Ever since its inception in 2017, Salem Horror Fest has been a staple for me. Growing up in the city next door, I never had a good reason to go to Salem in the month of October. The fanfare was for tourists and I never found my place among it. When I stepped through the doors of the Salem Cinema during the 2nd year of the festival, I was hooked. The atmosphere was exciting, there were podcasters set up outside the theater doors, and festival director K. Lynch was standing in the lobby welcoming guests.
Outside of the theater, the hustle and bustle of Witch City in October is alive. People are everywhere, on occasion making it hard to get in line at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery to meet the festival’s special guests. On occasion, I’d find myself in the Peabody Essex Museum for a viewing of Dante’s Inferno with a live score by Goblin’s Maurizio Guarini, or a Special Evening with John Waters. I started to find a reason to come back, almost daily.
This year looks a lot different for the city of Salem. The city’s “Haunted Happenings” have gone virtual because of coronavirus. Tours at the Witch House and Museums are chipped into smaller groups, and Salem Cinema’s owners had to put the theater up for sale earlier this year. For a second there, it looked like the festival I love might not happen this year.
Luckily, K Lynch and the brilliant team of coordinators and managers at Salem Horror found a way. For years they’ve been putting together wonderful programs of premieres blended with horror favorites. Though things can’t be the same this year, that hasn’t stopped them from providing an immense amount of entertainment in a new way. This year, “horror comes home” as you’ll be able to stream the festival in your pajamas on the couch through a web browser.
Today, October 2, marks the start of the first weekend of Salem Horror Fest with a second weekend right behind it on October 9. An all-access pass gets you into everything over the two weeks including 24 Premiere movies, an incredible shorts program, several retrospectives in tribute to horror legend Joe Dante, reunions from the cast of Gremlins 2, The Howling, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and that is only a small piece of the horror enchilada. Listed below is the full list of premieres with links to what Horror Obsessive and 25YL have covered so far. Head to Salem Horror Fest’s program page to view the full menu of events.