Nothing like the thrill of anticipation, you know? Yes, it’s great when what you’ve been looking forward to for weeks, nay, months, is finally staring you in the face, but the anticipation is really where it all seems like nothing can go wrong.
But with Fear Fest, as with any first-time venture, things didn’t go down without some problems or hiccups, but I’m happy to say it did go down really well and literally everyone I’ve talked to about it said they had a damn good time and it sure as hell didn’t feel like a first show. Of course maybe that’s because we were face to face… but I like to think they meant it.
We showed up late Thursday night to the welcome of Sean Clark, Dread Central correspondent, creator of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds and one of the co-conspirators who made Fear Fest possible. We had an early night since we had traveled and had a show to set up the next morning, but it was nice to just chill a bit before the storm that we were afraid of really kicked in.
After an all-day setup that included finding 110 tablecloths for the dealer tables (it’s always those little things…), we threw the doors open at 6pm on Friday and all in all I think it went very well; we had a good attendance considering it was just celebrity guests and dealer tables set up and the stream of people were steady until we shut it down at 11 always a good thing. Of course what went down Friday night after the convention center doors closed is the sort of thing I can’t really write about without getting a lot of people mad at me, but needless to say everyone had a damn good time.
Saturday morning the doors opened at 11 and though there weren’t huge lines queuing outside like we had hoped, especially considering the weather was perfect even though they had been calling for rain all week long, throughout the day we had a steady stream of people coming in, browsing the aisles, buying stuff and sitting in on our incredibly well-run panels. Which had very little to do with me…
You see, Uncle Creepy is a master of panels. Anyone who’s talked to the man or had the chance to listen to a Dinner for Fiends knows that he’s about as charismatic as they come (the guy can make friends with anyone), but in front of a crowd he just plain and simple owns. No matter what panel he was hosting he was into it 100% and was, I have to say, a very tough act to follow. Still, I think I held my own well enough for the few that I did get to host, which included the Feast panel and, later in the day, the Hills Have Eyes 2 panel, but Creepy was like a force of nature up there and I think the crowds really dug that.
Of course the biggest loss of the weekend was Tobe Hooper, who was scheduled to be our Guest of Honor and receive the first of what we hope are many Icon Awards. Due to an ear infection he had to cancel last minute, but we had Hatchet director Adam Green call him up and leave him a voice mail with hundreds of screaming fans cheering for him, a moment I really hope someone got on tape because it was very cool to see. Then Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, was kind enough to accept the award on Tobe’s behalf, so it was still a pretty notable segment of our day.
Saturday night was more of the same, except this time a good contingent of guests took off to either visit Vinnie Paul’s strip club or check out both Texas Chainsaw and Texas Chainsaw 2 back-to-back, which the Pit of Horror folks were putting on. Though I would’ve love to do either/or, I was there to hang out with the DC crew as much as I could since I never get to see them in person, so it was a relatively quiet night all things considered. Of course many things were consumed that may or may not be legal, but it was all in the interest of unwinding with a badass crew of badasses, laws be damned.
The next day was a blur as we had to leave very early, right as David Arquette showed up and shortly before Joe Dante was scheduled to arrive, but that’s what happens when you’re trying to get a flight home that will put you back in your normal, boring, non-rock star life at a reasonable hour. I tell you what, it’s no fun leaving in the middle of a convention for almost any reason, and especially not when it’s one that has your site’s name all over it, but at least I got to leave a packed dealer/celeb room and a Q&A room that was almost standing room only. Never a bad feeling, you dig?
Everyone had a good time, the guests were happy, the hotel was cool (if not very removed from a lot of stuff… what kind of hotel doesn’t have a kitchen but serves a full breakfast every morning?!?) and the general consensus was it was a good first show but we have a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff we can do better next time. And yes, there will be a next time. We don’t know when or where yet, but it will happen… Stay tuned for details!
Now I’m going to turn it over to Creepy for his take on the show. I dare you not to get choked up.
Wow, what a time. Johnny seems to have summed up the weekend’s activities both public and otherwise quite nicely so instead of my own personal rehash, I’d like to briefly cover a few things which unless you were there, you might not have been turned on to. The first was the energy. Out of all the conventions we’ve done, something about this one just gave off some really killer vibes, the most electrifying of which came from you guys. Call it Texas hospitality or whatever you like, but the crowd at Fear Fest was like no other.
I have to admit I was nervous as I had the lion’s share of the panel hosting duties. Getting up and speaking in front of people is one thing. Getting up in front of them and making sure they have a good time is an entirely different deal. But then it happens. You start to know your audience, they start to know you, and -BOOM- the show is on. Horror fans can smell bullshit from a mile away. I should know, I’m about as hardcore as they come. The crowd acknowledged that for me as well as my cohort Johnny Butane. The panels at Fear Fest weren’t being run by suits or some tame smiley jackasses who don’t know the space. The asylum had the inmates in charge this time around. While Johnny did an amazing job hosting, the panels I ran were as R-rated as the material we all love. That’s the only way that I can do them. I hope we gave you guys everything you wanted and more. For the love we were shown when all was said and done, we are eternally grateful. Thank you, Texas. We cannot wait to come back.
Being a horror fan can be scary. Let’s face it, for the past few years we’ve been getting served up heaping helpings of homogenized shit that’s labeled by the powers that be as “horror”. Remakes. PG13-rated teenie-bopper drivel. Glitzy crud without a shred of substance. It’s all been in abundance. As a matter of fact, given the current circumstances, being a horror fan can be goddamned disheartening. Where has all the good stuff gone? The films we grew up loving? The movies that inspired us to love this genre as much as we do? Thankfully at Fear Fest I came to find out that the next crop of horror maestros are alive, well, and ready to unleash that special brand of old school mayhem on the public like a bear trap. I’d like to take this time to let you know who or what you should be looking out for in the very near future.
First up, Ryan Schifrin. Yeah, we have plenty of little white-faced ghost kids, zombies, and semi-neutered slashers running about, but where are the monster movies, man? Where’s my dude in the latex suit? You just never know when fandom will make you do crazy things. Ryan decided while on his honeymoon that he and his lovely wife Theresa should make a Bigfoot movie. Can you imagine? Instead of just makin’ with the fuckin’ like any other couple would be during their special days, these two were putting together the pieces to create what would come to be known as Abominable. The film is a straight-up creature feature with a great beastie and some splattery good moments of gore. While Abominable (review here) is now available on DVD, Ryan let us know that there’s yet more carnage to come. Though he couldn’t give us many details, I can tell you one thing: Whatever it is, I am so fucking there.
Now here’s a surprise. Sometime this year a sequel to Stan Winston’s backwoods mutant opus Wrong Turn is coming direct-to-video. Normally I wouldn’t have given the slightest shit. After all, how many bad movies have come home to us with a numeral at the end of the title? Countless. Yet, Wrong Turn 2 has something else going for it: director Joe Lynch. Joe’s passion and excitement for the project are contagious. After watching the trailer and speaking to this cat, one thing is apparent: He’s the real deal. A throwback if you will. His only concern is making the type of movie that he wants to see — hardcore video nasties we grew up revering! If Joe can deliver even a fraction of what we discussed in person to the screen, then we, the sick, are going to fall in love with it. I never thought I’d say this, but Wrong Turn 2 is way high up on my list of most anticipated films. For more Wrong Turn 2 coverage check out the film’s MySpace page here and our archive here.
Another film that is almost here is Adam Green’s Hatchet (review here). Holy shit. Ya see, now this is what I am talking about! Hatchet is the exact type of kick in the ass that our genre needs. It’s all here: good characters, an entertaining story, and most of all, Kane fuckin’ Hodder completely unleashed and delivering blood-drenched kill after blood-drenched kill after blood-drenched kill. We showed a clip from the film at Fear Fest, and it was so well received, the crowd demanded to see it twice. Of course we obliged! Shit, we wanted to see it again ourselves! Hatchet is an unapologetically violent film that makes no compromises and takes no prisoners. It could very well be one of the best horror films of the year. On September 7th fans will be receiving a gift as Hatchet will be released nationwide. Call your theatres. Tell your friends. Have them call theirs. This is the type of movie that not only needs your support but deserves every bit of it. Don’t fuck up! Do your part! For more Hatchet coverage check out the film’s official site, its MySpace page, and our archive here.
There’s plenty more on the horizon too. For example, we found out at Fear Fest that John Gray’s highly anticipated film, Job (archive here), has finally been picked up (story here) for distribution and will feature Dread Central’s own Joe Knetter as one of the stars; Rudy Scalese, the man behind Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (review here and DVD review here) has a new project under way pertaining to Seventies horror; and much, much more.
You have to admit that’s a lot of stuff to come out of one weekend, no? If Fear Fest taught me anything, it’s that the future of our genre couldn’t be in more capable hands. Rest assured, gorehounds, delightfully dark days are coming.
Many thanks to John Gray, Bill Philputt, Sean Clark, Rich Carlin and his incredible crew from Pit of Horror, the celebrities, and most importantly, the fans for allowing us here at Dread Central to take part in such an amazing event. See you all again.
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