Creepy, campy films and more on deck for fourth annual NEPA Horror Film Festival
Thanks to Bobby Keller, they crept in from places as far as Australia, Russia, Israel and the United Kingdom to find a place at Dickson City’s Circle Drive-in theater.
For the fourth year, the Scranton resident has coordinated and curated a collection of creepy, campy and comedic movies for his annual NEPA Horror Film Festival.
Set for Sunday, Oct. 7, starting at 7 p.m., the festival will screen 13 short films ranging from 30 seconds to 13 minutes at the drive-in. About half of the selected movies are from the United States, while the rest are international, and they all clock in under the 13-minute mark thanks to advice Keller received from “Monstervision” host Joe Bob Briggs, the special guest at 2016’s NEPA Horror Film Festival.
“You go over that and people start to get bored,” shared Keller, a horror fan and filmmaker. “Anybody will enjoy this, even if you go in having no knowledge (of the genre). It’s pretty straight-forward. These are all unknown filmmakers; you’ll be seeing films you’ve never seen.”
Among the titles featured are “Bride of Frankie,” a “feminist version of ‘Bride of Frankenstein,’” Keller explained, and festival opener “Hell of a Day,” an Australian apocalyptic zombie movie. Since each of the films is unrated, Keller advised parents to use discretion with children in attendance because of scenes with blood, gore and very brief nudity.
“It’s all very campy, and this year is more horror-comedy than straight-up horror,” Keller said. “But the last three years, we’ve had kids there with no complaints.”
In between films, music videos from Metal Blade Records will play, and Keller said he called Dracula and invited him and his friends to walk around and spook guests in their cars. The haunted attraction Circle of Screams on site will be open that night with separate admission as well.
Tickets to the film festival cost $8. Making the event inexpensive and accessible was crucial to Keller.
“Growing up in the DIY punk-rock scene, I like to keep things cheap,” he said.
In previous years, the festival took place at River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Twp. and Ale Mary’s and the former Iron Horse Movie Bistro, both in Scranton. But partnering with Circle Drive-in to host the films has been a dream come true, Keller noted.
“It’s unbelievable, especially since I love the drive-in and I never thought it would get to this point. It really is the perfect venue for what I’m doing, showing horror movies in October,” he said. “This is the time of year people want to get scared and have fun. And I can’t think of a better place to get together to watch these (films) with your friends. The bigger the group, the better.
“It’s also a throw-back to people from the ’70s and ’80s,” Keller added. “The drive-in was a popular place then, and for kids who have never been to a drive-in before, it’s a new, old experience for them.”
More than anything, Keller feels thrilled to watch how support for the festival has grown through the years. He’s happy to see strangers — and not just friends — coming out to the event, which encourages him to keep it going.
“I’m just really passionate about horror movies, and it’s for people with shared interests,” Keller said. “But it’s a combination of loving horror movies my whole life and wanting to do something for the local community, because people are always complaining there’s nothing going on.
“It’s just a couple hours to escape reality to get scared or laugh or however you watch horror movies.”