12th Jul2015

‘HorrorCon 2015′ Event Report

by Phil Wheat

The moors of Yorkshire turned red with blood this weekend as the first ever HorrorCon took place at the Magna Science Adventure Centre this weekend in Rotherham.

Guests in attendance – signing autographs and giving talks – included Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre); Dacre Stoker (great-grand nephew of Bram Stoker); Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead); artist Tom Hodge, aka The Dude Designs; Hammer Horror stars Caroline Munro and Martine Beswick; Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) and the legend that is SFX god Tom Savini (The Burning, Night of the Living Dead)

But HorrorCon was not just about the guests – there were plenty of activities taking place over the weekend too. Including the likes of The Pit – a “walk through event” that scared the bejesus out of all those that dare take part; the Cabinet of Curiosity, a display of weird and wonderful delights the was billed as “not for the faint of heart; plus a ton of talks, from the Zombie Institute of Theoretical Studies’ lecture, Genes of the Damned; to Vital Publishing head John Richard Farman talking Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee.

Then, of course, there were the many traders in attendance – from fans selling their unwanted stuff to those that do the convention circuit all year round. Whatever you were looking to buy there was sure to be someone selling it!

The highlights in the “Big Hall” traders room, for me, included Minifigs.me where I picked up four custom LEGO mini figures of Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and Leatherface – all for less than the prices on their website; Hellbound Media, an independent comic publisher who put out a number of horror comics, including the one that caught my eye: Slaughterhouse Farm; and – now this might sound strange – Janine Makes Cakes, a local cake maker who had made a fantastic life-sized cake “bust” of Leatherface which was set to be presented to Gunnar Hansen himself, before being auctioned off in the name of charity. She also had some superb horror-themed cakes available for sale, including cakes that looked like a Graboid from Tremors and Belial from Basket Case! Let’s just say I know where I’m going for a cake for my forthcoming wedding…

Traders were not limited to the Big Hall either, there was a smaller traders room come guest area hidden at the other end of Magna which played host to the photo shoots available at HorrorCon, as well as guests such as The Dude Designs; Mike Peel (who was doing a live demo of his fantastic SFX work – as seen in the forthcoming Unhallowed Ground); Arrow Video; Vital Publishing and even Frightfest’s own Ian Rattray – who was peddling a selection of the ever-awesome Frightfest Originals posters.

My main “home” for most of HorrorCon was, however, the screening room. Playing host to a number of short films, as well as a couple of world premiere trailer reveals, the screening room was run by the guys behind Celluloid Screams who – despite the small room being as hot as the pits of hell – did a fantastic job. Trailer premieres included Survivors, a new independent UK horror film about an epidemic-come-zombie outbreak from Extinction director Adam Spinks; and Banjo, a crazy horror film from director Liam Regan based on his short of the same name. Of the two, Banjo was the highlight, featuring a villain – Ronnie – who rivals the likes of Freddy Kreuger in the wise-cracking movie bad guy stakes! I can’t wait to see the full feature when it gets its world premiere at Frightfest next month.

The short films playing at HorrorCon featured Paul Davis’ two shorts Him Indoors (which I backed during it’s crowd-funding campaign) and The Body; Bio-Cop, from the guys behind Manborg; and the must-see triple-bill of Andy Stewart’s body-horror trilogy of Dysmorphia, Split and Ink; plus many more. Of course I had to support my buddy Andy Stewart and see this three amazing shorts back-to-back (a world’s first for the event), even if it meant putting up with almost melting from the heat!

Further screenings, including The Human Centipede 3, took place at the Showroom Cinema in the centre of Sheffield after Magna closed its doors but for me, HorrorCon didn’t continue into the night. I made my excuses and made my way home exhausted but happy.

As with any new convention HorrorCon had some teething troubles. For one, the location – whilst providing plenty of space – was a bit remote. Trapped in the venue, attendees had no option but to pay over-inflated prices for food and drink, which no doubt impacted the budgets of those looking to spend all their money on signatures, goodies and photo shoots! The layout was also an issue – as I mentioned, the smaller trader hall was a little hidden away (so much so I had to search for it to find it originally); plus upon entering Magna and the dark, dingy “atmospheric” entrance hall there were more than a few people asking just where abouts they were supposed to go! My biggest gripe was the screening room… Too hot to endure anything close to an hour sat watching shorts and the Q&A’s that followed, I’m sure the Magna could have either a) turned on the air conditioning – which was present given the A/C units in the ceiling; or b) chosen a different room. Looking at the Red Hall – which played host to some of the talks – that would have been a beter location for the screenings, especially given that the Red Hall was one of the least-attended rooms at the event, whereas – on more than one occassion – the screening room was filled to capacity.

When all’s said and done though, HorrorCon 2015 was a success and a great addition to the UK convention circuit – here’s hoping next years event, should they be one, builds on what made this years great and becomes another shining beacon in the UK horror scene.

My HorrorCon haul:

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More pics from HorrorCon 2015:

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