Scares That Care Weekend

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

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