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Yours truly, along with fellow Fango writers and NIGHT CREW
podcasters Thom Carnell and Philip Nutman, were happy to appear at Seattle’s
Crypticon this past Memorial Day weekend, and moderate a large number of Q
& A sessions, as well as run our mouths about all things horror. This is a
diary digest of our exploits…
First, to clue you in on Thom and Phil: Thom was the editor
in chief of old-school horror-lit magazine Carpe Noctem, a high-minded and very
respected mag that is well worth seeking out if you can find back issues. There
will be Carpe Noctem compendiums coming out soon for e-reading, so keep your
eyes peeled—it’ll be well worth it! Thom’s novel NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED, a
saga of pit fighting and zombies (with emotional depth, I swear—really!) is
quite a debut, and one of my favorite tomes of the past year.
As for Phil, he needs little introduction. He has written
for Fango magazine for 29 years, as well as other stalwart publications like
the legendary Hammer-centric Little Shoppe of Horrors (his Amicus issue,
containing the entire, heretofore unreleased manuscript of his Amicus book, is
essential to any fan), and wrote the seminal zombie-apocalypse novel WET WORK.
His new collection of macabre stories, CITIES OF NIGHT, is also damned fine
work, and worth your dollars.
These two gentleman were crazy enough (or was that desperate
enough?) to hang out with me, and come aboard this year to help handle panels
and interviews at Crypticon. To throw fuel on the fire, it was also my birthday
weekend. Luckily, we found that scotch serves to lubricate a good conversation.
It was crazy fun, and hopefully this rundown brings a little of that fun to you
dear readers. So enjoy!
Thom and I sat with Italian actress Barbara Magnolfi (from
SUSPIRIA, CUT AND RUN and others), discussing the giallo genre in general, as
well as the polizia action-crime films she has also appeared in, and delved
into the finer points of her career. She entertained the audience (and us) with
first-hand stories of working with the likes of the well-loved and gentlemanly
Sergio Martino, the caustic and controversial Ruggero Deodato and, of course
maestro Argento. Then I got to take a really goofy picture with her that you
see to the right.
Next up was my second of that evening’s two panels (an easy
start, admittedly, to a busy weekend), which was basically Thom and I sitting
and speaking to the attendees about where to look for decent horror movies
these days. It’s so easy to forget that not everybody haunts film sites daily,
constantly digging and searching for new titles. So we spent an hour drinking
and casually discussing which countries we thought were currently putting out
good fright titles, and where we thought the next wave was coming from. Spain,
France and of course Asia all got big nods, and I stated that the next wave may
be coming from Germany. All over a big bottle of J&B, which met its demise
quickly at the hands of the boozy tag team of Smithson and Carnell.
Afterward, we retired to the hotel room with our other
cohorts, and celebrated by wagging our tongues at each other about all things
cinema-related until the wee hours.
Things started with a bit of a snag, as I was scheduled to do
a Creepy Cartoons of Saturday Morning presentation, but my hard drive
containing all my fancy edited files? Kaput! As dead as Julius Caesar. After a
long night, and being up so early, I threw my hands in the air and gave myself
over to fate. Thankfully, the friendly atmosphere of Crypticon is very
forgiving, and the attendees, while a little disappointed, were very gracious.
1 p.m. rolled around, and it was time for Thom and I to do a
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD panel with Linnea Quigley and Jewel Shepherd. I went
to retrieve the ladies from their tables and escort them to the talk, since I
had a little extra time, and this was where things got interesting. It seems
Jewel didn’t want to sit for questions, having “already done that” the night
before during her live commentary for a screening of the seminal zombedy.
Ummmm…OK. It was news to me, but a plus, really. It gave Thom and I full
freedom to have fun with Linnea, and fun it was. The greatest thing about
having the honor to sit onstage with these wonderful horror celebs is revealing
what interesting people they are, and peeling back layers to them not yet
exposed to some of their fans. When that performer is as forthcoming, funny and
cool as Linnea, the work does itself. She’s played punk rock and practiced next
door to the Go-Go’s when they were an LA punk band. She passed all her entrance
exams to become a cop, only to turn around and change her mind at the last
moment. She is an animal rights activist. Just a really cool lady all the way
around, and one of my favorite people of the weekend. 100 percent genuine.
2 p.m.: I separated from my personal “McCartney,” i.e. Thom,
and sat to talk all things Hammer with Phil. He knows a thing or a thousand
about Hammer, as anyone owning the recent Blu-ray/DVD release of VAMPIRE CIRCUS
knows: “The Nut” can be seen on the extras dropping mad science on the studio
and its players. So this Hammer Horror panel was basically me getting a break,
as I spent my time pretty much just listening to this walking, talking history
book regale the audience and myself with story after story of Hammer history.
Always good stuff, especially for a Hammer Kid like myself.
3 p.m.: I ran across the convention center to make it to
my Vincent Price Tribute presentation. Sadly, the long-labored-over files for
this event were also part of the hard-drive fiasco. Ugh! The room was full
(yay, Vincent!) and I approached the stage with remorse and great trepidation.
When I announced the files had crashed, there was an audible sigh of
disappointment in the room, so I did what I could. Talking about Price is never
a chore, so I went over his early days a bit, pointed the horror geeks toward
his non-genre work and showed some of my pal David Del Valle’s interview with
the actor from Del Valle’s old show THE SINISTER IMAGE. I owe ya a drink for
that one, David! Or three!
4 p.m.: After little time to breathe, I reconnected with my
other half, Thom, and we hit the stage with P.J. Soles, genre icon. CARRIE.
HALLOWEEN. ROCK ’N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. The list goes on. Good stuff. Great lady.
A solid interview covering her work, including her off-genre titles like the
Patsy Cline biopic SWEET DREAMS and SOGGY BOTTOM USA. This was where we got to
make a point we brought up throughout the weekend, which was, “Watch more than
just horror films!” Viewing off-genre films helps contextualize the genre, not
to mention that many of the actors whom horror conventioneers clamor to see do
much more than just scare flicks. This sentiment was appreciated and shared by
the attending talent, and warmly received by the audience. Good thing too, ’cuz
I was “all out of chewing gum,” if you get my drift!
TO BE CONTINUED
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