Photo by Joshua Hoffine
HorrorHound Weekend -- recently held in Indianapolis -- is like summer camp for horror nerds:
thousands of terror aficionados congregate to meet creepy celebrities like Joe
Bob Briggs or Ted White (who played Jason in Friday
the 13th Part 4), buy a shitload of hard-to-find movie memoribilia, and
discus obscure rubber monster movies with people dressed like Freddy Krueger
and giant robots until 4:30 in the morning. As far as I'm concerned, this is
heaven. I arrived on Friday afternoon and left 48 hours later, sleeping a mere eight
hours to cram in as much awesomeness as I possibly could.
What kind of awesomeness, you ask? Sit back, boils and ghouls - I'll take you on a trip to the dark reaches
of horror geekdom. In the words of Pinhead: "I have such sights to show
you." (That seems like an appropriately nerdy quote to kick things off.)
1. Vincent Price Movies on Super 8
Vincent Price is one of the most important figures in horror
history. His legendary career spanned 52 years and included 183 films and TV
shows, including The Tingler,
The Fly (the
original), The Abominable
Dr. Phibes, and his marvelous swan song as Edward's creator in Edward Scissorhands. Price's
magnificent voice is synonymous with horror, and in his lifetime he was a
household name - even for those who
never saw him on screen.
Price died in 1993, and May 27 would be his 100th birthday
(although judging from his macabre resume I'm not convinced he's really dead). Fans
can celebrate his faux-birthday during the Vincentennial, a 10-day elebration
of Vinnie's life and art featuring film screenings, discussions, lectures, and
memorabilia. This sounds like freakish fun, but there's only one problem for
many of us: it takes place in St.
Louis, Price's hometown.
But the Vincentennial has our backs. They arranged a special
event at HorrorHound: Super-8 versions of some of his best movies!
You can watch a movie anywhere these days: your phone, Xbox,
iPad, iPod, and whatever Steve Jobs decides the next iProduct should be (iPants
get my vote - hip yet functional). But
despite all the advances in movie-watching technology, there's nothing quite
like good old-fashioned Super-8 film. The click-click-click of the projector,
the saturation of the colors, the occasionally muted sound - this was a nostalgia trip for a room full of
movie buffs. The movies were edited from their full-length versions to shorts
that were about 10 minutes long (or at least I think they were, I wasn't
checking the clock), and it was really neat to see "greatest hits" versions of movies
like The Pit and The
Conqueror Worm, and Bud
Abbot and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein. The highlights were a 3-D
screening of The Mad
Magician complete with red-and-blue glasses, and the Tim Burton short "Vincent,"
both of which were met with thunderous applause. This was a once-in-a-lifetime
event, and I'm grateful that I was able to see it.
2. The Mask-eteers
Every horror convention I've been to is full of incredibly
talented artists, but 2011's HorrorHound was really something. In addition to
the multiduinous painters and T-shirt creators, HMA (the Halloween Mask
Association) Mask-Fest showcased so many mask-making maestros that they nearly
filled a a large conference room with hand-made visages of Frankenstein's monster,
Killer Klowns, wolfmen, and other creepy concoctions. The scent of latex and
silicone - the raw materials from which
masks are made - permeated the place. I
now know what heaven smells like.
The attention to detail in each mask was astounding. Case in
point: a meticulously made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask from Xtreme Design
FX that looked just like one from the live-action movies. I mentioned how
impressed I was to creator Lance Coulter and he told me about he painstaking
work involved, such as using a pen cap to make each individual bump on the
amphibian's skin. He's also made a fully functional bodysuit to match the
amphibious mask-terpiece (viewable on his Web site), and it looks so cool that
I want to buy it and kick some bad-guy ass. Lance, if you want your suit back
come find me in the Boston
sewer system - I'll be sitting near a
barrel of toxic waste, sharing pizza with a talking rat.
3. The Art of Scaring the Shit Out of You
Scaring people is hard. So often it comes off as cheesy or
cliched; cool, but not as terrifying as it could be. Now there's nothing wrong
with that - if there was then I wouldn't
like 90 percent of the horror movies in existence - but something that genuinely creeps you out is special. And I
haven't found many photographs that are more terrifying and unsettling than
Hoffine combines moody lighting and practical special effects to
capture a perfectly chosen moment in time, where something horrible is just
about to happen or has just occurred: a terrified child hides from a monster
under her bed; a girl screams, about to be ripped to shreds by a drooling wolf;
a snake hisses, jaws open, seconds away from attacking a helpless baby. If
these images sound nightmarish, that's because they are. Hoffine dares to go to
dark, horrifying places, often using young children to convey our most basic,
primal fears. His photos give me chills, and I don't scare that easily. I
bought one of his photographs - one of
the creepiest clown pictures I've ever seen - and
it has a special place next to my Friday
the 13th posters, Creepshow
paintings, and autographed picture of the Crypt Keeper.
HorrorHound has a history of screening up-and-coming horror
films. Past years have included [REC],
Let the Right One In,
and the brutal-icious Martyrs.
This year they had another highly anticipated horror flick: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
I first read about this movie a year ago in Film Threat, a leading
source for the latest and most anticipated indie films. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a clever twist on
the psychotic hillbilly formula - you
know, a bunch of college kids go into the woods and get raped and/or killed by
rednecks like those in Deliverance
or The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre. In this case, the hillbillies are the heroes and the college
kids are the villains. This comedy of errors has had some incredible buzz over
the past year, and I've been dying to see it. You'd think that a movie with
this much good press would show up on DVD or a limited theatrical run, but it
didn't. I'm not sure why, and I - like many others in the horror community - was
beginning to wonder if I'd ever get to see it for myself.
So when I heard that HorrorHound was showing this film, I started
counting down the months, days, and hours until the screening - and judging
from the large audience, I wasn't the only one. But when a HorrorHound staff
member stepped forward to introduce the film, our anticipation took a
"We are only able to show a work print of this film. That
means that many of the special effects, sound effects, and music are missing. You'll
have to imagine them. Sorry."
"What? Are you kidding me? Nooooooo . . ."
My friends and I looked at each other, crestfallen. To come so
close and then have it taken away.
"Oh well, I guess we'll give it a shot."
Within five minutes, we were hooked. This movie fucking rules.
The gore that we saw was great, and even though much of the splatter was
missing it just didn't matter. Tucker
and Dale vs. Evil is so much fun that we didn't care that a smokin' hot
victim had a computer-generated black bar in her chest where an axe should be,
or that a shootout had the sounds of guns clicking instead of the barrage of
bullets that we expected to hear. Their absence was overcome by sheer
entertainment value: brilliant performances, clever screenwriting, and a fresh
idea that's executed well from start to finish. And, most importantly, this
move is hilarious; I haven't laughed this hard since Borat. It was so outrageously, darkly riotous
that I couldn't hear half of the jokes over the audiences' hysterics. The concept
is so creative, so original, and so well-executed (pun intended) - everyone was
talking about this film for the rest of the weekend. Despite all that was
missing, this film is so incredible that I would recommend this work print to
anyone. And I can not wait for the DVD release.
This screening perfectly exemplifies the magic of a horror
convention: sharing a rare treat of horror cinema with like-minded people. And
then discussing it - and a hundred other movies - over beers until 4:30 in the
morning. Paradise, baby. Paradise.
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