- Josh Katz
Put Your Heads Together (from left to right) Brian Henderson, Jef Overn and Josh Staples, aka 'Forever Midnight,' move from podcasting to filmmaking.
Lifelong horror film fanatics and Sonoma County natives Josh Staples, Jef Overn and Brian Henderson scare up a lot of fun as the trio behind the podcast Forever Midnight, a horror-centric audio series where the friends review classic and contemporary flicks and offer their wicked perspective on all things scary.
"Brian, Jef and I have a forum where we get to talk about our lives, and pass stories back and forth, and every time we say, 'that would be such a cool movie,'" says Staples.
Three years ago, the Forever Midnight trio got their foot firmly in the door of horror film-producing by releasing the official soundtrack of the short underground cult film Coven, nearly 20 years after the film's release.
Now, the aficionados take another huge leap into the genre, with their new short film, Night Drive, co-produced with Dogfilm Studios, and screening at a special Witchcraft & the Occult Movie Night event on Thursday, Oct. 24, in Santa Rosa.
All three members of Forever Midnight are multi-talented creative producers in their own right, and each contributed to the production of Night Drive. Henderson takes credit for creating the story, based on a real-life event, and oversaw the film's special effects. Staples wrote the screenplay and the original score, which includes three original songs. Overn co-directed and co-edited the film alongside Sonoma County filmmaker Timmy Lodhi, the man behind DogFilm Studios.
The six-minute film concerns a group of friends on a late-night drive and a stranger on the side of the road who propels the group into a weird odyssey of terror.
Staples credits '80s horror films like The Twilight Zone and Creepshow 2 as inspirations for the film.
Night Drive's debut on Oct. 24 at the Roxy Stadium 14 in Santa Rosa also marks the release of a new collaboration beer between Forever Midnight and HenHouse Brewing, where Staples is the art director. The collab is a black saison aged in burgundy wine barrels that they call Batch 666: Witchcraft & the Occult.
After a beer reception and the debut Night Drive, the Forever Midnight crew is screening Coven with director Mark Borchardt in attendance for a Q&A and signing. Borchardt and Coven caught the nation's attention when his attempt to complete the film became the subject of the 1999 documentary American Movie.
"Mark is a great personality, he's a film historian, writer, actor and director," says Staples. Coven is also an occult-centric horror film in which Borchardt plays an alcoholic writer who joins a recovery group that turns out to be more than it seems.
Capping off the night is a screening of the film Haxan, originally produced in 1922 in Sweden as a long-form silent film on witchcraft and re-cut as a psychedelic trip with narration by William S. Burroughs.
"This is a great opportunity to do a real witchy showcase," says Staples. "It's a perfect series of movies to drink to."
Witchcraft & the Occult Movie Night happens on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Roxy Stadium 14, 85 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. Beer reception at 6pm; movies start at 7pm. $8.50–$11.50. santarosacinemas.com.