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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Road Trip to Cinema Wasteland Fall 2019

I love Halloween and all things spooky, so October is a very important time of the year for me. For the last eighteen or so years the month has always kicked off with a trip to the Cinema Wasteland show. There isn’t a better way to get me in mood for watching a ton of horror flicks then a trip to Wasteland!

Normally these reports begin with me talking about staying up late the night before and watching a bunch of movies. I need to shift my body clock to Wasteland time you see. But this trip was a bit different. The day before the dreaded “Check Engine Light” popped on in my car. I’m telling you sometimes it seems like these things know when you have plans and choose then to act up. So, an appointment was made, and I got up very early Friday morning to take it into the garage to get things sorted out. Now I’d like to be able to tell you that it ended up being something simple, but it wasn’t. Still I shouldn’t complain because they did get it fixed and I was able to get to the show on time. My wallet was quite a bit lighter, but these things happen. Really though this responsible adult thing sucks sometimes.

Before I go any much further, I should talk about the show. While they had other guests the focus of this October’s Cinema Wasteland was a Martin reunion. For those that don’t know Martin was George Romero’s take on a vampire movie. It was made on a very low budget and involved a lot of faces that would be very familiar to fans a couple of years later when he made Dawn of the Dead. Romero is my favorite director with Dawn of the Dead being my all-time favorite movie ever. Needless to say, I was pretty excited for the weekend. Now back to the good stuff.

After that little automotive adventure I made it to the Holiday Inn, purchased my weekend pass, met up with Brett who I was sharing a room with again, and made it to line before the dealer’s room opened for the weekend. My first stop was at Mike Watt’s table to pick up a couple more issues of his excellent magazine Exploitation Nation. I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in horror and exploitation movies as they cover all sorts of good stuff. While I’m at it you should also check out his book series, Movie Outlaw. After that purchase I wandered around a bit chatting with friends and browsing the merchandise. I picked up a few things that I’ll talk about later and dropped off the first of several loads in the room.

I normally like to watch something on Friday Night but this time I didn’t. There wasn’t anything that interested me, and I was pretty beat given how early I got up. When the dealer’s room closed for the night, I invited my friend’s Eric and Angie to the room, and we ordered some pizza for supper. Brett joined us and we just sat around talking about movies and what we had already picked up in the dealer’s room. I also strolled up to my friend Tim Gross’ room for some more hanging out before calling it an early night. I guess I just got too old to stay up late.

Saturday is the big day at Wasteland for me and I was up before the show opened. I had time to hit the breakfast bar at the hotel before popping in for a showing of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers on actual film. This gem from the fifties features some excellent work by the legendary Ray Harryhausen and is a fun watch. Over the years I’ve seen so many great movies on film at Wasteland that it has become a highlight of the weekend for me. I’m an old guy living in a digital world so the sound of the projector and flickering of the light puts a smile on my face.

The screening ended, but I stayed in my seat. As soon as the lights came up the Son of Ghoul rolled in his projector and loaded up some Stooges. This is a Saturday tradition at Wasteland that I never miss. Not only do I love the Three Stooges, but to get to see them on film is too cool to pass up. He led off with a Shemp and then followed that with a couple of Curly shorts. While I’m personally a Curly fan you really must have a Shemp in there, so this seemed like the perfect ratio to me.

Getting my copy of Skeletons from director Tony Wash
After that ended it was time to hit the dealer’s room and meet up with my friends. This wasteland I had a crew from my hometown drive up for the day. Sean, Dustin, and international man of mystery Bubbles all arrived during the Stooges and spent the day hanging out. There were a couple of hours to kill before the Martin panel, so I wandered around the dealer’s room spending more money and talking to people.

This time I decided to stop by a table that had caught my eye Friday night. It was an independent filmmaker named Tony Wash who was selling his latest film Skeletons in the Closet. This is an anthology of spooky stories with a cool wrap around story of a woman horror host and her dead husband. It was the first thing I watched when I got home and was a lot of fun. You can expect a review to show up on the website soon.

After dropping off my latest purchases I headed down to the Martin panel where I managed to find a decent seat. If I’m going to be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of the movie. I do revisit it every couple of years just in case I suddenly see what makes everyone enjoy it so much. Again, Romero is my favorite director and I dig Savini and Amplas’ work, so it should be a flick that I like. I can confirm this is still not the case. That said the panel was excellent with all of the cast and crew in attendance sharing some insights into the making of the movie and working with the legendary director. I’m a huge nerd for all things Romero and was enjoying myself immensely. The hour flew by, which is always a good sign, and was very entertaining. If you ever get the chance to attend a panel like this, I highly recommend that you do. It gives you a completely different insight to filmmakers, actors, and all those working behind the scenes.

Post panel picture
After the panel I wandered around the dealer’s room and talked to friends until shortly before it closed down for the night. Instead of leaving the hotel to grab food we headed down to the restaurant off of the lobby for a meal. It was really fun because as we were eating more and more people showed up and sat to have supper with us. The fact that it was a buffet made it easy for our ever-expanding party to eat, drink, and be nerdy! The staff is always amazingly patient and tolerant of our wacky, but harmless fun.

After getting my fill of some surprisingly good Mexican food we headed to movie room two for the world premiere of Sex Terrorists on Wheels. I can’t remember the last time that I sat in the smaller room to watch something on digital projection and I’m not that big of a fan of newer movies trying to be old school grindhouse flicks. But this modern biker movie starred the great Gary Kent. You put Gary in your movie, and I’ll watch it every time. He is the nicest guy in the world and an underappreciated actor.

The movie lived up to its title and had some pretty twisted and funny bits. Most of my friends ended up watching it as well so we filled up a good chunk of the small room. Though a lot of other showed up as well. It was cool to see the room so packed and the audience cheering and laughing made the experience all the more fun. If you like exploitation flicks, I’m going to recommend you pick up a copy of Sex Terrorists on Wheels when it is released. Though for maximum enjoyment I’d recommend saving it until you have some friends to share it with.

After the screening we all headed out to the lobby to hang out. The promoter, Ken Kish, always says that “Wasteland is family” and I totally agree with him. I only get to see many of these people every six months and look forward to my time with them. Sure, I love the seeing old movies on film and the occasional new flick like Sex Terrorists on Wheels with a crowd that enjoys it like I do. But the real reason that I never miss a Cinema Wasteland is the people. Saturday night sitting around being silly and laughing with one another is what makes this convention special. Saturday night ended earlier than it normally does (we aren’t kids anymore you know!), but I still had a blast.

I woke up Sunday morning and got an early start on packing the car and checking out of the hotel. There was a cool screening first thing that I didn’t want to miss. They were showing an old television show hosted by Boris Karloff called The Veil. This particular episode was The Crystal Ball and was a decently spooky way to end the weekend. In case you were wondering this was also on film. Like I’ve already mentioned I’m a sucker for this stuff. After that I made one last pass in the dealer’s room and headed home.

My new prized possession!
You might be asking yourself what goodies I got over the weekend. Well since you asked. I mostly picked up movies. The highlights were a couple of box sets from Severin. The Blood Island Box set has some interesting flicks from director Eddie Romero. The other was the Hemisphere of Horrors which contains flicks like Blood Drinkers and Curse of the Vampires. These should be fun to check out since I’ve not seen many of them in years. I also picked up the already mentioned Skeletons in the Closet as well as the tie in t-shirt they were selling. I didn’t know if I was going to dig the movie but I’m always down to support an independent filmmaker by spending some money at their table. After having watched the movie I’m glad that I picked up the shirt. This is a flick I can get behind.

Other pickups include Blood Lake, a shot on video eighties slasher movie. Skullduggery, a Burt Reynolds bigfoot movie… Had to get this! Also from Severin I got Death Warmed Up to review for Midnight Magazine. My biggest pickup of the weekend was from the Full Moon table. I love Ghoulies and have had my eye on the statue they sell of the Ghoulie in the toilet and have had my eye on it the last couple shows. This time around I walked up asked for the price and they immediately cut me a deal. Much to my lovely wife’s dismay I now own it!

Well I think that is pretty much it for my Cinema Wasteland report. I had a blast hanging out with friends and got some cool stuff to watch. I can’t wait to do it all again in April. They announced the guests for that show, and they are having a Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things reunion. Now that is a show I can get behind. I love that movie and am looking forward to meeting the cast and crew. If you get the chance you should check out the Cinema Wasteland website and make plans to attend in April. I hope to see you then.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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