Downright Creepy’s Tim Canton on Screenland Armour’s upcoming Panic Fest

logo - panic fest
Over the weekend of Friday, January 31, through Sunday, February 2, North Kansas City’s Screenland Armour will play host to the second annual Panic Film Fest. In addition to a slew of classic horros films like Deep Red, Driller Killer, and the infamous Cannibal Holocaust, the fest will feature a selection of newer genre fair from Magnet Releasing. Additionally, there will be some interesting left-of-center selections like Spaceballs and Serenity to offer a bit of variety — to say nothing of beer from Tallgrass Brewing and a wide number of vendors.

It’s obviously right up our alley here at Rock Star Journalist, so we reached out to one of the organizer, Tim KC Canton, of Downright Creepy He was kind enough to answer a bunch of our questions via e-mail.

Seems like there’s a nice mix of new & classic films. How do you decide what to include?

We definitely wanted a mix of not just old and new but of other kinds of films. Horror, sci-fi, thrillers, anime/fantasy and a bit of comedy thrown in. Last year we had a lot of classics and fan favorites in our lineup, which are always a fun time – but this year we wanted to bring as many new films as we could to give genre fans something they haven’t seen before. So we teamed up with IFC Midnight and Magnet / Magnolia to bring in a lot of early releases to go along with our classics.

poster - space ballsAnd why Spaceballs — some levity in the midst of the brutality of Driller Killer and (especially) Cannibal Holocaust?

Exactly. Laughter and fear are two very strong emotions so if we can evoke that during our fest I think our lineup has done it’s job. Spaceballs is a fantastic Mel Brooks film that plays on a franchise beloved by so many and has a niche following all its own. Just a like a good horror film needs ebbs and flows to be good – we felt the festival needed some of that same formula. Anytime we can bring John Candy and Rick Moranis together on the big screen is a win for everyone. Last year we screened Ghostbusters with a brunch special, so to continue that tradition we went with Spaceballs for some laughs. You can get brunch and a movie for $18 or just see the film for $8.

This being the second year for Panic Fest, what are you doing differently than the first?

I think we tried to go too big too soon last year. It was our first year for the fest and Downright Creepy was so stoked to put together this genre festival with Screenland Theaters that we thought two consecutive weekends of films would be amazing! Don’t get me wrong it was, but for our first year we probably should have tried to focus our energy in one central location to pack it with the best lineup we possibly could – and I think we have done a great job of that this year by hosting it for one weekend at historic Screenland Armour in North Kansas City, MO. Having the fest in one condensed weekend will give moviegoers the most bang for their buck!

Were there any particularly hard lessons you learned?

I think with anything in life the more you do it the better you get at it. No exception when it comes to putting together a film festival. It is a lot of hard work to get a great lineup and pull in movies for early screenings from film studios. Which is why it has been really nice to work more with IFC Midnight and Magnet / Magnolia to do just that. We also have more vendors this year and a better space for them to setup in the loft above the full service bar and theater at Screenland Armour. So I wouldn’t necessarily say hard lessons were learned other than it’s just a matter of longevity to make Panic Fest a success and we hope to improve upon that each year.

zombie monkey porterWhat do you get out of the partnership with Tallgrass? Some interesting beers?

We get a nice buzz. That’s what we get. Screenland will have ALL of the Tallgrass craft beers on hand for the festival. Which includes; Zombie Monkey, Velvet Rooster, 8bit Pale Ale, Ethos IPA, Vanilla Buffalo Sweat, Buffalo Sweat, and their standard Pale Ale. Zombie Monkey is the specialty which seems appropriate for our festival. They have also helped us with a few marketing things. Tallgrass has been really great to work with.

Where did Panic Fest come from?

From our twisted little brains and dark hearts … A couple years ago Adam Roberts and Brent Miller took over as the owner-operators of Screenland Armour and reached out to my website, Downright Creepy, to team up for some events. Since then we have hosted Walking Dead and American Horror Story watch parties and even built an Insidious: Chapter 2 haunted house in their loft for a special one night double feature. After the success of some of those events, we both really wanted to showcase horror on a bigger scale in KC.

Working in advertising for about 8 years and founding Downright Creepy 5 years ago, I’ve been immersed in the horror genre for quite some time now. So I started brainstorming what the fest could be and put a brand behind it. Panic Fest was on the short list of names that seem to resonate with more than just the horror genre and we felt it could grow into something bigger. Horror will always be the roots of the fest but it allows us to explore other genres as well. Hopefully we will be bringing the panic to movie fans for years to come. Thus, Screenland Armour presents a Downright Creepy event!

It’s as if there’s a real genre renaissance in KC. Do you think the Fest can end up being the third pillar of a strong foundation, along with Planet Comicon and Crypticon?

I really think we can. There are a lot of talented artists, filmmakers and fans in the area. We are already seeing more interest in Panic Fest this year from fans, vendors and movie studios alike. It has been amazing to see how big Planet Comicon has become and we are a big fan of what they have accomplished. The same can be said for Crypticon KC which is in it’s fourth year and continues to grow. I actually do the website for Crypticon KC and Downright Creepy will have a vendor table so we hope to see you all there in August.

But, as far as Panic Fest becoming a third pillar, I don’t see why not. Will it take some time? Yes. Can we pull it off? Definitely. Both years we have brought in filmmakers to do Q&A’s for their films but we would like to expand a bit more next year and possibly bring in a celebrity or two to sign autographs. I think the goal Adam and I have for Panic Fest is to grow it into a Fantastic Fest for the Midwest. With the addition of a brand new Screenland Crossroads theater coming to downtown Kansas City this Summer it opens up more opportunities next year in the heart of the city.

Why should the casual horror fan make the trek?

Tons of reasons! We will be giving away some nice prizes between screenings that range from autographed posters to Blu-Rays – along with Q&As from filmmakers. The producer and director of Pinup Dolls on Ice are coming all the way from Canada to hang out and discuss their film with a few other surprises along the way. On top of that Screenland Armour has the largest selection of craft beers in the city and you can sample Tallgrass’ Zombie Monkey which you won’t find anywhere else!

Our lineup has a nice mix of indie flicks and early releases that you may not see in theaters or will have to wait months for the nationwide release date. I am most looking forward to Here Comes the Devil, Knights of Badassdom, Almost Human and Big Bad Wolves.

Check out the Panic Fest site for the full lineup of films and vendors, as well as to buy tickets.