Bizarre AC II took place June 13-15 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, and Dread Central went down-the-shore to check it out! Here’s our event report plus an overflowing image gallery.
Having traveled to different conventions across the country, I am always searching for that old-school vibe I felt back in the 90’s. I would go to every NYC Weekend of Horrors starting at the age of 14 with my horror-loving father, Joseph Buckley (a man who used to buy Don Post Frankenstein masks from Famous Monsters to scare the kids with in the Heights of Jersey City but would not get the Monster inked on him while in the Navy because he thought it would upset his dad).
Bizarre AC II had that feeling… the feeling of the old ways, the old time when horror was new and everything you saw was not readily available from an online chain store. Lifestyle was key to this event. The room was filled with DIY artists bringing their craft, sculpture, odd antiques, and horror culture to the convention.
Bizarre AC II featured sideshow skits on stage, ink-slinging booths, but very little in the way of DVDs or product you could just purchase on Amazon.com, just like the old days before the Internet, when all we had were Screaming models to paint if we wanted a Hellraiser figure in our homes.
I still have my lady Cenobite painted with great love, as I have told Barbie Wilde, who portrayed her onscreen, before. Wilde was present at Bizarre AC II with her fellow Cenobites (Pinhead: Doug Bradley, Chatterer: Nicholas Vince, and Butterball: Simon Bamford), as was Ashley Laurence (Kirsty) and composer Christopher Young. Wilde, who writes crime fiction, spoke to us about her novel The Venus Complex, which follows the diary of a serial killer. We also discussed the idea of a Clive Barker tarot set and how that is something that needs to manifest sometime soon (Barbie reads them herself).
Young, who is from Red Bank, New Jersey, stopped and chatted with us about the time he heard his Hellbound: Hellraiser II score at the boardwalk haunted house I used to bark at in Seaside Heights. Young recalled the Long Branch haunted house that burned down many years before and, as a lover of dark rides, was excited his soundtrack made it to a Jersey Shore spook house.
The Circus of the Dead folks, Parrish Randall and Chanel Ryan, were present for the screening of an alternate cut of the film. At Texas Frightmare, the film ran over two hours; here they were showing the 90-minute cut. I sent my friends in to watch the screening since I already saw it in Texas with almost the full crew and made sure that they cheered when they saw my name in the credits because I was on the FX crew for a short time.
I was also reunited with Steampunk Works, who curated the vintage costuming for Syfy’s upcoming movie Dead Still, which I appear in (for a bit) and for which I supervised the FX shop. They showed me Ray Wise’s cape from the film, which they had on the rack for sale, along with lots of other oddities to purchase.
We made our way to veteran actor Joe Turkel (Lloyd the bartender in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner) to hear stories about the making of The Shining. Kubrick’s legendary and infamous attention to detail led him to replace the film’s ashtrays because they were not the right year (which Kubrick recognized on sight), and he stopped filming to fire the original out-of-focus background jazz band because they did not look like they were playing the instruments properly. Turkel said Kubrick had “The Eye” and knew when every detail was right and when any were off. The jazz band of non-musician extras was then replaced with the best actual musicians the production could find locally, even though no music was actually played live—all this to achieve authenticity and the “correct look” for the ballroom scene in The Shining. As Kubrick once said of his seemingly inexhaustible attention to every minute element of his films: “You either care, or you don’t.”
Turkel asked me, of all the films he’d acted in, which was my favorite? I replied that Blade Runner had the most influence on cinema and what could beat playing Tyrell? (“I want more life, Father!”), but if I had to choose, it would be The Shining, an obsessively-wrought artifact of perfection, like most of Kubrick’s work. Speaking about his old friend Kubrick brought a tear to Turkel’s eye. He misses him every day.
We then attended the Toxic Avenger’s Birthday Bash. They had a cake with Toxie and his mop poised on top. The Lost Boys‘ Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth, and G Tom Mac were in attendance. Mac was singing, and McCarter backed him on drums. Lloyd Kaufman, Toxie’s proud father, was in tow for the celebration, smiling and having his picture taken—it was the 30th Anniversary after all. I did thank the DJ for playing 80’s punk rock as one does not expect to hear 45 Grave and Cock Sparrer at a horror event; usually metal rules the day.
As the evening came to an end, we packed up our gear and the notes of our tales to share with you, dear readers, of the horrors we encountered down-the-shore. If you are in the southern New Jersey area, be sure to come out for the next Bizarre AC. There was a happy community vibe, and though we only spent Saturday there, we could have easily gone all three days, wandering the aisles of handmade horrors and listening to all the stories that were possible to hear. Because that is what it was like in the 90’s, and there was a nice little twinkle of that here.
Big thanks to Jac Chandross for all the photos! You can find even more over on Dread Central’s Google+ Page.
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