Saturday, June 6, 2009
Or at least a recap of the one day I was able to make it out there (yesterday)....
For some reason I never realized that the convention wasn't going to start till 5pm on Friday, so we ended up arriving at the Javits Center 3 hours early and totally soaking wet head to toe thanks to the torrential downpours of the day, which seem to occur whenever I want them to occur the least. Not a good start to the day if ya ask me! After standing in line a couple hours, listening to horror geeks (no disrespect meant!) mull on about their brilliant movie and comic book ideas that will likely never get finished or even started, Jen and I headed into our first Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, which we soon realized we had perhaps hyped up a bit too much. While we initially thought that we probably shouldn't even go on Friday as five hours (it ended at 10pm) would not be nearly enough to get the full enjoyment out of a Fango convention, we ended up leaving an hour and half before ten out of boredom. Go figure!
I've been to a few different conventions in my day (Monster Mania, Horrorfind, Chiller Theatre) and I figured that Fangoria would surely top them all. After all, it is FANGORIA! But while you'd think that would make the convention an amazing one, in my opinion that is precisely what made it far from that. It's a big business so naturally, the convention was run like a business, as opposed to the labor of love Monster Mania (which is run by a guy by the name of Dave Hagan who most likely ends up barely making any money off of it), for example, is. It's like comparing Blockbuster and a mom and pop video store. The latter most times has not only better product but better service, better atmosphere, and most importantly, more passion and love behind it than the big corporation that is merely out for the bottom line ; MONEY. From the Verizon people advertising their product and pushing it on you the minute you walked in the door to the HIGHLY overpriced autograph and photo-op tickets to the number of booths that were barely even horror related, Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors felt exactly like Blockbuster to me. Granted yes, every booth at every convention is out to make a few bucks but it felt so forced and so plainly obvious this time around. It was so clear that this was entirely money motivated as opposed to a labor of love and I totally blame the fact that it was put on by a big corporation like Fangoria. Even Tony Timpone (clad in a suit), editor of Fangoria, literally got up on stage and told us all that it costs a lot of money to rent out the Javits Center for the weekend (albeit it was a very very tiny part of the Javits Center) and that we should all tell our friends to come down so they can make enough money . He literally put it exactly that way and it came off pretty prickish, as you can imagine. Have I ever heard anything like that at Monster Mania, which is run by a guy with a fraction of the money Fango has? Nope. On top of that, him and the other Fango guy running the thing called us "customers". We were not just horror fans out for a good time, out to meet our favorite stars and mingle with like minded individuals, we were "customers". I think that pretty much sums it all up, straight from the horses mouth. If I can make one last comparison that came to mind ; think of a horror blog that is run by someone who's doing it out of love, with great posts and frequently updated content vs one run by a guy who read that blogging can make you a lot of money and so he littered it with adsense advertising and Paypal 'donate' buttons and updates the bare minimum to try and squeeze a few bucks out of his readers. Which one would you rather read?
All that being said, it was still a horror convention and horror conventions are still, by their very nature, fun. So enough pointing out the negatives and lets talk about the things we did and saw while there....
The dealer room was fairly small with not a whole lot of great product that caught my eye so the only thing I ended up picking up was Inglorious Bastards on DVD. Never see that in stores and I figured I gotta see it before I see Tarantino's version (which was partially inspired by the original, although it is not a remake). Ended up getting screwed out of a dollar on it because the vendor didn't have another dollar bill change to give me. Not a big deal but just another sign that something was a little off at this convention! And that's it on the vendor purchases side of things. Jen didn't even pick up anything either.
The highlight of the day was the panels they had going on, or at least one panel in particular : Guillermo Del Toro (pictured with co-author Chuck Hogan). Jen and I are both big fans of his and it was awesome to see him up on stage. Had no idea how funny and vulgar of a guy he was! He talked mostly about his new vampire novel that he co-wrote, The Strain, which has a very interesting backstory to how it came to be and sounds really awesome. After that I thought he was going to be signing copies of the book, which is what they made it seem like, but turns out they were merely selling copies of the book already pre-signed by Del Toro (and Hogan), with him nowhere in sight. Still cool enough to purchase, which we did, and I can say for sure that this wasn't a decision on Del Toro's part so much as it was a necessity because he's a very busy man and has places to be (Hobbit!), but it was still pretty dissapointing. But we got an autographed copy of the book and that made us happy enough. Can't wait to crack into that and now's the perfect time being that I literally just yesterday finished the book I had been reading (more on that in a seperate post to come). Will definetly post about The Strain after I read it.
The next panel was The Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis. No disrespect to the man, but it was a fairly boring hour or so discussion. He showed a couple clips from his new movie Grim Fairy Tale, which does not look good on any level. It was cool to see him up there as i've never met him before but it just wasn't very entertaining. It's kinda sad to see these guys that pioneer a certain type of film and then try to make the same type of movie decades later. Time has kinda passed him by and what might've been great and innovative forty years ago just isn't appealing anymore. It is still awesome to see such an old dude staying true to himself and directing horror films though so serious props to him for that. Keep doin what ya do, HGL!
Next up was the original Last House crew reunion ; Marc Sheffler (Junior), David Hess (Krug), Fred Lincoln (Weasel), and some dude who wrote a Last House book. Jeramie Rain, who played Sadie, was supposed to be there but I guess didn't show up. This was a rather sleazy panel that almost made me never want to watch Last House again. It was pretty much an hour of these three guys waxing on about how great they are and how Wes Craven had nothing to do with the making of Last House and it all came across as very not humble in the least and very rude. Hess has a reputation for being not so nice although i've talked to him a bit on MySpace and he's always been cool to me. But he didn't come across too well on this night. Lots of talk of porn and the 70 year old Fred Lincoln saying how he'd rather "fuck and suck" women than kill them. Felt like I needed a shower after this one but hey, it's the Last House crew, what do you expect?
After that we caught a little of Tom Savini's panel. We've seen and heard him a million times so we didn't stay for the whole thing but he did mention one piece of interesting news. Don't know if it's been announced anywhere yet but Robert Rodriguez has just cast Savini as a bad guy in the upcoming flick Machete! Should be fuckin awesome.
The rest of the night consisted of some kind of fashion show and a screening of Dead Snow, neither of which we made it to. I would've liked to have seen both and I realllly want to see Dead Snow but both Jen and I agreed that we were kinda done with the whole thing and opted instead to head over to Virgil's for some nice delicious barbecue treats and I can't say I regret that decision in any way. I'll get around to seeing Dead Snow soon enough, I figure.
All in all it was still a fun time and i'm glad we went but I was far from impressed with what I saw. I got to stop over to the Troma booth and say hi to the guys I worked with over there so that was cool. Had it been a really awesome convention we'd probably be heading back there tommorow, but neither of us feels any desire for that. Granted we went on Friday which is notorious for not being the best convention day and today and Sunday would've probably been a bit better and more star studded (and more crowded, there was barely anyone there yesterday!), but I think even at it's best Weekend of Horrors could not even touch the fun of a convention like Monster Mania. As Jen pointed out, we are so gonna appreciate the next Mania that comes around (August)! I am kinda bummed that I didn't get to meet or even see Ben Foster, as I really wanted to, but i'm sure they would've been charging $60 for his autograph anyway (that is literally the price they were charging for James Marsters). Did I mention that they were also charging an upwards of $40 just to take a picture (a "photo-op") with the bigger names? Whatever happened to just putting the stars in a room and you can go up to them, chat, take a picture, get your shit signed, all at your leisure? Like I said, it was a fully organized and rule laden big business event as opposed to the laid back and fun event it should have been. Big thumbs down on Weekend of Horrors for me. In closing I just wanna say I love you Dave Hagan and I bow before your feet. We need more people like you running these conventions.....
Can you tell which convention is my favorite?
One last thing. If you run a horror convention, make sure it takes place in a hotel!! The community feel that creates is a huge part of the fun not to mention it allows you to buy cheap beer and bring it up to your room and drink as you please. A horror convention without alcohol is not a horror convention done right if ya ask me!