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.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Halloween was extended this year, as the first two days of November heralded the inaugural edition of Horror-Rama, Toronto's Only All-Horror Convention.

I didn't know what to expect from this, but I have to tell you that I was pretty damn impressed. It's no secret that Toronto horror fans have been a little disillusioned by what the Fan Expo has become, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the fans came out to see what Horror-Rama had to offer. It wasn't a huge space, but it was well laid out, so it never felt super packed.

I'd liken Horror-Rama to the intimacy of Shock Stock (James & Jake were also there touting their 2015 lineup), but without their signature sleaze, so it made things here a little more accessible. Horror-Rama was put together by the two biggest supporters of grass roots horror in the city, Fangoria editor Chris Alexander & owner of longtime video landmark Suspect Video, Luis Ceriz, so success was perhaps a foregone conclusion.

Horror-Rama organizers Chris Alexander (left) & Luis Ceriz.

I was certainly caught off guard by the amount of great wares on the show floor. I thought I had become immune to such things over the last year, but the fact that the hundred and fifty bones was quickly gone from my pocket would prove otherwise.

Of course, there were the usual suspects, Mike from Hollywood Canteen...

And Zack from The Vault...

And Twisted T's...

But, there was this mask vendor called who just happened to have a table of rare VHS randomly kicking around. Like super fucking rare.

As soon as I had them in my hand, it was like other collectors came out of the walls and were hovering over me like vultures. I don't know this guy got this stuff, but Spine is something I never thought I would see in the wild.

Aside from the vendors though, Horror-Rama also had an impressive, and surprisingly fresh, roster of guests. This is no mean feat considering rival shows have been bringing horror icons into town for a decade now.

Actress & writer Barbie Wilde

Barbie Wilde was a really interesting lady, who has, since Hellbound, written a lot of fiction influenced by the dark and sensual canon of Clive Barker. When Schwartz & I talked to her at her table, we asked about a certain snap of an unfilmed scene.

“Well, there was going to be this scene where Kirsty & Tiffany run into these doctors at the Institute, and then they morph into Pinhead and the Female Cenobite. So they got us dressed in the scrubs and out in front of the cameras, and then they realized they didn't have the money and time to do the morphing effect properly, so it was never filmed.”

There was also appearances by Mary Beth Rubens and Lesleh Donaldson, who basically saw as much of the early eighties slasher boom as Jamie Lee. I, of course, could not resist asking the latter about her time working on Deadly Eyes. She said what pretty much everyone else involved with the production says, which was “It was cold. And seeing the dogs in those suits was really something.” She couldn't remember the name of the theatre they shot in either, so the search continues... 

Mary Beth Rubens (left) and Lesleh Donaldson

The best get for the festival in my opinion though, was Nivek Ogre, frontman for the legendary industrial band Skinny Puppy. You know, a few days out, and I'm still reeling from what a nice, personable and approachable guy he was. Not a shred of ego. His Q&A was awesome, and he talked about overcoming his fears, the ups and downs of the music industry, learning where “the line” is and the whole incident with their music being used to torture prisoners at Guantanamo.

Musician & actor Nivek Ogre.

I never, ever ask questions at Q&A's, but with Ogre sitting less than three feet from me, I had to put up my hand. I essentially just told him that, for me, horror films and Skinny Puppy were intertwined due to their use of sampling, so I asked about how that began and what was their process in choosing;

“That's a bit of a dark and funny answer, in that there is no craft or method to it. Before Skinny Puppy started and we were writing Back & Forth and just playing around with four tracks, my weekend's were spent with Bill Leeb from Frontline Assembly, and we would literally stay up from Friday to Sunday night watching horror films. So completely out of our heads, they just all bled together. And that's where I got into Italian horror, which is just so disjointed anyway, then when you add drugs to it, it just becomes a mess. So we were combining all those things in our heads and when it came time to put all these things down in music, there was just that recall. And there's happy moments, as well. One was Deep Down Trauma Hounds with the Warner Brothers thing. And that was just something that was literally, while we were recording in the studio, it was on TV. We'd do that a lot too, Stairs and Flowers is the same thing. There'd be something on TV and we'd just channel it in and just play it, and it would work out. I have no fucking idea what that one is, I could ask Cevin (Key) but I don't think he'd even know.”

A great guy that Schwartz & I could have listened to for hours.

Tom Savini was at the show, and did Q&A's on both days. I have seen him speak many times now, so it was cool he related some stuff I hadn't heard before. He is working on a few video games, the most intriguing Summer Camp, and is still trying to get Death Island off the ground. Savini also told a crazy story about what really happened during that period Planet Terror shut down production. It involved a dozen fifteen-foot high painted murals of Salma Hayek. Yeah, I know...

Horror legend Tom Savini

The last Q&A I attended was that of rising talent Jovanka Vuckovic. Now with a young daughter in tow, I don't see her around town much anymore, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been super busy. She is still putting together the pieces on adapting the Clive Barker story Jaqueline Ess, and is set to start shooting her segment for the all-female anthology 'XX' next month. She revealed at the event that her short will be an adaptation of the Jack Ketchum story, The Box. Jovanka seemed really optimistic about the landscape of women in horror, ever-growing closer to a time when people won't need to put the word “woman” in front of “filmmaker.”

Writer & filmmaker Jovanka Vuckovic

But wait, there was more! The Blood In The Snow Film Festival announced their full line-up. And much like TAD, this one looks like their strongest yet. In addition to the Shorts Showcase, which has my good friends Justin McConnell and Darryl Shaw showing their work, my frequent collaborator Mike Pereira is also premiering his latest, The Ressurections of Clarence Neveldine in front of the closing film.

Click to enlarge.

I'm also looking forward to midnight screening of Justin Decloux's Teddy Bomb and Kingdom Come starring Lively himself, Ryan Barrett.

Jen & Jason at the BITS booth.

Writer/Director Chad Archibald at the Black Fawn booth.

I don't know how Horror-Rama did financially, but everything I saw looked like a rousing success. The fans were stoked, the vendors were happy and the guests looked like they were having a good time. Congrats to everyone involved, as this was one hell of a weekend!


DM said...

I was there on the Saturday and had a great time.My main reason for going was to meet Lesleh Donaldson and it was a fantastic experience.I'm hoping to go back again next year.

Jay Clarke said...

Yeah, she was a super nice lady.

DM said...

She sure was.I hope I get to see her at a con again.