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Famous Monsters Convention Dallas (Event Report)

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I don’t know about you cats, but I love me some Uncle Forry.  Forrest J Ackerman and his magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland were a big part of my youth.  Thankfully, I got out to LA 20 years ago when he was still giving tours of his Ackermansion and got experience the mansion and the man first-hand.

Uncle Forry is gone, but Famous Monsters continues, and they’ve launched this new convention in Dallas starting May of this year.  They’ve done Famous Monsters cons in other states prior to this, but it was the first this side of the Rocky Mountains.

Set only three weeks after the juggernaut that is Texas Frightmare Weekend, this one confused me a bit when it popped up on my radar. Sporting a mix of sci-fi and horror guests and an interesting but scattered mix of events (laser tag? D&D tournament? Lego building?), it seemed to come together quickly.

After speaking to main man Phil Kim, I came to understand there’s a very long story behind the circumstances, and that while the con will be back in Dallas next year, it’ll be closer to Halloween to kick off that season and remain well clear of Texas Frightmare in May.

The great news is this was a fantastic little con.  It was very lightly attended for a number of reasons, but it was extremely well organized and very different from TFW.  Other cons have attempted to compete directly with TFW, and those didn’t last past their first year.  Famous Monsters fills an entirely different niche, sporting a lineup and design that meet the criteria of what Uncle Forry would have wanted.  Forry loved his monsters, but he was also the man who literally coined the term “sci-fi” (it was the license plate on his car, no joke) and had a love for genre films across specific niches like horror, fantasy, or science fiction.

This show had guests as widely ranging as cast members of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” anime voiceover actors, and horror luminaries like Felissa Rose and Sean Cunningham.  Vendors were similarly spread out, with cosplayers seated next to comic artists next to anime posters. Droid makers and Mandalorian cosplay groups mingled with Godzilla costume makers.  An ECTO-1 sat parked next to the hot rods from The Munsters.

The goal seemed to be to bring together fans of ALL genres, which is something Uncle Forry was passionate about.  In his Ackermansion you had a screen-used Cylon from “Battlestar Galactica,” but you also had one of Lugosi’s screen-worn capes and rings from Dracula.  Forry was King Geek, God bless him, and that was the feel of this con.

Some of Famous Monsters’ famous covers

Everyone I spoke to had nothing but positive things to say about the show.  The light attendance was a drag, but that should change next year with a better time frame, different location, and more lead-up time to promote.  Guests told me they were very well taken care of, vendors were pleased with how things were managed, the events were handled very well, and the volunteers were plentiful and well-trained.

I think this will be an excellent addition to the already-busy con schedule in Dallas. Right now it’s Texas Frightmare Weekend and a bunch of general comic cons, with a random corporate con oriented around one fandom or another thrown in.  This should give horror and monster nerds another party every year on the opposite end of the summer from TFW and give sci-fi and fantasy fans a brand new place to mix and mingle.

See you next year!

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Dread Central Assembles Ghost Hunters to Investigate the Winchester Mystery House

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On Friday, February 2nd, Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built arrives in theaters. The film, directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and starring Helen Mirren, is based on actual events.

While many movies claiming to be based on true stories are actually highly fictionalized, that’s not the case this time. The subject, Sarah Winchester was real; the location, a labyrinthine mansion, still stands. And tonight, we’re being given unprecedented access to “The House That Ghosts Built”. Our goal: To determine if the estate deserves its reputation as one of the most haunted locations in America.

While the Winchester Mystery House, as it’s now known, sees visitors almost every day, we’re conducting our investigation after hours—at night. Not only does this opportunity afford us a more intimate experience, we’re being allowed into areas restricted to the general public. We’ve assembled a team of some of the country’s leading paranormal investigators and psychic mediums, who will attempt a variety of techniques in order to detect the supernatural entities long rumored to roam these halls.

Tim Wood is a paranormal investigator and founder of the TV series In Search of the Paranormal which launched in 2006; he’ll be bringing his team members Kristen Manning, a medium who uses her drawing talents to tap into supernatural vibrations, and Patrick Langdon, an investigator who utilizes special cameras to detect paranormal remnants.

Spirit Photography by Patrick Langdon

Tim Meunier is the founder of American Paranormal Investigations as well as the founder of both the Sacramento Horror Film Festival and the bi-annual Sinister Creature Con. Michael B. Chochla is a medium and member of River City Paranormal and Michelle Goyette has been working as a professional spiritualist for over 5 years, specializing in connecting the living with loved ones who have passed over.

The estate is so complex, a previously undocumented room was discovered as recently as 2016, so there’s truly no telling what awaits us within.

We’ll be joined by an on-site historian and a camera crew who will document our entire visit. Whether we come away with answers to some of the Winchester Mystery House’s most enduring secrets remains to be seen, but we’ll be sharing the results of our investigation in the days leading up to the release of Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built. Stay tuned!

About The Winchester Mystery House: “Since 1923 the story of Sarah Winchester and her incredibly peculiar house has fascinated more than 12 million people from around the world who have toured its lonely hallways, dark passages and ornate rooms. Come and be intrigued by this truly American tale with its combination of the beautiful and the bizarre, its narrative of heartbreak, tenacity and invention and its flourishes of the paranormal and spirits.”

Here’s what you can expect on a Mansion Tour“Sarah Winchester was a true woman of independence, drive, and courage who lives on in legend as a grieving widow who continuously built (and built and built) onto her initially small, two-story farmhouse to appease the spirits of those killed by the guns manufactured by her husband’s firearms company.

 “Today you can tour through 110 of the 160 rooms of Sarah’s stately mansion, known around the world as the Winchester Mystery House, and see the bizarre attributes that give the mansion its name; a window built into the floor, stairs leading to ceilings, doors that open onto blank walls, a seeming obsession with the numeral “13,” cobweb motifs, etc.”

You can learn more and buy tickets to tour The Winchester Mystery House, HERE.

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Exclusive: Satanic Sacrifices Live on in This House of Salem Clip

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Tomorrow marks the VOD release of Wild Eye Releasing’s House of Salem, which follows a group of thieves who end up protecting a young boy caught up in a Satanic ritual. If you wish to join them in venturing down a rabbit hole of sacrifice, murder, and demonic forces, we’ve got an exclusive clip that you can watch below.

Written and directed by James Crow, House of Salem stars Jessica Arterton, Jack Brett Anderson, and Liam Kelly.

Synopsis:
A group of kidnappers become a child’s unlikely protectors after discovering they have unwittingly been set up to take part in a satanic ritual. As they begin to uncover the truth of the house they find themselves trapped, they must battle demonic forces and uncover a legacy of over a hundred years of murder in the name of the Devil.

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Hangman starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, and Brittany Snow Blu-ray Specs

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Three of my favorite actors out there right now are Al Pacino, Karl Urban, and Brittany Snow. So you can imagine my excitement when not only was it announced that the three of them were going to be starring in a film together, but said film was going to be a serial killer thriller.

The film is called Hangman and it is all set to hit Blu-ray, DVD, and digital on February 27. You can check out the cover art to the right and the special features, synopsis, and trailer below.

After looking through all of that make sure to let us know how excited you are to own Hangman on Blu-ray.

The film is directed by Johnny Martin based on a script by Michael Caissie, Charles Huttinger, and Phil Hawkins and stars Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Sarah Shahi, Brittany Snow, and Joe Anderson.

Hangman hits Blu-ray, DVD, and digital February 27.

Special features:

  • Al Pacino: Insight from a Hollywood Legend featurette
  • Hangman: In Their Own Words featurette

BUY IT HERE!

Synopsis:

Decorated homicide detective Ray Archer (Al Pacino) and his partner, criminal profiler Will Ruiney, (Karl Urban) are tasked to catch one of the city’s notoriously vicious serial killers who is playing a twisted version of murder using the child’s game… HANGMAN, while crime journalist Christi Davies (Brittany Snow) reports on the crime spree, shadowing the detectives.

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