A Visit to the Flint Horror Convention

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On Saturday October 19th, this month, I trekked up to Flint Michigan to join in the festivities at the Flint Horror Convention. The ride from my home in Wixom, MI was rainy, but no downpour was waiting for me at the location, Flint’s Masonic Temple. This old building was a was fine attraction itself. I can only imagine this place saw the turn of the previous century not just the current one. Another thing that struck me right away was FREE PARKING! There was a large parking lot near the rear of the building that had neither meters nor an attendant in a tiny box bullying you for money on your way out. This is a big plus for me. Nowhere in the Metro Detroit area do you see that type of thing.

Flint Horror Convention (http://flinthorrorcon.webnode.com/) is a one day event with three floors of stuff going on. The first housed vendors and the celebrities. I spoke to the lovely Debbie Rochon, who was oddly standing at her table alone. Beautiful women standing alone is a no-no in my book; so, I just needed to spend some time with the actress of such films as Theatre Bizarre and Tromeo & Juliet. She’s a genuine and very nice person.

I also finally met up with author, Rue Morgue columnist, and internet-buddy Paul Counelis, along with some of his brood. He had a table of his own with all his books and some used DVDs he was getting rid of due to his upgrading to blu ray. I bought Ernest Scared Stupid and Exorcist III for two bucks each. I also snagged me a copy of the current issue of his Halloween Machine mag. Good reading!

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On another floor there was nearly an equal amount of vendors selling their wares. This is where I met Mike C. Hartman of Detroit’s answer to Troma Silver Bullet Pictures. He’s a very nice fellow. One of my friends (and star of my short film Georgia Shock) appeared in the company’s previous flick Heavy Mental, which was picked up by Troma for distribution. I picked up his latest effort Blood Orgy at Beaver Lake.

On the York floor the film fest was held. I was able to watch three short flicks and about an hour of the documentary Screamer, which shows the behind the scenes workings of haunted attractions. Two of the shorts I viewed were boring torture flicks, I’m afraid. But the third one was a very well-produced zombie movie, The Last Broadcast: Pandora’s Dawn. Even though I’m rather sick of zombies right now, I was very impressed with the acting and use of practical effects. Very well done!

I really wanted to stay and watch the rest of Screamer, but I also wanted to see the kid’s costume contest. And just as expected it was a highlight of the day. I would’ve loved to see the other events planned, but I really needed to leave early.

So, after saying good bye to Mr. Counelis, I went to my last stop of the con: a visit with John Amplas, actor and title character of George Romero’s best film, Martin. Here’s one of the nicest guests of cons I’ve come across. I ended up with a great signed pic from that film and then I was on my way home!

Chances are I’ll be checking this event out next year as well!–Charles T. Cochran

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11:59 And Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21st Century–Book review

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In recent years I’ve come across many horror fans that can name the first horror film they watched. And at times they’ll even go as far as state that they were maybe four or five or whatever age at the time of the viewing. I can’t do that. I have no idea what the first horror film that I set eyes upon or what age. But I do assume that I was very young at the time though. I just know that I was always watching horror as far back as I can remember. Chances are that the first horror film I watched was on television. And since I was born in 1965 and Detroit’s locally produced horror host show, Sir Graves Ghastly Presents, first aired in 1967, I think it’s safe to say that I watched my first scary movie on his show. There starts my history with the famed “Horror Host”.

If memory serves, Lawson J. Deming, who portrayed the friendly neighborhood vampire, was “let go” in the early 1980s to make room for friends of the new program director. The comedy duo was from Cleveland, like Deming himself. I gave them a chance even though I was pissed off about losing Sir Graves. But this pair proved to be very unfunny and was quickly sent back to Cleveland.
I had only seen The Ghoul twice, so he never really had much of an effect on me. But during the early 1980s an import from Chicago came to town by the name of Son of Svengoolie. This guy was so funny I didn’t care about the films shown. I was only really interested in his comedy bits.

Well, of course, I hadn’t even believed that any horror host had been active for the past thirty years (aside from Elvira, maybe). But then the internet introduced me to a new breed with websites like The Monster Channel (http://www.100ymm.com/). This is the page that some of the new breed like Freakshow on Bordello of Horror (https://www.facebook.com/BordelloOfHorror) and Gunther Dedmund of The Basement Sublet of Horror (https://www.facebook.com/basementsubletofhorror) stream their respective shows. There’s also The Horror Host Graveyard (http://www.horrorhostgraveyard.com/) where I spotted my current favorite of the new breed, Uncle Gregory (http://uncle-gregory.webs.com/index.html), who I suggested to Paul Counelis for this book.

Well, now Rue Morgue magazine contributor, Paul Counelis (http://rue-morgue.com/tag/paul-counelis/) is ready with this new book giving a behind the scenes look at the current state of the horror host, both broadcast TV and/or the internet. 11:59 And Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21 Century goes straight to the source to get the poop on what’s going on behind all that fog and cobwebs. There are eighteen interviews that fill the book, as well as two forewords by Dean Vanderkolk, writer on Detroit’s Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive In (http://www.nightmaresinema.com/) and Brad Leo Lyon, writer/director of Monsters on Main Street (https://www.facebook.com/MonstersOnMainStreet).

The interviews start off with some history with former host and successor to Bob Wilkins, John Stanley. In fact, Stanley practically interviews himself with some nice long responses to queries from Mr. Counelis. He fills out in great detail the state of the horror host scene before and during his time on the air. Later in the book more history is provided with interviews with Doktor Goulfinger/Michael Monahan, a former host himself and now a horror host historian; and, also current host Gore De Vol, who has been at the game for the past forty years now. De Vol is actually a pioneer in the internet side of the horror hosting. But, we really can’t forget Son of Ghoul (http://www.sonofghoul.net/), who has been at it for twenty-seven years now. The history is a great foundation for what would come next.

The rest of the book tries to fill in the background and current status of horror hosting in the 21 century, hence the title. With interviews with such hosts as Penny Dreadful (http://www.shillingshockers.com/), Lord Blood-Rah (https://www.facebook.com/lordbloodrah), the Blood Jangler (http://www.thebonejangler.com/), and my favorite, Uncle Gregory–who is the only one who stays in character for the entire interview–the book is a fun and informative read for those interested in the subject matter, like myself. Seeing what makes these people tick gives good insight into the interworking mindset going on in the scene today.

And, of course, who doesn’t like a little controversy? Well, some is drummed up within the interview with the Bone Jangler as he makes his feelings known in regard to many of the new internet hosts popping up. No names are dropped, though. So, it’s not all fun and games in the land of horror hosting. But, it does make things a little more interesting.–Charles T. Cochran

For those interesting in picking up a copy of 11:59 And Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21st Century go to http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-counelis/1159-and-counting-horror-hosting-in-the-21st-century/paperback/product-21236376.html
Or for the Kindle Edition http://www.amazon.com/11-Counting-Horror-Hosting-Century-ebook/dp/B00FOECNQQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382400339&sr=8-1&keywords=11%3A59+And+Counting%3A+Horror+Hosting+in+the+21st+Century

Three Short Horror Movie Reviews

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Dario Argento’s Dracula

I’m not a big Dario Argento fan. But I do like a goodly amount of his films. But with his new Dracula film I think it’s a good sign that it’s time for me to stop watching any more of his work.

No one seemed interesting in trying to make a good film. Bland direction, photography and the most dull Dracula ever in any movie. The CGI was so bad that any and all video game companies would reject all of it for their product. Asia Argento, once turned into a vampire, gives a performance that make’s me think she was in on a joke that the audience wasn’t privy to.
Lazy, silly and dull.

Film Rating: ½

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The Lords of Salem

On one hand Rob Zombie was very successful at channelling the early 70s european arthouse horror style and mood; on the other hand, sadly, I found Lords of Salem very dull. It’s not a bad film. It’s just very slow. I can get into slow moving films, but this one just didn’t work for me. I loved the photography, the music, and this is Sheri’s best acting to date. Meg Foster was amazing. The film just didn’t move me much.

Film Rating: 2 ½

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Curse of Chucky
A package containing Chucky is sent to a middle-aged woman and her paraplegic twenty-something daughter (Chantel Quesnelle and Fiona Dourif, Brad’s daughter, respectively) seemingly for no reason. Add the visit from the woman’s other daughter (Danielle Bisutti) and family which includes a young daughter (Summer Howell) who is a potential vessel for Chucky’s soul, this all seems like a contrived setup for some mayhem Chucky style. And, yes, this is a setup up for that mad slasher stuff. But this family has a connection with the living Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) before he became Chucky. Even though this adds meat to the storyline here this film is mostly just watchable at best.

The creepy looking house (this is mostly a one location movie) and the use of mainly practical effect (a big plus for me) does help here. Director Don Manici does a fair job, but doesn’t really give the film that extra push that would pull the viewer in. We’ve seen this all before and done better. In the end this flick would be an okay time-waster.

Film Rating: 2 ½

Fright Night 2 (2013)–very quick review

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The overwhelming amount of disrespect shown to the fans of any and all the Fright Night films before this as well as the contempt for horror fans in general is unforgivable. This isn’t a sequel to anything; besides some superficial differences this is just another remake of the original film. Besides that, it’s not really a good film either. Aside from the vampire played by Jaime Murray, we have nothing but bland performers. Director Eduardo Rodriguez shows here more of a talent for action than terror or comedy. Don’t make the same mistake I made and stay away.

Rating: half a star