Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls directed by Andrew Bowser
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Andrew Bowser’s Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls won the prestigious prize of Best Horror/Comedy film at the 2023 HorrorFest International Film Festival. Joe Reilly’s horror comedy Charlie the Cancelled Skeleton took Best Gross Out and the Audience Choice Award, and Eric Woods’ Utah-produced The Cave took the award for the Scariest Film.

Returning HorrorFest International alumni winning awards included Toby Poser, Zelda Adams, and John Adams’sWhere the Devil Roams which got the nod for Best Cinematography for Zelda and John Adams’ work behind the camera. Zach Passero’s The Weird Kidz, animated feature was a somewhat surprising winner for Best Creature Feature, as the category lends itself to live action films with gruesome monsters and effects. However, the coming-of-age story with a legendary monster at its center won the day and the award.

HorrorFest International Film Festival Co-Founders and Senior Programmers, Adam Mast and John Pugh, said, “We pride ourselves on having a film festival that is a joyful celebration for the lovers of horror, sci-fi, and genre films. We have a high return rate with both filmmakers who screened here previously and our film fans, and the fact that this year’s award winners included a couple of our alumni highlights that very special aspect of HorrorFest International. The return of writer/filmmaker/artist Frank Dietz, heading up another fun script reading, our secret screening, and more panels and appearances once again underlined the festival in our title, but it still begins and ends with the films in our lineup.”

Other winners among the film awards, included Pirie Martin’s Psychosis (Best Experimental Film), and Jean-François Leblanc’s Virga (Best International Film). Special Jury Prizes were awarded to Idan Gilboa’s Deadline for Excellence in Animation, and Daniele Ricci and Emanuele Ricci’s Juggernaut for Excellence in Visual Storytelling.

Additional individual awards included two awards for the Spanish thriller The Coffee Table, including Best Director for Caye Casas, and Best Ensemble for the film’s cast, including David pareja, Eduardo Antuña. Paco Benjumea, and Itzia Castro. Justin Geldzahler won Best Screenplay for his film Glue Trap, and Juggernaut took its second award for the night, winning Best Makeup Effects for the work of Aurora Balsamo and Veronika Gordienko. James Bushe, Patrick Michael Ryder, and Greig Johnson’s UK scarer Lore won Best Kill for a devastating death by foot stomping in the film.

Winners in HorrorFest International’s Screenplay Competition included Abby Selden’s “Revial” (Best Feature Length) and Paul Grammatico’s “Gate Bait” (Best Short).

This year’s edition of the horror/thriller cinema screened 46 films (8 features and 38 shorts) representing 15 countries.

2023 Horror Fest International Filmmaker Award Winners


Best Horror/Comedy Film
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls
Director: Andrew Bowser

Best Creature Feature Film
The Weird Kidz
Director: Zach Passero

Scariest Film
The Cave
Director: Eric Wood

Best Experimental Film
Director: Pirie Martin

Best International Film
Director: Jean-François Leblanc

Audience Choice Award
Charlie the Cancelled Skeleton
Director: Joe Reilly


Excellence in Animation
Director: Idan Gilboa

Excellence in Visual Storytelling
Directors: Daniele Ricci, Emanuele Ricci


Best Director
The Coffee Table
Director: Caye Casas

Best Ensemble
The Coffee Table
Cast: David Pareja, Eduardo Antuña. Paco Benjumea, Itzia Castro.

Best Screenplay
Glue Trap
Writer: Justin Geldzahler

Best Cinematography
Where the Devil Roams
Cinematographers: Zelda Adams, John Adams

Best Makeup Effects
M/U and VFX: Aurora Balsamo, Veronika Gordienko

Best Kill
Directors: James Bushe, Patrick Michael Ryder, Greig Johnson

Best Gross Out
Charlie the Cancelled Skeleton
Director: Joe Reilly


Feature Length Screenplay winner

Written by Abby Selden

Short Screenplay winner

“Gate Bait”
Written by Paul Grammatico

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