Cinema Wasteland fall 2022
The two Dracula‘s faced off, grim and ashen. It was a battle of wills, to see which one was more powerful… And which one had bigger hair!
I must say, I’ve been looking forward to meeting Zandor Vorkov ever since he was announced as a guest for cinema wasteland a couple of years ago. Over the craziness of the past few years and events, Wasteland has had to reschedule a number of guests and rethink some of its reunions. I was stoked though for both the star of Al Adamson’s Dracula versus Frankenstein, but also that we were finally getting that Motel Hell reunion off the ground. That poster has been sitting rolled up in a tube in my house for at least 18 months. Also in attendance would be Toby Radlof… Appearing with Wayne Alan Harold, the man who directed him in such films as killer nerd, bride of killer nerd, and the recent documentary genuine nerd. You may also know Tony from his role in American splendor, he’s one of Harvey Pekar‘s contemporaries as well as managing to parlay that into becoming an MTV personality. Still, he’s a Cleveland denizen, all these years and his cadence and Tanner is unmistakable. Filmmaker JR book water is working on a remaster of the killer nerd movies, and had put together a artwork for a new poster that Tony was giving out over the course of the weekend. He and the Director we’re both signing for free, which I hate to take too much advantage of… But I was not walking out of there without a poster! I grabbed one of their DVDs as well, and it came up in conversation that I actually had the original VHS releases that trauma had distributed. They insisted on signing those as well! The directors a nice chatty guy and makes up for Tony who is very focused and less are going. He’s actually just about at retirement age, and is getting ready to jump ship before the administration changes. This wasn’t his first visit to wasteland But for whatever reason, I missed in the last time, and was really happy to get to meet him this time around.
Alex Vincent had ended up canceling on the show, he was stuck in Florida, hunker down against the hurricane. I got admit, I wasn’t terribly bothered… Of all the people who were coming to the show… He was the most main stream and probably the one I was least interested in! Then again, that’s kind of the whole thing about wasteland. Will you bring in this weird selection of really interesting guests that nobody else wants to post… And I am absolutely here for it. It’s one of those things that keeps me coming back here after year, even as the show begins to slow down and shrink a little. I can’t wait until I return in April!
Cinema Wasteland spring 2022
“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!”
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.
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.
Wasteland this weekend!
If you need me this weekend, you’ll find me over at Cinema Wasteland. I know, it’s supposed to be the first weekend in April, but scheduling out a little weird this year.
I looked over the film schedule and guests attending, and it’s only one person coming in that I need an autograph from. Between that and the astronomical price of gasoline currently, I’m probably only going on Saturday. It will however, Be my chance to finally break out my blade costume. I doubt I’ll be in it all day, but I’ll definitely be creeping around as one of them puppet masters minions for a while.
Wasteland is still my favorite of all the horror conventions out there, and absolutely worth your time. Hope to see you there!
Cinema Wasteland Fall 2021
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.
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!
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.
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.
CW Film appreciation society July 2021
Wait, what do you mean that last week was the season finale of The Flash?? Also, Cisco, how can we miss you if you won’t leave? I swear, this dude has been talking about quitting for years, actually left the show three times, and keeps coming back. Still, a satisfying conclusion to the Godspeed war… And actually, it feels a little bit like the comics again. That moment where Jay and Barry and Bart all line up with Iris and XS as a speedster ensemble… This is a trend we started seeing in the comics midway through Wally’s run, and it’s always a fun feeling to get.
I could do another paragraph gushing about Superman and Lois, but I’ve already done enough of that. And really, TV wasn’t the big event this weekend, it was the One day show that Cinema Wasteland was putting on. It’s an event that grew out of those film appreciation society screenings Ken was putting on at the local Eagles Hall, he’s expanded it moved it to the hotel that usually posts wasteland. For some reason I missed the last one before the plague, so this was my first time hitting one of these events.
The vendors room is small, smaller than some of those Harper shows I’ve been going to, using approximately a third of the space Wasteland takes up… With only 30 vendors instead of 100. There’s an hour and a half between the time the vendor room closes and they transform it into a screening room, so I decided to swing by around lunchtime, while I was doing other errands, with the plans on heading back that night for the films (My real interest). The shopping was lightly attended, and you could do that dealers room in 20 minutes, 30 if you really dug in. With hours going from 10 to 5, the room would never fill up too much. Thankfully they were a great deal more people showing up for the movie later that night. It was a double feature of the Human Duplicators and Mutiny in Space, both on 16mm film. The human duplicators was particularly fun, as you can see Richard Kiel and Hugh Beaumont in the same film. That’s like the greatest Jeopardy question ever.
Wastelanders were happy to be out of the house and back talking with like-minded folks. Guys were even chatting me up in the bathroom about the movie we just seen, how the one actress could’ve been a Bond girl and what do you think their reaction was one they needed life cast of everybody even though they weren’t doing make up? It’s different in a women’s restroom, and a guys bathroom it’s generally considered gauche and uncomfortable to talk between The stalls, but Wastelanders family. Even family that you don’t know.
Most of the out of towners skipped this event, understandably. There are a few among the vendors, like Dirk Manning or happy club picture is and it was nice to catch up with Mike and Amy and Dirk. I ran into my buddy Jim and his new wife Amy, and they introduced me to their friends, and with patches of people just standing around and hanging out in black T-shirts, talking about monsters and tattoos and hobbies, it felt like Wasteland again. Like were easing back into the scene, and I for one cannot wait for October.
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.
There 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 appreciation 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.”
Of 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 more 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.
I 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 THIS WEEKEND!
Seriously, we had a blast last time! This is a great B-Movie event, with cartoons, shorts, trailers and a couple of oddball films I know I’VE never seen before!
February 9th, 2019.
Doors open at 6:00pm and the show will begin at 7:00pm.
Berea Elks Lodge #1815
626 North Rocky River Dr.
Berea, OH. 44017
Off I-71 and I-480 just a mile or so past Cleveland Hopkins Airport and one mile South of the IX Center.
FREE PARKING – Behind the building there is a fenced off parking lot. Park behind the fence in the lot.
Admission is $5.00 (Cash Only)
Bottled water, pop, popcorn and assorted munchies will be available during show time for $1 each. *No outside food/beverages (Cash Only)
Cinema Wasteland Retro Movie Night (Part One)
If 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 the 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).
I’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 ten 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.
I 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
It’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 young 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 Craig’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 for 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.
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.