I need to preface this review by stating that I only went on Sunday of the event. The reason for this was simple. Based on my previous experience with Horrorhound, Friday and Saturdays tend to be a chaotic mess. I wish now that I had gone on the other two days as well, if for no other reason than to be able to really compare it to my previous experiences. That being said, there was still a lot of improvement to the event itself that was clearly seen. Part of this review will be about my overall opinion of the event and its organization, part will be about my personal experiences with the people I met, and part will be a preview of coming attractions for future blog reviews.
A person's experience at a convention is a highly subjective thing. We all have different expectations of what we hope to experience and that can greatly affect our opinion on how well the convention was run. That being said, I found that Horrorhound outdid themselves this year in many different ways. The very first thing that impressed me was an issue that might have angered some. That is the greater limit on ticket availability this year. While the crowd was still large and movement space often limited, Horrorhound staff made it very clear that tickets would be limited based on the capacity of the venue and they ensured that they stuck to this. Along with the control on how many people were in attendance at the event, the staff did an excellent job of setting up for the crowd they had.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lines seemed much more structured this year both inside and outside of the convention. It was clear where people needed to go to get into the proper line and even those lines that were very long were handled smoothly and professionally. Horrorhound demonstrated their years of experience in running conventions. Possibly the best improvement of all was a result of the collaboration between Horrorhound and one of their hosts, Samhain Publishing.
Opening the pamphlet, you found this:
That's right, no more having to ask "can you tell me what you this celebrity is going to be in?" It was all laid out right in the handout and easily color coded. The only down side to this is that the rooms could be hard to locate at times for those of us who were direction-challenged! Perhaps some further signs along the wall might have been helpful. Once you found the right room, however, everything became easy.
Now, I did not experience the main draw, meeting Bruce Campbell, but I do know that Horrorhound utilized a ticket system to ensure that people did not have to stand in line all day. The lines utilized roped off ques and overflow areas, which made it run much smoother then in previous years where lines had to be continuously moved to avoid blocking key areas and creating fire hazards. I met three of the attending celebrities and had great experiences with each one of them.
The first celebrity I met was Alan Tudyk.
Alan Tudyk was awesome. He was really impressed with my print, interacted with the kids (even talking to them in his King Candy voice), fist bumped Evie, and took another picture with Erin after we had already left his line and realized our first picture didn't turn out. Add to that this incredible autograph. I asked for his favorite quote to go with his signature and he said he had quotes from all the movies on the print. His solution? Put a quote from each one! "You can have your own movie guessing game," he told me as he frantically wrote the quotes down. If you can't read it all, it says "Ira, Gar, I did not murder him, who's flying this thing? I am a leaf on the wind, have some candy. It's called a lance hellloooooooo. Carrots, medicinal carrots...You exhaust me buddy. Thank you. You honor me...literally. Cheers, Alan Tudyk" This may have been my best experience at a con with a celebrity, right up there with when I met Robert Englund and the Holliston cast.
Also fun was meeting The Cryptkeeper, John Kassir. He spoke in his Cryptkeeper voice and took the time to talk with his fans. You could tell that he was really enjoying being there.
The final celebrity I took the time to meet was Sharni Vinson from You're Next.
Sharni was a lot of fun to meet. She was extremely nice and very sweet. She seemed genuinely happy to meet her fans and took the time to talk about her role in the movie and other work she was doing. We talked about the bad image horror has of negative female stereotypes and how ridiculous that was considering that most of the time the surviving character is a woman who takes charge of the situation, her character in You're Next being a great example. While those were the only three celebrity guests I took the time to meet, I actually spent a lot more time meeting some amazing Samhain authors and independent film makers.
I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Hunter Shea, David Searls, Tim Waggoner and Mick Ridgewell. With all of this intriguing horror writing to read, it is a good thing summer is coming up! Each author suggested a great starting work of theirs to read and also wished me luck and talked trade with me regarding my current work at getting my own book published.
Although not with Samhain, I also had the enjoyment of catching up with Michael West, author of The Wide Game, Cinema of Shadows, Spook House, and The Legacy of the Gods Series. We chatted about his work and writing techniques and habits.
While talking with Michael West, I also had the opportunity to pick up a paperback copy of The Wide Game to add to my collection (on which I have previously done a review) and some really cool illustrated cards from three of his novels.
My final task at Horrorhound was one I always make at any convention. That was seeking out independent films that I might otherwise not know about. This is actually how I initially discovered Dustin Wade Mills, Henrique Couto, and Tony Wash just to name a few independent film makers of whom I now consider myself a big fan. This time, I walked away with several new films to check out and more great experiences with meeting really great people who seem to have a lot to offer the world of horror. In the coming months, you can look for my reviews of each of these movies. For now, I will just say that I am eagerly awaiting the chance to watch each one of them!
So, how can I sum up my experience at Horrorhound this year? I have to say that overall, this review was much different then one I would have written if I was doing this blog last year. I saw what I thought were many improvements in the overall running and organizing of the convention. I was greatly impressed with the entire thing and eagerly await next year.
There are only two big areas I could see room for improvement. The first is the scheduling and planning of photo ops. The schedule for the photo ops did not go up until after the pre-sale was over online. This made it very difficult to plan what photo ops to do before hand when you were not attending all weekend. The result was that I found myself having to hope that I would be able to get what I wanted once I got to the con. Considering that doors did not open until 11:00 am on Sunday and the first photo op was at 12:00, that was cutting it very close. The second area of improvement I would like to see if notifying people what celebrities will be charging for autographs and their photo policies at their tables. I understand that Horrorhound, like many conventions, say that this is out of their hands because the celebrities and their managers set all of that. However, Comic Con manages to do just this every year and when I attended Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, North Carolina, two years ago, they did the same thing. I fail to understand how it could be such a difficulty to simply request this information on the celebrities attending so it can be posted in advance.
Aside from these two issues, I believe that Horrorhound has become one of the best conventions that I have had the pleasure of attending. As they seem to improve with each year that passes, I can't wait to see what they do next year.