Before I came to America, I hadn’t really done the convention thing before. My first October in the States was two years ago, and when I saw the lineup of guests at the first Rock and Shock, I just had to drag my wife along and check out what a horror convention was like first-hand. I had a great time, so when the show’s third year came around, my wife and I headed out to Worcester, MA to make sure we didn’t miss a thing.
Of course, things are a little different from my first visit since I’m now writing for Dread Central, but that hasn’t stopped the weekend from being as much fun as the first time around. Now my wife actually looks forward to it, and this year we were especially excited to finally meet Michael J. Anderson of “Carnivale” and “Twin Peaks” fame.
As in previous years, Rock and Shock kicked off on Friday (which this year just so happened to be Friday the 13th) and ran through Sunday. An eclectic mix of vendors, celebrities, panels, and screenings, what makes Rock and Shock different from other horror conventions is the nighttime showcase of some of the best new and established metal and hardcore acts in the country.
The floor plan this year was one of many improvements over previous years; it was a convenient and well organized circuit for fans to walk through and take in all that Rock and Shock has to offer. On the ground floor the main hall was split into two sections, most of which was taken up by the dealers’ area, where you’ll find all the posters, collectibles, and DVDs you’d expect to see at a horror con as well as some things you might not expect like a fully operational tattoo booth. It wasn’t just vendors running booths either; Lionsgate, New Line Cinema, and Troma Films all had areas set up to promote their films.
The smaller section was a cul-de-sac at the end of the convention floor and was a little more intimate than the open dealer area since this was where the celebrity guests were set up to chat with fans, sign autographs, and provide photo ops.
The guest lineup this year was just as notable as the past two years with several first-time attendees like Doug Bradley, Michael Rooker, Dee Wallace Stone, Danielle Harris, Lucky McKee, and even our own Kyra Schon. Returning guests included Jeffrey Combs, Sid Haig, and Bill Moseley. One guest who was sadly unable to make it it this year was George Romero, who had to cancel his appearance due to an unexpected illness.
Friday night was especially notable because that was the only night Saw III director Darren Lynn Bousman was able to be on the scene. A pretty large crowd of people gathered around the Lionsgate booth for the appearance, and although I was manning the Dread Central booth during it, I did get the chance to chat with Darren afterwards. Since I’m trying to avoid all spoilers on the film, I didn’t mind missing out, and Darren reassured me that going in cold will be the absolute best way to see the film. Personally I can’t wait.
This year Dread Central arrived with a booth fully stocked for hourly contests and so many giveaways we had to provide our own bags for folks to carry it all off in! Among the freebies were Simpsons Treehouse of Terror, Corpse Bride Bust-Ups and Death Jr. figures from Gentle Giant, Deadworld and Walking Dead comics from Image, Clive Barker’s Jump Tribe plush from Art Asylum, T-shirts from Atomik Monkey, and a big box of Jason Goes to Hell figures from Sideshow Toys, who also kicked in our grand prize … a quarter-scale Freddy! We also had a bunch of great rare and upcoming action figures that our man Nomad had brought along for display.
If you stopped by our table and talked to someone, it was probably Nomad, our action figure expert and all-around great guy, whom we kept chained to the table pretty much from the start of the show until the doors closed on Sunday. On behalf of myself and the rest of the Dread Central gang, I’d like to thank Nomad for all his hard work and tireless dedication; if you came by and got any cool free stuff, you better thank him too!
This year we had the added honor of having our very own Uncle Creepy being asked to moderate the numerous celebrity panels being held throughout the weekend, which were hosted on the ground floor in the auditorium just around the corner from the main floor. Throughout the weekend there were panels with authors, zombies, devil’s rejects, and more; and Creepy was there for it all!
Way up on the third floor a smaller conference room had been multi-purposed into a cinema for the weekend where a number of horror movies were being run. Just about every horror convention has films, but how many have Eileen Dietz personally delivering a killer 10-minute clip from her new movie Sin-Jin Smyth? Or four clips from Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon contributed by the crew especially for this event? Director/makeup master Robert Kurtzman also pitched in a whopping 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at his new independently made creep-fest The Rage. As the show stopper, Universal Home Video teamed up with our crew to screen an advance copy of the zombie and slug infested DVD of Slither, complete with an intro and Q&A with Michael Rooker and tons of free Slither swag for everyone in attendance.
Tony, our intrepid cameraman, was of course on hand to capture most of these moments, and the video will be up for all to see on the site sometime in the next few days!
For the “Rock'” part of the convention, the big name this year was the one and only GWAR. The music events took place at the Palladium just around the corner from the DCU, and having passed up the chance of watching GWAR last year, I was sure to not make the same mistake this year. Their amazing Grand Guignol stage was everything I had hoped for, featuring such over-the-top makeup effects as people being decapitated and running around spraying fake blood all over the stage and audience (when you see GWAR, you have to be ready to get dirty) or a half Jesus/half Hitler spraying his black demonic seed all over the crowd while masturbating. Deliciously crazed and deliciously silly.
All in all, it was another fun Rock and Shock. I had a great time hanging out with all the Dread Central people (though Johnny Butane was noticeably absent as he was traversing the globe) as well as the Rock and Shock organizers, celebrities, and the likeminded horror geeks who came along to the show.
Make plans for next year’s Rock and Shock in our forums!