Claysville native stirring up scares at the drive-in
Weekend event to premiere new horror films under the stars in Vandergrift
Claysville-native Justin Seaman is keeping the Halloween tradition of watching scary movies at the drive-in alive with a two-night film festival.
Heading to a drive-in movie theater to watch a night of scary movies may seem like a Halloween plan from decades past, but two local filmmakers hope to change that.
Justin Seaman, a Claysville native, and Zane Hershberger of the production company Nevermore Productions Films will be hosting “The Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival” at Riverside Drive-In in Vandergrift this weekend.
The two-night event will feature six independent horror films, as well as short films and trailers, from across the United States and Canada.
“A lot of people think it’s really awesome that they get to show their movie at a drive-in,” Hershberger said.
The idea for the festival came to Seaman and Hershberger while they were promoting their 2016 film “The Barn” – which was shot in Washington County – on the film festival and horror convention circuit.
The duo were interested in screening “The Barn” at a drive-in, and met several filmmakers across the country who also would want the opportunity.
“They’ve been so receptive about how cool it is and about the nostalgia with drive-ins not really being existent anymore to have the opportunity,” Seaman said. “Having it at a drive-in, it just makes it more of an event that’s unheard of these days and makes it more of a destination.”
While Hershberger said they initially had trouble finding a drive-in to host the event, the most receptive was the Riverside, which brings fans of scary movies from across the country out for their twice-yearly “Drive-In Super Monster-Rama” all-night movie marathon events.
“They already have some sort a fan base and a following for the drive-in for putting on events like this, Seaman said. “The independent films and the genre films we’re showing are already at home at this kind of place.”
The first event in October 2016 was a success both financially and personally, as Hershberger said he was excited to hear the drive-in audiences “hooting and hollering” at the films.
“That’s what I was excited about and what we wanted: people having a good time,” Hershberger said.
Crowd reaction was so good that Riverside owner Todd Ament began discussing plans for a follow-up event as soon as the last film was screened, according to Hershberger.
For this year’s event, Hershberger said the horror films will range from comedic to serious, describing the lineup as “almost like a Halloween treat bag,” and Seaman noted that all films are Pittsburgh premieres.
Seaman said the “Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival” is not like other film festivals, as filmmakers are not charged entry fees.
“We just kind of keep an eye on what’s out there, what’s being picked up and what’s the most talked about,” Seaman said.
Friday night’s line-up will begin with the short film “The Blood Shed” at 8 p.m., followed by three feature-length films: “Close Calls,” “Pool Party Massacre” and “3 Dead Trick or Treaters.”
Saturday also will kick off at 8 p.m., with the short films “The Stylist” and “Knob Goblins” before two feature films, “Circus of the Dead” and “Family Possessions.” A block of short films will lead into the festival’s final feature film, “Space Babes from Outer Space.”
Admission to the event is $8 per night, and gates will open at 6 p.m.
Hershberger and Seaman hope the event will continue to bring crowds out to support independent horror filmmakers.
“If attendance is good, we’ll continue to do it,” Hershberger said. “It’s just a fun thing to do, especially near Halloween.