I had great time at the second annual Flint Horror Con, even more so than last year. Packed with tons of films and events and vendors and panels, I actually had to plan what I was going to do ahead of time in order not to miss anything. Accompanying me, as always when I go to horror cons, were pals Jack and Jason.
First up, I caught one of my contributions to the event. To compliment the shorts and films being shown, I mixed up a trio of intermission collections. They had old drive-in movie bits -- like ads for the concession stand and "prevues of coming attractions" announcements -- and some of the weird/funny/horrible trailers from my huge collection. Being only half an hour after the doors opened, there weren't a whole lot of folks in the fifth floor theater to catch the first batch:
No big deal. At cons, the theater is a place to wander in and out of whenever you have time between panels and don't feel like shopping anymore. This is one reason shorts are the perfect fit for cons: it's easy to pop in, catch one or two, and pop out without feeling that you need to commit to a long movie and miss other things going on. Anyways, I got a kick out of watching my favorite trailer in the world with the small audience.
Next up: Basket Case's Kevin Van Hentenryck's panel, moderated by amigo Jack. Kevin's a friendly, easy-going guy and the panel was a relaxed discussion of his role as Duane Bradley, his music, and his stone carving passion. I asked him what happens when you make a mistake when carving in stone: "No mistakes. It's executive design change." Words to live by, right here in Flint.
Before the next panel started, I popped downstairs to check out the main vending room on the first floor. it was pleasantly busy:
Amigo Jason moderated Cleve "Monster Man" Hall's panel next. Cleve is a complete character and easily launched into all kinds of -- completely uncensored -- stories about everything he's worked on. I saw him before at Motor City Nightmares and he was no less entertaining to listen to here.
Then, back to the theater to catch Kevin's hilarious Texas Chainsaw parody The Catskill Chainsaw Redemption (2004), which was followed by my second set of intermission stuff. After that, it was once again to the vendor floor to start buying some cool art and gifts for the daughters. I also stopped by Kevin's table for an autograph and a picture:
Again: damn nice guy. He shook my hand a couple of times, asked where in Michigan I was from, and insisted on a second picture when the first looked like it might be blurry. I grabbed a photo of Duane and Belial and a DVD of the Catskill short, both of which he signed and dated. No one I've ever gotten stuff signed by has ever scribbled the date under their name, but it's great idea.
Then, back upstairs for Ari Lehman's panel, again moderated by my friend Jason. Ari played the child version of Jason in the first Friday the 13th and now tours the country with his two-person band First Jason. To be honest, before the panel started, I was thinking: here's a guy with no other prospects in his life other than to ride the coattails of an acting job from 32 years ago when he was a kid. Man, I was wrong. Not only is he a talented musician, as I found out later in the night, the guy is well-versed in the philosophy of horror. He spoke at length on horror's place in our culture, how mythology informs reality and vice versa, and why he thinks Jason works as a monster. He and I have very similar viewpoints on the genre and it was pure pleasure to he him speak. The guy has a better handle this stuff than any other guest I've seen at one of these cons. He also highly recommended The Woman in Black, so, yeah, I've gotta see that soon.
After grabbing a bite at the new Mexican restaurant across the street, we made it back in time to catch a full-length flick in the theater:
Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2011) directed by Vito Trabucco
Reggie Bannister stars as the priest who takes a group of teen stereotypes to a remote camp in the woods. There, they begin to fall one by one to the the evil Sister Mary Chopper, a mask-wearing nun who takes tool-buying advice from Jason Vorhees.
The film is a ton of fun. Even though some of it is digital, the gore effects are great. There are geysers of blood, ax chops to the abdomen, and a fat kid's head popped like a zit with a cinder block. Padding this out are plenty of funny hijinxs with the repressed Christian teens who are forced to go to this camp by their closeted priest. Also: best casting of Jesus, ever.
After the movie, we waltzed back downstairs to catch the adult costume contest (we'd missed the kids' one earlier). There were some great costumes this year. The final five were these:
Then, back up to the theater to catch the last of my intermission stuff. This one, being for later in the evening, I packed with the most surreal stuff I could find. My favorite of these is the batshit animated Videodrome trailer. After it was done, I met a guy who said he's caught all three of my intermissions. He loved them because they reminded him of going to the drive-in when he was a kid. Mission accomplished.
Last for the con, we caught paranormal investigator John Tenney's Q&A. This was his second go-round with the FHC and he did tell some of the same stories as he did last year. What I liked most about his lecture this time out was that he came across as the person sitting between skeptics and true believers. In contrast to what one might think, he's not firmly in the believer camp when it comes to the variety of paranormal activity out there. He'll tell you both sides are trapped in their own preconceptions, making them unable to see all of the possibilities available. He mentioned ghost hunters' fondness for EM detectors. Why are they so insistent that ghosts -- or whatever -- should be visible to these devices? He also poked a bit at some of the commonly held ideas about ghosts themselves. If a ghost is stuck haunting a second floor room in a house for all eternity, he asked, what then when the house burns down? Is it stuck floating around 20 feet in the air? What about when the Earth is destroyed? Will there be ghosts pointlessly haunting empty regions in the space our planet used to be in?
After the con finished, we headed a bit south of town to a bar. There, the con's after party was combined with a charity benefit for a little girl with inoperable brain cancer. Normally, I hate going to bars. They aren't my scene: noisy, crowded, and filled with drunk, rude people. But, I wanted to donate some money to the charity and catch a couple of the bands playing. I wasn't disappointed. The first act we caught was Arlow Xan, a local duo who play a squeeze box and a banjo or guitar. They were amazing. Unfortunately, the noise of the bar wasn't very accommodating to their brand of folksy rock. I'll need to buy some of their tracks soon.
First Jason played later in the evening and kicked ass. They sing songs only about Jason Vorhees -- i.e., "Machete is My Friend" -- and Ari plays a keytar shaped like a machete with a glowing hockey mask in it. Awesome. A perfect way to end a night of horror.
Flint Horror Con: it was a great day. I will see you in 2013, bigger and badder.