Festival of Fear 2006 - Days 2-3
The second day of the festival was packed to the rafters with horror celebs, sweaty Trekkies, and writhing masses of anime kids. Paul and I stuck to the horror section, scavenged the vendor area, bumped into Jack Ketchum, listened to Alice Cooper recount the famous "chicken incident," got the latest on Hellboy 2 directly from the mouth of Mike Mignola, were entertained by Jeffrey Combs’ antics, shook flippers with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, filmed a TV spot for G4TechTV, and finished the night up by listening to psychobilly band The Creepshow and drinking orange juice with Rusty Nails. Damn, makes me tired to even write about it!
While I hasten to warn the kiddies against the perils of cigarettes, I must admit that this dirty little habit has, on multiple occasions, led to an impromptu meeting with a horror icon. In this case, Jack Ketchum, author of The Girl Next Door and The Lost. Afterwards Jack was kind enough to sit down with us for a quick chat about upcoming film adaptations of his work.
Ketchum told us that during a recent visit to the set of The Girl Next Door (where he filmed a walk-on part!), he was able to view a scene from late in the film with Meg (played by Blythe Auffart) chained up in the basement. He reported that her overall performance, in particular the whimpering guttural noises she was making, disturbed even him. It sounds like if they get half of the nastiness they filmed into the final cut, the film will be every bit as traumatizing as the book. Scant details were available regarding Lucky McKee’s adaptation of Red, but Ketchum did let us know that the first draft has been sent to him for review. We’re hoping to pin the infamous horror writer down for a more in-depth interview in the not too distant future, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Next up was a Q&A session with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. Most of the conversation focused on the comics, but Mignola did tell the fans that Hellboy 2: The Golden Army will be a return to form for the series, incorporating the folkloric elements that the comics are known for but were largely missing from the introductory first film. He said that he and Guillermo had initially wanted to make the film about Roger the Homunculus, but they couldn’t get the story to work. I tend to think they just couldn’t think of an actor willing to walk around without pants for an entire film. The Golden Army will instead focus on mythological creatures who have been forgotten in the modern world and who decide that, in Mignola’s words, "We don’t want to go. We’re not going to go. Let’s take back the world!" Mignola stated that the comics and the films are meant to be different, the recent comic book revelations of Hellboy’s origins and the right hand of doom found in The Island are the "real version", and the film is not beholden to them in any way.
Afterwards we attended a Q&A session with Alice Cooper. Considering the guy can fill stadiums the size of Jupiter, it was a pleasant surprise to listen to him in such a small and intimate venue. Given that Toronto was the location of the famous incident in which Cooper is said to have bitten the head off a chicken and drunk its blood, it was only fitting for him to recount the story for the attending fans. Most folks know by now that the chicken was thrown onstage by an audience member and Cooper, thinking chickens could fly, merely threw the doomed fowl back into the crowd, which promptly tore it to shreds. The one thing I hadn’t heard before was that the fans who dismembered the chicken were all from the handicapped section!
Cooper was also asked about his involvement in the "paperclip guy" movie. Apparently one of the items that the paperclip dude traded up for prior to getting his house in Saskatchewan was an afternoon with Alice Cooper. The script for the film is in development, and according to Cooper he’s trying to influence the paperclip guy to turn it into a horror movie! Cooper’s idea is that the guy spends a year trading up in the hopes of getting a house, and when he finally achieves his goal, it turns out the house is haunted!
We had to leave the Alice Cooper Q&A a little early in order to be on time for a television interview with G4TechTV’s weekly Internet culture show, "Torrent." As reported earlier by Johnny, G4 is going to air Sean Clark’s awesome Saw III Comic Con interview (check it out), and they wanted to film an intro with Dread Central at the Festival of Fear. Let me tell ya, sitting anonymously behind a computer is a heckuva lot easier than having a camera thrust in your face with dozens of people milling about listening to your dorky answers. The episode will air this Saturday at 8:00 pm and should be posted afterwards at G4TechTV's Torrent.
The final Q&A of the day was with Mr. Herbert West himself, Jeffrey Combs. A lot of convention guests just phone in their appearances, so it’s a pleasant surprise when a guest goes out of his way to entertain the fans like Combs did. Most of his Q&A focused on the same old Re-Animator stuff, but Combs did take some time to talk about two of his most anticipated current projects. When asked about House of Re-Animator, Combs had this to say:
"It got all frothy about eight months ago. Brian Yuzna tried to get distributors interested in House of Re-Animator, which takes place at the White House. The Vice President is dead, but he can’t be because the President is a clueless fuck, so they bring in Herbert West. Brian put together an audio-visual piece with William H. Macy playing the President and took that to Cannes. Everyone thought it was great, and so at that point Brian needed to get a script, which means that he has to pay Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli to write one, and so that’s the last I heard of that. This was four or five months ago. I wouldn’t say it’s dead though." Good news. This one’s a no-brainer, so let’s hope Yuzna saves his lunch money and pays for that script!
Next up Combs was asked about his involvement in the nearly complete H. G. Lewis remake of The Wizard of Gore (read Andrew's set visit here). His response: "Wizard of Gore. What a movie that’s going to be! I wouldn’t say it’s a remake. It takes the main premise of the movie but completely updates it. It’s very cool, very Fellini-esque in its bizarre underworld depiction of LA. It’s got Crispin Glover and Brad Dourif in it as well. I talked to the director, Jeremy Kasten, about a month ago, and he’s really happy with how it’s coming together. They’re taking their time getting it right, and I think it’s going to a trip."
Combs didn’t have any time to answer questions about what he thought of the Suicide Girls, who appear in The Wizard of Gore, or his participation in Stuart Gordon’s second Masters of Horror episode, "The Black Cat," as he was too busy fielding questions from rabid "Star Trek" fans. I appreciate that you can’t have Re-Animator without accepting Combs' significant body of "Star Trek" work, but man, Trekkies freak me out!
That night we wiped the pain of the crowded, sweaty convention center away by rocking out at the Rue Morgue Voodoo Death party. The Rue Morgue parties are always sure to have a kickass band, and this year was no exception with psychobilly hot licks being provided by The Creepshow. Unfortunately, Alice Cooper was unable to make it to the party to judge the costume contest as planned due to getting sick (hey, shaking a thousand hands will do that to a guy!), but we had a blast anyway.
Sunday we were all hung like John Holmes and actually didn’t make it to a single panel. We did check out John McNaughton’s excellent Masters of Horror episode, "Haekel’s Tale," but didn’t have the stamina to do much else.
Having hung out with filmmaker Rusty Nails at the party the night prior, we mostly just ended up talking to him (check out our interview here), and after the convention center closed up for another year, we headed back to his hotel room to check out a twenty-minute preview of his George Romero documentary titled Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero. It’s always nice when you accidentally save the best for last; Paul and I were blown away, both by the direction the documentary is going in (expansive and not just dealing with the Dead trilogy, but all of Romero’s films) and by the intimacy of the interviews. While most Romero documentaries have focused on the Dead trilogy, Dead On aims to focus on all aspects of Romero’s long and varied career. Check out our interview with Rusty here.
That’s it for another year! Much thanks go out to Rod Gudino, Jovanka Vukovic, Stuart "Feedback" Andrews, Dave Alexander, and the rest of the Rue Morgue crew for having us and for putting on the best damn horror convention in Canada ... maybe the world!
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