EVENT REVIEWS

We want to hear your thoughts!

HoTS Review: Raleigh SuperCon (July 27-29, 2018)

HoTS Review: Raleigh SuperCon (July 27-29, 2018)

Last weekend (July 27 – 29, 2018) I attended the Raleigh SuperCon! This convention was held at the very spacious Raleigh Convention Center in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The SuperCon celebrates horror movies, Disney, anime, and various other characters. Musical guests included Alice Cooper and my personal favorite, Joey Fatone of NSYNC fame. Some of the guests included were William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Catherine Tate, and Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants.

Raleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Celeb Photo Ops

Cosplay was evident everywhere! Outfits ranged from the most popular, (Deadpool), to anime, to Star Wars, (slave Princess Leia) to furies (humans dressed as animals). Many elaborate costumes were displayed proudly by the people who took the time and creativity to make these costumes. One of my personal favorites was Ludo and a fiery from the 1986 movie Labyrinth.

SuperCon / Amy Narramore SuperCon / Amy Narramore

Saturday night brought out the creatures of the night for The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shadow cast provided by the Pineapple Shaped Lamps.  They are a comedy and improv group based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors) and Patricia Quinn (Magenta) joined the cast to introduce the film and talk with the audience for a few minutes. As an added and very big surprise, Patricia Quinn joined the shadow cast in dancing to the Time Warp!

Raleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Amy NarramoreRaleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Amy Narramore

This was the first time that I attended the Raleigh SuperCon and I must say that I will go again next year! I give this convention an A+ for an amazing time with wonderful guests! It was well organized and had a lot of different exhibits and guests for everyone! Plus, I really enjoyed the warm and welcoming environment that was felt throughout the community.

Raleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Amy Narramore


Posted by Graveyard Girl in EDITORIALS, EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Days of the Dead – Charlotte, NC – 2018

CON REVIEW: Days of the Dead – Charlotte, NC – 2018

For the first time, the Days of the Dead convention invaded Charlotte, NC this past weekend. They brought in a big lineup that included horror and rock icons. Some of those names are Heather Langenkamp, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Linda Blair, Tony Todd, Dee Snider, and Vinnie Vincent.

Friday night was night 1 of the event and at the end of the night was a Hall of Fame Induction. Days of the Dead honors a popular guest who has helped evolve the show and also an Indie Film Maker. The Charlotte show’s inductees were Heather Langenkamp and Tommy Faircloth. Langenkamp, of course, is known for her work in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Faircloth is a Carolina native who has made films for years including Family Possessions. He is working on a new project called Nun’s Curse, which he has a crowdfunding campaign going. So congratulations to both Heather and Tommy!

 

This con was similar to most cons as there were panels, photo ops and chances to meet and get signatures from popular horror icons. The panel I found the most interesting was the Friday The 13th Part 6 panel. There were five cast members (CJ Graham, Thom Mathews, Darcy DeMoss, Tom Fridley, and Kerry Noonan) along with writer/director Tom McLoughlin. This had been the first convention appearance for Noonan, so this group has not been together since filming ended 32 years ago.

Now having traveled to several conventions just in this calendar year, I have seen a lot of great and some not so stellar moments. I have seen some things happen at shows that angered a lot of fans. Days of the Dead did not seem to have those issues this past weekend. Let me qualify this by saying that yes, I was a volunteer at this show. I have volunteered at several shows though. Does that mean that Days of the Dead has mastered how to put on a show? Not exactly.

They have put on 26 shows now in the last decade, so after a while, you learn what can and cannot work. I will also say they did have an advantage that some of the other conventions did not have. Timing. Days of the Dead came after some other shows that had problems. A lot of volunteers do work more than one show, and they post on social media about their experiences. Thus, the staff at Days of the Dead were able to see what problems other conventions experienced and had time to make sure they would not happen at their show. Again, this was their 26th show, and they have run in at least six states. They also hosted an open forum for fans to voice their ideas, issues, suggestions, complaints, etc. They wanted to ensure the fans knew they had a voice.

Let’s talk attendance. The attendance was not nearly what other shows have done. This has caused some people to say the show was unsuccessful. There have been shows in other cities where the crowds were so massive that the fire marshals were called. It’s a double-edged sword. Is there a perfect amount of people that is just right if this was too small and others were too big? I don’t have the answer to that.

What made this show work was that they secured a hotel big enough for fans to spread out. There was also a rhyme and reason for the celebrity layout. The celebrities all seemed to have a great time, including Kerry Noonan, who was often seen having fun with the fans.

What made this show seem to flow smoothly (at least from the perspective that I saw) was that Days of the Dead used a wash, rinse, repeat method. They booked a lot of celebrities that they have used at other shows, and they mixed them with some first-timers. They also used the same core volunteers and staff members that work most of, if not all of their shows.

Were there some hiccups? Sure. Tony Todd had an unexpected family issue come up and was not available for the show on Sunday. I was assured everything is okay, but it had to be taken care of. Life happens, and these celebrities are just like us. Were there some issues with the hotel? Yes. Was the crowd smaller than expected? Yes. But this was the first show Days of the Dead has run in North Carolina, and there are growing pains when you are dealing with a brand new venue and city.

There were some very creative fans that put their cosplay skills to use. There was an entertaining band called Elzig (a cross between Elvis and Danzig) that played the afterparty.

So final analysis. Was this a perfect show? Of course not. Has Days of the Dead found a formula that works for them? Yes. Were there things that could have gone better? I am sure that there are. Most of the fans that I spoke with were extremely happy and excited. Some fans voiced that there was not clear signage of where the panels were being held, but they were happy that team members on the floor were able to guide them in the right direction. Are there changes Days of the Dead can do make improve before their next show? Yes. That will always be the answer, though. This was overall a very successful show, especially for their first run in a new city.

Overall Grade: A

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF  MONSTER FEST SYDNEY 2018

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF MONSTER FEST SYDNEY 2018

The last three days have been a whirlwind of screening delight at the second Sydney Monster Fest . From 7 pm on Friday, 9 March 2018, night until 11 pm on Sunday, 11 March 2018, Monster Fest screened a total of twelve films, and of those twelve, two were short films.

Unfortunately, there were two films I could not attend due to time restraints. These were Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Cold Hell (a German thriller about a woman in hiding following witnessing a murder) and Luke Shanahan’s Rabbit (noted as a strong, well driven Australian thriller surrounding the disappearance of a girl’s sister). Next year I shall be clearing my schedule to attend all of the screenings available as both, I felt, offered so many possibilities as a film fan, and I did want to see them.

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 01

Steven Spiel’s Living Space Q&A, 1 of 3

At Monster Fest, Australia served up some more homegrown horror with the two shorts Edward and Melissa LyonsAlfred J Hemlock (an impressive revamping of the better the devil you know style dealings with a hilariously lovable comedic twist- that kick-started the festival ahead of the opening screening) and Ren Thackham’s and Fliss Keep’s Tightly Ground ( a boring and rather overindulgent hipster attempt at satire with a bit of murder thrown in). As well as the films like Steven Spiel’s superb Living Space (an awesome time looping thriller featuring some pure moments of amazement – including a human swastika!), Daniel Armstrong’s Tarnation (which despite an impressively campy premise was ultimately an abysmal film featuring a group of annoyingly bad actors facing perils of obscure concepts – penis bugs, demonic unicorns and zombie kangaroos all sound great but if executed poorly are not as fun as hoped), and the standout Mystery Movie that ended the festival Chris Sun’s desperately anticipated BOAR.

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 02

Steven Spiel’s Living Space Q&A, 2 of 3

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 03

Steven Spiel’s Living Space Q&A, 3 of 3

BOAR is a beast of a film all of its own which features a huge quality bag full of lovable Australian larrikin humor, great creature effects and a cast of likable and deliberately unlikeable characters. Switching from the douchebag boyfriend Robert (played so well by Hugh Sheridan), to the hulking gentle giant uncle Bernie (played adorably by Nathan Jones) and even familiar faces such as John Jarratt, Bill Moseley, and even Steve Bisley, Sun has his star-studded cast guide this film superbly through the sentimental, the comedic and the terrifying!

From the USA, Monster Fest secured screenings of Johannes Roberts’ The Strangers 2: Prey at Night (which for me knocks the original out of the picture through its musically rich murderous antics and opened the festival with a bang alongside Alfred J Hemlock), the 1987 classic Fred Dekker film The Monster Squad (I had never seen this and am a huge lover of it now!!!!) , and  their 4K restoration screening of the classic George. A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (crisper clear quality without losing the original film’s awesomeness).

Canada served up Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket, an impressive occult themed film about the suffering that follows a loss. It starred The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden and Vancouver actress Nicole Munoz (both dove deep to create likable and unlikeable aspects to their tortured characters).

Lastly, from Turkey came the Can Evrenol film Housewife, an inexplainable romp into the insanity that it displays thoroughly throughout. With dream realms, surreal ongoing and a beginning classic to any horror film, you will not be let down by this film. Brilliant!!

All in all, Monster Fest was a thoroughly amazing viewing experience and I cannot wait for any further screenings throughout the year or events like this one. I will be there!

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EVENT REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW:  Mad Monster Party 2018 (Carolinas) Charlotte

CON REVIEW: Mad Monster Party 2018 (Carolinas) Charlotte

Last weekend Mad Monster returned to the Queen City of Charlotte, NC. Their lineup included Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, Jen and Sylvia Soska, Felissa Rose, KISS Co-Founder Peter Criss, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Tuesday Knight, Amanda Wyss, R.A. Mihailoff, and many more. Thousands of fans from several States flocked to the Hilton to meet their favorite stars, take advantage of the photo ops (done with amazing backgrounds by Prints Charmn), watch movies in the 7th Annual Mad Monster Film Festival and get to see a 10 minute clip of the upcoming film Death House, introduced by co-writer and director Harrison Smith during the Death House Q&A with Smith, Felissa Rose, and R.A. Mihailoff.

Be sure to check out my interviews with Harrison Smith and Felissa Rose and my EXCLUSIVE pre-release review of Death House.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Like any event that attracts thousands of people into one venue, there are going to be speed bumps. Not everyone is going to be happy. There has yet to be a convention, sporting event or any large gathering where every single person went home completely satisfied. Robert Englund is a huge icon in this genre (easily top five over the last four decades) and him attending a show is not a common occurrence. He is a massive draw. Robert is also very gracious to his fans and enjoys sharing a few words and memories with them. He appreciates the fans coming to see him, so his line doesn’t move as if you were scanning two items in the express lane of the grocery store. It can take some time. Many fans were in line for quite some time.

Both Friday and Saturday, the line had more fans than could be accommodated and something had to be done. Credit the staff at Mad Monster for coming up with quick adjustments. They had a system where the fans that remained in line received a number based on where they were in line. Was it perfect? Of course not. Was it the best option? It was the only option. The staff knew that people were going to be upset but came up with a solution with their limited options. It could have been easy to say “that’s it for tonight, please try again tomorrow”. That was not what they did and they handled the issue the only way to make as many people as happy as possible.

Crypt Keeper Clint at Mad Monster Party

Sunday, a light rail (train) knocked out the power for everything in the vicinity of the venue, including the hotel itself. This caused a delay in allowing fans into the show. The power was eventually restored and the show went on, business as usual.

Now that the hiccups are out of the way, let’s talk about the positive aspects. The celebs engaged and enjoyed talking to the fans, there were plenty of vendors for fans to shop from and the panels were informative. For me, one of the highlights of the weekend was the R.I.P. (Mad Monster’s VIP) Party on Saturday night. It was more of a moderate social gathering than a party. The RIPs along with the celebs that attended all gathered to celebrate. Saturday was Tuesday Knight’s birthday and everyone sang and had cake. The RIPs, STIFFS (volunteers), and celebs at the party mingled and shared stories til past midnight. It was a relaxing way to spend the evening after a busy and packed house on Saturday.

The show ended on Sunday and despite the hiccups, the show went off with success. The staff at Mad Monster deserve commendation for how they pulled through. Despite being short-handed (the flu has been nasty and caused several volunteers to have to miss the show) several worked double and triple shifts to ensure there was enough coverage on the floor. They also had to deal with the power issues on Sunday, photo ops selling out in advance and long lines for Robert Englund and Peter Criss. The team was able to power through and make sure as many fans left with amazing memories.

Overall I grade this show a B+.

Next up for Mad Monster is their annual Phoenix, AZ, show July 13-15, 2018.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Horror and the Oscars

Horror and the Oscars

Horror and the Oscars?

The history of genre cinema (horror, fantasy, science fiction) and the Oscars have been a spotty one at best. For example, in 1931 Fredric March took home the golden statue for his masterful duel role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and my personal favorite adaptation). It wouldn’t be until Anthony Hopkins portrayed the cannibal Hannibal in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs that another actor would win for a horror movie in that category. The Oscars have always looked down on genre films, most specifically horror and science fiction, with most of the awards going to dramas or indie darlings. However, it seems of late that maybe this is a trend that is slowly changing and voting members are finally taking the horror genre seriously. It’s not totally unheard of for the genre to get some love though. On the technical side, films like for example Alien and Aliens won both Oscars for visual effects. The Fly, An American Werewolf in London, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula and won Best Makeup (just to name a few). In addition, Sleepy Hollow won for Best Art Direction, and Ruth Gordon and Kathy Bates won Best Actress awards.

Daniel Kaluuya in Jordan Peele’s Get Out

he Shape of Water poster

Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water

However, when you realize The Exorcist never won Best Picture but did win for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Get Out the psychological satire horror film kicked down some doors not only in its frank and sobering commentary on race relations but proves that a genre film can be smart, meaningful, and scary as hell. The 90th Oscars were very genre forward in many ways. Guillermo Del Toro mentioned The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Julie Adams, and on the red carpet, clips from various horror films were shown in a montage including most surprisingly a chainsaw swinging Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And of course, the break out horror hit Get Out from Blumhouse won for Best Screenplay. In addition, trailblazing filmmaker George A. Romero was paid tribute at the Oscars in Memoriam, though sadly Tobe Hooper was left off for some baffling reason. It’s no shock that a lot of people in the horror community don’t like the Oscars, and I totally get that. When I look back at the countless great horror films to get snubbed, it’s hard not to be bitter. But this year proved that a perhaps a new attitude is emerging within the Academy, after all, this year also saw a greatly diverse group of nominees and winners. Sure we are unlikely to see a Halloween film win any golden statues, but I really feel like Get Out and The Shape of Water are great starts in showcasing the importance of genre cinema.

Mad Monster welcomes George Romero

George Romero

Posted by Mike Vaughn in EVENT REVIEWS, HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments

CONCERT REVIEW: GHOUL/GWAR RAMS HEAD LIVE 10/26/17

GWAR has been one of my favorite bands for the past 30 years now. Known for playing on or around Halloween in Baltimore I took every opportunity to grab some passes to see them now that I’m back in Maryland after many years of being gone from the area. Rams Head Live in Baltimore was the venue on this Thursday night. A good sized club always brings in big acts and is a pretty cool venue with pretty much not a bad seat( all general admission) in the place. GWAR is one band that to see live is one that I would HAVE to cover for a story. My wife Steff had never seen GWAR before, that alone was almost reason enough to go.

By the time we got there GHOUL was just about to go on stage. GHOUL is a fun mix of GWAR, MENTORS, MISFITS with a touch of MOTORHEAD! Keeping in touch with the Halloween spirit with a horror punk sound. I don’t think Gwar could have found a better band to hit the road with. Both lyrically and their stage presence oozes horror. As for starters, if your not familiar with GHOUL, they all wear burlap sack, masks with bloody mouths, have stage actors that they behead and spray blood out on to the crowd and sing of death and graveyards while they have the look of just committed a nasty home invasion. GHOUL ARE  FUCKING AWESOME!! What a great live act and a great bunch of guys as I was fortunate enough to have run into a few of them after the show.

                                           

Finally,…after a bit of a wait from what seemed to have been some technical issues, GWAR makes their way to the stage. By this time the crowd had started to fill up, sadly it wasn’t to overly packed, but then again it was a Thursday ….and the general age of the crowd…well, we aren’t as young as we once were. GWAR come out on stage and its always something new, every tour. The stage show is creative, overwhelming at times, oh..and bloody violent. Kind of makes you feel like your mixing a Lloyd Kaufman film to shock rock extreme music, in one live nightmare!

This was my first time having seen GWAR since the passing of the late great ODERUS URUNGUS, it was hard waiting to hear some of the old classics, and yet only one was done, Black and Huge. It was actually kind of nice that the band left it alone. Regardless, the stage show over the top as always, and for the club only charging $20.00 tickets, makes you wonder how these guys are making a penny because they really do put a lot into it!

Of course, they always touch on a few big media items such as government and religion, that the boys are always more than welcome to slay and befoul on stage and spray gallons of blood and other bodily fluids on to the audience. From a decapitated priest to Blothar ejaculating on the crowd, it was a wet floor, to say the least!

   

 

It was the same day as the show that the heart-wrenching news surfaced about guitarist Michael Derks, best known to the world as Balsac the Jaws of Death. I had noticed from the get go that he wasn’t on stage. So, just kind of assumed that with the recent medical news that maybe he had decided to take the rest of the tour off…I was wrong. It must have been the third song that Balsac made his stage presence, and what a crowd response he was given, and seemed as if he really played his heart out that night.

                                                      
GWAR played for over an hour and a half. For these aging gentlemen, those costumes, props, lighting, stage theatrics and pure energy, I’ve got to give them credit cause most of the people in the crowd were winded. The last song came around, and how suiting, it was a cover of AC/DC’s If You Want Blood. Not only did they do a great job of the song, they also did a great job of making a complete mess of the venue and everyone that was in it! If you were one of the fortunate ones who hadn’t got spewed or gutted on, you were about to! I honestly don’t think there was a dry place in the club by the end of the song.

As I mentioned earlier, my wife had never seen GWAR before. When they came on stage she and I got split up, I went up to the stage to take photo’s and she went front and center stage in the crowd with old friend of mine who catches them every time they roll into town with his daughter no less. So the band exited the stage, house lights came on, ..and they were, the three of them, all blue and red and I do mean from head to toe soaked in stage spray! The smile on my wife’s face was priceless, she had been GWAR’d!!

GHOUL and GWAR thank you both for the passes and thank you both for such a great show, you guys are the goods!!

Visit Gwar on their website and see all the great things you’ve been missing: Gwar-Official Site of the Gods also check out the almighty and amazing GHOUL on their official site..I’m telling you this band is something to look out for. Ghoul-Official site!

                                                                    
Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in EVENT REVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CONCERT REVIEW: Michale Graves at The Irish Wolf Pub

CONCERT REVIEW: Michale Graves at The Irish Wolf Pub

What: Michale Graves - Live

Where: The Irish Wolf Pub
503 Linden St., Scranton, PA, 18503
When: October 8th, 2017

Michael-Graves-01 / Image: DCScranton, Pennsylvania, is known primarily for its association with the NBC TV show The Office and not much else. People from the area also remember the once booming coal industry that employed miners for generations. Scranton is not known for having a prominent musical scene, but Peter Kelly, owner of The Irish Wolf Pub, at 503 Linden St. Scranton, PA, has spent the last 7 years trying to change that by hosting traveling bands and local acts on a weekly basis and booking bands from the horror genre like The Independents, Cut Up Naked Teenagers, and Redneck Nosferatu. On December 3rd, 2016, Michale Graves graced the area with a stripped down acoustic set at Ale Mary’s (126 Franklin St. Scranton, PA) ,and on October 8th, 2017, The Irish Wolf Pub hosted Michale Graves as he returned with his full band.
The Irish Wolf Pub is a small venue across from the courthouse in downtown Scranton. This is the type of venue people remember visiting because the crowd is as much a part of the show as the band is. The small stage raises the artists only a few inches above the crowd, which keeps them in the center of the madness and creates an intense and intimate way to experience a concert. The friendly staff and open stage and bar area allow patrons to always be in the middle of what's going on. No backstage means the band walks through the mob of fans to reach the stage allowing everyone to interact on a level most venues don’t offer.

The show started around 8 o’clock and featured incredible performances by local acts Death Wish Birdie and Black Hole Heart, both definitely worth checking out. After a brief sound check, bassist Christopher Dean, guitarist Loki, drummer Tony Baptist and front-man Michale Graves work their way through the crowd towards the stage. Donning his skull paint Michale Graves kicked the show off with a powerful rendition of his track Bedlam, from the 2016 record When Worlds Collide, easily one of my favorite albums to date, before breaking out the expected Misfits classics.

Michael-Graves-02 / Image: DCListening to the Michale Graves band’s renditions of The Misfits' American Psycho / Famous Monsters era hits in this setting, pressed close to the stage with the mosh pit in full swing behind me, I felt more involved than I did standing in Douglas Park watching the original Misfits. This wasn’t a show for money or to sell out venues, this was strictly talented artists performing music they love for fans who couldn’t get enough. No one threw water at us for trying to get pictures, and Michale didn't break off the show to ramble about his hatred for the Kennedy family. (“It's 2017, Glenn, there's got to be, like, only one Kennedy left alive at this point and I doubt he cares what you think.”). The Michale Graves band covered the gambit of his musical career, performing songs from Punk Rock Is Dead (2005), Return To Earth (2006) and Illusions (2007) as well as the track “Seasons Of The Witch” (2003) from their Gotham Rd days. The highlight of the set list for me that night was watching the band perform “3 Days ‘til Dawn”, also from When Worlds Collide.
As the show began to wind down, Michale announced to the crowd they would play three more songs and end the show. He stated their egos didn’t need boosting from the walk back onstage and finish their set. The very real approach was refreshing and different from the typically portrayed rock star persona. The show came to a close with powerful versions of “Helena and Dig Up Her Bones”. and the band walked off stage to the back of the bar to sign autographs and meet the fans. Just like when I saw him in December, Michale Graves seemed genuinely interested to interact with his fans. The rest of the band hung around to bullshit with those of us who had attended. Michale Graves is an expert frontman and has crafted an incredible backing band and I, on behalf of Scranton, PA, would like to thank them for taking the time to give this area one hell of a show and let him know that we hope they come back through again.
Be sure to follow the band online:
And if you're ever in the area, stop by The Irish Wolf Pub for a killer time!Michael-Graves-03 / Image: DC
Posted by Dom Calzola in EVENT REVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CONCERT REVIEW: Danzig (2017)

CONCERT REVIEW: Danzig (2017)

In late 2015, Glenn Danzig said he would no longer tour.
My first and only time seeing Danzig had been about a month before he made that announcement. The security at the show was over the top; the performance was underwhelming. I was still grateful to have finally seen the heavy metal legend and punk rock deity.
At a festival in 2017, Danzig played Danzig 3: How the Gods Kill in its entirety. Afterwards he announced a short fall tour for his new album, Black Laden Crown, with Corrosion of Conformity. There was a date at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, half an hour away from me. The forces of evil had showed benevolence. I couldn't believe my luck.Danzig ticket
The local opener was MOROS, an apocalyptically bleak heavy metal band from Philadelphia. Like Shining from Sweden, suicide is the motif of their music and merchandise. They were abysmal in a good way.
Next was Mutoid Man. Two members of the trio are in renowned metalcore bands but the songs they played were equal parts hardcore punk and doom metal. Singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky's stage presence is like a toned-down Devin Townsend singing for Red Fang.
Corrosion of Conformity reunited with vocalist Pepper Keenan two years ago and their set was mostly made up of the southern rock-influenced sound that he brought to the band when they were originally hardcore punk. They played four songs from Deliverance, their most successful album and their first album to feature Keenan on lead vocals, as well as the exuberant single “Who's Got the Fire” from America's Volume Dealer. In the middle of their set, they did revisit their punk sound and attitude when they played “Vote With a Bullet,” an aggressive, politically-charged song that didn't divide people but brought them together in the mosh pit.
Danzig autograph albumCorrosion of Conformity ended their set with “Clean My Wounds” and took down their banner, leaving the iconic horned skull logo snarling down at an eager audience. The band took the stage and started things brutally with “SkinCarver.” A mosh pit instantly broke out next to us. The audience responded with just as much intensity to “Twist of Cain,” a classic from the first Danzig album. After that was “Devil on Highway 9,” a fast-paced song from Black Laden Crown that grabs you and drags you along with it. You can hear Danzig's age in his vocals on the new album but that was barely noticeable at this show. He followed the new song with “Her Black Wings” from the second album and five songs from How the Gods Kill, including the chilling title track, with Danzig sounding just like he did on the recordings. After the sinisterly catchy live staple “Dirty Black Summer,” he played “Last Ride,” the somber single from the new album. There were several older songs before his most popular song, most inescapable song, “Mother.”
The band left the stage but quickly came back. The encore was the darkly sensuous “She Rides” and biting, blasphemous “Snakes of Christ.”
Danzig autograph pictureWe went outside to wait by the bus afterwards. Danzig is almost impossible to meet anymore but we decided to test our luck along with about thirty other people. Maybe a half an hour after the show ended, Glenn came outside and went to his bus but waved to the crowd and said he would sign soon. His bodyguard explained that everyone needed to line up and then he would take people two at a time to the bus where he would take their items onto the bus for Glenn to sign but he wouldn't be meeting anyone. That system worked fairly efficiently and we met Danzig's drummer, Johnny Kelly (formerly of Type O Negative), while waiting to get our stuff signed.
All of the bands put on great shows and it was an amazing experience made even better since it was an opportunity I never thought I would have.
Posted by Laura D. James in EVENT REVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Monster Mania 37

CON REVIEW: Monster Mania 37

Event: Monster Mania 37
Location: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Date: Saturday, August, 19, 2017

It’s 10:15 am, and I have arrived for what will become my fourth time to Monster Mania horror convention. The guest list was actually pretty decent this time around, and I always look forward to seeing my horror family and friends who attend regularly. As I pull in front of the hotel, I'm automatically routed through the parking lot, past what was a free parking lot of a closed on the weekend business plaza but is now a $15.00 pay to park ripoff. Well, that shit ain't going to fly with me, so I ended up about three blocks away. My choice, but honestly, I think having to pay to park now is a pretty shitty deal. Onward to the CON!!
Aside from honestly wanting to see the faces of old friends, I had an agenda. You see, House of Tortured Souls - after much waiting and pulling of hair - finally has merchandise. T-SHIRTS!!! I had one on (looking awfully dapper, I must add), and the three that I brought with me were spoken for. Two were for the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia. How could I present a shirt to only one of them? The final shirt was slotted for ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian. I was on a mission from God!
Monster Mania, I am here! The lobby held the usual handful of stragglers and lines already formed for certain celebrities. I made my way through the lobby to the ticket table to pay. Now I understand conventions and also understand a large percentage of the staff is comprised of volunteers. I could only hope the two not so pleasant ladies I encountered were volunteers and not representatives of the convention itself. No eye contact, no verbal greeting of any kind, didn't even ask how many. As a matter of fact, I actually had to get their attention, not that they were busy, but they just didn't care. It was as if I was placing a food order - although at least at a fast food joint, the employees would have acknowledged me. After I got my wrist band from Ms. Happy, off I went.
The layout is always the same, and in my opinion, is done quite nicely. Having to go from one end of the building and through the always crowded lobby to get to the main celebrity room can be a pain if you’re in a hurry - and especially so if the hallway leading to the celebrity rooms is packed with people waiting in lines that have been formed to keep the main room operable. So it works, no one to blame, it's a busy place. And when it's busy, and in the middle of August, it tends to get a bit warm and the air conditioners just can't seem to handle the demand. Again, no one's fault.
After getting my wrist band, I headed over to the main celebrity room to find where the lovely Soska sisters were. To my surprise, they hadn't even shown up yet, and there were only about 10 people in line for them. So I became number 11. They didn't show up for about 45 minutes, but I really didn't mind because I waiting next to Ms. PJ Soles, who was already hard at it, working alone. An autograph and picture combination was only $20.00! I wish more were like that. She had a good, constant line going, and everyone - including her - seemed to be having a good time! For those of you who know me, I've always said that PJ Soles is the nicest lady you would ever want to meet.
At last the Soskas came out and were cheery and loving to everyone there! Of all the celebrities I have been fortunate enough to meet, I've got to say that the Soska sisters are by far the most energetic and appreciative of the people who come to see them. When it was my turn at bat, before I could even say hello, they were literally on the table giving me a hug. Everyone got a hug. I told them of the website and presented EACH of them (lol) with a t-shirt, sticker, and business card for House of Tortured Souls. Jen read off my phone number to me and said, “Halloween will be here and I will be pretty busy, as you can imagine, but don't be surprised if I do call”. She gave me her email address and told me to reach out to her for the interview I had mentioned earlier. The two of them offered to do a video promo with the shirts I gave them, hugged me again, and I was gone. It was a pleasure and honor to have had the opportunity to meet them. So that's one – or two! - down.
I made my way back through the now heavily crowded ticket area and lobby to get to one of other celebrity rooms on my way to meet Scott Ian!! I have been a big fan of Anthrax since....8th grade? I've seen them numerous times in concert but have never actually met any of them, so this was a really big deal to me - especially since Scott is a horror fan himself. I walked straight through the room and right up to his table where, to my surprise, there is not one person there to see him. I smiled, introduced myself, and explained the website and how he was part of my mission. I inquired about trying to set up an interview, and without even looking at me, he said simply, "Contact my label". Nevertheless, I presented him with his shirt, also with card and sticker, and he quickly handed it to the person that was with him and it was out of sight. I had to think quickly as his attention wasn't on me and he didn't seem to even want to be there. I asked if I could grab a picture of him just holding up the t-shirt. Sadly, he gave me this look and said simply, "Yeah, I really don't like to do that". Before I could feel like any more of a loser (since I now felt completely destroyed), I shook his hand and thanked him for his time, turned, and casually walked away. Maybe he had a bad morning, maybe there was no hot water in his shower, or maybe his breakfast was cold. Who knows? There could have been a million different things that might have been wrong with Mr. Ian that morning. After talking to others about him later, they all said how much fun he was the night before. Well, he is a rock star, and they usually don't do mornings. What was I thinking? What I was thinking was that he was there for his fans, and despite what issues may or may not have been, he was supposed to be there for his fans. I am still a fan, but I do wish things had been different. He was just very unreceptive. Oh well...
I then made my way through the now pretty damn crowded venue and skimmed through all the vendors. Sooooo many vendors… I truly wish I had a lot more money to spend on because I wanted it all - from t-shirts to action figures to DVDs and custom, handmade crafts! And yes, although you will find a lot of the same items at some vendor tables, there are still many unique items that you just don't find anywhere other than at cons.
I especially loved these awesome shadowboxes from Curious Goods.Halloween and Trick 'r Treat shadowboxes
I did have the pleasure of running into a good handful of friends, and it was, as always, great to geek out with all of them. Then, I looked past them to see a dark figure in the distance, a man with a certain presence about him. It was the one and only Father Evil. Father is a good friend of mine personally and I always look forward to seeing him at the show. It's a thrill to see just how far he has come and to know how far he's headed! Lou, to you and Sarah, all our love and support!
Now, from the moment I stepped foot in the lobby, there was something not right...something was amiss. It actually took me a while to put my finger on it, but I suddenly realized what it was. There was next to no cosplay. There were, of course, fans dressed as their favorite horror characters, but there was really no cosplay to be found. This was something that always welcomed me to the con as clowns would at the entrance to the circus big top. And that’s what had been missing all day - the circus! If you’ve ever attended a con, you know that attendees take tons and TONS of pictures with those cosplaying. It really kind of warms you up and gets you in the festive spirit of the convention. Through trusting friends, I found out later that day that the promoters of the Monster Mania wanted all cosplay people to pay even if they were just hanging out in the lobby. Many cosplay people attended and staked out in the lobby, just to add to the party, free entertainment if you will. Were they causing issues? Not that I could tell. Now, for whatever reason is was - be it money alone or what, I really don't know, sadly many have since sworn off returning. This was not just a shame; it was a damn shame. It really seemed to have taken away from the spirit of what I knew to be Monster Mania.
As 2:00 pm neared, I had done just about all there was to do. I hadn't planned on staying late, or even till dark, but to be ready to go at 2:00 pm was just wrong. Something was seriously amiss. I made one last round through the building to say my goodbyes. I stopped and thanked the Soskas again and, while doing so, got to shake hands with Sid Haigas he was passing through. So there’s that.
Please, don't get me wrong. I didn't have a bad time at Monster Mania, and I'm not bashing it. I've seen tons of pictures from others who were there, and they all had a good time. I love horror conventions, and yes, I'm a big boy and understand that things are what you make of them. But there was a different feeling this time around. Here’s hoping next year it’s back to abnormal.Trick 'r Treat shadowbox
Keep It Evil.
Posted by John Roisland in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CONCERT REVIEW: Slayer (28 June 2017)

CONCERT REVIEW: Slayer (28 June 2017)

SLAYER...SLAYER...SLAYER...SLAYER...

Slayer 01 / Image: John RoislandDid I mention SLAYER? Anyone who has ever seen the band live knows this chant oh so well! Many, many months ago, I was fortunate enough to have interviewed BJ McDonnell on a House of Tortured Souls Live podcast. McDonnell, aside being a great guy, was also the director of Hatchet 3 and most recently helmed the Slayer trilogy of music videos, which are combined make a short story and are INCREDIBLE! Well, after the interview, I had mentioned that I wanted to try to interview Slayer for the website, and after a little pushing, he gave me a few names to try. So try and try I did - for months on end. At last, word of Slayer touring surfaced. Long story short, from one name to another name, from one email to a different phone number, I landed my first photo pass for Behemoth, Lamb of God, and FUCKING SLAYER!!!!!! The days couldn't pass quickly enough!!
Friday, July 28, 2017, was the day of the show. Fortunately, I had a pretty decent day at work, so getting out on time was going to be no problem. All I would have to do is get home, get dressed, and head into downtown Baltimore. Just one small problem: FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS! The entire tri-state area got hit with downpours all day. Their promoter kept in touch with me all day, assuring me the show would continue. Guess I should have mentioned, the show was being held at a pavilion on the inner harbor, so weather could have had a huge impact on the show.
So after getting into downtown and saying FUCK YOU to the pavilion parking ($50.00! Ha!), I parked two blocks away in Little Italy (for $3.00). I then walked my ass through the now heavy mist of rain, got to will call, and there it was - my beautiful pass. I had seen Slayer many times growing up, but it was this show, at this moment, that my knees actually shook for a second.
Slayer 02 / Image: John RoislandBy the time I got in, Behemoth had already finished their set, so I pulled out my camera and lined up in between the stage and the barrier that surrounds the stage. Lamb of God came on and put on one HELL of a show!! I’ve always enjoyed them, but truth be known, I wasn't really familiar with a lot of their work. The show they put on made a fan out of me! With photo passes, you’re allowed in a designated area for the first three songs, then out you go so the front row people can enjoy the show without folks in the way.Slayer 03 - Lamb of God / Image: John Roisland
About an hour later, Lamb of God was off the stage, and Slayer’s crew was setting up. The rain stopped, the darkness took over, a cool breeze whipped through the pavilion, and you could hear the chant - ”Slayer! Slayer! SLAYER! SLAYER!!” The other cameramen and myself all lined up to get into our photo op area. The house lights went out, the roar of the crowd grew louder, and the spotlights projected pentagrams on the ceiling. At last - SLAYER had taken the stage.
The entire time I was in the photo area, I had this smile plastered on my face that couldn't have been beaten off my face with a baseball bat. There I was, standing in between Tom Araya and Kerry Fucking King, snapping pictures like a crazed tourist eager to document every moment! I was there...at the stage...closer than anyone else. The music blared, yet I heard nothing. As I mentioned, this was my first opportunity in a photo pass situation, and it was surreal. I’ve been up to - and even on - many stages for many bands through the years, but this was different. Only a few were allowed to go beyond the barrier, and I got the chance to be one of them.
After our songs were over and it was time for me to head out, I did stop and manage to take a selfie of me and Tom Araya as he was singing. I had to! I walked out and stood outside of the crowd on side stage and watched the show, walking around in awe of what I had just achieved - not only for House of Tortured Souls, but also for myself.Slayer 04 / Image: John Roisland
Slayer fucking killed it...as always. The light show was incredible, the sound was awesome, and the line up they played...well, you name it and they slayed it - from new to old. Man I couldn't have been happier. The crowd sang along to all the happy little ditties about God, Satan, war, hatred, violence, and death. I watched over the crowd and saw heads banging, arms flying, and not a single ass in a seat. As I said before, I’ve seen Slayer many times over the years. I am a HUGE fan! Years back, I would have been down in the pit, crowd surfing, or you name it. This time I was glad to have my camera with me and had the chance to watch them for who they are. I was not let down at all.
In between songs as I watched alongside the stage, the crowd screamed, but the band just stood still. Then Tom walked to the mic, hands crossed over his bass, and waited for silence. Watching him stand there, it wasn't a look of arrogance he wore but one of power. And everyone got quiet. It’s hard to explain the powerful presence the band has, but it’s truly amazing to see up close.Slayer 05 / Image: John Roisland
For over 30 years, Slayer has remained true to who they are, and it’s safe to say they ain't never gonna change! Say what you will about other metal bands – bands who may have just tour, but Slayer still reigns. Indeed, they are still the best heavy metal band of all time.Slayer 06 / Image: John Roisland
Will I continue to go see Slayer if they come back around on another tour you ask...YOU BET YOUR ASS!!
Keep it Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in EVENT REVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CONVENTION REVIEW: Days of the Dead – 2017 Indianapolis, IN

CONVENTION REVIEW: Days of the Dead – 2017 Indianapolis, IN

DotD / Courtesy ZomieGurl-DaysoftheDead Indy 2017.
ZombieGurl (far left) with Eileen Dietz and fellow con-goers Kim (far right) and Maria (back).
This past July I was able to represent House of Tortured Souls at the awesome Days of the Dead convention in Indianapolis, IN. It was my second time volunteering for this con when they gave me the go ahead to cover it in a more professional aspect and write about it. Let me give you some history about how this con came to be.
Co-founders Adolfo Dorta and Rick Lara used to run a website called From Dusk till Con. In the beginning, DOTD was going to be a Midwest expansion of another well-established horror convention and they had approached From Dusk Till Con about sponsoring an even for that show. However, just a few months after the decision, the original promoter had changed their mind. This caused Mr. Bill Philputt (one of the people putting it together) left without a partner and a hotel space to fill. Adolfo stated, “Rick and I were offered the opportunity to step in as partners in what went on to become Days of the Dead. As huge horror fans who would go to several conventions a year, it was kind of a no brainer.” From there, their first show was held in July 2011 in Indianapolis, IN.
This year’s Indy show was special. It introduced the DOTD Hall of Fame. After years of guests giving their all, the show wanted to give back. The inaugural inductees were Jason Hover (owner of Jabb Pictures), Roddy Piper (RIP), and the legend himself Sid Haig.
Sid Haig, 2017 DoTD Hall of Fame Inductee / Courtesy / ZomieGurl-DaysoftheDead Indy 2017.
Sid Haig - 2017 Days of the Dead Hall of Fame Inductee
Each DOTD con also offers a Chaostume Showdown featuring special guest judges and face off events at times. It can be extreme. They will often pair with tattoo artists to bring you live tattooing. Get your favorite celeb to sign your arm and then get it tattooed. Numerous guest panels, film screenings, vendors/artists, and after parties. In addition to all this, DOTD also collects for local non-profit organizations. The Indy show campaign and food drive, titled DOTD: More Grains, broke their record books. They collected enough nonperishable food to feed approximately 3,000 meals to both people and pets in need in the Indy area.
One regular attraction at these conventions is the sideshow act of Captain and Maybelle - “America's Favorite Sideshow Couple”. They have performed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Americas Got Talent season six, Coney Island, and many other events. I had a chance to ask the beautiful Maybelle what they thought of working with Days of the Dead, her response was perfect, “DOTD is a place for like-minded horror fans to come together and enjoy diverse entertainment, panels, shop unique vendors, and meet a broad spectrum of celebrity guests. We enjoy connecting with our fan base and expanding our brand across the country with people who truly appreciate SHOCK!" You can visit their site at Captain & Maybelle: America's Favorite Sideshow Couple!.
Captain and Maybelle / Courtesy https://captainandmaybelle.com.
Captain and Maybelle - seven sword and balloon swallow
Days of the Dead now occupies five cities a year: Louisville, KY; Indianapolis, IN; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; and Chicago, IL. And, between me and you and all their fans, I wouldn’t expect it to stop there. If you get a chance to check it out, let us know. I will be attending the Louisville show for sure and can’t wait to share my experiences with you all.
Happy Nightmares!
ZombieGurl
Posted by ZombieGurl in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Fear Fete (2015)

CON REVIEW: Fear Fete (2015)

By Dixielord

This year was my second year to attend the Fear Fete in Biloxi, Mississippi. I came across the show almost by accident last year, and enjoyed myself enough to come back the second year. Sadly work obligations led me to only being able to attend on Saturday, but it was still a fun weekend.

Wishmaster's Andrew Divoff at Fear Fete

Andrew Divoff at Fear Fete

Fear Fete is a smaller convention, nothing (crowd wise) compared to more nationally known shows such as Monster Mania, or Texas Frightmare, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun show. There is a real atmosphere here of fun. The people running the show seem to work hard to make sure both the fans and celebrity guests are having a good time.

This year the guest list consisted of Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th), Brutus Beefcake (WWE), Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster), Sid Haig (The Devil's Rejects), Robert Kurtzman (special effect on Tusk) and others. I was able to meet both Andrew and Robert for the first time this year and both were really cool and friendly. While I have met Sid Haig before, it is hard to pass the man up when he's at a show. Sid is the poster child of how to be a great convention guest. Still 20 dollars, still free table pictures, that my friends is showing how much you love your fans. If you happen to read this Sid, you are the greatest man, much respect.

Me and Sid Haig at Fear Fete

Film legend Sid Haig at Fear Fete

Besides the celebrities there was a nice gathering of vendors selling everything from Jewely, to DVDs to Funko Pops. I ended up picking up a handful of Pops from the Three Alarm Comics table and wanting a lot more. They had the NYC Comic con exclusive Cthulhu Pop fer crissake!

Also there again this year was the crew from Horse Creek Productions, promoting their movie Dollface. Dollface was part of the Fear Fete film festival last year, as Dorchester's Revenge and where it won best picture. After a name change it is now available on DVD and Amazon VoD, I picked up a DVD copy for myself, autographed by the crew. It was cool to hang out with director Tommy Faircloth, and actress Elizabeth Mears again, and to meet the rest of the cast in attendance.

Just like last year, Fear Fete had a film festival, free for people attending the show. The one movie I was most looking forward to was Valley of the Sasquatch (You know I love Bigfoot movies). Sadly it was a victim to my shitty work schedule that week, but I did get to talk to one of the stars, Jason Vail, who was at the Horsecreek table. I did get to attend the Wishmaster screening and panel with director Robert Kurtzman and Andrew Divoff. It's been a while since I have last seen Wishmaster and had forgotten what an awesome cast of horror icons it contained. Then hearing Andrew Divoff do the voice afterward was priceless.

KNB Effect's Robert Kurtzman at Fear Fete

Robert Kurtzman of KNB Effects and Yours Truly at Fear Fete

There's always too much to do at conventions, and no way to do everything. I really wanted to make a whole weekend at Fear Fete, but it wasn't too be. So I didn't get to go to the zombie pub crawl, or the zombie survival experience and missed a lot of panels and movies. However there is always next year and I think Fear Fete is going to continue to grow. Hopefully, I'll catch you there next year.

Posted by Allen Alberson in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

CON REVIEW: Motor City Nightmares Delivers

REVIEW: Motor City Nightmares Inaugural Halloween Horror Show 2015

By Amy Lynes

MCN Poster

Art by Jeff Zornow

Since 2010, I have been attending the Motor City Nightmares annual convention (always held in April at the Sheraton in Novi, Michigan) and it always a fantastic time. I always come home with some killer additions to add to my ever growing collection of autographs and collectibles as well as many fond memories of the weekend and the people I have met and the hangovers I have conquered.

The guests lists are always incredible - I have met MANY celebrities that have been longtime icons to me over the years - thanks to Todd and Tommy Brunswick and their efforts. They work very hard throughout the year to ensure that everyone from celebrity guests and convention attendees to vendors all have a great time.

Forgotten

Forgotten Photography

In addition to meeting all the fantastic genre favorites (such as Jeffrey Combs, Heather Langenkamp, Doug Bradley, PJ Soles, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman, Ken Foree, the cast of The Return of Living Dead and MCN favorites Dee Wallace and Kane Hodder), I have also made some lasting friendships with some badass people that I adore and have TONS in common with. People that I actually miss seeing throughout the rest of the year and look forward to meeting up with again in April. And I can't stand most people, so that's saying something.

There is more to it than just meeting celebrities and getting autographs, though. The panels are always awesome and a lot of fun. I have seen some great ones at Motor City Nightmares. (The Devil's Reject's, Return of the Living Dead, and The Frighteners are among my favorites.) There are workshops for filmmakers, SFX artists, and screenwriters, as well as a film festival that runs through the weekend. The vendors are all either extremely talented at their trades or are well stocked in most of the merchandise they carry. Stuff that most horror fans are looking for, and it's all priced to sell. I've found some truly fantastic items to add to my various collections at Motor City Nightmares, and I didn't even come close to putting myself into debt doing it.

Alex MCN

There are also raffles and costume contests that offer up some spectacular prizes. And the costume contest entries? WOW! Some of the best cosplay I've seen has been at Motor City Nightmares. There is some seriously phenomenally and breathtaking work to be seen.

After things wind down for the day, there are always after parties on Friday and Saturday nights, and the place gets ridiculously insane. And so do some of the celebrities. There is plenty of craziness and sometimes debauchery for everyone. I have seen some crazy things at Motor City Nightmares parties. (You haven't seen anything until you see Boyd Banks rock his face off so hard that you have to rescue his phone when it flies out of his pocket like a projectile missile because he's headbanging so fucking hard.) I am telling you, the festivities and libations rage on All. Night. Long. This past April, I woke up still drunk BOTH Saturday and Sunday mornings. Motor City Nightmares April 2015, was a rough one, folks. But much fun was had by all...

Tyler Mane

Tyler Mane AKA Michael Myers Rob Zombie's Halloween

So this year, we got lucky and the team behind Motor City Nightmares, Todd and Tommy Brunswick, decided to put on a second show. From what I gathered from speaking with Tommy Brunswick is that this. too, will become an annual event just like the April show, and plans have already begun for the fall show in 2016.

Unfortunately, there were several cancellations, with Daeg Faerch, Hannah Hall, Rochelle Davis, and Derek Mears all being unable to make it. However, there were still plenty of celebrity guests to meet and converse with. Todd Farmer, Bai Ling, Costas Mandylor, Fred Williamson, William Forsythe, Scout Taylor Compton, Jordan Ladd, and the ladies of The Evil Dead, Betsy Baker, Ellen Sandweiss, and Theresa Tilly were among those in the house, and each and every last one of them was nice, friendly, and outgoing.

Even though it was a much slower weekend than what is normally seen in April, everyone had a great time. Todd and Tommy really do find the greatest guests. This inaugural show was a little smaller than the April affair, but this was also the same weekend as the Horrorhound convention in Indiana. Traffic was a little slower and, because of that, it was a little more personal with the celebrities this time around. Granted, that could have also been because I had already met a few of the featured guests - I had already made the acquaintance of Alex Vincent, Tyler Mane (and his lovely wife Renae Geerlings), Jeff Zornow, and Hal Delrich, at prior conventions so there was a little familiarity there and almost kind of like we knew each other already.

From Hell

Grand Rapids area metal band FROM HELL

The after parties and the bands that played were all awesome. On Friday night there was a killer metal band from Grand Rapids, MI. called FROM HELL and they were fucking awesome. Let me tell you, if you haven't heard the metal version of "MIssissippi Queen" yet, you simply have not lived.

 

Basically, the weekend was like a mellow, laid back version of the craziness that is April's Motor City Nightmares, but all the awesomeness of the weekend was still there. I will definitely be going back for Motor City Nightmares 2.0 again next fall, and I look forward to it. If you are in Michigan, anywhere near it or can afford to travel to it, I cannot recommend this convention enough. Go and have a blast. I always do! And if you spot me in the crowd, feel free to come and introduce yourself.

Tommy and I

Convention Organizer Tommy Brunswick and me

Posted by Amy Mead in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Scares That Care 2 (2015)

CON REVIEW: Scares That Care 2 (2015)

By Dixielord

During the last week of July a horror convention took place in Williamsburg, VA. Now horror conventions are nothing new, you can find one somewhere almost every week, but this one was a little different. This was the Scares That Care 2 weekend, a horror convention founded to let horror fans “give back” by donating all of the proceeds of the weekend to sick and needy families. This was the second year of the convention in Williamsburg and it was successful enough that a third convention has already been announced for 2016.

Tiny LesterA little bit of information about Scares That Care for those who don't know. It was founded by Indy film director Joe Ripple back in 2006. The organization at first raised money by auctions and vending at other conventions. The money raised was then distributed to other charities such as the Make A Wish foundation and the Johns Hopkins Children's Cancer Wing. Once the charity received its 501c certification from the IRS, it began to disburse the money it collected directly to families in need. Since its founding it has raised and donated over $75,000 dollars.

In 2014, Scares That Care held its first horror convention in historic Williamsburg, Va. It included celebrities from the horror genre including Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), and the cast (and car) from Christine. There were also vendors, karaoke, movies, and a costume contest. The show was successful enough to return in 2015 with an even bigger and more ambitious show.

TongueI was lucky enough to attend both the 2014 show and the 2015, and in full disclosure I am partial to the show and the charity. I have volunteered with the charity for several years, and worked as a volunteer staff at the show on Saturday. That being said, I have been to dozens of shows in 13 different states and I can honestly say this is a great, well run show and the most fun I have had at a convention. Scares that Care strives to be a family friendly show, with a little something for everyone, while keeping prices as low as possible.

The biggest draw, and the staple of conventions is the celebrity autograph room. Unfortunately conventions always come with the danger that announced celebrities can cancel, sometimes with little or no warning. The Scares that Care show was hit hard early with numerous cancellations including Tawny Kitaen and Billy Drago. The promoters worked hard and announced several replacements including Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3) and others. Then a few days before the show another wave of cancellations including fan favorites Kane Hodder and Ken Foree happened with no time for replacement celebs for the show.

Still the show must go on, and Scares that Care opened with a still impressive list of celebrity signers including Tiny Lister (Friday), Piper Laurie (Carrie), Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy), Sid Haig (The Devil's Rejects), and many more. Prices were very reasonable with most celebrities charging $25 dollars, with a few (including Sid Haig) charging $20 and only one (Kim Coates) charging $40. Table photos were free with a autograph purchase for pretty much all the celebrities. All the stars I met were wonderful, fan friendly, and seemed genuinely happy to be there.

It's not all about the celebrities that you see on television and movies, though, at Scares that Care. With the help of author Brian Keene, the convention is quickly developing a reputation of being a friend of horror authors. There was a large contingent of authors signing and selling their books, as well as giving readings from their work. Authors in attendance this year included Brian Keene himself, as well as Johnathon Janz, Thomas Montelone, Kelli Owen, and many others.

kids preparing to trick or treatThe other component of all good conventions is the vendors area. Because of the hotel layout, besides a main vendors room, there was also an upstairs vendor area. Vendors who chose this area were able to rent a room to themselves, allowing for a larger space for their wares, and the ability to lock the room door after hours. It did come at a price of being a bit harder to find than the main vending room. Walking through the area you could find anything from prop weapons to tarot card readings. Inside the main area you could find the usual horror staples, of DVDs, fangs, and artwork as well as everything from horror themed pillows to children's books.

Vendors and celebrities are the meat and potatoes of conventions, but there was so much more at Scares that Care. In the bar area there was Scaryoke for three straight nights starting Thursday night. Friday and Saturday night there were live acoustic musical sets by William Bozarth and Benjamin Samedi.

In efforts to keep the show for the whole family, there was a trick or treat parade during the day on Saturday. The children and their parents were lead through the rooms, where they were able to trick or treat at the tables, ending up back at the will call area where a big bag of candy was divided among the children participating.

Scares that Care weekend wasn’t just for the kids though. On Friday night, there was a burlesque dance seminar and class for the ladies only taught by the beautiful Gia Nova. Sadly, no amount of begging could convince them to let me audit the class. On Saturday night, Gia Nova performed her horror themed burlesque act for a packed audience.

Gia Nova juggling fireThe costume contest allowed kids of all ages to break out their best costumes, both home made and store bought. Cosplay, which is more than an anime and sci fi convention staple is become more popular at horror conventions as well. While most horror conventions have a contest, more and more you are seeing the average conventioner show up dressed as his favorite villain or hero from a horror classic. In order to help keep the show safe and fun for everyone Scares that Care has adopted the Cosplay is Not Consent principle. It's sad people have to be reminded of this, but it's important that shows do provide a safe environment for costumers.

Add to all this, a film festival, all volunteer haunted house, silent auction, seminars, and panels and you have a full show with something for everyone. Did I mention the promoter karaoking Sex Bomb while wearing a pink bra to help raise money? For me, no show is compete without after hour drinking and fun. It's a time to get together with old friends, meet new friends and have a great time with little drama. The atmosphere all weekend was laid back and peaceful and just fun.

It would be totally remiss to not mention the hotel, the Double Tree Wyndam in Williamsburg. The hotel and its staff have been beyond accommodating to the Scares that Care staff and guests. I met several young ladies on staff who were excited to get to meet Kim Coates on Saturday.

Finally, it was announced on August 5th, that this years convention raised a total of $13,000 for the charity. There will be other small events during the year before the check presentations in October. As a fan of horror conventions, I am glad that Scares that Care provides a great convention experience and a fun time. Beyond that though, I am happy that it allows fans a chance to give back, to help those less fortunate than us. I'll be eagerly waiting for next year's show on July 22 and I hope to see you there.

Special thanks to my friends Robert Tongue, Jennifer Hall, and Alfred Guy for the use of their photos.

STC

Posted by Allen Alberson in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments