I just returned from FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST in Kentucky and have mixed reviews regarding the event. Actually, there is another blogger out there who fairly (and from my perspective accurately) describes the ups of downs of this past weekend. Check out Shawn Patrick’s write up via Shawnster the Monster for a really great read.
Due to the busy convention season and number of events slated in and around my native Chicago, I had no intention of going down to Kentucky for this one. That was, however, until shortly after Horrorhound Weekend when the writer of one of my all-time favorite films, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW called it to my attention. J.D. Feigelson is without question one of the nicest and most personable celebrities I’ve ever encountered. He treats David and I like kings and he certainly never has too.
J.D. informed me that FRIGHT NIGHT would mark the first appearance of DNOTS lead characters, Larry Drake and Tonya Crowe. The prospect of a DNOTS reunion and an opportunity to get some direct quotes for a piece I am writing for SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE meant I needed to be there. So, despite this event being far from perfect, I must admit that I was able to meet all of my objectives – along with the honor of seeing J.D. again and cast members from the film. This, in itself, was a true honor! I was also able to meet John Carpenter and other great celebs and will post those encounters (as well as plenty more DNOTS news) soon.
FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST is really an event designed for Independent film makers – and not so much the fans. Throughout the weekend, special screenings are provided of various unreleased films, while the film-makers themselves are on hand seeking fan reaction. Its also a great way for bloggers such as David and I to promote their work (ONLY if we like it, trust me) while making positive connections in the horror realm.
Its sort of like a high school dance where you start out slow and unsteady hoping that, as things progress, you’ll start gaining better moves and attract the most popular girl in school. The organizers have no trouble drawing fans in by booking big celebrities, such as the aforementioned John Carpenter. This is not unlike those electric bug zappers you hang in your yard but, in this case, its your wallet that gets “zapped!” Regardless, autograph seekers should have left satisfied.
While there was no question the event brought in some amazing celebrities, it was not designed to encourage meaningful fan/celebrity interaction. The main celebrity room was too small and the celebrities were herded in such a way, you could easily overlook them. John Carpenter and Linda Blair are great names in horror but aren’t known for their warmth. That being said, FRIGHT NIGHT must have been right up their alley. My meeting with John Carpenter (which I did on three separate occasions throughout the weekend) was so quick I almost got motion sickness, and my poor friends in the horror host community had the thankless task of being stationed in the hallway to get to them.
Between the retro hotel (which for $69 a night I suppose can’t be criticized too harshly despite being in desperate need of upkeep) and the scorching heat/humidity, I heard a lot of fans and vendors grumbling throughout the weekend.I also saw lots of people I met at DAYS OF THE DEAD a few weeks back who unanimously agreed that this event wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. How much of that was from the heat and hotel logistics vs the event itself probably depends on who you talk to. I would suggest to the hotel that when its 100 degrees outside they might have reconsidered closing the pool. This was done to accommodate more vendors who were spread between two buildings and needed to set up shop near the pool. Not good.
This, however, should not suggest that there weren’t some great moments and connections made here – and we’ll be delving into those in the coming days. Am I happy that I went? Well…uh…yeah. But I wasn’t “glowing” with happiness on the ride home like I was with HORRORHOUND and DAYS OF THE DEAD.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think that (considering the state of our economy and how hard people work to raise the funds to attend these fan events) “glowing” is not too much to ask for. If you’re an insider (or trying like hell to become one) who is willing to promote some great people with money not being an issue, by all means go down to FRIGHT NIGHT. If , however, you’re a fan who doesn’t have the luxury of doing multiple events and are trying to decide which one to attend, then I’d advise avoiding this one in 2012. Your money isn’t just important to you, its important to them and, as horror consumers, we should support those who are interested in treating us to an amazing weekend – and not just potential profits.
…or at least not be so obvious about it!