On Saturday, Sept. 16, Danbury Ice Arena will look like the "House of 1000 Corpses." Zombies, chainsaw killers, cadavers, witches, ghosts and ghouls will roam the halls, convening for the fourth annual CT HorrorFest.
Appropriately, this year's key celebrity guest is Sid Haig, who played the terrifying Captain Spaulding, proprietor of "The Museum of Monsters & Madmen" in the 2003 cinematic bloodbath "House of 1000 Corpses." Haig revised his role of Spaulding in "The Devil's Rejects." He also starred in the 2007 reboot of "Halloween" and other horror flicks.
Rob and Christine Caprilozzi of Seymour founded CT HorrorFest in 2014 as an offshoot of their website Horror News Network. The inaugural event, at Waterbury Marriott, drew 1,000 people. The fest has grown every year and is now up-sized into its third venue. In its second and third year, at Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, it drew 2,000 and 3,000 people, respectively. Christine Caprilozzi says they are hoping for 4,000 or more this year.
The festival is later this year. When the Caprilozzis founded the festival, they chose a summer date to lessen Halloween-time competition for horror fans and celebrity guests. The festival has kept to that, until now.
"The fall has more of a Halloween feel to it. And in summer, people are away," says Christine. "There are a lot of other massive conventions around the country. Our event has retained a community feel."
This year's festival has added a Friday-night kickoff event, a screening of "House of 1000 Corpses" followed by a Q&A with Haig.
"He's wickedly funny and has a dark sense of humor about himself," says Christine.
Another new feature is "Zombie Apocalypse Laser Tag," an escape room infested with the undead. "Teams of four go in and have to fight off the zombies to get through," Christine says. "There could be anywhere from 12 to 16 zombies in there at any given time."
Because the Ice Arena is bigger than earlier venues, the fest's haunted trail is bigger too. It is sponsored by Trail of Terror of Wallingford.
After the Friday-night kickoff, the fest will be held all day Saturday. In addition to Haig, celebrities signing autographs include Ken Foree of "Dawn of the Dead"; Tom Morga of "Friday the 13th: A New Beginning": Lisa Loring, Wednesday Addams from the classic TV show "The Addams Family"; Adrienne Barbeau of "The Fog," "Creepshow" and "Swamp Thing"; Dick Warlock of "Halloween" II and III; Tom Atkins of "The Fog"; Jordan Ladd of "Cabin Fever"; Nick King of "Sinister"; and Tom Fitzpatrick of "Insidious" chapters 2 and 3.
Panel discussions will include the topics of the paranormal and Connecticut-made indie horror films. Jess O'Lantern will perform music. Participants are encouraged to come in costume, and adult and kids' costume contests will award prizes for the most terrifying get-up.
CT HORRORFEST will begin Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. at Palace Theatre, 165 Main St. in Danbury, with a screening of "House of 1000 Corpses" with Sid Haig present. Admission is $15. On Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the convention will be held at Danbury Ice Arena, 1 Independence Way. Admission is $25. Tickets pre-ordered at cthorror.com until Sept. 13 will allow admission one hour early. (Celebrities will not be at their tables until 11 a.m.) Tickets also are sold at the door, cash only. Children 10 and younger are free with a paid adult. Admission to Zombie Apocalypse Laser Tag is $10 extra. cthorror.com.