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Archive for October 7, 2021

Cinema Wasteland Fall 2021

“You’re not leaving already?” Eric Roberts looked at me.

I smiled and shook my head, and as I readjusted my backpack.

“No, I’m just trying to get everything stashed and get out-of-the-way.”

Roberts smiled. “You’re not ever in anyone’s way, and you’re a lovely man!”

You know, these sort of things just don’t happen at Horrorhound.

It feels like Cinema Wasteland lite this time around, even more so than the movie nights Ken occasionally throws. He tested the waters with one of those movie nights month or two ago, and was putting on the first full Cinema Wasteland this weekend since the lockdown. But, the attendance was a little more sparse than usual. Regulars like Tom Sullivan were notably absent. About half of those in attendance and vending were wearing masks. Like I said, it felt a bit like a light version of the normal show. Nevertheless, I hadn’t realized how much I needed a wasteland weekend.

I did an smaller number of shows the last couple years… Basically hitting anything that was open to show support for the cons that dared to run a show. That means a lot of Jeff Harper events, as well as some trips south to the Toyhio show. It also meant a couple of trips to PA, where my buddies finally managed to drag me to the big Steel City comic con in Monroeville. But Wasteland is different. Wasteland reminds me why I love convention life. I said it in my reviews, the Steel City is a cash grab. It’s a cattle call, moving you through expensive guest lines and it’s programming is lackluster… Then there are the shows like the Harper events where there’s no programming at all.

Wasteland is all about programming. It’s all about the curation, and showing me films I never knew I needed to see like The incredibly strange creatures just stopped living and became mixed zombies. This one was playing Friday evening, hosted by Gunga Jim. I generally enjoy his stuff, and he is always a fun personality at the events. Gunga Jim came into the movie room to announce that this would in fact be the only time he gets to show this film. Somebody had just snatched up the rights to this public domain movie, just this week and that prevented him from selling it or ever screening it again. Such a bizarre development, and really, after watching this movie… Who would WANT to buy the rights to it? This thing isn’t getting a criterion Blu-ray release!

But I also was happy to be back at Wasteland to remind me that there are still shows out there that aren’t just trying to gouge their customers at every opportunity. Most guests were charging $20 for an autograph, and that went down to $10 if you brought your own thing. Photos were free with the autograph. David Millbern was pleasant and chatty, showing me photos of his new Emmy, as well as the contract from slumber party massacre… just to prove how ridiculously low his day rate was. I make more than that at my own job. Roseanne Katon squealed in delight when I Unrolled my Motel hell poster for her to sign… She’d be the first person on this one. She talked about filming and even shared that her daughter had dressed up as her character for Halloween one year… gotten make up for a bloody slit throat and everything. Fred Olen Ray was in his corner, hocking DVDs. If you bought two or three, he would throw in a free autograph. That’s actually a pretty good deal on the best of days. Likewise, James Edwards from JR Bookwaters crew was set up, and happy to sign my DVD copies of Dead Next Door and Robot Ninja for free. He was delighted to hear about the screening we had in Cleveland couple years ago and amazed I actually got to see it on the big screen.

Guests at Cinema Wasteland tend to be more obscure ones, not the main stream folks who are constantly on the convention circuit… there are a lot of first-timers and these are people who genuinely want to be there. They’re having fun and amazed at how nice the crowd is. Wasteland tends to spoil a first time convention guest for any other shows.

Zander Vorkov could not make it this year, some health problems have sprung up recently, so I signed the giant get well card that Ken had set out at the registration desk. Another fun little touch that wasteland generally does for guests to have to bow out because of some ailment or another.

I managed to slip in for the short film block, but I swear, these things are getting longer. The last feature was a full hour! That doesn’t count as a short film in my book! Still, I sat through an interesting kind of ghostly cult film for 23 minutes and God bless the guys who did the second one. Creating a fun and Quick little shock story and showing how effective that can be even in a mirror three minutes. I’ll admit I bailed right before the third time. I know what to expect from this particular filmmaker, he’s an expert in molding and sculpting silicone, and nobody does gore better than he does. I wasn’t up to 40 minutes of that though, but I did run over to his table To purchase some grotesque body parts for my collection.

My personal favorite film this time around, had to be psycho ape. The premise is a crazed killer rate goes around murdering people with bananas. In this universe, bananas are as razor sharp and deadly as any knife or blade. He’s pursued by a teenage girl who wants to be the next Jane Goodall, trying to help him, and the sinister doctor ZOOmis; Wildlife specialist with a Dr. Loomis from Halloween sort of obsession with capturing and imprisoning psycho ape. The apes it is bad, the CGI blood packs are terrible, and the whole thing is just ludicrous… And it revels in it. They know exactly how bad of a film as it is, and they lean into it. It ends up being bloody, funny, and just a generally good time.

I ended up my weekend, by popping out to wasteland Sunday afternoon for one quick last go around in the dealers room, before headed out to the Cleveland Comic and Nostalgia Show a couple towns over in Westlake. I’ve reviewed a couple of Harper shows this year already, there’s not much that changes or that needs to be said. I was there for $.50 bins and to hang out with a friend who was having a birthday.
 
It was nice to cap off the weekend with one extra run through a different dealer’s room. All in all, it really does help remind me, why I enjoy con life. I can’t wait until we really see things get back into full swing.