Horrorfest Back with Huge Surprise
It played out like an old-school horror flick straight from the drive in. After last year’s Oldtown Horrorfest, local promoter Leif Jonker, who has been responsible for keeping the fest alive for the previous 6 years, announced that he would be leaving the festival to spend more time with his family.
Then, when Regal Cinema bought the Warren Theaters it looked like the festival would finally be done. But like any good horror icon, it has risen from the grave and like the mad scientist promoter that he is, Leif is back at the helm to make this his greatest creation yet.
Here’s the big secret... Are you ready for it?
As hundreds of Wichitans pack into the Oldtown Warren Theater to watch the start of this year’s Horrorfest, formerly Oldtown Horrorfest, thousands of unexpected guests will join in the merriment.
Regal Cinema was so impressed by the organization and promotional materials for Horrorfest in Wichita that they decided to take the local, independent festival national! That’s right, this Wichita event is the catalyst for Horrorfests all over the country. Regal will show Horrorfest in 42 theaters nationwide with an intention to expand even more next year.
This year's lineup includes a wide variety of horror classics with well-known features such as Nightmare on Elm Street, King Kong, Jaws, Pet Sematary and Fright Night; to lesser-known flicks such as Them, Dead Zone, Cat People and Videodrome.
Horrorfest will be playing at the Oldtown Warren Theater every Monday and Tuesday in October, starting Oct. 2 and ending Oct. 31. It’s $5 per movie and $10 for Double Features.
As usual, a portion of the proceeds will go to Lifeline Animal Placement & Protection and the festival is sponsored by a number of local businesses including World Studios ICT, The Petroleum Club, The Anchor, Signlab, and 104.5 The Fox. Visit The Wichita Big Screen’s Facebook page for a full list of sponsors.
Horror Fest Schedule
All show times are 7 pm & 10 pm, unless noted. Double Features start at 7 pm.
October 2 Suspiria - 4k Restoration
October 3 - Frightnight
October 9 - Double Feature The Dead Zone & Pet Sematary
October 10 - Monster Squad
October 16 - Double Feature King Kong (original) and THEM
October 17 - A Nightmare on Elm Street (original)
October 23 - Double Feature Cat People and Videodrome
October 24 - Jaws (4k Restoration)
October 30 & 31 - Night of the Living Dead - 50th anniversary 4k Restoration
This year’s festival will be bookended by 4k restorations of two horror classics. Opening night will feature the Wichita premiere of the 4k restoration of Dario Argento’s Italian Horror classic Suspiria. This lavish production took four years to fully restore. It’s long been thought to be one of the greatest horror movies of all times and, according to Leif, it’s been made into “an immaculate, beautiful, ear-shattering presentation that you don’t want to miss!”
The 4k restoration was done to the original negatives so the film you’ll be viewing is actually higher quality than the version first screened by the director before it was ever shown to the public! Closing the festival this year is a film that probably all of us have seen or are at least familiar with, Night of the Living Dead. But before you write off the two-night stand, you have to understand that you may have seen it before, but you’ve never seen it like this. Not many people know it but Night of the Living Dead was actually shot in 35mm, which was unusual for the time. However, this has allowed for a completely gorgeous, high-quality 4k restoration.
The version of Night of the Living Dead that is showing at Horrorfest 2017 is said to be mind-blowing with stark clear images, stunning depth, and sharpness that you’ve never seen, especially if you’ve only seen it on television. In Leif’s words, “There are always people who come up to me and say that this is the first time they’ve seen a particular film. Well trust me, if this is the only way you’ve ever seen Night of the Living Dead, or even if you’ve seen it before, this 4k restoration is going to be the ONLY way you want to see it going forward!”
About Leif Jonker
Leif Jonker is a local filmmaker, film buff, promoter, creator of the Facebook group Big Screen Wichita and all around encyclopedia of film facts. He first started doing the Oldtown Horrorfest in response to the complete lack of promotion that the downtown Warren theater was doing with its Halloween movie series. At the time, he saw an article in the paper about a series of Horror movies playing at the Oldtown Warren, unfortunately, the article ran with only two days left in the movie series. His first offers to assist were met with skepticism, but eventually, the Oldtown Horrorfest was born.
Since then, Leif has worked relentlessly to facilitate and promote specialty movie showings via his Facebook group, Big Screen Wichita and to keep the Oldtown Horrorfest going. Every year, Leif works 60-80 hour weeks to pull together promoters, secure film rights, create all artwork for banners and flyers and create trailers for the Festival, occasionally working 32 hour days, sleeping for a few hours then working for another 20 - 30 hours.
It’s a pure testament to the passion that Leif feels for his art. Leif can tell you everything from George Romero and Martin Scorsese’s friendship and how it came to be, how a copyright error in Night of the Living Dead’s title caused the zombie explosion in cinema and how the success of Dario Argento’s Suspiria led to him being able to put up half the money for Dawn of the Dead. Trust me, one conversation with Leif will leave you astounded at the vast amount of movie knowledge stored in his cranium.
When Leif heard that Regal had taken over the Warren Theaters, he immediately feared for the future of the festival that he had produced for the past six years. He contacted the Marketing department and sent them an email explaining the festival and what it’s all about.
To his surprise, they got back with him and were impressed with the organization and the quality of the marketing material. Regal assisted Leif in getting the movies together and they managed to put together 10 days of movies with 12 separate titles. Then just when things couldn’t look any better, Regal contacted Leif and told him that they were so happy with how everything was going with the festival that they wanted to take it national.
Way to represent the tenacity of Wichitans, Leif!