The Knoxville Horror Film Fest will present its twelfth annual weekend of cinematic scares Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25, with programming split between Maryville, Tennessee’s Parkway Drive-In, the nearby The Bird & The Book, and the festival’s home base at Central Cinema in Knoxville.

After years hosting key screenings at a local multiplex, KHFF’s move to the Parkway is both a COVID-era safety precaution and the fulfillment of a long-term goal, reflected in a dream lineup of drive-in chillers: Friday night features Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD 2 (1987) and J.P. Simon’s PIECES (1982), while Saturday offers a 35th anniversary double feature of Dan O’Bannon’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) and Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS (1985).

Friday night’s triple feature presentation will be rounded out by the Southeastern US Premiere of THE STYLIST, the debut feature from KHFF alum and collaborator Jill Gevargizian, who will be in attendance for the weekend. Heavy on both psychology and gore, The Stylist follows a disturbed hairdresser (Najarra Townsend, reprising her role from the award-winning 2016 short) as a gruesome secret life threatens her budding friendship with a client played by After Midnight’s Brea Grant. Director in attendance.

Saturday night’s closing film, meanwhile, straddles the line between premiere and throwback: abandoned in 1983 and long available only as a VHS workprint, the newly restored and completed GRIZZLY II: REVENGE tracks the carnage at an outdoor rock show as a mama bear takes revenge for her slaughtered cubs. A nominal sequel to William Girdler’s popular 1976 B-movie Grizzly (screened at last year’s KHFF “Girdlerthon”), the film stars Raiders of the Lost Ark’s John Rhys-Davies and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s Louise Fletcher and features pre-fame turns from Charlie Sheen, Laura Dern and George Clooney.

Saturday night will also incorporate a special “GRINDHOUSE GRIND-IN” incarnation of KHFF’s annual Grindhouse Grind-out filmmaking contest, challenging local creatives to produce a fake movie trailer or drive-in ad based on a crazy genre prompt. This year’s competition kicks off Thursday, September 17 and spans an extended window of two weeks to encourage safe production; teams can register online for $35.

In addition to Friday and Saturday’s drive-in programming, full passholders will have exclusive access to hours of touring & local short films as well as a live kickoff episode from local podcast Nerdy Laser. These events will be hosted at The Bird & The Book (a pub & eatery attached to Maryville’s Southland Books and video store The Dungeon) and at Central Cinema, a single-screen moviehouse just north of downtown Knoxville. (To limit venue capacity and keep things safe, the bulk of this programming will screen twice over the course of the weekend; guests will also be required to wear masks during indoor events, and should expect further safety measures as appropriate.)

A limited number of Weekend Passes ($60) remain at FilmFreeway and, along with a handful of deluxe “R.I.P.” Passes ($90) including a KHFF 2020 shirt, priority admission to Central Cinema events and more. Standalone two-night drive-in passes ($40) will be available Friday, September 17, with single-night advance tickets to follow.

Founded in 2009, the Knoxville Horror Film Fest has grown from a single short film program into a multi-venue weekend event celebrating the best in horror cinema. It is the longest-running film festival in Knoxville, and recognized as one of the southeast’s premier genre movie destinations. In 2018 the KHFF team opened Central Cinema to local acclaim; the theater is currently closed in response to the pandemic but hopes to reopen soon.

The 2020 Knoxville Horror Film Fest is sponsored by Cherokee Distributing, Nerdy Laser Podcast and Southland Books & Cafe.

Awards vary by year, depending on festival makeup. Categories typically include Scariest Film, Funniest Film, Weirdest Film, Best Performance and Best Scenario, as well as "Palm d'Gore" award for best film.


Films are divided into four overall competitions: FEATURE, REGIONAL FEATURE (films produced in Tennessee), SHORTS and REGIONAL SHORTS.(short films produced in Tennessee)

Submission fees are $50 for feature films, $40 for Regional Feature Films, $20 for Short films and $15 for Regional Short films.

One film per entry fee. Entry fees are non-refundable. Paying the fee does not guarantee your film will be played, it only enters your film into consideration for being a part of the festival.

Films must be original in content or adapted with binding permission.

Overall Rating
  • Geoff Harmer

    We're so chuffed that our film 'Dead Air' was selected for this fabulous festival! Top-Notch all round!!

    January 2020
  • Didn't get to attend the festival but these guys were so cool and even let me know how my short played with the crowd. Would definitely submit again. And hope to attend the next time I do!

    October 2019
  • Malcolm Mills

    Great communication, beautiful laurels; wish I could've attended after hearing about the awesome networking, but honored to win "Weirdest Short" for "VR Food!"

    October 2019
  • Ken Cohen

    Great festival full of great festival runners!

    October 2019
  • KHFF is a must for horror genre filmmaker's and spectators! We were fortunate enough to have been selected to this festival. From day one communication was great! I highly recommend submitting!

    October 2019