I recently went to Horror Con UK 2016. This is my first time at any horror convention so I was really excited. Among the guests were the amazingly talented David Naughton (David Kessler from An American Werewolf in London), Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser 1-8), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th 7 – 10) and Linnea Quigley (Trash from The Return of the Living Dead). I have never seen a horror actor in the flesh, most likely because I get a bit weird around famous people and become a bat-crap crazy fan girl around famous people whom I worship.
Arriving at the Magna Science Adventure Centre at 10.50am, it quickly became clear I should have opted for a priority ticket as there were a dozen cars driving aimlessly in circles trying to find a parking space. Eventually, I decided to park on a side road and was quickly followed by the other cars. It would have been nice to have signage to advise you what to do in an overflow situation or a parking attendant. Then we saw the big queue waiting to get inside. In the rain. I could see there were only two people at the front to scan tickets and give out wristbands. Luckily, one of the security staff had the bright idea to form a second queue to get people out of the rain. This kind of initiative should already have been thought about and executed.
However, once inside, I forgot about the painful exercise of trying to get into the building and focussed on checking out what was on offer. The first person I encountered was Twisty from American Horror Story: Freakshow who followed me around the room. Brilliant start to proceedings. I then headed to The Big Hall to check out the stalls. There was everything from paintings and drawings to brain cakes and bloody finger pens to figurines and signed merchandise, such as Freddy Krueger’s glove (already sold by the time I got there so my bank balance could breathe a sigh of relief).
At one side of the hall, the special guests already had a long queue of fans clutching puzzle boxes and Jason masks, ready for signing. Now, I realise that I am a complete idiot for not knowing this, but I queued up at the end of the day to meet David Naughton (he had the shortest queue at the time) and saw fans handing over money and this is when it dawned on me that you have to pay for their signatures. What does Homer Simpson say? Oh yeah, d’oh! Anyway, when I got to the front I apologised to David for not knowing this as I had no cash on me. He was very polite and we had a quick chat anyway. My boyfriend imparted a little wisdom about how York (where we live) supposedly has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in the country – if you were at the Q&A you’ll know why we were talking to him about York.
The highlight of the day for me were the Q&As. I attended David’s, Kane’s and Doug’s. I even asked Kane a question (after a few pints for Dutch courage), which my boyfriend filmed so I can relive the moment over and over and over again. They were all relaxed, informative, friendly and funny. It was a delight to hear them talk about their careers, give us tid bits about the films they’ve worked on and the people they’ve worked with and allow us the opportunity to ask questions without any censorship.
I was particularly looking forward to the Scare-Play competition as I fancy taking part next year. I was disappointed to see a small audience turn out for this part. In future years, they should announce activities such as the Q&As and the competition to boost audience numbers – it is so easy to lose track of time. There were a vast number of different costumes for the competition and everyone had gone to great efforts, in particularly the voodoo man – he looked incredible. The competition was pretty badly run. Each contestant was called up rather than calling them up according to the category they had entered (best film character, best original character, etc.) The worst part was when the wrong person was called up for the best film character award. Very awkward.
At the end of the day I went back through the stalls to buy myself something to remember this great day. I came across a stall manned by ‘Uncanny Broderz’ who were selling some brilliant drawings of Freddy, Pinhead, etc. at only £3 a drawing. I was gobsmacked. And I had no money. I went to the front desk who were offering cashback only to be told they had sold out ages ago. Apparently, they “thought £7,000 would be enough”. Obviously not. I know, I should’ve brought cash with me. Fortunately, I bonded with the guys on the stall over my love of Freddy and gave me their card, telling me to get in touch.
Overall, I had a really great day, which was definitely helped by the cheap bar. I loved seeing so many people dressed up and enjoying all things horror. The convention had also hired people to walk around in costumes, including a brilliantly costumed Jason, a bloodied Michael Myers, a freaky scarecrow type guy with a big machete, giggling clown girls and zombies. I absolutely loved the atmosphere, the vast options of stalls selling merchandise, gooey treats, hosting tombolas and the sponsors, ‘Horrify me’, speaking to visitors about their photography packages. You could even get a tattoo. There did seem to be a missed opportunity on social media as lots of people were tweeting about/to Horror Con UK but nothing was coming from them, not even re-tweets. Event communications is essential to getting as much promotion as possible and to get conversations going. This, I think, needs to be looked at for next year.
I am definitely intending to go back. I heard that last year you entered into pitch blackness and were attacked by zombies so I am eager to see what horrific delights may be in store for visitors next year. And, if Horror Con UK organisers are reading this, if you can get Rob Zombie, Robert Englund, Bill Moseley and Tobin Bell as special guests, I’d really, really, really, REALLY appreciate it. Long live horror.