From the looks of things ZomBcon was a smashing success when it invaded Seattle this past weekend, Oct. 21 to 23, 2011 at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Convention Center. I had previously only been to a few movie screenings in 2010 for the first ZomBcon in lower Queen Anne.
The 2010 convention was somewhat confusing because the screenings were spread between a number of different venues. A highlight for me was seeing the original Dawn of the Dead (1978) on the big screen, which looked and sounded much better than what I remembered. Also, there was a hush-hush premier of The Walking Dead, so hush-hush that we all had to put our cellphones into a jar so that no pictures would leak out.
But I did have a good time at the 2010 convention so I thought I would attend at least one day of the 2011 convention. We arrived around 4 p.m., and the Convention Center was jam-packed. On arrival, there were a number of military vehicles and prop guns available for photos. I believe this was related to The Walking Dead, one of the main draws for the 2011 convention.
There was one main room of exhibitors, all of which had something to do with zombies — zombie comic books, zombie make-up, zombie movies, zombie novels, zombie plush toys, you name it. There was also a separate room more specifically for zombie art. The special guests of the convention were seated at tables in another hall. Typically, guests were charging $10 for autographing an item that you brought, or $20 for one of their items (large photo prints, CDs, movie posters, etc.)
I did find one vendor who was able to provide a service useful for my position as Seattle Horror Films Examiner with Examiner.com. I wanted a new avatar to differentiate my horror column from my regular travel column. I found a company called Zombie CB who were creating “zombified” images of attendees for a modest fee. I purchased a hard copy print of the photo and also a digital copy, which I intend to use as my horror avatar.
I got to meet Bill Mosely of House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005) and most famous for his role as Robert “Chop Top” Sawyer in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986). Bill Mosely was very sociable and enthusiastic about his movies and his music, and it was great chatting with him. I bought his new album, No Way Down by Spider Mountain, which I got autographed. It’s a bit of an odd CD, reminding me at times of Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo with sort of a campy horror tone.
I was also able to meet Sid Haig, also of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Sid Haig is probably most known to zombie fans for his role in the 2006 film Night of the Living Dead 3D, the second remake of George Romero’s classic film. Haig also has a long career in film and television. Earlier in his acting career he had guest roles in a number of popular TV shows, including Gunsmoke, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Get Smart, among many others.
Haig’s career really took off in the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, when he came a regular in the blaxpoitation films of Jack Hill, performing in films such as The Big Doll House (1971) and Foxy Brown (1974). In 1992 Haig decided to tentatively retire, after years of being typecast as “the heavy” in assorted genre films. Quentin Tarantino was able to bring Haig out of retirement, however, to play a judge in Jackie Brown (1997). Rob Zombie then brought on Haig for the role of Captain Spaulding, a murderous clown and patriarch to the Firefly Family, in House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil’s Rejects. The role led to a further resurgence of his career, this time firmly in the horror genre.
Eugene Clark had his own autograph booth, known to horror fans for his role as ‘Big Daddy’ in George Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005). Eugene Clark also has a long and varied career, but other past roles that could be of interest to horror and science fiction fans include his appearance in Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007) and a recurring role on TekWar (1994-1996), a short-lived TV series based on William Shatner’s novels of the same name.
A highlight of the convention for me was meeting Ian McCulloch, famous to zombie fans for his role as Peter West in Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979). Around the same time of Zombie’s release McCulloch also appeared in Zombie Holocaust (1980) and Contamination (1980), an Italian nod to Ridley Scott’s Alien. McCulloch was also in town to introduce a local screening of Zombie. The screening was in advance of Blue Underground’s 2-Disc Ultimate Edition of Zombie, released on Oct. 25, 2011 and available for purchase here.
Other guests available for signings and photos included Sam Trammell of True Blood, Norman Reedus and Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead, Judith O’Dea from Night of the Living Dead), and Jarlath Conroy and Antone Dileo Jr. from Day of the Dead.
One of the biggest draws of the convention was makeup effects guru Tom Savini, famous for his work on the Night of the Living Dead films, Friday the 13th (1980), Maniac (1980) and Dario Argento‘s Trauma (1993), among many others. Savini also keeps busy with his makeup effects school in Philadelphia, in addition to the occasional acting role, such as 2010’s Machete. He gave a fantastic lecture on his career, if at times rambling, and offered a lot of valuable advice on how to achieve what you want in life.
Unfortunately, I was not able to see any other speakers or attend movie screenings, but I got a good taste of what ZomBcon is all about. Admission was just $15 on Saturday, $12 on Friday and Sunday. I picked up a GroupOn deal which it even more affordable, only $14 for two tickets on Saturday. The event was well worth it, despite showing up late and attending only one lecture. The only negative I can think of is this convention really is focused heavily on zombies, with just a dash of vampires. If you are looking for other horror genres you may be disappointed.
For other horror-related articles, please see:
- Chucky: The Killer DVD Collection (review)
- EMP Museum Succeeds with Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film
- Final Destination 5 meets expectations
- George Romero’s ‘Survival of the Dead’ – dead on arrival
- Hellraiser: Revelations deserves another look
- Hostel: Part III a missed opportunity
- Leprechaun – Decades later and still not scary
- ‘Mega Piranha’ – so bad it’s good?
- Review of ‘Memory’ from 2006, starring Billy Zane
- Review – Zombie Diaries 2, aka World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries
- Seattle’s 2012 MIFFF opens with Mon Ami
- Shocker by Wes Craven is shockingly bad
- Tobe Hooper ‘Mortuary’ – brain-dead zombies and black fungus
- Wes Craven ‘Cursed’ falls short of potential
- 2002 film ‘They’ explores night terrors
(This article was originally published at Examiner.com on Oct. 28, 2011. It has been been revised and expanded. 2011 was in fact the final year for ZomBCon; the convention was cancelled in 2012 and was unable to return in future years. Since the article was first published Rob Zombie released 3 From Hell in 2019, the final film in the Firefly Family trilogy. Sid Haig passed away on Sept. 21, 2019, just days after the film’s initial theatrical release. I continued to write horror articles at Examiner.com, which I used the horror avatar for, until it ceased operations on July 10, 2016. For more information, see Phil Anschutz’s Examiner.com to shut down, ending new media run. For the vendor that created the avatar, Zombie CB, I do not believe they are still active).
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