May 2, 2011

SHOCK STOCK: An Intimate and Interactive Horror Con

This past weekend, fans of horror, exploitation, and fringe film gathered in London, Ontario for the very first SHOCK STOCK weekend celebration of the gory, sexy, and sleazy side of cinematic subculture. The Zed Word: Zombie Blog and the Screamwave Horror Podcast were on hand to cover the weekend. I was joined by Jay Winger (host of Horror in the Hammer's Fright Night Theatre) and Rufus (all around cool guy) to take in as much as Shock Stock had to offer.

Meeting the Legends: Howard Maurer and Dyanne Thorne (aka. Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS) with Rufus, Me, and Jay Winger

Despite featuring such high-profile guests and exploitation legends as Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS), I was genuinely surprised to find that Shock Stock was an incredibly intimate experience. Fans were provided with many chance to have very personal encounters with their favorite guests and vendors. If you are turned off by the congested show room floors and grueling autograph lines common at higher profile conventions, Shock Stock is a welcome alternative that clearly is focused more on celebrating fringe genres than on exploiting fans of fringe genres to sell merchandise.

One of my several engaging meetings with the mighty JON MIKL THOR, star of Zombie Nightmare and Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare
First of all, it's clear that Shock Stock is run by fans, not marketing companies. James Bialkowski and Jake Windatt of Vagrancy (edit: and the people at Grimbrothers Entertainment) organized a show that put a clear spotlight on independent horror and exploitation film. They also arranged a diverse itinerary of fan-driven panels, Q and A's, and screenings such as a showing of The Evil Dead with the cast in attendance for a Q and A and giveaway. Whenever James or Jake took the mic to make announcements, it was clear they were fans of the genre and the guests, and altogether were having a good time. It was refreshing to meet organizers that were clearly involved in the con for the same reasons as other fans.

Writer Lianne Spiderbaby representing a revitalized Fangoria at Shock Stock
Perhaps because this was Shock Stock's debut year, the turnout was much smaller than at other cons I have attended. Understandably, some vendors were disappointed in the foot traffic. I know of at least one vendor that did not return on Sunday because they felt there wasn't enough traffic. At the same time, the smaller turnout created a refreshingly intimate environment for fans and guests to meet one another. I heard from other vendors and guests that they appreciated the chance to meet their fans up front and in person. I finally got to meet other writers I respect such as Lianne Spiderbaby and speak with filmmakers such as the wildly creative minds from MagGot Films. I can't think of another con in recent years where I had his much opportunity to participate in Q and A's and speak with guests and other like-minded fans.

If you missed Shock Stock, you missed out on a unique experience. I hope Shock Stock returns next year because, while I was somewhat disappointed in the turnout, Shock Stock's smaller convention floor, friendly and enthusiastic guests, and smaller turnout combined to provide a very fun and very intimate experience. Where else can you have such an intimate conversation with legends like Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS? You just don't get that at bigger cons these days.

Stay tuned for detailed coverage of the film screenings, vendors, and guests. coming this week. Also, please subscribe to the Screamwave Horror Podcast to catch all our interviews recorded straight from the convention.