2014 will go down as the year I attended a horror convention and did not go waist deep into debt (a fact my wife and accountant are both very satisfied with). No, I did not suddenly become bestowed with superhuman will power (the amount of alcohol consumed over these 3 days can attest to that), Slack Jaw Punks attended Michigan’s largest horror convention as a vendor. What on earth would possesses me, a basement dweller and hater of all social gatherings to embark on this endeavor? Did the good people behind MCN promise free pizza and lewd photos of Nancy Reagan? Nothing of the sort (politics be damned, I hear she’s a hell cat in the sack!), it was my love for this site and devotion to bringing you quality horror journalism that made me overcome my social anxiety and brave the outside world! Also, Jake and Pat made me promise to do it or they would mutiny and kick me off….
Weeks prior to stepping foot into the convention SJP partnered up with Moderncine Films (the good folks who brought you The Women and All Cheerleaders Die). They sent over a ton of merch and promotional items to help keep us busy during the convention. With a couple dozen DVDs and our own swag in hand we were ready for MCN. The question being: was MCN ready for us? Hell yes they were. Going into its 6th year, Tommy and Todd Brunswick have this convention running like a well oiled machine. It would take more than a couple of horror nerds with microphones to throw a wrench in these gears (Side Note: we weren’t the only podcasters there and to think I thought we were special…). The Brunswick are local film makers who have been making horror flicks around Metro Detroit for years. I have never been a fan of the Brunswick’s work, but I do dig how the keep everything local and “in-house”. Word has it that it’s not uncommon to see their kids on the sets of the movies. It also felt like every worker at the convention was either related (Tommy’s mother was working the cashier booth and a hell of a nice lady!) or a close friend. Regardless of affiliation, one thing they all had in common was their love for the genre and every single one was happy as hell to be there.
After a bare bones (who the hell are we kidding, it was damn near non-existent!) welcoming, we were ushered to our booth in what was dubbed the “film makers section”. I have no illusions to my involvement with films ( nothing more than an overweight fan that can string a sentence together. And poorly at that), but my fellow vendors made us feel welcomed. To the right of our booth was Aaron Russman, writer/director of Fear the Crooked Corpse (check back for the a full review of the movie), a feature film playing at MCN Film Festival. Aaron is a humble guy who has a passion for not just horror films, but films in general. Hailing from the west side of the state, Russman has been making films for over a decade now and recently decided to try his hand in horror. With Aaron (who happens to look like a rock star, without the assholeness that most rock stars carry with them) was the star of his movie and also the star of the weekend Rick Dethlefsen. Rick is a fucking blast. Many times when I should have been focusing on my own booth and trying to peddle my wares, I was cracking wise (yeah, it’s the 1940’s) with Rick. By his own account, Rick is not much of a horror fan, but this did not stop the man from mixing it up with us genre junkies. For a man who has acted in mostly dramas, Rick was damn funny and nothing at MCN seemed to phase him one bit. Of course he is a long time actor and could have been just acting like a guy who was having a really good time. If that was the case this man deserves a damn Oscar! (Check back later this week for Jake’s interview with Rick and Aaron).
As much as I would like think MCN 2014 revolved around my new man crush Rick, he was only one of many media guest I got to hang out with. Directly across from out booth was the good people from Campfire Pictures. Meeting while working as crew members on the Brunswick’s early movies, Joseph Thompson and Jon Manthei starting making short films together. “We thought, Shit we can do this man and decided to start our own thing,” Joseph told me early Saturday morning. Campfire Pictures has a blue-collar, no bull-shit feel to them and it’s probably why we got along so well. Rarely did you see anyone at their booth without a beer in hand. That’s my kind of film makers! Sadly, due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to catch the screening of Back Road, but I did snag the DVD so a review will follow sometime this week.
The entire three days wasn’t just indie film makers and beer. Although it felt like me and Alex Drummond (Writer/director of The Shower) spent more time at the bar then at the actual convention ( more on that later this week). No I also got to meet a ton of “Horror royalty”. Bill Moseley and Jeffery Combs casually chatting in a corner did not seem the least bit annoyed when I interrupted to gush. Graciously shook hands and even let me snap a picture. Gary Busey was roaming the aisles creeping up on potential buyers and shouting “BOO!’. People would jump in surprise then jump again when they realize who just scared them. Jake Busey popped by the booth and snagged a free bracelet from us, after cracking a joke about my ears (always the best way to get on my good side….Welcome to my list of people who can eat my ass!). If you live in Michigan and desperately need that Devil’s Rejects Blu-Ray signed, then Motor City Nightmares is a must.
The greatest part of any convention for me is being in a place where you’re with like-minded people. I spent the better part of my life obsessed with genre movies and never really had an “event”. If you grew up like me the allure of football games and night clubs never held true and rarely did you have a social gathering to look forward to (Except when Hansen came to town, shit was bananas!). MCN is filled to the brim with people from all walks of life that have one thing in common: We enjoy watching horror films. I guess enjoy is the wrong word. Lots of people “enjoy” watching Grey’s Anatomy, but I don’t see long lines of people waiting to give 20 bucks to Dr. McSteamy for a photo and autograph. We are fanatical about horror films and MCN is proof of this.