In case you missed out, this past weekend was the triumphant annual return of the Rock and Shock horror and metal convention to Worcester, (misleadingly pronounced ‘woo-stah’), Massachusetts. If you have yet to attend or even hear about this New England horror convention it is a necessity for all fans of horror to attend at least once in their lives, trust me. A perfect weekend getaway for those who must escape the throes of conventional, boring, non-zombie and blood and guts loving mouth breathers. This con is your chance to let your freak flag fly and connect with your fellow weirdos and gore-whores.
More than just obtaining autographs or meeting celebrities, there is an abundance of activities, indie artists, events, news and opportunities to be explored for all the boils and ghouls who attend.
Check out these highlights of my experience at this years kick-ass horror con, Rock and Shock:
The First Mission
Upon arrival I picked up my media pass and made my way straight to the Rock and Shock directory, I knew just what I was looking for. No I wasn’t there for a tee shirt or map of the grounds I was there to be pointed straight to my favorite booth at every convention; the cocktail cart. Here I was faced with my first of many major decisions of this weekend of bloody escapades; liquor, beer or wine? The answer was clear. Beer makes me all bloaty and stuff and liquor makes me a bit too sassy. Wine was to be my elixir of choice for this weekend and it was well documented by my camera man/partner/alcohol intake moderator Christopher, or widely unknown on Twitter as, "The Half Blooded Bastard."
Killer Family Fun
Just because everything is covered in blood doesn’t mean it’s not fun for kids. In fact, being a horror fan is more than just liking a genre, it is a way of life. This “way of life” often resulting in the incorporation of one’s offspring into the world of fandom and gleefully trolloping along for the fright fest. Face painting, costume contests, snacks and their very own kid’s coloring area.
Don’t worry, they let in kids of any age who wish to partake in coloring within, or outside the lines. Alive or undead, all boils and ghouls are welcome.
Got My Throat Slashed At Face Candy SFX
Although I was pleased to see more than one spot for face painting I must admit that I was looking forward to one more than any other in particular. If you have not heard about Face Candy SFX they are more than just vendor quality face painters. They are professional makeup artists who not only specializing in making you look beautiful, but special effects artists who can also transform you into a full on walker on The Walking Dead. Stoked to get my first ever professional makeup done I couldn’t help but ask for the honor of having my throat slashed by makeup and special effects genius and company founder, Jenna. The results could not have been any more ideal:
I Got To Pet All The Animals!
Already looking forward to my tradition of buying my very own spoiled-rescue- pussy-cat Xiao-Mei handmade kitty toys from one of the resident rescues of Rock and Shock, I made myself a few unexpected friends along the way to purchase such valued gifts. My first stop on my way to the kitty rescue was to Shih Tzus & Furbabies, where the divine honor of holding one of these little fluff-nuggets was bestowed upon me and sealed with the loving approval of Libby's puppy kisses. Almost unable to let go of this puppy kissing ecstasy I was in, I made myself give her back to her rightful handlers and headed back down to my kitty-toy destination.
To my surprise, the first sets of eyes I locked onto as I looked up where those of Rosie, who unbeknownst to me at the time were the eyes that would steal my heart and become those of the (unofficial) face of Rock and Shock. Sure, Rosie may have eight legs and a phobic reputation that drives people away but in reality she was the most cuddly and gentle creature I encountered all weekend thanks to Grim Reaper Reptiles. Unsure of the breed, (although I do speculate that she's a Chilean Rose Haired Tarantula), Rosie octo-leggedly helped defeat my fear of spiders as well as ignite my drive to care for them. Also the drive to torture my better-half by bringing home yet another homeless pet (something tells me he's not going to believe I found this one outside in Maine). Rosie certainly was the mascot of Rock and Shock 2016.
Wanting All The Things
Obviously I was looking forward to doing some major shopping while I was there. Apart from my frequent purchases at the bar cart and my cut-throat transformation at Face Candy SFX, I was looking to get my hands one something aesthetically unique to take back home with me. I couldn’t leave without at least one more souvenir, right? With unlimited choices at my disposal and so much to take in how could I make this choice, let alone swiftly as time and money were running out as the wine intake was running high. Paintings, creepy custom teddy bears, novelties, photography and more there is something for everyone, and I wanted everything!
Silver Bullet Ink Studios- The Art I Couldn't Resist
I would be lying if I said I went home with only one souvenir, as was the case last year. I went broke and could afford much of anything but the air in my lungs and the booze in my cup but I was fortunate enough to encounter a generous creator. Standing in front of his booth at Rock and Shock of last year, I was faced with making the choice of buying one awesome artwork. Unable to decide and painfully poor at this point, artist Jim Kavanaugh of Silver Bullet Studios Ink, did the kindness of offering me a offer in which I was able to afford both, and still have enough money leftover for one more cocktail. So this year, I was going to be hard pressed if I couldn't remember who it was who hooked me up last year with some gnarly wall art you can imagine my relief when I rounded a corner to see this familiar style and face. Obviously I had to tell this man how appreciative I was of last years deal while I purchased some pretty insanely cool Albert Fish artwork. If you want some of your very own and can’t wait until next Rock and Shock to check him out, take a look at his work on his site; be forewarned, you will want everything.
A Different Kind Of Film Festival
Meeting the founder of Shawna Shea Memorial Film Festival was both touching and comedic. Immediately diving in to ask questions and find out morel, I was taken back to hear the inception of how this indie film festival began. In short, after losing his beautiful daughter Shawna in an automobile accident founder and father Skip Shea poured his soul into making his baby girls name live on forever. After a few cookie-cutter foundations that didn’t seem to stick, Shea developed the Shawna Shea Film Festival to both celebrate her vibrant qualities as well as staying true to their passion for film.
So Much Exploitation; So Little Time
One thing you need to know about me is that I am equal parts jaded as I am happily drawn to the thrill of being disgusted, which makes it quite difficult to find my cup of tea at the local movie store. Indie labels, film festivals, obscure and sickening cinema and I was lucky enough to have scored some pretty awesome merch from one depraved kindred spirit in particular. Bumbling around the convention sloppy and sassy there was little to nothing stopping me from chatting up everyone, much to the dismay of poor Christopher who was still tediously monitoring my behavior, alcohol intake, anxiety and hopelessly non-existent attention span.
The first thing that caught my eye at Bill Zebub Productions was the raw, sexy, exploitative and satirical covers of his productions. Making my selection was difficult, I mean obviously Dick Shark sounded like something I could get down with but with so little knowledge and so many choices I enlisted the help of the man himself, Bill Zebub. Sending me on my way with an autographed copy of Santa Claus: Serial Rapist I just knew I had discovered a new Christmas classic to share with my loved ones this corporate holiday season.
Drifting Among The Stars
With a long list of names attending this year's Rock and Shock for signings, meet and greets and panels it was hard to know where to begin. This year was a spectacular lineup of huge headliners like Malcolm McDowell, Scream’s Ghostface killers Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard, and stars of STARZ series Ash vs Evil Dead. There were horror legends like Bill Moseley, Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Judy Geeson, sweet and charismatic Ginger Lynn, writer Jack Ketchum and the timeless scream queen Camille Keaton of I Spit On Your Grave. Of all the incredible people I met I was most taken with actor David Ury (31, Breaking Bad), who had an innate ability to make me laugh where so very few ever do. Maybe it was the wine, perhaps it was all the tropical maple leaves, but I'm fairly confident that David Ury was a sincerely funny and cool dude. Although I didn’t get to meet everyone I was slightly surprised/disappointed with myself. I am fearless, yet I accidently locked eyes with Jeff Daniel Phillips (The Lords of Salem), immediately making me bitch-out on introducing myself and following up with any questions. So professional, maybe I should put out a “missed connections” ad and further embarrass myself. Food for thought, I guess.
Check out our hilarious clip of Ury's poetic interpretive dancing skills:
The Headliners & My Bumbling Attempt To Speak Words At Them
If you would have told me when I was a little girl I would be walking up to Malcolm McDowell to ask a few questions I probably would have laughed in you stupid face. Even if I did that, it would have been remarkably cooler than the composure that I had in front of Mr McDowell who I am fairly certain was under the impression that it must be very difficult for me to breath and talk in unison. After I managed to get around all my anxiety, sauciness and excitement I was more than pleased with my awkward interaction with this beautiful man. Debunking the internet myth that McDowell nearly turned down his role in A Clockwork Orange due to unfavorable violence was in second compared to his golden insight on how to never show a star your appreciation: don’t send them soiled panties. They don’t want them. If you think this isn’t really a thing, I urge you to watch the film On The Doll, because it is totally a thing. So, please don’t do it. Actors don't like it and I feel like I shouldn't have to tell you to refrain from sending your muddy britches in the mail in the first place.
This year is a big year for the Scream franchise as it turns the big 20 ,making all of us fans finally feel our age. Meeting the original Ghostface killers of Scream was far more lax than I had anticipated, thank you wine! Just how you would expect the interaction of meeting Matthew Lillard and Skeet Ulrich is exactly how it all played out. Lillard, all smiles and exuding his fan beloved goofy energy, he was significantly taken by my camera-guy-chemist-dude Chris’ Wayne Static styled hair and how prickly it was. He was the first person I have ever met that sincerely enjoyed Chris' hairstyle of choice, it was a big deal. Just to the left of Lillard was Skeet Ulrich, who was leaning so effortlessly cool against the table and unphased by his surroundings that conversation was both natural and candidly flowing between the three of us or as much as it could have been after I have consumed four glasses of wine and a prickleberry margarita from the Uno's Sports Grille next door.
I had to know the secret to his laid back energy and blatant disinterest at any groupies who may be there to throw themselves worshipping upon him. Silently pulling out his phone he eventually faces the screen to show us what could have been a unicorn or some sort of goddess-like woman. “Would you cheat if that is what your wife looked like?” Skeet rhetorically questioned.
Being loyal makes you cool in my book. So apparently he is cool and a romantic, sounds like a lucky lady.
Meeting Rock and Shock's Very Own Horror Film Prodigy: Fiona Fright
After gossiping with the inspiring and talented up and coming LA based photographer Jenny Brezinski, she tipped Chemist Camera Chris and I off that just around the corner was a story that she would be dying to read about. After hearing the gist of what I could be sharing with the unlimited patrons of the interweb and being handed a bar of Jason Voorhees soap I was convinced. I shuffled off quicker than when the Red Tides make their first arrival of the month. It was that intriguing, Brezinski sparked my interest with this one.
Meet Fiona Fright, miss Fiona is a triple threat writer, actor and director. She screened her short horror film Daddy Dearest at last year's Rock and Shock convention. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers she returned this year to promote her horror short Daddy Dearest while it circulates the film festivals before its much anticipated DVD release. The catch? This young visionary is only 11 years old. She developed her concept at age five and by age 10 she had wrapped up filming and was on to screening her movie at festivals beginning with her favorite and local tradition, Rock and Shock.
Without giving away too many details, her movie is incredible regardless the age of whom created it. It’s eerie, it’s science fiction and psychological thriller all in one. You don’t want to miss it. In the meantime, you can get your hands on some of Little Miss Fright’s handmade goodies and soaps here at Fiona’s Fright Shoppe.
Our Private Interview With the Stars of 'Ash vs Evil Dead'
Did I ever think I would be asked by ID to cover a private interview while they team up with STARZ for the promotion of Ash vs Evil Dead? No obviously not, but two weeks before the con I received an email asking me to do just that. Just before their Saturday Q&A following the Ash vs Evil Dead screening we gathered into the private rest area for those trying to escape the gropings of complete strangers and being bombarded with fans and photos and fan-photos. Immediately setting up our equipment to begin the interview went off without a hitch as conversation flowed effortlessly between myself, Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago. Or more popularly known as Kelly and Pablo. As we spoke about the show, cast, relationships and reality of it all it was clear that these two have a chemistry between them that emits both humor and comfort to their fans, basically naturalizing their onscreen personalities in a way that fans can’t help but adore.
Only touching upon the very surface of events to be covered at Worcester’s very own Rock and Shock convention, there is countless concerts, activities, debauchery and adventures to be enjoyed. I ate decent-previously-frozen franchise food, met some incredible, interesting and talented people, and enjoyed every second of doing my job while I there. Whether you are a patron of the arts, fan of the films or overall horror buff this is the convention for you, time to start planning for next years con. Rock and Shock 2017 may be a year away but it’s never too soon to begin preparing. With premieres, screenings, shopping, concerts, panels, charities, tattooing, alcohol and so much more, there is no time like the present to start saving your pennies, planning your cosplay or save up some vacation time for your weekend getaway. Come see out how New England celebrates horror!
See you next year Rock and Shock-ers, in the meantime keep getting weird and stay scared!
*All convention photos in article were taken by Christopher, owner of Shire Town Studios.