Despite their dire subject matter, horror films are rarely taken seriously. To many, horror is a lowbrow genre — the mischievous cousin of the suspense thriller. One of the few places you can find genuine respect and admiration for the horror genre is the HorrorHound Weekend Convention.
This year, HorrorHound Magazine is being honest by labeling the convention an “80s slasher fest” — what it has largely become. That is what, for the most part, the horror genre has become as well. Even new horror films hearken back to the days of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. However, originality in horror is far from dead.
Horror films may not fill theater seats every weekend anymore, but they are certainly packing convention halls. And hundreds of films are released on the convention circuit every year, such as Terence Muncy’s Bikini Monsters (from his local company, Warbranch Productions).
You may remember Muncy from last year’s NUVO feature story on the Famous Monsters convention, where he was promoting his film, X. Keeping to his word of releasing a new film every year, Muncy will be selling Bikini Monsters on DVD at HorrorHound.
To Muncy, a convention is the equivalent of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
“You won’t see most of these horror films on the big screen. With competition from independent filmmakers and DVD, Hollywood can’t make enough money off of horror films anymore. So, it has virtually abandoned the genre. But there’s always a mantle for new horror films. Fans just have to go to the video stores to get them,” Muncy said.
As Muncy pointed out, there were ten indie horror films released in stores on the day of our interview. So, in a twist of irony, the same independent spirits that brought horror to Hollywood are taking it back.
Like John Carpenter and Wes Craven before him, Muncy is one of those independent spirits. As its website states, his company, Warbranch Productions, makes “old school movies for a new age.” Its new film, Bikini Monsters is no exception. Mixing an old-fashioned feel with a modern aesthetic, it tells of a mad scientist and his mutant mermaids — thus evoking the wonder of a 1950s creature feature. But while the film has a certain B-movie charm, it is not just a cheesy campfest. There are some genuine scares to be had in the story of a man abducting women from beaches and turning them into science experiments.
Bikini Monsters will not make its local screen debut until July, but a version of it will be available on DVD at HorrorHound — the “Sammy Terry Edition.”
Sammy Terry (a play on the word “cemetery”) was Indianapolis’ premiere horror host in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Broadcast on WTTV, his show Nightmare Theatre included the same campy banter as The Vampira Show and Elvira’s Movie Macabre. Donning a cape and ghoulish makeup, actor Robert Carter entertained audiences as Terry every Friday night at 11:30 p.m. Now, his son Mark is making appearances as the character and hosting films such as Bikini Monsters.
Muncy is also keeping this Indiana icon alive and well with his Nightmare Theatre comic book (which is open to aspiring artists for contributions. Visit sammyterrynightmares.com for more details). You can find Terry and the comic book at HorrorHound on Saturday, March 26 between 3 and 6 p.m.
Other horror that awaits ye
That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. These are just a few of the many things to anticipate at HorrorHound.
‘80s child star, Corey Feldman tops the list of celebrities attending the convention. You know him from such classics as Stand by Me, The Goonies, Gremlins, The Lost Boys, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (in which he “kills” Jason Voorhees). Feldman will be appearing Friday and Saturday only.
Other guests include: Norman Reedus, David Della Rocco, and Sean Patrick Flanery (the stars of the cult classic, The Boondock Saints); Kristanna Loken (the first female Terminator); Barbara Steele (the queen of Italian gothic horror); Jeffrey Combs, the Re-Animator himself; Barbara Magnolfi and Stefania Casini (from Dario Argento’s legendary, Suspiria); Ken Foree (1978’s Dawn of the Dead); and more.
Making good on the “‘80s slasher fest” title, HorrorHound has invited Dick Warlock, Bob Elmore, Ted White, and Kane Hodder among others — the actors behind the masks of bogeymen Michael Myers, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees.
Speaking of masks, this year’s convention will include Mask-Fest, which features some of today’s top Hollywood make-up effects artists as well as hundreds of creepy collectible masks and props. You can even bring your own masks and have them touched up by latex mask hair specialist Laura Lady.
At Mask-Fest, you can also attend the Halloween III cast and crew reunion panel and take a free sculpture class with master monster artist, Daniel R. Horne.
There will also be a concert and costume party tying in with Mask-Fest on Saturday night at 9. The terrifyingly costumed metal band, Mushroomhead will be performing as well as the sideshow troupe, The Invisible Man Corporation. Admission is free to costumed participants as well as gold and weekend pass holders. There will be prizes for the best dressed fans — so it’s time to let your freak flag fly.
Don’t forget to check out the Vincent Price 3-D film festival. Condensed versions of vintage Price films (such as The Raven) will be shown from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
HorrorHound Weekend is bound to be nostalgic and transporting experience. As HorrorHound Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief, Nathan Hanneman said in a recent newsletter, “The best part about horror resurgences is the fact that they always seem to bring the past back with them.”