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Two UT alumni are bringing a celebration of sinister cinema to East Tennessee with the eighth annual Knoxville Horror Fest October 21–23.

The three-day event—organized by William Mahaffey and Nick Huinker, 2005 graduates and former UT cinema studies students—will showcase 10 independent horror features and numerous eerie shorts from around the world. The festival will include a contest for local horror buffs interested in making shocking trailers. All activities will be held at Regal Cinemas Downtown West 8 and Scruffy City Hall.

Mahaffey and Huinker established the event with friends in 2009 to address the shortage of indie horror films in the Knoxville area.

“I think we provide an important service to Knoxville, and because Nick and I are fans of a wide variety of films, I think we offer a lot of different flavors of horror that make the festival feel very diverse and offer something for everyone,” said Mahaffey, who majored in creative writing with a minor in cinema studies.

Huinker majored in film and media studies through the College Scholars program, with a minor in cinema studies.

“For anyone who loves horror, the new works to be featured at this year’s Knoxville Horror Film Fest promise unshakable memories, thrills, and chills,” said Chris Holmlund, UT professor of cinema studies and French, who taught Mahaffey and Huinker.

In anticipation of the spookiest time of the year, Mahaffey and Huinker have provided the Volunteer community a list of six of their favorite scary flicks of all time:

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: A group of teens stumbling into a horrible situation where they’re killed off one by one became the template for decades of slasher movies to come. The movie retains a visceral punch that puts it among horror’s most terrifying films. It’s a rollercoaster ride through utter insanity, yet stays grounded in realism through Tobe Hooper’s grungy, intentional filmmaking.
  • The Thing: John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing most effectively blends his talents for suspense and startling horror. The snowbound bodysnatching sci-fi picture is a high point of sophisticated paranoia and gruesome creature effects.
  • The Fly: Canadian director David Cronenberg is known for his preoccupation with “body horror”—turning the human form against itself in terrifying ways. Through his take on the mad scientist fable, The Fly extends the idea to the heart and mind, wringing incisive metaphor and operatic tragedy from the romance between a journalist and her ill-fated subject.
  • Bride of Frankenstein: James Whale’s Frankenstein helped define Universal’s slate of 1930s monster movies and horror cinema. But it’s his playful sequel that stands as the best of them, for reasons including its humor, authorial flourishes, and deep empathy for its monstrous subjects.
  • The Haunting: While Hitchcock’s Psycho stands as the most forward-thinking and influential midcentury horror film, Robert Wise’s 1963 haunted house story feels equally ahead of its time, using groundbreaking stylistic flourishes and ambiguity to create a gothic beauty that still terrifies and impresses.
  • Suspiria: Bathed in gorgeous and oversaturated colors, director Dario Argento’s masterpiece is the definitive Italian horror film. This film takes the genre to new heights with its grandiose kills and bombastic score by Italian prog band Goblin, resulting in a daring piece of experimental filmmaking masked as the story of a ballet school run by witches.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,