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Now in our tenth calendar year!
PCR #499 (Vol. 10, No. 42). This edition is for the week of October 12--18, 2009.

"Where the Wild Things Are"  by Mike Smith
Spooky Empire 2009  by ED Tucker
The Night of the Living Dead Experience  by Chris Woods
FANGRRL Goes To Spooky Empire 2009  by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
2LDK  by Jason Fetters
Nfl Unbeatens .... Goodbye, Lou! .... Tyson On Oprah? .... Roger Goodell On Limbaugh .... .... .... .... f  by Chris Munger
I Hope I'm Sick This Day .... You Mean He's Still Alive? .... You Mean They're Not Still Alive? .... Speaking Of Drive Ins .... It Was 40 Years Ago Today (give Or Take) .... They Write The Songs .... I (heart) New York .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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FANGRRL by Lisa Scherer Ciurro

FANGRRL Goes To Spooky Empire 2009

After years of hearing about -- and reading PCR columns about -- the Spooky Empire/Screamfest event, I finally hauled my lazy butt over to Orlando this year and checked it out. I'm so glad I did. I had an absolute blast.
are those zombies coming my way?

For anyone who doesn't know, Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend (formerly known as Screamfest) offers "some of the most well-known names in horror, as well as some amazing horror writers and artists....unique seminars, live music...some of the best tattoo artists in the U.S., independent filmmakers and their films, a larger dealer room than ever before, special FX artists, a costume contest...a hearse and creepy car show...a celebrity charity poker tournament, pool parties, classic movies...a gaming room...the 3rd Annual Spooky Empire Zombie Walk" and more. Some of the Spooky Empire activities held very little interest for me personally, but there were still plenty of things I was interested in doing and seeing. There's something for everyone at Spooky Empire...most likely all scheduled at the same time, if you have my kind of luck.

I went non-stop from dusk til dawn (ok, from noon to 3 a.m.) and still didn't get to do and see everything I wanted. No complaints, though, because I managed to squeeze in a lot. Do ya want the gory details? The boring minute-by-minute account of my three days at Spooky Empire? Ok, you've twisted my arm. Here goes:

On Friday, October 9, I:
yep, those are definitely zombies heading my way

*Got stuck in the best traffic jam ever. Turns out that the best vantage point from which to experience the Zombie Walk is from the inside of one's car, watching dozens of zombies stroll by (and occasionally come up to the car window and "attack").

*Attended Joel "King of the B Movies" Wynkoop's Q&A panel. Joel entertained the audience, as usual, with his high-energy, hilarious stories about his acting career and personal life. (Does this guy ever sleep? I wish I had just half of his energy and enthusiasm.) Halfway through his Q&A, Herschell Gordon Lewis popped in to chat about Wynkoop's role in the new HGL movie The Uh-Oh Show!.

*Attended the Writing Horror 101 panel, hosted by Adam-Troy Castro, Del Stone, Jr., Tim Anderson, Mike Brotherton and Rob Fox. Writer/critic/filmmaker Tim Anderson is very well-read and funny as hell. Horror author Adam-Troy Castro is snarky, sassy and funnier than Tim. The panel discussion started out focusing on horror novels and short stories, but the packed audience steered the conversation more towards horror screenplays. Both topics were interesting and surprisingly educational.

*Briefly strolled through the dealers' room.

*Checked in with the Crazed Fanboy posse at "home base" (Wynkoop's table).

*Hung out at the Pop Gun Productions table with Joe Davison and Rod Grant, discussing their new film Experiment 7.
you never know who'll turn up at Spooky Empire

*Did a shot of pumpkin-flavored alcohol with the guys at the Troma table and lived to tell the tale.

*Gushed over horror authors Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen like a goofy fangirl.

*Tried to flirt with Chris Sarandon and Jake Busey.

*Met author/actress Cerina Vincent (who graciously agreed to an email interview in the near future for my book blog).

*Bought comic books from Terry Cronin at the Students of the Unusual table.

*Told H.G. Lewis I was looking forward to seeing his movie on Sunday.

*Exchanged pleasantries with the still-beautiful Tippi Hedren while waiting in line in the ladies' room.

*Had fun at the Zombie Luau.

On Saturday, October 10, I:

*Overslept and completely missed H.G. Lewis' Q&A session.

*Attended author/actress Cerina Vincent's Q&A panel, where I was the only person interested in hearing about her writing career. Because the audience was packed with fanboys, all the questions were about Vincent's on-screen nude scenes, working with Eli Roth in Cabin Fever, Vincent's on-screen love scenes, working with Eli Roth in the future, and Vincent's plans for future on-screen love and nude scenes. She was sweet and gracious, even when dishing some "for this room only" gossip.

*Caught a screening of 2:22, a new short film from Orlando filmmakers Steven Shea and Tim Anderson. Beautifully shot, 2:22 opens with a young woman (Tara Lightfoot) waking up violently ill in the middle of the night. As she struggles through the pain and nausea, she tries to piece together the details of her previous night out with the girls (revealed through a series of flashbacks). (I'll never do shots with the Troma guys -- or anyone else -- ever again after watching this movie!) Intriguing opening; solid acting; interesting storyline; perfect running time.
one of the tables in the dealers' room

*Had fun exploring the dealers' room. I'm not really a collector, so I rarely buy anything at these types of events. For me, the fun is in exploring the vast array of items for sale (and the vast array of personalities selling those items): the gorgeous, eerie photographs of cemetaries and tombstones from CemetaryPrints.com...T-shirts galore ("zombies like girls with brains" from Zombie Buddy Productions was my favorite)...movies...artists Scott Blair and Dirk Strangely...jewelry...some collectibles (I saw a corner booth with nothing but Star Wars stuff)...The Graveyard Girls comic book series, which the author began drawing when she was 13 years old...books...authors Paul Isaac (Tortured Skin) and Robert Cordray (Memoirs of a Haunted Man:A Zombie Trilogy)...magazines...monster portraits from Colorado artist Robert Elrod, who was attending Spooky Empire for the first time too.
Mike Christopher, a.k.a. the Hare Krishna Zombie from Dawn of the Dead (look closely and you'll see Darth Vader in the background on the right)

*Stopped by the table of Mike Christopher (the Hare Krishna Zombie from Dawn of the Dead for a photo and autograph, and ended up sitting at his table with him for a good 30 minutes discussing politics and other non-zombie topics.

*Chatted with John Russo (Night of the Living Dead) for a few minutes about parenting and childcare issues, of all things (prompted by a screaming infant and a harried mother two feet away from his table).

*Had dinner with Herschell Gordon Lewis. !!! This was one of the highlights of my life. PCR columnist Chris Woods and I were at the hotel restaurant Saturday night waiting to be seated, when in walks Mr. Herschell Gordon FREAKIN' Lewis. Chris is the editor of HGL's new movie, so of course they said hello and chatted a little bit. When he found out that HGL was by himself, Chris asked him to join us for dinner. HGL said sure and then turned to me and said "Hi, I'm Herschell by the way." Over cheeseburgers and fries, the three of us talked about movies, internet rumors, conventions, the crappy service at the restaurant, The Uh-Oh Show!, fandom, the Blood Feast screening in Tampa at the Gasparilla Film Festival almost two years ago, writing, marketing and more. Well, ok, HGL and Chris did most of the talking, because I was busy trying not to float out of my seat from sheer giddiness.

I do have to brag for a moment (I just have to) about two things. One, I'm pleased as punch to say that I asked HGL a question about his direct marketing/copywriting career that caught him by surprise and impressed him (his words). (For once, my woeful lack of movie knowledge served me well.) Second, HGL kissed my hand. *sigh* After dinner, Chris and I escorted him back to his room (via a zippy hotel golf cart that I almost fell out of), thanked him for the thrill and honor of having dinner with him, shook hands and said good night. After shaking my hand, however, HGL showcased some old-school style by bowing a little bit, kissing my hand and saying goodbye. And then he chuckled at my bug-eyed, open-mouthed, completely stunned (but delighted) reaction. It was an incredible night. Herschell Gordon Lewis is one of the nicest people I've ever met, celebrity or otherwise, and a damn fine dinner companion. (No offense to Chris Woods, who's not so bad himself.)

*Attended the Scared Hot:Sex and Horror panel, hosted by Adam-Troy Castro, Tim Anderson, Lynne Hansen, Mary SanGiovanni and Robert Massetti. A pseudo-academic discussion of how sex and horror are linked. Very interesting and only slightly awkward (mostly due to the creepy guy in the audience who kept asking questions).

*Didn't win a guitar signed by all the convention guests that was being raffled off, even though I stuck around until 3 a.m. (with a bunch of other grumpy, sleepy people) for the damn drawing.

On Sunday, October 11, I:

*Watched Chris Woods' short film Spaventare for about the fifth time and enjoyed listening to the audience gasp in all the right places (just like I did the first four times).
filmmakers Jason Murphy, Chris Woods and Steven Shea

*Attended the Ghosts in the Attic panel hosted by Rob Fox, Adam-Troy Castro, Tim Anderson and Mary SanGiovanni, which made me realize how few ghost stories I’ve actually read. It was a very interesting discussion about the subtleties of the “quiet horror” sub-genre versus the gorier, in-your-face shock style of horror.

*Caught the first fifteen minutes of the Choosing Your Monsters panel hosted by Mary SanGiovanni, Jeff Strand and Alice Henderson. They’d just gotten into a vigorous discussion about which types of “monsters” are over-used when I had to step out to catch a film screening.

*Watched the short film The Sleuth Incident from Orlando filmmaker Jason Kupfer. Gorgeously filmed and scored (and containing no dialogue), this film is about a day in the life of a teddy bear. A cute, cuddly teddy bear. A cute, cuddly, murderous, vicious, bloodthirsty teddy bear that will gnaw your face off and then pee in your bloody eye socket afterwards. (I’m not making this up.) Incredibly inventive, deliciously demented, but about two minutes too long.
Students of the Unusual's Terry Cronin and Lisa "FANGRRL" Scherer Ciurro

*Saw a rough cut of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ new movie The Uh-Oh Show! (formerly known as Grim Fairy Tale). As HGL is telling grim fairy tales to children, he shares the story of the Uh-Oh Show!, a demented game show where contestants lose limbs if they get the questions wrong. While the show’s host Jackie (Brooke McCarter) is butting heads with the station exec Fred Finagler (Joel Wynkoop) over the show’s future, reporter Jill (Nevada Caldwell) is investigating the whereabouts of the show’s former contestants, including her deadbeat boyfriend. The film has the signature Herschell Gordon Lewis over-the-top gore, as well as several hilarious lines, but it’s difficult to write any sort of review based on a rough, unfinished version of the movie. Looks promising, though.

*Attended the awards ceremony of the Freakshow Film Festival, where HGL received the Lifetime Achievement Award (and The Sleuth Incident won for best cinematography).

*Bought a copy of Wynkoop’s latest movie Fall of an Actor on my way out the door, headed home and slept for about ten hours straight.

All in all, I had a marvelous time and will definitely go again next year. I might even dress up as a zombie….

"FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro.   All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.