Dear HorrorHound Weekend:
Thanks for another amazing horror convention. I only get to see you twice
a year, but you always make it worth my while.
You are truly one of the best horror cons on any planet, Earth or
otherwise (I know a few saucer men who claim that Mars has a great convention
scene, but everyone I know who has been there has been vaporized).
This was my fourth HHW, and I'd just like to take a few
minutes and thank you for all you have given me.
1. Thank you for the once-in-a lifetime celebrity
At past HHWs I have talked with Brett Wagner (a deranged
killer from The Crazies), hung out with Chris Carnel (Harry Warden, the killer
miner from My Bloody Valentine), and met tons of other cool genre vets too. This year I got to chat with David Kagen from
Friday the 13th Part 6, Andrew Hubatsek and Brad Greenquist from Pet
Semetary, and Robin Shelby, who played Slimer in Ghostbusters! Good times all around.
And the fun didn't stop there. On Friday night I was in the hotel elevator,
crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with other horror fans, each one of us wearing
some sort of cool, nerdy T-shirt from flicks such as The Video Dead and Hobo
with a Shotgun (my T-shirt was from The Thing). I noticed someone wearing a truly radical t-shirt for Wyld Stallyns,
Bill and Ted's band from their Great Adventure and Bogus Journey.
"Cool shirt," I said. The Wyld Stallyns T-shirt guy smiled. From my
left, I heard someone say "Yeah, they're OK."
I turn to my left...hmmm, this dude looks familiar.
Holy crap, it's Bill S Preston, Esquire -- AKA Alex Winter,
as he's known when he's not playing air guitar with Ted (Keanu Reeves).
I give him a sly smile, playing it cool: "I like their early
stuff the best." He gave me a wink.
Conventions make me hungry.
All that standing around, autograph-hunting, and buying amazing artwork
like Lydia Burris's ridiculously cool paintings is hard work, and,
unfortunately, the food at these cons usually falls somewhere between decent
and vomit-inducing (the latter is appropriate given the circumstances, I
suppose). Fortunately, two vendors at
HHW helped me curb my rumbling stomach: Sinister Sweets and Slash & Dine.
Sinister Sweets specializes in such horror-themed
delicacies as Cinn-o-bites (like Hellraiser's Pinhead, only tastier) and
Clockwork Orange Pops (mmm, ultra-violent). Meanwhile, food blog Slash & Dine reviews cult films, and pairs them with
a meal -- say, like Escape from New York Strip Steak served with (what else) a
Manhattan. They brought some of their fiendish gastronomy with them to HHW -- how can you turn down cookies from the creators of red velvet zombie cake and Birdemic beer-can chicken?
3. Thank you for bringing together so many passionate horror
The swag, autographs, Halloween 3 bottle openers, and
other cool stuff are all great reasons to go to a horror con. But one of the best things is the other film
nuts and the wonderful nerdy conversations that ensue. At a sports bar, you might argue about which
quarterback is more frustrating: Jay Cutler or Tony Romo? At a horror con, the discussion goes more
"Which is better?
This kill from Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes
"And does this mean that Part 8 is a better movie because of
that one kill scene, despite the fact that there is no nudity, most of the
movie takes place on a boat, and they obviously filmed in Birtish Columbia and
not the Big Apple? Or is Jason in space
better because it has the requisite kills, a coherent plot, and tons of T&A -- even though the idea is ludicrous and screams of Jumping the Shark? Or do they both pale in comparison to this kill
from Part 6: Jason Lives?" (Skip to 1:40
and judge for yourself.)
4. Thank you for supporting non-blockbuster horror films
Sure, the casual moviegoer knows horror
flicks like Saw, Paranormal Activity, and Transformers 2 (now there's truly terrifying movie you can never unsee) ... but what about Dark Night of the Scarecrow, D4, or The Puppet Monster Massacre? These low-budget films - and thousands of
other ones -- don't have the advertising assault of a big-time Hollywood horror
flick, so their respective filmmakers bought vendor booths at HHW to talk
directly to their fans and make sales.
If fans like a movie, they'll spread the word, until hopefully the
film takes on a life of its own. Judging
from the positive feedback I heard about Dark Night of the Scarecrow, D4, and
The Puppet Monster Massacre, this tactic is working.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow is one of the best examples of
using grassroots marketing and horror cons for promotion. It was made for TV in 1981, and was very
well-received by fans and such genre celebrities as Ray Bradbury, Stuart Gordon
(director of Re-Animator), and Vincent Price.
The film has a fairy-tale tone to it, half Frankenstein and half Tales
From the Crypt. It's a creepy, atmospheric movie that was probably helped by the
limitations of television: since it couldn't show blood and gore, it relies on
tension and well-conceived stalking scenes (there is a particularly effective
one involving a hay baler). Larry Drake
(Benny from L.A. Law, the titular role in Dr. Giggles, and the villain in
Darkman) gives a wonderful performance as a mentally handicapped man who is
wrongly executed for a crime he didn't commit. DNotS writer J.D. Feigelson
fought tirelessly to get the OK from CBS for a new transfer and DVD release - a
difficult and tedious process - and since it hit DVD and Blu-Ray in 2010 the
fan base continues to grow. I've seen
Feigelson's booth at numerous conventions, where he talks with fans about his passion project and sells
Dark Night merch. Feigelson is a
passionate filmmaker, and I get the sense that he's going to keep spreading the
word about his film until every last horror fan on the planet has seen it.
OK, so now that I've gotten all serious and meaningful on
you guys, I think I need to end things on a lighter note. So here's a quick question: What happens when
you add Jason, Alice Cooper, and heaping helpings of b-movie cheese? You get this:
Michael Neel is the co-creator of anthology-horror-film Drive-In Horrorshow and animated web series Infinite Santa 8000. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
READ MORE: "Summer Camp for Horror Nerds: HorrorHound Weekend," by Michael Neel
READ MORE: "Fear and Loathing in HorrorHound Cincinnati (but mostly fear)," by Michael Neel
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