My eyes itch, my skin feels unusually coarse-pored, my tongue is stained from repeat doses of Pepto Bismol and my liver actually aches. As for my bowels, I’ll just say, “Satan’s Splash Mountain.” Yes, Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World, I’ve just returned from yet another horror convention. And if you recall my gushing praise of last October’s Cinema Wasteland, you can imagine what I’m going to have to say about three solid days of Wasteland action this time around…
Friday morning, my good friend and sometimes-co-writer over at Radiation-Scarred Reviews, Dan, arrived at my place and we loaded up my car with the junk food, alcohol and clothing we’d need for three days of debauchery, and hit the road just before noon. After a brief stopover for lunch just before crossing the line into Pennsylvania. A few short hours later, just before four o’clock, we pulled into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn, the neon green “Cinema Wasteland” banner welcoming us in.
Checking in and dropping our gear in the room (and filling our flasks with lifegiving booze), Dan and I descended into the maelstrom after grabbing dinner at the bar. We caught a screening of Lucio Fulci’s THE NEW GLADIATORS (replacing the scheduled screening of ASSIGNMENT TERROR). Meeting up with the Blood Sprayer’s own Matt, we cruised through the central vendor’s room, then caught a screening of MARIJUANA, a 1968 scare-film in which a very obviously stoned off his gourd Sonny Bono (in gold lamé pajamas, I might add) warns the viewer that if they smoke pot, they might get “bummed out” and become “a weed head.” Thanks for the tip, Sonny.
Now, here’s where I really started drinking, and consequently, this is where my memories of the weekend start to get fuzzy. So pardon me if I seem a little vague at times from here on out, I spent part of Friday and all of Saturday in a haze of varying degrees of inebriation.
- Reconnecting with friends I made at last year’s Wasteland. Most specifically, a trio of scoundrels known as the Killer Shrew (the only man I know brave enough to walk around a horror convention in Tie-Dye), Brandis the Red Nurse and Die-Anne TaKillYa. Just really great people, and seeing them again after six months away was a real treat.
- Introducing Dan to the magic that is Carl Kolchak via a screening of the second TV film, THE NIGHT STRANGLER. I actually hadn’t seen this one myself prior to this. It’s actually really surprising to me how much Kolchak was softened when he made the transition from TV movies to the TV show. For the record, Dan loved THE NIGHT STRANGLER, as did I.
- PRESIDENT WOLFMAN, a new independent film, was screened and is amazing – though perhaps “new” is too strong a word, PRESIDENT WOLFMAN having been stitched together from bits and bobs of various public domain footage, most prominently the film WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON starring Dean Stockwell, and surprisingly, MARIJUANA from 1968 starring Sonny Bono! This film is not for the kiddies or the faint of heart, featuring as it does footage of some sort of gruesome surgical operation removing a piece of a man’s gums, and footage of childbirth taking place in the back of a parked car, featuring the most impressive spray of amniotic fluid I’ve ever witnessed.
- Talking with Gary Kent, an actor, writer, director, producer, stuntman, and all-around guru of cinematic history. Gary is so kind and so gracious and I really tremendously enjoyed talking with him about his work on films like SATAN’S SADISTS and his friendships with such other luminaries as John “Bud” Cardos and Ted V. Mikels. I unfortunately was not able to attend the panel discussion he did – my own poor time management being to blame. I hope to see Gary again at Wasteland in the future. I will not allow myself to miss a panel with him again. I wanted to buy a copy of his book while I was there, but he sold out in the first hour and a half of the vendor’s room being open!
- Completing my collection of autographs from the primary cast of SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA by meeting Brinke Stevens. I’d gotten Michelle Bauer and Linnea Quigley’s autographs on the SORORITY BABES poster last October, and I found Brinke to be a funny, gracious, big-hearted woman who was a real pleasure to talk to.
Three things that were very big and very important to me this weekend:
- This con represented, for me, the first true Blood Sprayer get-together. Though I’ve been writing for the Blood Sprayer for three years now, the only other writers I’ve met from it have been Matt and Zach. On Saturday, our Glorious Leader Wes, his family, Zach, Brittney-Jade Colangelo, Courtney Wyant and his family, all rolled into town and we had a big hug-fest. Having everyone together in one place was a magical experience and one I will not soon forget – and which will hopefully occur again in October. Like Wasteland, the Blood Sprayer’s staff is a family, and so this past Saturday was a double-family reunion, complete with all the drunken stupidity, meat by-products and fart-noises (real or faked) one would expect from such a gathering.
- Meeting Jack Sholder, who is perhaps best known for directing NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE, but who should be far better known for such gems as THE HIDDEN and most of all, ALONE IN THE DARK. As I gushed enthusiastically to him about how much I loved the film, and asking questions that I’d had while viewing it, I handed him one of my business cards, which carries the address of my personal film review site, Radiation-Scarred Reviews. I told him that I’d reviewed ALONE IN THE DARK and it had earned the highest marks that I will give a film. He accepted my card with a smile and made out an autograph to me which read, “Bill – Thank you for keeping critical thinking alive. Jack Sholder” An hour or so later, as I passed by his table again, he called out to me, and said, “Bill, I read your review of my film and you know what? You really got ALONE IN THE DARK. I was impressed with your writing and with the research you’d done, especially in recognizing the influence of R.D. Laing, who Donald Pleasence’s character was based on. Good work, Bill, I hope you’ll keep it up, and you should check out another film I did, 12:01.” This is without a doubt the single highest piece of praise I’ve ever received in regards my writing, and I was blushing like a Japanese schoolgirl taking her first tentacle as he spoke. If nothing else had gone my way all weekend, this alone would have made it a great one.
- Last October, I distinguished myself at 42nd Street Pete’s trivia challenge during Saturday’s Ghastlee Night At The Movies event. This year, I rampaged through the trivia challenge like a bull in a china shop. I got profoundly lucky – many of the questions Pete had come up with happened to have been answered in some of the episodes of his radio show I had been playing off my phone in the car on the drive to Wasteland, especially some of the ones about Spaghetti westerns and Quentin Tarantino. At the end of it all, I’d gotten 20 questions correct, though Ken and Pete had been forced to deduct five points from my score for being a little too quick on the buzzer and not letting Pete finish asking the question before answering. What can I say, I was a weird mix of confident and nervous, and that made me a little jumpy with hitting the buzzer. I know my domination of the game raised some people’s ire, including one of the other contestants. While I don’t apologize for my knowledge of trivial information, I do apologize if I came across as arrogant or condescending in any way during the show. That being said, I’ve decided to stand down from any further competing in the trivia challenge – I’ve made my mark, and hereby retire gracefully to allow someone else’s star to shine in October. According to Ken, I may have set a Wasteland record for the most questions answered correctly, and I’ll take that as a feather in my cap. Maybe once someone tops 20 correct answers, I’ll come out of retirement to try and reclaim my title at the following show.
All in all, this was an amazing show, and I’m already counting down the days until the October shindig.
Tags: 42nd Street Pete, Alone in the Dark, brinke stevens, Carl Kolchak, Cinema Wasteland, Django, Events, Gary Kent, Grindhouse, Indie Horror, Jack Sholder, President Wolfman, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, The Blood Sprayer, The Night Strangler