Monday, September 29, 2014

Fan Expo 2014

Now that I've had some time to recover after an exhausting four days of running the booth for the Horror Writers Association, I thought I'd post some comments (and photos!) from this year's Fan Expo in Toronto. In short, for horror fans, the event was a vast improvement over last year--thanks to a conscious effort to consolidate most of the horror goodness in one area.

talking horror at the HWA booth
Taking up a good chunk of the North Building of the Toronto Convention Centre, Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear featured all aspects of horror. This included art, clothing, movies, and writing--the lion's share of which was showcased by the HWA, as well as the excellent Canadian publisher, ChiZine. There were also a number of horror writers gathered in the South Building, who referred to themselves as "the people under the stairs," since the location--under the escalators--has been their typical haunt for a few years now.

from Bernie Wrightson
As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Thankfully, we had a number of authors volunteering their time at the HWA booth. So I managed to sneak away on a daily basis for a trek to the South Building, which housed the majority of artists and retailers, as well as the panel discussions.

It was here that I met artist Bernie Wrightson, my horror hero, and he signed a number of comics for me--and I picked up a cool print of Batman vs. Swamp Thing!

Why Horror?

Regarding panels, the first one I checked out was about My Fair Zombie (2013), from Canadian filmmaker Brett Kelly. Unfortunately, he wasn't in attendance. So this turned out to just be a screening of the film, followed by a brief Q&A with one of the lead actors. I found the movie entertaining, with some good laughs and half-decent songs (I hope to write up a proper review soon).

I also checked out a sneak peek of Why Horror?, which is an upcoming feature documentary that is due out in October. This time last year, I was interviewed about vampires in popular culture for this documentary. Since then, they've interviewed an amazing array of horror aficionados, so I was surprised to learn that I still made the cut! Looking very forward to seeing the final product. I also shot some video of the panel discussion on my crappy digital camera--another to-do is to piece together some clips, and post them on YouTube.

Black Christmas: post-panel signing
The third panel turned out to be my favourite: a Black Christmas reunion, featuring Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin, John Saxon, and Nick Mancuso (who was never on-screen, but provided the voice of Billy). Produced in 1974, this movie is considered by many to be the first slasher film, and the first to feature a killer's point of view. Although it failed at the box office when released, it's since become a cult classic. These four actors shared a number of fun anecdotes about the film, and I also hope to post some clips from this discussion over the coming months.

Here comes the fuzz!
The final panel was a who's who in Canadian horror filmmaking, featuring WolfCop, a new homegrown comedy/horror that is doing quite well at the box office. What stood out to me was the fact that all the panelists were men--despite featuring almost 12 filmmakers! What about Tricia Lee? Karen Lam? It would have been nice to see some diversity here.

All in, Fan Expo 2014 was a huge success, and I'm already looking forward to next year. Here's a few more photos that I snapped over the four-day event:

the HWA booth in all its horror glory
some amazing Star Wars displays courtesy of the 501st Legion
creepy dolls...ugh
creepy clown
another creepy clown
I'd buy that for a dollar! (couldn't resist...)
winter is coming...
Lana. Lana. Lana! Lanaaaaa!
some of the horror was even a little horrific for my tastes


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