Not even the rain could keep people away from Spooky Empire 2011. People kept coming into the convention like zombies hungry for some brains. And why not with great guests like Doug Bradley, Gunnar Hansen, Malcolm McDowell, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, and Clive Barker to name a few. I can’t forget to mention the terrific authors like Rob Fox, Scott Kenemore, Sean Hayden, and Kevin Ranson. Then there are the fabulous artists and merchandisers. Throw in the Freak Show Horror Film Festival, and Zombie Walk, and you have a can’t miss convention.
As usual, I’m going to take you through my adventures at Spooky Empire to give you a taste of why you should attend next year’s show. Once again I failed to get there in time for the Zombie Walk, but I heard it was another great showing even though it tried to rain. I did see plenty of people dressed in some awesome zombie costumes as usual.
The first event I got to attend was “Horror Blogs & Ghouls of Social Media.” Perfect for me right! Authors Scott Kenemore, Kevin A. Ransom, Doris Ross, L.J. Gastineau, Laura Reuther, and Christian Jensen hosted this. The panel was on point with everything they said. They made recommendations to post articles about current topics and movies, discussed why authors should have a blog, and to be sure to make the most out of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
After a tour around the convention, I made my way to the “Doug Bradley” Q & A. Doug was an absolute pleasure to listen to, and very entertaining. He wasted no time in addressing the new Hellraiser movie, and his opinion of remakes. I strongly suggest you check out this video to hear what he had to say. Also, after seeing the video, visit www.dougbradley.com to get one of the T-shirts he mentioned.
From there it was time for a quick dinner. I only mention it because I got to sit a few tables away from Sam Tramell, Kristin Bauer, and Mariana Klaveno of True Blood. It was funny watching people walk up to their table, and say how much they love them (yes I resisted).
Later on that night, it was time for the “Rocky Horror Picture Show-Shadowcast.” What a wild and crazy show this started out to be. There was a special appearance by Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors), who got a well-deserved standing ovation. After he spoke for a few moments, they had several members of the audience come to the stage for a game of spin the bottle. This was a special game because they would bring two people to the front of the stage. For every dollar they collected was a second the two had to kiss. In order to get the most money, they paired girls with girls, and guys with guys. Lets just say the guys got the most money, and were the most reluctant. After that exciting game, they finally got to the shadowcast, which was really well done.
Day 2 saw rainfall all day long, but it did not stop people from coming to the event. My day kicked off with a Q & A by “Tony Todd.” It started a few minutes late because he apparently had a little too much fun at the pool party the previous night. It was funny when he first came out because he was really concerned about not shaving for some reason. Besides that, it was great to listen to some of his experience as Candyman, and in Final Destination. Also, he let us know that he will be in a movie called “Sushi Girl,” and will soon be directing a movie for the first time.
From there I tried to see the discussion called “Zombie Outbreak: How to Survive,” but it was packed. The convention was definitely filled with zombie fans. So then it was onto the “Malcolm McDowell” Q & A. As I expected, he was very well spoken, and had plenty of great stories to tell. One of the funnier moments was when he engaged in a conversation with 7-year-old boy, who he eventually brought on stage.
Next was yet another Q & A, this time “Leatherface- Saw is Family.” This was a terrific event because it featured the actors who played the first three Leatherfaces: Gunnar Hansen, Bill Johnson, and R.A. Mihailoff. When the three of them came on stage, it was easy to see one of the reasons they got the part was that they are all big men. It was interesting to hear how they all got the parts, and some of the things that went on behind the scenes.
The final Q & A I attended was “Ghosthunters.” This was the third time I have heard Steve Gonzalves and Dave Tango speak at Spooky Empire. The two continue to play off of each other so well on stage. They have great stories to tell, and the audience always has some interesting questions to ask them.
After all the Q & A’s, it was finally time to take a walk through the autograph rooms. Last year I started on my quest to get some “Horror Icons” to sign my HorrO’s Gory Reviews official shirt “I’m a Horror Icon.” Robert Englund was the first to sign it, and this year I started with Gunnar. What an extremely nice guy he was. He was happy to sign the shirt, and an autograph picture. As the tradition has become, if you sign the shirt you get a shirt. Gunnar was excited to have a shirt, but my only regret was I didn’t have one in his size. He told me that his girlfriend would wear it. What was really awesome was that the next morning I saw him at breakfast, and he told me he had the shirt packed in his bags. I’m sure he was tipped off by the fact that I was wearing the shirt, but it was still nice that he mentioned the shirt to me.
After that amazing experience, it was over to the exhibitor room to see what the merchandisers, and artists had to offer. As usual, the merchandisers had plenty of awesome items for sell such as, funny shirts, movie posters, and signed memorabilia. I got to meet Don from T-Shirt Bordello again, who was dressed up as a zombie. I was particularly impressed with some of the artwork. One of favorites was a table that had Care Bears, Hello Kitty’s, and a Homer turned into zombies.
After making it through the rain again, and having breakfast with the stars, it was time to get a photo with Sam, Kristin, and Mariana. Seeing them around the convention, and then meeting them convinced me that they are really nice people. I never thought I would be taking a picture with anyone from True Blood. There were a couple of other pictures I wanted to take, but couldn’t squeeze them in.
Now for the moment that truly made the weekend for me. I went to get an autograph from Doug Bradley, of course wearing my Horror Icon shirt. Even though I had passed him in the halls a couple of times, I guess he hadn’t noticed the shirt. When I gave him the shirt to sign I could tell he like it, and was pleased when I told him I had one for him. So pleased that he paused then proceeded to put on the shirt. I got him to sign my autographed shirt with him wearing a Horror Icon shirt, and took a picture with him as well. Then he gave me one of his shirts that he mentioned in the earlier video with him. To top everything off, he kept the shirt on for the rest of the afternoon taking pictures, and signing autographs. Thank you Doug Bradley!!!
With an autograph from Freddy, Leatherface, and Pinhead, it was time to get one from Jason, or in this case Kane Hodder. He hadn’t arrived at his booth yet, so I stood in line waiting. Behind his booth were two doors that took you in the back rooms of the hotel. Two staff members were standing there talking when there was a sudden slam at the door. Go figure, 30 seconds later Kane opens the doors to see who he scared. Something told me he did that everyday.
Keeping with the tradition, I gave him the shirt to sign along with one of his own. After almost getting choked out by him the last time I got an autograph from him, I was definitely a little nervous. I was very surprised that he thought it would be a little “presumptuous” for him to wear the shirt. For all that he has done for horror, I say no way, he deserved it. He also joked about scratching out some of the names on the shirt. Again, he almost killed me!
From there it was onto another Q & A, this one being the “True Blood Panel.” This Q & A was absolutely packed. I made the sacrifice, and opted to sit up front on the floor to get some good pictures and videos. Sam, Kristin, and Mariana were a blast to listen to. They must have so much fun of the set. The audience did take advantage of them, as one girl asked if she could sit on stage with them because it was her birthday while another asked for an autograph because she was a poor college student who couldn’t pay for one at the table. The three True Blood stars were very nice to them, and of course said yes. How could they not with all of the cameras on them?
While all of the things I mentioned were things that I chose to do, there were plenty of other things going on; some of which I wish I had time to do. One of those things would have been to meet, and get an autograph from Clive Barker. There was a line to meet him the entire time. Overall, I had another great time at Spooky Empire, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for Spooky Empire 2012!
*Be sure to check out the Spooky Empire 2011 page for more pics and videos: Spooky Empire 2011 Pictures and Videos