Monday, April 4, 2011

Cinema Wasteland Spring 2011

This past weekend, the spring 2011 edition of the Cinema Wasteland convention was held in Strongsville, Ohio. Cody was there, and has returned to share a step-by-step account of his latest Wasteland experience.

Vince Cornelius got me hooked. He doesn't know me and probably wouldn't recognize me, though we've been at many of the same events over the years, but he's the one who introduced me to Cinema Wasteland. I was at an all-night horror marathon that he put together in Delaware, Ohio in early 2006. As I was making my sleepy way out of the theatre the morning after, after getting some great free Tempe DVDs out of the grab-box he had set up in the lobby, I also noticed a stack of Cinema Wasteland post cards sitting out, promoting the spring '06 show. I had never heard of the Wasteland before, but the guests for this particular show included four Jason Voorhees performers - Ari Lehman, Steve Dash, Richard Brooker and CJ Graham. As mentioned before, I'm obsessed with Friday the 13th, so I had to go!

On April 1st, 2006, I attended my first Wasteland, got the four Jasons to sign my copy of Peter Bracke's fantastic book Crystal Lake Memories, and had a great time.

Five years later, I've attended every Cinema Wasteland since. For a while I would just make a day of it, stopping by the convention on the middle day, Saturday. Then, as of the October 2009 show, I started staying the entire weekend.

Last weekend's Cinema Wasteland was the 19th for the show and the 11th that I've attended. Here's how it all went down for me:


4:30pm -
All 3-Day Pass holders admitted.

Running a little late, I didn't get checked into my hotel room until about 4:30. I went up to my room, got things set up, went back down to the lobby and picked up my 3-Day Pass, but don't even have time to take a look around the convention because I have to make it over to


A screening of Equinox (1970) as hosted by many horror hosts, primarily A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Dr. Creep. The host segments were fun, but I find the movie itself kind of hard to sit through. It does have some neat stop motion monsters in it, though, and there are several similarities to The Evil Dead in the story: group of young pals go up to a professor's cabin in the woods, find the Necromonicon, and have to battle demonic creatures.

After Equinox, I took my copy of Crystal Lake Memories into the guest and dealer room to get it signed by John Carl Beuchler, effects man and director of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. The four Jasons at the spring '06 show were the first to sign the book, I think Beuchler was the fifteenth to sign it.

Then I did a some looking around the celebrity area of the convention. One of my favorite guests at a previous Wasteland show, the fall '09 show I think, was Lynn Lowry, and she was back for this one. She was beautiful in her 1970s film heyday and continues to be so, looking great all weekend.

Apparently this was the first convention appearance for Judith Ridley, who played Judy in the original Night of the Living Dead. She was accompanied by Russ "Johnny" Streiner and his brother Gary Streiner, who worked behind the scenes on NOTLD and produced the Jerry Seinfeld documentary Comedian. It would've been interesting to have a panel with them, mainly for the rare chance to hear from Ridley.

I also checked out the dealer tables, particularly the ones with my greatest convention weakness: DVDs.

8:00pm - GUEST EVENT: Join director Ruggero Deodato, along with all of the attending Cast Members from his films, for one giant Panel in MOVIE ROOM 1.

I skipped the screening of Deodato's film Cannibal Holocaust before this panel. Known as one of the most disturbing and disgusting films ever made, I don't recommend the movie to anybody. I can't, only you know if this is something you'd want to see.

Cannibal Holocaust is an early found footage movie, about an anthropologist and some TV executives reviewing the film shot by a crew who disappeared while making a documentary about a cannibal tribe in the Amazon. It turns out that the documentary crew were the real savages here, terrorizing the natives, raping and killing their way through the jungle before the tribe finally gets their revenge. The film contains real animal killings and very graphic and realistic murders. The effects are so realistic that Deodato had to prove in court that he hadn't actually murdered his cast.

I first saw the movie when I was about sixteen years old, after hearing about it for many years, wanting to check it out for myself and to kind of test myself to see if I could handle it. Three viewings of the film in the past eleven years has been plenty; the look and feel of this movie just makes me nauseated, even hearing the music from it can make me feel sick. The best viewing I had of it was seeing the last thirty minutes or so at an all-night movie marathon, where the audience would make the score's "pyoo" sound effect along with it whenever it happened. It's kind of like the sound a kid would make while pretending to have a lazer gun shootout, that's the best way I can describe it. But that viewing also made me especially nauseated because I had just had a "breakfast" of buttered popcorn, which was more like a bucket of butter with some popcorn in it. It's just not my thing, nothing against those who do like the film.

For this panel, Deodato was joined by not-killed-during-production Cannibal Holocaust stars Carl Gabriel Yorke and Francesca Ciardi, as well as a couple actors he frequently cast in films after CH, David Hess and Michael Berryman. Best known for their villainous roles in Wes Craven's original versions of The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, my favorite part of this panel was seeing Hess and Berryman, Krug and Pluto, sitting side-by-side. It was an interesting hour, mostly devoted to filming locations and conditions and, of course, a lengthy talk about the animal killings in Cannibal Holocaust.

I was going to stick around for the screening of Deodato's House on the Edge of the Park (starring Hess) after the panel, but instead decided to spend some more time in the guest/dealer room before it closed for the night at 10pm.

By the time the room closed, I had bought seven DVDs: the shot-on-VHS Woodchipper Massacre, Pet Sematary, a couple Ohio-filmed movies: Wayne Alan Harold's Townies, starring Genuine Nerd Toby Radloff, and the J.R. Bookwalter-produced Dead & Rotting, the Willard-with-snakes flick Stanley, and a double dose of Claudia Jennings with Truck Stop Women and Gator Bait. I bought another Jennings movie, The Unholy Rollers, at a previous Wasteland, so I might officially be a Claudia Jennings film collector now.

11:15pm - MOVIE: ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS kicks off a classic 16mm drive-in double feature in MOVIE ROOM 1.

A group enjoying some beers gave a toast to director Roger Corman as this film began, and it was a really fun time watching this giant talking killer crab movie (starring Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan's Island) with a mostly drunk audience.

Cinema Wasteland is known as the party convention, but that aspect of it mostly passes me by. Sure, I see people walking around with alcohol, going through the guest/dealer area drinking from six packs, I see the party rooms and witness drunk people laying on the hallway floor with cops standing over them... But I don't drink and don't party myself, so it's just peripheral stuff to my experience. But I can tell you, old monster movies and drunks are a very entertaining mix.

12:30am - MOVIE: IT! TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE concludes our classic 16mm drive-in double feature for the evening, in MOVIE ROOM 1.

It was getting late and this film isn't as goofy as Crab Monsters, so the crowd was more sedate during this screening. Made over twenty years earlier, IT! was Alien before Alien was Alien. Basically the same story: the crew of a spaceship dealing with a murderous alien that's gotten onboard. Flamethrowers and air vents are put to use.

IT! is a good movie and only sixty-nine minutes long, but I decided to get to my room and go to bed after about forty-five minutes, to get a slight headstart on my sleep before an early morning. I watched the rest of the movie on Sunday.


9:15am - SHORTS: Start your day the Horror Host way when we present a couple sort episodes of The Zombie Cheerleader Show and Cuzin’ of Ghastlee to get the blood flowing in MOVIE ROOM 2.

I was a little late getting to Movie Room 2 for these horror host segments, but I got to see a few. Some entertaining stuff, and one segment featured clips from a movie that caught my attention. The movie was called Angel Above and the Devil Below, and after seeing the clips I had to see the rest of the movie.

10:00am - Doors open for all pass holders.

10:30am - MOVIE: Saturday Morning Hangover Theater presents DEVIL DOLL

This is a pretty good movie, a precursor to the Puppet Master and Child's Play flicks, featuring a human soul trapped in the body of a ventriloquist dummy by a villainous illusionist. Some moments, accompanied by a loud rumbling on the soundtrack, are effectively creepy.

After the movie, I went back into the guest/dealer room for a while. One of my first stops was at the Troma table, where I picked up a copy of the Lynn Lowry/Mary Woronov movie Sugar Cookies and the 1980 film The Children, about a bunch of kids who turn into killers after their school bus drives through a yellow cloud of radioactive gas. The Children was recommended to me by my sister-in-law as one of the scariest movies she watched during her childhood. We watched it together in the mid-90s, but that was the only time I've seen it and I don't remember much.

I then found an empty extra chair against one of the walls in the celebrity area, so I just sat there for a while and did some star gazing, some eavesdropping, and took a picture for some people who posed with Michael Berryman, who is one of the nicest people you're likely to meet.


This was a fun screening, as we watched The Evil Dead with special effects man Tom Sullivan and 2/3rds of the Evil Dead ladies, actresses Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly/Sarah York, providing live commentary. (The third actress, Betsy Baker, was working on a play and had to cancel her Wasteland appearance.) As I've said, the making of The Evil Dead is one of my favorite filmmaking stories, so I'm always interested to hear it told from different perspectives and the commentary was very entertaining.

After the screening, back into the guest/dealer room, where I briefly bumped into someone who was wearing a Red State shirt, as was I, both of us Fearing God and representing for Kevin Smith at the Wasteland. I saw the movie in Ann Arbor, MI, he saw it in Springfield, OH, and we both enjoyed it.

Speaking of shirts at the convention, I saw a couple great Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning shirts being worn around. My favorite featured a rendition of Roy the Jason impersonator's hockey mask with its blue chevrons, simply captioned: "Gimme Five".

4:00pm - EVENT: It’s time for 42nd Street Pete’s continuing GRINDHOUSE MOVIE PANEL. Special Guests this time around will include Tom Atkins

I always enjoy 42nd Street Pete's Grindhouse Movie Panel. This one was different from the norm, as it was totally dominated by guest Tom Atkins. Quoting lines from his films and singing the Silver Shamrock jingle from Halloween III, Atkins was clearly having a good time and it was a fun hour.

After this panel, I went to the hotel restaurant for my one Wasteland meal.

Night of the Living Dead co-creator John Russo's sex comedy The Booby Hatch had caught my eye on the Synapse table earlier, so I made a quick trip back into the guest/dealer room to buy that.

6:00pm - MOVIE: DOLLS begins in MOVIE ROOM 2. It’s a great slice of 80’s horror fun with special effects designed by John Buechler. We’ll see if we can’t get Mr. Buechler to do a quick introduction and Q&A with fans before the movie begins.

There was a 6pm movie and an intro and Q&A with Beuchler, but we didn't watch Dolls. Instead, we watched CELLAR DWELLER, which was written by Child's Play creator Dan Mancini and which Beuchler shot in just ten days. It's a decent movie, featuring Jeffrey Combs and Yvonne De Carlo, about a demonic creature drawn into existence by a comic book artist. The Q&A with Beuchler was pretty interesting and there was a lot of love shown for Ghoulies Go to College, as there should be.


Director (and former director of photography for George Romero) Michael Gornick gave a very interesting and informative Q&A before the film, passing around pictures from the Creepshow 2 location scouts and a copy of Variety from when the film was released.

The screening was fantastic, starting with Sam Whitemoon's awesome Hollywood monologue getting the appropriate laughter and building to a huge amount of crowd participation throughout the rest of the film. It wasn't the environment to have your first viewing of Creepshow 2 in, but for those of us having our fiftieth to one hundredth viewing, it was perfect and a lot of fun.

10:00pm - MOVIE: The amusing and original horror-comedy, GEORGE’S INTERVENTION, begins in MOVIE ROOM 2.

Lynn Lowry co-stars in this enjoyable zombie comedy, set in a world where zombies are commonplace and can carry on normal working lives. Unfortunately, titular zombie George has an addiction to eating human flesh, so his human friends have decided to stage an intervention. This doesn't go well for them.


Star Lynn Lowry and director Radley Metzer gave a good Q&A before this film started. I have a couple of his films in my Netflix queue but was largely unfamiliar with Metzger's work, so it was interesting to hear his stories and learn about his career.

Score began, and all I really knew about it going in was what was said during the Q&A and the Wasteland schedule's description of it as a sex comedy. It turned out that watching this meant watching some explicit man-on-man action with a crowd. Being a liberal person who doesn't care what body parts consenting adults handle of each other's, I had no problem with this, but it's hard to predict how a room full of people will react. I was happy with how it went: the crowd laughed and cheered it on. Some sarcastic or ironic, but that's much more fun than the outright negativity possible in such a situation. At the end of the film, applause. Overall, Score is one of the most well-written, insanely well-made erotic films ever.


Somehow it had slipped my mind while packing items to bring to the convention that Michael Gornick was still working as George Romero's director of photography when he made Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead has gained in reputation in recent years, but I think it is still highly underrated, so my main Dead film signature focus has been on collecting autographs from people involved with Day. My Day of the Dead DVD case has been previously signed by Tom Savini, John Amplas, Howard Sherman, Greg Nicotero, and George Romero himself... but I hadn't brought it with me. I had to make a call home to get it brought to the hotel on Sunday morning.

11:00am - Doors open for all pass holders.

Once I had my Day of the Dead case, Michael Gornick became the sixth person to sign it. Gornick's a really nice, cool guy. He thought I said that my name was Odie, but he didn't personalize the signature so that's O.K.

During my last time in the guest/dealer room, I noticed who I assume was Ruggero Deodato's granddaughter running around the place, throwing gum balls and eating suckers. I think her candy supplier was Tom Sullivan. When Deodato was starting to sign a fan's Cannibal Holocaust poster, the little girl ran up to him, took the sucker out of her mouth and handed it to him. Deodato popped the used sucker into his mouth and continued signing the poster... It was a cute moment with the director of one of the most disturbing/gross movies ever. That's what I like about conventions, getting to see a glimpse of the real people behind the films.

On my way out of the guest/dealer room, I see a new box sitting out on Ken Kish's table. In this box is a copy of Angel Above and the Devil Below. I didn't realize from the clips that it was a full-on porno, but it is a 1975 porn, so there's probably a good amount of story to it. And besides, it features a talking vagina. I bought it, and that acquisition brought to a close my 11th Cinema Wasteland experience.

Thanks to Ken Kish for creating and organizing, thanks to Holiday Inn for housing the madness, and thank you Cleveland!


  1. Fantastic review! I too was at this Wasteland and reviewed it, but unfortunately, I was unable to be there all three days. Here's hoping the fall show is just as stellar!

  2. Was there a good part of saturday. Wanted to see the Score...but didn't make it. Wish I could of seen the CH panel friday night as well. Kudos to another non-drinker in attendance!!

  3. Would you be interested in perhaps having this review re-published on We would be happy to give you full writer's credit along with links to your blog.

    Email me at if interested.