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Scottdale-filmed 'Gore Orphanage' wins online contest

Mary Pickels
| Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, 6:27 p.m.

A horror film based on an urban legend about a haunted Ohio orphanage came in first as Most Anticipated Title of 2015 in an online horror magazine contest.

“Gore Orphanage” was filmed last summer in Scottdale, with Greystone Manor standing in for the house where young orphans come to live.

Uniontown husband and wife team Cody Knotts, 46, and Emily Lapisardi, 31, served as producer and director, respectively, of the movie, which competed against films including “Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth” and “House of Evil Dead 3D.”

“We were hoping to be one of the top three. We knew a lot of people were voting, but there was a lot of attention for a lot of the other films,” Lapisardi said this week.

“We are very excited. It's a huge honor for the film, and it's gotten a lot of attention,” she said.

Knotts, Lapisardi and Fred Adams, who also was in the film, all are faculty at the Market Street Academy and Performing Arts Center. Lapisardi and her father, Fred Lapisardi, are directors of the Brownsville academy.

The film beat out 10 others to win “most anticipated” in the contest sponsored by the Horror Society.

The contest attracted 60,000 voters, who cast their support in categories including Best Horror Film, Best Sci-Fi Film, Favorite Death Scene and Best Villain.

“Gore Orphanage” snagged 4,893 votes, 36 percent of those cast in its category.

Actress Maria Olsen, who plays orphanage director Mrs. Pryor, also appears in “Starry Eyes,” which placed third for “Best Horror Film” of 2014.

“Maria is a wonderful actress to work with. ... She is always busy,” Lapisardi said.

Actor Sabastian Synuria, who plays one of the orphans, learned of the award on his birthday.

“Gore Orphanage” features many local young actors in the story based on a legend of an orphanage, destroyed by fire, and the ghostly children who haunt its ruins.

Lapisardi said the film is not overtly scary, or even “gory,” but is more of a psychological thriller.

“It's a film that has a lot of surprises. It's made so that what you think is going on is not necessarily what is going on,” she said.

The movie, set in 1930s Ohio, has been screened for the actors.

“One nice thing about screening is you see things you need to edit — where you held the camera too long on one scene, or where you cut back and forth too rapidly,” Knotts said.

“Greystone Manor is architecturally very interesting, and it looks beautiful on film,” Lapisardi said.

A former ballroom became a children's dormitory for some scenes.

Among the film's props is a photo of Lapisardi's great-grandfather, Giacomo Lapisardi. His portrait represents Mrs. Pryor's deceased father.

Announcement of the film's contest status attracted numerous congratulatory comments on its Facebook page, including questions about a premiere.

“We are working out the details now; there is the possibility of a television deal,” Lapisardi said.

She and Knotts will submit the movie on the film festival circuit, and plan premieres locally, in Ohio and in Los Angeles.

Depending on a distribution deal, the film could be shown sometime this fall, Lapisardi said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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