NEPA Horror Film Festival expands event schedule for Scranton showcase
Bobby Keller saw “Night of the Living Dead” when he was 4. Since then, a passion for horror films has followed him through life.
Keller hosts the second NEPA Horror Film Festival, a screening of 13 short horror films, starting at 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at Ale Mary’s in Scranton. By raising funds through a GoFundMe page, Keller was able to build upon his inaugural effort in 2015, to expand the event schedule and book celebrity appearances this year.
Last October, Keller, a Scranton filmmaker with titles including “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 … 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 more than 100 people to the Jazz Cafe to watch independent shorts, and Keller knew he had something upon which to build.
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.
This year, Keller has engineered “13 Short Films 2” to be a microcosm of larger-scale genre gatherings he’s attended.
“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 booked cult heroes such as Felissa Rose, star of the 1982 exploitation classic “Sleepaway Camp,” actress Lisa Gaye from “The Toxic Avenger Part II” and Joe Bob Briggs, famed film critic and former host of TNT MonsterVision.
“He’s a pretty well known horror icon and one of my heroes,” Keller said of Briggs.
The festival features 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. Film screenings start at 8 p.m. with the first six to seven films, followed by a 15 minute intermission. Post intermission, the remaining films will be screened.
Films showcased during “13 Short Films 2” include “Green Lake,” “Who Is Beverly,” “Bitch, Popcorn & Blood” and “Hada.”
Tickets to Reaper’s Revenge in Olyphant will be raffled off at some point during the festivities.
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: Tickets cost $10 before Oct. 8 and are available at Ale Mary’s. Tickets are available for $15 at the venue’s door the day of the event.