Combining great programming and special guests, in one of the best places to celebrate Halloween, Salem Horror Fest was one of my favorite events of 2018 and I'm very excited for horror fans to experience what they have planned for this year. Their "Fear of Invasion" film series has been announced, featuring classic remakes like The Thing and The Blog, along with modern favorites like The Strangers and Under the Skin.

Details on the full lineup are below and you can learn more at:

"Salem MA - Salem Horror Fest returns this October with a series of programs and double features that will explore our nation’s fear of invasion.

“They’ve meddled in our elections. They’re storming our borders. We’re in constant fear of some outside force taking over, we often forget our own role in wiping out an entire population of indigenous people. Invasions are as American as apple pie,” said festival director Kay Lynch.

Attack the Block (2011) and The Blob (1988) show two communities besieged by an alien force in the heartland of Britain’s projects and Reagan’s America. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Under the Skin (2013) reveals our paranoia of imposters in the long tradition of McCarthyism. Funny Games (2007) and The Strangers (2008) confront us at our most vulnerable - in our homes and without motive.

The program will also honor National Indigenous Peoples Day with a tongue-in-cheek Critters Columbus Day marathon featuring all four films from the Gremlins knock-off franchise. The Faculty of Horror podcast will return with hosts Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West for their third live show featuring Under the Skin (2013) with discussion and analysis.

Salem Horror Fest runs Thursday, October 3 through Sunday, October 27 in the Halloween-capital of the world: Salem, Massachusetts. Screenings and programs will be hosted at CinemaSalem, Peabody Essex Museum, and the Salem Visitor Center. New this year: Haunted Harbor at Salem Waterfront Hotel featuring vendors and celebrities. For tickets and more information visit


ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) Friday, October 4, 7 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

When an alien invasion hits a South London “block” (or housing project if you’re in America), it’s up to a local teenage gang to defend their home. Joe Cornish's debut film casts its heroes as some of the most marginalized residents of the community, a subversive play on nationalism, class and racism. Attack the Block doesn’t involve the military, police or anyone outside of the Block in a meaningful way. The cavalry never arrives creating a tense, nervy sci-fi parable for contemporary class relations which become all the more relevant in the shadow of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. Featuring John Boyega in his breakout role as the would-be gang leader Moses who wonders if the aliens were sent by the government to wipe out the lower classes, Attack the Block is funny, inventive and a scarily urgent commentary on modern class warfare.

Directed by Joe Cornish

1hr 28m | Rated R

THE BLOB (1988) Friday, October 4, 9 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

The Blob may seem like the worst instincts of the horror genre, a rolling gelatinous piece of murderous goop that unsuspecting nitwits can’t get out of their own way to avoid. However, The Blob is more than its title. Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont’s reimagining of the 1958 film places the emphasis on likeable characters and some truly messed up body horror. When a small town in California comes face to face with the titular Blob, who’s far more cunning than expected, it’s up to the few people who are aware of its existence to try and save their town. Russell and Darabont, coming off their previous collaboration Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, bring the paranoia of Philip Kaufmann’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and startlingly gruesome practical effects into an 80s teen b-movie. Set during the height of Reagan-era politics, The Blob showcases that Mom and Dad definitely don’t know best.

Directed by Chuck Russell

1hr 35m | Rated R

JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982) Saturday, October 5, 7 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

Few films are tense, paranoid, grisly and awe-inspiring as John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. When an American research station in Antarctica is besieged by an unknown assailant who they soon discover it is an alien life form that can infect anyone of them. The Thing bombed at the box office upon its release but has become known as one of the greatest horror films of all time. While many invasion films focus on the us-versus-them approach, The Thing posited that the call could be coming from inside the house so to speak. By nature of the alien being able to assume control of anyone on the base, it mirrored the neurosis of the age from the emerging AIDS crisis to the ongoing Cold War, a horrific enemy was no longer denoted by fangs and a cape, it was already walking among us.

Directed by John Carpenter

1hr 35m | Rated R

UNDER THE SKIN (2013) Saturday, October 5, 9 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

Didn’t your parents tell you to never get in a car with a stranger? Stranger Danger may have cooled off by 2013, but Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin did everything it could to reignite that fear. When the alien Laura (Scarlett Johansson) enters our world as a female for a very specific task her determination begins to diminish the more she interacts with humanity. Under the Skin is about an invasion of one, a sole woman who both entrances and distances us, who is familiar but unknowable. It is an examination of those live on the fringes of society and what happens when we turn a blind eye to the plight of others. Under the Skin remains one of the most chilling and unsettling portrayals of what remains of humanity when we begin to strip away our layers.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

1hr 48m | Rated R

FUNNY GAMES (2007) Sunday, October 13, 7 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA 

When Michael Haneke remade his own film Funny Games ten years after the original Austrian version, he was uncompromising. A near shot-for-shot remake changed only by the language spoken on screen (English) and a cast made up of recognizable Hollywood actors Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt, Funny Games 2007 was less reimagined for a new millennium and more of an amplification of Haneke’s warnings of our appetite for violence. Haneke is a provocateur with an axe to grind, an enfant terrible who remained petulant enough ten years after the original failed to provoke a response in North America beyond the art house circle to return to the story. Haneke was determined to make Funny Games accessible to a larger audience having heard that the film would not play well with subtitles in North America. His fable of a well-to-do family whose summer home is invaded by a pair of erudite young men is not only unrelentingly violent; it is an unflinching look at its audience if they are brave enough to return the gaze.

Directed by Michael Haneke

1hr 15m | Rated R

THE STRANGERS (2008) Sunday, October 13, 9 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

Seven years after the events of 9/11, Americans were afraid. War was raging overseas and the tide of hatred and intolerance within America’s borders was rising. People craved a safety that no longer existed and maybe never did. Being home at the beginning of the new millennium has never been more terrifyingly realized than in Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers. Pseudo-ly based on true events, the film is about the impossibly gorgeous couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kirsten (Liv Tyler) who arrive at James’ family cottage after a wedding and are unrelentingly attacked by a group of masked individuals. Despite the film’s insistence at it being based on true events, Bertino took inspiration from the Tate/ Labianca murders, the Keddie Cabin Murders, and a spat of home invasions that took place in the neighborhood he grew up in. So while The Strangers is a work of fiction, the events are eerily plausible.

Directed by Bryan Bertino

1hr 31m | Rated R

CRITTERS FRANCHISE Monday, October 14, 2 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

What better way to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day than with a bunch of murderous travelers fleeing the law, determined to set up shop on a new terrain at any cost? The Critters, knowns as Crites, are a dangerous alien species who wreak havoc wherever they go.  When they escape from intergalactic jail they make their way to Earth to breed and infest our home. It’s up to the residents of a small town in Kansas and two space bounty hunters to stop them, repeatedly. Luckily for us, the Critters franchise kept replicating with each entry more entertaining and bonkers than the last.


A group of small, furry aliens makes lunch out of the locals in a farming town.


Eggs of the small, furry alien carnivores are left behind on Earth and, after hatching, again set their appetites on the town of Grover's Bend.

CRITTERS 3 (1991)

Los Angeles apartment-house tenants join forces to repel an alien invasion of carnivorous fur balls.

CRITTERS 4 (1992)

After being cryogenically frozen and waking up on a space station in the near future, the Critters aim to have the unwitting crew for lunch.

THE FACULTY OF HORROR PODCAST - LIVE SHOW Saturday, October 5, 11 PM CinemaSalem, 1 E India Square Mall, Salem MA

The Faculty of Horror podcast will return to Salem Horror Fest for a third annual live show. Following a double feature screening of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Under the Skin, hosts Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West will provide insight and analysis focused on the latter film released in 2013 featuring Scarlett Johansson.

Produced independently in Toronto, Ontario, The Faculty of Horror podcast offers deep discussions about classic and contemporary horror films from an academic perspective. "