By Josette Keelor
Filmmakers, movie buffs and zombie enthusiasts combine minds this weekend for a film festival at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Kernstown to celebrate the launch of Zom-Bee TV.
Zom-Bee Freakend is much more than a typical film festival, though.
The local Alamo has teamed with Fangoria Entertainment, Prosthetic Records, Monster Energy Drink and Press Start Video Games to present several world premier screenings of movies devoted to zombies. It also will include interactive events and meet-and-greets with Zom-Bee TV hosts and film directors.
Zom-Bee TV, which launched Oct. 14, 2012, was the result of a collaboration between local award-winning film director Dale Jackson, of "Maxwell Stein," film music supervisor Paul DiFranco, of "Soul Surfer," "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" and "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," and land developer John Cusato, who was instrumental in the studio's location in Chantilly, Jackson said.
The new Roku channel, available only through Roku devices that use a Wi-Fi signal to show programs through a TV set, features classic horror films and original programming, including "Cinema Insomnia," "Corpse Collective" and "The White Label Lounge."
Not a typical film festival, Zom-Bee Freakend includes several live bands, games in the lobby and even video game competitions on the big screen.
On Friday night, Jackson and DiFranco were available to meet film-goers for the festival kickoff, and there was a Zom-Bee carnival that included games with hosts from Zom-Bee TV.
"Viewership is going up and up," said DiFranco, who counted approximately 200 programs on the channel so far. "I think we'll be fine. Longevity is the key."
DiFranco, who spends much of his time in Los Angeles working on films such as the current remake of "Little Rascals" said Zom-Bee TV has been successful so far by addressing the zombie trend early on.
"And that's Dale's genius because he came up with the name," DiFranco said. "The explosion is amazing. I mean, my friends in Los Angeles are all talking about making zombie movies. Dale was way ahead of the curve."
Steve Nerangis, managing partner of the local Alamo franchise, who also co-hosts "The White Label Lounge" TV show, said he hopes Zom-Bee Freekend will become an annual event.
Said Jackson, "We're right on the crest of the wave and I think it's just starting."
Tickets are on sale at www.drafthouse.com/winchester and are $40 for a weekend pass, and $60 for a VIP pass that includes preferred seating and a welcome gift bag with merchandise from festival sponsors. Individual event tickets are available for selected screenings.
Schedule of events:
Festival pass exclusive: 10 a.m. -- "Night of the Living Dead": An early morning screening of the classic film with Bloody Mary specials.
11:30 a.m. -- Press Start Video Games presents "Dead Space 3": Big screen demo
Noon -- Brain brunch with "Dawn of the Dead": The original Romero classic with nasty food specials
2:30 p.m. -- Festival pass exclusive: Horror shorts: Featuring a new short called "The Dump" and more surprises.
3:45 p.m. -- Mr. Lobo presents "Return of the Living Dead": The '80s zombie favorite back on the big screen with live appearance from Mr. Lobo.
6:15 p.m. -- Drafthouse Films' "The ABC's of Death": An ambitious 26-part anthology that showcases death in all its vicious wonder and brutal beauty. Watch the movie at the Freakend a full month before its wide theatrical release.
8:45 p.m. -- Prosthetic Records Presents "Horror Remix: Love" World premiere with live set from Stella on Fire. Sock puppets make fun of edited versions of cheesy horror movies.
11:30 p.m. -- Fangoria Entertainment Presents Zom-Prom with Dixiefilth Live. Live music followed by a screening of Lucio Fulci's "City of the Living Dead." Includes costume contest for prizes.
11:30 a.m. -- Press Start Video Games presents "Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombie Challenge Finals."
1:30 p.m. -- "Troll 2" finishes off the weekend, with a live farewell from the Zom-Bee hosts.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org