NEPA Horror Fest back with frights all day and night

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Oct. 11—SCRANTON — Play by day and fright by night! NEPA Horror Fest returns to the Circle Drive-In on Saturday, October 14 to air "13 Short Films" in Halloween's favorite movie genre.

Horror fans can shop the Scranton Punk Rock Flea Market & Zinefest and meet celebrity icons from Rob Zombie's "Halloween" during the daylight. Here's your chance to live your Halloween dream and meet Hanna Hall (Judith Myers), Kristina Klebe (Lynda Van Der Klok), and William Forsythe (Ronnie White).

Doors open at 12:00 p.m. The"Halloween" Reunion Meet & Greet starts around 2:00 p.m. When the sun sets, NEPA Horror Fest presents their main event on the big drive-in screens starting 7:30 p.m., rain or shine.

They've curated 13 short horror films submitted by indie filmmakers near and far, followed by a screening of Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007) to cap off the evening with a bloody delight. Expect a bit of everything from creature features to gore fests, from campy creeps to arthouse thrills.

"We get films from all over the world. We're showing an Italian horror movie and another one from Madrid," said Co-Organizer Bobby Keller. "It's a nice variety and you'll find something in the 13 movies that you like."

Before night falls and the movies premiere, the horror festival features live music to fit the horror theme while fans shop tricks and treats at the huge Scranton Punk Rock Flea Market.

"We want to give horror fans in this area the same experience — if not a better experience than going to Philly or New Jersey," said Keller.

Photo Credit — NEPA Horror Fest

NEPA Horror Fest was first founded in 2015 by Bobby Keller as an independent horror film festival. It all started at River Street Jazz Cafe to unite horror-lovers and filmmakers for the Halloween season. The event was so successful that they kept it going! Co-Organizer Jess Meoni and the Scranton Punk Rock Flea Market joined the fun in 2020.

Now, NEPA Horror Fest celebrates its ninth year. They've grown from simply screening films to getting horror celebs and alternative vendors in on the spine-chilling action. After their first year, Keller started bringing in cult figures like horror critic Joe-Bob Briggs, Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp, and many more since.

In 2018, NEPA Horror Fest moved to the Circle Drive-in and added a summer event to keep thrills and chills happening all year long in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In June, they bring in one big actor and focus on their film but NEPA Horror Fest in October — oh, they go all out.

Keller and Meoni both said, this year, they're most looking forward to the Rob Zombie reunion.

"I love everything about the festival but my favorite thing is being a fly on the wall for the meet and greets," said Keller. "Hearing the fans' reactions to the guests...the guests love the fans. They treat the fans with respect and vice versa."

The Meet & Greet takes place while NEPA Horror Fest also showcases unique visual artists and live music from local and regional acts. The entertainment lineup features two horror-themed bands as well as an assortment of punk, alternative, psychobilly, and hardcore.

The headliner Pucker Up! is a female-led trio from Scranton, Winter Wolf is an up-and-coming high-energy NYC band, Anticitizen is punk rock out of New Jersey, One Revived is a psychobilly rock performance like no other, Hang In There is quintessential NEPA hardcore, and Edgar Gorre and the Nevermores are the perfect horror-folk band to kick off the terrifying day at 2:00 p.m.

The music coincides with the Scranton Punk Rock Flea Market and Zinefest, featuring 100+ vendors. Artists come from all over the Northeast to display their alternative art. Find items you can't get anywhere else like photography, vinyls, taxidermy, collages, 3D creations, masks, clothing, toys, and more.

This is not your typical flea market. Many of the items connect to the horror theme and there's plenty of creepy cool vendors to explore, along with food, drinks and other concoctions.

Co-organizer Jess Meoni has been hosting the Scranton Punk Rock Flea Market & Zinefest for 13 years all around the area. Meloni also founded the Burning Roses Music Festival which took place in Nay Aug Park in July. The Scranton Punk Collective was her baby.

"When I was just getting into college, I was making fan zines and trying to put together a magazine. I was interviewing bands around here and compiling album reviews because I felt there was something there," explained Meoni. "I saw there was a big Zinefest in Philly but I didn't have the greatest experience there. It felt like everyone was too cool and no one welcomed me in. Then I thought, 'I'm going to go back to Scranton and make sure everyone's welcome' — and I did!"

The Scranton Punk Rock Flea Market & Zinefest was first called "Lady Fest", inspired by the riot girls scene, to provide a platform for creative women. She's hosted countless gatherings since. The idea continued cultivating when she brought the collective to NEPA Horror Fest!

"My hope was any vendor that came in really got to know the organizers. I've had a lot of the same vendors come back every year and spread the word. I think that reflects on the festival here," said Meoni.

Meoni said it's very important to her meet all the new vendors in person and make them feel at home. She wants them to know they're supported and always welcome back.

If all that shopping, music, and movie madness isn't enough to get into the Halloween spirit, there's also NEPA Horror Fest's Miss Spooky Scranton contest that finally gives goth chicks the chance to be calendar girls.

This contest showcases killer photos of alternative models by local photographers — and the photo competition has quickly turned into a October Scranton staple. Miss Spooky is a way of empowering NEPA women through horror art, that was inspired by a Vampira look-alike contest from the 50s or 60s.

The big ceremony to announce the Miss Spooky winners takes place at the VSpot on Thursday, October 12, and kicks-off the horrific festivities. NEPA Horror Fest will also showcase a preview of their 13 films with the reveal of each month's winner. Keller said many of this year's submissions appropriately pay homage to horror movies.

NEPA Horror Fest has sure organized one hell of a horror fair. Stop by all day and night to celebrate being a psycho horror fanatic with those who understand you best.

It's important to NEPA Horror Fest to keep the event as affordable as possible. Tickets are $25 and price of admission includes all the horrifying scheduled festivities. Kids 12 and under are free.

Re-entry will also be free so guests can check out the many food vendors or take a break to come back later for the movies.

"I just hope people enjoy their time," said Meoni.

NEPA Horror Fest brings the screams to the screen Saturday, October 14, (following Friday the 13th) at the Circle Drive-In.