September 29, 2017 New Jersey Horror Con & Film Festival Stalks The Garden State 9-22-17 to 9-24-17
New Jersey, often looked at the cousin of New York, and sometimes under appreciated. While many who pass through only see the industrial complexes along The New Jersey Turnpike, The Garden State has a lot more to offer than shopping malls, diners, and smoke stacks. No, Jersey probably has the most Horror film related conventions opposed to any other state in the union. That said, enters a newcomer to the part in the form of New Jersey Horror Convention and Film Festival.
A passion endeavor from Filmmaker/Producer Ryan Scott Weber and Comic Book Men Producer/Pop Culturist Rob Bruce, the New Jersey Horror Convention and Film Festival was born in March of 2017 in Edison, New Jersey garnering over 20 well-known celebrities, many Indie Horror films, red carpet, awards, exclusive Q & A panels, 200 vendors, plus more. A successful opening, just 6 months later the convention returns to the scene of the crime, the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Edison, just up the road from Vintage Vinyl for all you music nuts. This time taking place on the weekend of Friday, September 22nd, through Sunday, the 24th, New Jersey Horror Convention and Film Festival promised not to disappoint.
An abnormally hot weekend for this late in September, the festivities included over 100 vendors, more than 33 celebrity guests, film screenings, more Q & A panels, a cosplay contest, plus more. So, most who attend these conventions are not rookies, in fact, they are probably veterans who have been to many through the years. It is sort of a ritual for patrons who love Horror and genre related flicks – they search the internet weekly for updates on scheduled guests at said conventions and map out their plan of attack months in advance. New Jersey Horror Convention and Film Festival is no different, and to say there were many familiar faces amidst the crowd would be an understatement.
Regular hard working convention vendors, selling jewelry, t-shirts, original art, and bootlegged copies of out of print films, as well as the fans, came together with one common goal, to have fun! Fun was plentiful as consumers entered the modern, clean hotel finding a friendly staff greeting them. Setup with a mix of vendors and celebrity guests, including the legendary Marky Ramone, upon first walking in, from there it was on to more of the same. There was a massive ballroom with vendors, but interestingly tucked in corners was Sean Astin, famously known for his role in 1985’s The Goonies, The Lord of the Rings series, among other film, along with Lisa Loring of Addams Family fame in another, and Ken Sagoes of 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors in another.
Continuing to browse about, fans came to the main celebrity room where they could find Tyler Mane, Scout Taylor Compton, Kristina Klebe, and Daeg Faerch of 2007’s Rob Zombie vision of Halloween. Additionally there was modern Horror Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis, ’80s curly-haired cutie Diane Franklin, along with Gary Riley and Dean Cameron, affectionately remembered for their roles in 1987’s Summer School.
Although, perhaps the biggest buzz of all was the reunion of 1986’s Night of the Demons cast with Director Kevin Tenney along with Allison Barron, Cathy Podewell, Alvin Alexis, Linnea Quigley, and Amelia Kinkade. Just a handful of months shy of the 30th anniversary of the film’s broad release in 1987, many gathered to share their love for Night of the Demons, and later on Sunday, witness a viewing of the film with a special panel with the cast.
Equally as compelling was the reunion of 1991’s Wes Craven flick The People Under the Stairs cast bringing along Yan Birch, Sean Whalen, Brandon Quintin Adams, and Kelly Jo Minter. All in high spirits and excited to be present, they also had a decent showing of support from long-time fans.
Beyond the regular autograph signings and merchandise booths, those who explored further would find just up the hotel stairs in the main lobby there were viewing rooms, showing a list of Indie Horror flicks all weekend. Not only was it a chance for people to check out some new films, there were also premieres, and so much more. This type of interjection into the convention made it a living organism, more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane; celebrating the past of Horror cinema, while looking to pave way for the future.
Overall, New Jersey Horror Convention and Film Festival did a fine job in its second showing to the general public. Still relatively green, it was run quite professionally with no amature incidents in sight. Moving at a rapid pace, it is set to return for a third go-round the weekend of March 2nd through 4th in 2018. Seems quite fast, right? Well, as long as their is a demand, New Jersey Horror Convention and Film Festival should do just fine, because judging by their start, they have the foundation for extended longevity on the scene.