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FANGORIA’S WEEKEND OF HORRORS

This video, the only commercially released documentary on Fangoria’s “Weekend of Horrors” phenomenon, is now a bonafide historical document. It documents a WoH that occurred in the mid 1980s, giving us a rare chance to see what these events were like two decades ago.

The Package
     Media Home Entertainment released this hour-long documentary on VHS back in 1986. It has never been released on DVD, and nor did Fangoria ever bother putting out another such film. Its primary interest is to people like me who are regular Weekend of Horrors attendees interested in seeing the beginnings of this event--which, it must be said, seems much like most modern Weekend of Horrors but for the 1986-era music, hairstyles and movies profiled…and the fact that, as of mid-2010, Fango is sadly no longer involved in the convention business.

The Story
     This particular Weekend of Horrors, taking place inside an ultra-posh Hollywood hotel, begins with a rambling introduction by Fangoria’s then publisher Kerry O’Quinn, who promises a packed crowd a release from normality via a weekend of scares. From there we get interviews with Robert Englund, a.k.a. Freddy Krueger, who admits he never set out to be a horror icon but doesn’t mind the attention, and Wes Craven, who claims the ideal scenario for a movie is to chase the hero up a tree and then chop it down, something horror movies apparently do especially well. Make up artist Craig Reardon demonstrates the art of prosthetics on a People magazine journalist. STAR TREK’S Walter Koenig and his young son are seen checking out the dealers’ room, and TROLL director John Buechler plugs his work on that film.
     The late Forrest Ackerman talks about his lifelong affinity for horror, and Elvira, fielding questions from an enthusiastic audience, admits the worst film she ever put out on her popular B-movie video series was ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. Adam Malin of Creation Entertainment, who at the time ran these conventions along with Fango (and now does so alone), talks of how he got his start putting on comic book conventions, and actor William Katt speaks about performing in the flick HOUSE.
     Tobe Hooper is also on hand, and says he has little interest in slasher films; he does, however, present an award in a Best Short Film competition to the makers of an ultra-gory something-or-other called “It’s Not Just for Ice Cream Anymore.” The veteran supporting actor Clu Gulager admits he “almost had an erection” watching THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Hooper and special effects artist Stan Winston discuss their work on INVADERS FROM MARS at some length. B-movie mainstay Dick Miller says he’s proud to be crowned Fango’s favorite actor.
     Finally we see quick clips of varied fans and icons chatting about their passion for all things horrific, including a montage of people giving us their one word definition of horror, the best of which comes from Miller: “Fun!”

The Direction
     There are plenty of clips from the 1986 Weekend of Horrors being documented--fans standing in line, the late Chas. Balun expounding on his love of viscera, Robert Englund signing a Fangoria cover, Forrest Ackerman getting a birthday cake, memorabilia auctioned off--but this documentary lavishes far too much time on interviews with famous genre figures and clips from the then-topical movies under discussion (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and its sequels are the most heavily covered, as well as, oddly enough, Tobe Hooper’s INVADERS FROM MARS).
     Even the most casual horror fan likely knows something about Rick Baker, Forrest Ackerman and Tobe Hooper, rendering the glib mini-profiles on them superfluous. And do we really need to see THE TOXIC AVENGER trailer in its entirety? We also get lengthy clips from many entries in the short film competition, of which a 1985 black-and-white effort called “Nightwatch” appears the most promising.
     As for the ever-present bouncy synthesizer music, it’s both off-putting and quaintly nostalgic. Nostalgia is the main attraction of this video, which lovingly documents a time that’s long past, and a cultural trend that may soon be extinct.
 

Vital Statistics

FANGORIA’S WEEKEND OF HORRORS
Starlog Video/O’Quinn Productions

Directors: Kerry O’Quinn, Mike Hadley
Producer: Rex Piano
Cinematography: Ron Halpern, Robert Hayes
Editing: Bruce Ettinger
Cast: Kerry O‘Quinn, Chas Balun, Robert Englund, Wes Craven, Craig Reardon, Walter Koenig, John Buechler, Forrest Ackerman, Elvira, Adam Malin, William Katt, Tobe Hooper, Clu Gulager, Stan Winston, Dick Miller

     

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