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Editorial - Thursday, August 24, 2006

"My Adventures at the Horrorfind Weekend 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland"
By Matthew Dean Hill

So, here's a piece of sheer "journalistic masturbation", which I hope you'll enjoy. I had the immense pleasure of attending the 2006 Horrorfind Weekend in Baltimore, Maryland, at which I met a whole slew of celebrities, authors, and generally interesting folks. With only one or two notable exceptions, most of these folks are kind, down-to-earth, and generally very nice people, without a trace of the fat-headedness and inflated egos that most people generally associate with "stars". Here are some ruminations on various people that I met. Don't be surprised if you find a piece or two of hot news tucked in here. So, this will totally be worth a read, folks! Enjoy!

John Russo Distributing his Wares John Russo
This co-writer of the original Night of the Living Dead was stationed in the Dealer's Room at HFW2006 right next to Russ Streiner. Russo's an amiable enough guy, and like many of those involved with the original NotLD, he's turned that involvement into a cottage industry. I had a nice conversation with him, wherein he agreed to be interviewed by me at some later date...but it'll come soon. He even gave me his home phone number! Talk about a vote of confidence! I tried to get him to talk about the Night of the Living Dead: Survivor's Cut he cobbled together by adding new sequences to the old film, but no dice. A lot of die-hard Romero loyalists think that Russo is nothing but a hack, but I think the guy deserves a heap of credit for co-writing perhaps the first truly modern horror film. Cheers, John! Good luck with your future endeavours.

The Shy but super-nice Ken ForeeKen Foree
It's Mr. "Charlie Altamont" himself! Kick-ass! Foree's a super-nice dude, and he's always good for a firm handshake and a warm smile. He's also one of those guys who's genuinely flattered by all the attention he gets from fans. Ken was sitting along the back wall of the Celebrity Room at HFW2006; right between Dee Wallace-Stone and Howard "Bub" Sherman. We chatted for a bit, and I asked him if he was going to work with Rob Zombie again, to which he smiled, chuckled, and said, "Maybe, man...maybe..." Hmm. Is there a part for Foree in Zombie's upcoming Halloween flick? We'll just have to see.

Cerina Vincent looking suitably hotCerina Vincent
Umm, yeah. In certain circles, Cerina Vincent has a reputation for being a hellish diva on-set, and that she has an attitude problem or something. I don't know. From meeting with her, she struck me as being quite nice. Although, to be fair, she is (ostensibly) an actress, so who knows what she's really like. Ms. Vincent was seated, interestingly, about six feet away from Hostel-hottie Barbara Nedeljakova, who simply out-classed, out-smiled, and out-sexied Cerina completely. While, a year ago, most of the drooling 14-year-old fanboys would have been lined up around the block to get close to Cerina's cleavage, this time it was Ms. Nedeljakova getting the lion's share of the oggling. Still, Cerina played it off well, and seemed genuinely happy to meet with her fans. I didn't get my picture taken with either of them, as it seemed to be a desperate fanboy thing to do (and it would have royally pissed off my wife), but I did chat with them both briefly. A quick side note: Barbara Nedeljakova smelled like fuckin' fresh whipped cream and pumpkin pie. Interpret that however you will. Also, the award for most prominent nipples on a female celebrity at HFW2006 (if there was such an award) would definitely go to the scanty-rainbow-colord-tube-topped Barbara Nedeljakova. I digress...

Tom Savini Wonders Why He's In the Dealer's RoomTom Savini
Let me preface these comments by saying that Tom Savini has been one of my "horror heroes" for about 25 years. Over that time, I've actually spoken with him on a handful of occasions, as well as with various industry folks whom have been associated with him. One thing that I've got to make clear is that Tom has basically given the same interview about 10,000 times during his career, and he's grown more than a bit jaded by the same old questions asked by the same old hero-worshipping fans. It's to the point now, I sense, that when Savini puts in an appearance at one of these conventions, he's just kind of going through the motions. He's living with that reputation of his, and he's living in an industry that he (inarguably) helped to shape, but that no longer needs him. His work has long since been eclipsed by that of his former pupils like Greg Nicotero (among others), and to be honest, once the guy basically abandoned a dedicated special effects makeup career to pursue his dream of being a respected director, his credibility started to slip. Now, he certainly remains a respected - even revered - figure in the horror world, but I get the impression that he's more than a little bitter about the hand that fate has dealt him. Other than directing the (admittedly cool) Chill Factor: House Call, his career lately seems to be comprised almost completely of acting in or making cameo appearances in genre films. What the hell...I still love the guy, even if his reception of fans is less than genuine these days. Maybe he was in a bad mood, but Tom seemed way more interested in raking in 20 bucks apiece for autographed 8x10 glossies than with interacting on a meaningful level with the fans to whom he owes his career. Savini is still one of my heroes, but his luster has been a tiny bit tarnished by his aloof and impatient behavior at HFW2006. Hopefully, he'll go back to doing his amazing effects work. All will be forgiven, Tom! We still love you, even if you're a bit jaded. Tom Savini Autographs

Russ Streiner Seems to ApproveRuss Streiner
Wotta guy! Russ Streiner was sitting right next to John Russo, surrounded by pictures of him as Barbara's ill-fated brother "Johnny" in Night of the Living Dead. With a hardy handshake and a smile, Streiner greeted me (and the rest of the fans) warmly and sincerely. Here's a guy who knows how to work a show like this. He's just pure class all the way. I talked with him briefly, and told him about my whimsical, near-obsessive, and repeated use of his likeness on Atrocities Cinema.com. I candidly asked him if he's ever had any regrets about being involved with NotLD, to which he replied, "How could I? Look around!" Like Russo, Streiner happily agreed to a future interview, and provided me (again) with a home phone number, an email address, and a great picture (and yes, that's me in the Goblin T-shirt. Man, I need to lose a couple of pounds, huh? That's what marriage'll do to ya!) Streiner gave me a wonderfully-intoned "They're coming to get you, Barbara," and I thanked him and went on my way. Probably the nicest dude at the whole convention.

Author & Filmmaker Frazer Lee Was Happy to Meet MeFrazer Lee
I'd heard of director / screenwriter / author Frazer Lee before, but I had no idea he was such a nice dude. After very (very) briefly meeting George Romero, I turned around to get my bearings, and met the glance of the guy pictured here. He was wearing much the same ear-to-ear grin as shown, and while I didn't recognize him right away, I immediately felt the need to shake his hand. Frazer just exudes coolness and completely ego-free importance. I can't describe it better than that. So, I struck up a fine...and lengthy...conversation with him. Again, he commented on my Goblin shirt (sheesh!), and told me that Claudio Simonetti had done the music for his film Urbane, which is in the final stages of post production in Turin, Italy. Urbane stars, among others, Doug "Pinhead" Bradly (here continuing his long association with Frazer, having appeared in his earlier - and critically acclaimed - short films Red Lines and On Edge. So, Mr. Lee knows a fucking lot of important people in the UK horror scene, including Clive Barker and others. To say I was impressed would be a fairly large understatement. Frazer gave me an "on the house" autographed copy of his book "Urbane" (a collection of short stories and screenplays, one of which is, obviously, the source of his movie Urbane), and told me that when he gets back to England, he's going to check out the site. Furthermore, he agreed to not only do an interview with me, but also to keep me posted with exclusive news and stuff. Plus, he said he's going to give my contact information to a bunch of his associates. Obviously, I'm taking all of this with a grain of salt, but Frazer seemed truly interested in working with me, so I'm thrilled at the prospect that even a 10th of this stuff with actually pan out and lead to anything truly worthwhile. I'll keep you all posted on what happens with this, but in the meantime, let me tell you that Frazer Lee is definitely "one to watch". I predict that he's going to be a really, really important figure in horror cinema and literature in the very near future. If you're reading this, Frazer, cheers! It was a hoot meeting you.
On an unrelated note, in the above picture of Frazer, one can see Howard "Bub" Sherman on the far right (wearing a Hawaiian shirt). Immediately behind (and totally obscured by) Frazer sat Joe "Captain Rhodes" Pilato of Day of the Dead infamy.
For more information about Frazer Lee's work, including his upcoming film Urbane, visit HERE and HERE.

Matthew Hill & Greg Nicotero...and Lucy Liu!Greg Nicotero
Here's a guy who is arguably the most imporant effects artist working today, as the "N" in KNB FX. Greg's presence at HFW2006 came as a total surprise to me, as it wasn't announced on the website. So, it was a very pleasant bonus to have had the chance to meet Greg and chat with him for a bit. And yes, that handsome bastard in the picture wearing the Brooklyn ballcap and Goblin T-shirt is your humble writer and webmaster. Greg had several busts at his table, including the pictured Lucy Liu maquette from Kill Bill, Volume 1, but otherwise, there weren't any signs identifying him. So when I happened upon his table, I smiled like an idiot. We chatted for a bit, during which time I found out something quite interesting; Greg Nicotero had not only heard of Atrocities Cinema.com, but also thought it was "a great site". He also agreed to an interview when he comes back from Europe where's he's about to go to work on Eli Roth's Hostel part 2. So, in a couple of months, you all can look forward to that. Greg was an incredibly friendly guy, and he's definitely the "real deal". His former mentor (who shall remain nameless) could take a few pointers on how to interact with fans (and intrepid journalists) at these events. I'm just sayin'. Besides, I think Greg was fighting off a cold or something, but he was still all about being cool and welcoming to everyone that came to his table. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Greg Nicotero is a super-classy dude, without a trace of ego in his body. Cheers, Greg!
Semi-related note: Greg's table was immediately to the left (facing) of Joe Pilato's table. While I was chatting with Greg, Joe Pilato suddenly jumped up and, in character, shouted, "I'm runnin' this monkey-farm now, Frankenstein! And I want to know just what the fuck you're doing with my time!" I'm serious! It was priceless. Greg and I looked at each other, chuckled, and then I said, "I'm sure that never gets old!", to which Greg smiled and replied, "Yeah. I love Joe Pilato though, so what're ya gonna do." Great stuff. Probably the funniest moment I experienced at HFW2006.

Bill Zebub ponders raping his can of BudweiserBill Zebub
Just look at this fucker, would ya'? Who is this shady cat with the Cannibal Corpse t-shirt and can of Budweiser? Well fathers, lock up your daughters, because it's none other than Kill the Scream Queen and Jesus Christ: Serial Rapist director Bill Zebub! I spoke with Bill for quite a while, and let me tell you, he's one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys in the horror industry that I've ever met. In J.T. Petty's S&Man (which I recently reviewed here), Bill is one of the people with whom Petty talks the most. Seems Bill has made quite a reputation for himself with his notorious films. Bill will be the first one to admit that his movies aren't exactly works of art. In fact, in my conversation with Bill, he stated that he was quite new to the horror genre, and that he's entirely self-taught. He felt that was a great way to learn things, and I've got to hand it to him, he sure knows how to crank out shocking, disturbing, nasty, and fun little flicks.

Dark Water Transit's Paul Joyce - Photo NOT Taken at HFW2006Paul Joyce of Dark Water Transit
As I filtered through the dealer's room at HFW2006, I was stopped by a scruffily-bearded, unassuming-looking guy. He lept out from behind his booth and said, "Hey! Great shirt!", referring to my Rotton Cotton "Goblin" logo T-shirt (I swear to god, I got more comments on that shirt than I can even begin to tell you). I thanked him, and we started talking. Seems this guy's name is Paul Joyce, and he's a guitarist and founding member of a Baltimore, Maryland-based prog-rock band called Dark Water Transit. I gave him my card, identifying myself, and he ushered me back over to his booth, where I met another guy in the band. Paul eagerly shoved a CD into my hand titled "Dawn of the Goblin". He explained that the disc, appropriately enough, was a collection of covers of songs from Goblin's Dawn of the Dead soundtrack, performed by Dark Water Transit. Cool concept, I thought. He gave me another DWT disc, this one as yet unreleased, and we talked for a while about horror movies, about prog rock (where we both, I fear, started to show our respective ages), and about Goblin. He gave me more promotional stuff, invited me to a live show later in the year (where he wants me to be a special "press guest"), and then for the rest of the day, I kept running into the guy. Every time I did, we chatted a bit more. Paul seemed like a helluva nice guy, and clearly we had some tastes in music and movies in common, so I was eager to listen to his stuff. I'm going to review Dark Water Transit's "Dawn of the Goblin" elsewhere on the site, but let me tell you that this album kicks much ass. Really solid, interesting stuff. And, it goes well beyond slavish devotion to the original music. After all, what would be the point of simply "copying" the music. No, these are true covers. Whew. I'm really excited about this band. If I ever make a movie myself, I'm going to have Dark Water Transit do the music for it. Mark my words.
For more information about Dark Water Transit, visit HERE and HERE.

Kimberly Warner-Cohen and her book - Photos NOT Taken at HFW2006Kimberly Warner-Cohen
By far one of the most intriguing babes lurking in the dealer's room at HFW was Kimberly Warner-Cohen, former dominatrix and author of "Sex, Blood, and Rock 'n' Roll". Now, I haven't finished reading her book, but my initial impressions are that "Sex, Blood, and Rock 'n' Roll" is a brutal, funny, freaky, kinky, honest (semi-autobiographical, perhaps?) account of a down-and-out courtesan/dominatrix who takes bloody revenge on those she feels are responsible for the loss of her unborn child. There's a distinct "American Psycho" vibe, but don't let that fool you...Warner-Cohen's vision is unique and original. I met her briefly at the convention; she gave me a smile, and I picked up her book, I gave her my card, and that was that. Since then, I've spoken with her, and I'll be conducting an interview with her in the very near future. She's got experience and talent to spare, so here's to hoping that Kimberly gets the attention she deserves!
For more information about Kimberly Warner-Cohen, visit HERE.

Summing Up...
The Horrorfind Weekend 2006 was one of the more valuable, enjoyable, and outright fun experiences I've had in a long time. Professionally, it was a definite boon, as I met scads of people...many of whom are willing and ready to associate themselves with Atrocities Cinema.com to one degree or another. I've already been in touch with Kimberly Warner-Cohen and Frazer Lee, whom have both agreed to be interviewed in the very near future. Furthermore, Mr. Lee is sending over copies of his short films (and other materials) for review. So, it was totally worth my twenty bucks to attend. Sadly, I was not able to spend as much time at HFW2006 as I had originally intended, but the time I did spend there was an absolute blast. Far from being the slovenly geek-filled dorkfest that many people assume conventions like this to be, the Horrorfind Weekend was, quite simply, a gathering of people who love horror in its myriad forms.
- Matthew Dean Hill

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