Horror Convention

CON REVIEW: ScareFest, Lexington, KY, 2018

CON REVIEW: ScareFest, Lexington, KY, 2018

Over the weekend, I ventured out on an 8-hour drive to attend ScareFest in Lexington, KY. The celebrity guests included Tobin Bell ( Saw and Jigsaw), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), Jonathan Breck (Jeepers Creepers), Shawnee Smith (The Blob (1988)), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist), and many more.

The crowd of fans from all over came in very excited and ready for an amazing weekend. It is great to see fellow horror fans — especially the younger crowd — come together and show support to the celebrities of their favorite films. There were many fans with awesome cosplay from Twisty the Clown (American Horror Story), Pinhead (Hellraiser), various clowns (including Pennywise), and a lot of Michael Meyerses.

Pinhead/Sarah Gregory

The con was hosted at The Lexington Convention Center, which was very spacious. There was one main room which held all the guests and vendors making it very easy to navigate. Staff were very friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable, and if for some reason they didn’t have the right answer to your question, they made sure to find someone who did.

Saw/Sarah Gregory

With any con, there are negatives and positives, and ScareFest was no exception. My only negative comment would be that the website was a little confusing with how to purchase photo op tickets. I felt that it took a bit to search to discover how to obtain them. They had a list of the scheduled times, but I did not see anywhere to make a purchase. The only celebrities on the main page were Tobin Bell and Cassandra Peterson. Again, this is the only thing I saw that could maybe use a tweaking. Other than that, the positive part would be that the rest of my experience was a great time. The panels and movie times were right on schedule, and anything that was canceled was communicated over the loudspeaker.

ScareFest/Sarah Gregory

With the con weekend having to come to an end, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and reconnecting with other friends I met from previous cons as well as with getting to meet Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Barbie Wilde (Hellraiser II), and Shawnee Smith (The Stand). ScareFest is one down in my books, and I would gladly attend again.

Overall experience: B+

Posted by Sarah Gregory in EVENT 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
ELVIRA EVERYWHERE!

ELVIRA EVERYWHERE!

By John Roisland

Cassandra Peterson as Elvira / Fair use doctrine.

It's hard to believe it has been 35 years since a lovely redheaded woman entered the entertainment world and changed everything as we knew it - especially the horror industry - by introducing to us her character better known as Elvira Mistress of the Dark!
Elvira has been loved, seen, and adored by millions for over three decades now. From low-budget horror flicks to starring in her own films, Elvira's character brings to the world a bubbly bombshell whose quirky one liners and curvaceous body sky rocketed her to instant notoriety in the horror realm and later in the entertainment industry as a whole. She been photographed more times than anyone probably even knows. Day and night, 12 months a year, blood sweat and tears Cassandra worked her character to the point where she became an icon. I think it is safe to say she has graced us with a character who has become the Queen of Horror.

And with that being said, I can't think of any better time of year than the autumn or Halloween season for Funko Pop to announce their Elvira doll. The doll will stand 3-3/4 inches tall and will be displayed in a window box that matches the other Funko Pop vinyl dolls. This is a must for any serious collector of either Elvira or the horror genre. I, for one, am a collector, and I'll definitely be adding this one whether it goes on my shelf, my desk, or even glued to the dashboard of my car... I will have it!!

Funko Pop Elvira / Fair use doctrine.

And the fun doesn't stop there, Elvira is also releasing a photo album containing over 300 pictures, many of which have never even been seen by the public eye yet. Having seen some images that are included in the book, I was very pleased to say that there was actually a picture of Cassandra. A very lovely, beautifully smiled ,sparkling blue eyed Cassandra Peterson. I thought there was a nice touch to include her in Elvira's world... after all, without one where would the other one be. The book, entitled Elvira Mistress of the Dark, was released October 5th. I would definitely say grab it quickly as I have a feeling this one's going to be moving fast.

Cassandra and Elvira, you’ve earned it!

Cassandra Peterson as Elvira / Fair use doctrine.

Having had the opportunity to have met both Cassandra Peterson and Elvira at Spooky Empire Horror Convention in Orlando, FL, some few years ago, I can honestly say that yes, i would be happy to give her my money. Both ladies were a true pleasure to meet, some have said opposite. I say when the lady has worked so hard for so long (and has dealt with certain types because of her appearance), she has the right to a bad day.

Keep It Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, PRODUCT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments

Interview: Lou Avilleira: The Mind Behind FATHER EVIL

By John Roisland

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Many of you have come to him as Father Evil, the lone evil priest who wanders the conventions in search of sinners. Now we take a few moments to meet the man behind the character , Lou Avilleria.

For years now, people have been going to movie and comic conventions and dressing up as their favorite character. Many of the cosplay (as its called) artists, often enjoy many different characters. That wasn't the case for Lou, he found and created Father Evil, and the world has quickly come to know his name!

I first met Lou online, and we quickly became good friends. I think it was a little over a year later that I then met Father Evil in person at Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It was a thrill! What a showman! I look forward to see both Lou and Father Evil soon at upcoming events, ...but I must be honest, of all the celebrities that may be in attendance,...Lou is actually more exciting to meet.

Lou is a loving husband and very proud father. He hails from the Garden State of New Jersey, where he balances his family life, and the life he created as Father Evil. Doing many guest appearances in local events, Lou has also be seen doing the tri-state area conventions. Well he has spread those evil wings and has been seen in conventions as far as Texas and most recently Atlanta, GA.

 

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Lou took a few minutes to give me a short interview to catch us up.

 

House of Tortured Souls: First, Lou, thank you so much for taking the time out of what must a very hectic schedule you are growing into to spend a few moments with House of Tortured Souls.

LA: You're most welcome!

 

HoTS: At what point did you realize that you wanted to join in the cosplay world?

LA: It was around 2010. I went to Chiller Theater with a character I made up over 20 years ago through one of my sketches. It was supposed to be a one time thing...a "goof" but as soon as I showed up, people lost their shit and wanted pics. What really floored me was when a featured guest and Italian director (his name escapes me) flipped his shit and wanted pics as well. He actually excused himself from his fans to take pics of me. I figured if I got his attention I may have something here... and the rest is history. (Mind you it was just a $20 costume from Party City when I first appeared.)

 

HoTS: Upon creating what the world is quickly knowing as Father Evil, how long has it taken you to get to the point of his outfit, look at it, and say "Now, its perfect!"?

LA: Two years. To where I was like okay, this is authentic... But I'm never or will never be done "evolving". It will never be "perfect" in my eyes.

 

HoTS: What other, if any, other cosplay characters had you tried before deciding on Father Evil ?

LA: Never tried any other...I was going to do a vampire, but by that time people we're too engrossed with Father Evil. I even mentioned about cosplaying another character, but one guy said, "No dude, you can't be anything else. You are Father Evil & Father Evil is you."

 

HoTS: Father Evil has become what it seems to be an almost over night sensation. I know you've worked hard, put in lots of hours, and done numerous events to support his character. Did you ever think that he would have gotten such a huge following?

LA: No… nowhere near to what he is now, not at least this fast. I mean I knew that, hey, I got something here but never believed it would be this big, this fast. Never.

 

HoTS: From autographs, to fan photos, to celebrity photos - at their request, what is the one thing that a fan has done that has just put you over the top, to where you can't really believe it just happened?

LA: When a fan got a tattoo of Father Evil. I was like, “I don't even have a movie or comic, yet. Did this really just happen?” I was BLOWN away to be at that status.

 

HoTS: On the same note of dealing with fans, at the end of the day, when you're out of costume, do you ever just sit and think, "Is this really happening to me?"

LA: Yes, every other day.

 

HoTS: I've seen people swarm to Father Evil, I've seen them run scared from you, with your outfit being that of an evil priest. My question is have you ever encountered any, let's say, religious fanatics scolding you or, on the flip side, any individuals, from, let's say, the dark church approach you?

LA: No… nothing negative, nasty stares but nothing verbal. Maybe they're too scared. Who knows? I have met three Baptist pastors, and all wanted a pic. One said I was "grotesquely beautiful ".

 

HoTS: So I hear there is really big news in the work for Father Evil. Care to fill us in?

LA: Graphic novel. That's all I'm going to say... for now.

 

HoTS: Lou, you are a hard working man. You have a gorgeous family. How do you balance time between Lou and Father Evil?

LA: When I'm on vacation, Father Evil stays home. When I'm not doing something in the convention scene or hosting, I'm just a dad who loves to play with his kid.

 

HoTS: In closing, Lou, thank you so much for your time. We all wish you the absolute best with Father Evil and hope to see you soon. Is there anything you like to say to the readers of House of Tortured Souls?

LA: If you have an idea for something, do it. No matter how crazy it may sound, do it. I read a quote by Henry Rollins that really spoke to me and basically it speaks for itself here it goes… "There is no such thing as downtime, spare time, or part time all you have is lifetime. GO !!!"

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in INTERVIEWS, 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

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 the 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, The 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 Alan Smithee 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