Convention Report - Bride of Monsterfest!

Well, the weather was really, really lousy. It rained all day, and some of Chesapeake's streets were actually flooded. And our motel was kinda sleazy (though not necessarily in a bad way, if you catch my drift...). But hell, Bride of Monsterfest - the second annual Monsterfest Celebration - was a fantastic experience for Kathryn and me! We had a ball! The show was on Saturday, October 8th, and we just got back in town last night after spending some time with Kathryn's folks in Deltaville, VA.

Our day at the Chesapeake Central Library began with some time spent manning the tables and selling books, but very quickly, I had the pleasure of attending Christopher Wayne Curry's presentation about the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis. Readers of my blog will know that I've reviewed Chris's excellent book here (A Taste of Blood), and I've interviewed the accomplished author himself. It was a delight to see him again, along with his lovely wife, Kim.

Chris thoughtfully provided barf bags for any stomachs "in distress" during his presentation - which included an eight minute video of noteworthy gore from Mr. Lewis's films. The gore set pieces were cut to old jazz (Herbie Hancock?) and I got a little ill over the scene wherein some scoundrel is depicted milking the entrails of a gored woman. I could also probably have done without the scene involving the saucy severed scalp from The Gruesome Twosome. But following the juicy display of wicked nasty gore, Chris presented a second movie, a documentary featuring some ultra-rare behind-the-scenes footage of Herschell's "fringe" filmmaking world. Chris did a great job throughout the whole presentation. I only wanted to barf once or twice...and I think he liked that he grossed me out. Thanks for that, Chris!

Along with Jim Blanton, who - God Bless him - purchased my copy of Moontrap, I co-judged a costume contest hosted by master of ceremonies and friend, Clayton Sayre. It was really funny because this cute little tyke was dressed as the hare krishna zombie from the original Dawn of the Dead (see picture, right). I think some sadistic but really awesome Mom or Dad must have come up with that costume. I hope to inflict this kind of torture on my own child some day, if permitted. Kathryn's a therapist, so I don't know if she'll let me do that or not. I'm not really allowed to play jokes on her anymore after one midnight when I stood on our darkened staircase landing and faced the corner (right after we'd seen The Blair Witch Project.) There was also that time during the making of one of my movies when I placed a prosthetic severed foot in our refrigerator...

But enough of that.

Before long, it was time for me to take the stage, or rather podium, and discuss Horror Films of the 1980s. I had a good time delivering the talk, and the audience was great. We discussed everything from body image horror movies (such as The Fly) to environmental horrors (like Gremlins), and even had chance to debate the age old question whether slasher films are misogynistic or something quite the opposite. I think you know where I land on that question. I actually think you could make an argument that many slasher films are pro-feminist in their aesthetic bent, and had the opportunity to discuss Heather Langenkamp's Nancy from the Nightmare on Elm Street films, as well as Kirsty from Hellraiser to (hopefully) make that point.

After some more time trying (desperately...) to sell some of my really bad 1980s horror videos, I had the opportunity to catch up with more of my buddies. Joseph Maddrey, author of Nightmares in Red, White and Blue was there for a bit, before heading off to a wedding.

And then Kathryn and I spent time chatting with our friends Chris Curry, Kim, Chris, Lee, Tony, Jim, and Deborah about everything from Lord of the Rings to The Matrix, to the topical and apparently wildly controversial Serenity. We changed venue and continued this discussion over dinner later in the evening, and even got 'round to discussing whether or not George Lucas, as the primary creative force behind Star Wars, has the right to change his films, or whether art - once released - belongs to the people.
It really was like a fresh of breath air being with all these folk, and I think probably every one of 'em could have written a book on these subjects. Some of theseguys have blogs too, and I need to link to them here as soon as I know more. I'm thinking about a "Yin and Yang" of Serenity feature here soon, showing the depth of the love/hate dynamic for this film. Maybe we can do a sci-fi fan Crossfire where we yell at each other...

Another highlight of the trip was when Chris Curry and Kim escorted us to the Naro Cinema and accompanying video store. You can learn more about this wonderful place at
www.narocinema.com, but suffice it to say, I still haven't picked my jaw up off the floor after seeing the incredible rental collection there. I've haunted a lot of video stores in my day, obsessively so - though that's a story for another day - and I've never seen a collection like this. It was simply unbelievable.

Then we checked out Chris and Kim's cool house, where they have this awesome room (pictured left) devoted to DVDs, film books and Chris's film memorabilia collection. If my jaw hadn't already been on the floor because of Naro's, it would have really fallen out here. Very, very cool. And, okay - this is great - Chris and Kim even own a pet piranha.

Anyway, I always love my visits to Chesapeake. All the great people there - Rob, Karen, Clay, Jim, Paul, and on and on - always make it a wonderful place to visit. We always feel welcome and right at home. My only regret - as usual - is that we had to leave before the all-night movie marathon, Fantasmo.

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