Another Montreal HorrorFest dead and gone. But not forgotten. This year’s edition featured some fantastic guests, excellent films, and riveting panels. Overall, the feedback I heard was that things were slower than last year—though this seemed to apply to the Montreal ComicCon as a whole, not just the HorrorFest, and may have been due to the event change of date, from early fall to full-on summer—but even a slightly-slower-than-usual HorrorFest is an awesome HorrorFest.
Here’re some of my favorite moments:
Kane Hodder and Old 37
I spent a good chunk of my time at the Con staffing the HorrorFest booth, giving away posters and drumming up interest in the fest’s screenings. Right next to our booth was the one for Old 37, a Slasher flick starring two of horror cinema’s living legends, Bill Mosley and Kane Hodder. Just chatting with the Old 37 crew was great, and getting to chat it up with Kane Hodder was amazing.
Friday night, Hodder introduced a screening of Old 37, telling the audience that, of the hundreds of movies he’s made, Old 37 is his son’s favorite. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the entire screening, but what little I saw looked fantastic and, with an endorsement from Hodder’s own kin, it’s now moved to the top of my must-see horror list.
And, don’t worry, they’re all paramedics.
Doug Bradley Introduces a Special Screening of Hellraiser
Hellraiser remains one of my top ten favorite horror movies and, thanks to the HorrorFest, I was finally able to see it on a big screen…after having it introduced by Doug Bradley…after having introduced Doug Bradley to the crowd.
Honestly, the man really didn’t need much of an introduction. I asked Bradley ahead of time if he wanted me to say anything particular, promise a Q&A, whatever, and he just said he’d “wing it.” Which he did beautifully. He started by asking the audience how many of them had never seen Hellraiser. Shockingly, about a dozen hands popped up! “Where the fuck have you been?” Bradley said in response.
He seemed genuinely interested to know what these virgins thought of the film and urged them to come tell him afterwards. He said that, generally, the response is quite positive, and it’s that kinda feedback that informs his feelings on a remake or reboot.
As he explained: “If people who’d never seen it came to me and said, ‘yeah, it’s good … for an eighties film,’ I’d then say, yeah, remake it.”
But, he said, they tend to just love it, as is, so, though he’d be open to reprising his role as the iconic Pinhead, he sees no need to remake Hellraiser. His philosophy is quite simple: if people still love the original, let them watch the original. Don’t remake it.
He was asked what he thought of the last in the Hellraiser series, in which another actor played Pinhead. He said he’d actually turned it down, given that there was no script and that the film was clearly being made as a rights-retaining exercise, nothing more.
After taking a few more questions Bradley let the film speak for itself. It was glorious.
Moderating a Surprise (to me) Panel with the Directors of Turbo Kid
On Sundays the ComicCon ends at 5, and at around 4:30, we started taking down the HorrorFest booth. There was a last panel scheduled for 5, but I wasn’t involved and was only somewhat familiar with the topic, so I figured it was safe to start packing it in. Just as we were finishing things up, Stephane, another member of the HorrorFest crew came over and told me to go upstairs, where the screenings and panels were taking place, ‘cause Steve, the HorrorFest’s director, needed me to give an introduction.
This was no big deal, introducing speakers or screenings was my main reason for being there. I’d go up there, tell the audience a bit about what they were about to watch or who was about to speak and rush back down to help finish up with the packing.
But Steve had a bit of a surprise for me. It went a little like this:
“Hey, Steve. So you want me to introduce these guys?”
“Yeah, can you lead the panel?”
“Yeah, just do a Q&A with them.”
Now, usually, I do my homework. I read up on both Bradley and Hodder, knowing ahead of time that I may have to introduce them, that there could be a Q&A, and that, at times, questions from the audience run dry and that I’d be expected to throw questions the speaker’s way, to keep things moving along and interesting.
I didn’t know anything about Turbo Kid, the panel’s subject, other than it was done by local filmmakers, it was gory but funny, and that Steve loved it. I hadn’t even seen the trailer. There was no way I could bone up on every one of the films/panels/speakers involved and Turbo Kid just hadn’t been on my radar. And now, last minute and with no time to prep, I had to stand in front an audience with a trio of directors and engage with them on their film.
Luckily, these three directors (yes, three—more on that in a bit), were some of the kindest people I’d met and one of them—Yoann-Karl Whissell—loves to talk.
I started simply: “So tell us how this all started.” Yoann-Karl took it from there, giving an amazing and entertainingly rambling answer.
His co-directors, Anouk Whissell (they’re siblings, as I discovered during the discussion) and Francois Simard added to every answer, the three of them working together seamlessly, even when participating in a Q&A with fans.
That’s the thing: two directors is unusual, but three directors on a single project is unheard of. But they make it work. They said any arguing takes place during the scripting and in pre-production, but even these disagreements are more creative discussions and have become an integral part of their process. They described themselves as working as a single mind. I described them as a human centipede. They seemed to like it.
Turbo Kid will be screening at this year’s Fantasia, in just a few weeks. Even after showing their film at Sundance and South By Southwest, this Fantasia screening will be of special significance to the trio, given that Turbo Kid was essentially born at Fantasia, with the key initial connections having been made there and making all of it—working with Michael Ironside, showing at Sundance, getting distribution—possible.
In the end, despite the surprise, despite being less prepared than I would have liked, the Q&A went amazingly well.
Oh, and Turbo Kid is now definitely on my radar—it should be on yours, too.