Right off the bat, within 15 minutes of check-in to be exact, our beagle Jasper turned into a zombie. Yes, you read that right. No, we didn’t actually bring him to the convention but rather a photo from which Jonny Axx, an extremely talented artist, good spiritedly drew our dog’s portrait despite the fact that he personally doesn’t believe animals can contract the virus that creates zombies. (And he should know, too, because along with David Fairhead, he is a co-creator of the World Zombie Wrestling Association.)
As far as we were concerned, the night could have ended right there but we decided to stick around for a while and check out the local talent at the Horror Cabaret hosted by Dawn of the Dead star Mr. Ken Foree. The blood curdling line-up included selections from Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera (a fantastic production that will rot the damn flesh right off your bones) and a mentalist who skillfully manipulated select audience members' brains. But it was
legend Weird Paul who really got our hearts pumping again as he belted out “Human Eye,” a lovely ballad that’ll forever be in our skulls. Pittsburgh
The next day was all about panels. We were blown away by the devilish wit of Joe Bob Briggs, drive-in movie critic and MonsterVision host, as he told tales from his B-movie past. Later, Bill Moseley, “Chop Top” in Tobe Hooper’s 1986 follow-up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and “Otis B. Driftwood” in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, nearly cracked our ribs too as he talked about early career days when he couldn’t even find work as a corpse. For someone who's so terrifying on screen, he is probably one of the nicest actors you’ll ever meet.
Severed hands down, the ultimate experience, however, had to be the Bastards of Horror Short Film Fest. There is, perhaps, nothing we love to death quite as much as indie horror films. And when it comes to this genre, no one knows it better than Tim Gross and Charlie Fleming. From Nightmare at Bunnyman Bridge by a state trooper named Robert Elkins and a music video about a lonely beach bum who finds and then uses a corpse as a surf board to The Giant Rubber Monster Movie (watch this trailer!), these shorts were all great in their own ways and left us blood thirsty for more.
Really, we could go on for all eternity about the experiences we had – including randomly seeing special effects master Tom Savini shopping with his family in the dealer room – and all the genuine, talented people we met, but we all have our own rocks to crawl back under, so let us leave you with this: If you love horror and you live near Pittsburgh, come out and support this event next year. You have officially been warned.