AMC Fest Spreads The Fear

AMC will pay homage to the Halloween season by offering more than 50 horror titles as part of its annual “AMC Fearfest” programming stunt later this month.

The 13-year-old Fearfest campaign, which runs from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31, will also feature on-camera appearances by acclaimed filmmakers and actors who've been instrumental in the development of contemporary and classic fright films, according to AMC senior vice president of original programming Joel Stillerman.

As part of this year's Fearfest offering, the network will air popular horror titles, including all four movies in the Alien franchise, The Exorcist,Halloween, Psycho, King Kong and The Shining.

In addition, the network will feature three "AMC Celebrates" events during the period honoring the 30th anniversaries of Alien and The Amityville Horror, as well as the 35th anniversary of horror spoof film Young Frankenstein, Stillerman said.

Filmmakers such as George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and actors including Lance Henriksen (Aliens) and Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein) will introduce their respective films throughout the marathon.

On Halloween night, AMC will debut the digitally restored and remastered classic Night of the Living Dead, according to Stillerman.

Web site will feature extended video interviews with several horror-film personalities, including Romero. Also, the site will offer horror-focused trivia quizzes about such classic movie franchises as Alien, Dracula, The Exorcist,Ghostbusters, and Halloween.

AMC hopes to build on its record-breaking performance from last year, in which Fearfest '08 drew an average of 780,000 viewers overall and more than 1 million viewers in primetime.

“One of the great things about the [horror] genre is that it transcends demographics for us,” he said. “We find that our core 25-54 audience shows up in big numbers and we get a definite bump from 18-49 viewers when we put programming like this on.”

Stillerman hopes the popularity of the Fearfest stunt will bleed into several other genre-related projects the network has in development, including its recent acquisition of the zombie-based comic book series The Walking Dead, which the network is considering as a series.

Also, AMC will also use Fearfest to tout the Nov. 15 debut of its sci-fi tinged miniseries The Prisoner, which Stillerman believes will have a lot of audience crossover with Fearfest. The Prisoner stars Jim Caviezel as a man who wakes up to find himself inexplicably trapped in a mysterious and surreal place, The Village, whose residents are under constant surveillance.

“The Prisoner is a genre-bending piece so we're going to feature sneak-peeks and interstitials during Fearfest,” Stillerman said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.