Carnival of Darkness: The Haunted Pamlico Film Festival was founded by independent horror filmmakers for independent sci-fi, horror, and suspense filmmakers and their fans.

Our festival runs from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, 2024, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, 2024, at the historic Turnage Theater, 150 W. Main St., Washington, N.C.

This year, Carnival of Darkness operates in tandem with the Smoke on the Water barbecue festival, which draws thousands of patrons to downtown Washington's busy waterfront and Main Street.

For the first time ever, Carnival of Darkness will fall under the umbrella of the Haunted Pamlico Halloween Festival, a multi-faceted celebration of our favorite season during Smoke on the Water.

Also a first this year will be the Carnival of Darkness Screenwriting Contest. This competition is designed for sci-fi, horror, and suspense screenwriters who are seeking opportunities to see their work recognized as they pursue their cinematic dreams.

You must submit your screenplay through the Carnival of Darkness page on We'll accept entries from May 1 through Sept. 1. Here are the criteria for short and feature length scripts:

• 120-page limit for feature-length scripts.
• 30-page limit for short scripts.
• $10 charge for each script entry for which no feedback is requested.
• $20-per-script charge to receive feedback from one of our judges.

We recommend that you send your file as a PDF.

All scripts will remain your property and will not be shared, copied, or have their contents revealed to the public by any of our judges.

We will select a winner and a finalist in the short and feature-length categories. The authors of these selected scripts will receive digital laurels and printed certificates honoring their work. Should your work find a place in the contest, you must provide your mailing address in order to receive a printed certificate.

Contest judges will include members of the Pamlico Writers Group and authors, directors, and producers who have experience in independent filmmaking. We won't reveal the identities of our judges.

Scheduled events within Carnival of Darkness include red-carpet film premieres; screenings of sci-fi, horror, and suspense films from around the world; a special Paranormal Tour highlighting ghost stories of downtown Washington; "Horror Show IV," a variety show presented by Haunted Pamlico performers; a costume contest and candy-giving for fans of all ages; craft vendors at the Smoke on the Water venue; history and folklore presentations in the gallery of the Turnage; costumed characters wandering through downtown Washington; and family friendly activities in the children's play area off Stewart Parkway.

Tickets to Carnival of Darkness will be available at the door, or through the Beaufort County Arts Council at

Advance tickets go on sale June 1. Tickets to the Carnival of Darkness happenings in the Turnage Theater will cost $10 each. Our outdoor events will be free.

Special guest artists/speakers and filmmakers whose work is selected for the festival will receive two free passes each.

Our partners and supporters include the Turnage Theater, Rock the Pamlico, Smoke on the Water, the Pamlico Writers Group, the Beaufort County Arts Council, and other organizations.

We're building the schedule for the festival now. Please keep checking this page and, and follow us on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook for updates.

The festival organizers wish to honor the most artful sci-fi, horror, and suspense films and the people who make them. Our festival is sponsored by many entities, including Haunted Pamlico/Alternative Stage, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Washington, N.C. The Haunted Pamlico team behind this event has made dozens of short films, some of which have enjoyed viral success online, and have been featured at festivals from Canada to North Carolina.

Our panel of judges includes artists with skills in sound design, special effects, cinematography, screenwriting, film and stage direction, and many more areas of interest. For more information, email, follow us on social media, or see our festival page at

• Monument Award
• The Eye-Popping Award
• Bloodiest Good Short
• Cadaverous Comedy
• Top Effects
• Seething Suspense
• Sci-Fi
• North Carolina Horror
• Outstanding Horror Actor
• The Director Award
• Honorable Mention
• Frightful Feature-length Screenplay
• Chilling Short Screenplay
• Screenplay Feedback

Awards will be presented in the form of digital or printed certificates, depending on the category, which will be mailed or emailed after the festival. The makers of winning entries, finalist films, and official selections will be granted permission to include our 2024 festival logo and/or laurels on promotional materials for their selected films.

1. All entries will be submitted via DVDs or films in formats other than those accepted by FilmFreeway will not be considered. We accept films of most any length. While the majority of our categories are open to films of various lengths, please note that this event includes a specific category for short films. You must provide stills or a digital copy of your film poster for use in publicity for the festival. Our judges pledge to watch each submitted film through to the end credits.

2. We will accept submissions from midnight May 1, 2024, until midnight Sept. 1, 2024.

3. Awards will be publicly announced during the festival. Winners will be informed of their awards via email on or near Oct. 1, 2024. Our email address is Each category will have two finalists, and we will announce these finalists in advance. You may submit films in more than one applicable category, but be advised there is a fee for each submission beyond the early bird period.

4. While filmmakers whose work receives finalist or featured-selection status may publicize that fact prior to the festival, information about winning entries is embargoed until the announcement is made during the awards ceremony at the festival. We will inform winning filmmakers and those whose work achieves featured-selection status during the first week of October to allow time for travel plans. Winning filmmakers may inform cast, crew, friends, and family about their award(s), but public announcements of the awards are prohibited before the awards ceremony. Any advance public announcement of awards could result in disqualification. After the festival, we will post news about the winning entries on our website and social-media platforms. Winners may publicize their awards immediately after the ceremony. You needn't be present during the ceremony to receive your award. Please provide us with your email address through FilmFreeway and/or via email,

5. By submitting your film to us, you give us the right to screen your film during the festival. If your film is named a winner, finalist, and/or an official selection of the festival, it will be shown during the festival barring any unforeseen acts of God, time constraints, or technical difficulties. By submitting your film to this festival, you grant us permission to show your film during regular festival hours, and during any screening events that are part of the current season for Carnival of Darkness. Your film has the potential to reach hundreds of people through this event in person, and thousands through our online promotions. We will notify filmmakers of the times during which we expect their selected films to run. This notification will go out with private emails regarding awards and/or featured-selection status.

6. We only accept submissions from filmmakers, individuals, or production companies holding full legal rights to their work and all of its aspects, including music, stock footage, or other elements. We do not accept responsibility for copyright violations that may arise from the fraudulent submission of work to which the entrant doesn't hold the rights.

7. We accept independent films only.

8. Films previously screened online or at other venues are eligible for submission, but we encourage submissions from filmmakers who wish to premiere their work during our festival.

9. We discourage submission of films scheduled for public screening in Pitt, Hyde, Martin, Craven, Beaufort, or Washington counties in North Carolina during September or October 2024. The discovery of scheduled public screenings at venues in any of these counties during the months of September or October may be grounds for disqualification.

10. Designation of your film as a featured selection doesn't guarantee award status. Not all entries will be selected for screening. Only finalists, winners, and/or official selections, or films chosen by the organizers to be shown out of competition will be screened during the festival.

11. Filmmakers whose work is chosen for featured or award-winning status are entitled to two free tickets. Excepting special guest panelists, all other attendees will be charged $10 per ticket for all-access passes. If you are entitled to two free tickets, we will reserve those tickets and will release them to you at the door. To receive your reserved tickets, you or someone you have designated to represent you must provide identification in the form of a drivers license or other generally accepted ID. Please provide us with the names of your designated attendees in advance by emailing

12. Judging will be conducted by a panel selected by the organizers. Films the judges had a hand in creating will not be featured in competition. The judges will not be publicly identified. In selecting finalists, winners, or official selections, we won't give special consideration to films made by friends, colleagues, or associates of Haunted Pamlico/Alternative Stage. Short films co-produced by Haunted Pamlico may be screened out of competition on opening night of the festival.

13. Our judges will choose up to five films for the Honorable Mention category with the intention of screening those films during festival hours. These films may be drawn from any of the eligible submissions. Filmmakers are unable to apply for Honorable Mention directly, though all submitted films are automatically eligible for this honor. We will provide digital certificates signifying these films' status.

Overall Rating
  • Saúl Uribe

    Thanks for selecting my film! I hope to be part of the festival again very soon.

    October 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for your feedback. We enjoyed your work.

  • Raymond Wallace

    Carnival of Darkness was a fantastic festival experience. Although I was only able to attend the film festival day of the festivities it was very apparent that the organizers put a lot of hard work in putting on the event and curating the films in a fantastic venue the historic Turnage Theatre.

    I particularly enjoyed the Filmmaker Forum and learning about fellow filmmakers in the area and the enthusiasm that they have for their craft! The festival had a great selection of events, filmmaker forums, and screenings that easily filled a day and made every moment worth attending.

    Here's looking forward to many more such festivals down the road!

    October 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thanks very much for sending us your work and joining us in person. Your film was a great addition to the festival.

  • The nicest people. They don’t mind answering question.

    September 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for your feedback. We appreciate your work.

  • It was so wonderful to have my film play at Carnival of Darkness. Thank you so much for your support of horror filmmakers!

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    We enjoyed your film. Thanks for entering.

  • This was my first time submitting to Carnival of Darkness. Thank you for selecting and awarding the NC Horror Award for "Killing Time". I wish I would have been able to attend this awesome event this year. I probably missed out on a lot of good networking opportunities by not attending. Communication was very good. I look forward to submitting more of my works in future Carnival of Darkness film festivals.

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for entering. We enjoyed seeing your work on the big screen.