Did someone get the number of that truck that hit me? Oh wait, it was just another wasteland weekend. I always say it, but the bears repeating that wasteland is like no other show that I go to. Ken Kish, the promoter, suggests that it’s just because wasteland is like the shows were 20 years ago – there may be something to that, but I was going to shows 20 years ago, and there is still something special here that I never ran to any of those. Maybe its the sense of community. After all, as soon as I walked through the door as I was greeted by the Waltz family, along with Jason Segiel and his bride. Stew and Hallie made their way up while we were chatting… I hadn’t even got my badge yet! I’ve always said that wasteland is the perfect party – it’s hanging with friends watching bad movies and actually talking to the people who made those movies…
It’s the October show so they’ve got to go little bit more commercial, and did so by bringing us an evil dead reunion. I’ve met most of these people (some more than once) but they did manage to dig up Bart Peirce, one of the FX people who was on-site for a few days and ultimately helped Tom Sullivan create the meltdown sequence at the end of the movie. Bart is unassuming and pleasant and loves to talk about films, not just his own but film in general. When it comes to Wasteland, he’s the perfect guest, and I could have chatted with him for another hour if a line hadn’t started to form behind me. He was also sitting next to Jack Ketchum, a legendary horror author – I remember hearing the guys up on Horror et cetera talk about him a few times. I’ve only read one of his novels and I’ve merely seen one of his films. the thing is, Ketchum is all about the monsters next door – human beings are doing horrible things to other human beings. I want to hear about monsters and the supernatural, so I haven’t read a great deal of his work. I did however, take away from his talk a newfound desire to explore two of his books, red and the girl in the mirror. Hopefully after reading these, I’ll come away with a new appreciation for the author. After all, Ketchum is one of those people whose work I feel like I SHOULD like, and that perhaps I just haven’t found the right hook yet. I was absolutely excited to hear him speak.
Another big draw for me this year was Elizabeth Shepherd, one of the stars from the Tomb of Ligeia– a Poe film featuring Vincent Price and produced by Roger Corman. She’s done tons of work over the years, but this is the one that I really remember her from and was thrilled to reminisce about Vincent Price with the lady… How often do you get to do that with someone actually worked with the man? Elizabeth is charming and bright and that British accent drives me wild!
Before she began her Q&A panel, Elizabeth stood and did a reading of the Poe story that the Tomb of Ligeia is based on. It was magnificent and moving, and it’s the sort of thing that you only see here at the wasteland!
We haven’t seen a short film block in a couple of shows now, I kind of miss it. However they did manage to cobble together to shorts and a shortish film. Innsmouth was not exactly what I had expected, it’s Lovecraftian but takes a weird turn at the end. Perhaps that’s really the point of Lovecraftcraft. It’s shockingly good looking slickly produced with good locations and good actors, but about halfway through things start to break a little bit and you can start see the cracks show in the performance. Student film? I’m really not sure. It was followed by “good morning Carlos”. I have no idea how to describe this.it’s like somebody watched a Troma film, and thought “No, this doesn’t go far enough…”. It’s about 12 minutes of a man running around and vomiting in various technicolor tones. We occasionally cut to his Doctor, who seems quite perturbed… And possibly wishes to do Carlos harm, but I’m not sure… The entire thing was in Spanish (with subtitles) which only made it weirder. We capped off this session with Lucifers Cosmonauts. This is a another bizarre film that defines any real description or explanation. There is some sort of gory fiendish thingy with tentacles that’s going around killing people. I think you summon by using a vaguely necronomiconish book with upside down crosses and a picture of a flying saucer (or a green hamburger – I’m not certain) on the cover. I think that’s how it works, I’m not sure.
But I digress.
This unemployed schlub who dreams of murdering his girlfriend and then boning the corpse, discovers the book and the evil blob seems to be following him. Said schlub seems completely nonplussed by all of the viciously dismembered corpses that he keeps coming upon. There are some good kills here, and some interesting effects. Indeed, I get the distinct impression that this movie was made specifically to show off how good these guys could create some interesting gore. If somebody can hook these people up with a good editor and screenwriter we might have something here… It could still happen, The film closed with the words “to be continued “. This prompted groans from the drunken audience who had spent the entire movie yelling back at the screen, trying in vain to get the lead character to open the book and stop playing with his hair!
After staying late on Friday night, I ran home to grab a couple hours sleep and was back the next morning in my bathrobe and PJ’s. I started off Saturday at a breakfast party in Angelique and Nicole’s room with about a dozen other people. Wasteland is actually kind of legendary for a lot of the after hours parties that go on there, but breakfast Saturday was the best party I’ve been to there! After Boo berry and Reeses puffs, It was back downstairs to catch the tail end of the cartoons and to get the old Mexican movie “the Brainiac “. I’ve got a copy of this, but I’m never seen it on film, nor have I ever seen it with a crown done it makes a difference… I kind of want to make a Brainiac costume now done it’s really genuinely creepy for 1960 something.
The evil dead panel was fun, full of familiar faces… And equally familiar stories. It’s one of the pitfalls of being on the convention circuit, sometimes you end up hearing the same story is repeated over and over.
Still, there was enough new stuff going on here that it really held my interest. It was a nice group, with Tom and Bart there along with actors Hal, Theresa, Betsy, and Ellen. I felt like I was getting an expanded version of a lot of the things I heard during the live commentary that Theresa, Ellen, and Tom did a few years back – in fact I’d really like to transcode this panel, and drop it onto a DVD of that wasteland commentary as a special feature.
I’ve always said you go to wasteland for the movies. It’s about finding stuff you’ve never heard of or would never think to see for yourself. Digging out the strange and unusual is something they excel at. It was the first place I ever saw someone run a roll of trailers and I absolutely loved it. There’s usually a couple spots where they will run a collection of intermission reels, trailers and just plain wierd stuff. It’s something I try not to miss. This time around they found a few short adaptations of strange children’s books THE REMARKABLE, RIDERLESS, RUNAWAY TRICYCLE (1972), THE SAND CASTLE (1977)
FROG GOES TO DINNER (1985), a strange bit where a guy was picking up his date at her parents house and the audience could read the mind bending inner monologues DOUBLE TALK (1975), as well as a fire safety video featuring a terrifying sentient firetruck named Snuffy. The 70’s seems like a ridiculous time to have lived in.
The highlight of every Wasteland is of course, a Ghastlee Night at the Movies. The band has started out the night with us surprisingly beautiful melody – rendered hauntingly well by their new/old guitarist who strummed away on a 12 string while Ghastlee crunched the bass in front of a streaming red screen. Then it was onto the normal lunacy of the night. We started up the evening with a game involving movie posters – just a small portion of the poster would be revealed and the goal was to guess what movie you’re a monster is featured there with the smallest amount of poster showing .This was followed by a horror themed game of “name that tune”. What both of these games proved was that any competition that involves a great deal of concentration and thought is probably not the greatest idea with a tipsy wasteland audience. We moved on to Count Gore DeVol making a welcome return to the stage. He used to be there almost every other show and I’ve missed seeing him lately. He begin with some stand-up which was genuinely funny, and launched into a game of how to build a better vampire. Volunteers came on stage and he dressed them in capes (made from black garbage bags), then added plastic fangs and pproceeded to give them tasks – tell a joke, drink a Bloody Mary with the teeth in, stuff like that! It was a fun game, but I was still waiting for Sally the Zombie Cheerleader to bring her activities out. Sally always comes up with the most amusing games – this time the first one involved putting a large dental dam in a volunteers mouth and then having her saying specific phrases while the people onstage made guesses at what she was saying. The phrases were things like “we need a bigger boat “, or “don’t fall asleep “, or “groovy”. It ranged from sounding somewhat disturbing to the out right adorable. There was also of course, an eating game… This particular one was entitled “suck my balls ” and involved sponge balls, kind of like a clown nose or the sort of balls a magician would use. They were soaked in items from the dollar store; things like ranch dressing or sardines, or Vienna sausages. The goal was to suck the ball, spit it out, then try and guess what it was that had just been in your mouth (I have learned from personal experience never to trust anything that Sally wants to put in your mouth. Especially fish) I’m pleased to have escaped this particular Wasteland without eating anything revolting! The poor souls on stage were not so lucky.
My favourite game of the evening however, was probably the zombie version of Pokémon GO. Pokémon that had been zombified were brought out Dirk Manning would wander through the room dropping them on peoples heads. Then Sally would toss out more spounge balls, these painted up to look like Poké Balls. The object of the game was to knock the plushie off the person’s head. Of course it was actually all the more fun to just throw balls at people in general, even without trying to hit the pokeZOMs.
More movies followed Ghastlee’s show. I was particularly interested in catching CarousHell. This is a new film by the guys over at Silver Spotlight. I caught one of their movies over at Horror Relm earlier this year and was looking forward to what they had in store. This was one of the first public screenings, and they had just released this on DVD. The premise is that a carousel horse becomes sentient and finally has had enough of brats sitting on him and abusing him with kicking, wiping stuff on him and generally not appreciating him. He breaks free and goes to hunt down the latest kid to raise his ire, killing anyone he meets along the way in bizarre and often hilarious ways.
The Brony references will blow you mind. (so will that scene in the middle with the Brony girl…you’ll know it when you see it. You may have to fast forward through it…..)
There were screenings of Evil Dead and Tomb of Ligea, as well as a host of other movies that I just didn’t make it to. Wasteland packs too much into one weekend for anyone to do it all, and we love them for it. It was fun to watch Brutal Massacre: A Comedy with an audience. It’s the epitome of a convention film, and this really is the place to see it. I caught the tail end of Marlowe with James Garner and Carroll O’Connor (I may have to track this down properly) and tried to sit through The Ailen Factor, but it was just too awful. I did finish the last half hour of the Galactic Gigolo but I suspect I would have had a hard time sitting through that start to finish as well!
I’m exhausted, groggy but completely relaxed. Wasteland is better than vacation. See you guys in six months.