The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Cinema Wasteland spring 2022

Can I just say how much I hate the new Best Western Sign? I mean look at it. It looks rusty and old… Like it’s been there 1 million years, out in the middle of the wilderness. The sad part is, it’s been up for less than a year. You know, the Holiday Inn sign was big and bright and said “come on in, the party is here!“ This piddly little Best Western sign kind of says “the party is over.“ 
 
Unfortunately, that’s a little bit what cinema wasteland felt like this time around as well.

 

A lot of conventions got devastated by the pandemic, many never recovered. Wasteland got hit pretty hard. They shut down for two shows, and when they came back last fall, it didn’t entirely feel like the same show. It was still early days, but it felt very much like Wasteland light. To be fair, nearly all the guest list ended up bailing, and Ken, the promoter, had to re-stock with a very last-minute guest list. He ran into some great luck with Eric Roberts showing up but still. It was early days, like we were just coming out of the plague.
Six months later is not quite as early of days, and I must say, the guest list didn’t really improve. You can see he’s doing what he can, but filling the tables with old Dawn the Dead zombies is always a sign of a promoter having a hard time filling seats. Still, he managed to find one zombie that I hadn’t met already. Gary Marlette is chipper and happy and a great guest. He’s obviously having the time of his life, and deservedly so. Next to him, Sharon Ceccatti Hill looked over at my poster as he signed it and mentioned “I love that poster!” I pointed out to her that she had actually gotten to sign this a decade or so ago at the very first order around and her eyes lit up. “That’s right! How are you doing?“

 

That’s why Wasteland keeps me coming back. That’s why Wasteland is family.

 

There are still some good films going on this weekend, but not quite enough to keep me occupied the entire time. I actually skipped Friday night (and I did miss catching Gunga Jim’s show, however, that was it) though I definitely had some stuff I was looking forward to for Saturday. Ken had brought in a trio from Pulp Fiction, again, it may have been too soon for these folks. The pawnbroker and the gimp had been to Wasteland fairly recently, and Angela Jones had just done Dark Xmas in their inaugural year right before the shut down. Still, it was a good excuse to pull up a very curious film called Curdled. Curdled is the story of a young Colombian woman named Gabrielle, who is fascinated by the local serial killer – not necessarily in a aspirational romantic fashion, but just fixated on how he does things and why he does things. It all feeds into a story that she heard when she was much younger, about victims of the guillotine. They say that those executed still retained consciousness… And that the heads even speak. The serial killer too, beheads people. In order to learn more, she joins a forensic cleaning company. It’s basically a maid service for murder scenes. (What a great subject for a suspense film!) As she studies her files, she eventually stumbles upon one of the scene of the crime… One where the murderer has made a mistake. I don’t wanna go any further, because this was a genuinely good film and I want you to go out and find it to watch it yourself! The character of Gabriella inspired Quentin Tarantino so much that he wrote The character of Esmeralda in Pulp Fiction specifically for Jones. In his mind This was the same character, although she wanted to keep them somewhat separate. Still, you can see some of the more bit of the character in Esmeralda as she taxis Bruce Willis away and chance about the death of his opponent. Curdled is one of those films that I’ve never heard of and had no idea I needed to see it so badly. It was only made better and enhanced by the fact that I had just come from a screening of The Toolbox Murders in the other movie room… I found that features very similar crime scenes and investigation, and just as much if not more blood. The Toolbox Murders is another one of those video nasties that I always meant to watch, but never got around to. Wasteland is great for stuff like that.

 

One of the thing Wasteland generally ISN’T great for is costumes. I cosplay here occasionally – usually every other show or so and even then, usually only for a couple hours. I tossed my Blade in the car, unsure if I was going to don it, but then I ran in to my buddy Jason who delightedly informed me he was breaking out his Captain Spaulding around three or so, and I decided that would be a great time for me to bring out Blade.

 

“Aren’t you a little too…..” Jason hesitated, searching for the right word “Caucasian to be Blade?” His wife Tina jostled him, laughing. 

PUPPET MASTER. Not Snipes!”

“Ohhhhh!”

I popped out to my car and started assembling the costume piece by piece. Blade is tricky. everything has to go on in a SPECIFIC order. A couple of guys tossing back beers two cars down looked up. as I got the mask on over the blackout hood.

“If you’re going for unsettling….YOU SUCCEEDED.”

I smiled under the mask as I reached to grab the wig out of the passenger seat and fumbled it on. Between the wig and the hat, the dudes eyes widened as they suddenly recognized me.

That’s the other thing about a con that’s not really a cosplay event. When the costumed characters DO show up they get a LOT of attention and surprise. Blade was a hit, and even though I only wore him for a couple hours I probably took as many photos as I typically do all day at a comic con.
 
Ghastlee night at the movies ran a little short this weekend, it felt a little subdued… And ended up being a super spreader event. That’s right. Everybody was catching diseases… Well, they were catching balloons with the names of diseases written on them. The first game of the night involve people batting balloons back-and-forth, as music played. When the music stopped, if you were caught holding a balloon, you caught the disease and got a prize. ( I got a staph infection).

 

It was a striped down set for the music as well, with Ghastlee and Professor Tarr strumming along… I’ve never seen Ghastlee play guitar before! For that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tarr on bass either. It felt different, but nice. Like a couple of old buddies just getting together to jam… And we happen to be there for it.

 

One other film I was there to see was CarousHell the second. I really really enjoyed the first one, and I tend to be a fan of silver spotlight films, ever since way back in the day when I first encountered them at the last Horror Realm before it’s hiatus. The idea of a carousel unicorn coming to life and then going around murdering people is just incredible fun. The second one, doesn’t work nearly as well. Perhaps it’s because it’s such a one note gag, or perhaps it’s because they’re trying to change Duke the unicorn from a monster into something of a sympathetic villain…perhaps even a hero. There’s definitely some good bits in it, a lot of winking and nodding add the audience without strictly breaking the fourth wall. But the whole thing I think it’s built on a flawed foundation. I don’t care about Duke’s long lost half unicorn half human son. I am not all that interested in discovering his origins, and trying to figure out that he was a human soldier in World War II. But I think the one thing that pushed it just a little bit too far over the edge for me what is the gay Nazi and wooden unicorn sex scene. Let’s just say, I’m glad I waited to watch this first. I’m glad I got to see it, but this one’s not gonna be a buy for me.

 

I’m slowly seeing more and more folks come back to Wasteland, and it was nice to see more familiar faces this time around the last time. Some of the out of towners are cautiously checking back in. A big part of why I have stuck with Wasteland is the people who go. The ones I know and only see there…but also the new folks I meet there for absolutely no reason. It’s hanging out in the corner talking about how good Venom was and a complete stranger wandering by but stopping and exclaiming “Venom? I loved that movie!” Then, as I was admitting I always have to get over my bitterness with Tom Hardy for doing Star Trek Nemesis, another person stops and joins the increasing circle to share what his favorite Star Trek movies are. Wasteland is every bit as much about the friends you’ve made and the ones that you haven’t met yet every bit as much as it’s about the movies you never knew you needed to see and the b-list actors you want to meet. Truth is, I’m still holding out hope here. Ken’s attitude is “We’re just going to bide our time.”. Ghastlee’s head popped up. “Biden? Blame Biden! That’s what I say!” Bob laughed as Ken shook his head, exasperated.

 

Biding that time may pay off as well. More guests are calling up Wasteland every day, showing some interest in coming back. The Motel Hell reunion that we were supposed to get two years ago looks like it’s back on, and I’ve already got my poster pulled. There’s rumblings from a lot of the out of towners about hoping the fall looks clear and good to go.

 

I desperately want another cereal wasteland party.

This weekend’s attendance  wasn’t helped by the fact that just a couple hours away, steel city con was hosting a national lampoons vacation reunion, complete with Chevy Chase in attendance. I can’t help but wonder how much variety and Scott siphoned off there, but this fall, CW looks like they’re pulling out all the stops.

 

 

 

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