EXCLUSIVE: ‘Sleepaway Camp’ star Felissa Rose will meet fans at NEPA Horror Film Festival on Oct. 13
As a longtime supporter of the event, NEPA Scene has signed on to be the official media sponsor of the 2019 NEPA Horror Film Festival, just in time for the fifth annual event’s first guest announcement.
Festival founder Bobby Keller confirmed today that actress and producer Felissa Rose, best known for starring in the 1983 cult horror film “Sleepaway Camp,” will appear at the Circle Drive-In in Dickson City on Sunday, Oct. 13.
Rose was a guest at the 2016 NEPA Horror Film Festival when it was held at Ale Mary’s in downtown Scranton and hosted by cult movie critic and television host Joe Bob Briggs. On his popular new series “The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs” on horror video on demand service Shudder that crashed its servers when it was initially released, Briggs and Rose joked about their meeting in Scranton.
“We’ll always have Scranton,” Briggs cracked.
“I had a crush on you,” Rose said with a laugh.
“I feel so special,” he responded, adding, “What happens in Scranton, stays in Scranton.”
Last year, the festival found its permanent home at the Circle Drive-In (1911 Scranton/Carbondale Hwy., Dickson City) and focused on film screenings in the nostalgic drive-in format, but this year, Keller plans to feature both movies on the big screen and a mini horror convention with some celebrity guests and vendors.
“Felissa truly loves her fans, and you can see that when she interacts with them. She’s also originally an East Coast girl and loves our area. We had such a fun time when she was here back in 2016,” Keller told NEPA Scene.
“It’s important to me to have genuine guests at my events and not just someone washed up trying to make a buck. Felissa is still actively producing and acting in the genre and is truly passionate about her art and loves her fans. And I fucking love ‘Sleepaway Camp.'”
Felissa Rose grew up in New York always wanting to perform. At the age of 13, she landed the role of Angela Baker in the ’80s slasher film “Sleepaway Camp,” which has gained a cult following for its creative murders, weird and quotable moments, and twist ending. At the age of 17, she applied for early admission to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and was admitted that fall. Attending the Lee Strasberg institute, she began formal training as a serious actress.
Performing in plays around Manhattan put her hard work to the test. Rose played Denise Savage in “Savage in Limbo,” Karen in “Phone Sex,” Renée in David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly,” Willie in “This Property Is Condemned,” Desdemona in William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” and many more roles. Her film work at the time included Woody Allen’s “Another Woman,” “Pain and Suffering,” “The Night We Never Met,” and “MTV’s Party Phone” series opposite Adam Sandler.
In 2003, she got back into acting in the horror genre, an opportunity she credits largely to the Internet. “Sleepaway Camp” found an entirely new audience online, and as an avid horror fan herself, she relished in the challenge of returning to and working in the genre. She has been appearing in films and at conventions steadily ever since, even coming back to the franchise that launched her career in “Sleepaway Camp’s” fourth installment, “Return to Sleepaway Camp,” released in 2008.
After producing music videos for the iconic metal band Slayer in 2016, Felissa recently appeared in the highly-anticipated horror film “Death House,” written by Gunnar Hansen of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974) fame and starring an ensemble cast of horror icons, and “Victor Crowley,” the fourth entry in the “Hatchet” series. She is also in several films currently in post-production, including “Cold Blooded,” “Love Starved,” and “Love Bites.”
The NEPA Horror Film Festival began in October of 2015 with an event called “13 Short Films” at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains. It was free and screened horror shorts from all around the world, including three locally-made films. The project was a successful endeavor with over 100 attendees.
Since then, the festival has held a handful of screenings at Ale Mary’s in Scranton, including a “Spooky Christmas” and another “13 Short Films” series hosted by Joe Bob Briggs (TNT’s “MonsterVision”) with special guests Felissa Rose and Lisa Gaye (“The Toxic Avenger Part II” and “Part III”), vendor tables, stand-up comedy, and Q&A panels. The third annual “13 Short Films” was hosted by the Iron Horse Movie Bistro in Scranton in 2017 and quickly sold out, turning patrons away at the door, so in 2018, the festival upgraded to the Circle Drive-In, which opened in 1949 and continues to be one of the longest-running drive-ins in America.
With its seasonal haunted attraction Circle of Screams running through September and October, the Circle Drive-In is the perfect home for the NEPA Horror Film Festival after its most successful entry yet last year. The 2019 installment will feature another “13 Short Films” series with a horror expo and meet and greet earlier in the day and movies at dusk. Films announced so far include “The Escape Room,” “The Invader,” “Weeji,” and local productions “Baby Frankenstein” and “The Road Less Traveled.”
The NEPA Horror Film Festival is still accepting film submissions via FilmFreeway and is currently looking for local vendors and sponsors; find applications and details at nepahorrorfilmfest.com. Expect more guest announcements, contests, and other news on NEPA Scene in the coming months as Halloween approaches.
Learn more about Bobby Keller, the festival, making indie horror films on a shoestring budget, and other topics in Episode 30 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: