In Portland, horror is always lurking. On any given week, you can find a slasher revival screening. Film festivals like The H.P. Lovecraft Fest and Zompire cater to niche markets. But there's never been an event offering the wider horror audience full immersion into the world of ax murderers.
That all changes this weekend with the hugely ambitious, first-ever Living Dead Horror Convention, which already looks set to give veteran horror festivals a run for their money.
Think of Living Dead Con as something akin to a comic con. The creators—Living Dead magazine founder Deanna Uutela and horror writer James R. Beach—have lined up nerd-centric panels, celebrities, after-parties and independent film screenings. Only in this case, the proceedings are soaked in viscera rather than ink.
"I am tired of having to leave my state to go to horror conventions," says Uutela. "I am tired of horror not having the coverage it deserves here in Oregon besides during Halloween, and I wanted above all to hang out with horror fans and horror celebs…and show off my hometown."
Living Dead Con is coming out with its chain saw fully revved and ready to make some lasting marks. That starts with the celebrities on hand. Want scream queens? How about a multigenerational pile of them, including Creature From the Black Lagoon star Julia Adams, Teri "Girl on a Meat Hook" McMinn from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th heroine Adrienne King.
Prefer your horrors gothic? Genre mainstay Barbara Steele is on hand. Campy? Meet Eddie and Marilyn Munster (Butch Patrick and Pat Priest). The icing on the cake: Once and future Twin Peaks stars Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs) and James Marshall (James Hurley) will be on hand, and—fingers crossed—could show up at a Twin Peaks-themed after-party Saturday at the Lovecraft.
There are also offsite cast reunions and screenings. King will be joined by actor Ari Lehman—the first actor to play Jason Voorhes—for a Friday the 13th screening on Friday the 13th at OMSI (with an after-party at the Lovecraft), and McMinn will be joined by co-stars John Dugan and Ed Neal (Grandpa and the Hitchhiker, respectively) for a Texas Chainsaw screening Saturday at the Hollywood.
Were that not enough, the event also includes indie horror debuts, panels on everything from overlooked slasher films to filmmaking workshops and comics, costume contests, burlesque shows and cocktails.
"I knew that I had to do something big in order to get people's attention," says Uutela. "I don't know what else you could want as a fan, to be honest. But you can be darn sure that I will make this convention bigger and better every single year."
With that, Living Dead Con might just pull Portland from the shadows of horror's fringes.
GO: The Living Dead Horror Convention is Friday-Sunday, Nov. 13-15, at the Oregon Convention Center, livingdeadcon.com.
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