The Cary Theater has been in a spooky state of mind throughout October.
This month the theater has screened the horror classics “Dracula,” “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” On the night before Halloween, there will be a screening of John Carpenter’s groundbreaking slasher film “Halloween.” UNC-Chapel Hill microbiology/immunology professor Lorraine Cramer was even brought in to lead a “Science on Screen” discussion following a screening of the zombie cult classic “Shaun of the Dead.”
And speaking of zombies, the theater will unspool nothing but films featuring those undead creatures Friday night for “Zombiepalooza!”
Operations and programming supervisor Joy Ennis says this free zombie-plagued spectacle was created to make people more aware of the three-year-old theater and the events that it offers.
“We were really looking for an event that we could create to help in our efforts in getting the word out about the theater” says Ennis. “And we were thinking about different things that were coming up and we sort of settled on Halloween as a good time to do something. And we thought about different things that we could do – certainly, we wanted it to settle it around film.”
And with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” just starting its seventh season this past Sunday, a zombie film festival is a very popular thing to do.
“Zombies are so mainstream in pop culture right now and they’re kind of in-vogue a little bit,” says Ennis. “And you can do a lot with it, because you can have funny zombies. You can have scary zombies. Or, you can have ‘Walking Dead’ kind of zombies. So, there’s a breadth of programming you can do around it.”
13 short films, made by amateur and professional filmmakers around the Triangle, will play on Friday, and the lineup is an eclectic mix of zombiefied fare. Among the creature-features on display: “Merry Zmas,” about dressing up as Santa Claus to avoid the zombie plague; “Stairs,” a zombie love story where a guy tries to get to a girl, but is unable to because stairs are in the way; “Mean Ghouls,” an obviously undead take on “Mean Girls”; and “Dead Meat,” where the zombies are running rampant thanks to Mad Cow Disease.
Along with these short films, there will also be a screening of George Romero’s legendary zombie flick “Night of the Living Dead.” All films will be screened outside.
The theater wanted films by local filmmakers so the event could have a pro-community vibe.
“The films range from a minute to five minutes and, so, we specifically said, ‘Anybody can make a short film,’” says Ennis. A committee screened all the films last week, and there will be monetary prizes given for the best shorts, as well as a “People’s Choice” award. (Ennis says first prize will also receive “a really cool zombie trophy.”) Attendees are also encouraged to dress up as their favorite zombie, since a prize will also be given to the night’s best-dressed zombie.
The Cary Theater will be in the scary spirit way after Halloween is over. On Nov. 5, the theater will be home to the first Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival. Fifty-three genre films from eight or nine countries, mostly made by female filmmakers, will be screened for a day-long festival, curated by Apex horror filmmaker Christine Parker (“The Forever Dead,” “Fistful of Brains”). If it’s a success, Ennis says, next year “we would fold it into our ‘Zombiepalooza!’-type event and kind of make it so it’s more concentrated and we don’t have a weekend of this and a weekend of that.”
While it may look like the Cary Theater is building itself up as the regular spot for Halloween-themed celluloid in the Triangle area (watch out, Carolina Theatre!), they’re just trying to get more behinds in those seats.
“It seems like we’re having a lot of horror right now, because it’s October and that’s the time when people are more interested in seeing the genre,” says Ennis. “So, that’s why we programmed a lot of it.”
So if you’re looking to get more creeped-out than usual this Halloween weekend, The Cary Theater is waiting for you.
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: The Cary Theater, 122 E. Chatham St., Cary
Details: 919-462-2051 or thecarytheater.com