NEPA Horror Film Festival to inhabit Iron Horse Movie Bistro in Scranton
With a bit of a refocus, a Scranton filmmaker and horror film enthusiast is bringing the NEPA Horror Film Festival back to the Electric City, and he’s found the event a new, more comfortable home.
The third annual festival, which, also for the third year in a row, will be titled “13 Short Films,” will take place starting at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Iron Horse Movie Bistro. For a fitting admission price of $13, patrons will be treated to a baker’s dozen of frightening flicks that all have a run time of 13 minutes or less.
The venue, a luxury movie house that opened in the spring, features reclining chairs, a full bar and a tavern-style menu.
Last year, for the event’s sophomore effort, organizer Bobby Keller brought in cult film icons Joe Bob Briggs and Felissa Rose to make celebrity appearances and sign autographs, but this year, Keller has scaled back the production.
“I want to see how it goes with the movie theater, and I want to focus more on the film festival rather than the horror convention aspect of it,” Keller said. “If things go well, and we have a successful event … maybe I’ll do it again next year with the celebrities.”
For now, Keller wants to let the event settle into its new atmosphere, and he’s hoping the popular theater will help attract a crowd.
“I think with how comfortable the movie theater is and the fact that it’s a new theater in downtown Scranton, it’s exciting enough to draw people in,” he said.
Keller said the theater that’s been reserved, one of the venue’s larger spaces, will be a marked improvement over the event’s previous location, where film screenings had to compete with bar noise from the adjoining room.
“You can sit in a comfortable theater and watch films and not be distracted,” he said.
The selection of recent independent films includes two local films, 10 works from American filmmakers outside the region and one Italian short. Among the titles are “She Came from the Woods,” “Behind the Curtain,” “Draw” and “Bag Man,” a film that has already earned official selection at the Toronto Indie Horror Festival and the Frostbite International Film Festival.
“‘Husk’ is about a married couple that finds a child in the woods and brings him into their home, and all this weird stuff starts to happen,” Keller said. “That’s my personal favorite.”
The spectrum of shorts, Keller said, features satire, horror-comedy, straight horror, art-house and even animation.
“There’s a good sense of diversity this year,” he said.
Keller also noted that the run time of the festival is down from nearly four hours last year to around two hours and 25 minutes this year, a goal he achieved by keeping the shorts at and under 13 minutes.
“I think we’re going to do a brief intermission, so people can get more food or smoke or whatever,” he said.
In Keller’s estimation, interest in the now-annual gathering is increasing year to year.
“If it wasn’t, I probably would have stopped doing it,” he joked. “With the new venue, if it goes well, this could be the beginning of a lot of cool events going forward, if they want to continue to work with me.”
In addition to the short film festival, Keller has also hosted screenings of feature length films in conjunction with the NEPA Horror Film Festival event brand over the past several years.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Third annual ‘13 Short Film’ presented by the NEPA Horror Film Festival.
Where: Iron Horse Movie Bistro, 301 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Admission price: $13