FRIDAY: First and foremost, I have to start this report off by saying how much I love the Fangoria shows. I always have, probably always will. I’ve been attending them since I was about 15-16 years old in New York, standing in line to meet my heroes like Clive Barker while young versions of journalist Ryan Rotten and filmmaker Joe Lynch waited on the same lines right behind me, years before we all knew each other. (What happened to us all?!) I’m well aware of how much work goes into putting a show of this calibur together, and as I do at every show, I always go up to Fango editor-in-chief Tony Timpone and thank him for doing his best to put together a stellar Fango convention. So, with that said, I have to be brutally honest about this particular show, because while overall I had an amazing time, there were a lot of disappointments sprinkled through-out the entire weekend that put a dent in my childhood memory of what a Fango con used to be like. The Fango Burbank show’s are often a 5 star event compared to all the other conventions out there, but sadly this one rates about a 3. And I’ll go into why below. Also, before anyone accuses me of being bias or judgmental, keep in mind that although I’m capable of requesting a "press" pass to these events (And I’ve been offered), I ALWAYS buy my own ticket. I don’t really consider myself a "journalist" so I’m uncomfortable asking to get in for free. Besides, I always enjoy experiencing these events completely from the fan perspective because at the end the day, that’s all I am. Only difference is I’m a fan that happens to write for a website. Now, as a kid I’d often buy a general admission pass for the weekend, wait on long lines, but walk away satisfied that I met everyone I wanted to (and often for free). Well, the times have a changed! It seems the way to go is to get a GOLD pass, which entitles you to a set seat in the front rows during all the panels for the entire weekend and guaranteed free autographs from the majority of the guests. The GOLD ran a little over $200 bucks for this show, which is a little too much for me, so I opted for the $150 PREFERRED pass, which allows for seating right behind the GOLD customers and free autographs from just about everyone as well. (Keep all this in mind as we progress forward.)
The first panel of the day featured former Fango writer turned director Anthony Ferrante who was on hand to preview HEADLESS HORSEMAN. Also on hand was producer Ken Badish, composer Alan Howarth (famous for his Halloween sequel scores) and actors Steven Felty and Trish Coren. The group screened a clip and talked about working on Anthony’s follow-up to BOO.
Strike one came with the REVAMPED panel, which featured writer/director Jeff Rector, cast members Fred Williamson, Karate Kid’s Martin Cove, FRIGHT friend Christa Campbell, Alana Curry and Jason Carter. As much as I love Christa, I’m not even going to preview this movie, because immediately following the panel, the entire crew went to a table in the dealers room and charged $20 bucks a piece for their autographs. (The director was charging $10) EVEN FOR GOLD CUSTOMERS! Some of my friends were GOLD patrons who shelled out over $200 bucks and they were already disappointed having been denied autographs. Granted, I can understand some "celebrities" often charge a little money off of an appearance, but fans shouldn’t have to pay an excessive $200 dollars (or even the $150 for PREFERRED) if they don’t get everything the package promises. Well whatever, it’s only the second panel. It’s going to get better, right?
Up next was a preview for FRIGHT friend Stevan Mena’s new horror comedy BRUTAL MASSACRE. Stevan couldn’t make it, but in his place were all 3 Ladies Of The Evil Dead (Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly), producer Tom Bambard and actor David Naughton. They showed the trailer and then several rough clips from the film. Even in rough format, all of them were rather humorous, and considering what a big fan I am of Stevan’s, I’m really looking forward to what promises to be the "Spinal Tap" of horror movies. One of the clips had Tony Timpone and Mick Garris cameoing as themselves at a fictional Fango show with David Naughton’s character Harry Penderecki.
FRIGHT friend Renee got to meet and pose with Tony Moran, Michael Myers unmasked from the end of the original HALLOWEEN over in the dealers room.
And later, she meets Fred Williamson, who ironically enough opted to not charge her for an autograph. See folks? A little bit of charm goes a lot further then a GOLD pass, it seems.
I took a quick panel break to catch up with my old buddy & FANGO writer Axelle. Perhaps she’s giving me the tongue because she’s disappointed in me? Who knows!
I didn’t make my way back to the panel room until THE MIST panel, which featured Director Frank Darabont (In what I believe is his first convention appearance?), star Thomas Jane (Always the Punisher to me) and comic book legend/concept designer Bernie Wrightson. It was great to have these 3 together for a Fango show, but at the same time a little disappointing because they didn’t have a trailer to show, or clips, or even production art, which they talked about in great detail! So it was a bummer to hear about all these great designs for the films creatures, but not get to actually see any of them. I honestly didn’t learn much about THE MIST from this panel other then that Thomas Jane is the first actor to work with Frank that’s consistently been in the editing room everyday, but I still loved listening to these 3 talk. Especially Tom Jane who at one point got into why he left the role of The Punisher in the upcoming (disaster in the making) Punisher 2. The 3 stuck around and signed for everyone afterwards, which was fantastic because Frank really is a giant fan of the genre and an awfully nice guy. Hope he does more of these cons.
Later in the day, I crossed paths with my two friends Adam Green (HATCHET) and Joe Lynch (WRONG TURN 2). Ironically enough, both their panels would end up stealing the show on Saturday. (Details and pictures on both are in PART TWO of this report!)
Last panel of the day was with the ever-entertaining Doug Bradley, whom we all affectionately know as PINHEAD from the HELLRAISER series. He talked a bit about his relationship with Clive (Barker), explained why he’s returned so often to the Pinhead character, and mentioned that sadly he knows nothing about the recently announced HELLRAISER remake, other then that he would love to reprise the character if asked. But assumes that since a remake means the current series is at a close, it might not be likely.
SATURDAY: Saturday being the obvious big draw for the convention saw quite a lot of crowds outside the convention center. Normally this kind of thing is well organized, but I hit my first snag when I was stopped at the door with my lady friend. You see, on top of my own PREFERRED PASS, I bought one for her as well. However, she couldn’t make it into town until Saturday morning, so this was her first day joining me and we were hassled because she didn’t receive her wristband yet, and her pass was supposedly already marked off as used. “You can’t use that pass” was the exact quote I heard. I paid $300 dollars for both these passes and I was about to be denied admission. But I fought it and thankfully, they eventually let us both in.
The weekend’s next big disappointment came with guest Heather Langenkamp, whom of course as horror enthusiasts, we were happy to see at a Fango show. Her panel didn’t have much to offer other then a few stories about her experiences with the Nancy character from the Nightmare films, and that she’s open to the idea of an action figure of her facing off with Freddy. Also, she runs a FX company with her husband. After her panel however, she was only signing autographs for those that purchased an "autograph ticket" in advance for $25 each. Yet again, for those who dropped $200 plus on Gold Tickets and for myself who dropped $150, it was a huge disappointment.
Things got a tad better once Eli Roth took the stage with 2 of the stars of HOSTEL PART 2, Bijou Phillips and Vera Jordanova. (Along with two torturers patiently waiting in the background – see below) They showed the trailer and showed a clip with Bijou, which didn’t reveal much, but then again, I like all of Eli’s movies, and I kind of want to experience HOSTEL PART 2 with fresh eyes in the theater. Most of the audience questions geared towards Eli, but he turned the tables by personally interviewing the stars of his film on stage himself. (Which was fun and humorous.) Eli definitely tried his best to win over the crowd as best as he could, and stuck around for a bit to sign posters for fans. However, I don’t think anyone that attended the show with a general admission ticket was lucky enough to meet him, because again, I had a PREFERRED pass and by the time I got up to Eli and his cast, we were terribly rushed to grab a poster and leave. My 16 year old self who could only afford a GA ticket would’ve been totally heartbroken.
The Fangoria Comics panel followed with big draw Michael Madsen, editor Scott Licina, artist Mark Kidwell, writer Robert Kurtzman and co-creator Patrick Durham. They previewed a slew of Fango’s comic titles which I believe are available via their website now? Being a big comic book fan and always craving good, new horror comics, I’ll have to check it out for myself.
Later in the afternoon, director Ti West (THE ROOST) was on hand with several cast members of CABIN FEVER 2, including Marc Senter, Noah Segan, Rider Strong, Guiseppe Andrews and producer Lauren Moews. They explained that they really didn’t want to repeat what was done with the first CABIN FEVER which is why it’s taken so long to find the right script and director to helm the picture. However, the film just wrapped production, so yet again, fans were disappointed that there was no trailer, no clips and very little that could be said about CABIN FEVER 2. I think it takes place during a prom, right?
Click THIS link to proceed to PART TWO, which features pictures from the two panels that stole the show, WRONG TURN 2 and HATCHET, and ummm… ROB ZOMBIE!!! Also in PART TWO, Erica Leershen, Joe Lynch, Henry Rollins, Doyle Von Frankenstein, Adam Green, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, John Carl Buechler, Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Rob Zombie, Sheri Moon Zombie, Kristin Klebe, Hannah Hall, Danielle Harris, Scout Taylor-Compton, Daeg Faerch, Shawnee Smith, Thora Birch, Mick Garris, Tom Holland, Peter Medak, Neil Marshall, Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Scott Glosserman, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, Clive Barker & Paul Naschy.