NEPA Horror Film Festival plans expanded Scranton event, asks for donations
Bobby Keller saw “Night of the Living Dead” when he was 4 years old. Since then, a passion for horror films has followed him through life.
Keller hosts the second NEPA Horror Film Festival starting at 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at Ale Mary’s in Scranton. Around the main event, screening 13 short horror films, Keller plans an expanded event schedule and celebrity appearances, and he’s created a GoFundMe page, appealing to like-minded members of the community for support.
Last October, Keller, a Scranton filmmaker with titles like “Mini-Golf Massacre” to his name, held the first NEPA Horror Film Festival event, called “13 Short Films,” at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains. His motivation grew from a desire to feature the works of local film makers.
“I wanted it to be mainly local originally, and then people were submitting movies from all around the world,” Keller said. “Not that it’s a huge thing at all, but it became much bigger than I intended.”
“13 Short Films” drew over 100 people to the Jazz Cafe to watch independent shorts, and Keller knew he had something to build upon.
Subsequent events held at Ale Mary’s included a showcase of Christmas-themed horror films and a tribute to low budget, shot-on-video films of the ’80s and ’90s such as “Boardinghouse” and Todd Sheets’ “Zombie Bloodbath” trilogy.
Keller got in touch with Sheets via AOL instant messenger when he was a young horror enthusiast, and gore master Sheets shared his knowledge of the craft.
“He gave me a lot of advice,” Keller said. “He sent me the screeners for free.”
Keller said the intermittent events have been “hit and miss” in terms of attendance, bringing in between 15 and 40 people, but he’s sure people had fun, and he’s glad he was able to organize events without having to charge an admission price.
But with Halloween season a few short months away, Keller looks toward “13 Short Films 2,” and he wants to build significantly on last year’s success.
“I want it to be not just a film festival but a mini horror convention, something like Chiller or Monster-Mania in New Jersey,” Keller said.
Keller has already booked cult heroes like star of the 1982 exploitation classic “Sleepaway Camp,” Felissa Rose, “Basket Case” actress Beverly Bonner and film critic and former host of TNT MonsterVision, Joe Bob Briggs.
“He’s a pretty well known horror icon and one of my heroes,” Keller said of Briggs.
Keller plans to feature local horror-art vendors and autograph signings from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 8, followed by a break from 7 to 8 p.m. so guests can eat dinner. Film screenings start at 8 p.m. with the first six to seven films, followed by a 15 minute intermission that includes standup comedy by Bonner and local comedian Dan Hoppel. Post intermission, the remaining films are screened
“(Rose) has been talking to us about possibly doing a Q&A and screening ‘Sleepaway Camp’ after the festival,” Keller said.
The GoFundMe page, http://bit.ly/29HC0PG, Keller hopes, will help him afford the air fare, per diem and payment he’s agreed to with celebrity guests.
The festival website, www.nepahorrorfilmfest.com, also has sponsorship options ranging from $50 to $2,000. Local businesses can visit the website to view the promotion and amenities package associated with each option.
Keller said horror movies have always been an important part of his life, and he’d like to see a festival proliferate in his home region.
“Horror fans are the best fans in the world,” he said. “I want to promote this the right way and have the resources to do so, so we can have a successful event locally.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
If you go:
What: NEPA Horror Film Festival
Where: Ale Mary’s, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton
When: Oct. 8 starting at 4 p.m.
Additional information: Admission for the event will cost between $5 and $10.