The May, 2010 L.A.
Weekend of Horrors
If you’ve read any of my previous Weekend of Horrors reportage (see
here and here)
you’ll likely notice a big difference with this latest one: it’s no
longer Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors.
The line to get in wasn’t long, just slow as shit. When I finally got to its head I learned why it was so slow: Creation had just one person scanning peoples’ tickets.
From the start the mood was one of dour resignation. Everyone seemed to have something to bitch about; there was even a near-fight in the lobby between two guys over (I think) competing websites.
There was the usual film trailer compilation that started things off in the ballroom, and it wasn’t too inspiring. Among other things, we saw a preview for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming INCEPTION, a trailer you’ve most likely already seen if you’ve been to the movies in the past couple months.
As for the all-important presentations by famous horror folk, there were a whopping two of them.
The first presentation was an independent
filmmakers’ panel moderated by Creation’s Adam Malin. (The latter is a
familiar figure from past Fango conventions, although I couldn’t help
but lament the absence of the inimitable Anthony Timpone, Fango’s
former editor, as moderator.) On the panel were Patrick Rea, Edward
Payson, Jesse Kozel, Philip Calderone and Dave Reda. No, I haven’t heard
of any of those guys either, but Adam claimed they’re “the future
filmmakers of America.”
The second and last panel was for the retro dime novel series JASON DARK, with writer/creator Guido Henkel. The German accented Henkel spoke of the extensive research that went into his tales of Victorian England, and how he timed the first installments of his opus to coincide with the release of SHERLOCK HOLMES last December. Henkel also complained of “too much splatter” in today’s horror movies, and that the imagination can create far more “macabre-er” images than any filmmaker can dream up.
There ended Friday. I elected to skip the 8 PM “Zombie Walk” (whatever the Hell that is) and hoped the following day would be better.
Nor was I too impressed by the opening
panel, a preview of the upcoming I SPIT ON YOU GRAVE remake. The
original is a
classic of sorts, but what was shown of the new version--including a
clip in which the heroine pulls out a dude’s front teeth with
pliers--looks pretty interchangeable with most so-called torture porn
Next onstage were the makers of the new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET documentary NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, including its narrator and executive producer Heather Langenkamp--Nancy from NIGHTMARE 1, 3 and 7--who confessed her role in the doc largely consisted of helping corral the interviewees. Also on hand (in the audience, that is) was the actress who played the hall monitor in part one (“Where’s your pass?”), who praised NEVER SLEEP AGAIN profusely.
always enthusiastic Adam Green followed to screen a couple gory clips
from HATCHET 2. Both were too darkly lit to make out much, but the
Robert Englund, a.k.a. Freddy Krueger, took the stage next, and the house was full. He seemed nice enough, but proved quite a rambling speaker. Among the topics he expounded upon was the recent NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake, to which he bears no ill will and was furthermore happy to pass the Freddy baton to Jackie Earle Haley, an actor he greatly admires; an Italian movie he made called THE RETURN OF CAGLIOSTRO; how talented actor Jeffrey Combs is; and how much he loves train rides through Europe. By the end of this hour-long slog I was nearly asleep.
I was excited to see the following panel, a
RE-ANIMATOR cast and crew reunion with director Stuart Gordon, producer
Brian Yuzna, screenwriter Denis Paoli, composer Richard Band, and stars
Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.
What occurred next was easily the most bizarre portion of the entire weekend. Everyone cleared the stage and Gordon’s buddy George Wendt, together with KING OF THE ANTS’ lead actor Chris McKenna, took the stage (to the inevitable cries of “Norm!”) to jointly perform a song from an upcoming RE-ANIMATOR musical! I honestly don’t have words for what transpired, but can say it was every bit as hilariously batty as you might expect (sample lyric: “You can blame my elation on reanimation, Herbert West brought a cat back to life!”).
I sat out the following panel but was back
for the HUMAN CENTIPEDE
presentation by two of the lead actors. It would have been nice to have
the director on hand and/or to see a clip or two from the flick, which
is currently the cult movie du jour. The assumption seemed to be that
everybody had already seen the film, which in my case isn’t true
(although I really want to). The lead actress (a cutie) claimed that
during auditions “at least seven or eight” prospective actresses walked
out, and the film, about a depraved experiment that fuses three people
together, has seriously freaked out many viewers.
The final presentation was the “Jason”
panel, featuring nearly all the actors who’ve played Jason in the
FRIDAY THE 13TH
cycle. All looked quite weathered but for the youthful Ari Lehman, who
played Jason in part 1 at age 14. Also present was part 7’s director
John Carl Buechler, who moderated, and composer Henry Manfredini. It was
Manfredini who provided the panel’s most interesting info, namely the
origin of his famous “Ki-Ki-Ki, Ma-Ma-Ma” chant, which is
abbreviated from “Kill-Kill-Kill, Mama-Mama-Mama.”
And that was it for Saturday.
I showed up in time for the scheduled John Saxon presentation, but for whatever reasons that didn’t happen. Instead Creation conducted a survey in the ballroom about how people found out about the convention, with the results displayed on a screen at the head of the hall. This was every bit as exciting as it sounds.
I had to miss out on the much-anticipated
AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE panel
with Joe Dante and others to do something I’ve long wanted to do:
experience a film print of Dario Argento’s
INFERNO. That film, in scratchy 16mm
form, happened to be screening on 1 PM in the
dinky film room. The viewing conditions were less than ideal, with the
front row lights kept on throughout the film, a noisy projector that
often sounded like a conveyor belt, and a lengthy unscheduled
intermission engendered by the fact that the projectionist wasn’t around
to make a reel change.
By the time I got back to the panel hall
FRIDAY THE 13TH composer Henry Manfredini was in the middle of a
I didn’t pay much attention to the memorabilia auction that followed, with people bidding upwards of $100 for signed posters and pictures. Among the big sales were a couple banners that went for $340 each and a guitar signed by many of the weekend’s guests that fetched $500.
Following this was for me the major
presentation of the weekend: a chat with the one and only Dario Argento,
making his second and more substantial showing of the day. Apparently
many others were as excited about Argento’s appearance as I, as he was
given a standing ovation and his heavily accented chatter, interrupted
by frequent coughing (he had a cold), was accompanied by a worshipful
silence. The questions he was asked by audience members tended to be
extremely long-winded, with much testimony about how much his films
meant to them and recitations of individual favorites.
And there ended my experience at the May 2010 Creation Entertainment Weekend of Horrors. It was around 5 PM (whereas the Fangoria conventions of old went to at least 6 or 7). Overall I can’t deny the whole thing was a bit of disappointment. Maybe the next WoH, to be held this coming October in Burbank, will be better.