I heard nothing but good things about last winter’s Dark X-Mas. This combined with the stellar gust list they were boasting made it a no-brainer to hit Dark X-Fest this summer. With admission at $15 ($13 if you pre-ordered), the only thing to worry about was getting out there. Hudson is a good drive from me, but it ended up being a shorter ride than I expected, and one hour beats the two and and a half to five hour drives I’ve been known to embark on when I hit out of state shows. Still, the hotel was out in the middle of nowhere and I almost drove past it thinking “This can’t be the place”. Seriously, the desolate and solitary hotel looks like something straight up out of a horror movie. You expect to see bodies in the dumpsters out back and creepy semi-transparent children wandering around the lonely stretches of road outside. I parked in the front, right by the sign (Which said nothing about the convention being at the hotel….), near the entrance I had driven in from. This was not the correct entrance. There was another lobby in the BACK of the hotel that would lead to the convention area. I’d end up moving my car later once I’d gotten my bearings.
A pre-ordered pass allowed you to get into the show a half hour early. If you were counting on that however, you were out of luck. The doors were open, but half the vendors and most of the guests weren’t there. The entire show started about a half hour behind it’s posted schedule and that’s a really bad way to kick off the day. I wasn’t pleased. After the poor organization at the last two shows I’d been to this year, I really wasn’t in the mood for more. It would cause them to run a half hour late for most of the day and eventually jettison the Sleepaway Camp panel altogether to catch up (Monster Bash usually runs late like this as well, but that’s because events run long, not because they start late).
The vendor’s room itself was well planned and flowed., set up into two distinct segments. An electric chair was visible as you wandered in and if you dared to sit down in it the chair would light up and vibrate with a lout buzzing. I found a group of guest in the back but was confused – I could swear there were more. I exited the dealer’s room in search of the movie room and panel room. There was an alcove that opened up past the inflatable Pennywise clown. Before a long hallway, there were doors to the “Chainsaw Room”. All the guests from TCM as well as some makeup guests were there.
Down the hall and guarded by a giant Stay Puft marshmallow man, one room was set aside for movies, and another, with chairs and tables served as the panel room. It was like a small classroom from college, with each row elevated above the other. The guest would sit at the bottom and talk. The room filled up fast, with the tables actually limiting how many people could watch a panel. Fortunately, the attendance was low enough to mostly accommodate the setting, and only a few people ended up sitting on the floor to listen to gusts talk about their work.
Autographs were generally $20-$30, and most people weren’t upcharging for photos. All of this was a nice change from the gouging that’s been pervading the con scene lately. Makeup artist Alan Tuske wouldn’t take any money for autographs (“I’m just here to hang out with the fans!”) and Walking Dead zombie Dusty Horne would only take five dollars if you brought your own piece, then he’d insist on taking photos (“Lets do one normal, and then one scary one!”). Even Alyssa Levine, Zelda from the new Pet Semetary film, was only charging $20 (I’m seeing WAY to many new actors asking for twice that).
Felissa Rose’s line was halfway down the length of the vendors room early in the day. I figured I’d bide my time and by the time I finally got around to her, the line was gone and she was chatting with Paul T. Taylor (The newest Pinhead from Hellraiser Judgement) from the table next to her. As I approached they greeted me and included me in the conversation.
“…and a lot of times, it’s like you get just a side eye,” Felissa was saying.
“Well, that’s the thing,” Paul replied. “One eye is safe. It’s casual, but two eyes is intimate. Looking someone into both of their eyes creates a connection.” He mimed looking at her with one eye, and then gave her both. She turned to me and looked into both my eyes. I almost immediately felt uncomfortable, but suppressed an urge to turn. Paul was right. This was more intimate, and I hadn’t even realized it.
“That’s exactly it,” Paul explained. “We don’t even realize we’re doing it.” Felissa nodded as Paul pulled out his phone. “Especially since we’re always walking around like this -” he then stared with both eyes at the screen. Felissa laughed and shook.
“Wow,” she said.
“I know,” Paul said with some disbelief. “That was a hell of a pep talk…”
“That was totally better than an energy drink!” Felissa continued to laugh as she greeted me in earnest. I unrolled my Victor Crowley poster. The last time I’d spoken with Felissa it had been right after I went to see the movie during Adam Green’s tour. When we’d chatted about it she was able to tell her assistant about how he’d done it in secret. “It was like Finally! I’d been dying to tell someone and she is one of my best friends and I was about to burst!”. I’d just recently re-watched it in preparation for the con. I still think. it’s the best in all the Hatchet series, and Felissa is the best thing about it, something I told her. Seriously, I want to see more of that character from her.
“Oh my God, when Adam told me what I had to do with her I was just like I can’t!” It really is a horrible character and brilliantly broad comedy. I slipped her the cash fot the autograph and after she handed me change, she stopped me.
“Hang on, I really want to sign something TO you. Grab a photo from the table.” I did and she signed it to me, then insisted on taking photos with me. She hugged me and and told me to come out for karaoke later. I mentioned that if I did, it would be with a different face (and a Jason puppet) She screamed in delight and promised to watch for me. I love Felissa. She’s always one of my favorite guests.
Paul T. Taylor is no slouch either. He gets a lot of hate from certain parts of the Hellraiser fan base who really believe only Doug Bradley can be Pinhead. I’m not one of those people though I’ll readily admit I prefer Doug. So does Paul for that matter.
Paul is fun to talk to – he’s a real fan who’s steeped in the lore, from the movies to the comics (as far as talking about how much he’d love to see Kirsty as Pinhead, the way the Boom series had done). It was really illuminating to talk to him about how he approached the character as well as how the movie had been reshot at the close of filming. The original ending was actually completely different, and made way more sense than what actually made it to film. I did a re-watch of Judgment when I got home with a whole new appreciation for the film.
One of the nice things about the recent horror cons popping up in Ohio is the familiar faces. With more in the immediate area, I’m far more likely to have friends there to hang out with. I spied Jason and Tina unloading their car as I moved from the front of the hotel to the back where the entrance was. He greeted me and let me know Beetlejuice would be down later. Inside, I rounded a corner and comletely unexpectedly ran into Jen and Mark, in a group with Jennifer and Chris. I haven’t seen these guys in a while and it was good to be able to hang out for a while. Sarah was set up at a vendor’s table and Steve Eggs caught up with me just after I gored up. Randy was there with teh Retro invasion and Lily absolutely need a photo with me. Mark showed up with his wife Erin and the Black Leaf Coven decked out in thier creepy finest. It was cool to actually be able to see Cliff in his new burlap costume. He’d been showing me photos at the screening of Annabelle Comes Home, but in person is a whole different experience.
Mark caught me as I was popping outside and between drags of a cigarette asked when I was getting made up.
“Right now!,” I exclaimed, heading to my car to make the transformation into Freddy Kruger. Freddy wasn’t a capricious choice, I had actually run another poll during the week to see what people wanted to see creeping around Dark X-Fest. It was a much closer result than the previous one. Uncle Frank took an early lead, but ultimately Freddy prevailed.
I actually went into makeup early, because the day was hot. At 92 degrees outside, I was worried about how my Freddy makeup was holding up in the hot car. Even with the windows down, the temperature is enough to melt glue and dry latex. I had my appliance spread out around my had like a dummy head, keeping it streched and preventing pieces from sticking together. Still, there was some separation by the nose. No biggie. I’d planned on doing patchups anyhow. When the photos came back from Free Comic Book Day, I noticed that the beard by the corner of my mouth hadn’t been entirely covered by the chin and latex. I’d resolved to fix that with this application. I flattened my facial hair with beeswax and applied the adhesives. Between repairs, application and coloring with makeup and blood gel, the entire process only took a satisfying forty minuets. I’d be done in time for the Hellraiser panel. There had been paint leftover from fixing up Mr. Freeze for Akron Canton Comic Con last week, so I had used some on my glove to help make the blades look more metal than plastic. I had brought the ripped sweater that opened to reveal Freddy’s chest of souls. To push the absurdity just a touch further I’d be carrying a large puppet Jason with me. He’d actually been built a couple of years prior with this very idea in mind, but it happened to take me this long to break out Freddy again.
I had decided to go hard with the costume this time around since the show was sponsoring a costume contest. While this isn’t exactly as common in the horror convention scene as it is with comicons, it does seem to be filtering in slowly. A lot of haunters love these kind of shows and are eager for the opportunity to strut thier stuff. With only one winner in the adult and kids categories though, I wasn’t expecting to nab a win, but wanted to make a good showing. To my delight, the trophy went to Mark’s Black Leaf Coven. I love it when good things happen to my friends. But even better was who won the kids/teen division. The previous week I had gushed over a killer Ronald McDonald at Akron Canton Comic Con. It was my absolute favorite costume that day and I was disappointing she didn’t win any awards there. She won the kids/teen division at Dark X-Fast and it absolutely made my day (especially beating out that Michael Myers as a furry…..don’t ask).
As the day was winding down I had finally discovered where the show had been hiding Alan Tuskes (in the back corner of the Chainsaw room, past the vendors). I nipped out to the car and grabbed my folder of Items to be signed. As I was coming in I was greeted by a dude with half his face gone. he was hanging out with a reasonable facimile of Glen from Nightmare on Elm Street who both wanted to chat and take photos. We ran over to where the pro photo ops had been – they were done now so we borrowed thier backdrop to take our own pictures. Freddy fought the baseball bat and gored Glen as amused passerbys watched.
We talked a little about our outfits and upcoming plans. The dude wanted to get a Brain Damage costume going with an articulate Elmier. I mentioned that I loved doing suits were things ride on the shoulder and described how I had gotten Baby Groot and my Borg Tribble to sit on my shoulder using magnets. His eyes went wide.
“I never thought of mounting him with magnets! Dude, this is what I love about cons and talking to other cosplayers. The way other people figure out how to do things a way you’d never come up with yourself!”
Finally I was making my way over to Tuskes. I actually caught him on the way over to the dealers room (which I feel bad about), but he was excited to talk – he’d been watching my exchange with the other guys. He poked my chest of souls with an index finger.
“Is that…?” he inquired knowingly. I nodded in acknowledgement. “Great stuff. That expanding foam stuff for cracks and insulation.” He loved it and waved me to follow him over to his corner. Tuskes looked over my collection of pictures appreciatively. As he came to the Dusk Till Dawn 8×10, he asked if I’d ever heard the story of how the film got made. I admitted I haden’t and he proceeded to spin the yarn about Tarintino’s early days at the video store and how the script originally came to him before he really hit. After True Romance and Resivoir Dogs, the studio were asking if he had anything more. Out of his back pocket came Dusk Till Dawn, but he couldn’t direct it. I’m sure this is a story most peole have heard, but it’s exactly what I love about these kind of shows, hearing the stories of the industry straight from the mouths of those who were there.
I found myself so busy during the show that I only made it to about half of one film. I should have spent more time in that movie room. It was about ten degrees cooler than the rest of the convention space. Still, it was worth it. I caught both the Hellraiser panel and the Sean Whalen’s talk. I had stuck around so I could see the Sleepaway camp panel next (which never happened) and found my self captivated by his stories – and the image of homer Simpson in a moo-moo on his shirt.
I probably ended up staying later than I intended to, but that’s the sign of a good show.despite the bad start, I really came away from Dark X-Fest feeling like I’d gotten a real convention experience and had a great time. I’m really digging this show and hope to make it out to the Dark X-Mas show later this year.
I started hearing the rumblings about this con a few months ago, but I was suspicious. Facebook was vague and the website was CONSTANTLY down. So when my friend Rhonda asked me if I knew anything about it I had to reluctantly say no and mentions some concerns.
Fortunately, Travis, the promoter reached out to me to help allay my fears. The website was low bandwidth and kept getting overloaded, he explained. Dark Xmas was reviving an old con that hadn’t run in a few years. His goal was to throw a reasonably priced Horror show with decent guests in the Northern Ohio area. It was good to hear and good enough for me to feel comfortable sending buddies out there. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it as I already had plans to be in Chicago this weekend shanghaing my best friend off to meet Clive Barker at Days of the Dead. However, not all is lost. I touched base with my friend, director Mark Mackaye who was more than willing to take some time off from editing his latest film Suburban Legends: Life on Rainbow Road, to guest blog for me and tell us all about his experiences at Dark Xmas!
It’s Christmas time again. People singing carols, drinking eggnog and hanging mistletoe. Since I’m not into Christmas I like to try and get through this time of year as quickly as possible. This time of year usually makes me cranky from all the Christmas nonsense, but this year something fell at my feet. Something I couldn’t ignore.
I first heard about Dark X-Mas completely last minute. A week prior to be exact. I fell backwards into finding out about it cause my friends (The Mummy and The Monkey) we’re guests. Woah! A horror convention going on within a half hour away! I gotta go. I arrive to a small hotel on a quiet stretch of road, thinking this place could of been featured in a Dan Bell video. Between that and the lack of promotion I was expecting the worst, however once I headed inside an instantly transported to my comfort zone and the low expectations went away. I see shirts, collectibles and horror vhs as far as the eye can see.
Within a few minutes I already dropped a ton of money, and I haven’t even gotten my autographs yet. I stop and chat with a few people along the way cause if you know me then you know I’m a talker. The first guest I meet is the sweet and lovely Felissa Rose star of Sleepaway Camp. Her laughter radiates the convention and naturally draws you to her. We bonded after about my dog and her bearded dragon both named Loki. I told her about how her character in Victor Crowley is easily my favorite in the film, which launched her into stories from the set. She signed my Camp Arawak shirt and gave me a free 8×10 along with it. Oh and did I mention she’s a hugger? (Matt here. He’s not kidding. I’ve run into Felissa a few times on the con circuit.The first time we met, before she even introduced herself to me she announced “I have to warn you, I’m a hugger!” and then proceeded to prove it. Okay, back to Mark) Felissa is one of the warmest guests I’ve ever met, and she had a smile plastered all over her face the entire time. So did I.
Second up I met Amanda Wyss, who gave Felissa a run for her money and how sweet she was. We shared stories about how a lot of her movies helped impact who I am. Then we just had a lengthy conversation on movies in general. She was really good at not making me feel like a fan but an equal. She signed my Freddy glove (The first blade to be exact cause she was Freddy’s first victim).
I walked around the con a few more times to grab any last minute stuff I didn’t see and chatted with more people on similar interests. Popped in on the Nightmare on Elm street panel, and then discovered it was time to go home. On the way back I had a sense of joy and happiness that some people get around the holidays. But this was just simply brought on by going to a forgotten hotel and talking to others about violent movies. Horror conventions have always brought me that kind of joy, and since Dark X-Mas is practically in my backyard. I’ll definitely be back next year…just hope they get the word out a bit better!
It’s very likely I’ll be skipping Days of the Dead next year, and personally I can’t wait to head down and check this con out myself. I agree with Mark, time to get the word out! A lot of friends went though and I’ve heard nothing but good things from all of them. Check out the photos from the event!
It’s the first weekend in April, so you know what means…I’m headed to Strongsville after work and spending the weekend at Cinema Wasteland. Of all the cons I go to, this is my favorite. If you’re in the northeastern Ohio region, come on down! Hope to see you there!
Did 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 Hallie 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 hour 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 the 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 this.it’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 perturbed… 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, 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 back 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.
The evil dead panel was fun, full of 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 yourself. 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.
The 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 amount 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 pproceeded 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 in 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.
I’ll admit, as far as Horrorhound goes, I prefer the Indianapolis show to the Cincinnati one. It’s still a hotel show…though for how much longer I’m not sure. When I arrived around 10:30, the vacant lot that I usually park in (because there’s NO parking at the hotel unless you’re staying there and buy a parking pass! Tough luck bucko!) was already full. I squeezed my little Superman Honda into a corner of grass and called myself lucky.
Inside, the place was packed. My buddy Mr. Maniacal informed me it had been just as crowded Friday as well. It made it a little more difficult to get around and I’m glad I didn’t wear a costume to encumber me further (although the costumes there WERE on display were spectacular – it’s one thing that Horrorhound Indy really does well, encouraging amazing cosplay to come out and do the show, particularly with the costume contest that closes the Saturday daytime activities). It’s odd- the guest list was spectacular from an average Joe’s perspective : Tony Todd, a Halloween 6 reunion (why are we doing a reunion on the weakest one anyhow?) a Child’s Play and Fright Night reunion (again, I’ve seen all these people before and when Tom Holland dropped out, I really lost interest)…small groups of these cast – all of them con regulars.
I was there for the ones who Weren’t con regulars. I was there for Dean Cameron and Gary Riely from Summer School! I’ve been wanting to meet them FOREVER – especially Dean!I loved him in Summer School, but also in Alf and even in Mad about You. I keep spotting him in things and he’s always great. This pair of guys inspired me to get into makeups and costumes. They were hugely influential to me, and I was so excited to meet them. This was a WAY bigger deal for me than some of the bigger name guests _ I could care less about Jamie Kennedy and David Arquette….but these guys?? yeah, I’m totally on board running a five hour drive just to see them! My other big deal was FINALLY getting to meet Andrew Divoff – the Wishmaster. I had all but given up hope on ever greeting this guy in person, and I never was able to find an address to write to him. He completed my Wishmaster poster and was friendly and effervescent as ever. Tammy Lauren, the Ingenue in the film was an unexpected bonus. She was friendly and seemed to really be enjoying her very first convention experience. We chatted about how Robert Englund is such a funny raconteur and will just chat your ear off, and spoke a little about her role. She was a real pleasure to meet.
It was a strange trip for me – I didn’t make any of the panels this time around, and I really wanted to hear that Fright Night one, but I kept getting distracted by the screenings. We got an advance screening of the new Exorcist TV show that’s coming to FOX – there’ll be more on that tomorrow – as well as screenings of Fright Night (hosted by Fritz the Night Owl) and Yoga Hosiers. So much fun. I was also able to catch up with a bunch of friends – Maxim, Jeff, Jennifer, Chris, even Space Pirate! Also, every three steps, someone had to stop me and ask about the Mac Sabbath shirt. The Exorcist sneak peak made for great small talk while waiting in lines. It all made for a great show, and I had way more fun that I had any right to at a big con like this.
Still, I fully expect to skip this one next year. It’s grown way to big for my tastes and the inflation is hitting hard. Horrorhound is the show everyone raises thier prices at (thought God bless Robert Kurtzman and Andrew Divoff for holding fast at $10 a signature if you bring your own item. These guys were the best deal in the joint), and a lot of those guys charging $40 for a personalized (and therefore worthless on the secondhand market) autograph really aren’t worth that level of scratch. I get that for some people, if you don’t charge higher prices, your line never ends. But Tony Todd’s line vanished after noon, and Ted Raimi never had one. The bubble is about to burst guys, your managers are the ones holding the pin. (ironically, while they prepared for a huge line at Todd’s table they didn’t think to do the same at Divoff’s where there was a steady stream of fans packed into a tiny corner. Cons always seemed to underestimate the turn out for Angus Scrimm as well) But that’s a rant for another day…..Check out the Video recap below, along with the photo gallery under it!
You know, I completely missed the window to talk about Horrorhound this year. I went, it was okay, but didn’t make enough of an impression on me to really work at getting that post out. I might still do it after Con season’s over…there’s some great pics.
But that’s the big differance between HorrorHound and Wasteland. HH is a show. A con. Wasteland is family.
I spent more of my weekend hanging out with friends than anything else. It’s exactly the kind of party I want to be a part of – hanging out, watching movies, talking to the people who made them. TCM 3 is a strange choice for a reunion, but I can’t knock it, this was a great time.
Huge fun meeting William Butler. He comes off as a wet blanket in the film, but in person he’s bubbly, happy and funny. We chatted about his time on Dusk Till Dawn (he was in charge of vampire goo….) and his co star in TCM. He dominated the TCM panel and for me was the most fun to hear from. I was also thrilled to get to meet another Leatherface – R.A. Mihailoff is admittedly a veteran of the convention circuit, but he shows genuine affection for his fans. Just don’t ask him what “R.A.” stands for. “There’s women out there that I’ve been intimate with that still don’t know, so I guarantee YOU’RE not finding out!” he replies with a devilish grin. Also, the only way to get him to do karaoke is to play “Ring of Fire”. It’s probably just as well if you don’t ask me how I know this.
This weekend also served as part two of the Day of the Dead reunion. The spring reunion was massive and the place was packed for it, but there were still a few guests that they couldn’t get. Bringing in DP Michal Gornick along with some of the feature zombies we got to visit that film just a bit more, though really, for both Gornick and Mike Trcic they’ve got such huge bodies of work that it the panel really ended up focused on all those other films. Fascinating to listen to Trcic talk about the differences in working for Spielberg as a opposed to Cameron. He has a great story about controlling the eyes on the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. “The best place is to stand behind the director, that way you get a clear view of the monitor and the camera and can figure out where everything is supposed to be pointing. Well, I got there one day and this guy is standing there and I told him ‘Excuse me, I have to be here’. He turned to me and it was STEVE MARTIN! I was mortified, and then he asked me ‘ Who are you?’ I repled that I was the spleen (of the movie). “. He also described how Cameron would yell and insult people if they wern’t doing a job exactly the way he wanted them to ( except Arnold. He could never get away with that on Arnold). At one point, someone on set started keeping a list, then had all those insults printed on t-shirts and handed out to the people that had been verbally abused.
One of my favorite moments of the weekend though, was heading over to Gunga Jim’s for his film…except the presentation hadn’t burned correctly so he passed out fortune cookies and had the audience vote on what movie to watch. “Legend of the Blood Monster” is possibly the most MST3K ready film I’ve ever seen, and Gunga’s quips were perfect in it.
Let’s face it, movie screenings are a huge part of why I love Wasteland. I got to see Damnation Alley – a film I’ve NEVER experienced before by my favorite author. Then there was “I Married a Monster From Outer Space.” Can someone explain to me how “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is a classic and this isn’t? It’s almost the same premise but with better effects and just as much atmosphere. Perhaps it’s the name, I’ll admit that’s just terrible. But what a great film. Then there’s “Blood Sucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh”. A remarkably fun piece of trash, and most definately something I’d never have thought to seek out on my own. Then there’s TCM 3. I own a copy of this, but nevertheless, I haven’t watched it in ages…I’d completely forgotten Viggo Mortensen was in this. In fact, it’s been long enough…perhaps I never actually knew. I may not have screened this since before LOTR. Hmmmm.
Still, despite thier size, this isn’t just a big hall full of people waiting in lines, they go out of thier way to have quality panels, film screenings and really great guests. Angus Scrimm is coming this time around and he dosn’t make many appearances,so catch him while you can!
I’m packing the girls up and heading to Bash this weekend! Maddie loved it last year and Lydia is looking forward to her first horror con! If you see us, tap me on the shoulder and say hello!
I remember being pleasantly surprised by MCN when I hit the con back a few years ago. But rising prices, bigger crowds and the constant cash-grab attitude I seem to be running into more and more on the con circuit has left me feeling a little jaded and trepidatious, so I wasn’t sure what to expect here.
I was pleased to find it’s just as much fun as I remember. MCN tries really hard to put on a good show with panels, screenings of dozens of new indie films and shorts, along with engaging panels. They bring in high profile guests to draw the crowds and that leads to some good discussion.
While I enjoyed the PJ Soles/Nancy Allen panel and fought my way to get into the Return of the Living Dead one (The line for this panel got cut off! Small room, big crowd – I told the doorman “I’m just one guy, and I’ll stand in the back! He found me the last seat in the last row) the best panel by far was the Devil’s Rejects one. Not because of the film – they barely discussed it. It was mostly because of the way you can just see Bill Mosely, Sid Haig and William Forsythe genuinely enjoy hanging out…and that’s a lot of what I was seeing.
The local Haunted House had a booth – and what a booth! they were doing free makup (airbrushed) which I of course took advantage of (after I got my photos and autographs out of the way) but even cooler was the mini-haunt they set up. About a minuet to go through, with a couple of workers inside to jump out, along with lights, sounds, obsticals…I’ve been doing cons a LONG time and NEVER run into this! I know it was the vendor, not the con, but man, more cons should court vendor s who do this kind of thing and perhaps partner up with them. It was really the highlight of the show for me!
I Headed over to Tiffany Shepis, I haven’t seen her in a long time, and had a comic book she appeared on the cover of. She perked right up as I pulled my item out of the folder I was keeping it in, exclaiming “Is that an Angel Fire comic???” in astonishment. Then she reached under the table.
“Hang on, I have something that only someone who owns a Angel Fire comic would appreciate.”
She pulled out several posters that featured similar images of her astridea bike, but in diffrent outfits and on diffrent bikes. These were the Japanese alternates for the cover of this issue of the comic book. Ironically they feature her on a Harley with a flag painted on it as opposed to the American cover that features a Ninja (a Japanese bike).
She hates her hair in these pictures because she would keep cutting it short, but it would stay wavy and never grew out the way she wanted. It was fun that not only did she recognize this picture but was so excited to see it.
Tiffany is great fun, and I sadly departed, to go see Sid Haig. I have a photo of him with Julie Newmar. He gave me a big smile, and talked about how much fun it was to work on Buck Rogers, the last show of the first season and the first show of the second. He said Julie “was so beautiful, whenever she walked in the room, everything just…stopped.”
I managed to catch a bit of “Chubbies”, making up for having to leave the Wasteland screening early, and also watched a bit of a new Sci-Fi film called “Magnetic”. I fear my interest in europop music increasing as a result.
Clu Gulager is getting senile. I’m certain of it.
I mentioned having to almost fight my way into the Return of the Living Dead panel. The line stretched down the hotel hallway and around the corner, and we inched out way in after the vip pass holder’s had been seated (I know, don’t get me started). I commiserated with the couple ahead of me, our anticipation building as we got just a bit closer – that’s a small room (and they really need a PA system. NO ONE was miced). But finally I was in, and just a couple minuets after the panel started.
Clu talked so much you could easily mistake him for the moderator, he really felt like he was trying to fill that position. but he’d also talk over other people an not notice, he’d ignore questions from the audience in favor of his own tangents…it was a bit strange.
But not as strange as what he did to my poster.
He signed on the side…and I thought “He’s getting close to John Russo…..” but figured he was just trying to squeeze it in. Scott Speigle had tried to do the same thing on my Evil Dead 2 poster, and kind of ran into another sig, but not badly.
Clu on the other hand – he just kept going….apparently clueless. He signed straight over John Russo’s autograph – bizarrely, inexplicably. I had no idea what to say.
It’s not that bad. John signed years ago in black, Clu signed in gold – both are actually visible….but how strange….
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the cosplayers. Horror cons don’t get as many costumes as Comic conventions, and not nearly as many as Anime cons, but MCN drew in more than it’s fair share. They held a costume contest in the afternoon, and lined up all the cosplayers, then paraded them around the dealers room, going past the jusdge seated above the haunted house. It’s a great touch, and something I’d like to see more of. Some of those outfits were stunning; the Predator was pitch perfect. The woman in the Trick or Treat outfit got absolutely mobbed when she came in the door and snake Pliskin…what can I say?
Motor City is actually a con I should hit more often. It’s less than two and a half hours away -not even as far as Monster Bash, and they put on a really good show. We’ll have to keep an eye on who shows up next year!