Fathom Fright Fest 2023

For as long as movies have existed, people have been captivated by the dark, macabre, and chilling. This deep-seated enjoyment stems from psychology, tapping into the primal desire to be frightened and the rush that follows. Society’s interest in horror has spiked in recent years. In 2018, the genre grossed over one billion dollars, marking a turning point in attendance [1].   

 

Year after year, audiences eagerly flock to theaters nationwide, immersing themselves in the vast array of terrifying experiences. As the demand for horror grew, Fathom launched a series encompassing all types of horror, enter Fathom Fright Fest. From the universal monsters to the latest spine-tingling releases, this series has evolved into an 8-week celebration of our insatiable appetite for everything that sends shivers down our spines. 

To celebrate Fathom Fright Fest 2023, we are diving into each film in the series. 


Christine’s 40th Anniversary  

One of the great Stephen King adaptations, Christine (1983), brings out the best in the book while stripping away the oversaturated supernatural elements. John Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips focused on the mystery of the Plymouth Fury, creating the feeling that the car was born to kill from the opening moments. The audience knows the series of accidents during Christine's assembly, but the main protagonist, Arnie Cunningham, doesn’t. As the film progresses and Arnie’s character goes from shy, misunderstood nerd to cool-kid greaser, we gain new insight into the explored intentions and themes.   

Christine stands out as a shining gem amidst the sea of King adaptations during that era. Fathom Fright Fest 2023 is bringing back this classic to the big screen September 10 & 13. 


 Shaky Shivers (2023)

A new release in this year's Fathom Fright Fest lineup, Shaky Shivers is the directorial debut for Sung Kang, best known for playing Han in the Fast and Furious franchise [1]. The film follows longtime friends Lucy and Karen, who have their ice cream parlor shift disrupted by a mysterious woman who bites Lucy. From there, the pair set out to see if Lucy will turn into a werewolf by waiting in an abandoned summer camp. Shaky Shivers is a homage to the classic tropes of the 80s and 90s, with Dungeon and Dragons themes and a campy setting.  

Kang very much created a horror comedy, and the series of unavoidable events our protagonists fall victim to are part of the gag and fun of the film.  

Shaky Shivers will be coming to theaters nationwide September 21.  


The Exorcist 50th Anniversary  

One of the scariest films ever created, William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973) has haunted moviegoers' dreams for 50 years. The film opens in Iraq, where Father Merrin, played by Max von Sydow, discovers an ancient, cursed artifact. 

Through Friedkin's cinematic craftsmanship, we are then transported into a house of horrors, trapped alongside the family as the demon starts to take control of their daughter. The Exorcist plays off the internal struggles of the human soul as Father Merrin and Father Karras attempt to rid Regan's soul of the demon, ultimately confronting their inner struggles. This feeling of self-doubt permeates into the audience, and we start questioning our faith as theirs gets tested.

In addition, the film is a triumph of special effects. From the brutal shocks, flying furniture, and the projectile vomit, we are convinced and concerned about the severity of the situation, never questioning the magic of the movies [2].  

William Friedkin’s masterpiece returns to theaters October 1 & 4 to celebrate its 50th anniversary.


  House of 1000 Corpses 20th Anniversary

Rob Zombie’s directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses (2003), is a psychotronic treat for horror fans who have seen it all. The film blends the savagery and atmosphere of 1970s cult classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and Tourist Trap (1979) with an over-the-top aesthetic that is pure Rob Zombie.

Things won’t end well when a group of young friends searching for offbeat roadside attractions stop at Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters & Madmen. This encounter will introduce the group to the legend of local killer Dr. Satan—and ultimately lead them to the demented Firefly family, who are on the hunt for fresh meat. Boasting a stacked cast of genre favorites including Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Karen Black, Michael J. Pollard, Chris Hardwick, Rainn Wilson, Walton Goggins, and the inimitable Sid Haig as the iconic Captain Spaulding, House of 1000 Corpses has shocked, delighted, and horrified fans for two decades.   

Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses returns to theaters nationwide on October 8 & 11 for the first time since its initial release. Come celebrate its 20th anniversary on the big screen as it was meant to be seen—from a brand-spanking-new 4K restoration, no less!


 Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls (2023) 

Based on director and actor Andrew Bowser’s viral character, Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls is a crowdfunded indie horror comedy influenced by early 2000 cinema. The film follows Onyx, a fast-food employee with a soul-devouring side gig, as he goes from misunderstood “otaku-type shut in” to being invited to a ritual from his idol Bartok the Great (Jeffrey Combs). From here the film introduces us to the occultist cast as they go from enthusiastic to trying to save the world. 

ONYX_REEL_2_SDM_v03.00173766

The charm of the film comes from the characters. Bowser takes his viral Onyx character and adds more depth to him, layering in the off-key speech patterns to fuel the comedy within the horror. In addition, Jeffrey Combs finds inspiration from B-movie villains as he tries to convince the eager occultists to summon a demon.  

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls will be stirring up theaters nationwide October 19.  


 The Birds 60th Anniversary  

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic film about birds that turn against humans and wreak havoc in Bodega Bay, California, celebrates 60 years in 2023. In the movie, socialite Melanie Daniels meets lawyer Mitch Brenner in a pet shop and becomes enamored with him. She follows him to his home in Bodega Bay, where sparks fly and birds attack.   

 

Creating a thriller that keeps us on the edge of our seats as much as The Birds does requires creative techniques and innovative ideas. The fear tactic Hitchcock utilizes most in the film is uncertainty. It is never explained why the birds are attacking, just that they are. It would be much easier to brush off the fear of killer birds if we knew why they attacked so we could tell ourselves, “that would never happen in real life.” Hitchcock knows the uncertainty of the birds’ actions makes us uneasy and keeps the fear from settling down. He purposefully left the usual “The End” card out of the final scene. He wanted the audience to feel that the unnerving events of the film were “unending.” To hammer this home, the film producers had a special surprise for viewers at the London premiere: when leaving the theater, hidden speakers in trees played the sounds of birds screeching [3]. When the audience thought they had finally left their newfound terror for birds in the theater, Hitchcock ensured it followed them home. 

The Birds will be coming back to theaters nationwide for both Fathom’s Big Screen Classics and Fathom Fright Fest 2023. 


 Big Screen Worthy Scares  

Horror will always be a part of movie culture, and celebrating all genre elements is why we created Fright Fest. Join us in theaters nationwide for all things that go bump in the night and laugh-out-loud new horror comedies.   

Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with all our events and leave a comment in the blog letting us know which films you'd like to see in next year's Fathom Fright Fest.   

Back to Blog