We are just a few days away from what MovieMaker calls one of the top genre film festivals in the country. Panic Fest has slowly but surely crept its way into our hearts and has earned its place as the go to film festival in the midwest. Looking at all of the possible choices for a film festival can be daunting. Its especially true with Panic Fest which offers such a wide array of new films, podcasts, and repertory screenings that it can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry I have assembled one path that will get you through the opening weekend. If you don’t feel like making choices just follow this path. Come say hi as I will be at all these screenings. There might be some Signal Horizon swag for you in it.
Thursday January 23rd (Preview Night)
Its less about choices and more about curation as we start out the festival with a set of shorts (Lane 9, Buffalo and Trout, and Hotel being my favorites) presented by Downright Creepy. No surprise that Color Out of Space will be the standout on the preview night. It is an unbelievable and wild take on the Lovecraft classic. It is also a triumphant return for Richard Stanley and an absolutely perfect way to start out the festival.
Friday January 24th
So its Panic Fest and I took the day off. You should do the same so that you can catch the first screenings at 1:00.
While Artik is excellent, especially if you dig comic books, our first stop of the actual festival will be Greenlight. Its one of three films presented by The Horror Collective and offers an intriguing combination of horror and hollywood that has me stoked.
The 3:15 PM slot is reserved for the film I am most excited about. Indigenous horror seems to be gaining steam lately and Blood Quantum combines my love of indigenous horror with my second love, zombies. I am READY for this one.
During the 5:30 session I need something to energize me, and a straight up comedy seems to be the perfect movie to do so. Will Forte stars in Extra Ordinary. Extra Ordinary looks to have some Ghostbuster roots and the cast is unbelievable.
Grab a quick bite to eat and make sure you return in plenty of time to catch The Generation Why Podcast which has a whole host of special guests. While true crime isn’t really my thing one of the special guests is local podcast and we dig Kansas City podcasts so check it out. The Podcast starts at 7:00 PM but seating starts at 6:30PM
I will have a little time to kill (no pun intended) between the Podcast event and my next movie so find me sipping some sort of Boulevard Beer in the lobby as I get pumped for the 9:45 showing of Evil Dead. It will be a 4K restoration along with a completely new score. I have not seen Evil Dead on the big screen and I am pumped.
Saturday January 25th
Don’t have too good a time at the after party on Friday as things start pretty early on Saturday. The first screening at 10:30 AM presents a difficult choice. I loved Rock, Paper, and Scissors, but my choice this morning will be the dark thriller Beyond the Woods. If early pictures of the film are anything it looks like it will be a movie that will chill me to the bone literally and figuratively.
Beyond the Woods looks like A LOT. It’s important to balance light and heavy so at 1:00 PM I am going to check out Puppet Killer. What in god’s name is this movie other than bonkers. Give me some good, gory, raunchy puppet humor.
Following what seems like a trend for Saturday I am going to check out the world premier of Uncle Peckerhead at 3:10. Writer/Director Matthew John Lawrence will be in attendance and will host a little Q and A afterward. That is one of the highlights of Panic Fest. This year a ton of guests will help introduce their films and discuss them after the screening. It’s a perfect opportunity to meet the people making the art we enjoy so much.
We have had an afternoon of fun so it’s time to jump back into the serious. If the academic angle is more you thing (It certainly is ours) then check out Nightmare University podcast. However, I am going to check out The Swerve at 5:20. It’s another screening with the director in attendance. The trailer for The Swerve is spectacular. If suburban horror is a thing The Swerve seems to be living in exurb hell. I cannot wait to hear what director Dean Kapsalis has to say about it.
The turnaround on this one may be too difficult in which I may work some during the Swerve screening instead. I mentioned the guests and the 6:30 time slot is a perfect example. Joe Lynch and Adam Green will be hosting a 10th anniversary screening of Frozen along with a live episode of their podcast The Movie Crypt. It’s like two events for the price of one and I will be the first one in the theatre for it.
The last time slot of the day is reserved for perhaps the biggest film at this year’s Panic Fest. Fangoria is all over this years festival and the horror media giant will be bringing their movie VFW to the feature time slot on Saturday at 9:45. It’s going to be amazing. Army vets, mutants, and drugs. It sounds like the best Stefon skit ever.
Sunday January 26th
Rise and shine, Rise and shine. It’s time to panic. Things start a little later today so you can sleep in a bit. The 1:00 time slot is the perfect time to take in Scare Package. I am torn about horror anthologies but have liked more than I have hated so I am stoked to check out the latest centered around cell phones that don’t work.
It will be a quick turn around but I am determined to make After Midnight at 2:45. After Midnight is the latest from Jeremy Gardner whose The Battery is one of my favorite zombie films of all time. His newest looks to be a tale of heartbreak and monsters. Yeah buddy I am down for both.
Paddy Murphy is making his way across the pond and it wouldn’t be midwest nice if I didn’t check out another film from The Horror Collective. Murphy directs The Perished which premiers in the 5:00 time slot. The Perished seems to use a mass baby grave as the catalyst for action. I am excited about a pit of dead babies. I think.
We have almost made it through. We can see the end of the weekend which is both a blessing and curse. The curse is going back to the real world. The blessing. I will desperately need sleep. 7:15 brings back a local podcast as the guys from Nightmare Junkhead meet up with Joe Lynch for an NC-17 screening of Hardware. This screening will be WTF, the podcast afterward will be WTF. We all will be WTF. By the end of this madness I will curl up in bed and dream bizarre thoughts about what Screenland Armour will bring to us next year.
Panic Fest is offering extended screening the following week. Check out what you couldn’t make during the weekend and tell us what your favorites were. Make sure you check out Sea Fever, The Cleansing Hour and of course the final film of the festival The Lodge. Follow us for all of our Panic Fest coverage. Happy Panicking Everyone.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.