Cinema Wasteland Look-Ahead

In just 30 hours, we sold our home of 10 years and bought a new house. I’m excited, overwhelmed, and running on fumes. And I can’t wait to step away from it all for a couple days and escape to Cinema Wasteland.
The line-up of movies is excellent, and with not 1 but 2 “Night of the Living Dead” guest panels, there is sure to be a lot to discover about this foundational film. Also, it’s been a while since I watched “Death Dream,” a fantastic film that deserves more attention than it gets.
Here’s a preview of our itinerary (I’ll be in the company of my partner in life and crime, of course).  Catch me if you can!
Saturday, April 8:
1:30 p.m. – Guest panel with 4 out of 10 of the original investors who financed “Night of the Living Dead” in movie room 1.

3 p.m. Shorts: “Teacher’s Pet” and “Bedtime Worries,” a couple of Our Gang/Little Rascals episodes in movie room 1.

4 p.m. Guest panel with the attending cast of “Night of the Living Dead” in movie room 1. 

5:30 p.m. Movie: Boris Karloff in “Corridors Of Blood” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

7 p.m.Eat, drink, shop!

10:30 p.m. Movie: “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

12 a.m. – Wasteland Intermission Reel in movie room 1.

12:30 a.m. Movie: “Death Dream” in movie room 2.

Sunday, April 9:
Noon Movie: Made-for-TV slasher film “Deadly Lessons” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

1:30 p.m. Movie: “Night of the Living Dead” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.
I’ll be live tweeting from @andrearogers using #cinemawasteland. Have your own itinerary to share? I’d love to see how you’re spending your Wasteland weekend.

Cinema Wasteland recap: Hitchcock and Psychos

I kicked off the month of October in true form — with my hometown horror convention, Cinema Wasteland. I can’t say it enough, but this really is my favorite convention — the guests, films, event lineup and vendors are perfectly suited to my taste, budget and Midwestern sensibility (I like friendly and easygoing people).

With my time limited by budget and family constraints, I only had Saturday afternoon to do the Wasteland, but I made the most of it.

I had the chance to watch 2 flicks I’ve never seen — “Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Final Performance” and “Psychos in Love.” Both were accompanied by guest Q & A sessions.

“Final Performance” was a pleasant surprise — I haven’t seen any of the episodes of this ’60s Hitchcock series, but if there are more like this, then count me in. It was by Robert Bloch, who also wrote “Psycho” and there are plenty of similarities — creepy innkeeper in an isolated outpost, anyone?

The story goes like this. A TV writer on his way to Hollywood gets stopped by a woman running through the countryside. He picks her up and agrees to let her ride along, only to be stopped for speeding a short while later by the town sheriff. The girl spins a yarn about being kidnapped, and the sheriff tells the writer to come into town. Only his car won’t start, so he gets a tow and is stuck there in town, at a suspicious motel owned by an older gentleman. The tension is high as he realizes not all is as it seems, and there’s a fantastic twist ending.

Following “Final Performance,” actress Sharon Farrell (pictured middle, with interviewers Art Ettinger of Ultra Violent magazine (far left) and Ken, the Cinema Wasteland showrunner) did a Q & A session with the audience. She wrote a book about her time in Hollywood and was candid about her relationships with some leading men from the era, including Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee.

The discussion was intimate and personal, and Farrell broke down in tears when she discussed some of her recent struggles. Moments like this are where Cinema Wasteland really shines — it’s not a cookie-cutter experience. It’s real and personal, and sometimes a bit messy.

After a fun dinner and drinks with friends, we sat down for a Q & A discussion with the star and writer of “Psychos in Love, “Carmine Capobianco (pictured left, with Ettinger). Capobianco was right at home at Cinema Wasteland — he was funny and personable, and shared some hilarious stories.

“Psychos in Love” played immediately afterward. It’s a bloody, low-budget, laugh-out-loud horror comedy. For this murderino, it was a perfect way to wrap the night.

Welcome to Akron, Monsterfestmania 

Me: “When the kids are older and we retire, I just picture us going to horror conventions all the time, all over the place.”
Hubby: “Yes! And we can drink lots of beer and watch movies and get beer guts!”

That was the conversation that concluded the night on Friday, after a very fun and fulfilling evening at Monsterfestmania Science-Fiction and Horror Show.  Akron is a small (albeit hip) city. So while we have had a comic convention for a while now, we haven’t hosted a horror con. So I was super excited last year when I received a postcard mailer for Monsterfestmania.

For the inaugural year, the event was held in Quaker Square. Side note: this is a space with a lot of Akron history. However, it’s a bit past its glory days. I understand that the show will be moving next year to the John S. Knight Center, which is a nicer, updated space that will undoubtedly be better for screening movies and holding panel discussions.

The CW network had a booth with a prize wheel. Not only did I win a free “Goosebumps” Blu-Ray, my friend Sarah spun the wheel and also won a movie too. Nice!
The vendors at the show were A+.  There were tons of old, spooky toy sellers, lots of clothing and media vendors, and a few comic artists as well. The folks from Cinema Wasteland (the best show around) were there as well, and they have great merchandise. 

Cinema Wasteland presses these great shirts, and they’re bargain priced at 2 for $25.

As for the guests and films, the show’s theme was horror hosts, so Fritz the Night Owl and Misty Brew were scheduled, among others. Unfortunately, Misty Brew canceled. So the movie slots were shifted around on Friday and while we had intended to watch her creature feature, we ended up watching part of “Psycho,” with an intro from Fritz. Friday also had a screening of “Dead Next Door” with an intro from Akron native J.R. Bookwalter. Bookwalter is a down-to-earth guy with a lot of great memories from the direct-to-VHS era of movie making, and “Dead” is a fun flick.

Other notable guests included Lisa Loring (Wednesday Addams) and Felix Silla (Cousin It) from “The Addams Family.” Renowned artist Basil Gogos, of “Famous Monsters” fame was also scheduled to appear, but canceled.

For it’s first year, Monsterfestmania was a great time. Admittedly, there are a few kinks to work out, but I was pleasantly surprised at the guest line-up, and you certainly can’t put the blame on the show’s organizer for 11th hour cancellations. The quality of the movie screenings could be improved (particularly with regard to the sound), but the move to the Knight Center could fix those issues in 2017.

Hands down, the best thing about horror conventions is the chance to share memories, movies, and panel discussions with fellow genre fans. You won’t meet nicer, more interesting people anywhere on the planet. And that’s why I picture my golden years as a grand tour of the world’s horror conventions — just to be around people who love things that go bump in the night as much as I do.

If you’re in the area next year, definitely check it out. If you see me, say “Hi!”

Record keeping in Morgantown at Retro-tique

RUu7jsvcWhenever I go on a trip, I like to check out the local record shop. Why? Because there’s no better place to discover the artistic soul of a place — or to meet cool people. And of course, because sometimes you find great things.

I recently went to Morgantown, West Virginia for a marketing conference at West Virginia University. Before checking into the very cool Chestnut Hotel, I walked down to Retro-tique, a vintage store on Walnut Ave.  The store is about 50% vintage vinyl and 50% vintage toys, clothes, electronics and accessories.

Want a quick litmus test to judge the overall awesome-ness of a record store? Well, if you see The Cramps in the used bin, you can pretty much assume you’ve struck solid gold.There was this too…  And, oh yeah, a huge wall of vintage electronics. Pretty cool, huh?
Is this a pic of me geeking out over the great selection in the store? No, it’s just a King Crimson record. After I perused the vinyl, I introduced myself to Jillian, the co-owner of the shop. She was a sweetheart, and check out her tattoos! Elvira and Dolly Parton! After some joint fan-girling over the Mistress of the Dark and the Queen of Country Music, she invited me to an art show in town — a tribute to Prince. The show ended up being really great, by the way. The second room of the shop was chock-full of vintage clothes, but what really caught my eye was the horror ephemera. First there was this — a super special edition LaserDisc box set of “Hellraiser.” What a stunning package.
 Although I don’t own a LaserDisc player, I  love the gate-fold presentation of the film (which, incidentally, is in my top 5 favorite horror flicks of all time). Look at all those photos and liner notes! Plus a copy of the script. 
Then there was a stack of posters, including this amazing “Phantasm III” poster signed by Angus Scrimm.  And this signed poster featuring art from “Nightbreed.” IMG_3237  Then there was this box of VHS tapes, some of which were sealed.   “Driller Killer.”
“Nail Gun Massacre.”Goblin, live in concert. I think you get the point. I found myself sitting on the floor, mouth agape, looking at this box of fun stuff. 
And, if toys are your thing, Retro-tique had a lot of cool ones — check out the “Ghostbusters” display if you don’t believe me. If you’re in Morgantown, head over. Say hi to Jillian and spend some cash on something cool. I’m a firm believer that we have to support shops like this if we want to have them around in the future.

I can’t share what I actually ended up buying — as my purchases were Father’s Day gifts and that would spoil the fun for my husband. He’s my most devoted reader, after all.

Record keeping: My Mind’s Eye

If you live in Northeast Ohio and haven’t been to My Mind’s Eye record store in Lakewood, I highly recommend you roll on up there, preferably on a Tuesday when you can stop in and have a $3 craft beer at Jammy Buggars, which is just about a block away.

The store is classic — tons of vinyl (used and new), cool T-shirts, and a good selection of CDs. The owner will play used vinyl for you, which is a nice bonus, and you can even pick up tickets for shows at local venues like The Grog Shop.

I recently took a fabulous day off with my partner-in-life-and-crime, Dave, to explore the new stock at the store (lest you think I possess man-hands, those are his in the pics below).  We like to start at opposite ends of the store and call out albums that might be of interest, such as these by Grimes and Green Day.  FYI – we didn’t end up getting either. I just like these pics because they evoke the lovely tactile experience of perusing vinyl.A few more contenders — Metallica’s self titled “Black” album, Slayer’s “South of Heaven,” and Slasher Dave’s “Tomb of Horror.”  IMG_3180I ended up trading out the “Black” album for the most recent Baroness record, “Purple.” I saw Baroness play with Ghost a few years ago and instantly loved their progressive metal vibe. Also, their cover art is amazing — always featuring these wonderful, earthy women covered in flowers, plants, animals, etc. IMG_3213In other recent vinyl news, check out my Mother’s Day gifts below, “Journey Blind” by Magic Circle and “Dangerous Days” by Perturbator. You can read my review of “Journey Blind” here.  I haven’t reviewed “Dangerous Days,” but trust me when I say it kicks ass and you’ll probably want to run out an buy it right now, m’kay. 

In the bag: Cinema Wasteland Edition

Our wallets may have been empty, but our shopping bag was bursting at the seams when we left Cinema Wasteland on Sunday. Here’s what we picked up (read on for the details).

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  • Delirium Magazine #9 and #10: Presented by Full Moon, the cult/horror/sci-fi/exploitation magazine is a 50/50 mix of Full Moon features and other relevant content, such as the feature on Psycho II or interview with Gene Simmons.
  • Autographed photos from “Street Trash” panelists: actor Mike Lackey (who played Fred), writer/producer Roy Frumkes, and make-up artist Jennifer Aspinall.
  • Autographed “Street Trash” comic book by artist/actor Mike Lackey.
  • “Tourist Trap” vinyl soundtrack – A beautifully remastered version of the 1979 cult film soundtrack, released on Waxwork Records.
  • Franken-Heart tote bag from Pallbearer Press (a real steal at $5!)
  • Suspiria patch – I was lucky enough to snag a T-shirt from the Goblin show in Cleveland a couple years back with the same art, and I can’t tell you enough how much I love it. It’s got a simple, iconic design, and it’s going to look amazing on the back of my denim vest. FYI – Pallbearer Press also has a lovely enamel pin with the same design.
  • Silver Shamrock (“Halloween III” patch) – Also from Pallbearer Press, it has me wondering, “How many days ’til Halloween?”
  • “Escape from New York” mug – What can I say? I like to drink my morning coffee under the watchful eye of Snake Plisskin (literally, I would like that).  
  • “Friday the 13th Part V, Cinema Wasteland commentary edition” DVD – We were in the audience when the guest panel did commentary over Part V a few years back. You can probably hear us laughing in the audience during the classic song, “Ooh, Baby.” So we had to pick up this gem for just $5.
  • “The Thing” zipper hoodie: I love this movie so much, and this hoodie is beautiful — stylized art on the front, back and both sleeves. Bonus — it’s safe for wearing to pick up the kids at preschool (not true of the equally awesome “They Live” hoodie that the same vendor was selling, which featured Roddy Piper’s classic quote, “I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of bubble gum.”).IMG_4299

Weekend flashback: Cinema Wasteland

I’m still basking in the post-Cinema-Wasteland afterglow (that’s me, below, basking in my new “The Thing” hoodie). What a show!As I mentioned in my preview, we were only able to attend on Saturday and Sunday, but what a whirlwind, jam-packed couple of days they were (check out my Storify to see all the tweets using #cinemawasteland, including my own from @andrearogers).  We picked up our passes (super-cool, by the way, see the front and back below) and began our Wasteland journey.

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The fun started in typical fashion — with The Three Stooges on film. My husband, Dave, and his brother belly-laughed so hard they almost had to leave the movie room. A quick lunch and peak in the dealer room, and we were on to the first big event — the main event, really — the “Street Trash” screening and guest panel. We’re long-time fans of the low-brow, low-budget horror comedy. It’s one of those great gems of the ’80s that could never be made today because it is extremely politically incorrect and a total splatter fest. The promo art for the reunion really sums it up.

street_trash_reunionIn between the movie and the panel, I snapped a quick selfie with Dave. As you can see, we were all smiles, partially because we had some much-needed time away from our little ones, but mostly because we have attended every convention since it started except one (for the birth of our daughter) and it’s the highlight of our Spring and Fall.   The panel discussion was perfect — a few wisecracks from Tony Darrow (who starred in “Goodfellas” shortly after he wrapped on “Street Trash”), some great stories from the trenches, and insightful commentary on the special effects from make-up artist Jennifer Aspinall, who is still in the biz today.

Writer and producer Roy Frumkes shared a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about finding a long-lost, trunk-full of film many years later that is re-told in the making-of documentary, “The Meltdown Memoirs.” I have yet to see that, but definitely need to, so hopefully I remember it right — apparently some of the film was stored in the trunk of a car at the junkyard, which was later raided by the FBI, who then sold the cars at auction, and after many years, someone contacted Frumkes because his name was on the containers in the trunk. And voila! Lost footage found, 2-hour documentary produced.
 After the panel, we used the time before our next guest event to get our autographs from the “Street Trash” folks. It was tough to pare it down, but we settled on actor Mike Lackey (who played Fred), writer/producer Roy Frumkes, and make-up artist Jennifer Aspinall.

After starring in “Street Trash,” Lackey went on to a career at Marvel as an artist, and he recently inked a comic adaptation of “Street Trash” that hearkens back to the sleazy indie comics of the ’70s and ’80s.
IMG_3094He not only signed a copy for us, he took the time to draw an original sketch in the back, and snapped a photo with us. Like all the guests at Cinema Wasteland, the “Street Trash” panel members were kind and took the time to share memories and laughs with us. It’s really all about the films and guests at Cinema Wasteland — that’s what makes this a great show that is truly for fans. IMG_3096Up next was “King Kong Escapes,” introduced by actress Linda Miller. Our 4-year-old daughter is a huge Toho fan, and we have been watching “King Kong vs. Godzilla” on repeat since the Easter Bunny left it in her basket (with a Jet Jaguar bank, no less), so we were primed for this one.

What we weren’t prepared for was the heartfelt introduction Miller gave. Although her filmography is short, she has many sweet and funny stories about filming this wacky, action-packed, rubber-suit-monster filled classic in Japan. She expressed genuine gratitude for the warmth and outpouring of love from fans of the film. Here she is with us, posing for a quick photo after we nabbed her autograph. IMG_3097After the movie, we met up with our BFFs for a long, relaxed dinner (burgers, beers and great discussion about movies and music), and we closed the night watching “Green Slime.”

Jump ahead to Sunday morning — we popped into the Christian short, “The Sunshine Factory,” then took a few minutes to peruse the merchandise in the dealer room before watching the made-for-TV movie, “Covenant” on 16 mm. Ken, the show’s organizer, told us that he collects made-for-TV movies on film, and we always enjoy his Sunday morning offerings. I must say, this was a terrible movie — too much hairspray and shoulder pads and hardly any action, plot or character development. Not to mention there was really no ending — it was as if the filmmakers ran out of budget and just rolled the credits. No worries, though — this is part of the charm of Cinema Wasteland. We had a ball making snarky comments under our breath. Our last viewing was The Little Rascals’ “Kid from Borneo,” a short film with those lovable cuties.  Good, clean fun — Wasteland style.

Before we headed home to be parental, we shopped for about an hour in the dealer room, and walked away with an impressive haul. I’ll do a more detailed post on our finds later, but here’s a snapshot of everything we took home.

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