Monsters Out, Fear In For AMC’s Annual Halloween Event


AMC is getting rid of the monster but keeping the fear.

The network has unmasked a new brand for the 12th iteration of its Halloween horror-movie showcase: “AMC Fearfest.” Gone is the old title, Monsterfest.

Executives said the new name better reflects the more contemporary films that are shown during the marathon, as well as the changes in the horror genre itself. For instance, AMC will debut two horror films of recent vintage during the 172-hour programming event: Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz; and Return to House on Haunted Hill. The contemporary titles will be mixed in with traditional horror classics such as 1932's The Mummy and The Curse of Frankenstein from 1957.

To boost awareness of the Halloween block, AMC will sponsor a contest in which viewers can create and submit a video clip illustrating their greatest fear. The submissions, to run for one minute or less, will be posted on AMC's Web site, where viewers may for for a winner. The top submission may be televised on AMC.

To promote both the sweepstakes and the programming block, AMC has partnered with the Party City retail chain. Theresa Beyer, vice president of activation and promotion, explained that 20% of the party chain's traffic visits the store in October. That translates to 18 million transactions.

AMC will provide the stores with “shelf talkers” with recorded messaging about tune-in information. Messaging on Fearfest will be included every 10 minutes via in-store entertainment broadcasts. In return, the retailer's name will be featured in on-channel promotional spots for the Fearfest programming block.

The event, set for Oct. 24 to 31, will also feature a star host: musician and horror film auteur Rob Zombie. In the days leading up to Halloween, Zombie will introduce the primetime horror selections. He has also filmed segments interviewing the director or a star from the evening's horror features, said Mary Conlon, vice president, unscripted original programming. Zombie will also select the ultimate winner of the viewer video contest.

The annual programming stunt will conclude on Halloween day with an “Evil 8 Countdown” of horror films, scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to midnight.