Salem Horror Fest, in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum and CinemaSalem, has announced four weeks of screenings, parties, concerts, panels, and exhibits that explore societal themes of fear and anxiety in horror at the Halloween capital of the world: Salem, Massachusetts.
Amidst the notorious backdrop of the 1692 Witch Trials, the festival will feature a city-wide program set to kick off at the Peabody Essex Museum on Friday, September 22, as part of the PEM/PM evening party series in conjunction with their upcoming exhibit “It’s Alive” Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection.
“We live in fear. Fear of failure, commitment, each other, and beyond. It’s one of the few things that unites us all. Salem knows this more than most,” said festival director Kevin Lynch. “The cinema is a graveyard of cultural reflections trapped in time like a celluloid ouija board. If we are to overcome fear, we must first understand it.”
Following the Opening Night Party on Friday, September 22, Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) will accept the first-ever Salem Horror Award on behalf of Duane Jones for his cultural contribution to the genre as one of the first positive representations of a person of color on the big screen in George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead.
A concert performance by queer, negro-gothic soprano M Lamar will be held at Ames Hall on Saturday, September 23, featuring a program The New York Times called an “otherworldly, goth-tinged projection into the distant future of our violent, racially, and sexually charged present offering a space of melancholic, alluring, ultimately stirring reflection.”
Four films will be screened in the PEM’s Morse Auditorium with panel discussions exploring subtextual themes of cultural fear found in Night of the Living Dead, Matinee, Gods & Monsters, and The Haunting.
Following the Haunted Happenings Parade on Thursday, October 5, CinemaSalem will host Wicked Shorts, a free evening of short films in consideration for the first annual Orlok Award, named in honor of Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery’s 10th anniversary.
The second half of the festival will screen seven double features at CinemaSalem that feature social themes such as racism, misogyny, gay panic, media manipulation, and xenophobia in films like Get Out, People Under the Stairs, Tragedy Girls, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, American Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Mist, They Live, Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Cruising, Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, Videodrome, Let the Right One In, and Fright Night.
The October 7 screening of Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls will be the New England premiere at Women With Guts, a celebration in partnership with Rue Morgue magazine. The event will also screen Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood followed by a Q&A session with its stars Lar Park Lincoln and Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) moderated by The Faculty of Horror podcast.