With the ongoing pandemic preventing horror fans from gathering in large groups throughout the film festival and Halloween seasons, the annual Salem Horror Fest is going virtual this year in an attempt to maintain that cherished sense of community amongst all of us horror lovers, and the festival has this week revealed its first wave of programming.
The announcement features hundreds of hours of remote programing, including online reunions for The Howling and Gremlins 2: The New Batch with guest of honor Joe Dante, celebrity appearances and a multitude of film premieres.
The official press release provides more details.
The world may be a dumpster fire, but the Salem Horror Fest is determined to keep the Halloween spirit alive by encouraging horror fans to stay home, be safe, and support independent filmmakers, horror creators, and academics from the comfort of their couch.
The festival will be hosted on a customized streaming platform that works on all browsers and can be easily casted to the television and streaming devices. Guests who purchase an All Access membership will receive a Salem Horror Fest face mask, and will receive priority access to celebrity guests like Dee Wallace, Zach Galligan, Robert Picardo, and acclaimed genre director Joe Dante, all of whom will take part in reunions for the 1981 werewolf classic The Howling and the gonzo 1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch as part of a tribute to Dante’s career.
A number of films will receive their World, North American, and East Coast premieres including The Strings, Leni, The Witches of Hollywood, Threshold, Vise, and The Last Thanksgiving. Other festival favorites include Feels Good Man, The Last Blockbuster, Death Drop Gorgeous, and a slate of films comprised of a widely diverse group of Black, Women, Queer, Latinx, and Asian voices.
Delving deeper into the horror genre and how it reflects our increasingly horrifying society are a series of seminars and panels that tackle various topics such as Black representation, Giallo feminism, Chinese vampires, Norwegian witches, Mary Shelley, found footage, young adult literature, and female puberty presented by notable academics and film journalists.
Salem Horror Fest will also host a series of live podcasts including The Movies That Made Me, We Hate Movies, The Faculty of Horror, Pure Cinema Podcast, Horror Queers, Nightmare University, and Purple Stuff Podcast.
All Access Badges unlock admission to every event with extended access to programs throughout the month and year. To view the current lineup and purchase badges, please visit Salem Horror Fest. Further details and events are coming soon! Submissions are still open until Monday, August 31st.
First Wave Films
Directed by Michael Bafarro
After surviving a violent encounter, renowned pianist, Amber Waltz, relocates to a rural farmhouse to complete her latest symphony. When the music mysteriously begins writing itself, Amber slowly discovers that this piece could be her last. BLACK LAKE Directed by K / XI Looking for inspiration and to pursue her passion for Expressionist painting, Aarya, a young woman, leaves her family in the city to house-sit, in a large secluded property surrounded by beautiful Scottish landscapes. She is gifted a red scarf, sent by her aunt from her recent travels to Pakistan, and is haunted by a Churail: a demonic and malevolent South-Asian Witch (traditionally depicted with long black hair over her face and backwards feet), and is forced to face the devastating cycles of violence the Churail brings with her.
COLD WIND BLOWING Directed by Dionne Copland
A brother and sister and their four friends go on Christmas vacation in the Cypress Hills. As old hurts begin to surface between the intimate circle of friends, a shocking event further illuminates their fracturing relationships.
DANNI AND THE VAMPIRE Directed by Max Werkmeister
A madcap drifter tries to reignite a special feeling from her past by helping a vampire achieve his dreams.
DEATH DROP GORGEOUS
Directed by Michael J Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, Brandon Perris-Sanchez
A dejected bartender and an aging drag queen try to survive the eccentric and hostile nightlife of a corrupt city as a masked maniac slaughters young gay men and drains them of blood.
DIABLO ROJO PTY Directed by Sol Moreno
In the city of Panama, a bus driver falls victim to a mysterious spell and ends up lost in the Jungle somewhere in Chiriquí, dragging the driver, the assistant and two police officers in an adventure in which they will have to survive from the creatures of the night, with the old bus as the only refuge.
Directed by Josh Atkinson
A young black man in Brooklyn must prove his new white neighbors are emissaries from the Satanic cult they both survived as children. DROWN THE CLOWN Directed by Justin Viggiano A bereaved woman named Claire Sable, who recently lost her daughter Lily in a drowning accident, is obsessed with keeping Lily’s memory intact by keeping her nursery and favorite clown doll in a pristine and preserved condition
FEELS GOOD MAN Directed by Arthur Jones, Giorgi Angelini Artist Matt Furie, creator of the comic character Pepe the Frog, begins an uphill battle to take back his iconic cartoon image from those who used it for their own purposes. HUNGER Directed by Manu Herrera
After an intense rehearsal, Judah awakens an irremediable desire for Rebeca and her dance partner.
IT CUTS DEEP Directed by Nicholas Santos
While on Christmas vacation, a young couple contemplates their future together. Ashley is interested in getting married and having kids which terrifies Sam. When the more attractive and paternal Nolan enters the picture, Sam’s life spirals out of control as Ashley questions their relationship. Chaos reigns as Sam desperately clings to Ashley while fending off the threatening Nolan.
THE LAST BLOCKBUSTER
Directed by Taylor Morden
Once upon a time there were over 9,000 Blockbuster video stores in America, now there is just one.
THE LAST THANKSGIVING Directed by Erick Lorinc East Coast Premiere
A family of cannibalistic pilgrims attacks a restaurant that stays open for Thanksgiving.
LENI Directed by Frederico Gianoti World Premiere Recurring nightmares and the aftermath of a violent break-up have put Leni on edge as she desperately seeks to regain her sanity. Now she must confront her monsters in order to unravel the trauma of a past she doesn’t seem to fully remember.
Directed by Russ Emanuel
Annie Curtis, an award-winning documentarian and her husband Neil. Annie and Neil embark on a ’30 Days of Clean Living’ documentary, setting up cameras all over their house to document, via the Internet, their new eating habits. By doing so, half of their cameras capture a parallel version of themselves – a version that ultimately unravels and threatens their very existence.
PAPI RAMIREZ VS GIANT SCORPIONS
Directed by Leslie Rivera
A soon-to-be-dad kung fu fights giant scorpions that want to eat him.
Directed by Ryan Glover World Premiere
In the dead of winter, a musician travels to a remote cottage to work on new material but soon finds herself under attack from a mysterious dark presence.
THRESHOLD Directed by Powell Robinson, Patrick R Young North American Premiere
Improvised, shot on two iPhones over the course of a 12 day road trip, with a crew of 3, THRESHOLD follows a sister, claiming to be cursed, as she persuades her brother to embark on a cross country road trip to break her spell. Convinced she’s using drugs, he agrees to the trip with one caveat: if there’s nothing at their destination, she goes straight to rehab.
Directed by Yasuhiko Shimizu East Coast Premiere
A would-be model works days in front of a supermarket cash register. Try though she might, she fails one audition after another. Unable to understand why, she blames her lack of success on her face, which she accuses of being too big. Sensing it is the models who opt for cosmetic surgery that get work, she grows obsessed with the idea of shrinking her face to meet conventional notions of beauty.
THE WITCHES OF HOLLYWOOD
Directed by Sophie Peyrard World Premiere
“The Witches in Hollywood” studies the archetype of the witch in Hollywood cinema from the 1930s to the present and shows, between the lines, how it is linked to the social history of female power.
WOMAN OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS Directed by Takeshi Kushida
A misogynistic photographer discovers for the first time in his life the joys of loving a woman, this one confused about her self-identity and self-esteem, by helping her in her perceptions of herself with his photographic retouching skills.
Additional films and programs can be viewed at Salem Horror Fest.