Saturday, March 26, 2011

HorrorHound Weekend

Way back in the dark ages, also known as the late 1980s, I used to accompany a friend of mine, Kali J., to Star Trek conventions. Kali was rarely hounded by men in the normal world. At Star Trek conventions, however, the boys tripped over themselves trying to talk to her. Kali was and is, for the most part, a man-hater, and never responded well to boys hitting on her. She would pay for my admission and I would tell the Trekkies I was her brother and that allowed Kali to do whatever it is she needed to do at these conventions in peace. In those days, conventions were operated by locals and had a very grass-roots feel to them. The last time Kali used my services at a Star Trek convention was 1990. Some corporation had taken over and the difference was obvious. The greed-factor was multiplied by a thousand and the guests, while “bigger,” were snobbier and less than cordial with their fans.

Flash forward to today. I decided to head on over to the Marriott East and check out the HorrorHound Weekend. The theme was ‘80s Slasher Movies.’ My half-dozen readers are well-aware that I love early 80s slasher movies, so I figured it might be interesting. My overall opinion is this: Horror movie conventions are like screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show with slightly fewer transvestites. The hardcore fans do a great job of dressing up like their favorite, beloved serial killers and ghouls and what-nots. There were a few zombies and a whole lot of zombie-killers. I find that interesting. If you think about it, the original Night of the Living Dead was about the new order (i.e., youth and “minorities”) taking over the old order and how the reactionaries respond to that movement. That means the zombie-killer phenomena is, essentially, a reactionary expression. The zombie-killers were dressed like soldiers and carried fake pump-shotguns. Yup. That about sums up the political landscape of America today.

I met the guy who actually did all the killing in The Prowler. Real asshole. Turns out he was the First Assistant Director on the picture. That makes sense. 1st ADs, traditionally, were assholes because they had to keep the set running. Most of the “guests,” I discovered, were bitter old men who were pissed that their brief turn as a serial killer thirty years ago didn’t flower into the same career Wes Craven or Jamie Lee Curtis had. Even Sid Haig looked sort of sad and bored with the whole thing.

I sat in on two panels. The first had members of the cast and crew of Halloween III. As most people know, that is one of the most interesting failures in the history of b-movies. People hated it initially because Michael Myers wasn’t the villain. Recently, it has gotten a critical re-examination. The truth is, it’s not a very good movie. But, it has that early 80s feel to it that allows me to forgive it out of nostalgia. The first time I saw Halloween III was at my friend John Baker’s house. He was having a birthday slumber party. We were all in the fifth grade. Halloween III was playing late on HBO, following another classic of that era, H.O.T.S. By two in the morning, having had my hormones sent into a frenzy by all the boobs in H.O.T.S., Halloween III seemed like a mystical film. Anyway, the panel included the director, Tommy Lee Wallace, and the two main stars. Wallace got pretty political. All in all, I enjoyed that panel more than I thought I would.

Then came the bitter old farts. The 80s Slasher panel was beyond disappointing. Ted White, who played Jason in Friday the 13th part 4, slammed the director, Joe Zito. Even worse, Derek Mackinnon, the effeminate killer in Terror Train, slammed his director and Jamie Lee Curtis. All of these guys make their living off of obscure parts played in movies very few people actually care about and all they can do is bitch and moan. They don’t understand how lucky they are.

Everything is about money now. All these old farts charge people to pose for pictures with them. The old farts in the slasher panel are people whose faces never even appeared in the movies they were in. Their contributions are paper-thin. Shouldn’t they be grateful for the plane ticket, hotel room, meals and adoration they don’t deserve? Maybe I just don’t get this whole convention thing…


  1. So the point, AC, is next time dress up as your favorite 80's slasher movie serial killer, hang out, and talk about how lame the stars from the B- movie that show up with a gripe. Hello? You only live once. Or twice if you're a zombie. ;-)

    I thought your commentary on Night of the Living Dead was interesting. It's my favorite zombie movie, and I never thought about it that way. What do you think of Zombie Land?

  2. Well Jodi, I swore I wasn't going to attend another convention and then someone handed me a postcard advertising one in Kentucky where John Carpenter is going to be the guest of honor. That dude is The Man. I might put together a Harry Warden ("My Bloody Valentine") costume and head south on I-65 to listen to John Carpenter (who has legitimate gripes) talk some shit about Hollywood.

    I have yet to see Zombie Land. I've heard good things about it. My favorite zombie movies are Night of the Living Dead (the original version) and Dawn of the Dead (the original version), the second one being just about the funniest commentary on consumerism I think I've ever seen (not to mention outstanding fx by Tom Savini).

  3. Snagged! Sounds like fun. I like the original Night of the Living Dead, but I'm not recalling the original Dawn of the Dead. I must have seen it. hmm..

  4. 1978. Zombies in a shopping mall. Zombie gets the top of his head sliced off by helicopter blades. They remade it in 2004 (?) with a slightly different story and lots of fast editing to hold Generation No Attention Span's attention.

  5. I went to a few Trek conventions in the day. I know what you mean by the greed taking over.

  6. Yes, I think the Star Trek conventions paved the way for the whole thing becoming big business.

    The very first convention I ever went to was a comic convention in 1982. It was run by the local comic book stores and featured venders from the surrounding states only. It was at a cool hotel and had a film room that showed b-pictures 24-7. The mood was cozy, local. No convention I've been to since then has come close to impressing me like that one.