Saturday marked our third trip to HorrorHound Indy, an annual Indianapolis convention in honor of the scary, bloody, icky, haunting, stabbing, disturbing, black-garbed aspects of pop culture. The folks at HorrorHound Magazine orchestrate the festivities free of Stormtroopers and Harley Quinns so loyal horror fans can enjoy a themed geek space of their own. Much of the celebrated works are Not Our Thing, but so many talented performers with broad resumes have dabbled in those nightmare worlds that we’ve been surprised how often we run across intersections with our own favorite universes.
For example, pictured above: Chris Sarandon! Horror fans know him as the head vampire from Fright Night and a cop from the first Child’s Play, but upstanding fans of The Princess Bride know him as evil Prince Humperdinck, and my son knew him as the speaking voice of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Halloweentown sequences in the various Kingdom Hearts games. He was also in an episode of Deep Space Nine, our favorite Trek series, but that’s been a while and I can’t remember if I should mention it or not.
(Pausing here for ax extremely rare MCC CONTENT WARNING: at least two of the following images might be considered NSFW at more sensitive companies, even though they’d earn a PG rating by practical MPAA standards, but they’re each too memorable to skip, and longtime MCC readers might appreciate the, uh, imaginative detour one of them takes. Viewer patience is advised and appreciated.)
One of this year’s top performers in our books: Academy Award Nominee Brad Dourif, whom you may remember from such roles as Billy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings, the scientist who tampered in God’s domain in Alien Resurrection, a serial-killer Betazoid in Star Trek: Voyager (a true highlight of season 1), psychic killer Luther Lee Boggs in the X-Files episode “Beyond the Sea” (the one where Scully’s dad died), and about a zillion other abnormal guys here and there and everywhere. Some of those memorable parts fit into HorrorHound’s jurisdiction, but as the voice of Chucky the world’s stabbiest doll, he was the anchor of a very special Child’s Play reunion that brought several cast members (e.g. Sarandon) from virtually every installment of the series to date.
HorrorHound always does an impressive job of creating cast reunions with their guest lists. One of this year’s oddest choices was 1986’s alien-bug-possessed-zombie B-movie Night of the Creeps, whose title I recall seeing listed pretty often in TV Guide‘s premium-cable section back in the day. One of those cast members holds a very special place in my wife’s heart: Allan Kayser, best known to ’80s kids as Bubba from TV’s Mama’s Family — possibly a more fondly considered show here in the Midwest, but I’ll confess I watched more than my share of episodes. I’d be really surprised if Anne hasn’t seen every last one of ’em.
I can count the number of famous musicians I’ve met on one hand, but one such gent met HorrorHound’s invitational criteria. Before he was in Repo! The Genetic Opera, Nivek Ogre was the frontman for Skinny Puppy, one of the industrial rock bands in regular rotation on my cassette decks during my college years. Discordant electronics over martial drumbeats, oblique lyrical shards rendered through eerily distorted vocals, condemning pro-war groupthink and advocating for animal-rights activism, Skinny Puppy were one of the most challenging rock acts you never found on local radio or in heavy rotation on MTV. There’s an outside chance you might’ve heard about that time they sued the American government for using Skinny Puppy bootlegs to torture Guantanamo inmates.
On a whim we tossed in one more photo guest: Michael Rooker! The guy who draws massive crowds thanks to both The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy was already memorable to me from such films as Cliffhanger and Mallrats, so we figured why not. When we asked him if we could do jazz hands and then took our positions, he responded, “Yeah! Here’s my jazz hands!” and…yep, saw that one coming.
Fifteen or twenty other guests of varying levels of fame had folks crowding into the narrow hallways of that one Marriott on Indianapolis’ east side that hosts most of our city’s smaller geek cons. We didn’t have the budget or time or breadth of slasher-flick fandom to delve any deeper in, but those we did meet were each awesome in their own ways. And sometimes when you meet too many awesome people in a row, your system can’t handle it and you have to shut down for a while. We tried to stop just short of crossing that line and giving ourselves awesomeness breakdowns.
As you’d expect, the show floor was covered in fascinating objects, merchandise, handicrafts, and used goods. Much of it was bleeding, oozing, menacing, and disgusting, but a few keepers caught our eyes and wouldn’t let go.
And now, the most important part of every convention write-up: costumes! HorrorHound attendees aren’t as heavily into the cosplay scene as our usual large-scale cons, but a few inspired designers and models slip into the mix and represent for their favorites with panache.
…and that’s the HorrorHound 2016 that was, at least for this old-fashioned couple. Here’s hoping next year’s show is even better, preferably in a larger venue with ample elbow room and parking. Maybe it’s a paradox to dream of happier times for a place where nightmares come to thrive, but here we are. We are large, we contain multitudes, and sometimes those multitudes are inclusive to squares like us and to gentlemen named Bubba.