Horror movies and metal music have always gone well together, both because they share similar themes like the Occult and Satanism and that their fan bases consist of like-minded individuals looking for entertainment outside of the mainstream. So being an avid fan of both, horror movie conventions are something that I’ve enjoyed attending throughout the years. I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to go to one since my son was born almost six years ago, so I was really stoked to get to attend this year’s Days of the Dead convention in Indianapolis.
Taking place over 4th of July weekend, the convention was made up of vendors, panels, photo ops, and movie screenings, but they also had other events like a costume and tattoo contest. It’s a lot to take in over three days and I got nowhere close to seeing everything despite attending both Saturday and Sunday. The crowds at these gatherings are always great and it’s often easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger about movies, music, or whatever. I’ve always loved the laid back nature of these events and how friendly and accessible both the celebrity guests and the attendees are. Also, there is almost a seedy vibe that I dig since horror movies are kind of a niche genre and the celebrity guests that they have are more of the underground variety. As with any genre or fantasy themed convention, there was a lot of cosplay going on as well.
One of things I always like to start out at with at horror cons is checking out all of the vendors. You’ll find people from all over the country selling their unique wares like books, shirts, movies, and toys. Some notable ones that I visited were Western Evil, a t-shirt company that I’ve been following for a while specializing in horror/pop culture themed designs. I also got the pleasure of meeting MP Johnson of Freak Tension, whose books and zines I’d highly recommend for people looking for horror fiction outside of the norm. Several comic book creators were in attendance as well, including Sam Miserendino, who wrote a graphic novel called Princes of Pieces. It’s a story about a zombie Jesus that still has his biblical powers going on a rampage against sinners and religious hypocrites.
Shopping and people watching at horror cons is always great, but what I really came for were the screenings and I got to catch three locally produced films while I was there. The first one was for a movie called Headless produced by Forbidden Films and Gentleman Monster Productions. It’s described as a “lost slasher film from 1978” where a masked killer wages an unrelenting spree of murder, cannibalism, and necrophilia. This one had some really nice practical effects and was incredibly good at building tension and suspense. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of old-school slasher flicks.
The next two I caught were from Bloomington based Bandit Motion Pictures, who I’ll be sure to follow closely from now on. The first one, Harvest Lake directed by Scott Schirmer, was a little too far out there for me, but still enjoyable. The basic premise is that five friends camp out in the woods and get seduced by…said woods. Basically, the trees makes them horny and then a woodland entity attacks them. The WTF aspects that got my attention were the ejaculating penis mushrooms, boob flowers, and what I could only describe as a vagina growing out of the ground. It’s not for everyone, but worth giving a shot for fans of more strange/cerebral type horror movies.
The highlight of the night and weekend for me was catching the midnight screening of Space Babes From Outer Space from director Brian Williams. More sci-fi comedy than horror, it was easily one of the most enjoyably films I’ve seen in a while. For me, it helped that it was filmed in Bloomington, Indiana, where I resided for a good portion of my life, and had familiar locales like the strip club Night Moves. The basic premise of this one is that three women from space crash-land in a barn in Bloomington and the only way they can refuel their ships to go back home is by using male sexual energy. I know the premise may seem juvenile, but check out the trailer! There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and it reminded me of old school comedies like Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds, or Airplane (referenced in the film) with a sci-fi slant.
I should note that one of the things that I was impressed with the most in these pictures were the actors. There were a few wooden performances, which I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by most of them. Brian Papandrea (Space Babes) and Kevin Roach (Harvest Lake) were a couple of the ones that stood out. I’ve also found my new favorite scream queen in Ellie Church. Ellie was in all three of the movies that I caught and showed off both a comedic (Space Babes) and dramatic range (Headless). It’s easy to see why these filmmakers consider her a must have for their movies and I’ll be sure to follow her career from now on.
All-in-all, I had a really great time. The convention was top notch and ran smoothly. I have to give massive props to the organizers for putting this together! My only regret was that I didn’t get a chance to attend some of the panels, but like I mentioned before, it’s really impossible to see everything. Anyway, next stop Horror Hound in September!