Indie Horror Film Fest to take over Wheelersburg Cinemas

By Tom Corrigan -



Film fest logo. Used by permission.

Given the time of year, it’s probably not surprising that for most of the day Oct. 26 ghosts, ghouls, goblins and who knows what else, along with of course, a full slate of horror movies will take over the Wheelersburg Cinemas on Ohio River Road.

For the third year in a row, the Wheelersburg movie house is playing host to the Southern Ohio Screenwriters Indie Horror Film Festival.

“We just have an awful lot of fun,” said SOS president and event organizer Matt Sams.

This year’s festival features three full-length movies as well as about 20 short films running between half an hour to about an hour, said Sams and theater general manager Timothy Shively.

Sams noted most of the films come from southern Ohio and Appalachian filmmakers, which, predictably make up SOS’ key audience and membership. Although Sams stated the organization based in Chillicothe really doesn’t have a membership roll, the group’s social media has somewhere between 400 and 500 followers. Still, for the upcoming festival, films (and visitors) will arrive from all over the country, and indeed from all over the world.

In 2018, the festival boasted a film from Kuwait, Sams said. For this year, Sams is excited about a short film from Germany.

“It’s a legitimately scary short,” Sams said.

While it is billed as a horror film festival, and each of the films has a horror motif, not all are scary, Sams noted. He added plenty fall into the category of comedy horror films or shorts.

Shively said the event attracted about 80 people in its inaugural year three years ago. Last year, Sams said organizers hit a jackpot of sorts being able to book as a special guest well-known horror film critic Joe Bob Briggs.

Briggs first earned fame writing snarky critiques of “B” or drive-in horror movies. He now hosts his own cable TV show, still dealing with horror films, often of the cheesy variety. Shively said Briggs attracted a healthy crowd of a few hundred people. Sams said early this year SOS became determined to bring him back, but found he was already booked throughout the rest of this year.

“He really took off in the year after he appeared here,” Sams said, though he wasn’t giving the SOS film series credit for Briggs’ success. “We were fortunate to get him.”

In a way, Briggs still is responsible for this year’s special guest, with whom Sams said Briggs people hooked him up. Perhaps best described as a “B” movie scream queen, Felissa Rose is best known for her role of Angela in the 1983 cult hit “Sleepaway Camp” and its sequel. All in all, as an actress, voice actress and producer, Rose has some 108 films to her credit. A few include such titles as “Zombiegeddon,” “Slaughter Party” and “Silent Night, Zombie Night.” Her production credits include 2016’s “Krampus: The Devil Returns.”

According to Sams, having amassed over 100 film credits and some 5, 000 Twitter followers, Rose is in high demand as a guest at various fan conventions and film festivals. He definitely feels lucky to have her. In Wheelersburg, Rose will be talking with fans, and presumably signing autographs.

In addition to the annual Halloween festival, SOS offers film making seminars at somewhat irregular intervals and in the past sponsored a Christmas movie festival. Sams talked about giving folks who never made a movie before, who perhaps are inspired to shoot their first film on a cell phone, some tips, encouragement and opportunities for the finished product to be seen. Sams himself has never made a feature film but has made numerous short films.

Visitors to the SOS Indie Horror Film Festival are invited to show up in costume, with, of course, prizes handed to the best in various categories. The audience also decides awards for best films and best shorts.

According to Shively, the first long feature will hit the screen at 2 p.m. Shorts will screen 6-11 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person for all day and can be had ahead of time online on the SOS website or Facebook page, as well as at the door the day of the festival.


Film fest logo. Used by permission. fest logo. Used by permission.

By Tom Corrigan

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.