In the horror genre, many deem sequels to suck, however that is far from the case with the Bizarre AC II, the event excelled all levels of the previously held event from December 13, 2013, bringing the excitement of delicious fear and wonderment for all ages, especially those with delights for sinister clowns, quirky characters and Father Evil. Festival director Jon Henderson stayed focused to his creation and his conjuring of this monster, on Father’s Day weekend, bringing Atlantic City, NJ another round of Bizarre, just six months later from his first inception, unleashed on June 13. He and his team, filled with many assistants name “caretakers” and headed by army of black shirted managers, all to provide information to the Horror Icons, guests, fans, and even extending a courtesy to the press personnel, including myself. This event set itself inside the Tropicana, whose staff seemed more understanding to the attendance of this type of event, from the lobby control to wait staff and removing the intimidating security guards (who seemed less understanding of the horror fan crowd) and replacing them with event staff – GREAT CALL!
Jon took to the social media network to assist in the promotion of the event with great success, climbing Bizarre’s Facebook likes from 6,000 to over 12,000 in just six months, the rage was infectious, many sites were embracing this new brand. His event would clamor to over 50 horror stars over 100 vendor tables, 10 Q&A panels, 8 feature films, and 1 concert and 2 after-party events all in 3 days, and for ultra low prices.
Now for those who either missed this incredible event and those that attended, join in with the reading of this article as a recapturing of the elements that occur, with delights, tricks and treats, clowns, and demons, invitations to Bloodshed and a colony of horror fans.
Friday 13th, June 2014
The convention started at 5pm however prior to the opening, vendors hurried to load in the materials, the ticket line buzzed with excitement, a frenzied of activity hummed along, with sinister clowns Grin and Karnage starting antics to stir up the commotion to the opening of Henderson’s Bizarre box of unusual insanity.
Bloody Slumber Party from director Larry Rosen took the honors as the kickoff film of the convention, with an interesting anthology storyline wherein Kelly has her friends over to cheer up after successfully escaping an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. However the sleepover party (similar to Slumber Party Massacre ) has each friend telling stories and with dying consequences that doom each other for a chance of survival pitted against an unremorseful abusive killer in the confides of the home. The film contains many noteworthy actors, Melantha Blackthorne, Seregon O’Dassey and Suzi Lorraine. In addition, Lloyd Kaufman who was on-hand at the convention for both the celebration of Troma and The Toxic Avenger, and Scott Churchson, both on set for one of the segments called Bleed ‘Em.
As is commonplace for a convention another event took place at the same time, during this kickoff film, the reasons for this as it is done at every festival and convention, always giving guests the option to experience something new if the venue experiences overflow people in one area. Hence, a Q&A Panel, featuring actors Ted White, Erich Anderson and Victor Miller headlining the board for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, to an energized audience of mostly Friday the 13th aficionados, and one hulking Jason figure. The panel gave some wild stories, on set actions, of which actor and stuntman Ted White set the bar extremely high, telling of situations on the production, while portraying Jason, and even one involving John Carpenter’s Starman, which Ted was performing stunts on the picture. The essence of the story was that the director outranks everyone on the set, including the producers, what he states goes and that is the law. Actor Erich mentioned it was his first film, did the role of Rob Dyer, and that when filming January you first cold, and when you get wet you just cold, wet and miserable but suck it up and do the best performance possible. Victor, the creator of characters, repeated that he never intended Jason to become the killer that the character launches more from Sean Cunningham, but reference that the end sequence of the first film has similarities to Carrie (1976). One obvious missing person from the panel was none-other-than Corey Feldman, who did attend for mainly The Lost Boys reunion, set for Saturday night, but plan for performing a concert with G Tom Mac later on Friday night. Corey had his own room, directly across from this room’s panel, though he never popped in or joined his fellow actors.
Director, producer, and actor Ray Cannella and a few other filmmakers, Damian Kulikowski and actors, such as Armageddon Ed held an impromptu meeting about creating a short horror film, called Con of the Dead, as the venue had everything they need to make it happen. He mentioned how the lights, sets, and various people in costumes, makeup personnel were available for this occur the only issue to do it without interfering with the convention or patrons.
Strolling the vendor’s room, one found Ghoulmaster who was gathering attention for his Kickstarter project Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse, which he describe as a twisted version of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse meets Rocky Horror Picture Show” his style and dedication to detail surpass so many that it amazing. Then the sinister clowns Grin and Karnage sought funding for a far above average Ice Cream Truck, which focus is to terrorize and entertain at numerous events while keeping a razor sharp performance for everyone to enjoy. They stated “just know who to tease and terrorize and to what degree, a natural feel for the element” a true testament to the many actors that work haunted houses, with an extreme sense of knowing when and how to attack the audience. At most, conventions, many authors flock to them to gather book sales, but don’t realize that sitting at their booth with their head down, will not bring any enthusiasm, and rather find themselves questioning the marketing failure of their appearance. Nevertheless that was not the case with authors Christian Jensen and Charlie JJ Kruger, both were outgoing, making eye contact, and engaging the passersby. Christian Jensen, a horror and erotica author had some of the most outrageous cover art, and his intention “to offend” with horror stories especially his book Horror: 10 Short Tales, which had a crouched naked woman covered in blood, and yet not showing any private areas. Meanwhile, Charlie JJ Kruger, provided a dual offering for both his books, such as In Stark Weather and then his CD called IV the Revenge, by Overdue Exorcism an obvious but heavily original title with horror references. His novel that he was pushing, had a bleakest feel to it, with a sense of confusion, from one had been and is heading, a misfit in society where norms find approving glances and different folks have instant rejection thrust upon themselves.
9pm, brought forth another Q&A Panel occurred in the same room, following Friday the 13th, which brought together an interesting crowd to say the least, yet still an informative panel. The first rule of a panel such as these is for the audience to ask questions, about the movie that they found most interesting to them, the normal questions, these that happened on set, or about the career or even the storyline. Depending who is on the panel, such as a creator, writer or director, the questions can be a high intensity, especially for budding actors, writers or filmmakers in general. While waiting for the panel to begin, the opportunities arise for fans to discuss the venue, the films, and the horror genre, while the caretakers always polite inform the audience that VIPs and Press in the first two rows on the room, unless otherwise stated, and again always respectful. Actors Shawn Whelan, Yan Birch and Brandon Q. Adams from Wes Craven’s People Under the Stairs (1991), entered into the spotlight for a small but highly welcoming group of fans. The questions filter up to the panel ranging from the conceptual creation for the film, many stating it was a dream that came to Wes, while that partially true, the rest dealt with a criminal case that involved a family locking up their children. Brandon commented on working with Ving Rhames and that it was his first horror film, yet mentioned he did most of his own stunts for the role known as Fool. While Shawn, known for the character Roach, stated it was his first film ever and that he was 27 years old portraying a 15-year-old boy, with him crawling around most of the time. He also had the two most amusing stories, first that he had to remain quiet at times, as his character had no tongue, caught by Wes for speaking, and from then on needed to wear a mouth to prevent it from happening. The second involved a scene with the Rottweiler on set, named Prince, Shawn related that “There were 2 dogs a nice one and a mean one, and in this boiler oven scene, it was 3-count scene, on three the mean dog is let loose, and I have pull my leg up to safety. But they release it on two and barely my leg inside or would have of lost it.” That story brought laughter and smiles all around the room, and showed the stars as down-to-earth people. Yan, a Swedish actor, and world traveler mentioned his love affair with horror and sci-fi films in general and spoken about how there was to be a sequel but the plans fell threw for one reason or another. However, the panel contained an especially odd comment from one patron, who stated “sounds cannibal recipes” reference to a kitchen scene, which left everyone thoroughly confused, it was soon discover he never saw the movie. It only brought more attention to him from the fans in the room, and retrospect perhaps that is what he wanted to steal some moments of fame and notoriety, nevertheless he was ignore from that point. One of the final comments came from a woman sitting in the front row, who stated passionately “this is a favorite film, I truly love it!” which brought a welcomed thanks and claps from the audience.
The G Tom Mac and Corey Feldman Concert occurred at approximately 11pm, showing that the convention, patrons, the stars and even the vendors, this beast called Bizarre ready to terrorize the landscape and not slow down just because of the lateness of the hour. G Tom Mac most noted for his association to the classic horror The Lost Boys and his song Cry Little Sister, all while a rare Full Moon shined down this Friday the 13th. There set got interesting as G and Corey were on the stage, playing off of each other’s styles and antics, raising the quality level upward, performing tracks such as People Are Strange and Cry Little Sister (as The Lost Boys images graced the screen behind the band). As Corey performed one of his tracks, Ascension Millennium, flanked by his beautiful angels (women dress in scantily lingerie complete with wings, and a halo, which one was stunning Britney Shannon) bringing the audience to ruckus frenzied. After the concert ended, many headed over to The Quarter, to find Planet Rose, and a Heavy Metal Karaoke session by noted filmmaker Brian O’Halloran, and displaying the talents of Edward X. Young, and many other guests, vendors and even fans.
Bizarre’s first night ended fittingly well, with unpredictable excitement, and unknown special spells casting outward for the next day, the longest day of all conventions, the Saturday Madness. But as many knew even after the Planet Rose closed down, the parties continued in other areas, because Bizarre never ends with just a party or two, this beast slither into many locations – that won’t be disclosed here, needless to state, Friday night blended into Saturday morning. This resulted in some attendees getting less than four hours of sleep.
Saturday, June 14th
A definite buzz surrounded the second day of the convention a dedicated army of horror fans stormed the venue, eager to meet their favorites, venture through the vendors, and simply engage with other notable guests and fans in general. Many returning fans, from December 2013’s Bizarre highly enjoyed how the entire convention took over the fourth floor exhibit hall, allowing ease of flow traffic especially for those in wheelchairs or scooters, and canes. The convention made great usage of the Great Exhibition Hall found in the South Tower and the Salon in the North Tower, and turned one room, Salon 4 into a Movie Theater and Performance Stage, a great aspect that many found to be a wonderful treat.
The Bizarre beast stirred again, at mid-day bring with it the cryptic film Mortal Remains (2012) a docu-thriller about the infamous director Karl Atticus, from directors Mark Ricche and Christian Stavrakis the audience had the curious minded who found trailers scatter across the internet and some core followers of the film and the mystery. This film, has gained attention, by playing in many film festivals across the country, and many recalled the film won awards in the Terror Film Festival, of Philadelphia, PA, an in 2012, bringing both the found-footage and a suicide-murder mystery that includes Eduardo Sanchez of The Blair Witch Project (1999) fame.
Meanwhile, in the corridors and halls stilted clowns terrorized, along with Ghostbusters hunting for ghouls, but fret not actual Ghost Hunters held court at their tables, ready to discuss and engaging fans. Father Evil, devilish looking priest, with a very authentic outfit, complete with a stole and rosary stalked the area, blessing all sinners, and posing for photos whenever asked. The costume-wearing guests played their parts extremely well, as it was natural and commonplace to show themselves to all the guests. Sadly no further information about Zombie Strippers’ director Jay Lee’s film Manhunt starring both Britney Shannon and Gene Snitsky who at their separate booths remained tight-lipped about the entire project written by Kevin Oroszo and Jay.
As the day rolled onward, the legendary cult classic film The Toxic Avenger from Lloyd Kaufman celebrating its 30th-Anniversary, to a group of a ravenous fans, who understood the comedy, violence, off-color humor and even more violence. The horror fans on hand for this delight, recalled memories of seeing this film in their youth, and then recalling the extremely short lived animated series, and enjoy picking out actors who have gone to greatness. One such actress Marisa Tomie, an un-credited bit part and many years would earn an Oscar, showing again the horror genre does not limit one’s greatness and then actor Patrick Kilpatrick going onto a noteworthy career, both mark this film as their first horror film.
Patrons of the conventions made their way to their horror stars, and each star gave ample time with their fans, no sense of rush ever present itself, never a look of disgust, rather everyone gave everything they could, some took a natural stance others put a bit of performance to greeting someone at the tables.
Sandwiched between this film and the 4pm showing of Witches Blood, the Ghost Hunters, Dave Tango and Steve Gonsalves, spoke at a Q&A Panel of the most scariest places they have visited or like to, and the about the back stories of the production, and how the producers did not understand the manner or style for a investigation. The producers thought it was 10 to 15 minutes in one place and then move onward, and the corny phrase “Hi, we’re TAPS, here to help,” was not part of their choice, another choice from the production standpoint. The audience gave them many questions, fielding them with professionalism and detail, never short-changing anyone, no matter what the question, including sharing some of the funnier moments, in the show’s history.
Witches Blood’s audience lined up to see this film, with it being the third and final installment of the Mary Blood story and having so many notable horror icons in it too, namely Robert Englund, as himself. Director and writer Ryan Scott Weber, film brings Mary Horror (Kimberly Graf) needs four witches’ blood own the town of Bernardsville (a real town in NJ) and battle against Sherriff Tom (Joe Parascand) again. Ryan’s film pleased horror fans, in addition to a Q&A session that included Lloyd Kaufman (who received special thanks in the credits) and the film stars Edward X. Young, who many in the genre consider to as the next Vincent Price. An interesting bit trivia, with this film, namely involving Genoveva Rossi who worked on this film and in the part two, in addition to her co-star’s Manny Serrano’s Blood Slaughter Massacre a hugely popular horror film at Bizarre AC 2013, now preparing for a Wild Eye Releasing. Actress Carmela Hayslett’s cameo came in the form of a Bernardsville Townie, in part two; she portrayed her alter ego Roxy Tyler- a horror hosting figure largely known in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some had hoped that actor Shawn C. Phillips, who starred in all three parts as different characters, would make a surprise appearance his story of success clamors to so many in the genre, a YouTube critic to horror star status of 64 horror films.
The fans common complaint, that neither Bizarre nor any other horror conventions control the price of autographs, once again, that is a price chosen by the actors, a price ranging from $10 to a rumored $180, this has become a standard part of the convention experience. The festival directors, assistants and caretakers repeat apologies for the high costs, but informed beforehand on social media and then in person that element falls beyond their scope. However, Lloyd Kaufman of Troma fame stole the show, with offering FREE Photo Opportunities and Signatures on all Tomabilia items.
Hellraiser’s reunion Q&A Panel took the Salon 4 stage in true conquering style, to a full house of fans, rabid in the discussions of the filmmaking, the styles, hardships and goofy outtakes, which had them, wondering if the footage existed somewhere. Doug Bradley noted for the character Pinhead fielded most of the questions, although additional and follow up questions made their way to Barbie Wilde, Nick Vince, Simon Ford, and Chris Young. However, this Q&A Panel had the first and most original ending ever done at a convention, as Bizarre flexed its horror muscle. Doug opened an infamous puzzle box on the panel table and with a microphone in hand, he began reading a poem with words eerily similar to the Hellraiser films walking out into audience and over to one side of the room. The message soon became clear, a marriage proposal, with the line such sights to show you, and get concept, and well accepted by all parties – and she did say yes!
Then The Lost Boys reunion took to the same stage, and 7pm with much anticipation and accolades from a fever pitch audience, with Corey Feldman making a slightly delayed appearance, as he came in costume and character as one of the legendary Frog brothers (Edgar) from the film. Corey remained in character for most of the event, and sat next to his fellow Frog brother (Alan) Jamison Newlander who too switched into character, but not as much as Corey. G Tom Mac took the center seat with Brooke McCarter and Billy Wirth (most recognizable for his role on the hit television series Chicago P.D. and noted that The Lost Boys was his first horror film). The Q&A panel kept a comical stance thanks to Corey, till it came to the discuss of Corey Haim’s passing, and the he stepped out of character and gave a true heartfelt discussion of it, and when and where he was at the time of learning about his death.
Parrish Randall and Chanel Ryan, both stars of Circus of the Dead a Bill ‘Bloody Bill’ Pon, were on hand to rile up the large audience for the east coast premiere of his grimy and grizzly film, set to unleashed on three screens in the Salon 4 Ballroom, allowing everyone in attendance perfect viewing pleasure. The film had delicious teased and danced its memorable self into festival theaters and convention halls, with a group of delightful sinister clowns, with a ring leader name Papa Corn (Bill Oberst Jr. – who plays a wickedly fun and terrorizing clown). He and his merry bunch of unruly clown troop use a dirty dying circus and workplace as their torturing grounds, while also using a 1968 Camaro (good choice in cars) and guns, knives and whistles this pack of clowns have fiendish fun with the Johnson family. The role of belonged to Tiffany (Chanel Ryan) and gives the best Janet Leigh send-up that one has seen in a long time, and shows a clever way to hold a smart phone. Chanel graciously stayed well past the film’s conclusion and pushed off a dinner engagement to talk with the press, showing her professionalism and willingness to please the media. She mentioned “Bill is concerned and gentle before and after each scene, but after the call for action, he switches into character,” and he gives an exceptional performance reminiscent of Texas Chain Saw Massacre and complete with gory, intense rape scenes to shudder most horror fans. Oberst no stranger to the horror genre by any means, who has 26 upcoming horror films in various stages, with many new directors, such as Adam R. Steigert, Jonathan Moody and Carl Lindbergh, this actor scare treatments have hardcore gore-hounds and horror fans hungry for the next feature. One must not forget Papa Corn’s adversary Donald played wonderfully and convincingly believable Parrish Randall who started late in the acting career, but carried this role of a distraught father clinging to hope and the good graces of Lord (who happens not to be on set). His final sequence, truly drives deeply into his past, and even suffered a bit of psychological impact after seeing the film, yet puts his character into magnificent roller coaster of emotions ending a mental anguish usually found in climatic conclusions in dramatic films, rather than a grind-house film.
As the night ended, the exhibit halls closed down and floor became vacant, the wicked tentacles of the Bizarre Beast crept into and took over Chickie’s & Pete’s Sports Bar located off the casino floor but still inside the Tropicana, for the celebration of the Toxic Avenger’s Official 30th Birthday After Party. G Tom Mac as promised showed up for a set and Lloyd Kaufman with one of New Jersey’s famous hero’s Toxic Avenger. The unusual party rocked into the night, with many enjoying themselves, and the entire turnout all in favor of the Bizarre AC.
Sunday, June 15th (Father’s Day)
A Father’s Day celebration set at the Bizarre had an interesting twist to the day, with some fathers enjoying the day at the convention rather than just sitting at home admiring new tools, or at a common theme BBQ, and passing the time with a ballgame. Others had their fathers out to prove to them, that this career choice was proper for them, as they worked in their vendor booths, or performance on a stage.
Many in the genre of convention goers deem the day a final round-up one to attend early, and hustle quickly, as the stars and vendors begin to breakdown early, and the day hurries through with no slowdown in sight. This element occurs at every convention, and with no way to end the trend, and truly no one’s fault, as many attendee’s come to the event on Friday and leave at some point on Sunday, with a busy work schedule for a film, another convention or just back to reality of life itself. However, Bizarre did not quietly die out, no whimpering from this beast, the staff of caretakers, and organizers thoroughly worked to complete a whirlwind takeover of horror fans’ dreams and desires, with showing final films, Q&A panels and one special moment.
The final two films played back to back, with Flesh of the Beast: Tsukiko’s Curse from Fever Dreams and Media Blasters leading off presenting two episodes for an internet based series of paranormal debunking and research team that includes Maho Honda, Patrick Daniel Smith and Charlotte Pines (noted in Blood Slaughter Massacre ). As some may recall this show screened the first episode of the series at Bizarre in December 2013, and hence returned with more for the audience to enjoy. The two shows presented incredible fun shows to view, the first one called The Devil’s Bride, involving charlatan preacher and his two assistants. The Pastor Bryon Law, an evangelical exorcist (Gary Napoli) plays the role perfectly with some camp and off color humor, and sets up with camouflage crosses, and his two assistants calling him ‘daddy’. He and his assistants brought a militaristic feel, with the attitude of using a tank to crush Satan, and then try to drive out a demon in Tsukiko failing need to come to her home to try again at outrageous costs wearing black apron and sunglasses. Then all hell breaks loose on this storyline, which contains, very sick and crude language accompanied with great humor. The second episode called Jersey Devil Girl brings Edward X. Young, as the leader of satanic coven to resurrect the remains of Aleister Crowley with Patrick Smith character Parsons, who takes on the investigation, encounters Nicole Rutigliano a succubus. Characters Tsukiko and Fortune (Charlotte Pines) who portrays a believable astral student yet grounded individual to save Parsons while battling evil satanic forces, setting for an interesting tale and finale.
Armageddon Ed, don’t let the name scare you, a informative, understanding gentleman, always helping patrons and guests with resounding authority, but not pompous, rather having the information to freely give out or taking the time to gather the correct data. Ed found himself, operating most of the Q&A panels and shifting back to the movie screenings, and handle the audience and a problem arising with the playing of the last film of the festival, called A Dark Place Inside, with masterful skill, by arranging a quick and original solution the issue. Here again, the Bizarre AC brought A-game, and finished the convention with stellar design and performance.
Mike O’Mahony took the honors of having the last film play at the convention, with his film A Dark Place Inside (2014), in conjunction with producer Warren Croyle, this mark the second year that a O’Mahony played at Bizarre, Sloppy the Psychotic (2012) showed in December 2013. Sadly, though his film would not play correct a technical glitch – no sound – nevertheless Armageddon Ed’s solution to have Genoveva Rossi, a Scream Queen with talent, to do a live commentary of the film. This marked and history for the convention and perhaps all festivals and conventions, as it never had been done before, running a full commentary of the film, while playing on the screen. Needless to state the audience had mixed feelings, some left, not wanting to sit for a silent film, and other intrigue by this experiment stayed for the full production. Most times one listens to a commentary after they have seen the film, and they thoroughly enjoyed it and find this add on luxury on DVDs a wonderful device, especially for aspiring filmmakers. That is not to say this film did not warrant attention, as previous directors have stated it is sometimes worth the time to view one’s film without sound, to see if the film conveys the story with regard to the cinematography allowing each image to fill the screen and taking the audience captive. O’Mahony’s film brings together a story of a bullied, sexual brutalized, and abused in many aspects as a young boy, neglected by his mother’s protection (Genoveva Rossi) and later becomes a disgusting deviant serial killer Andy (Chris Dalbey). Tiffany Loretta Carroll, who portrayed a victim attended the film and shared hear fear of drowning, when it came to death scene, something that likely not have happened during a regular screening. Anthony Edward Curry portrays a young man fishing with his father, who relates to the only positive memory of Andy’s past, and yet it doesn’t hinder the torment of his past nor denying him the intent on killing women all in private creation that unsettles women in the audience. This scene plays beautiful even without the sound, and brings the serial killer’s mindset to the surface for all to witness. Another trivial note, both Tiffany and Anthony star in the twisted sleaze mesmerizing director Adam Ahlbrandt’s Hunters along with Linnea Quigley and Tina Krause, which seems to have capture the underground horror circuit incredibly intensely.
As time began running out for the demon-beast Bizarre living nightmare to end, The Ink Illusionists put on the final performance of the convention, with many of the noted friends and fiends gathering about, watching and enjoying this last event. Many in audience wore TheHorrorScene.com shirts, and gracing the crowd Britney Shannon, Buddy (from the Buddy, Bryan and Zach of BMovieRadio Show, and Armageddon Ed, in pleasant mood. It was here that I was informed My Armageddon Ed, that Ray Cannella needed me in the Carousal Room, I thought a chance for a last interview with the man who film the Con of the Dead a short horror film completely shot on site at Bizarre AC with a cast of characters. However, this was not the case, in the room, Ray and Damian Kulikowski were filming Ray’s death scene for the film, and they needed a tall Shadow Creature (a zombie) to take down Ray. The honor had an overwhelming sincere welcoming affect to me after all I am a horror journalist, aspiring screenwriter and acted in haunted houses amusement rides. I listened carefully to Ray’s directions, and when the cue came to attack, I forcefully completed the task, no faking or halfway mentality taking down and out Ray from his seated position and he giving an authentic yell. This marked a great moment in both my horror covering convention career and more importantly, Bizarre AC showed what they are all capable of bringing to the festival circuit – a fantastic show!
The staff near the end, photo-bomb in cameo shots, showing the pride of being for the sequel and most videographers and photographers, including most of the press found themselves in the shots too, well except for one, remaining behind the camera, nevertheless all working to end, mostly visible to guests, and perhaps one in the shadows.
In the end, so many hardcore fans, did not want it to end, and core of Henderson’s team while heavily depleted of energy sought to strive forward with dedication, handshakes and hugs abound for so many, the final moments captured in photos, videos and memories. At 5pm the dismantling started, the final steps to put beast called Bizarre to rest again, unceremonious occurred, but all present knew that beasts in horror always rise again, with more lunacy and vengeance to flex the muscles and terrorize the normalcy of everyday lives of townsfolk.