This past Saturday (Oct. 16) I made the trip to the DCU Center in Worcester, MA in order to attend Rock and Shock 2010 with 3 friends. I went last year for the first time and had been counting down the days for this year's edition since before I even got home from 2009's event. Luckily all that waiting paid off because Rock and Shock 2010 was an all around improvement to the already awesome convention from last year. I got to meet/see several horror icons and was also able to witness one of the most truly bizarre performances I've ever seen, courtesy of the Charles Band Road Show.
Going in to Rock and Shock I had a small list of people I was looking forward to meeting. Luckily I was able to control my impulse to buy autographs from everyone and kept to that small core group of people (George Romero, Adam Green, Danielle Harris, and Adrienne Barbeau). It was pretty surreal meeting George Romero. I'll admit to being fairly tongue-tied whenever I meet someone famous but it was even worse in this case. I was barely able to utter even faint praise due to my brain simply shouting over and over again "GEORGE ROMERO! GEORGE ROMERO! GEORGE ROMERO!" Luckily I at least had it in me to ask for a picture so I have proof that I did not imagine the whole ordeal. I also had him sign a cool Italian poster for Night of the Living Dead which needs to be framed ASAP.
While it was indeed memorable to meet George A. Romero, the coolest person I got to meet at Rock and Shock was director Adam Green. I went in already being a huge fan of Green's work as I think all four of his movies are great. However, as I waited in line, I caught something on his desk that made me realize just how awesome he actually is. At the front of his table was a little hand-written note that read something to the effect of "I do not charge for autographs and pictures because I love you." This is actually a huge deal because most people there were charging between $20-$30 for an autograph. Knowing that he is not there to make extra money but is there simply to interact with the fans made me respect him more than I already did. Of course I wasn't able to express any of this due to my awkwardness at meeting famous people but I was at least able to tell him that I loved Hatchet II. He also posed for a quick picture and signed a Hatchet II poster that will be hung up in my living room very soon.
Danielle Harris was also really cool to meet. It was nice hearing the genuine thanks from both her and Green when I told them I loved Hatchet II when I saw it in theaters. She also signed the same Hatchet II poster that Green signed, making it one of my favorite pieces of horror memorabilia I now own. I also loved getting to meet Adrienne Barbeau. She was extremely nice and thankfully had a Carnivale picture that she then signed. I know she is mostly known for her roles in Escape From New York and Swamp Thing but I was such a huge fan of that show that I had to go with that one instead. I followed the trend of being too shy to say much so I wasn't able to tell her how sad I was that Carnivale got cancelled prematurely but was at least able to get a good picture with her. It's worth noting how crazy it is that she still looks good at 65.
Luckily, getting in line to meet these people is only part of Rock and Shock. Another fun aspect that I was looking forward to was the large number of vendors selling every piece of horror related merchandise you can possibly think of. It's dangerous how easy it is to spend a lot of money at Rock and Shock. I tried to show at least some level of self-control and only bought 6 DVDs. I was able to get copies of out of print movies The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Popcorn, and The Mutilator. The guy at the booth selling the DVDs was the same one that wrote an article for the amazing HorrorHound magazine devoted to out of print DVDs so I took his word when I asked him for suggestions. I haven't had a chance to watch these yet but I'll be putting my thoughts up once I do. I also picked up 3 Full Moon Direct DVDs (Gingerdead Man, Gingerdead Man 2, and a compilation DVD of movies featuring killer puppets) that were being sold be Charles Band after his Road Show performance, but I'll get to that a bit later.
The other great part about Rock and Shock are the Q&A sessions they have with the horror guests in attendance. I was able to get a standing room spot for the Halloween Remake panel. It was a fun session featuring Danielle Harris, Scout Taylor-Compton, Dee Wallace, Kristina Klebe, and Eileen Dietz. Due to being at the back I wasn't able to hear every answer but all the women were pretty candid which made for a great panel. Once it was finished, I was lucky enough to find an open seat in the front row where I then stayed for the Adam Green and George Romero panels.
Green continued to be the MVP of the convention by bringing Blu-Rays and t-shirts to pass out to those who asked questions. There was obviously talk about the MPAA situation for Hatchet II but luckily the audience was asked to respect the fact that Green can't talk openly about that due to legal reasons and the issue was then pushed aside in order to focus on Green's actual films and not the controversy surrounding their release. I was very happy to hear that his next film will be an anthology piece with 3 other horror directors titled Chillerama and is scheduled for release in 2011. Green said his segment is titled The Diary of Anne Frankenstein and was shot in Black and White and in German. This is now currently my favorite movie of 2011.
Next up was Romero's panel. Even though I had already seen him earlier in the day to get his autograph, it was still amazing to be in the same room with him for a Q&A session. My night was then made when I was able to ask him a question (I had been trying since the beginning of the Adam Green Q&A to get called on). There wasn't much news to come out of the session but it was still just a cool thing to be a part of. It made me really appreciate how much he's actually accomplished as a director. I look forward to discovering more of his non-zombie catalog as the only ones I've seen so far are Martin and The Crazies.
The night then wrapped up with the Charles Band Road Show. Charles Band is a long time director/producer/distributer of B-movies. He runs the Full Moon Direct company that is known for the Puppet Master franchise along with movies like The Gingerdead Man. His Road Show is a sort of Q&A session without any Qs and just As. He had some great stories about how he got his start but the real meat of his presentation was focused on some amazing Gary Busey stories since Gary starred in Gingerdead Man (as the voice of the title character). We all know Gary is insane but it's still great to hear new stories that solidify that fact.
The climax of the show was a crowd participation skit where he called on three volunteers to act out a scene on stage. He mentioned there are usually lots of props for this part of the show but for some reason that wasn't the case for Rock and Shock so everyone had to just pretend. The basic story was that an evil monster was in the electric chair and his brother and girlfriend were there to say goodbye. Once the chair flipped on, the brother would then grab the ass of the girlfriend because it turns out the brother is the one who turned the evil monster into the cops so he could then seduce the girlfriend. The monster sees this and breaks out of the chair and in a fit of rage, begins killing the audience by shooting lightening out of his hands. The brother goes to stop him but gets knocked down. We are then told the only thing that can calm the beast are the boobs of the girlfriend, who must show them to the audience to make the monster stop. She then flashes the audience and once the monster sees this he is turned into a mumbling weakling who repeats "boobies" over and over again while on one knee, reaching up to his girlfriend's exposed body. Please reread this paragraph with the knowledge that everything I typed happened with 3 volunteers on an empty stage with no props.
Once that show was over, all my friends and I could talk about was whether or not the girl who flashed the audience was a plant or not. I likened Charles Band to a snake oil salesmen from the old west days, in that he must have made sure that at least one girl in the audience would take him up on the offer to star as the "hot chick" in his little skit. While I don't think the girl was an actor or someone who travels with him, I'm convinced he found her walking around Rock and Shock earlier in the day and set it all up. So while she show took an unexpected sleazy turn, it was still an excellent ending to an already excellent day. The Charles Band Road Show is something I will not forget for a very long time.
As I left Rock and Shock, I couldn't help but be a little sad. Don't get me wrong, I had tons of fun and didn't regret anything. The sadness however was coming from the fact that I would now have to wait 1 full year before I get to go to another Rock and Shock. Sure, there is Monster-Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ in March and August of 2011, but even that is a long wait. I was simply wishing that there were more East Coast conventions to go to throughout the year. I eventually realized however the more conventions they had, the less special it would all become. Going to Rock and Shock is like entering a whole new world compared to the one I live in during my daily life. It is entering a world where people dress up like zombies to meet George Romero and no one looks at them in a weird way. I admit that I loved being in that world for one day but I'm pretty sure if I lived in it much more than that, I'd start to go a little crazy (and be completely broke).