The weekend of March 17-19, the Sharonville Convention Center, in Sharonville, Ohio hosted the area’s first weekend horror gathering of 2017. Mother nature was in a mood Friday afternoon as the horde of bleeding beauty’s, monsters, cosplay characters, creatures and fans waited for the doors to open for the bi-annual horror weekend.
With as much adorned black as a metal show, fans crowded in to meet their favorite celebs, browse vendors and sit in on their favorite movie/TV panel. It was a concert crowd atmosphere without the mosh pit, crowd surfing and music but everyone seemed to have a picturesque good time. The fake blood was poured, dripped and smeared like fine wine over select costumes, looking horrific, hot, detailed and authentic posing repeated questions of, how did they make that and how did they get in that thing?
All you have to do is go to a movie convention to see why they happen and why people come. With fans hard work, love, passion and creativity for the movies, shows and characters they love on brilliant display. By Saturday afternoon the main hall resembled a morbid flowing masquerade of humanity alive, dead, in between and rotting for the delight of fans and photographers.
Unfortunately, bad news came a few weeks earlier as convention headliner Freddie Highmore (Norman of Bates Motel) cancelled due to work commitments along with Nestor Carbonell (Romero) and Max Thieriot (Dylan) leading to the Bates Motel panel cancellation Saturday. HorrorHound worked feverishly to find a worthy replacement. Luckily Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead’s Negan) went to bat, becoming the weekends ‘savior’ bringing out thousands of fans with an army of leather jackets and homemade/cosplay versions of Lucille carried in. Each checked for ‘authenticity.’
The Saturday and Sunday celebrities included Tobin Bell, Morgan, Chandler Riggs, Tom Payne, Ethan Embry, Austin Amelio, Denise O’Hare and Kenny Johnson. The weekend crew included, Curtis Armstrong, Wilford Brimley, Tom Noonan, Pollyanna McIntosh, Cooper Andrews, Alexandra BreckenRidge, Sabrina Gennarino, Lew Temple, Keegan Connor Tracy, Costas Mandylor, John Jarratt, Kane Hodder, Jeff Daniel Phillips, E.G. Daily, Richard Brake, Torsten Voges, Donald Gibb, Duncan Regehr, Michael Mackay, Carl Thibault, Stephen Macht, Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank, Thomas G. Waites, Lloyd Kaufman, Tim Clarke, Vance Kelly, Jason Edmiston, Gary Pullin, Matt Ryan Tobin, Dave Nestler, Joel Robinson, wrestling legend Fred Ottman (Tugboat, Typhoon, Shock Master) with a Saturday in costume photo op with Friday the 13th Jason Lives CJ Graham.
The Ink Fusion artists were also on hand to help permanently preserve fans favorite memories and nightmares. Mike Bianco, Brandy Bryant, Marc Draven, Jon Gearheart, Lauren Jerzy, CJ Mackey, Brenton Potter, Nic Puma, Tori Robinson, Ian Simon, Brandi Smart, Cale Turpen, Scott Versago and Eric Vie kept the colors fresh and needles buzzing.
For those who wanted the theatrical experience, the Ramada hosted the weekends film festival showing Sean Byrne’s The Devil’s Candy, Zoe Kavanagh’s first offering Demon Hunter, Tommy Faircloth’s Family Possessions, Seth Breedlove’s Boggy Creek Monster, Aaron Martin’s Slasher, Liam Gavin’s A Dark Song, Tory Jones’ The Wicked One, Brian Williams Space Babes from Outer Space, Oz Perkins The Blackcoat’s Daughter, Richie Moore’s What’s Watching Oliver, Albert Pyun’s Interstellar Civil War, Brian Panpandrea’s The Big F, John Woodruff’s Animal Among Us, Justin M. Seaman’s The Barn and the Fred Dekker’s classic The Monster Squad among others.
Weekend winners included Who’s Watching Oliver (best feature), A Father’s Day (best short), Zoe Kavanagh (best director-Demon Hunter), Lukas Hassel (best actor-Into the Dark), Caitrin Stewart (best actress-Connie), A Father’s Day (best SFX).
The bizarre, grotesque and curious goods were set up, strewn about everywhere offering any and every macabre delight and novelty dark, bleeding hearts could desire. The over 100 vendors including Dead Ink Apparel, HorrorHound Magazine, Sparkle Comics, J.J. Philips (author), Living Dead Dolls, Poster Child, Skull 13 and Synapse Films packed the aisles and rooms as weekend shoppers gorged and gasped at the sick and twisted, art and crafts available. As one patron commented, “You won’t see this at Wal-Mart.”
For those who preferred to sit and listen over standing and waiting, guest panels were offered all weekend including a Friday performance of This Filthy World by John Waters and the annual Splash Cincinnati Water Park Party. Saturday non-panel events included the kids costume contest and the after-hours costume ball party across the street.
Friday festivities started with panels for Indie Filmmakers, Rob Zombie’s 31 and The Thing. With the Horror Host Hall of Fame Ceremony and panels for The Monster Squad, Saw and American Horror Story, Saturday, with Sunday’s Wolf Creek, Vestron and Nerds panels ending the weekend.
The 31 panel was up first with Richard Brake (Doom-Head), E.G Daily (Sex-Head), Jeff Daniel Phillips (Roscoe Pepper), Torsten Voges (Death-Head) and Lew Temple (Psycho-Head).
They said that Zombie tried to shoot everything chronological. Actors joked that they thought it was a romantic comedy at first. Zombie has expectations that actors will bring their character’s backstories to the set. Brake’s monologue was word for word what Zombie wrote. They all heard people say it was a horror version of The Running Man after shooting but there was no conscious intent of comparison while shooting. Brake’s acting process included creating the guy’s history, playing lots of messed up people, learning lines and praying a lot. Zombie creates inspirational energy and shagging Ginger Lynn was his first on screen sex scene.
On who won at the end, Brake said, Sheri kicks his ass. They couldn’t get an R-rating the first couple times. They were physically wiped out for 31. Brake offered advice for aspiring actors, be good at what you do and know what you’re doing.
Phillips said he stood in for Zombie’s “UFO” song video and saw his face on the big screen at one of his shows in a compromising position.
The Thing panel offered Wilford Brimley (Dr. Blair) and Thomas G. Waites (Windows).
Brimley said, it was a job that paid American money, better do it. I am my character. I am he and I am it. John Carpenter was a wonderful guy. He still doesn’t know who The Thing was. Brimley said his best movie memory was The Stone Boy.
Brimley said to take the imagery and circumstances given by the writer and put yourself in it but don’t get caught pretending. His best moments included getting to know the guys while filming. He joked that his wife’s friend said, do you know who you married? Don’t go see it when it comes out. He said, (The Thing’s) important to a lot of people so it’s important to me. If something is quality, it’ll make itself known. One of Brimley’s best memories on set was on Absence of Malice, “I learned those lines.”
Saturday, HorrorHound once again welcomed filmmakers from around the globe for Saturdays Indie Film Q&A moderated by Dr. Michelle Conty including New York’s Lukas Hassel, Ohio native John Woodruff, John Rice (Hidden Daylight), Indiana’s Kely McClung (Loop), California’s Todd Spence (Your Date Is Here), and Ohio’s Susan M. Martin (Willow Falls) and Seth Breedlove (Boggy Creek Monster). International guests included Canada’s Filip Terlecki (Suffer) and Ireland’s Zoe Kavanagh along with The Sword and the Sorcerer, Cyborg Nemesis, Bloodmatch and Interstellar Civil War creator Albert Pyun.
The 2017 Horror Host Hall of Fame followed honoring local and national Horror Host’s from classic era to modern day. Grimm Gorri and Janet Decay, Dr. Mortose, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop were on hand among others to induct the 2017 alumni. The weekends inductees included Shock Theater’s Baron Von Crypt, Eerie Late Night Movie’s Bone Jangler, Meet Cleaver Theatre’s Butch R. Cleaver, (first African American inductee) Dr. Sarcofiguy, Spooky Movie’s CW Prather, the Mae West of the graveyard Jeepers’ Creepers Theatre’s Ghoulita, Creature Features John Stanley, Manor of Mayhem’s Remo D, Fright Night and Seymour’s Monster Rally Seymour, from the Castle Above the Mist Zomboo, and Horror Host Graveyard’s Corpses S. Chris.
The Monster Squad panel was one of Saturday’s highlights with Duncan Regehr (Count Dracula), Michael MacKay (The Mummy), Carl Thibault (Wolfman), Stephen Macht (Del), Andre Gower (Sean), Ryan Lambert (Rudy), Ashley Bank (Phoebe) and Tom Noonan (Frankenstein).
An American Sign Language interpreter signed for the Deaf and hard of hearing.
It was a packed room of kids to adults, from those who watched it as a kid, growing up with the memories and younger people who became fans later. There was a collective nostalgic vibe as panel members shared on set memories and fans asked specific scene questions and stories about how they related to the characters, wanted to be them or had a friend(s) that were like one of them.
Noonan discussed getting the role shortly after doing Manhunter and on the second to last day of shooting went home in the makeup, came back, shot his final scene and they had to peel and tear his makeup off due to the extended time in it. Memories of Brent (Chalem) were discussed as well as recognition of the films popularity and longevity that 30 years later, a Monster Squad panel still filled a room from ‘80s kids to a new generation and from first time viewers, diehards, collectors to cosplay.
Director Fred Dekker was a big kid and tragically underrated director they said. One of the amusing questions was, why were there armadillos by Dracula’s coffin? Everyone as a kid had a Rudy, Horace or Sean as a friend. The panel talked about the courage of the kids fighting the monsters and how it hopefully helped real kids at the time, including people in the crowd deal with things at that age and beyond. With the exception of Frankenstein, these were not friendly monsters, they were mean.
A reboot was gratefully smashed years ago to the pleasure of hardcore and internet fans. They said they made the first ‘tween’ movie. Fans also mentioned some of the ‘shocking’ lines of the time including when Dracula told Phoebe “Give me the amulet you bitch!”
As the discussion ended, the room joined in a collective, “Wolfman’s got nards!”
The Saw panel including Tobin Bell (Jigsaw) and Costas Mandylor (Hoffman) joined a crowd anxiously waiting to play a game. Before the panel, fans were asked what their favorite traps were.
It was Bell’s first HorrorHound appearance as both were asked about casting, favorite traps, favorite and least favorite characters with some behind the scene stories shared.
Bell said he was cast from his voice acting on the series Once and Again, playing Patrick Dempsey’s father, where only his shadow was seen but the voice of the father was heard. During the Saw audition he read some of the tapes to James Wan and became “Jigsaw.” Bell said of the overall series themes, that it was so easy to get wrapped up in the negatives and that the movies deal heavily with karma and showing respect to others’ bodies, minds and hearts. He said Wan was a huge help on Saw 1 as the budget was very limited.
There wasn’t any promotion for Bell on the first movie which made the twist even more effective, as most of the audience assumed his character was a non-factor. Wan told him for the final scene, “don’t forget how you feel” getting up slow and cranky, like bones were aching and popping from someone getting up from being in the same spot for a long time. It also had to be done in one take as the makeup he tore off would’ve taken hours to reapply.
He also said jokingly that he took the role because he had a car payment coming. He said the gruesome nature of the series didn’t bother him as he didn’t take it home and he didn’t think about the traps much but respected the writers and crew for their creativity and innovation creating them.
He adored working with Donnie Wahlberg in Saw II but hated his character saying “what a prick,” getting what he deserved in the end. Ironically he’d forgotten about Saw completely after the first one. He said he appreciated fan support and admired their dedication calling his character a horror ‘icon.’ His first Comic Con was the first indication he got to the passion of horror fans.
On advice to aspiring actors, “Say yes to anything, say yes.”
His favorite traps included ones most related to people’s karma, including the needle pit, reinforcing the message of, you reap what you sow.
Mandylor’s said, with a smile, that his favorite traps included the ones his character got out of, including the coffin and Jill’s head trap.
He said in Saw IV he walked onto the set early seeing Bell laying on the slab, asking if they could get a towel to cover him up, not realizing it was a prop. That’s how good the effects team was.
On everyone loving Jigsaw, Bell said that whether hero or villain, they must justify what they’re doing.
Bell said not to believe in hero’s, villains, angels and devils. Believe in the things in between. We’re way too complex for those labels.
Bell said his favorite films were II and III because in II, he got up off the floor and was the beginning of his story and he got to create a connection with Amanda.
On favorite movies Bell said High Noon and Mandylor said The Searchers. Mandylor told an offset story while filming in Canada about the walks he took with Bell, he’s a fast, great walker.
The American Horror Story panel with Denise O’Hare and Alexandra Breckenridge was next. The room was split on which seasons where good and bad, best and worst as one fan voiced their dislike of Roanoke while others slammed and defended Coven and Asylum.
Breckenridge talked about her Murder House character, dusting, and taking a leap of faith with a new character every year.
O’Hare talked about Hotel’s Liz being transgendered not just a cross-dresser.
During the first season, they were shooting as the shows were being aired staying roughly seven episodes ahead.
Favorite scenes included the second scene of the pilot. Least favorite was the sex swing with Spaulding.
Kathy Bates was really fun to work with and Jessica Lange was fantastic and could do no wrong. They joked that they couldn’t be quoted or recorded saying what their favorite and least favorite seasons were. They discussed the rumor that season 7 will be about last year’s election. Breckenridge joked that they’re living in a real American horror story now.
O’Hare said that his dream season would be themed backstage at the opera including actors that couldn’t separate the characters from themselves, with murder, split personalities and other theatrical horrors.
Characters they found freaky included Dr. Arthur Arden from Asylum and Hotel’s Mattress Man.
O’Hare’s favorite scary movies were The Shining and Night of the Living Dead at eight-years-old along with Aliens and was raised on Vincent Price, vampire stuff, Peter Lowry and Peter Cushing movies.
Breckenridge’s was Rosemary’s Baby.
They said Lady Gaga hung out on the set, was really professional with a great work ethic.
The kids costume contest ended Saturday’s panels with Dr. Lady and Wolfie hosting the little devils, demons, superhero’s and terrifying future of America.
Everything from Purge kids, zombie’s, Chucky, she-devils, cosplay comics, walkers, Poltergeist girls, intricate menacing Jason’s, female Negan’s, and Ash’s among others showed off their garb for the judges, some getting menacing and closer to intimidate with select weapons. After careful consideration, third place went to the Poltergeist twins with mom carrying the tube. Second place went to Hellgirl and Abe Sapien with first place to the cosplay combo of Five Nights at Freddy’s Nightmare Bonnie and Mangle Jumpscare.
The festivities continued across the street at the after-party Costume Ball.
Images by Mike Ritchie