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Report On: Horror-Rama 2015

Toronto used to have the Zombie Walk. Thousands of people hungry for brains and willing to dress up as an undead variation of something weird, like a Zombie mariachi band, would all gather and slumber around the city together. But over a decade the size grew and the funding for permits didn’t so the zombie apocalypse was cancelled. Thankfully there’s a younger event for the Toronto fans of horror, Horror-Rama, presented by Fangoria. This was Horror-Rama’s second year, and it was held on December 17th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Younger people might ask, “What’s Fangoria?” It’s a magazine about gore and horror and that kind of spooky stuff for people with strong stomachs. But it treats the subject matter as a reasonable art form- not just gore as a gimmick for people to use to annoy their parents. Although now the internet has rendered the magazine somewhat ongoing obscurum, that works since horror fans love the retro-obscure.

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A big draw was the diverse mix of fan-favorite guests, such as professional babe Tristan Risk.  One surprise was “30 Days Of Night” creator Steve Niles, who promoted his newest book The October Faction. And at Horror-Rama he was accessible without waiting in line. The absolute sweetest and friendliest guest was Meg Walter who had a role in the legendary 1971 cult film “The Devils” – a film which has been banned by Warner Brothers for reasons like the whole “Rape Of Christ” scene and it was never domestically released on DVD – although horror fans everywhere keep their fingers crossed for an unlikely Blu-Ray release. Come on Shout Factory, work your magic.

Horror is always associated with C-list films, and there were filmmakers there like the RabiDog Films  who were getting fans hyped for a YouTube release of their films on Friday the 13th in November. For more mainstream accessible media, Starz promoted the upcoming “Ash vs Evil Dead” series – although odds are that anybody at the event was already psyched for the much awaited return of Ash Williams. Shop Smart.

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But there’s more to horror than just film and TV, counter-culture enthusiasts let it permeate into every aspect of their lives even when it isn’t October. Spooky coffee? There’s Deadly Grounds. Spooky books? Check out nEvermore. Do you like novelty dead baby dolls? ZomCom has novelty dead baby dolls. A few vendors stood out, Locked In The Cellar has a service where they develop realistic looking life-sized mannequins modeled after customers. And Prehistoria.ca sells genuine animal skulls for whatever purpose you have in mind.

It was a fun event, there was never too much of a crowd, lots of room to wander and breathe. Small, but a good constant energy thanks to a DJ, It’s easy to imagine that with some better marketing to the infinite Walking Dead fan-base, this event could very quickly becoming suffocating. One disappointment is that there were almost no attendees in costume, although the one dude in a demonic mask was very memorable. Horror-Rama could have also used a few more alternate events to pad time, so some extra seminars and discussion panels would be alright for people skipping the showing of Old 37.

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While in the past I’ve regarded the genre of C-list horror films as failures at compelling film-making, but Horror-Rama showed they’re just experts at having a good time with what they love. Even if it means a high body count. Mom and Dad might be more inclined to enjoy the sensational scale of bigger events, but Horror-Rama is like Discopath, only ever seen by people capable of enjoying the art and language of horror, as silly as it sometimes gets.

-Michael Ryan October 22nd 2015

Hey Fangoria please hire me to write about stuff for you.

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