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Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #242  (Vol. 5, No. 46)  This edition is for the week of November 8--14, 2004.

What’s In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida’s Towns and Counties Q to T
 by Will Moriaty
"The Polar Express"
 by Mike Smith
 by John Lewis
Screamfest 2004 - A Real Scream!
 by Andy Lalino
This Guy Is No Artest....Famous Monsters Update
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Globe Shut Out....Happy Birthday....Welcome Aboard, Art....Oh Darn!...Meet The Beatles, Part 42
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2004
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Andy Lalino & filmmaker Bill Grefe
Andy Lalino, unnamed actress, and Troma's Lloyd Kaufman
Authors Lynne Hansen & Sally Bosco
Horror/comedy author Jeff Strand
"Halloween II" actresses Pamela Susan Shoop (L) & Tawney Moyer
Actress/model Helen Rankin promoting "Students of the Unusual"
Helen Rankin and Wes Danielson
Helen Rankin & Werewolf
Michael Hoffman, Helen Rankin & Andy Lalino
Helen Rankin, Wes Danielson, Andy Lalino
Wes Danielson, Helen Rankin, and Terry Cronin!
Screamfest 2004 - A Real Scream!

Exactly one week after the Halloween Horror Picture Show '04, a return to Horrorland was in the cards for me, this time in the shape of one of Florida's few horror-themed conventions: the 2nd annual Screamfest 2004 in Plantation (near Ft. Lauderdale). This marks my second time as an attendee, the first being on the same weekend in 2003 when I rented a booth to sell early copies of my horror film "Filthy". The crowds were bigger, the dealer's are more expansive, but not a whole lot has changed since last year's event, organized by Pete Mongelli of Spooky Empire special events.

Being from Clearwater, I knew that I'd have a good 3 1/2 hour drive ahead of me (ugh). I flew solo on this one, so I collected my U2, Simple Minds, Stan Ridgway/Wall of Voodoo, B-52's, and Soft Cell CD's and made the best of a long trip, which took me, once again, down famous "Alligator Alley". One big bonus was great traffic and absolutely no bottlenecks on the way there & back (unheard of on Florida roads) - and the driving weather was great! I was admittedly interested in driving through Punta Gorda, because I had heard some of the devastation down there from Hurricane Charley was pretty severe. Tall metal power lines bent like matchsticks on the side of the road was indeed a testament. I saw a lot of downed trees and branches, plus many piles of wood debris. A lot of the damage seemed confined to the Punta Gorda area; when I got to Ft. Myers/Napes, it seemed to have subsided.

After a routine 3 1/2 hour drive, I arrived at my destination (the Yahoo! driving directions came in handy!) - the Plantation Holiday Inn (near Ft. Lauderdale). After driving through the parking lot and seeing "Dawn of the Dead" and "Michael Myers" shirts on everyone, I knew I was in the right place. I plunked down my money ($15!) and headed into a hallway which led to the dealer's room.

Immediately to my left I saw a familiar face - Robert Massetti of FEARFILM, an indie horror studio located in Miami. Robert was there, along with one of his lovely actresses Trish Dempsey promoting their new horror DVD release "Realms of Blood", directed by Massetti and starring Trish and FearFilm starlet Sheyenne Rivers. Also freshly released from FearFilm is "Blackout" starring actress/director/producer Katherine Leis as a stand-alone DVD or on "Phobias" an anthology DVD featuring two horror tales ("Blackout" and "When Shadows Lie Darkest", both directed by Massetti). FearFilm displayed an impressive set-up with DVD's, trading cards, promotional materials, and posters from their films. Robert Massetti was on hand getting the crowd excited about FearFilm's new offerings. Joining us for a quick chat was Joel D. Wynkoop, popular veteran horror actor who has starred in many fright films since the mid '80s, and is still going strong today. For more info about FearFilm, check out their official website.

After my visit with FearFilm, I quickly ducked into the lecture room, where I noticed two actors from "Halloween 2" were speaking: Pamela Susan Shoop and Tawney Moyer; both played nurses in the film; Shoop had a memorable nude scene, while Moyer was relegated to being the "good nurse". Moyer seemed to be the one to weather the years better, looking quite attractive for her age. The two H2 alumni played off each other quite well, joking about "horror cookies" and amusing "Empire of the Ants" (1977), another horror/sci-fi film Shoop was in. Noting that it was about 2-ish, I reluctantly ducked out of the speaker's room to meet up with some filmmaker/author friends of mine.

Before entering the main dealer's room, I ran across horror/comedy author Jeff Strand, his wife Lynne Hansen, and their friend Sally Bosco. I had seen both Jeff and Lynne the previous week at the Halloween Horror Picture show, and it was good to hang out with them for a bit more. Jeff and Lynne had nice displays of their tomes, and were more than willing to sign novels for fans. I purchased one of Jeff's most popular titles, "Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary)" on softcover which Jeff did indeed sign. Very much looking forward to reading it. Jeff is having one of his novels made into a low-budget feature, and Lynne has a successful line of horror-themed books that appeal to the young adult audience. The St. Petersburg Times wrote a great article about the couple, entitled "A Match Made in Horror". For more about both Jeff and Lynne, visit their respective websites: Jeff Strand: http://members.aol.com/jeffstrand/index-old.htm Lynne Hansen: http://members.aol.com/youngadulthorror/index.htm

After visiting with Jeff, Lynne, and Sally, I moved onto the sumptuous dealer's room, which seemed much improved (in terms of quality products) over last year. I immediately darted over to my good friend Terry Cronin's booth, where he is offering the terrific "Students of the Unusual" comics to fans. "Students of the Unusual" is a horror/paranormal-themed comic series featuring some of the greatest artists and writers in the business. In fact, "Students of the Unusual" was voted one of the top 20 independent horror comics by TheComicFanatic.com. Terry and his partners, 3 Boys Productions, has recently pressed the comic's successful 2nd issue, and is in pre-production on the 3rd and 4th editions. "Students..." have earned notoriety for being the new generation of those fantastic horror comics we enjoyed as kids, such as E.C.'s "Tales from the Crypt", Warren Pub.'s "Creepy" and "Eerie", and Marvel's "Weird Wonder Tales", and are just as fun.

"Students of the Unusual" - the 2nd issue features a fun cover by Steve Mack, and stories by Terry Cronin and Pat Martin. Some stories relate to those in the first issue, such as "Stinky" and "Recalcitrant Jones and the Deadbeats" and are a lot of fun to read and collect. This is one horror anthology to look out for in your local comic shop, online, or at a comic con. Helping Terry out at the Students of the Unusual booth was spokesmodel Helen Rankin and Wes Danielson. More about "Students of the Unusual" can be found on their official website.

During my tenure with Terry Cronin and "Students of the Unusual", none other than N'sPCR contributor and fellow horror indie filmmaker John Lewis stopped by. We talked shop for a bit and filled each other in on what we were doing. John had said that he's on the brink of getting his computer up and running, and judging from his appearance on this week's N'sPCR, he got it together and is back on track with the much-missed "Creature's Corner", with, of course, a spotlight on Screamfest '04. Good to have you back, John!

After making some rounds poking around the dealer's room, I ran into Steven Biro, founder of Unearthed Video, which specializes in hard-to-find exploitation titles such as the Guinea Pig films, and met up again with actor Joel D. Wynkoop, who was there promoting his "Scary Tales" film series and his work with indie film hero Tim Ritter. I even hit Troma's booth and got to meet longtime producer Lloyd Kaufman. I told him I watched "Sugar Cookies" the other day and he seemed impressed!

I moseyed on over to the celebrity room, kept watch over by the '58 Plymouth Fury from "Christine". Inside was an impressive array of celebs: Doug Bradley ("Pinhead" from "Hellraiser"), Bill Moseley ("ChopTop" from TCM2), Ken Foree ("Dawn of the Dead"), David Naughton ("An American Werewolf in London"), Famous Monsters cover artist Basil Gogos, Bill Hinzman (the "graveyard zombie" from NOTLD), Sid Haig ("Spider Baby", "Jason of Star Command"), Ricou Browning ("Creature from the Black Lagoon"), and Linnea Quigley ("Return of the Living Dead"). My favorite celebrity, however, was B-movie director Bill Grefe, creator of many of Florida's most memorable Creature Features in the '60s and '70s, including "Sting of Death", "Death Curse of Tartu", "Stanley", and "Impulse" (starring William Shatner), which was filmed in Tampa. I managed to miss famed cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis, director of "Blood Feast" and "The Wizard of Gore", who I had met at last year's convention.

The day wrapped at about 6pm, and I prepped for the long drive home, which happily was congestion-free. Looking forward to next year's horror con, which may indeed be in Tampa! Let's hope!

"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.