Unlike teenagers running for their lives in a slasher flick, St. Petersburg-based iHorror.com came through 2018 without a stumble.
In fact, the online publication covering all things horror even dipped into the making of movies for the first time, signing production deals with Dan Myrick, director of The Blair Witch Project, and Pinstripe Productions, run by George Steinbrenner's grandson Robert Molloy.
Now, 2019 is starting with two more film-related announcements from iHorror as it ventures into new territory again with streaming content.
It’s starting out with Monstrum, the first movie directed by website founder Anthony Pernicka.
“It is something we have talked about for a while,” said Pernicka, 36. “We've wanted to venture into original content to go along with our articles that do so well.”
The website averages more than four million visitors a month, Pernicka said.
Its Facebook page has 4.3 million followers. That's just 300,000 fewer followers than Marvel Studios has on its Facebook page.
Monstrum is about a wall mirror that brings terror to its new owner. Posted online last week and made in St. Petersburg, the movie is under five minutes long.
“The idea is to have films that are consumable, five-minute or less stories,” Pernicka said. “We will grow from there.”
Another example: Terror Tales, a 12-part anthology series directed by Tampa's Domonic Smith. Each five-minute short is based upon real-life scary situations embellished with a horror twist.
“They are modern day things that millennials can connect with,” said Smith, 32. “Things like weird Craigslist meetups or strange Tinder dates.”
Filming is planned from Monday through Feb. 11. The first episode will be available for streaming March 1 and a new one will be posted every Friday.
Smith welcomes the partnership with iHorror.
"For me, this is the closest thing to an indie filmmaker having a studio backing," he said. "The level of support and backing that they have from the horror audience is amazing."
The website will add to its streaming library through its third annual iHorror film festival in September. The search is still underway for a venue.
“We also want to identify one director or a few to work with on future films,” Pernicka said. “This is an avenue to aggregate talent from around the world and turn unknown talent into known talent.”
For now, all films are free to view on iHorror. There are no plans to charge a monthly fee, like larger streaming services do, but maybe one day as the library grows, Pernicka said.
“For the past few years it has felt like everything was leading up to something,” Pernicka said. “And 2019 feels like the year when it could all come together.”
That includes the feature film Skyman, directed by Blair Witch's Myrick, about a man who believes the aliens who once abducted him are summoning him for a reunion.
In a similar partnership with Pinstripe Productions, iHorror will make two feature films and a web series in the Tampa Bay area during 2019.
Making movies has been eye opening, said Pernicka, who studied film at the University of Central Florida nearly seven years ago, before starting a website whose coverage of the horror industry includes reviewing films.
“It has given me a new perspective,” he said. “Now even when I see a project I might not think is the best, I respect that just getting a project out there is a lot of hard work.”
Contact Paul Guzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @PGuzzoTimes.