By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Rue Morgue Magazine’s Festival of Fear, Westcoast edition is set to take up most of the stage at Fan Expo Vancouver 2014. Last year saw the première of Death Do Us Part, a horror film that is very similar to A Little Bit Zombie in theme — where wedding bell jitters can spell doom.
This year’s spotlight will be on WolfCop, a tale of a police officer who ends up with lycanthropy. And just which kind of masters he can end up serving will become the big question of the day. This movie has the potential to make it big in the cult film market, and the filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions along with other guests to fuel the fire for what can be a wonderfully horrific weekend.
Rue Morgue Magazine’s editor, Dave Alexander, says a great time will be had this year. He will be helming some of the panels to reveal what is next for horror film enthusiasts to enjoy. This year’s lineup also includes Bruce Campbell, Lauren Cohan, Eliza Dushuku, The Soska Twins and Tristan Risk, and this editor confirmed that he will be helping the Q&A with Robert Englund and George Mihalka. This talented filmmaker was a last-minute addition, and his panel will occur on Sunday, 1pm in Room 188 for those inclined to hear what his next projects may entail.
Mihalka made one of the greatest slasher movies of all time, My Bloody Valentine. “Not only does he give us characters worth caring about, an iconic killer, a unique setting, it’s also very Canadian,” said Alexander, “From its accents to its abundance of Moosehead beer. He’s a fantastic storyteller, which has carried through all of his work, in both French and English Canada, whether it’s My Bloody Valentine, the classic comedy La Florida or his latest TV project, the dark gangster comedy 24-Hour Rental. “
Mihalka should be a house hold name when considering his many awards and nominations for his work. To name a few, his credits include such TV projects as Dr. Lucille, Race to Mars and DaVinci’s Inquest. To see him transition to doing features like My Bloody Valentine is exciting and to find out why he’s embracing the horror genre will no doubt be one many panel fans can attend.
Englund needs no introduction as he’s best known as Freddie Kruger from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Alexander might also be on hand to introduce other luminaries like Lauren Cohan, Eliza Dushku, and Tristan Risk. As the editor-in-chief of the magazine, this walking dictionary of knowledge can provide answers to some burning questions after being on the job for ten years.
“I’d say horror has been part of the mainstream market since Phantom of the Opera, which was a huge production for its time in the silent era,” said Alexander. “Horror comes and goes over the decades but has grown stronger since the 2000s, which is often understood to be a reflection of anxieties over things such as war, disease, environmental destruction, terrorism and other real world threats, which have only grown larger since then.”
To some fans, the films made are not just about providing the scares. The themes often explored delves into how the human psyche reacts to terror. And for a few, maybe learn from it especially if it can conquer a normal fear of flying, for example. For Alexander, he believes the best horror films effectively exploit the fears that are nearest and dearest to our hearts at any given time in history.
And to hear from this year’s pool of talented filmmakers, from Hungarian-born Mihalka now living in Canada to the Soska Twins, who are North Vancouver based, fans will have a chance to hear about how some of the best films are made, and perhaps even learn from them too. Due to contractual obligations, they can not say too much about their latest works, since See no Evil 2 is getting an October release and a fuller preview is slated for San Diego Comic Con.
“It’s a film for the fans by fans (us) and if you come into not a fan, there is no way in hell you’ll leave that theatre not being a fan. It drips with our love of horror in each and every frame,” revealed the Twins.
But it should be noted that not every year will see the return of fan favourites. These sisters are definitely cheerleaders to the genre with this kind of devotion. To see repeat performances by these artists, celebrities and writers tour the convention circuit might feel stagnant to some con-goers. The convention scene has a huge host of familiar names hitting both the small and big shows. Plus, not everyone can afford to travel far to see Stan Lee (who was prominently featured in Fan Expo 2013’s marketing campaign) or Burt Ward and Adam West as they swing from coast to coast, delighting millions of fans who enjoyed their dynamic escapades from the late 60’s.
Sadly missing are two Vancouver locals Ken Kirzinger and Brad Loree. If they were asked to appear, perhaps some fans will go nuts at seeing Freddie vs. Jason vs. Ash vs. Myers come alive at Fan Expo — maybe even the producers can take notice. Who knows, maybe even the Soska Twins might take up the mantle to get this mega-mashup film done. Instead, their latest project is the sequel of See no Evil and a segment for ABC’s of Death 2. In the new film, professional WWE wrestler Kane (Glenn Jacobs) returns to cause more mayhem.
Alexander believes the formula of having a WWE entertainer and horror go hand in hand is a good fit. “It has a built-in crossover audience and both world trade on colourful characters, violence and iconography.”
This direct to video product continues the onslaught in a morgue where a group of medical students are trapped.
The fun at Fan Expo will not simply be restricted to what fans of horror can enjoy. All the sub-genres of pop culture are nicely represented with a well-rounded group of guests and exhibitors. From brick building with LEGO to looks at the video game industry with representation by Ubisoft, no stone is left unturned. The only shame is that there is no video game awards show to attend this year. Perhaps the reason is that the dates are fixed for that particular show. With Fan Expo Vancouver taking place over the Easter weekend (April 18-20th), perhaps its best not to have too many eggs placed in one basket. With too much going on, something may fall by the wayside.