I won’t lie: when Dave asked me to work for Adventure Amigos over two and a half years ago, the thought had crossed my mind to turn him down. I have worked for sites before. A few of those experiences were great. Some I would like to leave like a heavy rock in the ocean. And as someone who had almost started entering his mid-thirties and was on the cusp of getting the biggest broadcast job of my life (so far), I didn’t know if starting a blog site with an old friend was the route to go. Then, after a couple of years of putting as many reviews together as I could, and little by little interviewing well-respected people within the business, it was all starting to come to me. This is a site about opportunity, and bringing people together for different aspects of not just one, but many goals. A major goal would be hit upon me once I started hearing about something called The Twisted Terror Convention. Taking place in Sacramento, California from March 29th to March 30th , the Convention would be the first of its kind in that part of the country. Sure, they come by the dozen to Los Angeles and New York. But if a horror convention was going to hit upon Northern California, we, as a site driving toward the goal of making an impact on what Doug Jones calls the Interwebs, would HAVE to be a part of it.
Then, something organic about the convention started forming. A little more than a month after interviewing Jessica Cameron for our podcast The Director’s Chair, I had heard she was taking her film Truth or Dare to Twisted Terror for a special showing in the Convention screening room. This got me thinking. I immediately booked Convention organizer Aaron Dodge for an interview that would take place a little over a month before the actual convention would take place. And, of course, I started saving for what I knew to be a good time.
What a difference six weeks makes. Low and behold, the week before Dodge was supposed to appear on our podcast, news came out that due to personal circumstances, Ms Cameron pulled out of the Convention. I was left wondering if there was any hope for Dodge and his cohort Dorine Hacket to recover from the crazy onslaught of bad press they were getting among the horror community. But interviewing Dodge gave me a whole perspective on how these things work. People don’t take into account the organizing that has to take place to have them. Sometimes it can be a hassle for me to tie guests down for an hour on our podcast (I am pretty sure both Dave and I have lost hair as a result of some broken bookings). But Dodge and Hacket had to pin down close to thirty of them. For an entire weekend.
I decided that it would be my job to cover the Convention for the site. After all, I think I established earlier in this article that Adventure Amigos is all about opportunity, right? Site contributor Adam Bunch and I made plans to attend together. The thought was still in the back of my mind, however. Would this pan out for all involved? What was I, someone who has attended huge conventions in the past, really getting into with the people throwing this one, their first? The prospect of having a dry crack at answering this question was literally washed away by Sacramento’s worst rain storm of the year (followed by, of all things, tornado warnings). Good for scary PR. Not for guests of the Twisted Terror Convention.
Bunch and I took the walk-around lap, seeing the displays and guests that were lined up, all of which were flashing smiles that said ‘come say hi.’ That I did, to almost all the tables (sorry girl from The Human Centipede. Wasn’t a big fan of your movie).
Some highlights and tidbits I learned from walking around the Convention floor include:
- Erin Gray, after turning the role she had in Jason Goes To Hell down three times due to its horrific nature, was finally convinced to do the film after a phone call from Sean Cunningham himself, who revealed the film was NOT a horror film, but a ‘black comedy.’
- Gray was VERY impressed with the directorial expertise of an at the time 22-year-old director (and past Director’s Chair guest) Adam Marcus. Even if Cunningham always lurked over his shoulder.
- There is nothing funnier then the sight of a person dressed in a Mech Godzilla costume trying to fit in the door of a screening room.
- Director Kevin Tenney (Witchboard, Night of the Demons) was given the task of making the sequel to surprise success The Arrival with only a fourth of the original film’s budget. Oh, and Sheen was a joy to work with.
- Sean Whalen, known for his role as the tongue-less albino in Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, was also the star of Michael Bay’s final TV commercial: a Got Milk ad.
- Stunning horror movie actress Tiffany Shepis is just as sweet as she is beautiful. And she thinks I smell good.
- While he may have just been acting polite, past Director’s Chair guest Tyler Mane said he would LOVE to come back on once his film Compound Fracture is finished. Also, I think he left his seat a grand total of two times all day. The guy could not have been nicer.
As far as the screenings went, as with everything that has to do with a film festival, the films shown were a mixed bag at best. However, these particular screenings tie in with what I felt was the complete downfall in the cast of The Walking Dead bringing in a, shall we say, younger crowd. Now, between Chandler Riggs (Carl) and Kyla Kennedy (Mika), there was never a short line. Lines to see them went out the Convention room door. Their appearances and the young fans they brought in (I saw at least a couple of ten year old boys dressed in complete Carl garb) reminded me more than a little of the first year I went to Comic Con. As I walked around that floor in 2007, I noticed more than a few young girls (not the festival’s demographic) roaming around. Then I looked up and noticed Twilight merchandise. That was the exact feeling I had as I noticed these kids from The Walking Dead (along with more than a few other featured zombies from the show) brought a crowd I (and I’m pretty sure Dodge & Hacket themselves) could never have imagined. Intermittently, the downfall of these sets of events would be seen later. As Adam and I settled in for the premiere screening of a film called Disciples (full review coming soon), a gentleman turned around and asked us if the film was ok for kids. Having been fresh from a screening of The Bighead, in which a young woman is raped and urinated on, Adam blurted, ‘well, none of them have been so far.’ Needless to say, as the opening minutes of the film reveal a priest with red eyes raping a nun, the man’s five kids were not to be seen much longer (although the man stayed a few more minutes, I guess just to make sure).
I completely respect Dodge for giving an almost ‘first come, first serve’ type atmosphere to the filmmakers involved with each film. There was no fee involved with showing the films, and each one was followed by Q & As. Stand outs? There was the aforementioned thirty minute preview of a film based on horror fiction writer Edward Lee’s The Bighead that was a complete throwback to stalker/slasher horror films of old. After meeting director Michael Ling and co-star Michael Coons, I really hope they can scrap enough cash together to finish it, as they were great guys who shared more than a few drinks with us at the VIP party. Expect them on the podcast very soon. There was also a VERY darkly funny and entertaining short called Dump, in which two serial killers with similar goals of ‘dumping’ their victims in the same place stop and….reminisce.
Did I run into other people who will be on our family of shows soon? Absolutely. But for now, I am going to be mum about who. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this convention to ALL Amigos next year. There’s a little something for everyone. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a MAJOR thank you to Aaron Dodge and Dorine Hacket for welcoming us to the Convention with complete open arms. Me, Adam, and my co-host Scott Ward could not be more grateful. And if a conversation with Mr Dodge early in the day is any indication, they will be in the Hilton next year. So next year expect everything to be bigger. However, no matter how big it is, you can ensure Dodge and Hacket will make sure it’s fun. So don’t be like me in the beginning of this site and be wary of the opportunities going to a place like this brings you.