[SDCC '13] Sam’s Comic-Con Highlights!
This year in San Diego, for one glorious hour or so, I lived in a Mario Bava movie. That’s how it felt, at least, and that was the best. How appropriate I was determined to only drink wine that evening. That was Thursday, the day one that feels like day two of Comic-Con. If I’ve noticed anything these past few years that FANGORIA made the trip, it’s that Preview Night is no small sneak anymore, and the line to purchase one of my highlights below was just as rough Wednesday as any other day.
It’s all rough and busy, but perhaps less so for those looking for horror. San Diego Comic-Con is, after all, an all-inclusive experience that’s exploded to a studio show, celebrating, in biggest fashion, corporate cinematic product and more pop-superhero franchises. It can be great, sure, but there’s a reason the actual comic book section of the floor is the least traversed.
Still, being aggressively marketed to can be fun and this year, here’s what truly intrigued, turned my head and caught my eye.
• NECA’s Video Game Jason
So niche. So silly. So wonderful. I am nary a collector, but how do you resist? It was a stroke of genius for the company that produces collectible figures to fashion one after not any specific Jason Voorhees from the film series, but the notoriously hard Nintendo game. A purple outfit, an advertised Hideous Face! and a box that replicates the game’s art. It will be cherished by those who were able to purchase forever.
• INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 Haunted House
A great deal of the exclusivity of San Diego Comic-Con has been lost. Much of the footage shown in HALL H—a place that fans camp out overnight to get into—is released online within minutes of premiering. Videos of the very special guests able to amass and garner a certain energy in that room, the same. So, it’s nice to have a singular experience with fellow attendees. Sometimes that means venturing outside of the convention center into the many elaborate promotional locales.
In anticipation of James Wan’s upcoming INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2, a haunted house of sorts was crafted. Not so much a walk-through deal in which folks pop out, it was instead an immersive recreation of the two films’ aggressively haunted settings and stylish lighting and creepy imagery were abound. Pues that housed corpse figures covered in bloody sheets were bathed in red glow (pictured, right). A table made for séances contained dice that rolled themselves, and tarot cards presided over by a rotting skeleton. The bartenders and DJ donned gas masks. A bathroom mirror contained a jump scare when you got close. It was all so delightfully warped, I didn’t want to leave.
Outside, an ice cream truck was parked serving INSIDIOUS-variations on mobile frozen favorites. It’s intent is to tour the country. I wish the house would come with it.
In a similar move, Legendary Entertainment brought the Godzilla Encounter, an all-at-once theme park-esque thrill and shrine to the King of Monsters. I wrote about the attraction, the Tokyo street it housed and its Godzilla sighting here. It was one of the most memorable aspects of the convention and a nice consolation, considering I wasn’t able to make it into Hall H for the reveal of footage from Gareth Edwards’ upcoming film. The trailer sounded proper in every capacity, unveiling a Mantis-like monster before Godzilla towers over it. Next summer comes with great excitement.
• SCREAM FACTORY
Thanks to the latest bunch of heroes who are restoring genre gems for a niche audience, the fully realized NIGHTBREED: THE CABAL CUT will make its way to Blu-ray and DVD in the near future. That’s really something. You can see the additional announcements and full report here.
• THROUGH THE NEVER
A Metallica concert film in IMAX, elaborately-staged to include pyro and imagery from their albums and history sounds like it would have always been something fun. But, how much better is the possibility that we might also get something kind of weird, too? THROUGH THE NEVER attempts to mash concert film and narrative tangent, as one of Metallica’s crew is sent off mid-show to retrieve an object. What he ends up on looks to be a surreal, violent journey of rioters and horseriding and when I spoke to director Nimród Antal, he promised the trailers have only shown the precipice of wild stuff going on. The filmmaker seemed genuinely excited to work with atmosphere and visuals on a much more heightened level than recent work has allowed and to imbue the narrative with the “fuck-you” attitude metal has long inspired. You can expect a full interview with Antal and the band closer to release.
• DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Matt Reeves, who helmed CLOVERFIELD and the too-familiar yet worthy and evocative remake LET ME IN, brought the first look at DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. A sequel to RISE…, the film seems immediately atmospheric and fully launched into the fantastic. Set ten years after the 2011 picture and its finale’s promise of a virus that would sweep through mankind, the humans are dwindled and living in a ravaged world, while Caesar and his society of apes are ever evolving. The gorgeous-looking clip ended on an attempt by the humans to speak with Caesar, revealing the Andy Serkis-played ape in war paint. An army of apes behind him in the threes, the trailer cut to black on his signal to strike. It was stark and tough, and very thrilling.
• FLOOR FINDS
Finally, the beauty of Comic-Con’s all over nature is that there’s something for everyone, from horror hounds to Funimation fans to gamers to readers. A fan of pulp and genre literature and occult imagery, I very much make a point to stop by William Wu books each year and peruse the selection of plastic wrapped paperbacks, many of which feature astounding art. This year, I was so very excited to find a book in a series I never knew existed, The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult. The great British author of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT who combined his military experience and great interest in the occult apparently also unleashed a curated series of essays and stories on the subject. This year, I discovered Volume 21—the most appropriate for my own interests—SATANISM AND WITCHES. I really couldn’t be happier.
If you attended San Diego Comic-Con, I hope you had a great time. We’ll see you in 2014.