The month of October goes by so fast, and before you know it, it's december twentieth and you're scraping a frozen half-decomposed pumpkin off of your back porch. This year, my girlfriend Lara and I made a vow to pack as much Halloween into this month as possible. I don't like having to decide between a haunted hayride, a haunted house and the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween because I didn't do a better job of planning out my Halloween festivities.
Attending Cleveland, Ohio's Cinema Wasteland Horror Fest was our first big Halloween activity of the month. I've always been into all things horror ever since my parents took me to see the Phantom of the Opera musical when I was very young. I must have seen it about ten times; after the first couple performances, I asked my mother to dress me up as the Phantom of the Opera right down to the disfiguring makeup before we went to see it next. I was too young to be self-conscious, and showed up in full costume at some fancy theater even though it was probably June.
Since then, I have watched countless bad horror movies, played with a large number of monster toys, and read way too many Stephen King books. In a way, my whole life was leading up to this Cleveland Horror Fest, and I experienced a big time rush of nostalgia during much of it.
Except for the part where a couple hundred horror fans squeezed into a Holiday Inn and blissed out in their own personal take on Mardi Gras with all of the drunken debauchery you would expect, but now I'm getting ahead of myself.
We drove up on a friday, hoping that the scariest part of the trip wouldn't be the motel we would be staying in. And we lucked out; the motel was a strange throwback to the seventies with an oddly-artistic mirror, and it was more strange than scary. We also found "A Slice Above", a terrific pizza place nearby. Not something you would expect in the strip-mall suburbs of Cleveland by any means. After eating, we drove over to the Horror Fest.
When I first found out about Cinema Wasteland, I expected a bunch of horror nerds, and they were most certainly in attendance. However, I had not anticipated how much they would like to party. Apparently Cinema Wasteland has managed to remain at the same hotel for ten years, however, so the drunken revelry isn't more than the Holiday Inn can handle. No fights broke out, and aside from one incident of alcohol poisoning, no one was hurt. Drunks in costumes also happen to allow for many great photo opportunities as well.
The highlight for me was the dealer room. All manner of horror merchandise was for sale, from comics to obscure DVDs to decorative horror-themed soaps that I bought quite a few of. Several small independent film production companies were also set up, selling DVDs of the short horror films they had produced and prominently displaying the gory special effects they had created for them. In addition to the soaps, I bought a hand-made Day of the Dead doll, many horror DVDs and a t-shirt with the Creature from the Black Lagoon on it. After this, it was time for the big Cinema Wasteland party that was the pinnacle of the event.
The majority of the festival attendees gathered in a very large meeting room to watch the proprietors of the Cinema Wasteland Fest discuss its ten year history. Intermixed with this were several games, a performance by the house band, and what I guess I would call a skit in which a doctor helped a woman give birth to a baby Cthulhu. For those who do not know, Cthulhu is a creation of early twentieth-century horror author HP Lovecraft. He is basically a giant humanoid with wings and tentacles for a mouth; he is a god akin to Zeus who sleeps at the bottom of the ocean until the stars align in a certain way, at which point he will awaken and resume being a malevolent deity.
If anyone doubts my horror nerd past, I just provided ample evidence.
After this event, Lara and I drove home. There was a movie scheduled to start afterwards, but previous experience throughout the weekend had taught us that a bunch of drunk horror fans in an impromptu theater leads to a large amount of "audience participation", and if you're not similarly drunk, it can be somewhat aggravating.
Lara and I found the trip to be very enjoyable. Her only regret is that she did not have a chance to dress up and show off her formidable makeup skills. No matter-this Halloween, we are being proactive and more opportunities shall present themselves.
These two had the best costumes of the evening. I like the woman's take on what I assume is a stylized Civil War-esque zombie.
Your requisite Goth kids.
I don't know about this guy. I guess it's a costume, but I kept getting this weird feeling that this is how he dresses more often than not. In another sense, he succeeded at having the most genuinely-creepy costume, however.
The guy who had the least fun at this event: the Holiday Inn security guard. Here we see him as he attempts to convince several people not to drink alcohol outside. I really wanted to go up to him and say "Hey, man, nice security guard costume!" I didn't, however, because he probably heard that quite a few times throughout the weekend.
Experiencing the effects of the economic downturn, Santa Claus was forced to look for elves in the strangest of places....
I don't know what these guys are supposed to be, but pastels and fear rarely go hand in hand, so I applaud their ingenuity.
So simple and yet so effective.
A guy dressed as Ash from the Evil Dead films.
I would have bought everything this woman had for sale if I could have. Awesome Day of the Dead items.
A. Ghastly Ghoul, host of the Cinema Wasteland party, on the left. To his right, a monster who I was unable to identify. Cool mask, though.
It's not alcohol, it's spirits.
Ghastly also turned out to be a very good bass player.
Herschel Gordon Lewis, a famous horror film director, works the crowd.
Cthulhu is top left, surrounded by friends and well-wishers.
I want this drum set.
Lara and I prepare to navigate the throng of drunk horror fans.
Santa again, indicating that he is actually a vampire. Who knew!
Our bizarre and yet surprisingly-nice '70s flashback motel room.