The experience of attending your first horror convention is unequaled. Being surrounded by all the scary and spooky things that you love, and sharing that with hundreds, maybe thousands, of other people who feel the same way is something that is unique to horror fans. There are conventions happening in different parts of the US all year long, and even if you have to travel, it’s worth it. The popularity of these events is ever-growing, so hopefully they will one day reach all horror fans, all over the world.
The massive and welcoming community that horror fans have created for themselves is truly something special. The only thing you need to be a part of this club is a love for horror, and if you have that, then you owe it to yourself to attend at least one of these conventions at some time in your life. It can be a bit of a commitment with the money involved, especially if you have to travel, but there is almost no doubt that it will be one of the best weekends of your life, and that you will be hooked. So if you’ve never attended one of these amazing shows, then here are some reasons we feel you should give it a shot.
Meeting Your Personal Heroes
The guest lineup is arguably the biggest draw of any convention. Where else can you get up close and personal with the people you have been watching on screen for years? Some of the biggest names in horror are regulars on the convention circuit and many do several shows a year. They recognize that a horror fan’s loyalty is real, and do their best to make sure the experience of meeting them is a great one for all their fans. But every horror fan has different movies and people that are important to their personal fandom, and there are some conventions out there that do a wonderful job at providing a wide range of guests to try to fulfill the dreams of every attendee. I’ve met people like Tom Savini, Tobin Bell, Heather Langenkamp, and George Romero and they were all wonderful, but I will also never forget the experience of meeting Mary Lambert, the director of one of my favorite horror movies, Pet Sematary. Or John Kassir, the voice of the Cryptkeeper, who makes me laugh every time I see or hear him. The celebrity guests can be the real highlight of any show, and provide fans with memories that will last a lifetime.
Every convention is different and puts on a wide range of events for fans to experience. Panel discussions with filmmakers and actors give fans a chance to have more of an interaction with celebrity guests. They tell stories and answer questions from the audience about their careers or the films for which they are famous in the horror world. Movie screenings give fans a chance to see all the latest that independent horror has to offer, including documentaries. But that’s definitely not all. The Contamination show out of St. Louis had a “zombie hunt” in 2012, where attendees could move through a maze and “shoot” actors playing zombies. In 2011, Flashback Weekend in Chicago held a zombie pinup fashion show. Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas hosted a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 2013 with a live shadowcast by a group of local performers. HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati just recently held a large concert featuring four different bands. Cons also offer costume/cosplay contests, trivia contests, auctions, after parties, etc. If you want it, some con out there has it.
Cons are a good place for fans to go broke buying all kinds of amazing merchandise related to their favorite movie genre. There is seemingly no end to what the vendor booths at cons sell: Movies, books, t-shirts, posters, jewelry, paintings, toys, décor, and so much more. Artists from all over come to conventions to sell their custom wares and the artwork they have meticulously created. A con also provides a more special experience for both artist and buyer because it allows them to have a personal interaction with each other, rather than an impersonal online transaction. Some cons even have booths with tattoo artists, where fans can get inked on the spot. Other booths have extremely talented makeup artists that will gore you up for the show and make you look like you came straight out of one of the movies.
Horror fans love to talk horror, and there is no better place to fulfill this need than at a convention. The biggest mistake you can make at a con is not reaching out and talking to as many different people as you can because you never know what kindred spirit you might find. The other attendees, the vendors, and the convention staff are all there because of their love for horror, so everybody has something in common. If you don’t have anybody in your life to talk about horror with, these kinds of interactions can be even more special, no matter the depth of the topic. I once had an entire conversation with a vendor at a convention about the movie Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Who else would even know that movie exists? You’re definitely not alone at a convention and you never have to feel weird or like an outsider.
A horror fan’s love for the genre can only be strengthened by attending a convention. These three-day-long events are filled with all the best the horror community has to offer and are wonderful celebrations of the movies to which many of us have dedicated our lives. I simply cannot recommend going to one enough–and I guarantee that you will not regret it.