Nightmare on Franklin Street: Tampa Theatre’s Freaky Film Affair

By Victoria Weaver

Turning on a quick horror flick can instantly immerse you in the Halloween spirit, making it many people’s go-to spooky activity when gearing up for the last day of October. Tampa’s own historic movie palace, Tampa Theatre, aims to take the movie watching experience to the next level with this year’s Nightmare on Franklin Street film line-up along with its other activities.

Celebrating its ninth year hosting the nightmare marathon and a return to in-person viewing, the Theatre’s goal is to be inclusive to any audience. Running from Oct. 16 to Oct. 31, this 16 night event has a wide array of films ranging from family friendly classics to gruesome foreign films as well as ghost tours, live theatre, and a Spirits Fest that is 21 and up. 

“This is our opportunity to celebrate Halloween in every single way that anybody would like to,” said Jill Witecki, director of marketing and community relations at the Tampa Theatre. 

Kickstarting the first night with a free screening of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the Theatre kept it local with Tampa-based actors from the movie, Paul Wilson and Eugenie Bondurant, coming in for autographs and a Q&A. 

Combining the screen and the stage, Tampa Theatre is also showing cult classic, Rocky Horror Picture Show on Oct. 22 where the Beyond Any Measure shadow cast will perform live for the audience before and during the movie, encouraging participation from the viewers themselves.

According to Alyssa Pubentz, senior musical theatre major and member of the shadow cast, her first experience seeing the shadow cast was so fun she knew she wanted to come back and audition for it.

“None of the actors onstage look like the screen actors,” said Pubentz, “it gives chances to cast people that wouldn’t normally be in those roles but adds to the message of Rocky Horror that anyone can be anything.”

Audience interaction can be taken a step further by participating in a blood drive to get a free ticket for the famous silent film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror along with its live accompaniment. Released in the same decade the theatre was built, the showing will be as close to authentic as film lovers can get. 

“The theatre’s inclusion of films by Florida directors, [such as Bobby Marinelli’s Death Cast] is a great way to promote local artists and inspire beginners in the field,” said Lauren Santana, senior film and media arts major. 

The Tampa Theatre is downtown within walking distance of The University of Tampa. This makes it very accessible to UT students, especially those who live on campus and might not have a car.

“UT students are in a unique situation in that they live, for the most part, within walking distance of one of the most celebrated movie palaces in the world,” said Witecki.

Finishing the horror season off with a showing of the original Halloween on Halloween night, and the bonus of being a haunted building with a history explored through ghost tours, Nightmare on Franklin Street is set and ready to go for horror fans to get their fill of frights.

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