Exclusive Preview: The 2014 Calgary Horror Con
The Fourth Annual Calgary Horror Con is just weeks away, and FANGORIA will be on location to help Alberta-based fans get their fix of our much-loved horror rag. Taking place on August 2-3 at Calgary’s Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre, this year’s Con boasts an all-star lineup of the genre’s biggest names, including PHANTASM creator Don Coscarelli, Troma mastermind Lloyd Kaufman, beloved SLEEPAWAY CAMP starlet Felissa Rose, revered Canadian scream queen and filmmaker Lynn Lowry and a number of other familiar faces that have ushered silver screen scares throughout several decades of horror cinema.
“When we sat down [to discuss] the lineup this year, it was like, ‘Who do we really want to see?’ I had two people say Lloyd Kaufman,” says Calgary Horror Con founder and CEO Dan Doherty. “So I was like, ‘He’s a pretty cool guy, so I’m down for that… but I want Don Coscarelli!’ And the reason why is because anything he’s done, I’ve been a huge fan of.”
After last year’s Con, which featured appearances from Tom Savini, H.G. Lewis, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Michael Berryman, Linnea Quigley and Cleve Hall, it was hard to believe that the team behind the Calgary Horror Con could one-up themselves, but they’ve certainly managed to wrangle an impressive group this year.
“Last year we had a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD ’90 reunion, and this year I just wanted to bring in a whole bunch of people from a whole bunch of different movies,” Doherty says. “So it’s kind of a mish-mash of anything from ‘80s slashers to modern-day horror. I try to have representations from different periods of horror. I’m a huge fan of Canadian horror, so like for example, to have Tristan Risk, who [acted in] AMERICAN MARY, as a Canadian scream queen that’s up and coming. And then to have somebody that was in a very famous Canadian [horror movie], IT CAME FROM WITHIN’s Lynn Lowry. So anything that supports local first, I’m all down for. But having that mix is also good.”
“A big element of the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo has been a strong lineup of horror guests, so there was definitely the need,” Doherty continues. “I wanted to start a dedicated horror convention because I knew there was a need for it here.”
Alberta isn’t particularly well known for its contributions to the infinite realm of horror arts and culture, but as local genre enthusiasts know, and Doherty reiterates:
“Horror has its roots everywhere; it has communities everywhere. There are some crazy big fans here, and there are some really cool filmmakers around, too. I always talk about building community or bringing community together because that’s my goal in anything I do. There was a really strong horror community before I came along. Guys like [Brenin Barrow and Cody Cook] of Burning Moon Video were doing screenings almost monthly. There are a lot of really good independent filmmakers here. The guy that wrote GINGER SNAPS [John Fawcett] is originally from Edmonton.”
In addition to the impressive lineup of genre personalities, the Calgary Horror Con also presents attendees with a colorful catalog of vendors, artists and other industry reps that run the limitless gamut of horror culture—with a core focus on regional (Alberta and Canada-based) offerings. The show will also feature an eclectic agenda of films, both feature-lengths and shorts, from around the globe.
Calgary Horror Con weekend kicks off on Friday, August 1 with its annual Opening Night Gala at the illustrious Calgary Tower, where a vibrant array of local, horror-inspired performance artists will sicken, seduce and satisfy even the hungriest of horror hounds. This year’s performers include Calgary-based contortionist and fetish model Visha Loo, Edmonton-born stunt man extraordinaire Ryan Stock (Discovery Channel’s GUINEA PIG) and partner Amberlynn Walker, and renowned Burlesque dancer Tristan Risk (AMERICAN MARY).
“When I look to see what I need to add to my show, I look to see what’s available to me first,” Doherty says. “[We] have local talent here, and I’m going to use the local talent here first. Performances have been a big part of the show since the beginning, just the weird and crazy talent that we have.”
As the Calgary Horror Con keeps expanding and evolving, Western Canada will finally earn its place on the map of Canadian fan conventions that are a must-attend for genre enthusiasts. But Doherty maintains a humbled perspective as he sees the show become more and more popular every year.
“We’re really not trying to outdo ourselves every year,” he says. “I guess my focus is to build community. We got a good thing started but I am just a very small part of it. If I didn’t have the people behind the show; if I didn’t have good people around me… I don’t know how [I would] pull it off every year. I really don’t. But it all comes together, and we’re all dedicated to putting on the best damn show we can.”