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A common plot in Attack of the Killer Whatever movies. The town that is under attack happens to be holding a festival. Generally this is accompanied by an official that refuses to cancel the town festival for economic reasons. This in turn puts the public at risk and the hero of the story now has a whole town to protect from the fearsome people-eating whatever.

Bonus points if the festival in question features some theme, object or commodity (besides potential victims) which would naturally attract the Killer Whatever.

See also Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday for the holiday variant. Not to be confused with A Fete Worse Than Death, where the festival is itself the threat.

Examples of Attack of the Town Festival include:

Anime & Manga


  • Very literal example happens in Hellblazer, where a pagan costume festival (which is also helping to revive the town) causes everyone in fancy dress to become whatever they're dressed as and become murderously insane (new father in baby costume to infant: "You're taking all of mummy's attention and it's! not! fair!" *splat*; a dentist(?) with a rictus grin mask wants EVERYONE TO SMILE!). John and his friend discover that loud punk rock cancels the effect a little too late: an ex-fighter pilot is "cured" just seconds after he releases a nuke, destroying the town and everyone in it (except John, of course).
  • The Odd Thomas graphic novel by Dean Koontz has a subtle twist. The police chief, despite sincerly believing in the evidence, can't spare any cops to hunt down a child-killer because they are all working security for the festival. This, of course, leaves it up to the plucky teenage heros to save the day.
  • Multiple Buffy comic books (Pre-Season 8) had festivals/celebrations become interupted by huge monster fights.


  • While it wasn't a festival, this was the reason the town officials tried to deny that there was a shark near the town in Jaws. Closing the beach would ruin the town's tourist business over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • The only tolerable Jaws ripoff, Alligator has its eponymous giant predator attack a wedding. The sequel-cum-remake has its mutant version attack a carnival.
  • Batman (1989). The Gotham 200th Anniversary Festival is in trouble because people are scared of high crime in the city, and the conflict between the Joker and the gangsters and the Joker's poisoning of the population make it worse. Despite all this, the mayor insists that the Festival must occur so businesses will come back to the city.
    • Eventually, the mayor does give in when it becomes obvious that it's simply too dangerous to hold a festival... which is The Joker's cue to pick up the slack. And he's giving out free money! Why, how could that hurt anyone?
  • The Swarm featured killer bees attacking a small-town "Flower Festival".
    • The TV-movie Killer Bees had the swarm attacking during a honey festival.
  • In Dante's Peak, the volcano begins "waking up" during the town's "Pioneer Festival". Which happens just when a new factory is being moved to the town, and the town's naming as one of the best places to live in the United States. The town's officials are a little hesitant to declare an emergency. Which works real well.
  • Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit has a vegetable festival. Since the eponymous creature is a giant rabbit, it's only the focus of the festival that will attract it, and the people are in no real danger. The festival is Serious Business, though.
  • Lightning Strikes: In this Sci Fi Channel Made for TV Movie the pumpkin festival in interrupted by killer lightning after the mayor refuses the cancel it after being warned.
  • Kingdom of the Spiders. The town is preparing for the county fair, and the mayor tries to keep a lid on reports of tarantula attacks on livestock.
  • In John Carpenter's The Fog, the target town is holding its bicentennial celebration - which happens to be the anniversary of a revenge-worthy event, resulting in the Fog of Doom.
  • The Giant Spider Invasion has the spider attack a town festival. However, there's no "refusing to cancel the festival" subplot, because the festival is literally never mentioned until the spider shows up to crash it.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, where the threat is the very reason for the festival. More speciefically, the raining food which has made the town famous enough to become a tourist attraction is now overmutating, becoming bigger and more unstable.
  • In Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man all the monstrous doins' in Frankenstein's ruins take place during the village's "Festival of the New Wine."
  • In Transylvania 6-5000, town officials frantically attempt to get rid of the local monsters so they can boost revenues from festivals and expand the tourist trade. Unusual in that the "monsters", none of which are genuine, only become a problem because the local busybodies are trying to chase them off.
  • The big fishman attack in Humanoids From the Deep occurs at the town festival.
  • In Uwe Boll's rendition of House of the Dead, zombies attack an open rave held on the island the movie takes place; the main cast is Late to the Party.

The 1997 italian film Tentacles starring Henry Fonda has the Giant Octopus attack the sea resort during a big sailing event, snatching many helpless kids from their boats in the process. The fact that the creature moves at jet drive speed isn't helping at all.


  • Bizarre variant from Clive Barker's "In The Hills, The Cities": the monster actually is a town, whose citizens have all lashed themselves together into a gigantic humanoid figure as part of an annual ceremonial "battle" between their gestalt-giant and a neighboring town's. This festival didn't just attract a monster, it built the darn thing.

Live Action TV

  • The Midsomer Murders episode The Straw Woman had a village deciding to go ahead with a festival despite the vicar being burnt to death. The replacement vicar was then also murdered.
    • Make that every episode of Midsomer Murders. if it wasn't a festival, it was a regatta, or a fair, or a carnival...
  • Tremors TV series had an episode about Shrieker attack on a typical town festival.
  • A variation on this occurs in the The Twilight Zone episode "Ring-a-ding Girl". An actress leaves her press tour to stop off at her home town, where the big annual town picnic is going to be held that very afternoon. She convinces the powers that be to move the scheduled picnic to the high school gymnasium, where she will appear as a surprise guest. At the end, a plane (the very plane Ringading Girl was flying in) crashes in the field where the picnic was supposed to take place.
  • Firefly in Safe, Simon is kidnapped while watching River dancing.
  • The Pioneer Days celebration in Juniper, NV, is menaced by shriekers in an episode of Tremors: The Series. The townsfolk actually do know about the shriekers, they just have no idea how dangerous they are and don't expect wild animals to come into town.
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents did a revised version of The Lady Vanishes for one episode. In it, this trope provides the reason for the mysterious disappearance of the eponymous lady and the town's collusion with it: the lady died of some highly communicable disease. Because the town's well-being rests on the success of a world's fair (or some such event) they're putting on at great expense, they attempt to suppress news of the death. The episode starred Hitchcock's daughter Patricia who'd appeared in some of his 50's era movies. "How'd you like the little leading lady?" he asks in the epilogue.
  • The Vampire Diaries does this. A lot. One gets the impression that the constant festivities are a desperate attempt to distract people from all the murders.

Real Life

  • Averted in WW 1. Both the German and English armies decided to exchange presents between the trenches at Christmas.
  • At the Marathon campaign, the Spartan army delayed its intervention because of a festival.
  • The Yom Kippur War. Which of course started during Yom Kippur.
    • And the Tet Offensive.
  • When you think about it Pearl Harbor was about at the beginning of the Christmas season. Which did not soften the recipients expected reaction.
  • Mont Pelée was about to erupt. The local government, which was facing an election, tried to keep everyone from panicking.
    • It Got Worse. The town of Saint-Pierre was not only the largest city in Martinique at the time, but its population swelled to several times its size as people migrated from the countryside to vote in elections. This contributed to the death toll of 30121 people.
  • The fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945 occurred over the Shrove Tuesday festivities.
  • Washington's Christmas attack on the Hessian encampment during the Revolutionary War.

Video Games

  • The plot of Chrono Trigger was kicked off by an invention being exhibited at one, the Millenia Fair, in 1000 AD. However, it was not attacked.
    • The festival in 65,000,000 B.C. was attacked by reptites, though.
  • The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask had a town continue a festival despite the moon dropping on them. Not that running would help anything but seeing a guard not leave his post, just looking at the moon, really gives a "this is the end" feeling.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 started with the town festival being attacked.
  • The plot in Dark Cloud was kicked off when the genie attacked our hero's town, during a festival.
  • Dragon Quest VII has Engow's Festival of Flame, which involves throwing torches into a volcano as part of a whole symbolic "returning the God of Flame's gifts" exercise. Pamela had a vision of the volcano erupting right after the ceremony ends, but their leader refuses to listen, playing this trope to the hilt.
    • This then gets flipped around when Present Day Engow no longer holds the Festival of Flame, and the God of Flame turns out to be real after all, and less than pleased with their lapse of worship.
  • This happens at the beginning of Super Mario Galaxy, where the Star Festival in Toad Town is brutally interrupted by Bowser and his flying Airships.
  • Similarly, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, Soleanna's Festival Of Light gets interrupted by Eggman's arrival.
  • The plot of Alan Wake is set in the week before Bright Falls' "Deerfest". And in one level, the town float gets possessed and tries to run you over, potentially becoming Attack Of The Killer Town Festival.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, a town is celebrating the whole Sephiroth fiasco. What happens? Soldiers arrive and start shooting and capturing anything that moved.
    • Cue Vincent Valentine to go into Badass stalker mode and wiping most of the force out with a triple-barreled pistol.
    • cutscenes.
  • In Wild Arms, a devastating demon attack strikes Adlehyde during a major festival. Everyone in the festival grounds was killed, and only a handful of survivors can be rescued from the main town.
  • In Ys VI, the Rehdan Village is raided by the Romun army just before the Festival of Alma.
  • In Command and Conquer: Command and Conquer Red Alert 3, the first mission in the Empire campaign has the player leading an attack on a Russian town in the midst of New Year's celebrations. The opposing commander berates you over the comlink for this, saying that he'll defeat you quickly so that his men will still have time to celebrate.

Web Comics

  • The first 'Kitten' arc of Sluggy Freelance parodied the Jaws example with the local sheriff refusing to make any serious investigation into some murders because it might scare away the tourists. The person who is trying to get an investigation counters that the town's tourist trade consists of renting a few cabins to college kids, and that she could cover the town's loss out of her own pocket. She is promptly ignored.
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