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5 Reasons to Get Excited About Panic Fest 2023

Kansas City is known as the city of fountains. Panic Fest, the annual genre film festival that celebrates all things horror, science-fiction, and thriller, promises to turn them into fountains of blood. Recently the festival announced its first wave of programming, and there are a ton of can’t miss events, screenings, and parties. We are breaking down the top five can’t miss events from one of the best film festivals in the country.

1. A Cagey Performance in Renfield

No one has embraced the bizarre like Nicholas Cage. He knows what he is and what audiences like about him. Early reactions are through the roof when it comes to his portrayal of the famous Count Dracula in Renfield, set for a broad release at the end of the month. Playing opposite Nicholas Hoult as the titular Renfield Cage seems to bring his Cageist performance yet. Now is your chance to catch Renfield a couple of weeks before everyone else. Laugh, cry, and brag to your friends and family; you saw it first at Panic Fest. I mean, look at that face. It is going to be huge.

2. Evil Dead Promises to Rise Up

We received the first look at the new Necromonicon a few days ago. Written in blood and bound in flesh, the newest book doesn’t have an evil mouth, but it does have a similar look to the books of movies past. Moreover, the Deadites are back but this time in a new place. It is no longer a cabin in the woods but rather an apartment building that has fallen into disrepair. From early looks and clips, Evil Dead Rise offers the same gore the remake gave us in 2013 while honoring the look and feel of the monsters from previous entries in the franchise. Hopefully, it will bring some of the humor of the early sequels as well. Evil Dead Rise is yet another movie you can check out before the normies get a chance to take a look when it comes out to the general public on April 21st.

3. Beware of Black Mold

The is a horror queen in Kansas City. Her name is Jill Gevargizian, and her first feature, The Stylist, is why we champion indy movies. I totally dug The Stylist, and not just because of the local connection. It had a super creepy killer, something to say about how we treat women (and how they treat one another), and offered an intimate look at love and belonging. It also had a stellar cast. Now enter John Pata, who we first met in 2019 when the movie he edited, Gags The Clown, premiered at Panic Fest. The two have teamed up, Pata as director and Gevargizian as producer and lead hairstylist on set, for their newest project Black Mold. Black Mold seems to be a haunted building movie in the same vein as Session 9. I love the people involved in the project, and by the looks of it, Black Mold will be a movie everyone will be talking about after the festival is over. It will have its world premiere on April 15.

4. Nightmare Junkhead Playing Games

The guys at Nightmare Junkhead have been a staple of the local Kansas City horror scene for years. They are the best-kept secret for folks outside of the area. When it comes to podcasts, no one in the horror game brings the same depth of knowledge and humor that Greg and Jenius do. They are presenting their Game of Games again this year, which is a fun mixture of trivia and other party games meant to draw the audience into the fun. It was an absolute riot the last time I attended. While Nightmare Junkhead should absolutely be on your list, I also encourage pass-holders to check out The Cult podcast, which offers up some spicy true crime if that is more your speed. The folks that run Panic Fest have gone out of their way to highlight podcasts that showcase all areas of the genre, and Panic Fest 2023 is no different. Check out their podcast page for all the details.

5. Get Your Hair Done at Medusa Deluxe

Anyone who has been listening to me screams about the A24 release Talk to Me is well aware of where I think A24 is headed and why I think that is good for the company and good for horror. Talk to Me is decidedly not artsy. It mostly falls outside of whatever ‘elevated horror’ may be.

The A24 release Medusa Deluxe seems to be channeling a more traditional movie when we think of A24. The concept seems pretty highbrow. Described as a murder mystery set in a competitive hairdressing competition. Extravagance and excess collide as the death of one of their own sows seeds of division in a community whose passion for hair verges on obsession. From the description to the stills, the movie looks bonkers and beautiful. The concept seems similar to another film I dug. I guess I may be entering my killer hair phase. I am ready for it.

Panic Fest takes place every year at the historic Screenland Theatre in North Kansas City. The city is great, and the theatre is even better. Nothing says community better than checking out a scary movie and then grabbing a beer and chatting about that movie in the new dive bar in the basement of the Screenland. Rewind will be THE place to hang out and will be a much-needed social gathering space. Find me there during the festival, and your first beer is on me! It is almost time to Panic.