Special thanks to Rich “Freakshow” Peterson and the amazing camera work of Aaron White from aaronmwhitephotography.com for these great shots from the last Horrorhound Weekend in September!
While Zombies can trace their cinematic roots as far back as 1929, there is little doubt that the birth of the “modern” Zombie took place in the tumultuous year of 1968. Though I was still a couple years away from being born myself, I can not imagine what must have been going through the average American’s mind during that time. The Viet Nam War was raging, violent protests sparked throughout the nation, Martin Luther King & Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, Elvis staged a comeback, while The Beatles released their infamous WHITE album. What better time for the dead to return and devour the living?
In case you haven’t heard the news (which means you missed yesterday’s Weekend Horror Host Report you naughty reader), Wisconsin’s Mr. Mephisto will be making a full make-up return to hosting this Tuesday night via The Vortexx in a “Bordello of Horror” Double Feature!
By Dr. Gangrene…
The 8th annual Dr. Gangrene’s Horror Hootenanny was held Saturday October 8th 2011 at THE MUSE in Nashville, TN. This year’s event was a huge success, and a ton of fun. The Daves asked me to give a report on this year’s event, which I was happy to do!
I just returned from the FRIGHT NIGHT convention in Kentucky but wanted to wrap up this event before delving into that one. I attended the VIP party there as well but, it was so horrendous, I couldn’t make a blog out of it if I tried. Let’s just say that the one I describe below was 1,000 times better and showed that sometimes the “new kids on the block” could teach a thing or two to the older ones!
Saturday was a busy day at DAYS OF THE DEAD and, as the doors to the main convention halls closed, I tiredly dragged myself up to my room. I took a shower and, as I was organizing all the materials I’d acquired during the day, was jarred by the ringing of my cell phone. Upon answering, I soon heard the monotone voice of Illinois Public Access host, Count Gregula, asking what I was up to. After revealing that I had no plans for the evening (save zoning out in front of TV) Gregula asked the question that every horror conventioneer longs to hear, “Would you like to attend the VIP party with us?”
For those unfamiliar with fan conventions, many offer an opportunity for fans and celebrities to mingle in a social setting after convention hours. It’s not included with the standard ticket and is usually, on its own, more expensive than your weekend pass. For this reason, I had never attended one before – wanting as much cash as possible for autographs and vendors. When DAYS OF THE DEAD organizer, Adolfo Dorta, agreed to give me press passes for the event, he made it clear that the VIP party was not included.
Needless to say, the prospect of actually being able to experience a VIP party first hand immediately perked me up. I quickly dressed and zoomed down to the lobby to meet up with the Count & Countess Gregula. The party took place in the hotel lounge and many fans and celebs had already arrived.
As we waited for Adolfo to let us in, a small boy dressed as the iconic slasher, Jason, entertained us by running around and mock “slashing” random people. Everyone commented how cute it was and laughed as the little boy happily “murdered” his sister and various guests (including me at one point). Only at a horror convention could a scene like this draw smiles as opposed to a quick call to DCFS. This soon attracted the attention of the real “Jason” from the 2009 FRIDAY THE 13th remake, Derrick Mears. Mears was about as tall as the child was short and it made an interesting contrast, not to mention a great photo op.
After Adolfo arrived and let us into the lounge we could see it was already a full house. A small buffet table offered a fruit and cheese tray which was soon followed by a crate of White Castle sliders. The Midwestern delicacy (and favored food for late night partiers) was set on the main stage while everyone rushed to it like zombies to a brain.
Just as promised, the fans were able to mingle freely with their favorite stars. I noticed James Downing from MONSTERS FROM THE BASEMENT enjoying the company of WALKING DEAD’s Melissa Cowen at a nearby table and waved hello. I’d met Melissa back in October at Rock & Shock covered HERE. Over by the bar, showing off pictures of bikini clad gals on his cell phone to a friend, was Jake Busey. Busey was very friendly and didn’t mind taking a break to pose for a picture. I confessed to him that STARSHIP TROOPERS, with its gratuitous use of nudity and gore, was a guilty pleasure. He gave me warm, “Why, thank you!” while posing for a shot.
Another friendly celeb was William Katt. Like Ms Cowan, I had the privilege of also meeting Katt at Rock n Shock in Massachusetts. He was very personable and we talked about my how my younger brother, Keith, was obsessed with Katt’s GREATEST AMERICAN HERO TV show and made frequent trips to the doctor – a result of his many failed attempts at flight. Katt retained his reputation for being personable here as we discussed the fact that, had Mark Hamill turned down the role, he was the next choice in playing Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS
Other notable celebs who freely mingled with guests was NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD alumnus John Russo and Russell Streiner! I met up with Streiner the next day during an interview with Gregula and asked if he’s recite his famous line, “They’re coming to get you Barbara!” He agreed and then pointed to a pile of quarters at his table. Every time a fan asks him to recite the line they are to pay 25 cents – all in could fun. Before leaving, I had no choice but to ante up!
You assume that celebrities are just there because they have to be but I noticed this was not the case. All the celebs I observed were clearing having a lot of fun and dished out many compliments regarding how the event was set up. Everyone I asked – both celebrity and fan stated they would love to attend another convention such as this.
Soon, all attention was back on the main stage as Adolfo took the microphone…
Thanking everyone for making the first official DAYS OF THE DEAD a huge success, Dorta then began giving away some great prizes for those lucky enough to be carrying a winning raffle ticket. Some of which included some unique gifts from Fable Foundry Creative Studio. We’ll be giving Fable Foundry a much closer look soon.
Freddy fans will be VERY interested in the unique, hand-crafted items coming soon from Fable Foundry!
Aside from generously donating items (that many of us would pine away for) as gifts for lucky raffle winners, the company’s founder and Creative Director, Eriq Chang, has a philosophy that we Daves have come to live by. Unable to attend the event itself, he gave Adolfo some positive words to share with guests. We’ll be sharing those when we delve into why this is a company horror fans can be proud to support so stay tuned and keep your eyes on this company!
The happy mood, ever present but enriched by the words of Mr. Chang, reached a fever pitch when Adolfo unveiled two posters which effectively answered the question we all had on our minds; will there be another DAYS OF THE DEAD? The answer was a resounding YES as not one, but TWO more DAYS OF THE DEAD conventions were revealed!
For horror fans, there are a LOT of events to choose from these days and while many of us base our choices on the celebrities featured let me say that we also would like to be treated like VIP’s. For that experience I urge everyone to consider attending DAYS OF THE DEAD! I’ve done quite a few conventions this year and can safely say that Adolfo and his amazing team will see to it that you receive the best of both worlds!
Last March, I attended my first (but definitely not last) Horrorhound Convention. As mentioned in my previous post, Horrorhound Magazine definitely ranks as one of my favorites. Like FANGORIA, they sponsor their own conventions too - attracting some very impressive guests! For the past few years, Horrorhound has done two conventions annually; one in Indianapolis (March) and another in Cincinnati (November).
I had planned to attend the Ohio show last fall, intent on meeting Tom Savini and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. I ended up canceling these plans, telling myself that I would attend the March show, come hell or high water! I’m very happy that I did. This convention, without question, was one of the BEST.
Joining me on this trip was my old pal, Jason. Although neither of us were sure of what to expect, we did have very specific goals about what we hoped to accomplish. Jason (a musician) wanted to acquire some rare horror music – particularly the scores to some Italian, gore classics. I, on the other hand, was thrilled at the prospect of meeting a number of the horror hosts who would be attending (more on that next time).
Both of us wanted to add new reference books, along with some rare 1980′s slasher films, to our collections. We were also anxious to meet some of the featured celebrity guests. These would include George Romero, Tom Savini, David Hess, and Elvira – to name but a few. I am happy to report that we not only met, but surpassed, ALL of our objectives!
We belted KISS parody songs all the way to Indianapolis, making the trip seem MUCH quicker (though it’s a wonder I could still speak after growling like Gene Simmons for four hours). When we pulled into the parking lot of the Marriott hotel, we saw horror host, Karlos Borloff (obviously, another fan of Simmons) outside enjoying a cigarette. There was no doubt, we had come to the right place.
Tom Savini was the next celebrity we met. He was sitting at a table with an interesting statue of a zombie eating Cheerios out of George Romero’s head. I found Savini to be a bit of a cold fish during this first encounter. I’ve been a huge fan of Savini for over twenty years and was anxious to have an opportunity to meet and talk with him. I started by telling him how much I loved THE GRINDHOUSE films and how happy I was that they had made a feature film of one of its faux trailers, MACHETE. He didn’t give eye contact and responded with a deadpan, “yeah.” He was slightly more communicative when I asked him about the Blu-Ray release date for his version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990), stating that it should be at the end of this year after they add in some lost footage (cool!). Jason was gushing compliments left and right and he still barely cracked a smile. That initial meeting left me disappointed but, fortunately, the next meeting would be much better.
Our next celebrity encounter was with actor, David Hess. Hess starred in the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT as well as the 1980 Italian alternative, THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. He also starred in HITCH-HIKE, SWAMP THING, and the rare Italian slasher BODY COUNT.
Hess’ co-star in THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK was Italian actor, Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Despite not being a fan of horror (particularly gore) movies, Radice has the distinction of starring in some of the gruesomest films ever made. These include Lucio Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD as well as Umberto Lenzi’s highly controversial, CANNIBAL FEROX. Hess was selling numerous photos at his table but the one that quickly caught my eye featured Radice and Hess together. It was more expensive than the other photos but was pre-signed by Radice himself. I was happy to add both autographs to my collection.
The 2010 Horrorhound Indianapolis Convention was a definite zombie paradise! On hand were plenty of representatives from Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD and DAY OF THE DEAD films. There was only one in attendance from his original, 1968 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and that was Charles Craig. Mr. Craig played the radio announcer in the horror classic (as well as a zombie extra) and was happy to pose with us using an actual microphone as a prop. He was a very nice guy and seemed genuinely surprised at the attention he received. I just felt bad that he was stuck handling money transactions while his “assistant” snoozed away!
I thought it was great that the original DAWN OF THE DEAD’s, Mike Christopher, appeared at the convention wearing his Hare Krishna zombie costume. I couldn’t believe that after 30 years he looked exactly the same as he did in that movie! We grabbed a beer off of the table (belonging to his irked assistant) and handed it to him for the shot. I hope I can meet him again so he can sign this photo! Jason returned to his booth on Sunday and we snapped a shot of him without the make up too.
On Saturday, we stood in line for about four hours to meet George Romero. It was well worth the wait. Mr. Romero is every bit as warm and ingratiating to his fans as we had heard. He signed a DAWN OF THE DEAD poster for Jason and a DAY OF DEAD one for me (I prefer DAWN to DAY also but Jason was lucky to snag his last available poster). We asked Romero if he wouldn’t mind doing an intro for our home made video. He said he would but kept flubbing the lines. It was actually pretty comical. Each time he’d mess up, he’d insist on being given another chance to get it right. So we not only received a video plug from Romero, but also plenty of bloopers!
The convention was very crowded and I heard a lot of complaints from fellow participants. I’m not sure if it was our careful planning or just blind luck, but we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We drove home constantly uttering the phrase, “I can’t believe we did it!” It was just an amazing experience and one we’ll never forget. Believe it or not, you’ve only heard ”half” the story. This convention also featured a special tribute to the late Maila Nurmi - Vampira. It would see the largest gathering of horror hosts from across the country. Little did I know at the time, my Svengoolie-centric world was about to bust wide open!