Don’t be scared of the Carolina Fear Fest!
Screaming coeds and buzzing chainsaws. A scaly monster in the basement. The slow-building tension of a twisted psychological thriller. Whatever scares you, you’ll find it at the inaugural Carolina Fear Fest horror convention.
Although this is the first-ever Carolina Fear Fest, convention organizer Stephanie Freas is already well-versed in horror. She runs the Devil’s Playground haunted attraction in Lillington, NC, where, every autumn from late September to early November, thousands of people travel to be terrified. But Freas knew there was a larger community out there clamoring for more fear.
“We realized that there was a giant horror-shaped hole over eastern North Carolina,” says Freas. So she stepped in to fill that void with the Carolina Fear Fest. A horror convention along the lines of Comic-Con, its lineup includes celebrities, a film festival, an indoor car show, special effects artists, guest panels, merchandise and more, promising horror fans a weekend to remember.
Ticket range from $15 to $30 for advance online purchases through May 13. After that, prices will range from $25 to $40 both online and at the door. Discounts are available for children under the age of 12, but they must be accompanied by an adult; themes may not be suitable for all children.
There’s An App For That
The Fest is foregoing printed maps and schedules. An app will be available to help you navigate the convention, with up-to-the-minute programming information.
North Carolina has been the filming location for a long list of scary movies, including “Firestarter,” “Hannibal,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Evil Dead 2,” “Cabin Fever” and “The Conjuring,” so horror has almost literally soaked into the state’s soil. Although the local film industry has experienced a dry spell recently, there’s still a strong filmmaking framework and community in place.
“We’ve been trying to celebrate all things North Carolina as well as all things horror, and we’ve gotten a lot of really good local folks involved,” says Freas. “We have a lot of local filmmakers.”
More than 100 filmmakers submitted their work for the film festival, which will screen a range of classics, international, student and local indie films in blocks of related content. Convention visitors are free to pop in and out of the screening rooms as they wish.
Celebrity guests include scream queen Linnea Quigley from cult classics like “Silent Night, Deadly Night” and “Return of the Living Dead,” Felix Silla from “The Addams Family” and “Planet of the Apes,” Tyler Mane from “X-Men” and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” movies, Michael Berryman from “The Hills Have Eyes” and “The Devil’s Rejects,” and screenwriter John Russo, best known for “Night of the Living Dead.” You must pre-register in order to take photos with celebrities, so make sure to check out the website ahead of time for availability and pricing.
Visitors can have close encounters with celebrities of the vehicular kind, including props like the Green Goblin head from Stephen King’s “Maximum Overdrive,” replicas of the “Scooby-Doo” Mystery Machine and Ecto-1 from “Ghostbusters,” plus other industry and tribute vehicles and even a fleet of hearses.
What to Wear
“We absolutely encourage people to come in costume,” says Freas. “If we’re going to come here and celebrate horror, we might as well do it all the way.” No weapons of any kind are allowed in the venue, including cap guns. Prop weapons must be obviously fake and are subject to inspection. The rules also prohibit nudity and ask that cosplayers be respectful with large costumes and props.