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Event Report: “BLADE”, “EVIL DEAD” and “PUMPKIN PIE” at New York Comic Con!

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As anyone who went to college with me will tell you, mornings are not my forte. Truth be told, when working in a genre that so often jumps from all day film festivals to midnight movies in the blink of an eye, having any type of set schedule feels is potentially a one-way ticket to personal disappointment. But early mornings, those that begin between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., are often the bane of my existence and remind me of my days within the unforgiving retail world. However, few things will make this writer actively excited to wake up between those hours, and one of them is none other than New York Comic Con.

A four-day descent into a pop culture rabbit hole, New York Comic Con is often considered the little brother of the insane pop culture mecca San Diego Comic Con. And while NYCC has become a behemoth in its own right, striking record-breaking numbers with each passing year, the convention still doesn’t quite pull in the blockbuster guests and presentations that San Diego commands on a yearly basis. However, 167,000 people and 96 hours of morning-to-night insanity cannot be a cake walk, but often times, the fun and fandom of New York Comic Con makes it worth the exhaustion.

And so my New York Comic Con experience began bright and early on Thursday, October 8th, as this writer was summoned off to the con with former STARLOG writer and current Nerdist scribe Matt Delhauer in tow. Our Comic Con experience was to begin with a bright-and-early chat with the cast of AMC’s COMIC BOOK MEN (airing Sunday Nights at 12 a.m./11 p.m. central); while Matt was on assignment, I joined the roundtables in hopes to get a word or two from Smith about his horror efforts, past and future. Alas, that was not to be, as Smith got through two questions before our time was up with the filmmaker; however, the filmmaker did encourage us all to continue on with our respective podcasts, including FANGO’s full Podcast Network.

Following those interviews, I made my way to a nearby warehouse where an early presentation of Square Enix’s upcoming slate was being held. While the titles on display were more STARLOG material than FANGORIA, they were definitely impressive nonetheless. The new DEUS EX game, entitled MANKIND DIVIDED (streeting February 23rd, 2016), looked like an incredibly fun cyberpunk first-person action game, incorporating awesome cybernetics into stealth/attack-based missions. And the latest installment of the HITMAN gaming franchise (streeting March 11th, 2016) looks to be a fresh and beautifully rendered spin on an old classic.

After getting my gaming fix, this writer made his way back to the Jacob Javitz Center for more horror insanity, passing the ASH VS. EVIL DEAD mobile home that was the talk of the town at San Diego as well as a Mac ‘n’ Cheese truck that caught my eye for selling Hi-C Ectoplasm, a staple of this fright fan’s childhood. After resisting my base temptations, I made my way down to the FINAL GIRLS panel, excited to see how the comic-con crowd would eat up the presentation as the film had been a favorite of both Stanley Film Festival and Mile High Film Festival. After a quick introduction, director Todd Strauss-Schulson and star Malin Akerman made their way to the stage before they rolled the trailer.

Of course, the fans in attendance ate up the movies humor, but even aside from how great the trailer and clip played, Todd Strauss-Schulson was a one-man army on that panel. Akerman, who was admittedly under the weather, did her best to pull her weight, but Strauss-Schulson was on point to provide passionate and honest answers regarding the film’s emotional edge as well as the horror and slasher films he grew up with. Strauss-Schulson also debuted a new Mondo poster for the film that he gave away during an often fun Q&A session, the highlight of which was a audience member who asked a flustered Malin Akerman what film she would most want her own son to transport into when he is of age.

Following the excellent panel for THE FINAL GIRLS, I realized my day was effectively done and yet I wouldn’t let my time go to waste. So this writer decided to scavenge the comic con floor for any and all horror-related booths and vendors. Of course, I saw a few Comic Con staples, such as the Magnet Releasing booth and several zombie merchandise booths looking to ride the coattails of THE WALKING DEAD, but perhaps what caught my eye the most was the Glass Eye Pix booth, a true love letter to physical media of every kind. There were VHS tapes, DVDs, Blu-rays, posters, comic books of several Glass Eye Pix films, rare tie-in collectibles, CDs and even Vinyl Records of Glass Eye Pix’s excellent radio plays TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE! The booth was even offering the first chance for fright fans to get THE LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION Blu-ray box set, and Fessenden himself was on hand (alongside Glass Eye Pix cohorts Jenn Wexler, Chris Skotchdopole and Heather Buckley) to greet and sign any and all merchandise.

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After the NYCC closed for the evening, I reconvened with Mr. Delhauer and made our exit from the Big Apple, knowing our morning would once again be unforgiving for an even longer day of events. And unforgiving it was, making our way back to the Javitz Center bright and early for even more Comic Con hysteria, although this writer at least had a two-hour gap to finish some last minute assignments before his press day began. During this time, I was able to meet many of the amazing other members of the press, but in Comic Con time, two hours feels like a matter of minutes. Next thing I know, I’m on the run to get to the Adult Swim press day to sit down with the folks from NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER (premiering 12 a.m. on the night of December 7th on Adult Swim).

Despite having been a longtime fan of many of the projects of those involved, NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER was essentially a project most of us were walking into blind. Footage had not yet been released from the series, and outside of a teaser image and a “prequel” comic book that was an NYCC exclusive, there was not much known about the project outside of its excellent cast, which included Jon Glaser (DELOCATED), Scott Adsit (MR. SHOW), Stephanie March (LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT), Steve Cirbus (GOTHAM) and Steve Little (EASTBOUND & DOWN). Luckily, each actor assured NEON JOE was unlike anything Adult Swim had done before, even if the show would go the the absurd, unexpected places one might expect out of the people behind WONDER SHOWZEN and XAVIER, RENEGADE ANGEL.

Following that round of press roundtables, this writer soon made his way over to the Troma table to visit NYC’s long-standing schlockmeisters and hoping to catch the one & only Lloyd Kaufman in action. Of course, the Troma booth was as wild as ever, with Toxie, Sgt. Kabukiman, Kaufman and Troma’s own Catherine Corcoran, Vito Trigo, Ophelia Rain, John Brennan, Josafat Concepcion, Dylan Greenberg and Mark Quinnette raging on around the merch-filled booth, which offer limited edition posters and brand new Troma Blu-rays among many, many other things. Of course, Kaufman updated FANGORIA on future test screenings of RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH, VOLUME 2 (which you can keep track of HERE) before getting swept up by fervent fright fans.

After being Troma-tized at Comic Con, this writer walked down to the 451 Comics Booth, the new imprint from Michael Bay that gives their writers complete creative freedom to tell cinematic stories in graphic novel form. Among the guests of honor at the 451 Booth were Mark Mallouk (writer of BLACK MASS) and FANGORIA Podcast Network’s own Clay McLeod Chapman (writer of THE BOY and mastermind of THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW). Chapman was signing his latest written effort in the horror genre, 451’s SELF STORAGE (which will be released to the world at large on 10/28), and invited FANGORIA to witness the live iteration of THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW on the following night.

After walking the floor of New York Comic Con for a bit longer to talk to fans and admire some of the cooler horror-themed cosplayers (including a badass rendition of the ‘Clown’ Killer from UNTIL DAWN), the time came for one of the most highly anticipated events of New York Comic Con: BBQ Films’ BLADE Blood Rave. Held at one of NYC’s most respected venues, Terminal 5, this BLADE Blood Rave was an insane undertaking and definitely one of the more talked about events of NYCC’s esteemed Super Week. And having attended the “Blood Test” in Brooklyn back in September, this writer knew exactly what awesomeness awaited the unsuspecting party people, including an interactive experience that would make any BLADE fan proud.

And did BBQ Films deliver! Part interactive theater experience (complete with vampires walking about, asking patrons about their blood type and relationship to BLADE), part EDM-fueled dance party, part art piece (with clips from the film weaved into the musical presentations as well as the theatrical proceedings), the BLADE Blood Rave was an absolutely amazing experience. Spirits were high upon entrance, and with such offerings like on-call FX artists willing to give attendees the whole nine yards of gore make-up and a live sword demo, BBQ Films took a gamble that paid off in a big, bloody way. And, of course, once the blood began to rain down over the infamous New Order song from the opening of BLADE, nary a soul in the venue could resist getting swept up in the bloody experience- this writer included. Needless to say, this writer will be keeping a careful eye on what creepy craziness BBQ Films has up their sleeve for their next live event.

The next morning, however, was an absolute nightmare, in more ways than one. Despite having to shake-off the sugar hangover from the ciders downed all night, technical difficulties on our normal train path stranded myself, Delhauer and FANGO’s go-to photo/video guru Garrett Geary in the middle of Jersey City. We quickly called a cab and made our way to the Grove Street station, where train service was resumed, and we battled a quickly shrinking time frame to get to our most anticipated press event of the convention: ASH VS. EVIL DEAD (premiering Saturday, October 31st on Starz). Luckily, with mere minutes on the clock, we arrived at the Javitz Center, and rushed our way to the press area to talk to the cast of ASH VS. EVIL DEAD; check back later this week for those full interviews on FANGORIA.com!

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Next up on the agenda was attending the premiere of THE X-FILES reboot, which was being held at New York Comic Con’s main hall… only to be refused at the door. Although I had attended on Thursday of last year, apparently a new policy that required badge-holders to get wristbands to attend these panels had gone over this writer’s head. And even though a press badge will get you into a lot of place at New York Comic Con, it won’t get you into Hall 1-D. This same policy would prevent this writer from getting into the Marvel TV panel and Sunday’s GOOSEBUMPS panel as well, effectively hobbling our weekend coverage at the convention.

However, there was one premiere FANGORIA was able to attend… ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, which was springed upon hundreds of adoring fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom ahead of the show’s panel. You can find our full review of the pilot HERE, but the fun didn’t stop there. Moderated by Kevin Smith, who let the horror fan in him fly, the cast and crew of ASH VS. EVIL DEAD came out, lead by franchise stalwarts Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. The chat was hilarious, affirming and infinitely exciting, and when the fan questions opened up, the fun times got were even moreso: Campbell roasted a guest for their lack of THREE STOOGES knowledge, gave romantic advice to one NYCC guest, and Raimi cleared up the series’ relationship to ARMY OF DARKNESS. However, it was Lucy Lawless who stole the panel in a big, bad way, after noticing a girl cosplaying as Gertie from E.T. was holding a beer and implying that she was even more accurate as young Drew Barrymore, which launched the crowd into a mixture of hysterical laughter and shocked groans which Lawless shrugged off with a mischievous grin and a sardonic “Too Soon?”

Following the rousing ASH VS. EVIL DEAD panel, this writer reconvened with his friends and set upon finding dinner before making the trek down to the East Village for THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW. Alas, time was once again against us, and soon we found ourselves in a cab zooming towards Under St. Marks, where the weird and wicked once again reconvened for Clay McLeod Chapman and Hanna Cheek’s astounding stage show. Living up to the high bar set at the Stanley Film Festival, this edition of THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW (entitled ‘Labor Pains’) was hilarious, riveting, gross and eerie as hell, with Chapman and Cheek transforming into Chapman’s sordid creations before our very eyes. It was a damn fine show, and should THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW come to a stage near you, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.

After grabbing quick Chinese food and an even quicker cocktail at Holidays in the East Village, myself, Delhauer and Geary found ourselves wandering towards the nearest PATH station, exhausted from the insanity that was New York Comic Con and three increasingly long work days. Of course, the next day would thankfully not be as long, but exhausting nevertheless as I was back at the Javitz Center at 10:30 a.m. as Capcom was excited to reveal to FANGORIA the latest on the docket for the RESIDENT EVIL gaming franchise.

The first game, entitled UMBRELLA CORPS, is essentially a third-person shooter multiplayer game in which mercenary groups within the Umbrella Corporation duke it out while avoid the presence of zombies in their immediate vicinity. While this writer has been a casual gamer at best over the past few years, UMBRELLA CORPS brought out the old-school HALO player in this writer, which worked out just as good now as it did then: poorly! However, UMBRELLA CORPS is definitely a fun expansion onto the RE universe, and will likely be a healthy median between fans of shoot-’em-up action games and strategy-based horror offerings.

The last game was the HD-upgrade for RESIDENT EVIL ZERO, which updates the 2002 game for modern platforms and consoles. The new graphics and updated art direction go a long way to selling the somewhat outdated gameplay mechanics and classic RE dialogue, but fans of the franchise are going to love this new iteration of the game. Furthermore, for fans too young to have gotten the RESIDENT EVIL ZERO experience, there doesn’t seem to be a better way than with this new HD upgrade.

Next up was a return back to the press area for interviews with Rob Kazinsky and the producers of LOOKINGLASS, the FRANKENSTEIN-inspired sci-fi procedural coming to FOX in 2016. While you can keep an eye out for more on LOOKINGLASS here at FANGORIA.com, the interviews went very well, and the footage shown to press at the panel evoked somewhat of a BLACK MIRROR vibe to the series, which is nothing but a good omen.

However, speaking of omens, a bad omen came about in terms of an increasingly intense cough, which was the sign of only one thing: the dreaded Con Cold. Almost an inevitability for those looking to make the most out of a four-day event where 160,000+ people are in a room with no open windows, Con Cold is a bitter enemy to those of us who love fun, and usually strikes harder than anyone can anticipate. However, luckily, as of this writing, the Con Cold has been defeated, but even a great debilitation to my health (as well as sore feet and an even more sore wallet) won’t stop me from returning again. Until next year, New York Comic Con…

NYCC Photo Credit: Garrett Geary Photography.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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