Frightmare in the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
By J.A. Sullivan of Writing Scared Blog
Fearter Rating: 8/10
Presented by Rue Morgue magazine, Frightmare in the Falls is an annual two-day event celebrating all things horror. For 2018, the event took place October 27 and 28 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, Niagara Falls, Canada.
This is the second time I’ve attended a Rue Morgue horror expo, and it won’t be the last. There’s something for everyone’s macabre taste including engaging panel discussions, a variety of vendors, movie screenings, celebrity Q&As (including Doug Bradley, which I’ll talk about below), and lots of cool movie props. And the costumes! Dressing up isn’t my thing (some people say I’m scary enough), but other attendees were dressed up as everything from Pennywise to Jason to Sam from Trick ‘r Treat. If you’re on Instagram, check out #frightmareinthefalls and you’ll see what I mean.
The only thing about this event that I don’t like is it’s never at the same time each year. Last year, Frightmare was held in November, and in 2016 Rue Morgue’s Dark Carnival (similar event, just a different name) was in July. So, if you’re interested in going, I’d suggest checking in on Rue Morgue’s website or following them on Twitter.
Ticket price for a two-day pass was $49 (Canadian, including taxes), or $30 for a one-day pass. That includes almost everything except for celebrity photos and autographs. Maybe I’m just an old cheap bastard, but I thought the extras were priced a bit high, generally being $50 for autographs and $60 for a picture of you and the celebrity. Around the convention centre you can find free parking, but there’s on-site parking too which was only $5. The event is not recommended for children under 11 but that’s at the parent’s discretion, and kids under 10 were allowed free admission with parental accompaniment.
Breakdown of Attractions
Every hour there were a few different panels to choose from. Makeup demos, Mummification 101, divination, discussions about video games, podcasts, and even queer perspectives in horror. Being a woman and a writer, my two favourite panels were Women of Horror Film Fests and a discussion on writing by the Horror Writers Association, Ontario Chapter.
Panelists at The Women of Horror Film Fests included Jen Gorman and Carolyn Mauricette of the Blood in the Snow festival (a Canadian festival happening November 22 to 27, 2018 in Toronto), and Laura Di Girolamo and Krista Dzialoszynski of the Bloody Mary Film Fest (a 100% female-identifying Canadian filmmaker fest happening November 8 and 9, 2018 in Toronto). These brilliant ladies talked about the challenges faced by women in the horror film industry and how they aim to normalise the presence of women at all levels of filmmaking. They also talked about what they look at for movies and shorts when selecting their programs for the film fests. If you’re interested in filmmaking, this type of discussion can give you a leg up in this highly competitive market.
If you go to this, or any type of expo, make a budget for yourself. With over 40 different vendors, I could have easily spent a fortune! Horror t-shirts, magazines, comics, art work, and, my own personal addiction, books. One thing that makes Frightmare different from other conventions I’ve been to is that all the vendors are unique. There were very few instances where you could buy the exact same item at more than one table. Some of the vendors even had one-of-a-kind goods, like my new teddy bear, where the artist will never make that same thing again. Yes, that’s where you can get into trouble, so keep that budget handy!
And if you’re still thinking about my creepy bear, what if I told you that one is tame compared to other bears I saw at a screening of “Quiet Room Bears”? The creator of the bears and the short film is Lee Howard, a super friendly guy who hung out after the screening for some Q&A. The short is about a man named Simon who is trying to get some home renovations done when a creepy bear shows up on his lawn. Thinking it must belong to his own kid, or someone in the neighbourhood, he brings it inside, and that’s when the terror begins. No, the bear doesn’t come to life, but instead the evil entity that left the bear returns to collect it and so much more. Howard is busy setting up more screenings, so you might want to look him up to see if one will be near you soon. You can watch the “Quiet Room Bears” trailer on YouTube.
If for some strange reason bears aren’t your thing, there were a couple of other screenings too. I didn’t get a chance to go to the others, but this year’s selection also included a psychological thriller called “Damaged”, and a collection of short films complied by The Blood in the Snow Festival called “Bloody Bits – Volume Two”. The movies change each year, and people involved with the films stick around afterwards for questions.
Doug Bradley, best known as Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise (one of my favourites, based on the fantastic novella “The Hellbound Heart” by Clive Barker), was one of the reasons I was most excited to go to this event. As part of the general admission ticket price, there were several Celebrity Q&As to attend, and Mr. Bradley did not disappoint.
He talked about his experience in the movies, debunked some fan theories, and discussed his book “Sacred Monsters: Behind the Mask of the Horror Actor”. While I had known about his film work, I was delighted to listen to this poised Englishman share his thoughts on why we are drawn to horror and the deeper meanings behind our frights. My sister attended the event with me and she got to ask him about how he fell in love with the genre. There was a twinkle in his eye as he reminisced about watching the early Hammer Films with monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy, and he also shared his deep admiration for Peter Cushing. I could have listened to him for hours!
Besides Doug Bradley some of the other Q&As included celebrities like Adrienne Barbeau, Steve Dash, Catherine Hicks, Tom Savini, Zach Galligan and Tommy Lee Wallace.
Movie Props & Photo Ops
And if all that isn’t enough to entice you, dotted throughout the vendor tables were lots of movie props (some authentic, some replicas) and other spots to take some creeptastic pictures. As soon as you walked into the main exhibition room you were greeted by a haunted cemetery full of gravestones, skeletons and zombies. Around the corner was the Creeper Truck from Jeepers Creepers, and across the aisle was the Green Goblin Head from the front of the truck in Maximum Overdrive. My sister particularly enjoyed the small tent put on by Halfpenny Dreadfuls as an old-time cabinet of curiosities, while I lingered at the It: The Miniseries Exhibit longer than she would have liked. Before we left on Sunday afternoon, we had to stop at Jason’s Kill Shack (set up by Locked in the Cellar Creations) and posed with a poor soul who strayed too close to Camp Crystal Lake.
Overall, I had a fantastic weekend and can’t wait to go again whenever the Frightmare returns to the Falls.