After my first trip to Orlando, Florida, for the Spooky Empire horror convention, I wondered how could this get any better. Well, they managed to easily top that this year with celebrities like Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, and John Carpenter. They also had some celebrities from last year’s show return, such as, members of the GhostHunters, Kane Hodder, and Danielle Harris. There were fantastic workshops, and Q & A’s, which entertained the audience while giving out a lot of great information. I can’t forget the merchant room, which was filled with all kinds of crazy horror related items. As I also did last year, I will now take you through a recap of my adventure at Spooky Empire 2010.
This year I was able to get there in time to witness the zombie walk. I really have to hand it to people because they came up with some great zombie costumes. One of my favorites was a couple dressed up as “Kermit the Frog” and “Miss Piggy” zombies. Instead of saying “brains,” Kermit said, “Flies…flies!” After the zombie walk, it was time to enter Spooky Empire.
After finally getting into the convention, I made my way over to the first workshop that I wanted to see, which was “Zombie Evolution.” This was a discussion held by Scott Kenemore, Dr. Steven Schlozman, Phil Nutman, Scott Marlowe, and Rob Fox. All of them are published authors of zombie stories. The discussion was about how zombies have evolved over the years. One of the more interesting conversations was about how the brain functions, and what would make zombies forget how to open a door, yet still have hunger for brains. This workshop was immediately followed by another titled “An Oxford Debate on Zombies.” Dr. Schlozman took on Kevin A. Ransom in a debate over whether fast zombies or slow zombies were scarier. Dr. Schlozman probably presented a better case stating slow zombies are scarier, but I have to agree with Ransom: fast zombies scare me more. On a side note, it was interesting to find out that Dr. Schlozman has been a consultant for George A. Romero.
From there, I was onto another workshop titled “Horror Journalism 101” presented by the Horror Channel. The discussion covered topics such as, how to set up, and do an interview, write a review, and get your blog picked up on search engines. Of course, this was a must see for me. I learned a lot about writing a review, and I’m probably breaking some of the rules right now. Oh well! It was good to see that I am doing some things right, but I still have things to improve upon.
In the process of seeing these workshops, I missed the viewing of A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 1-3, and the Q & A that followed each. Missing the movies wasn’t a big deal, but it would have been nice to hear the Q & A’s. I ended the night swinging by the Freakshow Horror Film Festival. All weekend long this festival showed several full length and short films, ending on Sunday with awards given out for the best films. They are independent films, so you have to realize not all of them are going to be great. On this night, I saw “Maxwell Stein.” This was the story about Maxwell Stein, a director who was willing to do almost anything to finish his current film and had a little help from a possessed old style video camera.
Day 2 started off with the last workshop that I would see over the weekend. This workshop, titled “Believers, Skeptics, and Cynics,” was presented by renowned crptozooloogist Scott Marlowe along with Robert Shuster, Elissa Malcohn, Stokely Gittens, Vince Courtney, and Joe Garden. They talked about where we stand on whether or not creatures like Big Foot, and the Chupacabra are real. The most fascinating thing that was mentioned was about the possibility of humans being engineered, and they didn’t mean cloning; they meant from the beginning of human life. I never thought of that it that way.
Enough with the workshops let me get to the really good stuff. It was time for a series of Q & A’s starting with Danny Trejo. The room was packed for this event. This Q & A started off with a video of clips from several movies he has done such as, From Dusk Til Dawn, Halloween (remake), and Machete. He then came out, and it didn’t take long for him to make a joke. I figured he would be a funny guy, and I am happy that I was right. He had some amusing stories, but I also found him to be a very intriguing guy as well. The audience got to learn about how he got started acting, got some of his roles, and does a lot of work for charity.
The next Q & A was with the GhostHunters and TAPS members Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, and Amy Bruni. I got to see their Q & A last year, but was still eager to see them again. They have plenty of ghost stories to tell, which is interesting to hear especially if you are a believer. The most entertaining thing about this show is that you get to witness how well Steve and Dave play off of each other. They make a great comedic pair, as they seem like they have known each other forever.
Then onto another Q & A, which was Hatchet 2 with Danielle Harris and Kane Hodder. This was the perfect time to have a Q & A with them because there has been a lot of talk about Hatchet 2’s release in theaters. As part of the promotion of the movie, they wanted people to go out, and support this unrated horror movie in hopes of getting more unrated movies in theaters (besides making money obviously). Both Danielle and Kane addressed this issue at the beginning of the Q & A, which you can see in my videos of Spooky Empire. They didn’t seem too bothered by it, and were quick to defend the film.
After finally getting a much-needed rest, and doing some sight seeing, I went back to the Freakshow Festival to catch some more movies. I got to see a movie called “Doomsday County”, and a short called “Unfun House.” Then, I caught a little of “True Nature” before leaving to see a trailer screening of a new movie called “Inkubus” staring Robert Englund, and Joey Fatone. While I got glimpses of Robert while walking around, this was the first time I saw, and heard him up close (before I got my autographs and picture). I was very impressed with his strong personality, and quick wittedness. I can see why he made a great Freddy Krueger, and is such a great actor. As for the movie, it looked promising, but they said they are still working on the final touches.
I concluded the night by watching The Human Centipede. The perfect movie to see before going to sleep, but at least I wasn’t eating. Of course this was the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. If you thought your local movie theater was filled with people that don’t know how to be quiet while watching a movie, then you should have been watching The Human Centipede with me. Everyone was just yelling things out trying to be funnier than the last person that gave their two-cents worth. Well, besides the audience interruption, the movie wasn’t too bad. It did have some mistakes (which were pointed out), but it was definitely a unique story.
My final day started with getting in line for my picture with Robert Englund. If you wanted a picture with him, you could only take a posed picture. Several of the celebrities would not take personal photos with fans. If you were wondering, it cost $40.00 for one picture with him, and it could have up to two people in it, besides Robert of course. They also gave you the opportunity to have your picture taken with Robert and Heather Langenkamp, or Robert, Heather, John Saxon, and Amanda Wyss. As you would expect, the more celebrities, the more it cost (too much for me). It was worth it to at least get a picture with Robert because “how many times are you going to get a chance to take a picture him after all?” It was cool because he did put on the Freddy glove, and made a Freddy like facial expression.
After that, it was off to get an autograph, and picture with Danny Trejo. I regret not planning ahead, and bringing a machete with me to have him sign it. Again, in the few moments waiting for and meeting him, you could see what a cool guy he is. He was smiling, and seemed more than happy to be around his fans. Then, it was back in line to get Robert’s autograph. I was nervous taking a picture with him, but I was even more nervous getting his autograph. It was like I was a little kid all over again because never in my wildest dreams, or nightmares did I ever think I would meet him. His wife, who is an extremely nice woman, accompanied him. One of the things I had him sign was one of my HorrO’s Gory Reviews T-shirts, which read, “I’m a Horror Icon.” When his wife saw it, she immediately said that Robert needed one. Of course, I came prepared for this, and gave her one. She got a good laugh out of it, and she held it up (got video of that too).
My Nightmare on Elm Street experience wasn’t over yet. After getting Robert’s autograph, it was onto the “Nightmare on Elm Street Panel.” I thought the Q & A with Danny was packed, but now, the room was really full. It included the aforementioned cast members, Robert, Heather, John, and Amanda. As you might expect, Robert dominated the conversation because a lot of questions were directed his way, but he did let the others give their opinions as well. One of the most unexpected questions came from a guy that actually held up a record from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and asked them about recording the record. They don’t forget much because they remembered that album. As expected, someone asked about the remake, and they gave their opinions, but the most interesting things said were about things that happened on set.
I had just enough energy to catch one more Q & A, which was with Allan Hyde who plays Godric on True Blood. I was surprised to find out he was from Denmark. He was a very down to earth kind of guy. One woman even complemented him on how nice he was when she met him earlier in the day. He talked about his experience on set, but we also got to learn a lot about his personal life, and moving to the United States. After that, it was off to the merchant room to buy some T-shirts. I always save this for last because sometimes the dealers will put stuff on sale during the last day, or even the last few hours of the event. I was right because I got a good deal on a shirt I saw the day before.
I concluded the convention by getting an autograph from John Carpenter. It was good to see him not only because of who he is, but because the day before he was rushed to the hospital. Apparently he had a small seizure. I did see an ambulance outside, but I never imagined it was for him until I read about it Sunday morning. He seemed a little tired, but in good spirit. I give him tons of credit for coming back to the convention to entertain the fans. There were two things I regret missing out on, and one was seeing his Q & A (the other was meeting Elvira). I wished him well, and thanked him for the autograph.
Overall, I had an amazing time at the convention. I got to meet, and get autographs from people I never imagined I would. Robert, Danny, and John are all great people, and I only have more respect for them now. The zombie workshops were great because they made you really think about what makes a zombie, and why so many people like zombie stories. Speaking of people that like zombies, I am glad I got a chance to see all the great zombie costumes at the zombie walk. There were also plenty of other people dressed up in costumes walking around throughout the convention, who are always great to snap a picture of. This year was so awesome, I don’t how they are going to top next year, but hopefully I will be there to find out.
Don’t forget to check all the videos from Spooky Empire on my YouTube Channel to see what I am talking about: HorrO's Gory Reviews YouTube Channel