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Scarefest 2011

By: Eric Brooks

B Movie Man Special Correspondent

The sultry heat of summer has given way to crisp cool and the Wildcats are getting whacked on the gridiron. This can only mean that fall has arrived and with it another edition of the Scarefest Horror and Paranormal Convention. I checked my camera batteries, sharpened my pencil, and sallied forth at the request of B Movie Man to report on this year’s event.


This year’s Scarefest is the 4th edition of the convention and its theme was Horror of the 80’s. As someone who grew from

Jim O'Rear and Brian Wilson before the screening of


child to man in the 80’s, this theme really resonated. Several actors from some of my favorite films attended. There was Lea Thompson who will always be Lorraine Baines McFly to me. Ernie Hudson was there in Ghostbusters coveralls. Erin Gray, Colonel Wilma Deering of Buck Rogers fame, still looked good. James Cameron’s go to guy Michael Biehn attended with his significant other and screened one of his film projects. The most interesting 80’s guest though was Lance Henriksen of Aliens and Millenium among many other roles. Lance did a question and answer session covering his career and life and dovetailing with his new biography Not Bad For a Human. Lance’s story is truly amazing. He was basically illiterate until age 30 and learned to read from play and movie scripts. Lance spent his first 30 years roaming the country while painting and making pottery. For the last four decades, Lance has managed to rise to his challenges to become a highly decorated actor. It is truly remarkable to think that until he was thirty, Lance Henriksen could not read Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics that he quoted as Bishop in Aliens.


While the theme of Scarefest IV was the 80’s, it was certainly not the only era represented. For the second year in a row Russell Streiner, John Russo, and George Kosana of Night of the Living Dead fame brought their unique perspective on a true horror classic. Their q and a session was brilliant and provided more new insights into the making of the first Dead film. These three men all played parts and also were involved in the production as was the case with most all of the people involved in the film. As a result, these men have more knowledge of the film than almost anyone else. They have become one of the more interesting additions to Scarefest and this write hopes they continue to come regularly.


One of the highlights of Scarefest is always the screening room. This year was no exception. There were two films that stood out not only in this year’s crowd but against all the films shown at Scarefest in its first four years. The first was a film called Paranormal Parody. The filmmaker said this film is a nearly frame by frame parody of Paranormal Activity. I cannot vouch for this because I have not seen Paranormal Activity. What I can vouch for is that it is freaking hilarious. Unlike many parodies, this film is not over the top with really crude or overdone humor. It is just really, really funny in an intelligent, well paced way. The actors are brilliant and there are really only two major ones and about 7 total. The coolest thing about Paranormal Parody though is that it would seem to appeal to both the horror and paranormal crowds that attend Scarefest. That is a rare accomplishment. The other film that really stood out at this year’s Scarefest was also a comedy. Interestingly, it wasn’t really intended for Scarefest at all. The film Underground Entertainment was originally slated for another film festival before being banned from it for being offensive. We are thankfully not so thin skinned in Lexington, KY. is a film by filmmakers Jim O’Rear and Bryan Wilson that documents their experiences on their local access cable television show in the Tampa Bay area in the early 1990s. O’Rear and Wilson’s show covered horror films and TV shows, anime, comics, and all sorts of geek boy fare. It also featured the tremendous talents of O’Rear and Wilson performing skits, outrageous stunts, and generally pushing the envelope to the point it lay in shreds. The movie showcases all of it and also serves as a reminder to those of us who are children of the 80s of all the great things that came along in that decade in horror. The film is hilarious and features reminiscences by many of the stars interviewed on the regular show. For more on it, see B Movie Man’s outstanding review.


Every year at Scarefest I find myself having to make difficult decisions as to what sessions and films to attend and this year was no different. There were a number of outstanding sessions including the aforementioned Q and A’s with Lance Henriksen and the guys from Night of the Living Dead. This year I did something I have never before done and partook of a number of sessions from the paranormal side of the Scarefest ledger. I am interested in the paranormal but generally attend Scarefest for the horror side. There were three sessions that stood out to me. The first was by the folks from a historic house in Franklin, KY called The Octagon House. The house is architecturally interesting because of its shape and historically important as a Civil War site among other things. It is also apparently quite haunted. The folks there have chosen to market this aspect of the house along with the history in order to enhance visitation and revenue. They have had something like 100 different investigations by paranormal groups. As a historic house curator, this intrigues me. The question of acknowledgement of and marketing paranormal activity is an active one in our field. As my site seems to be as unhaunted as they come, I guess it is not much of an issue for me but the session by Octagon House provided much food for thought. Another session that provided similar food for thought was by a group called AdventureMyth. This group investigates paranormal activity at historic sites. After the investigations are done, they make a high quality DVD of their work which they give to the site to sell. AdventureMyth charges nothing for their services and makes their money selling DVDs, etc. at their booth at events like Scarefest. Again, I find this intriguing from the historic house perspective and because we don’t have one good ghost at Ashland, cannot try it out. The third session that really interested me was by a woman named Deonna Kelli Sayed and it indulged my true passion: the lore of the Middle East. Ms. Sayed is married to a UN diplomat and has lived all over the Middle East and while doing so collected a great deal of information about the Djinn. Her presentation was outstanding and really unique.

As can be seen from the above, I had a good time at Scarefest IV. I also had a more varied time than in years past. Clearly, in its for years of life, Scarefest has grown and expanded its offerings. The quality of the sessions, films, and stars has greatly improved. It is also the case that more of all of these things are blurring the lines between the paranormal and horror elements of the event. This all bodes well for the future of Scarefest. It has become a regional showcase and now attracts a national and international audience. Lexington is lucky to have such a show and its future looks bright!

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