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Judy Thorburn

The Palms Hosts 2009 Fangoria

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Judy Thorburn

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The Palms Hosts 2009 Fangoria Trinity of Terrors Film Festival/Convention


It could not have been timed better. To co-incide with Halloween, The Fangoria, Trinity of Terrors film festival/convention set up shop Halloween weekend October 30 – November 1, inside the Palms Casino Resort. For the avid fans of the genre who attended this event from all over the country, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the stars, filmmakers and several behind the scenes creative technicians responsible for delivering some of the most beloved horror films in the history of cinema.

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The three day “terror-ific” event kicked off on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and featured exhibition halls filled with booths of actors who gained fame from their appearances in horror flicks, as well as vendors selling posters, books, jewelry, artwork and other horror film memorabilia. The daily schedule also included daily photo sessions, panel discussions with actors and filmmakers, a concert by Slipknot at the Pearl, and of course, The Fright Night Film Festival with movie screenings followed by a Q & A inside the Brenden theatres.

Among the lineup of celebrities on site for a meet and greet, autograph signing and photo op included New Zealand native Greg Broadmore (lead designer of one of this year’s biggest sci fi movie hits, District 9), acclaimed cult filmmakers Roger Corman, (Death Race 2000, His Wild Angels)  who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday night; George A. Romero (the father of zombie movies, including Night/Dawn/Day/Land/Diary of the Living Dead, Survival of the Dead, Creepshow);  John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and A Dirty Shame), Ted V. Mikels (director of The Corpse Grinders and Astro Zombies) and actors:  Henderson, NV resident David Naughton (American Werewolf in London); Andrew Bryniarski aka “Leatherface”, Tony Todd “Candyman”, Bruce Campbell  (star of The Evil Dead Trilogy); actor Corbin Bernsen (Major League, TV’s L.A. Law, and director of Dead Air); Adrienne Barbeau (TV’s Maude, The Fog); Tom Atkins (Escape from New York, The Fog, Creepshow); Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, Halloween,  The Devil’s Reject, Live Evil which screened at the event);  Dee Wallace (The Hills of Eyes, The Howling); William Forsythe (The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween (2007), Masters of Horror), Bill Moseley (Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2, The Devil’s Rejects, Repo! The Genetic Opera); John Kassir (the voice of the crypt keeper from the TV horror series, Tales from the Crypt);  Kristy Swanson (1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and my personal favourite, Malcolm MacDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2007), Cat People).


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Judy Thorburn with Greg Broadmore

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Roger Corman

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George A. Romero

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John Waters

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Ted V. Mikels

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David Naughton with Judy Thorburn

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Judy with Andrew Bryniarski

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Bruce Campbell

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Corbin Bernsen

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Judy with Adrienne Barbeau

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Tom Atkins

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Judy with Ken Foree

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Dee Wallace

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William Forsythe

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Bill Moseley

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John Kassir

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Malcolm MacDowell

Among the list of films being screening were the newly released The Fourth Kind starring Milla Jovovich, a chilling movie centred around alien abductions; George A. Romero’s sixth installment of his Dead film franchise, Survival of the Dead, an awful bore that proved to me that the franchise,  like the dead, should finally be laid to rest;  the premiere of Corbin Bernsen’s Dead Air starring Bill Moseley as a radio talk show host trying to fight off an attack of flesh eating maniacs;  Bad Biology, a very funny comedy/horror satire from Basket case writer/director Frank Henenlotter and R.A. Thorburn (no relation to yours truly, that I am aware of); Ti  West’s creepy, atmospheric House of the Devil about a college student baby sitter drawn into a satanic nightmare;  and Nightmares in Red, White and Blue, an insightful documentary by director Joseph Maddrey covering the history and evolution of the American horror film.

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Cast of 'Dead Air'

 

The schedule was such that several events overlapped and so I had to pick and choose which ones I would attend.


After seeing and reviewing District 9 early this year, I was anxious to hear the film’s lead designer, Greg Broadmore talk about his film work, and how he created the alien character’s look and weapons for District 9.  

Originally a comic/ children’s book illustrator, Broadmore’s other recent work includes creator/designer of prehistoric looking flying creatures in the latest King Kong remake and fantasy characters in the Narnia film based on C. S. Lewis’s popular children’s book.

Broadmore brought along stills and concept art from District 9 that featured his designs of the EXO suit, the giant alien spacecraft, and assault gun which he created at WETA workshop, the award winning conceptual design and physical manufacturing facility in Wellington, New Zealand that services the world's entertainment and creative industries. Up next for the creative genius is what he described as a retro science fiction tale called Dr. Grordbort, and based on the few details he was able to reveal, it should be fabulous and I am looking forward to the film’s release.

Rather than participating in a customary Q & A session, John Waters performed his one man show, “This Filthy World – Filthier and More Horrible” for the packed theatre audience. If the inimitable Waters ever decided to quit being a filmmaker, no doubt he could certainly make it as a comedian.  His stand up routine, in which he spoke about his early influences, growing up in Baltimore, his career, what it was like working with his stars, including transvestite actor “Divine”, his thoughts on drive-ins, shoplifting, homosexuality, drugs, and other off color subjects was so funny as to garner continuous laughter from the crowd.

Another highlight was listening to distinguished actor Malcolm MacDowell (who was featured in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2) discuss his craft as an actor.  During the Q & A session MacDowell was asked why he thinks the sci fi/and or horror genre is so popular. Mentioning Star Trek as an example, he replied, “As a morality tale, it says something about the human condition.”  Surprisingly, MacDowell said while growing up in England he wasn’t a fan of science fiction and wasn’t into Flash Gordon.  “I was taken more with Jimmy Cagney.  He was my idol. For me he was the greatest film actor that ever lived…the way he moved, dialogue…the way he shot it out”, MacDowell explained emphatically.  

I have been a fan of Malcom MacDowell ever since his blew me away in the lead role that catapulted him to stardom as the deliciously evil, twenty something villain in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.  I asked him about that role and he offered some insightful information that has never been revealed before in public. Although his character was morally despicable and driven to perform some nasty deeds, MacDowell said he wanted to convey the character’s zest for life (though, be it, with no regard for others). MacDowell said the “singing in the rain”, happy go lucky number in the film was improvised. In an impromptu moment he came up with the idea, and thankfully, Kubrick decided to keep the scene in the film. The actor went on to mention Gene Kelly probably wasn’t thrilled about it and when MacDowell saw the legendary dancer at a party he attended, Kelly snubbed him.

Questioned about what gives him inspiration, the quick witted, personable star jokingly answered, “A good lunch” then added,   “I really never know where my inspiration will come from.” I found MacDowell to be smart, funny, and filled with personality and I was thrilled to meet him in person.

On Saturday, I chatted with talented character actor William Forsythe, who joined the ranks of admired horror performers after appearing in The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween and the Masters of Horror episode, We All Scream for Ice Cream. I asked him what I could next expect to see him in. The intense looking actor told me that he just finished starring as serial killer John Wayne Gacy in a movie titled “Dear Mr. Gacy” produced by Clark Peterson (one of the producers of Monster, for which Charlize Theron won her Best Actress Oscar).  “The script is brilliant,” said Forsythe. ‘But, portraying Gacy was creepier than I ever imagined. The worst thing about playing him was the fact that he was really gregarious, a “people” person.  There has never been a serial killer like him. In researching him I uncovered so many things that weren’t common knowledge.”  

I also had the pleasure of speaking with Michele Morrow, a young pretty blonde actress/artist who has appeared in several horror films and had the honor of being crowned September 2008 Scream Queen of the Month by the website sceamqueen.com. Michele’s film resume includes several award winning films including The Seer that gained her critical acclaim at the 2008 Estonia Film Festival in Spain; The Silo; Bled a modern vampire tale; and the upcoming Basement Jack, which will be released in 2010.  Something tells me this actress is on her way to stardom and will make a name for herself as more than just a scream queen.  

With so much on the slate and not enough time to take it all in, that about covers my experience at this year’s Trinity of Terrors film festival/convention.  This was the first time the event was held in Las Vegas and I was pleased to hear Fangoria has signed a deal with the Palms and will return for two more years.

I had a great time and must thank the friendly, accommodating staff, Marketing Director Amanda Moore and Fangoria’s publicists, Libby Coffy and Alexandra Greenberg. With the CineVegas Film Festival now (or at least temporarily) out of the picture, Fangoria is a welcome addition to the Las Vegas film festival scene and fans of the horror genre. I can wait to see what is in store for 2010.

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