As the blue skull face alien stepped up to the urinal, a blood soaked priest burst out of one of the stalls. The crimson stains on his white vestments matched the red pus oozing out of the recesses in the zombie-like aliens face.
“Is that Skelly over there?” The priest yelled out as he was joined by another man slowly been eaten by the zombie on his shoulder.
What’s funny is the part I find most disturbing about the scene, is that there are guys actually talking to each other in the bathroom – it’s kind of a violation of bro code, whereas everything else I’ve described here is perfectly normal for Cinema Wasteland. Strap in. You know it’s going to be a long post when I can’t get it out on Monday….
Sometimes Fridays are a slow night, where you ease yourself in with the short film block and panels, other times it’s just as busy as Saturday. This time around I came in, greeted friends and grabbed my autographs because it looked like it was going to be a busy day. They had already been busy, braving the snow that Cleveland had dumped on us overnight. As I sat at work Friday morning I watched as Wastelanders built a snowman in the hotel yard. My friend Bruce Wayne was in attendance this year and I had his room number, so as soon as I arrived, I started to post Superman pictures on the door to his weekend batcave. Then it was time to pop over to some of the guests – this time round we were doing a Night of the Living Dead Reunion, and Wasteland had brought in a number of the stars. It just so happens that my daughter is making her own zombie video at this very moment and I spent some time securing cameos for her movie. Stuff like this is one of the joys of small conventions; you have time to spend with the guests and get a greater connection.
I discovered I had some time to kill between panels and movies so I made my way over to the Mummy and the Monkeys show. They were screening King of the Zombies, a film I’m very fond of – Mantan Moreland was a genius and because this is in the public domain it’s a horror host staple. As the mummy, Janet Decay did her segment I gasped with delight. She covered one of our local zombie walks, and I found myself appearing in the video – a zombie clad in iron man out armor carrying around a skeletal Spiderman. This is actually the Second time I’ve appeared on the Mummy and the Monkey, and that’s not even counting my appearance on Janet’s previous show.
I slipped out of there in time to catch the first panel – Rick Cazoine is an animator whose work you seen even if you don’t realize it. He did the end credits for Night of the Living Dead, as well as the animation for Creepshow, and even some work on Evil Dead two. With that kind of a filmography under his belt, you can imagine this was a fascinating talk. Rick came prepared, complete with a slideshow covering his career – it was a really fun way of transcending the normal movie panel chitchat, and made it all the more engrossing.
After pasting more Superman on Bruce’s door, I snuck into to Gunga Jim’s screening. I really like Jim and his approach to her hosting, the commentary that he lays over tracks is always hilarious – unexpectedly so sometimes. He passed out graduation caps and introuced his presentation for the evening. Cinema Wasteland is basically a show that celebrates bad movies, but the Bigfoot movie that Gunga was screening this weekend was so terrible I couldn’t even manage to get past the half an hour mark. I struggled from the room in search of my team for that nights trivia challenge.
The Red Robsters were all huddled around a table in the bar as Nicole tried in vain to set up a Skype session with Angelique and her sainted fiancé – the two of them had to unexpectedly cancel their trip wasteland this year and we were all missing them back in Georgia. We got the video working, but the audio never came through which was just as well – the noise level in the bar was so high that she probably wouldn’t of been able to hear us anyhow. We communicated through Skype by holding up handwritten notes to each other, jokes and sketches and general wasteland like conversation. It was by far my favorite part of the night.
The trivia contest itself was a bust, taking too long, with the organization too confusing not to mention the questions being really stinking hard! I figured the questions would be similar to the ones we used to get during Ghastlee night at the movies, when we played 42nd Street Pete’s 42 questions. No such luck, these questions were truly obscure and crazy difficult stuff. I threw my graduation cap down in disgust
“It’s like this doesn’t work at all! Look this cap comes right off!” I exclamed as Nicole grabbed a knife and tried to take out the competition.
The game ran long and I missed the final movie of the night leaving me tired and about ready to be done for the day. I politely declined everybody’s invitation to head back to the hotel room and eat junk food while watching the Greasy Strangler in favor of running home and heading the hay, to be fresh for the next day.
After getting up, making the girls breakfast, and then presenting them and my wife with the surprises I had brought them from Wasteland I was back in the car and ready for day two.
Saturday is always the big day in Wasteland. There are movies galore, not to mention panels and events. With two Night of the Living Dead panels, split between the actress and the original investors, even the most diehard fan was going to learn something new about the seminal classic.
I managed to sneak out for lunch with friends and then shuffle into my make up between panels. I was trying out a They Live look…it’s a make-up I’ve never quite perfected – and Saturday was no exception. Everything is still a little bit too big, the chin hangs down to low, and the eyes are too bulky. They also didn’t want to stay in place. I had tried these out at home previously, but only for a short while – just to see if they would stay when I put them in and to discover whether or not is was possible to hold them in with my eyebrows and cheeks; much like a monocle. It was okay at first, but after 20 minutes they started popping up and did not want to stay in any longer. I ended up sealing them in with liquid latex (Spirit Gum didn’t hold either), which meant the bug eyes would render everything around me somewhat blurry for the next six hours.
Outside the convention hotel, I grabbed Rhonda and Criss and we sat and played her new board game “go to hell! “. Rhonda is the only person that I know who brings card games and board games to a convention, but really it’s a brilliant idea. It’s a great way to fill some of the dead spots between movies and panels, not to mention giving the smokers something to do while they feed their addiction in exile.
I slapped some more Superman stuff on Bruce’s door, only to discover that I wasn’t the only one doing this now! There were superman towels and stuff there that I hadn’t taped up there. I added a few more contributions and headed back down the hall, because it was time for Ghastlee Night at the Movies.
This is always my favorite part of the convention, with bizarre games and activities going on after the house band opens the ceremonies. I jumped up for the first game, and found myself standing on the stage with Rhonda and another young man who was attending wasteland for the very first time. We played a game where they revealed movie posters and characters on the screen, one small part at a time – the goal was to guess the character with as little of it showing as possible. Ghastlee came up to me to introduce me as one of the players and ask my name. “My name is Matt, “I replied. Ghastlee stepped back for a second, aghast.
“Oh my God, it really is Matt! “He turned to the audience. “Matt’s a friend, and I didn’t recognize him with all that stuff on his face! “. Yes, the game is off to a roaring start.
“And the picture is – Ghastlee’s wedding night video! ”
“Oh God, I hope not – if that’s the case EVERYONE loses! ”
“Hey, YOU wanna come up here and host this thing? I didn’t think so! ”
Of course, keep in mind that my vision is impaired – and we are playing a picture game. How I won this one by correctly identifying Tarman from Return of the Living Dead is absolutely beyond me. It may have had to do with me clapping my hands over Rhonda’s eyes when it was her turn to guess…. The festivities carried on with murder mysteries, appalling displays, and of course the S@#%heel of the year award. I tried with all my might to sway the vote for Ryan, but alas it was to no avail.
As things wound down, I ran to the bathroom to peel off my make up before the late nights screenings. It was clinging much harder to my face then I had expected and had dried into something somewhat different than the look I had intended. Like I said earlier, I really need to refine this particular lock.
Sundays are always a bit melancholy and I frequently skip them. It’s a day to say goodbye to everybody, and catch up on any films that you may have missed throughout the weekend. It’s also cheaper day so people like my friend Sean will pop in just to shop on those days. Still, everyone is moving just a bit slower than usual – my friend Jason refers to Sundays at Wasteland as “the unofficial Strongsville zombie walk”. The film selection this Sunday gave me a very VHS vibe. They really felt like the sort of movies that I’d pull off the shelf at Heights Video on the Friday evening to take home with a pizza and friends. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a slower film but has moments of magnificent gore, and the style that is very distinct. The same can’t be said for Nightmare City, which seems to break all rules of zombies by having them cognizant, fast, and using tools and weapons. Really not sure what I was watching here!
In between my two features, I managed to sneak back in for the tail end of the 16 mm screening of Night of the Living Dead – it was about half over, but still worth watching. Midafternoon on Sunday feels like a good time for this movie and I let myself be drawn in with the familiar faces – faces that I had just spoken to over the weekend.
I tried not to glance at the dealers room as I left. It always feel sad to see them packing everything up and to watch people checking out of the hotel, but it’s okay – because it will all be back in just six months. My friend Nicole says “You know why Wasteland is only three days? Any longer and God would notice and rain fire on us.”
See you in October.
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