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Rants and Raves: Horrors!

Geeking Out at the Weekend of Horrors in L.A.

Starstruck! I met Dario Argento in the hallway outside the screening room at ...

Credit: Philip Lorenzo

Above: Starstruck! I met Dario Argento in the hallway outside the screening room at the Creation Entertainment Weekend of Horrors.

I attended the Creation Entertainment Weekend of Horrors and got to met Italian maestro Dario Argento.

In case you haven't already realized this, I am a fan of horror. I love movies that go some place dark and that push the boundaries of what's acceptable. I love horror directors because they tend to be the smartest, nicest, funniest, most articulate people. I love horror fans because they are lovely people who just aren't satisfied with comfortable cinema. So this weekend was just a horror lovefest up in L.A. I was only able to attend the last day of the convention but it was the day that Italian horror master Dario Argento would be there for a panel.

The convention is put on by Creation Entertainment (having taken over from Fangoria Magazine), and it was a three-day event that ran May 21-23. Being used to the crowds at Comic-Con, I was thrilled to find no lines, reserved seating for panels, and modest crowds. I'm sure the event sponsors would have preferred big lines and a packed house but hey you can't make everyone happy. The atmosphere was low key and friendly as people like Dario Argento and Bill Moseley ("The Devil's Rejects," "Repo! The Genetic Opera") casually walked around the dealer's room and convention floor. You could also spend time chatting with the folks from Screamfest or the sexy ladies of Suicide Girls.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

Dario Argento holding court with fans at the Weekend of Horrors.

But the centerpiece for me on Sunday was seeing Dario Argento. The Italian filmmaker has created some of the most audacious, over the top horror films of all time. His best known films are "Suspiria," "Creepers (Phenomena)," and "Opera." I was thrilled to be waiting to enter the screening room for Argento's "Inferno" and to find the Italian filmmaker sitting on the couch in the hallway by the entrance. He was gracious to the adoring fans who quickly lined up to grab a photo (officially attendees were supposed to pay $20 and more for a "photo op" and autograph). My friend insisted I go get a photo and although I don't like imposing on people like that I did it just so I could exchange a few words with the Maestro. I thanked him for scaring the hell out of me as a teenager and for searing images into my nightmares. He smiled, said thank you, and seemed quite pleased to have terrorized me through his films.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

Dario Argento speaking before the crowd at the screening of "Inferno."

At the screening of "Inferno," he explained to attendees that the film -- involving witches and alchemy -- is often described as "confusing." He shrugged his shoulders and left it at that. His films are famous for their great soundtracks (most notably his work with the group Goblin) and on "Inferno" he worked with Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer). The film was screened on 16mm with actual reel changes. There was a fitting charm to that.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

Dario Argento flanked by Geretta Geretta of the film "Demons" that Argento produced, and Barbara Magnolfi of "Suspiria."

After the screening, Argento held a panel where he was flanked by Barbara Magnolfi (of "Suspiria") and Geretta Geretta (of the film "Demons" that Argento produced). The atmosphere was like a court with Argento being treated like royalty with fans paying homage. If he had a ring I'm sure people would have knelt before him and kissed it. At the panel, Argento put to rest the idea that George A. Romero (whose "Dawn of the Dead" Argento produced) would be remaking Argento's "Deep Red." He also agreed that he is a perfectionist and that he paints with his camera. When asked by a fan what he thought of contemporary American horror, he said that it was too "focused on money." That's why we get all these unoriginal remakes and sequels. He also recounted a story about a phone call he received that seemed to be from his dead father, from, as Argento said, "that other country." So Argento believes in the beyond it appears. All in all it was a wonderful panel.

Of course I also enjoyed the dealer's room. I rarely have time to shop at Comic-Con since I am often working but at the Weekend of Horrors I could shop to my heart's content... or at least to the end of my financial limits. I found some great t-shirt places with shirts about zombies, Godzilla, and movies like "Shaun of the Dead." Some fun places included Fearwerx and Horror Illustration (check out Bub). Here's what I picked up.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

My booty. Here's some of what I picked up at Weekend of Horrors.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

Geek fun... an employee parking permit from "Army of Darkness," and I.D. badges for M.N.U. (from "District 9") and Independent News Service (form "Kolchak: The Night Stalker").

I got mostly tees but also this Shaun and Ed action figure set. Sweet!

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

My prized Shaun and Ed action figures!

And here's one of the shirts I bought for my son - Godzilla's World Destruction Tour.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

The Big G World Destruction Tour tee.

And if you were looking for Father's Day, there was this classic tee.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

The perfect Happy Father's Day tee.

The pièce de résistance, however, was this European poster for Roman Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers." I love that film and have been collecting a variety of poster styles -- including one designed by Frank Frazetta -- but I had never seen this one before. This one has a nude Sharon Tate (then Polanski's wife) with the vampire. I bought the poster from an Italian man who was identified as a journalist and Argento's translator at the panel. He had an amazing selection of posters and I would have bought many more if my budget and wall space allowed for it.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

The awesome "Fearless Vampire Killers" poster that I bought at Weekend of Horrors. So I go without lunch for a few weeks.

So now I get to savor my new possessions. I plan to wear my awesome new Godzilla shirt to the preview screening of "Sex and the City" tonight. It will be a comfort to me as I watch a film that is truly scary to me.

Horribly yours from the Weekend of Horrors! (And from "Girls and Corpses" below.)

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

The second half of the "Girls and Corpses" booth getting ready to call it quits for the convention. Bye-bye from the Weekend of Horrors.

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