Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear

Me and Brad Dourif

Being a fan of the horror genre for years and years, I was very excited to hear about Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear. Not only do I love horror but I'm also a fan of all things cinematic so the fact that entry to the Festival of Fear also gives you entry to the entire Hobbystar Fan Expo meant I would get to experience the sci-fi side of things too.

The whole weekend was really fun and informative so I thought I should give it some space on my blog.

First off, Friday evening I arrived at the convention and not only is the place full to the brim of crazy costumed nerds, but it's bleedin' massive! Seriously this place is enormous and full of nerd stalls where you buy nerd things and people going around in costumes and nerdy people duelling with light sabers and whatnot. That evening I just wandered and checked out which celebs were signing and took sneaky pictures of Fonzie who was charmingly doing his coin trick from Click with a little kid (anyone not familiar with Click, see my review). There were no screenings or Q&A's that day so it was basically wandering. I checked out this exhibit on Death Photography which was a really interesting phenomenon in the late 19th century where people would photograph their dead loved ones, propped up, pretending to be alive. This was because photography was just coming into its own around this time so people had no photos of their loved ones so in desperation they would do it after they died, as it was their last chance. Really interesting, if horribly morbid, stuff. The photographs are really REALLY weird. That evening, after the convention ended there was a screening of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill. John Waters says it's the greatest film ever made. I say it's up there. The screening was wonderful. Russ Meyer's beautiful (and not celebrated enough) black and white cinematography looked fantastic on the big screeen and watching that movie with the right audience really makes you appreciate the great comic lines and the richness of the delivery. There's definitely somehting special about it that sets it apart from other trash classics and it's certainly the jewel in Meyer's crown.

The lead actress and burlesque icon, Tura Satana was at the screening and gave a bit of a chat afterwards which was really nice. She was fascinating a spoke a lot about the background of making the movie. She's a tough girl and spoke a little about her rape-revenge gang days (I shit you not). It was pretty harrowing. She's certainly learned to deal with her anger though because the woman on that stage was a bubby, charming woman, not the scowlingly sumptuous villainess we know and love from the movies.

Next morning I had to get up bright and early for a screening of Black Christmas (the 1974 Canadian film, not the shit remake from last year). I had never seen it and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually brilliant, like seriously BRILLIANT and pre-dates Halloween by 4 years making it the king of the stalk n slash genre, also it predates Halloween's use of the killer POV camerawork. Hmmm, tell that to those history books. There was a panel discussion later that day with three of the films stars, its cameraman and composer. That was fascinating and it was nice to see John Saxon who you may know as Nancy's cop dad in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Art Hindle who was in one of my favourite Cronenberg movies, The Brood. So, that was a treat. Although the cast and crew have gone on to bigger and better things since the film was made 35 years ago, they all had lots to say about it and it ended up being a really interesting panel. Interestingly enough, there is one shot in the film of the killer, he is shrouded in shadow and difficult to recognise. It seems nobody knows who played him. Everyone seems to forget and peoples guesses are all conflicting. I kinda like that. Gives it a bit of mystery, oooooh!

After that was a Q&A with Wes Craven which I was very excited about but I was kinda disappointed in. I dunno, he was just a bit closed and not that interesting. He did tell a wonderful story about the man who inspired the creation of Freddy Krueger...a creepy man standing outside his bedroom window. When the man saw Wes looking at home, he caught his eye, gave a really horrible grin and walked into his building..little Wes freaked out and got his brother to go look outside the apartment with his baseball bat. Creepy imagery. He spoke a little about the folding of New Line into Warner Brothers and the implications of that regarding the remake. Basically that nobody has much of a say in the matter. He spoke highly of the remake of Last House on the Left. He said it was really well-recieved in the first screenings. I'll reserve my judgement until I see it but I'm wary to say the least.

After that (actually during that, I had to leave early) was a Q&A with Brad Dourif. This was the event of the weekend for me. It's so amazing hearing him talk cos he's got That Voice He's a man with some interesting stories indeed, not least a great story about Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski (they're always good stories) and a wonderful one about Christopher Lee but they're too long to go into here, and I couldn't tell them nearly as well as he could, so what's the point? What's great is that when he's telling a story and gets all excited he starts to sound like Chucky. Little bit of back story on me; I've been in love with Chucky movies since I was about 7 years old and was OBSESSED with Child's Play 1 and 2 well before Jamie Bulger happened. Then I wasn't allowed anymore. That just made Chucky even cooler. Anyhoo, he spoke a little about what it was like working on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Lord of the Rings and Deadwood. It was very exciting and he speaks really well about his craft. He loves his work (not so much the Chucky movies, but he's damned territorial about him).

On Sunday, the final day. Again, I up early for a Q&A with Italian horror director Ruggero Deodata. I'm sure you've all heard of the notorious video nasty Cannibal Holocaust, well this was his film. A very very sick and controversial film, with a lot to say about the dishonest nature of the media and misrepresentation of the truth. It's a tough one to watch, but ultimately very worthwhile. He spoke very little English so that was kind of annoying because there was a translator. But he was interesting and it was great to hear about the film's release and notorious court case. This involved an actress who had been impaled on a stick in the film. She disappeared after the film wrapped and the scene was so convincing that the filmmakers were arrested on suspicion of actually killing her on set. They eventually found her and all was well. It's a great effect though. I can see why the judges were so convinced of its authenticity. He then talked a little about The Blair Witch Project, which is very similar in presmise (and in my opinion, in premise alone) to Cannibal Holocaust. As soon as he heard about it he got on the phone to his lawyers and tried to sue them for $2million. Seems a little harsh if you ask me. It feel through in the end though, at least there's some justice in the world.

After Ruggero Deodata I wandered around the shopping stalls and I went and got my Brad Dourif autograph and that would have been nice if I wasn't such an awkward eejit and vomited nonsensical words at the poor man. But anyway, he was nice and he signed my Chucky photo. After that I watched a documentary about Ted V. Mikaels who is a trash (oooh, he doesn't like that word!) filmmaker who I'd never heard of but am now very interested in. He made films such as The Corpse Grinders and Astro Zombies...yes, he's THAT kitschy It was interesting but I left early to go see Sean Astin, Samwise Gamgee himself. He didn't have a moderator and actually just stood in front of a room of thousands and nattered for an hour. Seriously, this guy can talk. When we were outside waiting to go in, he happened to be standing beside me. He looked at the long queue and said to the guy next to him "Are all these people here to see me? Awww". Aww, indeed, Sean. Anyway, he had a lot to say about Lord of the Rings and The Goonies and working with Adam Sandler. He's an interesting guy. Then last but not least I went to a Q&A with Sid Haig who I pretty much only knew as Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses. I'm not a fan of the Rob Zombie films but I do like that guy. He's a great character actor. Anyway, he was really cool and told some great stories about life as an indie actor and passing up on the MArcellus Wallace role in Pulp Fiction. He cried too, telling stories about his grandparents. Not a guy you'd expect to see shedding tears so that was interesting.

Sunday night then was the big event. The screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Tobe Hooper. We got to see it on this great mucky print on a big screen. And Tobe Hooper talked for over an hour afterwards which was cool. Like Wes Craven, I didn't find him all that interesting. He answered questions in circles and didn't really say much of anything despie talking for ages. But it's always a treat to hear a filmmaker talk about their art. He did mention that his next project is an adaptation of Stephen King's non-horror From a Buick 8. That's exciting given the wonderful job he did on Salem's Lot.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I'm suffering from something very similar to music festival fatigue at the moment but I had SUCH a great time, I'm thinking of flying back for it next year.

Nerds are funny...seriously.

- Charlene Lydon 24/08/08


  1. Hello! That sounds great..was it in Toronto then? At first I thought it was in Dublin or somewhere and I was like..why didn't I hear about this?! I can't believe Brad Dourif is that guy from One Flew...I love that film and Billy is a great character in it. I always try to get to the QandA sessions at film festivals because, as you said, hearing people talk about their craft is so interesting and inspiring too.

  2. Yeah it was in Toronto. It was sooo much fun. We need to get something so great doing on in Dublin. I'll ask my friend Brad to come...that's funny what you said about Cuckoos Nest, first time I saw it I didnt spot that it was him either. Weird! What can I say, he's a chameleon :) Thanks for reading my blog!