Fango faves Salem Horror Fest have today announced the full lineup for their sixth annual presentation, which kicks off on Thursday, April 20, and runs through Sunday, April 30 - and we have all the exclusive details for you below!
Named by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the “best genre festivals in the world,” Salem Horror Fest has programmed some of the most exciting works in horror cinema for the last six years, and 2023 is no different. Over the course of the fest, a massive sixty-six features and shorts will compete for jury and audience awards, and be considered for the George A. Romero Fellowship at Cinema Salem.
Since its inception, Salem Horror Fest has been dedicated to diversity and platforming the most marginalized of horror filmmakers. The 2023 official selection features a 50/50 split of men and women filmmakers; one third of whom identified as queer.
Festival director Kay Lynch had this to say about SHF's continued importance in the horror community:
“The world is becoming an increasingly scary place, but Salem remains queer as fuck with zero tolerance for fascist bullshit [...] It’ll be wonderful for everyone to enjoy Salem in the springtime and to fully appreciate its beauty as a historic, seaside community full of welcoming weirdos.”
Kicking off the fest, a very special opening night event at the Peabody Essex Museum featuring the legendary Candyman himself Tony Todd and keynote speaker Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women, Woodlands Dark & Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror). The first feature will be Satan Wants You, a new documentary that tells the untold story of how the Satanic Panic of the 1980s was ignited by Michelle Remembers, a lurid memoir by psychiatrist Larry Pazder and his patient Michelle Smith. The film, from directors Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams, will have its world premiere at SXSW.
The rest of the hugely exciting official feature selection looks like this:
Your Love is Mine
Directed by Luke Wijayasinha-Gray and Luke J. S. Australia, 81 minutes
A sudden tragedy threatens the relationship of Violet (Sene Priti) and Sam (Lester Ellis Jr). One of them goes to unthinkable lengths to preserve their union.
In a Dark, Dark Room
Directed by Denis Sobolev
Ukraine, 83 minutes
In a small town, misfit teens discover an ominous site of pagans, awakening a dark force that is fought by a mysterious biker – a history teacher by day and a witch hunter by night.
Directed by Terence Krey
United States, 90 minutes
Jessica Whitman isn’t a witch. Not anymore, at least. She left it behind when she left her hometown almost ten years ago. But when a childhood friend needs her help performing a dark spell, she finds herself questioning her sense of right and wrong, and grappling with her late mother’s secrets.
Directed by Mitch Wilson, Troy Hart, Dan Repp & Lindsay Young, Steven DeGennaro, Carlos Ibarra, and Sahvannah Rae
United States, Canada, 88 minutes
A witch anthology. A young girl, Olivia, seeks out Miss Rosewood, an infamous local witch, for training. But first, Olivia must join Miss Rosewood’s coven. Miss Rosewood shares the story of each member of her evil sisterhood.
No More Time
Directed by Dalila Droege
United States, 82 minutes
A couple seeks refuge in a remote mountain town to escape a mysterious disease that makes some people disappear and others turn into hateful murderers. Strange figures emerge from the surrounding forest, and it’s unclear if they are helping or harming. As the stakes grow higher and the dangers draw closer, the couple must decide who to trust and what they are willing to do to survive.
Directed by Danny Dunlop
Canada, 103 minutes
Inspired by true events. When a young social recluse stumbles onto a series of unsolved cold cases, he finds himself pulled deeper into society’s dark underside and must face his own demons to learn the truth.
Directed by Alexandra Spieth
United States, 93 minutes
Jenny, an urban loner, must fight for redemption at her estranged BFF’s bachelorette party. This film, the director’s horror-comedy feature debut, is a female-friendship saga that examines loss, gaslighting, and betrayal, and asks Can you overcome the past? In the words of the director, “My film is for women of all ages, and especially college and high school students. It’s for the girl I was then, and the woman I am now.”
Bury the Bride
Directed by Spider One
United States, 83 minutes
Bride-to-be June’s bachelorette weekend turns deadly when her blood thirsty fiancé and his friends show up to crash the party.
Directed by Dane Elcar
United States, 84 minutes
A couple find themselves trapped while on a run around a pond.
The Ones You Didn't Burn
Directed by Elise Finnerty
United States, 70 minutes
A young man returns to his family home after his father’s death. He meets two women who claim his father’s land was stolen from their ancestors after they were accused of being witches. He soon finds himself the center of an occult conspiracy that led to his father’s suicide and now threatens to destroy him.
Directed by Alice Maio Mackay
Australia, 71 minutes
Ancient parasites that thrive on hatred rise from beneath a small town and take the most fearful and susceptible as hosts. A young trans filmmaker, who is struggling to transition in increasingly hostile times for LGBTQ+ people, realizes that only she can sense the possessed and must rally the resistance before the horror escapes and spreads.
The Forest Hills
Directed by Scott Goldberg
United States, 80 minutes
A man is tormented by nightmarish visions after enduring head trauma while camping in the Catskill woods.
Guys At Parties Like It
Directed by Micah Coate and Colton David Coate
United States, 79 minutes
A jaded party girl finds herself engrossed in a dangerous game of survival when a ritualistic fraternity party spins out of control and descends into madness.
Bliss of Evil
Directed by Joshua Morris
Australia, 83 minutes
Isolated and stalked, a band must attempt to escape the recording studio where they’re trapped before they fall prey to a mysterious intruder in Josh Morris‘s soon-to-be-classic Aussie slasher.
The Weird Kidz
Directed by Zach Passero
United States, 80 minutes
On a weekend campout, a dark monster terrorizes a group of campers who fall prey to an ancient legend and conspiring local townsfolk. For preteen Dug, Mel and Fatt, and Dug’s older brother and girlfriend, a night out in the desert becomes a survivalist horror adventure. Zach Passero’s heartfelt coming-of-age tale about growing up and surviving a night of terrors juggles frights, laughs, and an amputated arm in this unique hand-animated joy ride of a creature feature.
Directed by K Pervaiz
United Kingdom, 92 minutes
After a childhood incident leaves her without any memories, Maya is adopted by an elderly couple, along with another orphan, Kalika, who she forms a sisterly bond with. Through feverish nightmares and unsettling events, Maya travels to Karachi and rediscovers her traumatic childhood through the grips of jinn (demonic) possession.
He BGB TV
Directed by Jake McClellan, Adam Lenhart, and Eric Griffin
United States, 78 minutes
A retro-horror TV cable box infiltrates a neighborhood and curates nostalgic killer content to its audience. Drawing on television themes throughout the decades, this feature is jam packed with fun shorts, scary songs, and creepy characters all for a cheap laugh. A movie about watching TV!
Directed by Sylvia Caminer
United States, 95 minutes
In this psychosexual thriller, Jess Peters, a struggling actress and live streamer, has finally found her hook: secretly filming creepy interactions she encounters via online job listings, and using the kinks of others to fuel her streaming success. For her next episode, she’s been hired to write the ending of a screenplay in a remote cabin. Once there, the alluring self-proclaimed screenwriter hands her a script in which the two of them are the main characters. This client isn’t what he seems, and even though the money is great… the real payment here could cost her life.
Directed by Jaco Minnaar
South Africa, 90 minutes
POU (PEACOCK) is a South African gothic horror following the psychosexual journey of a young woman into the dark recesses of the Afrikaner psyche and its compromised past.
Directed by Michael J. Ahern, Ryan Miller, Brandon Perras
United States, 80 minutes
A gay couple, Caleb and Adrian, begin having similar, unsettling dreams concerning Caleb's ex, who had been working in Provincetown for the summer. Under the guise of taking an impromptu respite, Caleb convinces Adrian to trek to PTown in the winter only to find that his ex appears to be missing. As Caleb's dreams and hallucinations continue plaguing him, he becomes more determined to find his ex. But the longer he persists in his search, the sooner he nears the sinister secret the town is hiding.
Directed by Carter Smith
United States, 93 minutes
After a drug run goes bad, two friends must survive a nightmarish ordeal of drugs, bugs and horrific intimacy in this backwoods body-horror thriller.
That's not even to mention the huge amount of excellent shorts, including Christopher Guerrero's cultural appropriation chiller Canceled, Jennifer Scott & Nicole Townssend's bubblegum brutality Domestic Bliss and Kate Vaillant's adorable animation My Cat Lucy.
Two mini-festivals packed full of international horror are also programmed. Weekend One will showcase four Czech films; brand new restorations of The Ninth Heart (1979), and Morgiana (1972) from Severin Films, as well as Prague Nights (1969) and The Pied Piper (1986) from Deaf Crocodile films. Weekend two dives into South Asian horror with a four-film retrospective of the Ramsay Brothers from the Bollywood Crypt including Mahakaal (The Monster, 1994), Veerana (The Wilderness, 1988), Aatma (The Spirit, 2006), and Purana Mandir (The Old Temple, 1984).
PLUS; an amazing set of repertory screenings including The Fog (1980), Night of the Demons (1988), Demons (1985), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Fright Night (1985), Fright Night: Part II (1988), and Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. The Faculty of Horror, and Horror Queers podcasts will present The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), and The Hitcher (1986) respectively for live episodes. Also from Severin Films, a new restoration of Bakeneko: A Vengeful Spirit will be followed by a Miskatonic Institute of Horror lecture entitled, “The Cat Came Back: Female Familiars in the Horror Genre,” presented by author Alex West (“The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle,” “Films of the New French Extremity”).
DAMN, that's what we call a film festival. Check out the full Salem Horror Fest program, as well as ticket and pass info here - trust us, this is not one you want to miss!