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Cinema Wasteland

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. 



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.





Cinema Wasteland fall 2019


The problem with trying to blog about Cinema Wasteland is that by the time it’s over, I’m too exhausted to write about it. Add to that the family hauling me out to Cedar Pointe for Halloweekends on Sunday evening for haunted houses, and this morning I’m wiped.

72278817_2746662192044853_6358905892993236992_nThere were a number of films I wanted to catch this weekend, chief among them, two ridiculous pieces are about inanimate objects as monsters. Killer Cup 3-D was an outrageous piece of cinema, positing styrofoam coffee cups as killers. The evil cups would have faces carved and occasionally sculpted into them, as they attempted to eradicate humanity. One family survives, complete with remote control cup driven tank to help fight back. It only gets more ridiculous from there

This paired nicely with The Day After Gnomemorrow – which was a bizarre parody of Richard Matheson’s  I Am Legend, only instead of vampire like zombies we have garden gnomes attacking and killing any human they can find. This is pretty much exactly the kind of movie wasteland is all about.

I was excited to get a couple of new signatures on my Romero zombie posters, Christine Ford Romero in particular was wonderful to meet and hear her stories about George’s creative process. Also interesting was Christopher Neame. He is a character actor that’s been on all sorts of television (how did I not know he was in both the Flash and Human Target?), but maybe most notable for taking the lead as Johnny Alucard in Dracula 1972. It’s never been one of my favorites -I’m more a fan of 1970’s New York rather than 1970’s Chelsea or London.  Over the years however, the heavy occult influence has begun to appeal to me. Listening to Neame speak (in those gorgeous British tones)gave me a new 71514383_2745279575516448_5588972497685970944_n_2745279568849782appreciation for the film and what it was like to work with Peter Cushing.

“After a take, Christopher Lee would head back to his trailer and sing opera. But Cushing was really one of the guys… He is very warm and sociable with all of us. This was very shortly after his wife had died, and they were just absolutely devoted to one another.  After the shoot he gathered all of us together and told us that if it hadn’t been for this cast, all these wonderful young people, he couldn’t possibly made it through the film. It was something that touched my heart so greatly.”

72167514_2745279962183076_4698628530299207680_n_2745279952183077Of course Wasteland is one of those places I go to see friends twice a year from out of state, as well as the friends who are here year around. It’s a funny thing, as I’ve gotten older, I seem to be watching fewer films there because I get caught up hang out with people. You walk by the bar and someone calls the your name, then suddenly you’re looking down at your watch and realize that you’ve been chatting so long you’ve missed the first 45 minutes of The Green Slime. Wasteland is family.  You know what was really weird this time around? Even though Wasteland isn’t really a cosplay kind of show, it seemed like most of them were dressing up for the one show I wasn’t!

It’s always a great time to be had and a great atmosphere to be in. Wasteland provides me with films that I’d never know to seek out on my own, curious old fare like The Sorcerers, Vengeance of the Zombies (thanks Gunga Jim!) or newer indie films like Retribution. It’s this kind of stuff that I actually enjoy way 71669263_2745280135516392_1752640346631700480_n_2745280132183059more than the predictable things like Witchfinder General or Martin. I was also really digging that they were screening the entire first run of the Flash Gordon serial in several chunks over the course of the weekend.

We always top things off on Saturday night with games and general lunacy – A. Ghastlee Ghoul hosting impromptu readings of pulp trash novels, horror host dance offs, and the ever popular game “what’s in Jeff’s underpants!”

I tell you what, I should start taking Mondays after Wasteland off because I almost feel like I need another day to recover, but in the end, it’s just the medicine I need, twice a year, and I’ll be back in April.


Cinema Wasteland

ConmanI trudged back to my car in my monkey feet and bathrobe, head still in my hands. A woman yelled out “Looks like a rough night. You just getting up?”. Her companion shook his head.”Look at him. He’s not getting up. He’s STILL up!”

That’s about right for Wasteland. Late night parties. Early morning ones to – I was actually one my way out after a breakfast party in the snuggle dungeon when I was spotted. Around the corner, my friends Rhonda and Chriss were playing Choking Hazard with a young woman named Brooke. They had thrown out the rules and just kept throwing down cards until they had transformed the Cyanide and Happiness game from a comic strip into almost an animation.

Back inside, Gunga Jim handed out tiny hands before screeing I Eat Your Skin; the bottom half of the traditional bill with this years featured reunion for I Drink Your Blood. Jim’s commentary made I Eat Your Skin almost tolerable, and I realized I’d never actually seen I Drink Your Blood. It’s extremely seventies and while i knew the two movies weren’t related, I never knew HOW different they were. This was the right way to see it though, with an audience.

The cast was having fun meeting the fans, many of which had never done a conention before. This isn’t unusal. Wasteland tries to draw people that other cons overlook. While I waited in line, I helped Mink Stole (One of John Water’s troupe) figure out the camera on her phone.

Tracy the Gorilla was a big hit. Wasteland isn’t really a cosplay show, but when I put together the gorilla ghostbuster, I figured I’d be able to get away with it a couple of horror cons as well as events like ConCoction. It may be the novelty made him more popular at Wasteland. I’ve never taken as many photos with people at this show before.

It’ll be another six months before we go back (though they are starting up the movie nights this August, so yay), and it can’t come soon enough.





Cinema Wasteland Retro Movie Night (Part One)

Movie bannerimg_4272If you’ve been following the blog or Facebook account for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about Cinema Wasteland. It’s my favorite horror convention. I never miss the twice yearly celebration of bad movies. It’s not just that Wasteland is home (though it is), and wastelanders are family (though they are). Back when I was still a stranger there and roamed the halls alone and anonymously, what kept me coming back were the films. Wasteland curates the strangest films known to man. They screen movies I’d never think to seek out on my own. They show the best (actually more often it’s the worst) stuff I never knew I NEEDED.

When word came down that Wasteland was going to host a movie night, it seemed like a perfect fit. Ken Kish (showrunner and founder of Cinema Wasteland)  announced that he basically had so many movies he wanted to screen that even with as many as he shows at img_4270the convention, it’d still take dozens of cons before he’d get through them, so he decided to try this out and see how it went. From what I can see, it went well. I set the DVR to record Svengoolie and drove out to the Elks Lodge in Berea Saturday night. We got our first real bad snow that night and while roads were challenging coming in, they’d be a nightmare going home. Still, it didn’t seem to deter anyone. The hall filled up quickly. As I took my seat on the uncomfortable steel chairs I noticed light glinting off a bald head that struck me as familiar. I popped over to find Mark and Brandi from Michigan who had made the trip over to Cleveland just for the show. Next to them, Mike Watt and Amy Lynn Best from Happy Cloud media in PA. Our buddy Jason joined us right after his work shift down the street, about halfway through the event. (That’s what I mean by Wasteland is family).

img_4279I’ve heard stories about movie nights at Quentin Tarintino’s house. How he would screen double features, but add a short or a cartoon and some trailers into the presentation, and then proceed to screen things no one else had ever seen. This had that kind of vibe to it. Local Horror Hosts the Mummy and the Monkey had teamed up with Wasteland to help Emcee the show (they’re regulars at the con) and run a raffle, then the lights went out. A cartoon and an old “Our Gang” short preceded the film. Ken was playing it safe for the first feature by running a reliable old Vincent Price standard. Nevertheless, “Last Man on Earth” is a solid film and was made more fun watching it with an audience. We got about img_4267ten minuets into it when there was a sprocket malfunction. The print shook and blurred.

“I’m just trying to give you a REAL grindhouse experience!” Ken shouted as he swapped out the faulty projector with a spare.

“There’s not enough hookers or broken needles for it to be a genuine grindhouse experience!” I shouted back, then took the opportunity to nip back to the bathroom. Sure enough, needle and hooker free.

Intemission was marked by a trailer reel of the strange and wonderful, along with another cartoon and a raffle drawing. The seats were getting uncomfortable and the snow continued to fall as we headed into the second feature “The Man Who Turned to Stone”. This was the one I was waiting for since I had never even heard of this. It’s a 1957 classic and I knew I was in for something good when I saw Victor Jory in the credits. Jory Was the Shadow in the only film outing that matters, and that dark tone made him perfect for a sinister old-world type. Jory leads a group of immortals who stay young by draining the life force of others. Young women in particular are the best nourishment and they just happen to be running a women’s prison. Hijinks ensue.

The event went well enough to justify a second film night. This one will fall on Feb 9th, and feature “Voodoo Woman” (1957) and “Motorcycle Gang” (1957). I know I’ll be back. I hope to see all of you there too!



Cinema Wasteland Fall 2018


I don’t know, something felt different this time around at Wasteland. Maybe it was the weather – sunny and warm, with bright beautiful skies. Absolutely wrong for Cinema Wasteland. This is Cleveland and October is generally cool and overcast. Sometimes rain, occasionally snow. Certainly not blue skies and 80 degrees. Fortunately the hotel noticed the horror of pleasant weather and kept the movie rooms colder than the ninth circle of Hell all weekend.

I managed to kick off the day with Gunga Jim’s presentation of a terrible vampire movie and caught a few of the short films, but the real reason for being here this weekend was the My Bloody Valentine reunion.

God bless the cast by the way, for keeping those autograph prices to $15 on your own item (or $20 on a photo from their table). In this day and age, it’s practically unheard of, and I genuinely feel better about spending on autographs when it’s this reasonable. But even more amazing that this was the directors cut print that Wasteland secured to screen. This particular print managed to restore about 60% of the gore that had been cut out in the theatrical release – that’s the one most people have seen. It’s the one that was on VHS and the common DVD. The added gore makes it almost a completely different film. Sadly, the parts that are still missing, and gone for good. The director revealed that those negatives had been poorly stored by Paramount, and the surviving footage is basically decayed and in shreds.

43253644_2144184492292629_181332664538628096_nI managed to find some truly rare items myself. In addition to a couple films from local filmmakers, ones that had screened over the weekend, I came away with a strange “In-Store” reel from the Crow. A great addition to my odd collection of Crow behind the scenes stuff. I also found a beautiful hardbound collection of Shadow pulps with an introduction by Walter Gibson in 1966. It’s been a long time since I really felt like I was finding hidden treasures at a con. It’s good to be back to that.

Wasteland is always my favorite con, with it’s strange screenings and great guests. I’ll recover this week, and can’t wait to go back in six months and do it all again!


Cinema Wasteland fall 2017

Conmancw_show_logoIt’s amazing how Wasteland can leave me both completely relaxed and yet completely exhausted.  You wouldn’t think that hanging out and watching movies all weekend would be such an endurance test.


Of course when you kick things off with a film like TANTRUM 2: PHANTOM OF THE DEMON, it’s already putting both your taste and gag reflex to the test. I actually dug Lucifer’s Cosmonauts from these guys, but they continue to push boundaries a little beyond what I’m comfortable with. Their films are very much platforms to show off their amazing skills at creating gore and torn flesh and various bodily excretions. The gross out volume is up to Troma levels, but lack the cartoonish edge Lloyd gives off. The unflinching earnest focus on shredded tissue and bodily fluids pushes these films to a cringing squirming experience. There’s no story to speak of, and what little there is, is told in a non linear format intercut with dream sequences, leaving you off balance and not quite ever knowing what you are watching. It’s the sort of film that could only be celebrated at Wasteland.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Gunga Jim’s drive in. There were fewer host segments this time around, but I was still looking forward to his presentation of BLOOD


OF NOSTRADAMUS. Outside of the Santo films, I’ve had a hard time figuring out where to start with Mexican horror and this seemed like a fine candidate a vampire movie  with some occult overtones. Apparently it was my night to be confused because the choppy story was all over the place. Fun but a little out there.

I love hanging out with friends at Wasteland. I got in early for dinner with Deb, Mark and Brandi, along with her niece who was experiencing CW for the first time. Rhonda (an occasional contributor over here) was drunker than usual this weekend which resulted in me hanging more with her friend Chriss than her! Jen and Chris made it out and finally got to meet our buddy Bruce Wayne. We missed Angelique and Nicole but Halle and I still managed to get into some hijinks with Dirk Manning. I brought Baron Morbid a Jason puppet and he traded me for a copy of Divine Exploitation and a Superman comic with an ending he hated. How can you criticize Jim Starlin anyhow? A 22046979_10214212959589096_3157807684593411758_nyoung woman ran up to Doug and me, requesting a photo – “I was just here to deliver a pizza, but can I get a picture with you?”

I started to nod off during The CANNIBAL CORPSE KILLERS and decided to call it a night, but managed to get back in time the next morning for MICROWAVE MASSACRE. I actually really dig Craig Muckler, and he’s one of those kind of guys I’d never have discovered without Wasteland. He’s a writer, actor, producer…the sort of indie filmmaker who does whatever it takes. He was selling signed photos for $10 (and threw in an extra for me) which is another way of getting my attention. I love the picture with the side by side art for the VHS cover of Microwave Massacre vs the new Blu Ray. He offered the blu ray to the show promoter. Ken replied “This is wasteland. Were lucky to have a DVD player to run it!” With a smile he added “Besides, it was all grainy and pixilated when I first saw it on VHS, why should these guys get it any better?” .

I caught the first half hour of HOBO WITH A TRASH CAN (Chris tells me I need to finish it- it’s apparently really good) before rushing over to hear 22140842_1689001621144254_8847133523621755122_nCraig’s panel with Chris Mulkey and Jill Schoelen. I’ve been a fan of Schoelen for her role in my favorite Phantom of the Opera and only recently caught up with Popcorn. Chris Mulkey was the real surprise. Funny, musical and all around a delight to listen to. he sat in on Ghastlee’s show later that night, playing bluesy rockabilly on a borrowed electric guitar.

I later got into a slap fight with a werewolf.

SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA was on the list of screening for later that night and it’s one that’s been on my list of films to see for a while. I’ve just never gotten around to it, but that’s really what Wasteland is for. I never would have  thought to par it up with NIGHTMARE SISTERS though. Aside from an overlaping cast and director they don’t have a great deal in common, but they are great time capsules of that VHS era. Both fun horror with a very Charles Band/Full Moon atmosphere, it’s fun to spend some time on screen with Brinke Stevens, Linea Quigley and Michelle Bauer. These are also exactly the kind of films I come away with a far greater appreciation 22089519_1689005024477247_5518537902109243308_nfor after hearing a panel with the director David DeCoteau talking about them. He’s charming and funny and considering how prolific he is I  don’t understand how this guy wasn’t on my radar before now. He was also signing for free. In a world where more and more people are charging $40 or $50 for an autograph (And causing me to walk right on past thier tables), this kind of thing really helps you stand out. It’s how I discovered Adam Green and it’s now what’s got me really exploring David DeCoteau’s filmography. Indeed, the fact that Craig Muckler and Brinke Stevens were both $10 meant I ended up spending my money at more tables and probably dropping a little more than I intended.


I still made it back for a bit on Sunday to catch the short film block and the always excellent intermission reels, but was running out of steam before THE HIDDEN screened. That’s okay, I’ll catch it later. I’m still trying to process TANTRUM…and just might be pondering that right up until wasteland comes back in six long months.

See you there.



Cinema wasteland fall 2016

Conmancw_show_logoDid 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 14568161_1294088327302254_8398387260792167402_nHallie 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 h14519927_10154473826083162_5102603456790165300_nour 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 14484610_1294088653968888_8566494340843070040_nthe 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’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 14448804_1294090603968693_1628184974704819239_nperturbed… 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,14485094_1294090757302011_1720453212047866881_n 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 14519882_1294091233968630_796327257228990479_nback 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.

14502686_1294091517301935_7995608483749328280_nThe evil dead panel was fun, full 14516445_1294091793968574_6765908444789311488_nof 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 untitled-1-copyyourself. 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.


14457470_1294442873933466_673633466084844032_nThe 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 14449851_1294092130635207_742055949513709456_namount 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 p14449755_1294092320635188_7861988497938873125_nproceeded 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 14517572_1294092273968526_4889645625368116992_nin 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.

Cinema Wasteland spring 2016

Conman12472271_10201457866045932_2858715554961129989_nMy back still hurts. This should have been a miserable weekend. But it’s Wasteland weekend. That makes a big difference. Its the sort of place where you can just sit down with a couple of evil clowns over beers or chat with friends about serial killers and Doctor Who and no one bats an eye.

I got in late, but managed to kick off my weekend with the short film block – headlined by “Hammer” the big screen premier of my buddy Mark Mackaye’s latest short.

The short film block is always one of the highlights of Wasteland, and having one of our own in it always makes it more fun. I personally really dug seeing Zach Shildwachter’s “Eat It UP” as well. I’ve caught this movie before, but it’s just so much fun with such great dialogue – honestly this is one of the shorts that I really would love to see expanded into a longer feature or series of short films.12932701_10201451089276517_3885185790678501125_n

I was all about camping in movie room two on Friday, though I did venture out a bit to chat with friends and prowl the dealer’s room and get my autographs. It’s interesting, this time around I was finding a great many more deals than usual. It was also reall ycool to see that autographs were cheaper here than usual. Several people were signing on your own items for only $10, and no one was over $20.

My first and main target was actually Grayton Clark. He’d cancelled on a previous show and this was his appearance to make up for it. He’s pleasent and charming and seems genuinely surprised that we know  his work. He greeted me (and a lot of other people ) by asking “You know these films?” with a mixture of surprise and pleasure. Truth is, I know some of them, though not all of them. I’m a fan of Dracula vs Frankenstein, not to mention catching Satan’s Cheerleaders’s at a previous show. Skinheads was on the schedule this year and I stuck around for that as well. Clark is so prolific that I’ve run into his work a lot over the years. He was selling his autobiography which was EXACTLY what I wanted to grab. His stories about working on low budget films are fascinating, and listening to him talk, felt a lot like listening to Adam Green on the Movie Crypt Podcast.


I hadn’t really intended to meet David Naughton, but George Steele had cancelled and I noticed that Naughton’s fee was actually lower here than it had been other shows so I ran over to take advantage of that. He’s pleasant, if a little brief. His panel at the show however was quite amazing. It’s really fun to hear about his journey and there were a few bits about American Werewolf in London that I didn’t know previously.

I also managed to snag a moment with Roy Fukes – he was really there for the Street Trash reunion, but I wanted him on my Dawn of the Dead poster. He’s the first zombie to get hit in the face with a pie. It’s a dubious claim to fame, but I loved it. He’s another one who seems surprised that people are actually here to see him and I noticed he 12938258_1155115261199562_2825254917360206468_nwould keep wandering away from his table to check out other merchants in the dealer’s room!

Saturday morning started with McDonalds and Hangover featuring Queen of Outer Space starring Zsa Zsa Gabor and it was A-MAZE-ING. I particularly love the mask the villianess wears. I’m sure I recognize the guns and costumes from other films. Gabor was wonderfully over the top and it’s just the perfect movie for a cold saturday morning.

I caught up with friends after the film. They were coming from the wrestling presentation and were still shaking. It had been a particularly bloody match including a knee to the chest and the victim spraying blood from his mouth. I can’t handle real blood. I love the fake stuff, but the real stuff just makes me woozy.

I followed them into Three Stooges- a Saturday morning tradition, and while we were waiting for it to start I passed around the bacon soda that my wife had gotten me for Easter. It was revolting. I think it also mixed poorly with my pain medication…part 12439352_1155116567866098_4955790460835365316_nway through the third short I had to jump up and book it for the restroom.

There was time before the panels would start and I headed off to hit a couple more films. Happy Hour Massacre had registered on my radar, but you know, anthologies are not always my thing. I was iffy on it, but the poster was up and you know what? It swayed me. I’m glad it did because it was a great set of movies. It’s southern, but that’s just kind of a matter of fact – not played for laughs. The stories were genuinely engaging, particularly the crazy Ex-Girlfriend one, though the bit about the old man and the red pill was pretty exciting as well. I ended up enjoying this so much that I ran out to the dealers room and snatched up a copy of it for myself. While I was at it, I also grabbed a copy of “Winner Tape All”. I knew I was only going to be able to catch the first fifteen minuets of that before seeing David Naughton, and figured I would finish it up Sunday afternoon as I recuperated (and I did). Winner Tape All is a spoof on all the VHS documentaries we’ve been seeing lately, but it feels more like satire than straight up parody to me. It respects the genere and I totally feel like we’re in on the joke. If I had to guess, I’d actually say there was a huge influence from the story of Chester Turner (a former Wasteland 12920527_1155115374532884_6013081939244545403_nguest) and his films “Black Devil Doll from Hell” and “Tales from the Quaddead Zone”. It really fits in perfectly with documentaries like Rewind this or even the recent Cannon films story.

I was in between panels and thought I’d stop in at Tom Sullivan’s Evil Dead museum. He was in the middle of telling a story about Motor City Comic Con. He’s actually wanted to meet Adam West, but his table had been so busy all day that he was unable to get away and had mentioned it in passing to a gew people who had come by. Late in the day, West himself showed up at Tom’s table and he had a total fanboy melt down. It was a great moment, and Tom tells these kind of stories so well.

12376638_1155238061187282_4985123392247917526_nLinda Miller is an interesting guest. Again, one of those people who is surprised to find their work celebrated, but then again, this is really the kind of thing Wasteland does well. Miller has roles in both the Green Slime and King Kong Escapes. Both B films, but also both really beloved. Miller described how she kind of fell into acting during a brief period that she was living in Japan.

Of course after King Kong escaped, it was time for the best part of any Wasteland – A Ghastlee Night at the Movies hosted by newly inducted hall of famer, A Ghastlee Ghoul!

It always starts out with the band and then into 42 questions with 4nd street Pete. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at this game, but I’m always afraid I’ll embarrass 12512783_993796907323893_1929294692080209750_nmyself. Still I usually can come up with at leas a half a dozen answers. Not this time. I;m not sure what was up with this group of questions but I managed to get a total of two right from my seat in the audience. Even the contestants seemed to be struggling with some of these stumpers.

I jumped up for one game myself. The game was to put bras on a bunch of guys while the women threw ping pong balls at them – the men would then try to catch the balls in thier bras. I swear, Angelique is the only woman who could get me into ladies shakeundergarments. I was actually a little relieved to have Mark up there with me.

I caught NO balls. Just saying.

There was also the S@#Theel of the year award this time around -sort of the male equivalent of Miss Wasteland. For the most part unremarkable but it did include one of my favorite games – “Shake the Baby”. This involves a baby doll and a pedometer.

Finally, the night ended with a classic Shatner game where contestants had to give 12933005_1155115704532851_5683020614932986145_ntheir best impressions on classic William Shatner moments. I suspect this was Ghastlee’s attempt to destroy the stage in the absence of Sally the Zombie Cheerleader (Sadly absent this time around, but we’ll see her again in the fall!). My favorite moment here was when they reenacted the climatic battle between Spock and Kirk in the classic Star Trek episode “Amok Time”. Even Wasteland isn’t crazy enough to trust a bunch of drunks with a pair of Ahn-Wons though, so the bladed staffs were replaced with broom sticks. An admirable choice.

12512422_1155139454530476_2139400449562914209_nThe band played and Suspiria tossed prizes out into the audience. The most hilarious one was an old audio cassette of TV themes…I was chatting with a friend and I suddenly felt something being slipped into my pocket….yes, I pulled out this….

My back prevented me from catching the late night films this time around – a real pity since they were showing the Green Slim on 16mm. I love the Green Slime – I may need to make a costume of that sometime soon.

Another Wasteland in the can….and we’re already looking forward to the next one six months down the line! Hope to see you there!

934127_1155115884532833_6994268461536123617_n944871_1155115881199500_756824448026531959_n 944981_1155115387866216_8313298112891654104_n 1482783_1155116514532770_754596336372869671_n 1936354_993804310656486_1640822653789312796_n 10399968_1155116787866076_7516839445903543767_n