Fear and Loathing in HorrorHound Cincinnati (but mostly fear)

For the uninitiated, horror conventions are the best places to go to get autographs of your favorite big-screen serial killers, buy Poltergeist lunchboxes and other memorabilia, and meet other rabid splatter fans. I've been to a lot of cons, and HorrorHound Weekend (November 12-14 in Cincinnati) was easily one of the strangest.

Granted, I did spend each day in a rubber mask promoting Infinite Santa 8000 (my latest project about Santa Claus kicking ass in the year 8000), so perhaps my perception was altered by the gallons of water I lost in my own personal sauna. But I think it's safe to say that a weird time was had by all at HorrorHound. Here are several memories that have surfaced through the fog of that incredible weekend -- from the mildly strange to the truly bizarre.

#1: And the next great cult film is....
Weirdness level: Sharktopus

I'm a podcast junkie (and frequent guest host on Lynn's own Outside the Cinema), and I was psyched to be among so many podcasters at HorrorHound. Among those in attendance: The Popcorn Mafia, The Creepture Feature HorrorShow, Movie Fan House, The Dark Hours, The Podcast Podcast, Night of the Living Podcast, and about a hundred others.

And when you pack this many ardent devotees of twisted cinema into room, conversation is bound to veer off into the subject of awesomely bad cult films: Showgirls, Mac and Me, and The Room were all on the list, of course. And then Grae Drake from The Popcorn Mafia dropped this bomb: "Have you guys ever seen Glitter?"

I was shocked. "The Mariah Carey movie?"

"It's incredible. Silver paint spontaneously appears and disappears on different parts of her body for no apparent reason." She also promised robotic monkeys, flaming dinosaurs, and Vin Diesel in a bikini -- but maybe that was just my dehydration-induced delirium talking.

Whatever the case, I've just bumped Glitter to the top of my Netflix queue. Grae, I sure hope you're right ...  

#2: The creepiest staring contest ever
Weirdness level: Norman Bates

I saw a lot of costumed fans at the con, including the Zipperface Killer from Nightbreed, several Ghostbusters chasing a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Girl, and numerous Jasons from Parts 2, 3, 4, and 7 (I guess Jason in space from Part X couldn't get to Cincinnati). So I wasn't too surprised when a fellow dressed like Halloween's Michael Myers walked by the booth. It was one of the rare moments when I wasn't in my Infinite Santa costume, and I shot him a "Hey, you look really cool" glance of approval. But I guess Mr. Myers wasn't in the mood for pleasantries.

He immediately stopped in his tracks and stared at me. Of course I froze and stared back. He stared. I stared. Several seconds passed. A minute. Soon, everyone around us was watching. Thoughts raced through my head. "Am I really facing off with the guy who's murdered a thousand teenagers? And Jamie Lee Curtis? Everyone is watching me. Wait, on my right -- is that Brett Wagner, the deranged killer from The Crazies? Is he watching me too? He is. And so is Chris Carnel, the pickaxe slasher Harry Warden from My Bloody Valentine. Crap. I can't mess this one up. No way. I have to out-stare Michael Myers. My credibility -- perhaps my life -- depends on it."

As my eyes narrowed and I tried to ignore the sudden itch that had magically appeared on my neck, Michael turned away. I was stunned. Brett Wagner shouted "You got him!" Applause spread and I smiled, relieved.

And then I glanced to my right.

Michael Myers had caught Chris Carnel in his steely gaze. And Chris wasn't giving in. It was Michael Myers vs. Harry Warden. Halloween vs. My Bloody Valentine. An ancient pagan celebration vs. a Hallmark holiday.

Talk about surreal.

#3: The after hours party at Coco Key Water Park
Weirdness level: Hunter S. Thompson

You haven't lived until you've seen hundreds of horror fans and celebrities running around an indoor water park until 1 am. Kitty, a costumed space-mutant-type guy (I'm not sure exactly what his costume is), rode a waterslide in full makeup and scary sci-fi goggles. Terror aficionados rubbed elbows at the bar with Malcolm McDowell (Alex from A Clockwork Orange), George Wilbur (Michael Myers from Halloween 4 and 6) and Jennifer Rubin (Freddy's punk rock victim from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3). And all of us shirtless, bathing-suit-clad horror folks surely set a Guinness World Record for the most horror tattoos at a water resort.

But the highlight was Freddy Krueger chasing a helpless Coco Key Employee around the kiddie pool. Now there were a lot of great costumes at HorrorHound, including some other Freddys, but this guy was by far the best. The makeup, the sweater, the hat, the knife-glove -- hell, he even had the voice down pat. For all I know, this really was Mr. Krueger. The Coco Key Employee sure thought so. Her screams echoed off of the multicolored water fountains and decorative plastic parrots as she frantically tried to outrun Freddy K.

A Valiant Lifeguard raced to her rescue and started beating Freddy with a foam rescue tube. (You now, those red ... floaty ... things. Like this one.) I don't think Valiant Lifeguard thought out his plan very well -- after all, a big piece of foam is no match for Mr. Razor Fingers. Freddy easily pushed Valiant Lifeguard away, and advanced on Coco Key Employee. But she had had enough:

"Back!" she shrieked. "I don't believe in you, Freddy!" He recoiled. "That's right! I don't believe in you, and you can't hurt me!"

Freddy backed off, screaming. Coco Key Employee had won! Applause erupted from the crowd! There was much rejoicing! And then the killer from Scream ran up to her, brandishing a large hunting knife. Coco Key Employee screamed, and her nightmare started all over again.

Seriously. I can't make this shit up.

Strangest. Con. Ever.

Michael Neel is the co-creator of Infinite Santa 8000, a weekly animated web series about Santa Claus killing mutants in the year 8000 (no, really). Each webisode is a few minutes long and a new one comes out each Sunday until Christmas, so check 'em out, ya lazy bastahd. We also have Xmas cards and other merch:

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