By Jonathan Dehaan
April 11, 2023
Panic Fest is one of the best damn genre film festivals in the United States, but don’t take our word for it. “I try to take Panic Fest as a national holiday,” shares director Joe Lynch, who has been attending the festival regularly since 2017 when he and Adam Green came for a live recording of their podcast The Movie Crypt, and to screen their films Mayhem and Victor Crowley.
“When you do film festivals, and you do enough of them,” he continues, “you start to curate towards the ones that you really enjoy, whether it’s the people the programming, or the way that it’s set up, or theatres itself. The Screenland Armor is such an amazing theatre to see movies in to begin with, and the fact that they have booze and burgers and pizza- you can’t go wrong!”
Beginning April 13, Panic Fest takes over the Screenland Armor Theatre in Kansas City, MO for 10 days of horror, sci-fi and genre film. Standout titles at this year’s Panic Fest include Renfield, Evil Dead Rise, and Sisu but Joe Lynch is coming to town with something a little different for all the good ghouls and boils. Friday, April 14 Lynch is hosting a Secret Screening. He refuses to say what we’ll be watching, but he promises that it’s “the perfect Friday movie“.
When we asked him what qualities are necessary for a Friday night movie, he explained that the most important factor for a Friday night movie marathon is the first movie you watch. “There’s a certain type of movie, a certain type of tone that I think is important when you want to kick the night of. Especially if you have a couple beers or you’ve got a joint or whatever, [so] you can just ease into the evening”. For Lynch personally, that’s often something fun with lots of energy.
“Anytime that I think of that first movie on a Friday night,” he explains, “I think of that skeleton that comes out of the ground in Return of The Living Dead and goes ‘do you wanna party!?’ That the moment that I want for that first Friday night movie”. We pressed him for some hints about the movie he’s curated for the Secret Screening but naturally, he didn’t want to give away too much away.
“Here’s one hint I will give you,” he said, carefully choosing his words. “I’m go to be very vague because I don’t want to give too much away. This movie dropped into our laps a couple months ago and I think we’ve watched it maybe 5 times since December. And not for any other reason than….’fuck it, let’s do this! [laughs]. It’s a rollicking good time, but it’s not what you’re going to expect at all. I’ll also say, that this movie has played at The New Beverly Cinema at least once in the last 2 years”.
He also said that no one has correctly guessed the title yet, but if you think that if you can guess the movie he’ll buy you a drink at Panic Fest, so feel free to start spamming his DMs with your picks for your chance to win the liquor lottery 🍻
Also attending the festival this year is Barbara Crampton, who will be joining Lynch for a special retrospective screening of From Beyond. Crampton also so happens to be one of the producers (and stars) of his upcoming H.P. Lovecraft adaptation A Suitable Flesh, but the sly director was quick to dispel any rumors that the secret screening might be a surprise preview of his newest project. “It is not A Suitable Flesh…but you never know where A Suitable Flesh might pop up in the weekend. There may be a taste of flesh somewhere, we’ll see.”
Of course, we wanted to ask him how it feels to return to Horror with A Suitable Flesh. The answer? “It feels fucking great. And not only to come back to Horror but to come back to a very specific type of Horror and at the same time, go into places that I’ve never gone to as a filmmaker and as a storyteller. The thing that I loved about this particular script, which was originally based on the Lovecraft short story The Thing on The Doorstep, was the lineage involved.
“Brian Yuzna is one of our producers, who produced Re-Animator, and From Beyond, and directed Society. Dennis Paoli who wrote those movies, wrote this script. Dame Barbara Crampton was our producer, who we eventually coersed to be in the film as well and she’s fucking great! […] You know, From Beyond is a perfect example of that kind of dangerous, erotic genre cinema that I feel is missing. That’s why I’m so excited to show From Beyond at Panic Fest on Saturday night. When you watch that movie, you’re going to have a couple people squirming in their seats, in the best way possible.
Seeing From Beyond on the big screen again (at one of the best theatres in the country), with Horror Icon Barbara Crampton in attendance is worth the price of admission alone, but that isn’t all they’ve got planned for the Panic Fest crowd. “[Barbara and I] are going to be introducing the movie, we’re doing a Q&A, and afterward Ted Geoghegan is taking over with We Are Still Here. It’s Crampton sandwich, if you will. And all I will say is this: you’re definitely going to want to stick around for that Q&A in between. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge…”
Join us at Panic Fest 2023 in Kansas City April 13-23 for days of cinematic mayhem! Tickets and info can be found HERE on the Panic Fest site. Use the offer code NOFS20 for 20% off your festival badges and single tickets before everything sells out! And be sure to follow our continued coverage of festival HERE on the site, and social media.
If you’re going to be in town for the fest, lets us know over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for readability. Hear our uncut conversation with Joe Lynch on this week’s episode of the Nightmare on Film Street podcast, and see the video version on the Nightmare on Film Street YouTube channel.