Saturday, June 3, 2017

Inside the Insular World of Horror Fanatics

“You live in a bubble.”

This has become a phrase I hear on a fairly regular basis, usually when I’m talking about movies, events, and most of the things I’m excited about. What it means is, I’m part of a fandom that surrounds itself exclusively with the things it likes and people who talk about little else. And while these people make up the majority of my day, they are not an accurate representation of the general population. It's been proven to me many times in various conversations, and it’s jarring every time. 

Early last year, the famous Bay Area drag queen Peaches Christ tried to revive her once religiously attended midnight screening series, Midnight Mass. This comeback was a screening of The Final Girls at the Clay Theatre with the director and both screenwriters in attendance. The Clay is one of the last theatres in the city that does weekly midnight screenings, sometimes Friday and Saturday nights, but it is a bit removed from the downtown nightlife. Not that I’m complaining, that might be part of the reason it’s still open. That and the fact that it’s under the Landmark theatres umbrella. Anyway, several of the Overlook creatures arrived at the theatre early to make sure we got good seats, only to find that the theatre was not even a third full. On one hand that meant we got to take pictures, get autographs, and actually have conversations with the guests. But on the other hand, Peaches has a huge following, and I was sure she would pack the place. 

Recently, I’ve discovered one more area of the horror community that is shrouded by the bubble… conventions.

Monsterpalooza is one of my favorite horror conventions. It’s a great mixture of panels, movies, monsters, and special guests, not to mention an awesome vendor hall where you can buy anything a horror fan could dream of. When we were getting ready to drive down to the con last April, I was telling everyone I could about it. The conversations this created got progressively weirder throughout the day. It started with one of my co-workers. He was also going to southern California for the weekend, but I believe it was for a sporting event. 

“Oh, I’m going to a horror convention in Pasadena!” He continued to smile, and asked me what that meant. I gave him a quick breakdown, explained they show new movies, have panels and do special effects makeup demonstrations. I saw confusion. “It’s all about celebrating horror movies…” That got a reaction out of him.

“Like Freddy the 13th and I Know What You Did Last Night? Oh, I hate those!” which was all said in a friendly tone with the biggest smile. I responded in kind, with my own restrained smile. 

After work, I headed to the rental agency I had reserved a car with. As standard procedure, the guy at the counter asked, “Is this trip for business or pleasure?” I gave him the same general breakdown, to which he responded, “So, everyone is going to be dressed as zombies?” He got half credit.

Costume contest parade at Monsterpalooza

By far the strangest conversation happened with the cashier who rang up all my travel sized purchases and was prompted to ask where I was going. When I said a horror convention, she paused and asked, “Isn’t it a little early for horror?” I stared at her for a second, matching her level of confusion. “Um, no? It’s pretty much year round.” I didn’t know what she was getting at. 

“I always just thought haunted houses only happened during October.” When I gave her the same spiel I'd been giving throughout the day, ending on the fact that Monsterpalooza includes special effects makeup demonstrations, she said, “Well, I hope you get picked.” I thanked her and left. 

I guess I should keep in mind the kind of people I’m used to talking with about horror stuff: those who wanted to see Cannibal Holocaust on the big screen bad enough to attend a midnight screening alone (The Ascendant), or who get the most excited when sharing low budget garbage horror (Trash), or who took his now wife to a Peaches Christ Midnight Mass for their first date (KillDozer). These traits are the reasons all of these nerds watch and talk about movies with at the Overlook, but they are definitely not the norm.


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