Quality Scary brings haunts and laughs to Lansing

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Secret societies can take many shapes and many forms, some more maniacal than others, and some just downright comedic. Lansing is home to a little-known “coven” of film lovers who enjoy experiencing fear and joy at the same time. Quality Scary is a monthly live comedy show and film screening series hosted by Lansing and Grand Rapids locals Emily Syrja and Sarah Jean Anderson.

 Many Lansing-area residents will instantly notice the name as a play on the local convenience chain Quality Dairy.

 “The name Quality Scary actually came from a Halloween party hosted by our friends at Lansing Facts in 2019. It was one of the last great community events we got a chance to attend before the pandemic, and it was exactly the spirit we wanted to bring to our show,” said Syrja. 

Quality Scary has been active since 2022, with Syrja and videographer and technician Dan Hartley presiding as the founding members. Anderson later joined the group in 2023. Hartley often adds pre-roll and suprise content to the movies they screen to add to the element of surprise for attendees.

Photo courtesy of Quality Scary

 “Quality Scary started with my bestie Dan and I watching and ranking dozens of horror movies back in October of 2021,” Syrja said. “We realized we had a lot to say about everything we were taking in and were beginning to cultivate a unique point of view that we thought was worthy of sharing with an audience.”

Syrja added, “[The Lansing Public Media Center] was kind enough to offer us the space and technology we needed to kick off the show at the 2022 Capital City Film Festival. We’ve since moved our monthly screenings to The Fledge, but the Media Center still supports our technology needs and continues to be the backbone of our show.”

Quality Scary has shown quite a wide array of horror films at their shows. The films are selected by both Syrja and Anderson, who have weekly meetings where they plan shows out months in advance. Some of the films that have been shown include Slumber Party Massacre, Eraserhead and, most recently, Urban Legend.

 “I got involved in Quality Scary because I worked with Emily Syrja on a show called Comedy Coven, and it was in the same vein of horror and comedy,” Anderson said. “It came about because we just like to make fun things that happen in our city, and I think that this was something that we all like. And we figured we can’t be the only ones out there who are interested in watching horror movies with our friends and just making fun of them.”

 Anderson said the group likes to choose films that are kitsch or have an iconic cult following. However, potential for parody is the highest requirement. Eventually, Anderson would like to screen more crossover genres. For example, Syrja’s favorite showing Quality Scary has had so far is Christmas Evil.

Photo courtesy of Quality Scary
Photo courtesy of Quality Scary

“It went over very well and it really cemented for me how our audience is ready for anything we throw at them, which is such a treat for us as producers,” Syrja said.

The crew behind Quality Scary try to make the experience as authentic to that of a theater and as funny as possible.

For those interested in checking Quality Scary out, their next screening will be held as part of the upcoming Capital City Film Festival on April 12. There will be a screening of John Carpenter’s 1984 film In The Mouth of Madness with special guest Super Secret Cult Band. For more updates, subscribe to the Quality Scary newsletter.