Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cinema Wasteland Spring 2014

The spring 2014 edition of the Cinema Wasteland convention was held in Strongsville, Ohio over the first weekend of April. Cody was there, and this is how he spent his Wasteland weekend:

FRIDAY (April 4th):

While this was my seventeenth time attending the Cinema Wasteland convention and tenth time I've spent the entire weekend at the show, this spring's edition of the Wasteland was actually the twenty-fifth show in the convention's history, a fact which I heard mentioned a couple times, but 25 wasn't celebrated as much as 21 was. I guess conventions are much like people; turning 21 is really the last time reaching a new age is worth making a big deal out of.

I arrived at the Strongsville Holiday Inn where the Wasteland is housed at around 4pm on Friday, check-in time. As I entered the building, celebrity guest Lloyd Kaufman, head of Troma, was walking in right behind me.

After picking up my 3-Day Pass lanyard from the table in the lobby, I checked into my room, went up to it and got things set up in there, and pretty soon afterward it was time to head back down to the guest and dealer room.

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

My main objective as I stepped back into the wonderful world of the Wasteland was to make sure I picked up a copy of Ohio-based indie filmmaker Henrique Couto's latest movie, Haunted House on Sorority Row. The street date for the DVD isn't until July 22nd, but Couto was going to have copies for sale at his table already. So his table was my first stop.

Couto wasn't just selling copies of his own movies, but also DVDs from the likes of Alternate Cinema, Camp Motion Pictures, and Blue Underground. Two movies I was most hoping to find at the Wasteland were Blue Underground's recent DVD/Blu releases of Maniac Cop 2 and 3, and there they were on Couto's table. And there was the very intriguing WNUF Halloween Special. And there was I Heart U, directed by and starring Billy Garberina of The Stink of Flesh and Feeding the Masses. So I bought those four movies in addition to picking up an advance copy of Haunted House on Sorority Row, which Couto and actresses Erin R. Ryan, Haley Jay Madison, and Joni Durian all signed.

At the opposite end of that same aisle was a vendor selling another movie I came to the show intending to buy, Dawn of Dracula, from the makers of the horror host show Midnite Mausoleum. A copy was successfully purchased.

With six DVDs in my bag within ten minutes of entering the room, I continued wandering around, checking out the vendor tables, heading back into the area with the celebrity guests. The two guests my friend and writing collaborator Priscilla was most jealous to hear I'd be in the presence of for the weekend were Tom Atkins and Vernon Wells, so I tried to snap some pictures of them to e-mail to her. Atkins was captured immediately, but every time I tried to get a shot of Wells, he was so blurry it looked like he had just watched the video from The Ring.

I had to leave getting a good picture of Wells for another time, because now I needed to get to the first movie I wanted to watch over the weekend.

5:00pm - MOVIE: JAGOFF MASSACRE kicks off the weekend screenings in MOVIE ROOM 2.

A super-micro budget movie made in Pittsburgh, this is the story of two drunkards with a way of speaking that's specific to the Pittsburgh area (the filmmakers call them "yinzers") who one dark night end up getting chased around the suburbs by a homicidal Satanic cult. The average fan of cheap-as-possible slasher flicks might get enjoyment from the movie, but to really appreciate it you're going to need to understand the nonstop onslaught of Pittsburgh in-jokes... All of which flew over my head.

Once Jagoff Massacre ended, I went back into the guest and vendor room long enough to snap a decent picture of Vernon Wells and send it to Priscilla, then I took my purchases up to my room.

I've been working on writing a book recently, so every time I went up to my room during the weekend I would fit in some work on the book while chatting with my girlfriend, who was privy to each chapter as it was finished because she's special that way.

During this particular break, I also ordered some dinner from the nearest Domino's Pizza, and my food took so long to arrive that I was about fifteen minutes late getting downstairs to watch -

6:45pm - MOVIE: Horror Host regular, Gunga Jim, brings Gunga’s Drive-In to Cinema Wasteland with a screening of THE HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND in MOVIE ROOM 2.

Every time Gunga Jim has a Wasteland screening, I always make sure that I'm there to watch it. As I've described Gunga's show before, "Each movie shown on Gunga's Drive-In is played in its entirety in the middle of an image that makes it look like it's being shown on a drive-in screen. Sound effects and comments are added to the soundtrack to give it a mocking Mystery Science Theatre 3000 sort of treatment, and there are a couple intermissions for comedic shenanigans."

This time it was the horrendous 1960 film Horrors of Spider Island, which has a great set-up - a troupe of female dancers experience a plane crash that strands them on a desert island where they're terrorized by spider monsters - which is executed in a terribly dull manner. The Gunga treatment made the movie much more entertaining than it is on its own. 

With about an hour to kill before the next event I wanted to attend, I wandered around the convention some more and took another trip up to my room.

At the fall 2013 show, I had enjoyed a screening of Daniel Boyd's 1987 horror anthology Chillers. As Boyd had returned for this show, I came planning to pick up a copy of Chillers from him, but first I wanted to attend the screening of his 1990 second film -

8:15pm - MOVIE EVENT: Director Daniel Boyd and the attending cast members from his cult sci-fi comedy, INVASION OF THE SPACE PREACHERS, meet up to reminisce and introduce the movie in MOVIE ROOM 2

Boyd and the group of Space Preachers actors and crew members participated in a Q&A that lasted around a half hour or so as an introduction to the screening, during which it was revealed that the Space Preachers/Chillers double feature DVD Boyd had for sale would soon be a collector's item because there was an error in the production of it and the wrong cut of Space Preachers had been included on the disc. To make up for this error, Boyd was giving everyone who bought the double feature from him a DVD-R copy of the Space Preachers director's cut, with the film under its original title of Strangest Dreams.

After hearing this "limited edition" talk, I decided to skip the screening and follow Boyd back to his table to purchase a copy of this messed up double feature and receive the director's cut DVD-R.

Boyd has a very endearing attitude, he is really appreciative of how the Wasteland family has embraced him and his films.

While following Boyd back into the guest/vendor room, I had passed by the room that was being used as the dressing room for the dancers in the burlesque show that was scheduled to go on in Movie Room 1 at 9pm. This time was confirmed by one of the dancers, who yelled out "Boobies at 9 o'clock!" as I walked past the room. Rather than stick around for those, I chose to go back to my room and talk to my girlfriend while waiting for the event that would follow the burlesque show.

10:00pm - GUEST EVENT: Charles Band takes the stage with his all new Full Moon Roadshow in MOVIE ROOM 1.

Apparently the burlesque show had some technical difficulties, because it ran around 10 or 15 minutes late. Movie Room 1 was packed, with men spilling out the door and into the hall. I wandered around the halls while waiting for the show to end, with Charles Band at one point moving past me and saying "Hey, man" as he went. Very close to acknowledging me by my actual last name!

Band was eventually able to take the stage for his show, which was about notifying the audience of what Full Moon has going on. We were urged to sign up at, shown a couple promotional clips, a sort of "Full Moon's hits", and then he ended the show with a short play of sorts, which featured the Gingerdead Man being overpowered by female breasts. It was a very booby-oriented night in Movie Room 1.

When Band's show ended, it was bedtime for me. I went back to my room, had a goodnight chat with the significant other, and then drifted off to sleep while listening to some SModcast podcasts.

SATURDAY (April 5th):

Saturday morning, I woke up around 10am, got myself together, and then went downstairs to watch

10:30am - MOVIE: Saturday Morning Hangover Theater features the big monster classic, GORGO, on 16mm film, in MOVIE ROOM 1.

Gorgo's tagline promises that it's "like nothing you've ever seen before", but it's actually just a British mash-up of King Kong and Godzilla. A sixty-five foot tall sea monster is captured and taken to London to be shown off at a circus, the monster's mother shows up and wrecks London.

I had to leave before the end of Gorgo to get over to the other Movie Room in time for

11:30am - MOVIE: The severed head of Robert Gates chews its way through SWAMPHEAD, in MOVIE ROOM 2.

It took the filmmakers of Swamphead four years to complete their very budget, very lowbrow horror/comedy, which tells the story of a town terrorized by a flying decapitated zombie head. The type of humor movies like Swamphead have is for a very specific audience... I'm not really part of that audience, but there are a lot of people who would love this movie.

After Swamphead, I stuck around for the next event scheduled to take place in the room:

1:00pm - MOVIE & GUEST TALK: Director Kevin Tenney introduces his cult horror film, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, in MOVIE ROOM 2.

The interview conducted before the screening by Ultra Violent Magazine's Art Ettinger covered Kevin S. Tenney's entire career as a writer/director, from Witchboard in 1986 to Bigfoot in 2009 and everything in between, with a look ahead to a fifth installment in the Night of the Demons franchise, a sequel to the remake that's to be titled Night of the Demons: After-Party. The project had an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign last year due to issues Tenney went over, but there's still hope and life in it. I hope it happens.

Rather than stick around to watch the movie after Tenney's interview, I decided to wander around the convention for a while.

People involved with the indie serial killer movie 7th Day were taking a proactive approach to selling copies of the movie. Rather than sitting back and letting interested people come to them, they were pitching the movie to people as they passed by. I was one of those people who got the movie pitched to them, and as the guy was talking I was hoping he would end the pitch with "If it sounds interesting to you, check out our screening at 5pm in Movie Room 2." But he wasn't going that soft with it, he wanted a sale. And he got one. I'm an easy mark. 

3:15pm - GUEST EVENT: After the MANIAC COP screening, writer/director Larry Cohen (and whoever else would like to join him from our attending guests that worked with him over the years) will join up for a panel and Q&A in MOVIE ROOM 1.

The legendary Larry Cohen was joined by actors Tom Atkins (who worked on the Cohen-scripted Maniac Cop), Laurene Landon (who worked with Cohen on nine different projects including Maniac Cop and Maniac Cop 2), and Gerrit Graham (who has a role in his movie It's Alive III: Island of the Alive). It was a fun Q&A that lasted for around an hour, and the most interesting comments for me came from Gerrit Graham, who came off as a huge movie fan himself and briefly talked about working on the likes of Used Cars and Phantom of the Paradise.

After the Cohen panel, I took another stroll around the guest/vendor room and killed the brief amount of time there was to wait before the next event.

On Saturday at last fall's Wasteland, I spotted actor James L. Edwards walking around the convention, checking things out, and he was there doing the same thing this time. Some fans familiar with his work do approach Edwards during his time at the Wasteland, but he's actually just there as another attendee. I've left him alone both times, but since he has appeared in or starred in movies like The Dead Next Door, Robot Ninja, Skinned Alive, Zombie Cop, Maximum Impact, Humanoids from Atlantis, Galaxy of the Dinosaurs, Chickboxer, Ozone, Polymorph, Bloodletting, and more, I think Edwards deserves to have his own table, not just be a visitor.

4:30pm - GUEST EVENT: Peace, love, and the glory days of adult films! 42nd STREET PETE’S GRINDHOUSE begins with special guest, Serena, in MOVIE ROOM 1.

I took a little too long getting back for this, so I had to take a seat at the very back of the room and couldn't really hear most of what was being said. I didn't mind that so much, I was mainly attending this panel just because I always attend 42nd Street Pete's panels, but the fact is, and I don't mean any disrespect to any specific guests that have been interviewed on the latest panels, I preferred when it was about Pete's own experiences in the grindhouse and VHS selling days.

Following Pete's panel, I went back to my room for more girlfriend talk, book writing, and dinner from Domino's. After I spent an hour in my room, it was time for

6:30pm - MOVIE & GUEST TALK: Cult revenge classic, ROLLING THUNDER, begins in MOVIE ROOM 2 with a little talk and an introduction by the films co-star, Linda Haynes.

Art Ettinger interviewed Linda Haynes about her career, which included working with Robert Redford on Brubaker, Paul Newman on The Drowning Pool, Powers Boothe on Guyana Tragedy, and Pam Grier on Coffy, before she retired from acting to work in law.

Starring Willam Devane and Tommy Lee Jones, written by Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, Rolling Thunder is an excellent revenge movie about a man who returns from the Vietnam War deeply traumatized by his experiences and then has a horrible event occur in his own home... I sat in on the screening right up until this horrible event, and then decided to step out of the screening room and see what was going on in the lobby.

Typical of Saturday night at Cinema Wasteland, the lobby was packed with convention goers chatting and drinking. The main room was already closed by this time, so the celebrity guests were also making their way around the hotel and/or getting some dinner at the hotel restaurant. Spotting Vernon Wells socializing in the restaurant area, I snapped another spy pic of him to send to Priscilla.

Being socially awkward, I never really interact with my fellow convention attendees, but this time I did introduce myself to a regular named Jason Siegel, who I've seen around for the last few years, sitting in on screenings and panels, cosplaying as Farmer Vincent from Motel Hell or as a bat-eating zombie Hunter S. Thompson. 

He and filmmaker Dustin Mills are now the only Wasteland regulars I have directly revealed by Life Between Frames-writing identity to. Mills didn't have a table at this show, but he did visit the Wasteland on Saturday. Mills was always surrounded by adoring fans, so my awkwardness kept me from saying hello.

8:45pm - MOVIE: Kill a little time, with TIME TO KILL, in MOVIE ROOM 2.

The screening for Time to Kill was the rowdiest of the weekend. The independent production was described by writer/director Brian Williams as his "personal love letter to the drive-in exploitation classics of the 1970s", which also made it a movie designed specifically toward the taste of the Cinema Wasteland crowd. The audience assembled ate up this strange old school horror/action/comedy about a woman on a rampage after receiving a terminal diagnosis, while they also drank up the free beer provided by Williams and lead actress Ellie Church.

After Time to Kill ended, I stepped back outside the movie room briefly to see what was going on in the party world of the lobby and lounge areas, then went back into Movie Room 2 for the next movie:

10:00pm - MOVIE: Amusing indy horror-comedy, CONJOINED, begins in MOVIE ROOM 2.

Funny and well performed, Conjoined tells the story of a man who falls in love with a woman over the internet, but when they meet in person he discovers she had been keeping a huge secret from him: she has a conjoined twin. Not only that, but her twin is a homicidal maniac. Inappropriateness, bloodshed, and drastic measures ensue, and I found it all to be very enjoyable.

Screenings continued on later into the night on both Friday and Saturday, but I was too tired to catch the last screenings on either night. By the time Conjoined ended, I was exhausted, so I stumbled back to my room for a goodnight chat and then a good night's sleep.

SUNDAY (April 6th):

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

My checkout time was noon on Sunday, so I got up late, got my stuff together, and checked out of my room before taking one last walk around the guest and vendor room. 

There's still a whole day of movie screenings at the convention on Sundays, but I usually leave soon after noon.

The last walk around the Wasteland is always a melancholy one. I love the atmosphere of the place, it provides a fun home away from home for a couple days every six months and leaving it is always a little sad.

Vernon Wells apparently had quite a time, as I passed by his table during this stroll I heard him talking about the fact that it had been a day and a half since he had gotten any sleep.

Once all the sights were taken in for one last time, I pried myself away from the Wasteland and made my exit.

As always, I had a great time at the convention, mingling with fellow film fans, taking in screenings, and making purchases. Thanks to Ken Kish for providing us with the Wasteland, thanks to the Holiday Inn for continuing to house it all, and thank you to my fellow attendees for always making the show a fun, inviting place to be.

The Wasteland is family!


  1. Hey, Cody, It's Jason Siegel. Nice to meet you & make your acquaintance. See you in a few weeks when we all do it again!!