Monday, October 20, 2008

Pop Culture weekend part 2


I was trying to recall just what spurred my interest in horror films and I cant recall what the trigger was. I know I was in junior high school and I was increasingly more interested in movies in general.

My mom was certainly a movie fan, but she didn't care for horror flicks and kept me aware from them with such success that when I did stumble upon something scary I was terrified.

In fact my petrified reaction to seeing the giant brain in "Journey to the Seventh Planet" when I was in the third grade – seen today I'm doubly ashamed at my reaction to such a piece of cheese – led my losing my "going to to movie by myself privileges for years.

Anyhow however it happened, it happened in a big way and I was hooked on seeing guys such as Karloff, Lugosi, Jr. Cushing, Price and Lee.

Going to horror film shows has been a regular part of my fan experience for years, although I've stayed away from the biggest of them all in recent years, Chiller Theater, only because it is so big and so crowded.

I have many fond memories of attending Chiller as a dealer. Among them are Dave Prowse – Darth Vader himself– coming over to our table to shoot the breeze. He was a very nice guy. Another is watching my pal Steve Bissette squirm when Hammer actress Ingrid Pitt came onto him. Still another was a great dinner with Brazilian horror icon Coffin Joe who sports fingernails that are five and six inches long. I couldn't watch him eat as I didn't want to stare at how he was manipulating his knife and fork.

Well, the Other Mark and I attended a junior version of Chiller – Rock and Shock on Oct. 11 and I filed this report for my newspapers:

It’s that time of year again when people’s thoughts turn just a little dark – Halloween. And by the looks of things at this year’s Rock and Shock convention in Worcester – a three day event celebrating horror movies, heavy metal rock and roll and other pop culture phenomena that recently took place – despite an economic downturn people are still willing to spend money on a
rocks glass full of eyeballs that’s actually a candle.


Well I did. I had to bring my wife home a present.

Rock and Shock is a smaller version of the largest horror and pop culture show on the East Coast, Chiller Theatre in New Jersey. That extravaganza (http://www.chillertheatre.com/) will be presented Oct. 24 through 26 at the Hilton Parsippany in Parsippany, NJ. While I enjoy the Big E atmosphere of Chiller – the event is huge – Rock and Shock manages to satisfy my horror convention jones without a three-plus hour drive.

And luckily many of the companies showing off their wares at Rock and Shock have them available on the Internet, so even if you missed the show, you can still find those odd times you think you need for the holiday
season.

Many of the exhibitors are native to New England, which adds a regional
feel to the proceedings.

GASP magazine is one of those Massachusetts-grown creations as the publication is based in Gardner. The magazine, which is available online at http://www.gaspmagazine.net caters to “independent horror” in literature,
film, and art.

One of its staffers, Aaron LaBonte explained the magazine supports “the little guy.” Editor Candace LaBonte added the quarterly magazine is “an outlet for people who don’t know how to publish their work.”

The magazine can be purchased as a download, conventional print form or on a CD-Rom through its Web site. It doesn’t have any newsstand distribution at this time.

And it is for adults as I quickly assessed with a quick thumb-through.

Currently the magazine is preparing its fifth issue.

The horror products of Horror D├ęcor (http://www.horrordecor.net), whose booth was next door to GASP, weren’t quite as visceral as the magazine, and should appeal to the horror fan looking for something a tad subtler.

Owner Matthew Molloy has been in business for two years manufacturing the previously mentioned eyeball candle – a big seller he reported at only $5. This year he featured a blood splattered shower curtain ($24.50) and a bathmat ($7.50) with two bloody footprints as well as a series of throw pillows ($12), one of which honored “Shaun of the Dead.”

Need a clock of the living room? Molloy was selling a bloody saw blade clock in two different sizes ($35 and $30).

“No script, no agenda, all bull****” is the slogan for Outside the Cinema (http://www.outsidethecinema.blogspot.com), a free podcast dedicated to horror films. Boston-based co-host Ryan St. Pierre said not only does he and his on-air partner Bill Fulkerson enjoy performing the Internet broadcasts, but also they are actually making a little money through advertising.

Definitely rated R for language, the podcast I listened to was like being in a room with two slightly hyper-active fanboys who are both knowledgeable and funny – in a hyper-active fanboy way.

“The Ghouligans,” a fun cable access show from Long Island, represented independent television productions. Producer Michael Koscik said the show has been in production since 2005 and lampoons classic movie monsters.

He quickly added, though “we treat them with respect.”

The DVD on sale for $15 is also available at the show’s Web site, http://www.theghouligans.com/, with other merchandise.

I liked the show. It’s a well-produced hybrid between “The Monkees,” and the old “Beach Party” movies with classic sit-coms. Colorful and geared toward at least most of the family, “The Ghouligans” is goofy monster fun.

The other aspect of Rock and Shock – and the up-coming Chiller Theatre – are actors with pop culture credentials looking to meet fans and more importantly sell their autographs at $20 or $25 a shot. A new wrinkle this
year was many of the celebs charged an additional $10 if you wanted to take a photo with them with your camera.

Yikes. I had wanted to take some shots but didn’t want to take an illegal photo and be wrestled to the ground by Rock and Shock security.

The folks drawing the longest lines at Rock and Shock were former wrestler and star of “they Live,” Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jason Mewes, “Jay” of “Jay and Silent Bob” from the Kevin Smith movies. For some reason various victims and monsters from the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th” and “Hellraiser” series just didn’t attract fans more.

Well, I thought as I picked up my two collections of previews for grindhouse movies that played on 42nd Street theaters, there’s no accounting for taste.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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