I'll admit, I wasn't sure how this thing was going to turn out. It's the first horror convention -- probably the first geek convention of any kind -- outside of Metro Detroit in Michigan. Growing up an hour north of Flint, I never knew any other horror nerds. Though I'd subject my classmates to films like Hellraiser II on occasion, I remained the only one who knew all of the different ways to kill a vampire. Would there be enough people in the area that would even want to come to a horror con? The answer seems to have been: damn right there was.
Taking place in Flint's Masonic Temple, the first floor was pleasantly packed with vendor tables. As someone who's been to five (!) of these things this year, I was happy to find most of the vendor tables new to me. You tend to see a lot of the same folks at cons in the Midwest. Going to so many of these things in a year means that there starts to be little new for me to check out at the tables. Not true here. I think this was probably because many of the vendors were local, which I dug. I grabbed me some DVDs from local filmmakers, some cool art and couple of creepy stuffed dolls for the daughters.
In addition to the tables, the con had raffle and a costume contest. Actually, it wasn't just one raffle; it seemed to be a whole bunch of them wisely spread out through the day. Hell, I even won one of these things for the first time in my life: I got a T-shirt and a zombie postcard pack. Similarly, the costume contest was actually three contests: one for kids, one for most original costume and one for the scariest costume. The scariest costume contest was handily won by my pal Eric, dressed as Count Chocola. You could tell he was a shoe-in for the contest when he walked into the con and was mobbed by people laughing and asking for picture. You gotta give it to him: the dude really does look like that famous cereal vampire. Anyway, for a small con in its first year, there were an impressive amount of prizes flying all over the place. It made things fun.
|Count Chocula says: "Blah!"|
Under the Scares (2010) directed by Steve Villeneuve
I only managed to catch the last half of this documentary, but I liked what I saw. It's a series of interviews with independent horror film directors, convention organizers, established horror directors, scream queens and other industry insiders all giving advise on how to get your independent horror movie out there. The picture they paint ain't pretty: it seems like the best you can hope for is to get screwed by a distributor and earn zero dollars... but, hey, at least you've gotten a little publicity. I liked the realistic advice the folks in the film offer. No one's spouting the cupcakes-n-rainbows line of "you just need to believe in yourself to succeed." Believe all you want; the film industry is hard and cruel and not many manage to earn a living in it.
After the documentary, there was a series of shorts to watch:
Cosmos Locos (2011)
Project Swan: "The $400 Kiss" (2011)
Project Swan: "Sugar Plum (2011)
Project Swan: "Among Thieves" (2011)
Cosmos Locos was marred by some technical issues -- the sound kept going out -- but this actually served to make the experience special. The poor director was in the theater with us, so whenever the movie lost sound, he would shout out all of the characters' lines along with snarky commentary like "this scene was really noisy, anyway." It ended up being hilarious.
When Project Swan ended, there was just enough time pop over to the "Exploring the Paranormal" panel hosted by John E.L. Tenney. Now, I can't say that I'm a believer in such things, but I still find the subject fascinating. I have a bookshelf full of "true" ghost stories and alien encounters and Bigfoot sightings. John was a completely engaging speaker and enthralled the small group with tales from his 25 years of paranormal investigations. He told of exorcisms, phantom restaurants, weird coincidences and alien pancakes. I liked his take on these things. Rather than categorically declare any of these experiences as "ghosts" or "aliens" or whatever, he just liked saying "what a weird place the world is!"
Next up was Ken Sagoes' panel, who played Kincaid in Elm Street 3. I have to say, it was bit weird at start. After John Tenney's panel, everyone left except for me and my buddy Jason. Though we're both Elm Street fans, neither of us introverts really had any questions for Ken. Luckily, the moderator got the ball rolling and, slowly, more folks started walking in until we had a nice little group. Ken was great and told some funny stories about his experiences in Hollywood (hanging up on Garry Marshall because he thought his friend was pranking him, how his bad day before the audition helped him get the part of Kincaid). A really nice guy, he also revealed that all of the profits from his autograph signings for the day were going towards his charity, the Giving Back Corporation. He left by saying some warm things about the con and how much he enjoyed it. Good people, that Ken.
And the final panel was for the three Evil Dead guests of the con: Tom Sullivan, Josh Becker and Hal Delrich. Becker and Sullivan are both complete characters, so they kept things rolling well with stories and jokes. However, I particularly liked Delrich's favorite memory of Evil Dead. Growing up, he'd been a big fan of horror movies and read all of the magazines at the time (I'm guessing Famous Monsters of Filmland). One of the articles he liked was on I Was a Teenage Werewolf and featured a picture of Michael Landon in the make-up chair framed in one of those mirrors with lights around them. Upon seeing himself in the same kind of mirror in a make-up chair on the ED set, he was in horror heaven.
And then the con starting winding down. As we sat on the stage, waiting for the group to be ready to grab a drink at Churchill's, John Tenney wandered over and entertained us with more stories. He spoke of hidden necklaces and pineal glands and the fact that so many people have died since humanity began, every place on Earth has an equal potential of being haunted no matter how creepy or not the building may be. Whatever I may think of the paranormal, the guy is an expert storyteller and it's easy to see how he was given a TV show to host.
All in all, I had a great time at the con. This was a helluva good start to things and I'm looking forward to next year already.
|Horrors, bought and sold here.|