Wow, what a frikkin' weekend...of HORRORS!
It's actually taken me this long to write just to get my bearings after the residue of the Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors has slid off...actually, the VIP bracelet they gave me on the big Saturday has been on my wrist till it disentegrated into the ether so i felt like it was a fitting end and time to recap...
Now as you might know, brevity is not my strength, but I will try to keep it bare bones for your blogging pleasure (Plus I dont want to take 4 fucking years to get it all out, so much to cover). So, here we go!
THURSDAY (NIGHT): A pre-Fango party in Toluca Lake, where all the usual suspects showed up. Highlights: Meeting Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Italian Horror Icon and frequent Argento player (she was amazing in OPERA, my first Giallo "crush" truth be told) who was super sweet and tolerant to my dork rantings on DEEP RED, my favorite of Dario's work (she agreed...score!). Also, finally meeting Tom (FRIGHT NIGHT, CHILDS PLAY) Holland, who was a major influence on me in the 80's. He seemed a bit stunned that the young guys were lamenting his contributions to the genre, and when he was leaving, it took him 5 minutes to walk down a line of filmmakers that all thanked him for his work. That guy rocks and I was psyched to hear he was talking on Sunday for MOH.
FRIDAY: Im driving to Burbank to check out Frank Darabont's panel on THE MIST (one project I've been following for years, and cannot wait for) when Green calls me and says "Did you hear what happened to Rotten?" Seems that Ryan Rotten, stalwart editor of Shocktillyoudrop.com, had suffered from a deflated lung earlier in the day, and was rushed to the hospital down the road. Christ, what a way to start a weekend, huh? Glad he was OK, but what a bummer to miss a big weekend like this. God can be cruel sometimes.
So I get there and the layout was strange: One big conference room for the panels, with vendors spread out over two sections of the convention hall and frankly, I was a little dismayed to see the lack of vendors there; guess they're all waiting for Comicon. No matter, I knew I'd walk away with a few black T's, and I was on a mission.
Sucks that I missed THE MIST, but I heard there wasnt much to the panel by way of footage anyway, which was what I wanted to see. Oh well. I see the usual FC rejects (Mendez, Bishara, Green, Spooky, et al) along with some of the East Coast FC members (like Rob G, below with Mutt & Jeff) and we comiserate at the Daily Grill with Jace & Coralina (who did a panel for Argento's Third Mother flick) talking about the usual (buckets of cum and entrail smoothies, you know, the usual) and I left to get a good night's sleep and clean up dog puke. Good times.
SATURDAY: Ok, big day here. This was the day that I've been waiting for since i got the job, the day of reckoning; Im to show the FIRST scene of the film, and while i was nervous, there was also a giddy excitement that was coursing througn my veins. Maybe if I wasnt showing anything, or if the clip we were premiering sucked ass, but I KNEW that this opening was gonna knock their socks off when I first conceived of it. It's just surreal to think that almost a year ago, I was just looking at the storyboards, and now that scene that got me the gig is going to be up on the chopping block, waiting for fans to decide if this movie is worth their time and money. Regardless, if the first scene did well at Fango, it would bode well for the horror fans, cause word of mouth is crucial in this industry, and it could go either way.
So Bri and I get dropped off at the convention center, where we meet the rest of our party and marvel at the fact that the line to get is was winding all the way around the building. I havent seen a line that long since the opening of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, but then again I was 4 and people looked a LOT bigger from down there. After some smooth talking we get everyone in and its off to the HOSTEL PART 2 panel, which was pretty awesome. They had "guards" on each side holding down the fort and Eli was on fire, bounding back and forth between questions and stories to a decently filled crowd, especially being the first panel up. It def set the tone of the day, although fucking Michael Madsen had to decide to just waltz on stage during Eli's panel just to announce his royal presence; what a twat. Sorry Mr. Blonde, we're not here to see you.
After Eli's panel they ushered Rollins, Erica and myself backstage, where we were greeted by the ever-smiling Fango Editor Tony Timpone, who prepped us for the panel coming up. Henry and Erica were both cool and collected, but I was like a kid who's been held upstairs because "Santa" wasnt finished putting the presents under the tree...I couldnt WAIT to get up there and kick ass.
So the time comes, and the three of us bound out to a decently sized crowd (I heard Madsen, who was in the Comic panel before us, drove a few fans away), plus many fans were lined up on both sides of the room due to signing for Eli and the comic panel was still going on, so in all we had a few shy of a thousand people in attendance, or at least it felt that way. After a few words...we ran the clip.
Then, it happened.
As the lights dimmed and the thunderous bass from Bear's score filled the room for the first moments of the credits...a piercing whine suddenly broke in.
At first, I thought it was my mic, so Im yelling into it "Mic down! Mic down!!" and then furiously dismantling my device, thinking it was a frequency issue. But then there were flashing lights and when i figured out it wasnt me passing out...someone pulled the fire alarm! So as Bri and my friends in the crowd were screaming "Pause!! PAUSE!!!" as the clip was still rolling, Tony came up to me and said "We think some joker pulled the fire alarm. I dunno what to do other than just wait till it gets turned off."
So we waited. My heart was racing. Outside, I was cool and collected, joking to Erica and Henry over the screeching alarm noise, but inside, I was tearing my eyes out. How could this happen? Did someone do this deliberately? Who did I piss off now? It was slowly becoming a total disaster.
But, the alarm went off and I noticed...there were more people in the room for some reason. That's strange. Luckily, Tony rolled it back from the start and the 20th Century Fox logo again blasts in. Henry leans over to me and says "How cool is seeing THAT in front of your film?" and it's true. It's fucking CRAZY to see that logo every time, a total cine-boner inducer. Then Henry drops down on the panel rafter and just WATCHES the movie. Fucking hilarious.
At this point, after the "fire alarm" incident and the 16 heart attacks it gave me, I had pretty much shut down and couldn't really react to anything, so I just watched the crowd the whole time we sat up there....and it was glorious. There's only going to be a few times I'll be able to see the movie with a theater audience, so it was important for me to see if the opening's moments worked with a big crowd, to see if the shock moments, the scare moments, the moments where I tried to induce tension...I wanted to see if those moments affected the audience. But seeing the whole crowd JUMP BACK at one moment, then COMPLETELY LOSE THEIR SHIT when the "axe wound" moment happens, getting off their asses to scream, cheer and clap...it was a moment I will forever cherish in my dark little heart. To see something I came up with in Tokyo, this one shot that I kept telling everyone "This is the moment where people will know EXACTLY what kind of movie they're watching, this is the make or break moment...THE money shot" actually WORK in affecting a crowd of people like that, like the Hobbling scene in MISERY, was fucking bonkers.
The scene finishes and people are STILL screaming and clapping and the lights go up and the smiles on all the fans faces was very rewarding. Even Henry was laughing as he climbed back to his seat "Man, that's a GREAT scene!". You could tell the clip did it's job. So we talked some more about the production and such, but because Fango was keeping a strict schedule and the fire alarm ate up much of our time, we were cut short. It's a shame, because you could tell there were a lot of questions to be asked, but really, it was all about the opening scene...THAT's what Fango Weekend of Horrors is all about; getting psyched for new movies from either the guests talking about the flicks, or seeing new footage to whet your whistle.
So after we were finished, it was onto the signing in the back of the room. We positioned ourselves so that all three of us could sign posters and whatever else could be brought in (Quite a few people brought Black Flag memoribillia for Henry and BLAIR WITCH 2 dvd's for Erica to sign) and we cheerfully signed EVERYTHING. I was so thrilled to hear people say "Man, that clip alone made me say 'Im buying this movie'" or "Just hearing you talk so excitedly made me very excited for the movie". I mean, Im not trying to over-sell the flick; Im just really proud of what I got to do and can't wait for fellow horrorhounds to see and enjoy it too!
So we signed...
...in the end we supposedly had the LONGEST line of any of the guests that day! 2 1/2 hours we stayed, and while every fan left happy, it was clear Henry and Erica were beat, but man were people thrilled to see them there and they were so nice to everyone! I even missed another panel I was in for the short I DP'd for FX master Tom (Alien series) Woodruff Jr called MY COUSIN'S KEEPER (formerly reTard) because the line was sitll going! No matter, it was so much fun talking to all the fans.
While we kept signing, the 60 year old security woman who ran the event checked in:
"You know why the fire alarm went off right?"
"Um, no...was Eli Roth pissed at me or something?"
"No, who is Eli-
"No the bass was so loud that one of my staff members thought it was an earthquake."
"Yeah, whats even funnier is that instead of people leaving the building, more people came into the room!"
Thank you fire alarm. Make Lemonaide, right?
So the signings finally petered out and then Henry and I got pulled aside to do a video interview which was OK, although my attempt at comedic faked drunkenness (which is always a hit when i play Santa Claus at the Xmas parties) didnt pan out so well... and then POOF...Henry and Erica were gone and I was left with the rest of the day in a dazed blur. Did that all just happen? Did we really just show the opening clip...and they liked it??? I really didnt know what to do with myself...so I just focused on going to the Rotten Cotton booth to peruse their new wares and just enjoy the rest of the day. It was oddly cool having people come up to me, wishing me and the film well, telling me how excited they were for the film, but I was also happy to just walk around as a fan, taking in all the horror I could get (or pay for).
The rest of the day was spent on a horror walkabout, but then Green's panel for HATCHET was on, and you can tell this man had a mission. Adam (incorrectly billed by Tony as "Adam Simon"; I'll never let that one go) bounded on-stage and got the crowd into a lather with the guests (most of his cast) and the well edited clip reel he brought, which included the "head tearing" scene which is my personal favorite gag. You could tell the crowd was loving every moment of it, and left saying "Hatchet, FUCK YEA!" I can't wait for people to see it.
Unfortunately, the HALLOWEEN panel didnt go off so smooth, although when my first real horror crush, the beautiful Danielle Harris (also of LAST BOY SCOUT fame) came out, Luke pointed and whispered excitedly "Titty!" and I watched in awe as Danielle's wonderful skin pillow just peeked out of her dress. I swear, this day was getting better and better. She (unfortunatley) saw the wardrobe malfunction and tucked the breasticle back in, but I was a happy camper and thought "this panel is going GREAT!" However, Rob looked bored and pissed, answering questions as if he didn't really care, and that attitude kinda soured the audience. Where Adam, Eli and I were genuinely excited about our films and being there, Rob just looked passive, and it definately had an impact on the crowd who was generally excited for Zombie and Co. even though he was commiting heresy by remaking a true modern horror classic. Im still curiously excited about Rob's HALLOWEEN, especially as a fan of his music and film work, but seeing him in a dour state didnt give me the confidence I (or the other fans) needed to get behind this project. Only time and the film will determine it's fate.
After the HALLOWEEN panel we headed out for some killer Sushi in Burbank, then over to Dark Delicicies, where the owner (aptly named Del) was having another signing, which Adam was part of. We got there in time to see some of the peeps and poor Green, who looked like a parent sitting in a kids desk during Parent-teacher conferences. We then heard the party was going to be at Bishara's so after I dropped the girls off, I headed over to Joe's.
But before I left, I had to call Bear. "Dude" I said "You can officially say your work is 'Earth-shattering!" He was thrilled to hear his pounding score caused near Hysteria, at least to an elderly convention staff member.
RIght when I walk into Bishara's, I noticed that Mendez was furiously moving his hands, which means he's excited about SOMETHING (usually horror related). As I turned the corner, I noticed who he was talking to: Neil Marshall! Im a big DESCENT & DOG SOLDIERS fan, so to our crew, he's fucking royalty. I made no bones about telling him that too, to which he seemed a bit stunned ("You sir, are fucking AWESOME!" to which he replied softly "um, thanks") but we had a great conversation and I was thrilled to pick his brain a bit.
Downstairs, we hung some more before I ran into the godfather of the Splatterpunks, writer David J. Schow. Being an avid horror reader, especially in my youthful days, I was a big fan of his, and was thrilled to show him my custom "Splatterpunk" Converse kicks, and he seemed genuinely pleased to hear I was a fan. Sorry, I can't help myself folks, Im a geek first, filmmaker a close second.
I left Joe's a very dazed, but happy man.
SUNDAY: With the panel done, this was just me going and enjoying the con as a fan, with the perk of not paying! But first...
It was really cool that so many people took time out of their busy weekend to spend time with the bed-ridden Rotten.
Im not a fan of hospitals, and set any horror flick in a medical institution and I can garuntee I'll be squirming. But I had to go say hi and spend some time, so I just closed my eyes shut and just felt around till I got to his room (Sorry, Lady in room #1234, I wasnt trying to be frisky!) and there I found Ryan, surrounded by loved ones (Nicky and Ryan's family came to LA for the Fango events and ended up being stuck in a hospital, but they were major troopers and so supportive), just sitting in bed with tubes sidewinding around his body. It was nice to just sit there and talk him up, and if you've ever heard us go at it with our tet-a-tetes, be prepared for a hole to form in the ozone layer, all the geek gasses that we expell into the atmosphere. Then Ryan asked us all to leave while he did some of his own "evacuation" and I couldnt pass up the opportunity for a whiff of sweet, sweet Rotten urine...mmmm!
Back to the con, it was a quest for Black T-shirts, and I was itching for a few new ones to add to the massive collection and possibly score some cool bootlegs or import dvd's as well. I got to sit in on a few panels, like Mick Garris' Masters of Horror Panel with Tom Holland and Peter Medak, and it was great to hear those guys talk up the show and the genre in general.
Upon leaving, I saw my buddy Steve, who was having a panel going on with another of my heroes, Berni Wrightson, who was THE Macabre artiste-du-jour when I was a kid (he illustrated CREEPSHOW, SWAMP THING and King's CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF, among others) and I got the chance to talk him up a bit, which was so grand.
My inner-kid's been having a pretty great weekend, but nothing compared to my conversation with Frank Darabont. See, Frank wrote the script to the 1988 remake of THE BLOB, which I hold in very high horror regard. It's a witty, tense, thrilling, unpredictible script, that took no prisoners and pulled no punches. Sure it has Johnny Drama sporting a wonderous "Canadian Passport", but I susinctly remember seeing it in the theaters (with the excitement of this being the next film from the guys who made NIGHTMARE 3) and going "I wanna make horror movies". Too long to explain (corner me someday and mention THE BLOB, which is like pulling the cord on a penny racer...vrrrooom!) but I always knew that if I ever got to meet Sir Darabont, I had to thank him for impacting me like that. So, as he was walking away from a conversation, I stopped him, thanked him, and what followed was one of the best conversations I ever had. Frank was so humble and willing to let me expound on a variety of things, like how I wrote a sequel to his BLOB when I was 12, to THE MIST, where I told him that it's always been one of my favorite King stories and that it was in good hands, to waxing his car on the masterful work he did on THE SHIELD (one of the best of the series, with some AMAZING shots and character moments), which led to me asking about directing TV and how I was looking into it since there is just so many good shows right now. It led to GALACTICA, to which I said "Oh, Bear from BG did my score"
"Yeah Bear did my score, he did an amazing job-"
"I fucking LOVE Bear's work! He's a genius!"
"Yeah, he's the shit."
"Could you tell him Im a huge fan?"
"Um, of course!"
"So which movie did you direct?"
"Wrong Turn 2"
Just then, almost as if planned, a guy who was listening to our conversation barks, "Wait, Joe Lynch? Dude, you fucking rock! That opening scene had the BEST kill I ever seen, dawg! That shit was reckless!"
I smile & shrug my shoulders at Frank. "Well, there's a glowing endorsement if I ever heard one." Frank laughed and we chatted a bit more before going into the CITY OF OTHERS panel and that was that.
My heart was pounding for 10 minutes after that conversation.
After trying to walk off the Post-Darabont encounter, I got stopped by Sean "The Butcher" Smithson from Nightmare Alley who asked for an interview. This one went MUCH better than the Creation one, probably because i wasnt shell-shocked from the signing spree and Sean was just as pumped to be there as I was...and as a fan. Really cool guy, he definetely knew his shit and I think the interview will come out cool; hopefully I didnt try to actu drunk in this one too. What a ham.
Back inside, it was time for Clive Fucking Barker. I've been a fan since I read "Midnight Meat Train" from his BOOKS OF BLOOD in the 3rd grade, and been a huge fan ever since. THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW & IMAJICA? Both must reads. HELLRAISER? Classic. NIGHTBREED? Fucking underrated masterpiece, but again, that's just me. So I was excited to hear him talk since he was always a highlight when I used to go to the NYC Fango cons. What was strange was that I fondly remembered his smooth yet enthusiastic british accent in the past, and that was now stripped away, leaving a hoarse, craggily voice that had nary the eloquence of Britian's Master of The Peverse Horror. But that didnt stop the passion behind the voice, as Clive seemed totally alive and connected to his fans in the audience. While it was great to hear his stories and all the development on his new projects (quite a few of them, including MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN & PIG BLOOD BLUES), I couldnt help but feel pained to hear him talk. No matter. Barker is fucking back, and with a blood vengence!!! Bring it Clive!
After Clive, I rushed about to scrounge up any more knick knacks that were waiting to be purchased; missed the boat on a few T's I really wanted (vendors: At geek-related conventions, ALWAYS bring a surplus of XL sizes!) but at least got a cool GRINDHOUSE shirt...yes I still have a gushing crush on the GH; the way this year has been going, it's one of the few quality moments of movie magic i look back fondly on.
So, that's it. Guess I didnt adhere to my own rule of keepng it short and sweet huh? Well, it was a memorable weekend to be sure, and I wanted to thank everyone who made it so special; this really was one of the most signifigant weekends of my entire life, and only made me proud to love being a horror fan as well as a contributor to the genre to keep that love alive.
Special "Shoud'Outs" go to Dottie and Conor at Fox for making this all happen, everyone at Fango (although next time, no more "we're out of tickets" bullshit guys) Henry & Erica for being so amazingly cool and welcoming to the endless line of fans, Matt & Texas for also coming to support, all the Fright Club fuckers (both West & East Coast) who cheered us on, Luke, Gena and KT for hanging around all day, Green for keeping me from freaking out, Steve B. for the spit-swapping sessions (don't ask), Niles for the amazingly cool phone call from 'Mr. Castle" himself, Rotten for pissing, Frank Darabont for enduring my endless geeking out, Berni, Neil & Schow for allowing me to also dork off al over them (club soad gets the stains out boys), "The Muse" for being my emotional rock and taking some killer photo, very importantly my Dad, who took me to my first few WOH's and made me love this event,sand of course, EVERY SINGLE FAN I got the pleasure to meet, both at the con, those who stayed with us when "Earthquake McCreary" almost ruined the day, and every single person who waited all that time in the line, even if you just wanted to get your FEAST & TEXAS CHAINSAW redux DVD's signed...it was a pleasure meeting every one of you and glad you liked the taste of WRONG TURN 2 we gave you...don't worry, there's plenty more tasty violent vittles to come kiddies!
Thanks guys...hope to see you at Fango in Jersey!
PS: Oh, one more thing: I think I actually heard Bear poop his trunks when I told him about Darabont. Who wouldnt? I think I had a dollop in my Hanes when I walked away too.