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!
My 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.
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 would 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 way 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 guest) 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.
Linda 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 myself. 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 undergarments. 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 their 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.
The 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!
So there was the guy in the top hat carrying around the skeleton talking to the skinless guy, red muscle with yellow patchs of bone justting out from the tissue, a stark contrast to the white shirt and rumpled black suit he wore. A space pirate in his biker jacket and pirates hat came up, his smile revealing the sharp fangs beneath.
And people walked by like nothing was out of the ordinary.
Welcome to Cinema Wasteland.
One of the things that makes Wasteland so great is the people there. You go to visit with friends you only see every six months. I’m not kidding about Space pirate (a Kreepy Kastle Regular) showing up and finding Mr. Maniacal and me chatting, to say nothing of the ZEROS (Zombie eradication squad) and out of town friends I run into up there.
It was a packed house this year for the Day of the Dead reunion; the biggest cast reunion anywhere. We watched in a packed house, standing room only as the cast reminisced and Joe Piloto and Gary Klar yealled “I am Sparticus!” back and forth. These people are real family, friends not just in the movie but outside it too, keeping in touch even when conventions are out of session, and it really came through in the panel.
Jim Wynorski was up next. A frequent director for Roger Corman at the helm of such films as Chopping Mll, Sorority House Massacre and Hard to Die, he’s always been working, yet is always humbled by how much these films are still loved.
Joining him was Peter Spellos, a familiar face to TV and film, but alwys s a supporting player. The thing I was suprised to discover, was just how funny he was.
I’ve spent most of my career playing heavies and thugs and psychos,” he told me. “But my background is in improv, so when I get the chance to be funny, I take it!”
Finally, Ghastlee’s show…oh boy.
So I volunteered for Sallys part of the show, this time around it was a game where they fed you diffrent things while blindfolded…Sardines, escargot, fermented herring from Sweden…all to the delight and revulsion of the audience. All of us made it through, though not without effort. I nearly tossed my cookies on the pickled pigs feet, but really, that’s just wasteland for you.
Great films playing all weekend, frequently with the director or actors present (at the screening of Chubbies the director greeted you at the door and poured you a shot of Jägermeister ) all spent with other people who love movies.
Now I can’t wait to do it again in six months…