Horror. The word itself draws up many diverse images. Something scary. Something monstrous. Something… to be enjoyed? Well it is if you’re talking about the Horror genre. Fans have been gathering to celebrate their love of all things related to horror for years. These conventions often draw thousands of people eager to see their favorite star, director, or special effects artist.
Since 2006, Texas has been showing its love of Horror with the Texas Frightmare Weekend – an event that draws crowds from all over the country. The first TFW was held in the Grapevine Convention center. This event proved to be so popular that another one was on the drawing board almost before the last guest had packed up and headed home.
Now the TFW is ready for its fifth go around and organizer Loyd Cryer is excited. This year’s event has drawn some of the biggest names in the industry, including a rare treat in the persona of John Carpenter, the legendary filmmaker who started the slasher ball rolling with his 1978 classic HALLOWEEN. Loyd is a busy man organizing special screenings (including a just announced showing of George Romero’s newest SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD), zombie walks, seminars, and even a gala celebration for VIP ticket holders and celebrity guests. Still Loyd has managed to find a few minutes to talk with us about the Texas Frightmare Weekend’s origins, why the genre is so popular and which kind of zombie is better: fast or slow!
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Nic – Loyd, 2010 will mark the fifth Texas Frightmare Weekend. How did this whole thing get started?
Loyd – Basically out of necessity. Looking around at horror conventions at the time there were only a handful around the country. There were none at all in Texas.
Nic – You’ve had a good diversity of guests since the event started. Who do you think has drawn the most interest from fans?
Loyd – George Romero. He’s such a likeable guy. His films are iconic and have influenced so much in the genre. But, George has a level head and doesn’t consider himself a celebrity at all. One of the coolest moments of doing five years of shows was hanging out with George in his hotel room and having drinks. You can talk to him like he’s been your friend for years.
Nic – Who are some of the guests you’d like to have in the future?
Loyd – That’s something we try to get an idea of from the attendees. People that are constantly requested are Christopher Lee, and Rob and Sherri Moon Zombie.
Nic – For the 2010 TFW what can the fans expect in the way of programming and events?
Loyd – Pretty much the same stuff that fans have come to love TFW for. We’re working on adding more off site screenings to our festival portion. That has always been the challenge – to fit in all the great submissions that we get every year. So we want to extend that and make more screenings available to attendees. Plus, the third annual Hearse and Shock Rod Show, the Zombie Walk, panel, Q&As and more.
Nic – There’ve been a number of special screenings/premieres at past TFWs. Anything big lined up for this year that you can talk about?
Loyd – Yes, we’re expanding the event out two days prior to the regular convention. On April 28th and 29th we’ll be screening films as part of our Film Festival. I can’t make an official announcement yet but expect the new film from the master of the zombie sub-genre to screen.
Nic – Why do you think horror is so popular today?
Loyd – I don’t really know. Looking around, it’s everywhere now. It’s mainstream. I’ve always said it goes in cycles. This isn’t the first time horror has reached such a plateau. I think horror has always been appealing to the masses. The problem is that studios latch on to an idea and burn everyone out on it. Slashers, torture porn, Japanese ghosts, shaky cam, found footage and remakes. So, the genre goes somewhat dormant for a little while. But it always comes back.
Nic – How has the TFW changed since it started?
Loyd – I think we’ve just gotten better. We run a tighter ship. We work harder every year to make sure the fans get what they came for. We’ve listened to the attendees and gotten rid of what they didn’t like and beefed up what they do like. It’s never perfect, but we try hard to get as close as we can.
Nic – What’s been your biggest challenge in putting this event together every year?
Loyd – What hasn’t been a challenge?! lol
Nic – Have you considered organizing conventions for other fan favorite genres such as Sci-Fi or Anime?
Loyd – No, I just don’t have a passion for those genres. It’s best to stick with what you know.
Nic – What do you think is the most important part of a successful horror convention?
Loyd – Attention to detail and love for the genre.
Nic – Speaking of love for the genre, or maybe the opposite, horror is often criticized for the glamorizing violence and objectifying women. What would you say to those critics?
Loyd – I’d say they probably haven’t actually watched the films they are criticizing and they’re just making a blind statement about the genre.
Nic – We’ve talked about the TFW event, but what about the organizer? Give us your top five horror films and why you like each.
1. THE EXORCIST – It’s the first movie I ever remember seeing. I think I was four years old when I saw that. It creeped me out as a kid and still does today.
2. DAY OF THE DEAD – My favorite of Romero’s films. Savini’s effects were mind blowing at the time!
3. EVIL DEAD – I love the original and the sequel. ARMY OF DARKNESS was great but it’s the least of my favorites.
4. HOSPITAL MASSACRE – I only recently discovered this little gem. To me, it defines drive-in and grindhouse.
5. NIGHTMARE (Romano Scavolini) – Sleazy, depraved, gory. I saw that when I was pretty young. Rented the old Continental big box at a local video shop. Really disturbed me at the time.
Nic – You’re obviously a big fan of horror, but is there anything that scares you?
Loyd – Real life stuff like not being able to pay my bills! Fear of growing old and sickly. Alzheimer’s is prevalent in my family and that’s really scary to think about.
Nic – The internet and new media technologies are changing many things in the world of entertainment. How do you see these changes affecting the horror genre and horror related conventions?
Loyd – It’s certainly affected print publications. Outside of that I think it’s been beneficial and mostly positive. Just the fact that we can access info about the genre so quickly is a major plus. I guess the downside to it is all the false info we seem to get.
Nic – What has been your all time favorite kill in a horror movie?
Loyd – Hmmm…. I really like the bayonet through the head in THE PROWLER. Most of Savini’s work still really impresses me. I loved the hammer to the head that Ted Raimi got in MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN too.
Nic – Now the most important question of all… Slow zombies or fast zombies?
Loyd – Slow for sure.