Thursday, March 08, 2007

Joe's WEEKEND OF HORRORS (Chi-town Deep Dish style) PART 1!

Hey all,

OK so I think I've JUST recovered enough to recall the events of the Chicago WEEKEND OF HORRORS for you all in a civil, stately manner.

It was a humdinger of a weekend, despite the blizzard (more on that later) and perfect to get the ball rolling on hyping up WRONG TURN 2 to the masses. I always thought it was going to be an uphill battle, since not only were we going in with a sequel to a popular cult horror flick (sorry but it's true; if you bomb at the B.O. and people still say "Thats one of the best horror movies ever made" then you are officially a "cult" film...which aint bad at all actually) but there was the looming stigma of "Direct To DVD" which unfairly tags the film as lesser quality, which frankly, isn't true. Does anyone remember the heyday or the "Video Nasty"? Yes we had a smaller budget, but the love and passion was there all the same, and personally I think the film stands on its own and is gonna kick some ass. So, these events are designed to open fans eyes a bit, and we were coming with an extra-juicy teaser Fox put together for the event to hopefully quell fan fears and hopefully gain a few supporters.

I wont say I wasnt a bit nervous, especially since it was my first official time being a guest at a Fango Con and I was coming with a teaser I wasn't 100% about (sorry guys, we'll have to agree to disagree on this one) but everyone kept telling me "We'll be fine, the fans will love it". Im sitting there going "Um, I'M a fan, and I still feel it's too short and gives too much away" but I decided to just let it go and enjoy the weekend, which I knew would at the very least provide me with some cool new Black T Shirts and some decent bootlegs.

FRIDAY: I meet Conor, the PR rep from Fox, and we instantly hit it off, talking about movies and such. The Plane ride was a cramped one; you just dont put two 6 '3 dudes next to each other on the plane(not Conor, the unfortunate giant sitting in the middle next to me); Im surprised we weren't leaning to one side! I had an inkling that it would be cold in Chicago when we landed that evening...I didn't know we flew into a lake effect snow storm. The second we got off the plane and snow was sifting through the cracks of the walkway connecting the plane to the terminal, so I knew it was gonna be a nippily one. We arrive at the hotel, both beat from the flight and our previous weeks (I was still exhausted from the BOY HITS CAR shoot and being used as Byniarski's body support) and decide to call it a night so we'll be rested for the weekend. Inside, my room at the Sheraton is pretty frikkin sweet. A sweet suite. Ugh. Could totally have a party in here...if I had people to invite over. What a lame-o.

Well, 20 minutes later my Troma/myspace buddy Elske calls. "Where the hell are you? We're all waiting!" I didn't know there was anyone waiting to begin with, but I throw on the gloves, hat, scarf, thick jacket and boots and trudge a half mile through the snow to get to the Wyndam, which is where the convention was being held. And boy was it still being held! It was the first night, and already the hotel was swarming with ghoulies and ghosties, plenty of Goth babes and dudes with no eyebrows and dour, sour pusses. I met up with Elske, who was there to support POULTRYGEIST, Troma's new Magnum Opus, and it's been a long time coming; I remember Lloyd talking about it back in '99 when we were in Sundance, so the fact that it's made and being distributed makes me proud. Just a little.

So Elske and her boyfriend Chuck, some new friends who are orbiting around the bar area and a guy i got into a fight with back in my youth (Rusty Nails) were all there and we had a nice, causal time over a drink. The convention was actually still raging with a night of GWAR-esque bands rawking out in the main ballroom while "The Living Dead Girls" pulled entrails out of each other (more on them later as well but check a shot of them attacking me below). But then it was back to the hotel to rest up for some major geek-foolery.

SATURDAY: Conor (who also went out impromptu with buddies the night before) and I met up to grab some breakfast before we headed over and looking outside, we both knew going home might already be a problem. Fat flakes were pounding down on Chicago, but we shook them off when we walked inside the Wyndam see a line of horror fans snaking all around the hotel and extending down a flight of stars...they had sold out! I was thrilled...even though our panel was Sunday. But with the massive snow around, I was hoping they would all be trapped...trapped with me and my drippy teaser..woohahahahaha.

We walked to the front to register and its funny how I could hear in my wake as we passed the lengthy line... "I think that's the dude who did WRONG TURN 2"

...which is nicer than "I think that guy farted".

Inside the convention the vendors section was nicely laid out, although there were so many different dealers and vendors that they had to put many of them (including my Troma friends) down in the lower level of the hotel. But there was the usual cavalcade of tables dedicated to official and bootleg genre flicks, signatures with horror icons (Mosely, Foree, et al), some filmmakers pushing their indie flick-a few which looked pretty badass, like 100 TEARS-and of course girls with their boobies hanging out for geeks to ogle at. Yet, it all feels comfortable to me, welcome. God damn it, it kinda feels like home. I guess when you go to EVERY W.O.H. in New York for almost 12 years, it becomes familiar.

Conor was a bit shocked to hear that I actually wanted to sit in on all the panels that were going on (we weren't scheduled till Sunday at 3:40, so i had some time) but I LOVE the panels. It's the time when the people behind the film can really get closer to the fans and get them excited for it, hype them up. I remember plenty of movies that I wasn't even remotely interested in (TREMORS, anyone?) until I went to the Fangocon and saw footage but also heard the filmmakers talk about it. After that panel, Im was psyched, so I know how important these types of panels are. Many times, the cons have panels with Horror Stars of Yore, like Robert Englund or Doug "Pinhead" Bradley, and those are just gabfests, with the icon up there reminicing about the good ole' days, or fielding stupid questions like "What gives YOU nightmares?" (Best answer from "Freddy": "You fucking fans!") or "How many pins are in your head?". Shit like that. So I wanted to see both the filmmakers talk about their forthcoming films and also hear war stories from my favorite horror celebs, so my day was fucking SET.

...and that's exactly what I did. I sat in, enjoyed the panels, asked questions (again, people who knew who i was were shocked I was geeking out) and had a great time meeting many of the guys on the panels since I had all access; I was THRILLED to meet Marcus Nispel, who was one of my favorite 90's music video directors and kicked MAJOR ass on the TEXAS CHAINSAW remake, who was blown away I referenced his video for "100% Pure Love" as one of my favorites (yes Im gay for EuroPop from the 90's). Or later, meeting up with Zack Ward, formerly of A CHRISTMAS STORY & the superb TITUS sitcom, now in TWO Uwe Boll films (POSTAL & BLOODRAYNE 2), which we instantly hit it off over drinks and Uwe stories. It's such a chill vibe here, you can walk into a bathroom and see one of your Horror Heroes take a piss...and then not wash his hands...then instantly go out and greet all these fans with their penis-y mitts. Ah, the life.

One funny note: I FINALLY got to meet up with Dee Snider, who was there to promote Fango Radio, and who has also met and hung out with my entire family but does THAT happen? But we finally met, thanks to Adam Green, and it was an honor to talk with him for a bit. I had a picture of him and I back in '97 when I was at the NYC Fango con and he was there pushing STRANGELAND and COVERED in tats and piercings (which have since been pulled out...till STRANGELAND 2 of course) and it was surreal, 10 years later, we'd meet up again in a completely different light, yet at the same type of venue. Small world indeed.

TROMA, of course, was on hand to show extended clips of their new classic-in-waiting, POULTRYGEIST, which as a Troma fan, seems to be a total throw back to the Troma flicks of the 80's, like TOXIC AVENGER & CLASS OF NUKEM HIGH. In the last few years Troma's been a little on the Ironic, self-reflexive side, knowing it's place in the annals of cinema (this being Troma, I SHOULD have used "Anals" but Im trying to shed that habit), with TROMEO & JULIET & TERROR FIRMER being more satirical, whereas POULTRYGEIST looks like a good old-fashioned 80's campy splat-fest. Of course, Lloyd was on-stage hyping me up as another Troma Alum gone good (Eli Roth, James Gunn, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, etc) and it was a nice plug...thanks Lloyd!

Tony Timpone, the editor of FANGORIA and the Conventions Jolly M.C., was nice enough to invite Conor and I to the after dinner "desert" meet-and-greet, where fans who spend shit-loads on their ticket (Gold or Silver) get to hobknob with their favorite scream queen or Screen Slasher, and while they did have Oreo Ice Cream Sangwiches, it was a bit of a letdown. Thankfully the booze was kicking in, making EVERYTHING more entertaining, and we ended up in Ken Foree's hotel room for the "after AFTER Party" and I found myself on the roof of the hotel, slinging snowballs at Zack, Conor and Tony (which almost got us all thrown out) and then called it a night. I didnt want to be TOO hung over for my big day...




Blogger Bryan Wolford said...

that last pic cracked me up for some reason. Thus the reason I had to use it as our episode icon on Veoh for your Horror Junk episode.

2:18 PM  

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