For some people, it’s the time of year for calls to start pouring in from distant relatives who want to know whether to bring stuffing or deviled eggs. But for others, like Nathan Hanneman, editor-in-chief of HorrorHound Magazine, this Thanksgiving season is a bit nontraditional.
For the first time since HorrorHound was conceived in 2005, the magazine’s founding fathers will bring their signature film convention, the HorrorHound Weekend, to their hometown of Cincinnati. The event will be held at the Sheraton Cincinnati North in West Chester Friday-Sunday.
HorrorHound is a 68-page full-color horror-industry magazine that was launched by Hanneman, Jeremy Sheldon and Aaron Crowell, all of whom are Cincinnati natives. The magazine covers the latest movie, DVD, collectible, comic book and video game news in the world of horror.
“This first show in Cincinnati is being run as a firsttime event, so our budget is a bit smaller than normal, but the end result will be similar to what we deliver in Indianapolis on an annual basis,” Hanneman says. “With Elvira in attendance, it shows you that when we say ‘smaller budget’ it doesn’t mean smaller guests. This is one of our strongest guest and vendor line-ups to date.”
Fans can expect the place to be swarming with more than a dozen horror icons and unmasked killers, including Elvira (“Mistress of the Dark”), Scout Taylor- Compton (Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween 2), special-effects master Tom Savini and cult legend Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
The convention will also feature a sideshow performance by The Invisible Man Corporation on Saturday evening, nightly film screenings and dozens of vendor booths where horror enthusiasts can stock up on new conversation pieces for their living rooms.
“Cincinnati horror fans will be treated to the best vendor showing the industry has to offer,” Hanneman says. “Toys, posters, DVDs, T-shirts, you name it.”
Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, attendees are invited to view screenings of multiple independent films, including (in order) Shellter, Legion of Terror, Night of the Creeps and Bad Biology. Saturday’s screenings begin at 11 a.m. with Sculpture and continue with Girl Number Three, Drive-In Horrorshow and The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond. Sunday’s screenings include Late Fee, The Landlord and Melvin.
“Horrorhound Weekend has always done a great job of exposing indie films to the public that many people haven’t even heard of,” says Nate Milliner, writer and producer of Girl Number Three, which is about a girl who is abducted to take part in a sadistic ritual.
“Having Girl Number Three play at their show is a major opportunity to not only reach the film’s target audience on a grand level, but being that this is their very first film festival it would be a big deal if we were to do well given the competition,” Milliner says.
Prior to Night of the Creeps’ Friday screening, an actor’s panel comprised of cast members Jason Lively (European Vacation), Tom Atkins (The Fog, Creepshow) and numerous others will introduce the film with commentary and discussion. Another cast and crew panel, featuring James Duval (Totally Fucked Up, Donnie Darko, SLC Punk!), will give an introduction for the Black Waters of Echo’s Pond’s Saturday evening screening.
Given that Cincinnati isn’t the most popular hotspot for celebrities to visit, the long list of guests might be surprising for some humble Midwesterners. Other participating actors include Corbin Bernson (Major League, The Dentist), Michael Gross (Family Ties, Tremors), Jenny Wright (Near Dark, Lawnmower Man) and The Children of the Corn’s John “Isaac” Franklin and Courtney “Malachai” Gaines.
Hanneman describes a few tactics that he and the rest of the HorrorHound gang used in convincing the guests to attend the weekend in a more “modest” setting than, say, Los Angeles or New York City.
“We literally used every trick in the book,” Hanneman says. “Personal favors, begging, managers, blackmail and just asking really, really nicely.”
These tactics have apparently worked in HorrorHound’s favor. But aside from persuasive techniques, the HorrorHound Weekend has earned a positive reputation among many horror icons that are willing to travel to Midwestern cities for the event, including Leatherface himself.
“About a year and half ago I was at the HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis,” Hansen says. “The experience was great. It was a well run show and I really enjoyed it.”
Hansen says that he typically attends four or five conventions a year. With roughly 100 conventions under his belt since 1988, Hansen says that horror film conventions are not only great for meeting fans but also good opportunities for filmmakers to gain insight on what horror movie fans like the most.
He also notes that these conventions are encouraging for actors who might not get as much fan attention as those who star in mainstream films.
“It’s great for actors because it’s really nice to see the people out there who are fans, since horror films aren’t mainstream,” Hansen says. “We don’t get the kind of attention that other actors do, which is frankly fine with me, but it is nice to see that there are people who love horror movies.”
Hansen plans to spend the majority of his time signing autographs and meeting fans at the convention, but also expects to lead a discussion on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, during which attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about the iconic film and Hansen’s role in it.
“A lot of times the questions might be about what it’s like acting behind a mask or similarities between movies when the killer is masked,” Hansen says. “I think the real challenge of acting behind a mask is that you don’t have a voice or a face. The great advantage of acting behind a mask is that almost nobody recognizes you when you walk down the street, which I like.”
As an infamous cult guru, Hansen explains the appeal of attending conventions as an opportunity to meet fans within the context of his film career, but without compromising his personal privacy. In this light, the HorrorHound Weekend mutually appeals to fans and horror icons alike, providing both groups with an appropriate place to interact and share some love.
There’s sure to be plenty of love in the air over the course of the Weekend — not only surrounding the autograph tables.
Hanneman and his fiancée, Jessica Bruewer, have their wedding ceremony set for Saturday night. Convention attendees are invited to join the reception party from 10-11 p.m., which will feature a DJ, a bar and a traveling sideshow act.
“People expect us to get hitched in full vampire outfits with midgets hanging from the ceiling,” Hanneman says. “I don’t know what goes through people’s minds sometimes.”
WASSUP HORRORHOUND WEEKEND hits the Sheraton Cincinnati North (11320 Chester Road, West Chester) Friday- Sunday. Ticket packages run from $17.50-$100. Doors open for general admission 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit. www.horrorhoundweekend.com