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Now in our ninth calendar year!
PCR #449 (Vol. 9, No. 44) This edition is for the week of October 27--November 2, 2008.

by Chris Woods

"Changeling" by Mike Smith
Retro-Ween 2008 by ED Tucker
Kings of Leon: Only By The Night by Bobby Tyler
Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend 2008 by Chris Woods
Zombie Night at the Beach Theater: The Halloween Horror Picture Show, 2008 by John Miller
Halloween Horror Picture Show 2008: A Different View by C. A. Passinault
Happy Halloween .... Birthday Boy .... Great News Delivered .... Fantasy Football by Matt Drinnenberg
Anthony .... Chiller Theatre .... Spooky No Longer .... Bond -- James Bond .... Sacred No Longer .... It Worked On Bewitched .... No No No No I Don't Sign Them No More .... Passing On .... And The Oscar For 1974 Should Have Gone To... by Mike Smith
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When it’s the Halloween season in Orlando, lots of people would think of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, but there’s another big horror event in town. The event formally known as "Screamfest", which is now called "Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend" (that’s a mouth full), well, we’ll just call it "Spooky Empire" for short. This three-day convention has everything from horror celebrities from past and present, movie screenings of classic horror films and new independent ones, tons of vendors selling DVDs, CDs, toys, comics, posters, masks, etc., rock concerts and other shows. There are lots to do at the Spooky Empire con. This was my third outing at this event and it gets bigger and better ever year.

I arrived in Orlando from St. Pete early Friday afternoon. Checked into my room and then headed out to roam the resort. There was some time to kill before the doors opened so I called up friend and actor Joel Wynkoop. He was already at the convention setting up his table. I was going to meet up with him later, he also told me he had a Q&A going on at the con later on that night. Also, throughout the weekend, Joel and I were going to record some interviews for another video piece. Walking around I ran into Sarasota filmmaker, Greg Rivera. It was good seeing him, I haven’t seen him since Screamfest 2006. As it got close to 5pm, when the doors opened, I got in line for my ticket. One improvement they had from last year was the tickets lines. There are two lines, one for general admission and one for V.I.P./will call. Last year there were no signs to tell you which line was which. This year there were no signs but they had people from the con walking around telling people which line was which. Soon after the doors open, I got my ticket and was inside the convention.

I entered the dealer’s room and met up with Joel and his wife Cathy. There were some other familiar faces down the same row like Hocus Focus’ Jason Liquori, Abyssmal Entertainment’s Steven Shea, the cast and crew from Zombies, Zombies, Zombies, Terry Cronin’s Students of the Unusual crew, Unearthed Films’ Stephen Biro, the Fear Film gang, actor and voice over artist Jeffrey Breslauer, and the freaks from Troma. I started to make my rounds through the room. Most of all the dealers were the same ones from last year with a few newer ones. Tons of cool stuff around as always. Lots of DVDs, horror soundtracks, posters, and horror toys. Some of the things that stand out were some very cool paintings of different horror characters. There were lots of nice quality masks of Leatherface, Pinhead, and others. Also there was a table with horror dolls from characters from Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Hellrasier, Nightmare on Elm St., and others.

At 7pm, I went with the "King of the B Movies" himself, Joel Wynkoop, to his Q&A session. I recorded the event to be a part of the Spooky Empire video. Also recording the Q&A was Creature Productions’ own, Doug Vater. The Q&A had a great turn-out. Joel talked about how he got into acting and filmmaking, what were his influences growing up, his favorite films that he done, and some stories from some of his productions. One of the stories was how a police station helped them out by letting them use their station, blocking off streets, giving them two officers, and using some of their weapons (unloaded of course). Joel asked if he could peal out in his car and have the cops chase him down the streets, but they said no to that one. He also took questions from the audience and showed a few clips from his films. The session went very well and was a very cool moment during the convention.

After the Q&A, I decided to go the guest’s rooms to get some autographs. I wanted to get them out of the way for I can have more time the next day to record interviews and roam around the con. Last year I waited two hours in line for Robert Englund. This year I didn’t want to wait that long again and luckily the only people I wanted to get an autograph from was the cast of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. The cast had their own room since the con was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film. I brought with me a poster book of the film that I bought from Tom Savini at Screamfest ’06 so I can have the rest of the cast sign it. I was able to get Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger, and some of Dawn zombies Mike Christopher (Hare Krishna Zombie), Clayton Hill (Sweater Zombie), Sharon Ceccatti-Hill (Nurse Zombie). I was disappointed that George Romero had to cancel, which I was looking forward to meeting him. Also Gaylen Ross canceled as well. All the cast members were very cool. Also there were no lines since it was late and got all my autographs quickly. I remember one moment, though, when I was waiting to get Scott Reiniger’s autograph and there was a couple in front of me taking forever with him. Turns out the guy wanted to buy this sculpture of Scott when he turned into a zombie in the film. It was in a glass case on display on his table but not for sale. This guy had to get it and was offering him a lot of money for it. He kept on saying “Make me an offer, I'll buy it right here on the spot!” I couldn't really hear all of the conversation and I couldn’t really make out what Scott was telling him. The woman that he was with kept on turning back to me seeing that I was waiting. She tried to get him to hurry up but he wasn’t listening. I remember also Scott going over to Savini to ask him something about the sculpture. I just remember the guy said he would be back with the rest of the money tomorrow and Savini saying “Yeah, sure you will.” At that moment I walked away to get another autograph, but went back to Scott when he was free. I guess the guy didn’t buy it cause the sculpture was still there the next day.

When day one of the con ended, I went with Joel, Cathy, Jason Liquori, his wife Nancy, and Joel’s friend Mike to Denny’s to get some dinner. Friday was a long day and it was good to sit down, eat, and chat with good friends. After we got out, which was about 12:30am, we went back to the hotel and Joel, Mike, and myself hung out by the pool for a couple more hours. I got to talk to actor Barron Christian from Star Trek VI who was in a film recently with Joel called Body in a Dumpster. I also talked to the director of the film who was there, Kristain Day. It was cool hanging out and so far the event was just as good as it was last year. Now it was on to day two.

The second day of Spooky Empire kicked off about noon for me. I went over to the dealer’s room to Wynkoop’s table with camera in hand. Today was the day we were going to go around shooting our interviews. First I walked around a little bit. Said my hellos to everyone, looked at what some of the venders had, then got Joel and we were off to the guest’s room.

The Woods and Wynkoop connection was in full force as we walked through the convention recording everything in sight. Joel is a superstar at these events. As we were walking through the event through out the day, Joel is stopped tons of times by his fans and friends. As we moved on we decided to first stop at the Dawn of the Dead room to get some of our first interviews. But none of them were in there. I guess they were doing a Q&A or something. That’s when we ran into PCR favorites ED Tucker and Lonnie Dohlen. After chatting with them, we went into the general guests' room to start our interviews.

The room wasn’t as crowded as we thought, but still a good size crowd but one you can move around easily. Two of the big stars we hoped to get were Malcolm McDowell and Elvira. We first approached Ashley Laurence from Hellraiser. She had lost her voice but she was nice enough to come by and say Hi to the camera. After that we talked to former WWE wrestler Al Snow. It was very cool meeting him, being a huge wrestling fan myself. We got interviews from some newcomers to the convention and some ones that we did the previous year. We interviewed Bill Hinzman from the original Night of the Living Dead, John Michael Graham from the original Halloween, Ricou Browning from Creature from the Black Lagoon, J Larose from Saw III, Alex Vincent from Child’s Play. We tried to get an interview with Jason Mewes, Jay from Jay and Silent Bob and Clerks, but weren’t able to. But we did get a brief interview with Corey Haim. He was about to leave for lunch and talked to him real quick before he left. We also talked with Brooke McCarter from Lost Boys fame.

After that we were very happy to get a quick interview from Elvira. She was very nice and it was very cool of her to do an interview even with her line being so long to see her. We then got to speak to Doug Bradley, Pinhead himself from Hellraiser. Last year we didn’t get a chance to interview him so we made sure to get him this time. We then spoke to Mike Baldwin from Phantasm and also wanted to talk to the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm but he wasn’t there. We walked around some more and talked to William Forsythe whose been in many films like Dick Tracy, Devil’s Rejects, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween. Another Halloween star we talked to was Daeg Faerch who played young Michael Myers. We decided to go back to the Dawn of the Dead room, we interviewed David Emge and Mike Christopher, who is a good friend of Joel’s. Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger weren’t in the room at the time so we figured we get their interview early the next day. We were also able to catch The Tall Man when he came back, he spoke to us for a bit. Once that was done we went back to Wynkoop’s table.

I shot some interviews with some independent filmmakers and got some b-roll around the dealer’s room. I then wanted to catch some films at the Fear Films Freak Show Film Fest. Only film I was able to catch a part of the festival was Live Evil. After the movie I joined back up with Joel and Cathy and just hung out for the remainder. Once the dealer and guests' rooms closed, we tried to catch Zombies, Zombies, Zombies, but it was all filled up. Instead we went over to other room that was doing a horror "Wheel of Fortune". Joel was one of the contestants and it was hilarious. I remember Joel kept on asking for the letter “B” and it never came up. And the one time when he was up we knew that there was a “B” in the puzzle, but Joel wasn’t calling it out at first, but then he did. Joel ended up coming in second in the whole game. The whole thing was very entertaining.

Joel, Cathy, and myself then caught a midnight showing of Dawn of the Dead. We were hoping some of the cast members would come out to the screening. Mike Christopher was there and was walking like a zombie up by the screen before the movie started. Even though I've seen Dawn millions of times it was very cool watching it with an audience. The film is still one of my favorites and I can watch it again and again. After the film, I called it a night and was looking forward to day three of the event.

The last day of The Ultimate Horror Weekend was a slow one. Just wrapped up a few things and was ready to head back home. I checked out and went over to the con to pay it one last look. Wynkoop and myself got some more interviews. This time we got to talk to Malcolm McDowell. He was very cool as well and took the time to do a quick interview. We were able to finally talk to Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger. When Joel was talking to Scott he recited some lines from Dawn. First he did Ken’s line when he was yelling at Scott in the truck, the one where he was saying, “Listen trooper! You better screw your head on, cause your not just playing with your life, you’re playing with mine!” and the other one was from Scott when he was about to die and he said to ken, “I’m gonna try, I’m gonna try not to come back!” Another cool moment at the con. Our finally interview was with Michael Berryman from the original Hills Have Eyes. We got a chance to talk to him last year as well.

As the interviews wrapped, I went back to the dealer’s room and did a finally round, bought a few DVDs, said my good-byes, and then hit the road. Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend 2008 out did itself. I had a great time. It was fun again doing the interviews with Joel. It was good seeing everyone and meeting the guests. The event was as good as the other two I’ve been to and every year it gets bigger and better. I’m looking forward to next year's spooky event.


All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.

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