A local filmmaker and horror movie aficionado is trying to make the Wichita movie scene more “Wichitawesome,” one Exorcist head spin, one set of creepy “redrum” twins at a time.
Leif Jonkers, the local man behind the cult movie “Darkness,” has organized two horror-flick events that will keep moviegoers in heebie jeebies through Halloween.
He’s arranged for Monday-and Tuesday-night showings of films such as “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” this month at the Warren Old Town.
And he’s put together a triple feature of horror films, including 3-D versions of two horror classics and a screening of his “Darkness,” that’ll run Oct. 28-30 at the Augusta Historic Theatre.
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“I’m doing my part to make the movie scene a little more Wichitawesome,” said Jonkers, borrowing a word he says was invented by his pal, local videographer Lonny Quattlebaum. “I’m trying to get another movie made, but in the meantime, I’d like to watch some good movies.”
Jonkers, whose voice is deep, gravelly and made for horror movies, is known in horror circles as the creator of “Darkness,” a low-budget 1993 film he made in Augusta.
It was supposed to be just a demo, meant to show investors that he could make a movie. But the film found an audience, was released on video and has been shown at film festivals all over the world ever since. It even played for a week at the Warren Old Town back in October 2004.
Jonkers, who is a horror film buff, has been frustrated through the years by the direction of the genre. Horror movies these days lack the action/adventure spirit and plot development that possessed classics such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Evil Dead.” Anymore, he said, horror movies tend to be more a string of gratuitous torture, gore and dismemberment.
He’s also been frustrated through the years that local theaters haven’t shown re-releases of classics such as “Alien” and “Blade Runner.”
Jonkers worked with the Warren to put together the October series, which will include screenings of “The Evil Dead,” “The Exorcist,” “The Shining” and “Zombie,” a little-known gem from 1979.
The Augusta triple feature will show “Night of the Living Dead” in 3-D, as well as a 3-D version of “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” a truly horrible horror film.
“It was voted the worst movie ever made,” Jonkers said. “People love it because it’s so wonderfully horrible to watch.”
The final film on the bill is “Darkness,” which is out of release, but which Jonkers hopes to re-release for its 20th anniversary next year or in 2013. The film, about a group of Midwestern teens trying to survive the night against an army of hungry vampires, is always popular in October and this year is showing not only at the Augusta event but also at Kansas City’s Tivoli Cinema in Westport for the Kansas City Creepfest later this month.
Horror movies are definitely not for everyone, Jonkers said, but for those who love them, they provide a thrill similar to riding a fast-moving roller coaster.
“People scream their heads off and are terrified through a roller coaster ride,” he said. “A lot of them are clinging on for dear life, then they get off and they’re laughing. When a horror movie is good, you get the same type of reaction. I love films that terrify you but are still fun to watch.”
OCTOBER AT THE OLD TOWN What: A series of horror movies screened throughout October at the Old Town Warren, 353 N. Mead
How much: Admission to each showing is $5
-- “The Shining,” a 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Airing at 7 and 9:45 p.m. Monday and Tuesday
-- “The Exorcist,” an Oscar-winning 1973 possession film. Screening Oct. 17 and 18. Showtimes TBA.
-- “Zombie,” a little-known 1979 flick, shown uncut. Screening Oct. 24 and 25. Showtimes TBA.
-- “The Evil Dead,” a 1981 film by director Sam Raimi. Screening Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Showtimes TBA.
AUGUSTA HORRORFEST What: A Kansas Food Bank fundraiser featuring three horror films, two in 3-D
Where: Augusta Historic Theatre, 523 State St., Augusta
When: Oct. 28-30
How much: Admission is $5 each night for all three films.
-- “Plan 9 From Outer Space” in 3-D at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 and 2 p.m. Oct. 30.
-- “Night of the Living Dead” in 3-D at 9:15 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 and 3:45 p.m. Oct. 30
-- “Darkness” at 11 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 and 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30.
For more information, call 316-775-2900 or visit www.augustahistorictheatre.com.