In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Festival Of Fear 2010

Last weekend, the Fan Expo hit Toronto with a crash and a bang. Here’s a rundown of what went down.


The word of the weekend is ‘overcrowded’. It was a logistical shitshow that ended up reflecting very poorly on the organizers. The Fan Expo happens at the Metro Convention Centre, which is comprised of two buildings, the North & South. For the past several years, it has been held in the South building because it outgrew the smaller space adjacent when the addition of the Horror & Gaming areas increased the event’s popularity. So, imagine my surprise when I found out that this year’s Expo was being held in the North building. Even though they were expecting record crowds due to appearances by fan faves Adam West, Stan Lee AND William Shatner among others. I did hear that the South building was booked well in advance by something else this year, but Hobby Star should have had a contingency plan other than ‘we’ll just have to deal with it on the day’.

Even with my premium pass, it took me an extra hour-and-a-half to breach the gates. God knows how long it took non-ticket holders to get inside. Anyway, when I finally got on the floor, I got my trades shopping done.

The Stand and Locke & Key are still not available in soft cover? What gives?

I walked past the G4 booth and saw the entire crew of Reviews on the Run, including Jeff Cannata from The Totally Rad Show, filming an episode, which was pretty cool.

The only Q&A I attended that day was Bill Moseley. He’s been to the Expo before, but it’s been a long time. It was pre-Devil’s Rejects for sure.

Moseley talked about a new project he just finished called Rogue River in which he starred alongside his wife, Lucinda Jenney. At first, he was apprehensive about working with his spouse, but she really got into her role and made it a fun experience for the both of them.

He is really happy with the fan base that Repo: The Genetic Opera has garnered since its release last year. He mentioned that initially he had the choice of playing either Luigi or Pavi – the latter eventually went to Skinny Puppy’s Ogre. His decision to play Luigi was based almost solely on less makeup equating to more sleep.

Someone asked about if he was involved in Rob Zombie’s The Blob remake – a project that has already been quashed – and Moseley replied,

“I was already in the remake, from the eighties. I was Soldier #2. Not a big part, but at least I lived longer that Soldier #1.”

Aside from that though, the one character in particular he’d love to reprise would be Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

Schwartz stayed at my place that night and we cracked open the newly released Evil Dead Blu-ray. I’ll elaborate more on this in a future post, but the transfer is pretty pristine – you can’t even see the edges of the matte painted moon inserts anymore! We watched it for a bit and then I threw in Kick-Ass, which, due to his being stranded in France during all that volcanic ash business, he hadn’t seen yet. He was naturally as enamoured by it as I continue to be.


Predicting more chaos, we got up early, as even last year in the large building; the Saturday had a problem with log jamming.

We were right. It was all the bedlam of Friday to the power of ten. The trade show floor & food vendors were upstairs and the panels & screenings were downstairs and it wasn’t long before when you went downstairs, you weren’t allowed back up. My crew (Schwartz, Mikey & Berge) & I made the mistake of doing this. This, of course meant we had now had no access to food. Thank God for that granola bar I was carrying around, as it sustained me for twelve hours. Even worse, if you went outside the building for any reason, you weren’t allowed back in. The front doors were crammed five bodies deep with people awaiting entrance.

Kind of reminds me of a certain Romero flick.

I guess this is why San Diego Comic-Con sells all its passes in advance, so they can cap it off at some point. They seem to have it all figured out, as save for the occasional eye-stabbing incident, you generally don’t hear about problems with people being restricted access.

Okay, enough whining. Here's some of the cool stuff I came across during the show.

The usual suspects.

And one unusual.

A cute couple, don't you think?

I got my first taste of 3DTV at the Alliance booth. They were showing Piranha 3D and looping a surprising number of the movie’s money shots, I might add. All I know is, if the 3D looked as good projected at my local multiplex as it did here, nobody would have been dissing it.

Twisted T’s was out in full force this year, with some new designs including Night of the Creeps and Basket Case. They even had a Video Dead hoodie for fifty bucks. Sooooo tempting.

A new addition this year was the coffin rides. You get locked in a casket and hydraulics knock you around a bit, while an infrared camera displays your reactions on a screen for all to see. Not bad for four bucks. Darryl was trying to get me to go, but I was like, “if I lie down right now, I’m so going to sleep.”

Last year’s Expo was where I first became aware of a little eighties movie called Uninvited, or Cat on a Cruise Ship as it has been since affectionately dubbed. One of the poster vendors had an amazing poster of it last year and I vowed that if it was there this time, it would be mine. Oh yes, it would be mine. On Friday, Schwartz and I looked for it, but no luck. However, on Saturday…

The vendor even said “Twenty bucks? I’m giving this away!”

He also had a sweet poster of Deadly Eyes. You all know how I adore that movie, so that will be my poster to acquire next year, if the fates are kind.

Being stuck downstairs, we ended up just getting in line for the David Cronenberg panel a few hours early. Man, he is such an intelligent and well-spoken individual.

Rue Morgue editor Dave Alexander moderated the affair and spoke about how after trying for many years, he’s so glad to finally have him here at the Festival of Fear. Cronenberg was quick to point out that his not appearing before now was not from lack of desire; it was just always a scheduling conflict with whatever film he was working on at the time.

He is now editing his new film A Dangerous Method, which he just got back from shooting in Poland. At first that sounded like a strange locale, but apparently it was out of necessity. Financing projects has become increasingly hard for him, due to studios that specialize in funding independent projects (Picturehouse & Miramax, among others) all closing down in recent years.

A Dangerous Method is a period piece about pioneering psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud & Carl Jung and their relationship with a woman named Sabina Spielrein. Through some recently uncovered letters, it was revealed that Spielrein had an extremely profound influence on both of their careers and Cronenberg’s film explores this.

It does seem that with every subsequent film Cronenberg gets further away from the genre that spawned his career, but he insists he hasn’t turned his back on horror. It is just that the stories that have captured his imagination in the last decade or so just haven’t been of that ilk.

Cronenberg said he always wanted to be like the obscure novelists he read growing up, but realized quickly that when you are a filmmaker, you can’t survive like that. If no one sees your films, you won’t make too many before finding another line of work.

The highlight of this panel was when Ken Russell showed up to present Cronenberg with a Lifetime Achievement Award. It was an awesome moment between two amazing auteurs.

Cronenberg & Russell.


This day was thankfully a lot less crazy. Perhaps a good number of people were just fed up with the crowds by then and stayed away. I walked around for a bit and picked up some bootleg smut.

I also picked up The Brain for ten bones. Schwartz often talks about this Canadian monster flick, so I figured what the hell. I'm sure you all remember the vintage VHS cover.

There were two Q&A’s today, which ended up being the best of the weekend.

The first was Heather Langenkamp, who is a real classy lady with a warm disposition.

There was a lot of talk about Never Sleep Again – a spectacular four-hour documentary that I’ve seen, but haven’t got around to talking about here – and her upcoming documentary I Am Nancy, which she just submitted to Sundance.

When the inevitable question about what she thought of the remake came, she said she wanted nothing to do with it. Langenkamp doesn’t want to imagine anyone other than Robert Englund as Freddy, and with good reason.

Someone asked if she ever had nightmares while filming those movies and she replied,

“Yes, I remember having two. On Part 3, I had this dream where I was protecting Patricia (Arquette) from Freddy. I think it came from the director really not treating Patricia all that well on the set. I felt really bad for her because he had a tendency to snap at her. I also had one on Part 7 about that scene where Freddy’s tongue wraps around my face. I remember being really bothered by that because it gave Freddy a dominance over Nancy that he’d never had before.”

Langenkamp also shared that the idea for the documentary I Am Nancy came from when she tried to get Wes Craven on the phone and his secretary didn’t know who she was, and even went so far as to get her to spell her last name. When Langenkamp told her friend (Arlene Marechal, the director of I Am Nancy, I believe) about it, she said,

“That’s ridiculous. You should have said, ‘if you’re in Wes’ office right now, why don’t you turn around and look on the wall. You see a poster for Nightmare On Elm Street? You look on there and you’ll see my name and THAT’S how you spell it.’”

She then said, “That’s it, we’re making a documentary about Nancy!”

The last panel of the day was Lance Henriksen. Schwartz & I had gotten to meet him briefly the day before when he got his Pumpkinhead poster signed. He’s a super cool guy who talks to you as if you’re old friends and his Q&A was no different. He looked like he was having a blast.

I was shocked to learn that there is apparently a Millennium movie in the works. Now, we all know that the second X-Files film was a bad idea, but the prospect of more Frank Black is intriguing to me. For some reason, the concept doesn’t seem as dated to me as it should be. The funny thing was that he didn’t originally want to do Millennium, or any TV for that matter, as he’d found it unfulfilling. His agent, knowing his dislike for television, sent him the Millennium script, but didn’t tell him it was a pilot until Henriksen was already interesting in playing the role.

One thing that I didn’t know about Henriksen was that he didn’t learn to read until pretty late in life. He’d left school around the third grade and just basically puttered around and fell into acting. It was basically through memorizing scripts that he finally learned.

He was full of great stories. His character Jesse from Near Dark basically came about while he has messing with a hitchhiker he picked up one night and he was originally supposed to play The Terminator. James Cameron even dressed him up in costume and sent him into the original pitch meeting at Orion Pictures.

Henriksen ended off with a little tidbit about filming Aliens, specifically the scene where Bishop does the knife trick in the mess hall. Hudson (Bill Paxton) getting in on the action was apparently something that Henriksen came up with on the day and improved – and by that I mean, he didn’t tell Paxton that his hand was going to be involved in the scene.

And that was pretty much all she wrote. There were unfortunately a LOT of scheduling conflicts this year, so there were a sizable amount of things – like a Durham County panel featuring Michelle Forbes and screenings of Long Pigs & If A Tree Falls – that I wasn’t able to see. It was still a successful weekend overall though.

Note: As I was writing this post, I received an email from Fan Expo Canada apologizing for the problems that beset its patrons this year. It's good to know they are aware they fucked up and are already taking strides to prevent it from happening again.

Photos (the good ones anyway) courtesy of Michael Schwartz of Cartoon & Horror.

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