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Horror Con (UK) 2016: Festival Report

horror con bannerAs all entirely and eminently normal and sane folk do from time to time, when watching films that have been enjoyed for years, occasionally the mind will drift to what exchange would happen if the chance arose to meet these heroes face to face. And the result is always, without a doubt, “I would be witty and erudite and amaze them so much with the sheer force of my suave personality that they will want to be my best friend forever. Obviously”. Alas, the reality is something more akin to a rabbit in the headlights who has forgotten how to string even the most basic of sentences together and is chewing on a mouthful of cotton wool. But you know, suavely.

While not 100% typical of my experience at this year’s Horror Con, held at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham, there were certainly a few moments like it, whilst meeting such horror luminaries as Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees), Doug Bradley (Pinhead), David Naughton (American Werewolf in London) Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead) and Ian McCulloch (Zombie Flesh Eaters) – in fact when the latter of which asked me which film was shown on the necklace I was wearing, my mind went totally blank and my boyfriend had to come to my rescue to tell Mr McCulloch the name of the film – it was Dawn of the Dead. So quite apt, but none the less quite mortifying.

Horror Con is now in its second year, and based on my experiences I can only see it growing in scope and popularity. It is a bustling, energetic, loving tribute to the genre and its fans. The Magna Science Adventure Centre could not be a more fitting place to hold such an event; a re-purposed steelworks with a maze like quality and many astounding original features that would certainly not look out of place in a horror film. The weekend event boasted Q+A’s with some of horror’s brightest and engaging stars, the chances for autographs and professional photographs taken with the same, many stalls selling some extremely tempting wears (we gave into said temptation several times), screenings of short films, zombie photo booths, a wonderfully macabre but sadly far too brief Cabinet of Curiosities, a multitude of professional cosplayers who stayed in creepy character all weekend (and God bless them too, I can only imagine how hot some of costumes must have been to wear!), a cosplay competition for the non-professional, but highly skilled and joy of joys, and a bar. Apart from a few niggles with queuing on the first day the event was expertly managed, and all the staff friendly and approachable.

The stars were in good spirits during the Q+As, with Kane Hodder proudly announcing he has never broken a single bone in his body during his long career as a stuntman (and still somewhat bitter with his recasting from Freddy Vs Jason, 13 years ago now), and Doug Bradley gleefully regaling all with his disdain for Dimension films and the way they have treated the Hellrasier franchise. He also had harsh words for Hollywood and it’s obsession with youth and beauty; especially when it came to its female stars— so now when anyone tries to point out to you that horror films are misogynistic you can inform them that Pinhead is a feminist. David Naughton, meanwhile, gave a very good impression of a man pretending that he wasn’t aware that the entire room had seen him naked, many times. In all seriousness, he was a very lovely, genuine man, and full of stories about how cavalier with his safety (and modesty) John Landis was during the making of American Werewolf in London, revealing that the infamous scene of his character David waking up naked in London Zoo was filmed whilst the zoo was open to the public and that the film makers and the zoo keepers had very different ideas about how the scene should go as to not anger the wolves which David finds himself sharing an enclosure with.

Horror Con 2016 was definitely a weekend while spent. And judging on how much fun everyone else seemed to be having around me I hardly think I was the only one. In fact I think one of my favourite parts about the weekend was, oddly, spent in queues waiting to meet the celebrities. Watching everyone who went up to their respective favourite’s table to get something signed and to have a small chat with people they have been fans of for so many years— to then leave clutching their cherished items in hand—looked so absolutely buzzing about what had just occurred (and I include myself in that statement) that it was hard not to come to the conclusion that horror fans really are a breed apart; passionate, voracious, and  just generally really nice folk who are willing to stand in a mismanaged queue on a rainy Saturday in Rotherham dressed as a Cenobite.

Roll on next year.

About Felicity Burton

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