It’s HorrorHound Weekend, a convention celebrating terror cinema … in Cincinnati. Dude! With too many local commitments this year, we had to skip what would have been our second annual trek. One year ago, a different kind of March Madness gripped the MaddWolf household, as the convention landed in Columbus for the first time. And while OSU gear was in short supply, I counted three different Motel Hell tee shirts. Nice!
It was Saturday afternoon. In a short few hours, Ohio State would take on Syracuse in the East Regional Finals, yet my husband George was sporting the only OSU T-shirt in the sea of humans at the Crown Plaza North hotel.
I don’t think I’ve ever ventured outside my home without seeing at least several OSU tees. What gives? As I pondered, I turned the corner and blurted, “Oh my God, it’s Pinhead!”
It was Doug Bradley, the actor who’d brought life to the iconic villain from Clive Barker’s 1987 film Hellraiser. He was sitting nonchalantly, wearing a Mansfield Correctional Facility tee shirt and signing autographs for $20 a pop.
Many of those attendees not bedecked in their Evil Dead/Halloween/Friday the 13th finest showed off an even deeper commitment to their fandom, coming costumed as their favorite characters. The Bride of Chucky milled around alongside the Bride of Frankenstein. Jigsaw squeezed past the Wolfman on his way to the bar. I saw many Elviras – some of them women, even. The zombies were countless.
There were also an awful lot of Ghostbusters in attendance, which seemed weird. Maybe they’d been called in case things got out of hand.
Left your Army of Darkness tee at home? No worries! Vendors shucked tee shirts, jewelry, face painting, and costumes. Booths offered gear from Blacula, The Shining, Shivers – nearly every film you might think of – as well as obscure DVDs, posters, and wildly tacky paintings.
You could even go home stained with a brand new, horror-inspired tattoo, courtesy of on-sight tattoo artists Screaming Ink.
Many such customers, freshly inked with Elvira’s likeness, shuffled directly into line to meet the actual Mistress of the Dark (Cassandra Peterson). For just $20 you could get your photo, Elvira hanging off one arm, her face forever etched on the other.
Twenty was the going rate for most photo ops.
I paid it. I’m not made of stone.
Stuart Gordon, director of many genre classics including Re-Animator, pocketed a bill of mine, as did Tippi Hedren from Hitchcock’s ornithophobic classic The Birds. But she kicked in a prop raven for free. Now that’s the kind of theatrical panache that lures in suckers like me.
I dropped a lot of cash, I’m not going to lie to you. But how else was I going to get a picture of me standing between Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns, killer and survivor from the 1974 original Texas Chainsaw Massacre? How?!
Across from Bradley’s table was a booth crowned with a banner reading: Are you a horror film freak?
Um, yes. And I was in my element.
In the ballrooms, lobbies and corridors of the Crown Plaza gathered thousands of the most ardent consumers and prolific purveyors of all things gore. Along with Pinhead, you might run into Jason Voorhees (Steve Dash), Michael Myers (Tyler Mane), or Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen).
If you just read that paragraph and objected that Dash, Mane and Hansen are not the only actors to don a hockey/Shatner/human flesh mask onscreen, you, too, may be a horror film freak.
This is not exactly George’s element. He enjoys a good horror film, but only a good one. Still, he embraced the opportunity to let me absorb all the horror-nerdery I could handle. He took note of the many and varied costumes bedecking the convention attendees and suggested we return in our Halloween get-ups from last year – blood soaked prom-goer Carrie and her date Tommy. God bless George, he does participate in life.
In a few short hours, the Buckeyes would earn their place in the Final Four, but here there was a different kind of madness afoot. Such is HorrorHound weekend, the convention where the man who changed the face – whole head, even – of horror might be right next to you, and the only scarlet you’re likely to see on a tee shirt is the blood dripping from the words “I like boobs and murder.”