once the participant has created this post, he or she will edit that ONE POST with updates to the list as the month progresses. This is to keep everything clear and to the point.
-Lists should be numbered. Each film is worth 1 point (explained below), and should receive its own line and number. A basic example list might look like this:

  1. The Mist (2007)
  2. Friday the 13th (Commentary Track – 1980)
  3. Short Film 1 (20 minutes)/Short Film 2 (10 minutes)/Short Film 3 (30 minutes)
  4. Star Wars Episode IV (1977)

-All participants should send the link to their lists to Cinefessions via email (contact@cinefessions.com), through twitter (@psymin1 or @cinefessions), or by leaving a comment with the URL here.
-The only requirements for the lists are the titles, numbers, and running tally of the score. I also ask that participants denote when a film is following the weekly theme for ease of scoring. Participants should feel free to spice up his or her lists however they want, including links, reviews, scores, denoting first time viewings, and so on.
-It is also important that all participants attempting to complete the checklist include the checklist in that same blog post in order to qualify for the bonus points at the end of the month.

SCORING
-Each feature-length film (60 minutes or longer) is worth 1 point.
-2015 Change: Television shows are not included in the scoring this year in an attempt to make this more focused on films.
-60 minutes of short films equal 1 point.
-Commentary tracks count the same way if they are commentaries on horror or sci-fi films.
-2015 Change: Special features count this year as short film entries. If you watch 60-minutes of special features, this can count as one entry for one point, unlike in past years.
-Documentaries about horror and sci-fi films count the same way: one point per feature-length film.
-Films must be viewed in their entirety to count for this challenge. One cannot watch 60-minutes of a 100-minute film and count it for this challenge.
-Every sub-genre of horror and sci-fi counts in the challenge. Participants should use their best discretion, check IMDB, or ask me if uncertain about a specific film’s eligibility.

ADDITIONAL SCORING
-Watching films that fall into the weekly themes (explained below) count double for that week (example: one (1) feature length film would equal two (2) points if it falls into that week’s theme).
-Any participant that completes the entire checklist with no doubles (explained below) earns 30 bonus points.
–There are five optional items (denoted as such) on this year’s checklist. Each optional item, which will be more time-consuming and/or difficult than the regular items, will be worth 5 additional bonus points each. Not every additional item needs to be completed in order to win some bonus points.
–If a participant completes all 30 items on the checklist, plus all 5 optional items, they will receive another additional 25 bonus points, making 80 total bonus points possible for this year’s challenge if all items are completed on the checklists (30 points for a completed standard checklist + 25 points for a completed optional checklist + 25 points for completing both the standard and optional checklists).
-Each of the five weekly themes will have a corresponding “Featured Film” once again. If this film is viewed during that week, it counts for 3 total points (one for watching, one for following the theme, and one for watching the specially selected film).

WEEKLY THEMES
-Each of the 5 “weeks” that the challenge runs will have its own theme and Featured Film. Below is a breakdown of each “week” (credit to Wikipedia for most of the following descriptions):

Week One – 12:00 am on Monday, June 1, 2015 to 11:59 pm on Saturday, June 6, 2015:

When Science Screams – The Sci-Fi/Horror Genre: Tradition shines again as we kick off this year’s festivities by combining both genres of the challenge into one. This week’s theme is about all those movies that mix horror with science fiction. (ex: The Thing, Resident Evil, Alien series)

DeepStar Six

Week One’s Featured Film is DeepStar Six (1989). It is available on Netflix Instant Queue or Amazon’s Instant Video Service for $7.99.

This film has fallen onto my radar thanks to the Scream Cast’s admiration for the film, and it has to better than last year’s Galaxy of Terror, right?. Netflix synopsis: In the midst of establishing a top secret nuclear Navy base on the ocean floor, a crew of explorers inadvertently disturb a terrifying alien life form.


Week Two – 12:00 am on Sunday, June 7, 2015 to 11:59 pm on Saturday, June 13, 2015:

It Came from Italy – Italian Directors: Week two is dedicated to the wonderful world of Italian horror and science fiction. This country is known mostly for their horror offerings of the 1960s-1980s, but if you find any horror or sci-fi film directed by an Italian director, it counts for this week’s theme. I know I’ll be spending a great deal of time with the popular giallo films of the time. (ex: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The New York Ripper, Exterminators of the Year 3000)

Suspiria

Week Two’s Featured Film is Suspiria (1977). It is not available to stream, but can be rented on disc via Netflix, or bought on DVD for $11.66 on Amazon.

This film has been on my Cinefessions shame list for years, and now is the perfect time to knock it off. It doesn’t get much bigger in the giallo sub-genre, and Dario Argento is about as big as Italian horror directors get. Netflix synopsis: This horror gem follows Susan, a young American girl whose talents have brought her to an illustrious European ballet school. But once she gets there, she realizes there’s something strange going on as she’s faced with a cluster of freaky happenings, from a shower of maggots to poison in her food. What she soon learns is that the school has been a meeting place for witches for many years.


Week Three – 12:00 am on Sunday, June 14, 2015 to 11:59 pm on Saturday, June 20, 2015:

Camp Hell – Summer Camp/Camping Movies: Films that take place in a summer camp are a favorite amongst the Cinefessions crew, which is why Chris has made this summer camp theme for 2015. Since CSSC has begun, Branden has hogged all the fun in choosing theme weeks, but that changes this year, and the first selection by Chris is an excellent one. Any films taking place in a summer camp, or films that have a camping theme count for this week’s theme. There is also a kick-ass prize this week that goes along with the theme, courtesy of Chris. More on that as the contest gets underway. (ex: Friday the 13th, The Blair Witch Project, Evil Dead)

Camp Dread

Week Three’s Featured Film is Camp Dread (2014). It is not available to stream, but can be rented on disc via Netflix, or to rent for $4.99 on Amazon’s Instant Video Service.

Chris and I love this independent slasher flick, and it’s time that more people see it! Netflix synopsis: With his former leading lady and an eclectic group of 10 young contestants, Barrett returns to the same locale where his old splatter-fests were filmed. When one of the campers is found savagely murdered, they realize there’s more at stake than just fame and fortune.


Week Four – 12:00 am on Sunday, June 21, 2015 to 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 27, 2015:

Singing in Space – Space Operas: David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer define Space Opera as “colorful, dramatic, large-scale science fiction adventures, competently and sometimes beautifully written, usually focused on a sympathetic, heroic central character and plot action, and usually set in the relatively distant future, and in space or on other worlds, characteristically optimistic in tone. It often deals with war, piracy, military virtues, and very large-scale action, large stakes.” Couldn’t have said it better myself! Ashe comes out of the gate swinging as well, as this is his first selection for the Challenge. This is a large week, and should be an absolute blast. (ex: Star Wars, Star Trek, The Chronicles of Riddick)

The Fifth Element

Week Four’s Featured Film is The Fifth Element (1997). It is available on Netflix Instant Queue, and on Amazon’s Instant Video Service for Prime Members.

It doesn’t get much better – or nuttier – than this one. If you haven’t seen this yet, you’re in for a treat. Netflix synopsis: In this imaginative sci-fi epic, a 23rd-century cabbie finds himself involved with a fetching alien who may hold the key to saving the world. But it’s curtains for planet Earth unless the duo can stay a step ahead of a demented villain named Zorg.


Week Five – 12:00 am on Sunday, June 28, 2015 to 11:59 pm on Monday, June 30, 2015:

The Mighty, Mighty Scream Factory – Horror and Sci-Fi Films Released by Scream Factory: The final week of this year’s challenge consists of three days, and is the perfect excuse to pay honor to one of the greatest production companies out there today for the genre fan like us: Scream Factory. If you haven’t heard of this label, you’ve been missing out big time. They specialize in giving us the best Blu-ray, HD transfers of cult classics that other studios have overlooked. Not only are the transfers great, but they’re usually loaded with extras, and incredible art work. Scream Factory has taken over Criterion as my favorite publisher, and I’m proud to dedicate the last week of the challenge to any horror or sci-fi movie released under their label. You don’t have to watch their release, but I would highly recommend it. Any film that this company released (which is shown in the link above on Letterboxd) counts for this week’s theme, as do any titles released under the Shout Factory label. Announced future releases count as well. (ex: Class of 1984, Mad Max, Final Exam)

New Years Evil

Week Five’s Featured Film is New Year’s Evil (1980). It is available on Netflix Instant Queue, and on Amazon’s Instant Video Service for Prime Members.

Have we mentioned that we love slasher films here at Cinefessions? Here is one that Shout Factory released on Blu-ray earlier this year that I’ve been interested in since I’ve first heard about it. Netflix synopsis: As a nationally televised New Year’s Eve celebration rocks on, the host gets an on-air call from a killer promising murder at the stroke of midnight.


CHECKLIST
-This checklist contains 30 items (one for each day of the challenge), and can only be filled in with feature length films. This year also has 5 additional, optional items that can be completed for 5 extra bonus points each. Participants should put an “X” into any item they complete on the checklist, and list the film after the fact. There are no duplicate films allowed, which means there should be 30 different films on the checklist (or >36 films, 1 novel, 1 video game, and 1 graphic novel for those completing the optional checklist).

Example: -X- Hitchcock Film (Psycho, 1960)

Watch a sci-fi or horror film from each specific sub-genre:
Black and White Horror or Sci-fi Film (Film, Year)
Comedic Horror or Sci-fi Film (Film, Year)
Splatter Film/Gore Film/Torture Porn (Film, Year)
Superhero Film (Film, Year)
Zombie Film (Film, Year)

Watch a sci-fi or horror film from each of these specific directors:
David Cronenberg or John Carpenter (Film, Year)
Stanley Kubrick or Tobe Hooper (Film, Year)
Ridley Scott or Mary Lambert (Film, Year)
Paul Verhoeven or George A. Romero (Film, Year)
James Whale or Rob Zombie (Film, Year)

Watch a sci-fi or horror film that stars one of the following actors:
Zoë Bell or Marilyn Burns (Film, Year)
Boris Karloff (Film, Year)
Bill Moseley (Film, Year)
Linnea Quigley or Lena Heady (Film, Year)
Tony Todd (Film, Year)

Watch a sci-fi or horror film that fits into the following categories:
— Watch a Film on VHS or Watch a Film that Takes Place in a Video Rental Store (Film, Year)
Watch a Canadian Film or Watch an Australian Film (Film, Year)
— Watch/Listen to a Film’s Commentary Track (Film, Year)
Watch a Film that Appears on the Video Nasties List (Film, Year)
— Watch a Found Footage Film (Film, Year)
Watch a Film that Takes Place During Christmas (Film, Year)
— Watch a Non-Italian Foreign Film with Subtitles (Film, Year)
Watch a Made-for-TV Film (Film, Year)
Watch a Rape & Revenge Film (Film, Year)
Watch a Natural Horror/Nature Attacks Film (Film, Year)
Watch a Film on Total Film’s 50 Greatest Sci-Fi Movies List (Film, Year)
Watch a Film Based on a Novel (Film, Year)
— Watch an Animated Film (Film, Year)
— Watch an Anthology Film (Film, Year)
— Watch a Remake or a Reboot (Film, Year)

Optional (for an additional 5 bonus points each):
— Complete a Horror or Sci-Fi Film Series with at Least Five (5) Entries
………………..— Film One (Film, Year)
………………..— Film Two (Film, Year)
………………..— Film Three (Film, Year)
………………..— Film Four (Film, Year)
………………..— Film Five (Film, Year)
— Watch a Movie in Theatres (Film, Year)
— Read a Sci-Fi or Horror Graphic Novel of at Least 50 Pages (Book, Author)
— Read a Sci-Fi or Horror Novel, or a Book about Sci-Fi/Horror of at Least 100 Pages (Book, Author)
— Play at least Two Hours of any Horror or Sci-Fi Video Game on Console or PC. (Game, Console)

WINNERS
-All lists must be finalized by 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 4, 2015. The host – Branden – will tally every list, and is the final judge on counts.
-The participant earning the most points – again, based on the honor system – wins the challenge.
-The participant who scores the most points will win a prize at the end of the challenge. This year, the winner will receive a $40 Amazon Gift Card. If there are 20 or more participants, the winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card, and a Scream Factory Blu-ray or DVD of his or her choosing (up to a $30 value). Note: The real prize is spending the month watching great horror and sci-fi films.
-The participants with the second, third, fourth, and fifth most points (if applicable) will be put into a random drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card. The winner of that prize will be randomly chosen using Random.org.
-Every active participant will be entered in to a random drawing to win a Blu-ray or DVD from Scream Factory! Participants must have at least one entry on their finalized list to be entered into this drawing. Cinefessions writers are exempt from this prize.

If you plan on joining in, please leave a comment here, or contact me on Twitter letting me know to expect the link to your list! The more participants, the more fun this will be!

When discussing the challenge on twitter, use the #CSSC4 tag so that all participants can easily join the conversation.

Frequently Asked Questions for the Fourth Annual Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge:

  • Do I have to stick to the weekly themes or the checklist?
    No! The weekly themes and the checklists are just for additional fun. If you happen to watch a film that falls into one of the themes, it counts for double the points. If you fill in the entire checklist throughout the month, you score 30 bonus points when all is said and done. If you complete the five optional checklist items, you earn 25 additional points. But no one is required to stick to the weekly themes or checklist.
  • Can I fill in two checklist items with one film?
    No. This checklist – which is different than most DVDTalk checklists – cannot have duplicates. There should be 30 separate films that fill in the checklist in order to receive the bonus points (or >36, 1 book, 1 graphic novel, and 1 video game if looking to earn the 25 additional points).
  • Am I required to write a review of each film to earn points?
    Not at all. The only requirement on the list is that you list each film you view. If you could add the date you viewed it, as well as some marking denoting whether or not it fits the weekly theme (in your opinion), that would be an added benefit.
  • What does the winner receive at the end of the month?
    The participant with the most points earns a prize. The second, third, fourth, and fifth place contestants will be placed into a random drawing, and ONE of those four participants will also earn a prize, but of lesser value than the first place winner. Note that if more than 20 participants join, more prizes will be awarded at the end (see above). Also, all active participants (excluding Cinefessions writers) will be entered in to win a BD/DVD prize from Scream Factory.
  • Who has final say on all decisions of the Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge?
    Branden will make all final decisions regarding whether a film counts for the weekly theme, the points awarded, and so on. This is all for fun, so I don’t expect any problems with this.
  • When is the final list due?
    The finalized lists are due by 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 4, 2015. Whatever films are listed on everyone’s list at that point are what count; no more, no less. Make sure you finalize everything by that time so you get credit for each film watched during the month.
  • Is Film X considered a horror or sci-fi movie? Does Film Y fall into the weekly theme?
    Just ask me, and I’ll find out. If I don’t know off-hand, I’ll ask for a consensus opinion among the participants via twitter.
  • What is the twitter hashtag for this Challenge?
    #CSSC4 – the acronym for the Challenge. Use this to tag any posts that fit the challenge so everyone can find them, and they can breed some discussion.
  • How do I contact the host?
    You can find me on twitter @psymin1, or email me at contact@cinefessions.com.
  • Does Book X work for the optional checklist Novel item?
    Short answer: if it is in some way related to film, I’m sure it does. The book can be fiction or nonfiction, and as long as it is about, is inspired by, or inspired a horror or sci-fi movie, it counts. It can be a nonfiction title about the study of horror or sci-fi films in general, or a specific horror or sci-fi movie. It can also be a biography about a popular horror or sci-fi figure, such as George A. Romero, Roger Corman, or Bruce Campbell, for some good examples. The book must also be of a worthwhile length (100+ pages seems fair). If there are any questions, do not hesitate to confirm with me that the book would, in fact, count.
  • Can remakes count as part of a series for the optional checklist?
    Absolutely. If you want to watch a film series that has four original movies and two remakes, go for it. As long as you can finagle at least five movies out of a given horror or sci-fi series, it counts. If the series contains a total of 10 films, for example, you only need to watch five for it to count for the checklist item.
  • Do superhero movies count?
    As long as the superhero movie uses science in a fictional (or seemingly fictional) way, it counts. This means that basically all of the traditional superhero movies count for this challenge, but films like Super or Kick-Ass (films where a normal human decides to become a vigilante police officer) do not. Batman counts because of the science he uses to develop weapons, etc. In short: superhero movies count for the CSSC!
  • Which graphic novels count for the optional checklist? Which video games count?
    Again, as long as they are horror or science fiction themed graphic novels (not single comic book issues, but actual graphic novels), and are at least 50 pages in length, they work for this challenge. Likewise, any horror or sci-fi themed video game counts for that optional checklist item. You must play at least two hours of one specific game for it to count. Switching between two or more games WILL NOT count for this optional checklist item.
  • Why did you remove TV episodes from this year’s Challenge?
    In order to bring the focus back to horror and sci-fi movies, television episodes were eliminated from this year’s Challenge. That doesn’t mean they are gone forever, but they are out this year. There is no other reason than that.
  • Explain the possible bonus points again, please.
    Gladly! So if a participant completes every checklist item – all 30 items on the original checklist, plus all 5 optional items – they will score 80 bonus points at the end of the checklist. This is because they score 30 points for completing the original checklist, 5 points each for completing all of the optional checklist items (so 25 points) and then an additional 25 points for having the stamina and determination to complete both. If a participant only completes the 5 optional checklist items, they only receive 25 bonus points. If the participant does not complete all 30 of the standard checklist items, they receive no points for it. I think that makes sense. Let me know if not!

Official Participants:

BrandenList
AsheList
ChrisList
Bubbawheat (of Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights) – List
Kate SaundersList
HoneyList
Xander Kane (of the Cemetery Gates Podcast) – List
Julie (of French Toast Sunday) – List
Robert Gannon (of Sketchy Details) – List
Marc NadeauList
Caity RoseList
Crystal ShardsList
AndroidVirus (of Cemetery Gates Podcast) – List

Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn't until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor's and master's degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.