International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival 2008 -- The Experience
Last weekend, I was at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival at Chandler Cinemas in Chandler, AZ. I met some incredible people, saw some great movies, and had an amazing time. Plus, as Classic-Horror.com was a sponsor for the event, I had the unique opportunity to see the site's name up in lights! What follows is the rundown on Friday and Saturday, the two days I was able to attend.
After a screening of the original Friday the 13th (1980) for a very appreciative crowd, star Adrienne King, who played Alice, did a Q&A session. King was warm, funny, and gracious – three things you hope to get in every festival guest. She told her stories about the making of the movie with aplomb, displayed surprising candor about her quarter-decade absence in front of the movie camera, and could not thank the audience enough for their support of the film over the years.
One interesting tidbit she unveiled was that she didn't believe that Alice was dead. This might come as a shock to those who saw Friday the 13th Part 2, but King has her reasons; we never see Alice's dead body, since the movie cuts away just as Jason begins to insert the ice pick. King said that she thinks that Alice and Jason have “unfinished business.”
Regarding the upcoming reboot of the franchise, King noted that the producers had contacted both her and Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees) through their manager. Palmer said no, but King said, “Why not?” since she'd felt “rejuvenated” by Friday fans. “They jerked us [King and her manager] around for a month,” King told the audience, before coming back to say they didn't want anyone from the original in the new film. King's manager, apparently, retorted with, “So why don't you write something original?”
After the two Fridays and a nasty year dealing with a stalker, King switched from acting on-screen to acting on-microphone, doing looping dialogue for films in post-production. She said you can hear her voice opposite Johnny Depp in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and on all seven seasons of Melrose Place. She recently completed production on her first on-screen feature film appearance in twenty-seven years, entitled Walking Distance.
At the end, Phoenix Film Foundation President Chris LaMont here inducted King into the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival's Horror Hall of Fame and presented the actress with a commemorative plaque.
Adrienne followed the Q&A with a signing, attaching her autograph to photos, DVDs, and her own Friday the 13th-related art. She had prints of a painting she did of Alice in the canoe from the end of the film, as well as a poster she originally made as a gift to Friday director Sean S. Cunningham, compiled from Polaroids taken during the filming of Alice's showdown with Mrs. Voorhees and Cunningham's thirteen director's notes from that night.
Later in the night, the guys from ICanSmellYourBrains.com announced the winners of their “Gore Girl” contest, to determine which of the gore-soaked ladies who signed up would be the site's December Gore Girl, complete with their own paid photo shoot. More details on the contest and the winners will likely be announced on ICanSmellYourBrains.com in the coming days.
Andrea Beesley-Brown, the Midnite Movie Mamacita and Director of the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, was on hand for a special presentation of her monthly “Grindhouse Redux” double feature. Those so inclined could see Herschell Gordon Lewis's Wizard of Gore (1970) followed by Vampire Hookers (1978), a Filipino horror-comedy starring John Carradine and directed by Cirio H. Santiago, who passed away in September of this year. Much fun was had by the audiences as they laughed and groaned at the humor pervalent in both films, both intentional and not-so-intentional.
My day at the festival started with the 2:00PM screening of Irving S. Yeaworth's The Blob (1958), in celebration of the film's 50th Anniversary. I actually had the honor of introducing the film to the audience, talking about how the film still resonated with audiences half a century later and the parallels between the monster and the teenagers (thanks to Chris Justice for inspiring that talking point); I also briefly touched on the sequel, Beware! The Blob (1972), which received a much bigger response than I anticipated. After the screening, a lot of people approached me asking about Classic-Horror. It was heartening to meet so many fans of older horror films.
In the evening, the theater lobby was brimming with fans waiting in line for the big event: a screening of Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator with star Jeffrey Combs in attendance. If you ever have the chance to see the movie with a full audience, do so, especially if many of them haven't ever seen the movie before. The laughter was infectious and the "oh my GODS!" were delightful. As the credits rolled, the lights went up and Combs talked about the experience of making the movie as well as his career overall. Later I'll be doing a full write-up of what Combs said, but I will note now that House of Re-Animator looks well and truly dead and Combs does a marvelous William Shatner impersonation. After the Q&A, Chris LaMont appeared again to present Combs with a plaque signifying his place in the Horror Hall of Fame.
Combs signed autographs for a couple hours, including full-sized posters brought in by some fans as well as the 8x10 glossies that Combs had for sale. A gracious man, Combs was always willing to have his photograph taken with fans, even getting dragged away by a trio of Marvel Zombies at one point.
That about sums up my time at the festival, as I had to miss out on Sunday. I had a fantastic time on Friday and Saturday, though, and I was terribly pleased to be a part of the experience.