24 September, 2013

Horror Realm Con 2013

I had a really nice time at Horror Realm Con two years ago, and it made a good impression on me. It was my first horror convention (which is pretty exciting, being a horror fan), and the people were really laidback and friendly. As I recall, some of the highlights of my previous attendance were getting Kyra Schon's autograph (the girl whose face is on the iconic poster for Night of the Living Dead), seeing a group of half-naked girls breathe fire, and the live bands that performed out on the hotel patio. Since then, I've wanted to come back, but it took two years to make the arrangements.

Zombies! of the Corn

This year, I had two friends come and tag along with me, which is always nice. There was no fire-breathing, and no live bands (there was an indoor musician, but I missed him because I was getting ready for the costume contest), but Kyra Schon was once again in attendance, along with several other exciting guests. Unfortunately, my money is pretty tight this year, so I didn't get any autographs, nor any merchandise from the dealer's room.

They have all sorts of great horror, b, and softcore porno movies on offer (including such blasphemous titles as Jesus Christ, Serial Rapist), from the mainstream to the obscure. Also, lots of cool t-shirts (I would have liked to have gotten a Buffy the Vampire Slayer t-shirt, since I'm in the process of finally watching that series, and there were some Alien shirts that seriously tempted me), and various fan-made horror crafts, including one booth featuring a very talented artist's full-color drawings of deeply unsettling scenes and themes (many with a sinister, twisted fairy tale kind of a feeling to them).

As for those guests, they included Heather Langenkamp and Amanda Wyss who played Nancy (the lead/"final girl") and her friend Tina (the girl whose nightmarish death involved being dragged across the ceiling), respectively, in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street movie; Nicholas Brendon who played Xander Harris, Buffy's male friend on Buffy The Vampire Slayer (an entirely appropriate guest for me to see, given my current absorption into the Buffy TV series); and Camille Keaton, who played the lead role (and avenging woman) in the classic sexploitation/rape revenge flick I Spit On Your Grave.

All of those guests I just mentioned had panels that I attended. Heather and Amanda teamed up with horror documentarian Thommy Hutson for an interesting panel focusing on the legacy of the A Nightmare On Elm Street series (with unrelated tidbits like the fact that Amanda likes to watch The Walking Dead, but fast forwards through the scary parts, and that Heather is concerned about the human cost of consumer culture, in which people are more likely to spend time consuming other people's creative endeavors than exercising their own potential talents).

But Nicholas Brendon's panel was even more entertaining, as he, it turns out, is a natural comedian. As someone who is pretty awkward in social situations, it fascinates me the difference between people's personalities and social abilities, that some people can make a person feel so comfortable with seemingly so little effort. Nicky was loved by the crowd, whom he seemed to genuinely enjoy interacting with, and it was one of the highlights of my con-going experience. I already liked Xander's character on Buffy, even though he's kind of the comic relief (and me being more the serious kinda guy), but I think it's inevitable that I'm going to appreciate him even more from here on out, having actually met the guy.

Camille Keaton's panel had rather less in-depth philosophical discussion of the feminist repercussions of a movie like I Spit On Your Grave, or what it's like for a woman to star in a role that involves a) copious nudity, b) heavy sexual themes, and c) simulated rape, than I would have liked. But, if she didn't seem to approach it as something that she'd spent a lot of time considering/justifying (as opposed to just part of a job she became involved in), at least she didn't have anything especially negative to say about it.

A cute Poison Ivy/Harley Quinn pair

Saturday night featured a costume contest and the big dance party. Two years ago, I seem to recall that they combined the two, with the costumes being judged and winners announced as part of the party. This year, it was done separately, with the costume contest treated much like a panel in and of itself. One of my friends and I got dressed up for fun, to contribute to the spirit of the con (and in my case, to have an excuse to dress up). My friend had a goth-like dress with a black-and-white tie-dye pattern that looked a bit like spider webs, so she bought a bag of plastic Halloween spiders and decorated her shoes, fingers, and a crown she painted to look like a spider with them to become the Spider Queen. I dressed up in my sexy witch costume - the same one I wore trick 'r' treating last year.

Because of the craftsmanship my friend had put into her costume, I was pleased to hear that she had entered herself into the costume contest. Though when we got there, all dressed up, a point was made by the judges to include anyone present who wanted to compete, even if they weren't signed up. I hadn't planned on it, but once there, I kinda felt like it'd be a shame to waste this opportunity to show off my costume, so we both went up to be judged. Thankfully, it was all pretty casual and laidback (at least if you ask me).

When it was my turn to step up front, I introduced myself and the crowd erupted into applause, realizing when they heard my name that I was not a girl but a guy dressed up in a sexy witch costume! Thanks to that shock factor, I won third place, and was awarded a signed book and a grab bag of random horror goodies (like a Walking Dead button, and a neat syringe pen). I was beaten by a serious witch who got second place, and a really good zombie nurse (a la Silent Hill) who totally deserved the first place prize, although judging from the reaction, I was probably the audience favorite. It was too bad that my friend's craftsmanship went unappreciated, but what can I say - sex sells...

Sexy Witch & Spider Queen

The dance party started - like everything else at the con - late, and we spent some time scoping it out. But there wasn't a whole lot of dancing going on (to watch), except for when the DJ played The Time Warp from the Rocky Horror soundtrack (the party had a '70s theme this year), and it was too dark to really appreciate all the con-goers dressed in costumes. That reference to Rocky Horror is appropriate, because we happened to hear a rumor earlier that the Rocky Horror Picture Show was playing that night at the Hollywood Theater, where my friend and I had gone to see it also two years ago.

So we ditched the party and drove out to the theater around midnight, but not before I had a chance to switch my witch costume for a set of black lingerie and fishnet stockings. The only thing I wore over it was a short jacket. I have to say, it was not only daring, but a rather sexy ensemble. Unfortunately, though, we were turned away at the door because the show was sold out! I know that it has a big cult following, and it's had plenty of time to be absorbed into the fabric of the mainstream, but, certainly with respect to its origins, the Rocky Horror Picture Show has a strong counterculture sentiment, and I'm somewhat surprised that it's just so popular. I mean, it's like, the only time I know when a man can go out in public dressed in women's lingerie, and not only be applauded rather than reviled, but actually feel like you belong in the crowd, instead of being the one that stands out.

Anyway, it was kind of embarrassing to be "rejected" from the Rocky Horror Picture Show - especially all dressed up as I was - but we went to a diner to have some hot chocolate instead. Yeah, I went to the diner in my jacket and lingerie. It was exciting, and pretty daring. Probably even more daring than those three young girls we saw at the hotel during the con, who seemed curiously to have made a conscious decision to come downstairs from whatever hotel room they were staying in, in order to parade themselves through the halls, in front of countless random con-going strangers, wearing no more than their fairly skimpy pajamas. You know, I really admire a daring, even exhibitionist mentality like that. You can say what you want, but I think it's extremely attractive.