Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Monsterfest Report

Thanks to everyone who came out for the screening of NIGHTMARES at Monsterfest on Saturday! It was great to see so many friends from M2 Pictures, New Dominion Pictures, Dr. Madblood, Scary Monsters Magazine and The House Between. I arrived early and chatted with Rob Floyd and Jim Blanton, founders and directors of Monsterfest, and Craig Eckrich, who provided “special security” (I won’t ask…). This was the sixth year of Monsterfest, and they had a pretty good turnout.

Right away, my old friend Dr. Madblood pulled me aside for an interview that will appear in his upcoming Halloween special. I met the infamous mad doctor of Pungo back in 2004, when I was working at a production company in Norfolk. I had just published “Nightmares in Red, White and Blue,” which gave me the confidence to approach Jerry Harrell (the man behind the wig) and introduce myself. We had a long conversation about how we each got interested in horror films, and Jerry offered a succinct explanation of why he had first donned the wig. Quite simply, he wanted to reassure kids that it was okay to be different. He’s been a personal hero of mine ever since. Soon after that, I started showing up for weekly tapings of the Madblood series and met the rest of the cast and crew – a fantastic group of people, who are just as funny off-screen as on. They put me to work on a few episodes as the “Brain-wrangler” (if you’ve seen the show, you know what I mean), and treated me like family. I am grateful to Monsterfest for providing a chance to catch up with Jerry and several of his cohorts: Kristen Harrell, Craig T. Adams, Debra Burrell, Carter Perry and Bill Davidson.

The Virginia premiere of NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE followed a lineup of short films including an all-puppet version of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (!), and we had a lively Q&A afterwards. Director Andrew Monument and I also sat for a lengthy interview with Jason Bayless, Josh Browning and Paul Casper (who composed the score for NIGHTMARES), which will appear on their internet radio program – Zombie Popcorn – later this month.

NIGHTMARES was followed by the world premiere of the documentary VIRGINIA CREEPERS. I bought a DVD copy of the “special Monsterfest edition” of the doc – which I assume is a bit longer than the final version will be. At 2 hours, it offers an exhaustive overview of horror show hosts from the Old Dominion. Particular focus is given to The Bowman Body, Count Gore de Vol, and Dr. Madblood, but I was especially excited to learn more about some of their lesser-known predecessors (Jonathan, Ghoulda, Ronald the Ghoul, and Hazel Witch) and their internet successors. Documentarian Sean Kotz clearly loves his subject, and the lower-third titles throughout the film prove that his sense of humor is as biting as the creepers.

By the end of the day, nearly the entire cast of THE HOUSE BETWEEN had gathered for the all-night movie marathon. Tony Mercer and Lee Hansen were on hand for a panel discussion on the history of Godzilla movies… and these guys know their stuff. They had so much to say that they only managed to get up to GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973) before running out of time. There is already some speculation about continuing the conversation at the Fantasci convention in the spring. (In the meantime, I think they should write the book.) Until next year…

Monsterfest VI

Festival founder Rob "Wolfman" Floyd and the monsters from his closet

MADBLOOD director Carter Perry and a recently-returned veteran of the Iraq War (no kidding)

Dr. Madblood and Me

NIGHTMARES director Andrew Monument with Ro-Man

The director's son, in disguise

The cast of BUBBA HO-TEP 2?

Attending cast members of The House Between… minus Phyllis Floyd, who somehow managed to avoid the camera but who must be acknowledged because, well, Phyllis is awesome. From left to right: Craig T. Adams, Lee Hansen, Craig Eckrich, Kim Breeding, Tony Mercer, Rob Floyd, and Jim Blanton.

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