Motor City Nightmares 2018
Motor city nightmares has become one of my semi regular stops – it’s not one of the can’t-miss events on my convention circuit, but it seems like I’ve been showing up there more often than not for a few years now. The consistently impressive guest lists in addition to the relatively easy two hour drive and low cost have kept me coming back to this one.
Inflation keeps hitting, but I can’t help but notice most of the guests here are keeping the prices down to around $30 – and even bigger names are reasonable, I expected Udo Kier to be charging more than $40 and even the Walking Dead folks are only charging $30 for signature… Though they were adding on an extra $20 if you wanted to take a photo with them (got a find some way to gouge!).
Speaking of the Walking Dead cast – Xander Berkeley was bizarrely jovial. He is friendly and funny and the absolute opposite of the dire character he plays on the show. Xander is positively goofy… I followed another person in line who had the exact same poster as me, marked up in much the same way. I presented mine and said “I’ve got the same thing but smaller”. Without missing a beat, he smiled and replied “Well I’m sorry to hear that!”. He asked about my Fulchi T-shirt, inquiring if it was a band or not. I’m a little appalled that I had to explain who Lucio Fulchi was (to both him and Pollyanna Macintosh), on the other hand it’s kind of cool being the person who gets introduced them to the legendary filmmaker. He told me a strange story about being at a party once more the DJ pulled out an interesting techno beat with a sample that just keep repeating “I am a zombie… I am a zombie “… I hypothesized it was likely Mantan Mooreland’ voice and that the sample was likely from King of the Zombies. The film is still in the public domain. We joked a bit more and I moved along to Pollyanna, again friendly and charming though not quite as talkative. Xander is one of those people who can practically hold both sides of a conversation all by himself.
I’ve got to express some shock that Malcolm McDowell’s line wasn’t longer. He signs quick, but doesn’t push you through and will chat with you for as long as you like. A couple of friends of mine got to him earlier and got into long discussion about Russian history of all things!I’ve corresponded with McDowell through the mail before so the last time we were at a convention together I was actually going to pass his table by – took a while to make up my mind that I really ought to run over there and get a picture. By the time I had decided, he was gone from the table… doing a panel or a meal break or something along those lines… He didn’t make it back before I had to leave. I’m grateful I got my chance to connect with him this time.
Also on my hit list this time around was Nancy Loomis – the last cast member that I needed from the original Halloween (unless of course some bizarre twist of fate finds me a way to get Jamie Lee Curtis autograph on this poster – HorrorHound tried a few years ago but that didn’t work out well). As we were chatting, I saw a flash of blue and white fro mteh corner of my eye and realized Michael Myers was right behind us. I asked if he’d join us for a photo. Some opportunities you just don’t pass up!
I love that MCN focuses so heavily on programming as well. There’s always a panel and two movies going on at any time. I actually made a point of catching some of the short films going on (Bong of the Living Dead was far less comical than I had expected and Finis was just heartbreaking) while making sure to attend the panels. I actually wandered out of the Walking Dead panel because honestly, there wasn’t much there that I hadn’t already heard from the same people on Talking Dead. However the Iconic monster panel with Ken Kirzenger, Johnathan Brecht and Eugen Clarke was a great deal of fun. Eugene is a character and a lot of fun to listen to and big presence in the panel too, – odd since most of the questions were directed at Johnathan and Ken.
Sid Haig and Bill Forsythse’s panel may have had a Devils Rejects introduction, but it was really just two old friends chatting about thier experiences in the industry. Sid is a real gift to the horror community and it’s always fun to hear him speak. He even had a Star Trek story this time around! “When I did Star Trek everyone was tryign to quit smoking. All of them had the nicotine gum and it was almost every take the director would scream at them to spit out the gum. So between one take, Bill Shatner, being the joker he was, he grabbed a bunch of bubble gum. Double Bubble, Hubba Bubba, whatever. He handed it out to everyone on set and the second the director called ‘action!’ everyone turned around, blowing a bubble at him.”
I caught my friend Brandi in the parking lot. She and her husband live up near this con – it’s about the same drive for them as Cinema Wasteland is for me. The diffrence is, Motor City is definately beginning to outgrow it’s space. I’m glad she mentioned it to me because I know I’m not the only one seeing it. the bottleneck as you enter is really rough and inside, it’s frequently shoulder to shoulder. Honestly, I’m not staying as long as I usually would because it’s just too crowded. As much as I prefer hotel shows, it may just be about time for MCN to expand to another location where they can continue to grow.
Happy 10th anniversary MCN! Here’s to 10 more!
Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever
I wanted to like this one way more than I did.
From IMDB : “Grumpy Cat is a lonely cat living in a mall pet shop. Because she never gets chosen by customers, she develops a sour outlook on life…until one day during the holidays, a very special 12-year-old girl named Chrystal enters the pet store and falls in love with her after realizing she is the only person who can hear this unique cat talk. As the two develop a close friendship during the holiday rush, Grumpy reluctantly thwarts the kidnapping of an exotic dog she dislikes, and on Christmas Eve rescues Chrystal after the mall closes. Through her adventures, will Grumpy learn the true meaning of Christmas? Or will it be, in her words, the “Worst. Christmas. Ever?”
Here’s the problem…this is a lifetime movie. While Tim Hill was definitely the logical (even inspired) choice to make a movie about Grumpy, I don’t think he quite understands how to make a lifetime movie – and it shows. It’s a different sensibility, a diffrent kind of humor and Hill feels tied up by the unnecessary requirements of the network to appeal to a very specific demographic.
He’s hindered further by the very fact that he’s been given a flimsier premise than usual – we’re basing this movie on little more than an internet meme with a dash of forced holiday cheer (holiday cheer being incomprehensibly the antithesis of the main character). Add a fairly poor choice in Aubry Plaza as the voice and we end up with a funny, but somehow unsatisfying movie.
It’s not a complete disaster. I still watch it during Christmas and for Hill to make a Lifetime movie that I’ll even deem to watch at all is nothing short of miraculous. I’d like to see this character tackled again but with less studio interference and a better voice actress.
Children of the Corn 3 : Urban Harvest
This right here may be where the Children of the Corn series goes off the rails. Still, it’s inclusion in this box set was one of the selling points for me – it was one of these films I didn’t have on DVD….and I can’t imagine why I’d need any special features so it was worth the two dollar price of admission, and serves as both a box set project entry and a franchise focus review!
From IMDB : “Two brothers, formerly of the murderous children’s cult of Gatlin Nebraska, are taken to Chicago by an unwitting couple.”
I mentioned in my review of CotC2 that the real threat with these movies is just HOW MANY of these creepy kids there are. It’s like a zombie movie…individually, you can handle this stuff, but with a dozen or two of these little creepers advancing out of the cornfields and in your direction, clutching sharp and hideous farming implements….that’s some scary stuff right there.
This one kind of chucks all of that in exchange for a story about couple of country kids in the city.
Seriously, this is basically Breaking Amish gone horribly wrong. The fish out of water concept was already stale when we left the 80’s and it was downright rotten by the time we got to this film- it was 1995 and a lot of franchises were really running out of steam (it was just a bad time for horror, and dimension was particularly bad to it’s franchises…). We get an interesting juxtaposition between the brothers, one who wants to assimilate as opposed to the younger one who is fastidious in his devotion to he who walks behind the sheathes. We toss in a completely out-of-place bit of corporate intrigue mixed with ma
gic corn seeds…It climaxes bizarrely, a cornfield in the suburbs, and a giant rubber monster (at least it’s not CGI) rampaging and wreaking vengeance on the community. This is one of those where you get all the best parts in the trailer – watch this and save yourself the ordeal of watching this full film. Here’s hoping part four will be better.
Zombie Walk 2018
You know, it seems like the zombie walk at the Five O’Clock is the one I’ve been going to for the longest, even before it changed into the current Monster Walk incarnation. It may however be the first year that I have done this one alone. Usually I have at least one of the girls with me, but they are kind of growing out of these events. To make up for things, I decided to go with a bigger costume this year and pulled out my Slimer from last fall.
They kicked off the walk with a fire show, fire eating and blowing – a lot of fun stuff before we gathered up the hordes and haunted the streets of Lakewood…but you can see for yourself what it was like!
Children of the Corn 2
The story is of a reporter and his son investigating the Gatlin massacre while the neighboring town attempts to integrate the children who survived into their communities. There’s a great deal of this from the perspective of the reporters son – giving us a dash of youth appeal in what might otherwise be a little too similar, carbon copy of the previous film.
I have to admit, our new preacher kid and henchman – the standins for Malachi are not nearly as charismatic or interesting as our leads from the previous film, but it shows what is really the thread here.
Like a zombie movie, the threat in children of the corn is the sheer numbers. It’s a mass of characters hunting the individuals and the strength in thier numbers. The fact that it’s a horde, rather than one or two individual monsters really ups the creepy kid factor and shows where the strength of the series is. Curiously enough, we abandon that premise in the next sequel… but for now, children of the corn 2 is a fun watch – definitely a cable or video store kind of movie. It’s not something to necessarily be sought out but you don’t want to turn off if it’s playing in the background.
Cinema Wasteland spring 2018
You know what the weirdest thing about Wasteland is? How many photos of me end up on the internet showing my real face, and not some costume!
I always hate it when it takes a week to get a con review out….but then again Wasteland takes about that long to recover from.
I admint, I was particuarly excited to meet a couple of Pulp Fiction alumni (from THAT scene with Ving Rhames, Bruce Willis….and the ball gag). They were amused that I brough a VHS to be signed. I wish I could say there was some nobel, retro reason, but really, it was just the only thing I had laying around and looked better than a printed out photo would.
Also in attendance was Jackey Neyman Jones, the daughter of Harold Warren – the Master of Manos. I was looking foreward to meeting her and hearing about the making of Manos. What is intriguing about it was how the movie was kind of tucked away in the family history. No one spoke of it. The film itself vanished and Jackey spent years trying to find out what happened to it…that is, until on day, her father was dozing in front of the television set which happened to be playing Mystery Science Theater 3000. he woke with a start as he heard familiar music and sound effects – and there was Manos : The Hands of Fate on television. He called her immediately and announced “Guess what I just saw on television?”. Jackey found a number for Comedy Central and connected with someone in the offices and the Manos revival began there. I grabbed a copy of her book because I really wanted to get more of the story – I was lucky too. She sold out by mid day Saturday!
She wasn’t the only one selling out of books though. I managed to grab the last copy of the new Charles Band book about Full Moon Entertainment and the VHS era. After watching Stuntman Gary Kent’s documentary about his career, I was also after his biography…but my Friend Brandy managed to snatch up the last copy of that one! It’s okay, 42nd street Pete is working on getting it re-released. I’m sure I’ll see it pop up at Wasteland again soon.
I was delighted to see Michael Berryman back at Wasteland (he refers to me as “Matt with the Hat”) and charging a lower fee for autographs than last time at that! I ended up bringing him my Crow post card and a printed poster from Voyage of the Space Aliens – fun to be able to talk about that film and explain we’d actually seen it on the big screen (I also wandered over to Cleveland Cinema’s table to thank them for that). He shook his head remembering the lack of expertise on the stunt coordinater’s part, particularly in the chainsaw scene.
“The wanted me to use a real chainsaw and cut this outline around the actor. I looked at him and said ‘I’m not doing that!’. They eventually found someone else to do it and I told the actor ‘Whatever you do, DON’T move.’. he looked worried and asked ‘Really?’ I mean, one slip and they could have killed the guy!”
Berryman reminisced about hanging out with Brandon Lee, heading back to the trailers and strumming guitars. To this day, he still jeeps in touch with Rochelle Davis – the young woman who played Sarah in the Crow.
My friends from Horror Chicks were there to meet up with Dee Wallace and make her an honorary member, presenting her with a shirt. Dee’s a sweetie and another regular on the con circuit as well as a returning guest at Wasteland. My buddy Chris and I got to talk to her about her recent film Red Christmas, another indie flick we got to see on the big screen up at the Capitol.
no wasteland is complete without a Ghastlee Night at the movies. I’d bumped into Ghastlee earlier in the day.
“I’ve been trying to holler Hi to you all day!”
“Sorry, bad hearing and busy con – you know how it goes!”
“Horrorhound too, I saw you up there and tried to get your attention, but you didn’t seem to hear…”
“um Bob, I wasn’t AT Horrorhound….”
“Well then that guy must be really confused about why I was yelling at him….”
Of the various antics in the show, my personal favorite was the reenactmen of a scene from Cujo, where the dog is attacking Dee Wallace in the car. The scene was recreated with a folding chair, a piece of cardboard with the middle cut out and a puppet. My friend Rhonda lost her voice screaming.
That’s the thing about Wasteland, it’s great guests, and good times with friends. it’s everything I want in a party – watching bad movies with friends (and the people who made those movies), hanging out and doing interesting things. Ah well. Another six months and we’ll be doing it all again!
Woo-Con is a nice little Anime Convention put on by the College of Wooster – about halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. When I say that it’s a nice little convention, we really need to put the emphasis on the word “little”. It may actually be the smallest show that I’ve ever been to… And I thought the dealers room at Zipcon on was tiny!
Despite being small they try extremely hard… There was one panel room located always passed the dealer area and then upstairs there is another room dedicated to Anime screenings – and open for video games when there is no anime playing.
Lots of panels going on all day, as well as inviting the Confused Greenies this year to do some improv comedy. They were one of the better parts of the show actually, where they mashed up Doctor Who and anime themes like Sailor Moon and Pokémon which they performed live. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen to Pokémon trainers try and capture a Dalek.
The Costume contest was in a charming little area in the centre of the student union – A pit area near a large fireplace. It gave the entire affair and more intimate and homey feel. Contestants were seated on the steps around the pitand would jump up when their name is called, presenting themselves to the judges. I generally avoid the costume contest at Anime Conventions because they take so long, but this one was more like a comicon and may have lasted 45 minutes. Participants were judged based categories such as video game, movies and TV or anime. Even in a small environment like this, an Anime con brings out the best in cosplayers and there were some gorgeous outfits that walked through the door, not to mention panels based on it.
All in all, they did a great job at the programming and kept us entertained all day – no small feat for a little con like this but that’s what I love about these college run shows. They tend to be very earnest affairs put on by people who genuinely love the genre. I usually come away learning something new or catching a show that I’ve never seen before. My daughter Maddie accompanied me to this particular con and had a fabulous time as well… A great experience for first time out- and you can see her review here!
The only drawback is the distance… it’s an awfully long drive for such a short small show… Yeah I’m intrigued by how much effort went into this show and would really like to see them grow. I’m not sure, but it’s just possible that I may be back. And if you live anywhere nearby, I highly recommend it.
I headed out to the Winchester last night for a special screening of the new short film “case closed”. The cast and filmmaker were on hand, and the films creator, Andrew Sgambati gave a short introduction before the movie ran. I stuck around until after the credits rolled (remember, there just might be a special little something after the end credits! It even happens with short films!). After the lights came up, he returned to the stage and spoke a little bit about the movie he just screened. There may also have been a round of “Happy Birthday to you” sung.
Case Closed is a fan film set in the Batman universe, though if you’re expecting the Dark Knight you’re going to be disappointed. What we have is a narrative heavily influenced from the Dark Knight trilogy – particularly the interrogation sequence in the second film… The set up is familiar, the Joker has done something horrific, and the plan is already set in motion even though he is in handcuffs.
What is interesting here is that the story is told from the perspective of a detective on the case. This has the unsettling effect of making it feel more personal. Usually we see the Joker’s crimes from the perspective of Batman, or the Joker himself. They are statistics, not tragedies. In this case the peril feels very real because the detective’s son is missing. The tragedy is much closer to home.
Our detective by the way, played by Scott Laing, is the real star here. Laing’s impressive performance grounds the piece, which is beautifully shot and composed. With the exception of a brief appearance from Harley Quinn, Laing’s character is the most engaging one on the screen.
You can actually see Andrew Sgambati’s writing has captured the voice of the Joker quite well here. The dialogue is crisp, it rings true… unfortunately his performance doesn’t live up to his script. I appreciate that Sgambati doesn’t fall into the trap that a lot of actors do with the Joker – that is to play him big. It’s easy to go over the top with the Joker and got completely off the rails without even realizing it… We go the opposite direction here – with a delivery that feels flat. It’s a shame, because he does capture the physicality of the character and the look is well chosen, but I need a little more expression and subtext in his line delivery. I’m hoping to see him grow into the role as these films progress…and I am expecting to see these films continue. the movie itself ends with the announcement that “The Joker and Harley Quinn will return.” I find it interesting that batman may still be absent. It’s a curious choice, but not an outrageous one. The grounded portrayal of these characters makes introducing the hero dressed up in a Bat costume a little more difficult of a prospect and I can see why they would shy away from it.
I’m about 20 years removed from my own film making days, but I remember the Premier night of Ron’s Big Adventure and I could feel that same electricity in the air at the Winchester last night. The film is on YouTube, and their goal is 10,000 views. Head up there and check it out, and support our hometown filmmakers!
Man-at-Arms (part three)
The search for Eternian allies continues. First to the north…
Then into the truly bizarre…..
6 Degrees of Helter skelter
From IMDB : “”The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter” walks in the footsteps of the Manson Family, visiting over 40 locations related to the infamous Tate/LaBianca murders, and tying together the dozens of odd connections between Charles Manson and the Hollywood elite. Entertainingly led by famous Hollywood historian Scott Michaels (E!’s 20 Most Horrifying Hollywood Murders, Dearly Departed: Vol. 1, FindADeath.com), this epic documentary employs never-before-seen autopsy reports (analyzed with the help of the Los Angeles Department of the Coroner), dozens of rare photographs, original Manson Family music recordings, and modern-day visits to the locations where the action went down, in the most complete retelling of the Manson Murders ever put on film. ”
This documentary is a fascinating exploration of the Manson family murders. It’s hosted by someone who obviously loves the material and is completely enthralled by the exploration. This guy knows more about the Manson family then anyone I have ever encountered – and I happen to know some people totally obsessed with serial killers… Seriously this guy put them to shame!
He doesn’t just retell the story, he investigates it – taking us to the places where the murders happened, tracing the ground that the family took and showing us how Charles Manson build up this following, how he sank into his delusions and gives a really clear picture of how we finally got to this horrific act. I learned more about these murderers and this case than I’ve ever known, and I discovered from this brilliant documentary more than any books that I’ve read. I didn’t expect to like this so much, I didn’t expect to learn so much – I threw this one on as a whim, almost wondering what it was doing in a box set like this, but looking back, it fits perfectly – this is real life horror and possibly my favourite film out of this entire set (It seems like I keep saying that!) This documentary alone is worth the price of admission and I am going to be revisiting this one again and again.
This really says it all.
Children of the Corn
I’ve seen children of the corn before, and I’ve also read the short story… Indeed, my first reaction was “how can they get full-length movieout of such short short story?
This film, more than any other terrifies my wife. To this day she has a phobia of cornfields that is born from this film. Strangely, it doesn’t have the same effect on me. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s a case of familiarity breeds contempt. It’s certainly shot well – the moment when Isaac comes out of the cornfield and begins to sneak up on Linda Hamilton shows a shocking degree of peril considering we’re only 20 minutes in.
In this classic story of a group of religious fanatic children that have murdered their parents and created their own sort of cul. I always feel a little bit like I’m watching the Star Trek episode Miri when I view this film.
You almost forget that it’s an 80s movie because we’re so isolated – we are so far away from anything else recognizable and the old-fashioned signs and trappings just fit here. They may fit even better because the town is abandoned. The children themselves are interesting and menacing, and I’m much surprised when we see them turn on their own – I didn’t remember that. However I could’ve sworn we actually see the creature they referred to as he who walks behind the sheaves. Here he’s only manifested as a glorified supernatural cloud, and the occasional lumpy ground. I’m wondering which one I did watch them where he appears!
I have to admit, it’s a good film – but what really sets this above a lot of other horror films is the soundtrack. Somebody put a lot of thought and effort into this music, particularly the choral moments that are reminiscent of the omen. Still, it’s hard to go wrong with Stephen King and I suspect that is a great deal of why this is such a cult classic.
Well, that’s one down – eight more to go!
HOLD THE PRESSES. Did I say eight? nope…make that NINE. They just released a new one THIS YEAR.