Steve Niles

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Wes Craven: A Horror Legend Lost

Published September 1, 2015 by vfdpixie
Wes Craven 1939-2015

Wes Craven 1939-2015

 

If you haven’t heard by now, the horror community is mourning the loss of another horror icon:  director/writer/producer extraordinaire, Mr.Wes Craven.  He mastered the tongue-in-cheek horror and produced some of my favourite “B” movies like Wishmaster (1997) and Feast (2007), but he is of course know for bringing to life some of the most memorable horror icons in recent history.

Starting with the rape-revenge horror The Last House on the Left (1972), a twisted and brutal cult favourite to The Hills Have Eyes (1977) showcasing a vicious cannibal family that would terrorize a desert roadway for 2 films plus their remakes, Craven’s vision would carry on to a not-so-well received version of Swamp Thing (1982) and then finally to the king of horror (in my eyes) Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Like Dracula’s fangs and black cape, nightmare-dwelling Freddy Krueger’s clawed glove, striped sweater and tatty fedora has become such an iconic image.  Ask anyone on the street who those items belong to, and you’ll most definitely get a resounding “Freddy Krueger!”.  I was 14 years old when the film came out, and my love for the franchise has grown from teenage horror fan-girl glee to a deep appreciation for his writing and direction.  Craven combined nightmares and teenage angst with intelligence and schtick to create a mythology that set a precedent for horror to come.

Our favourite villain Freddy Krueger

Our favourite villain Freddy Krueger

 

His brilliance would carry on to many other films, directing a then unknown Mitch Pileggi (of X-Files fame) in Shocker (1989), Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett in  Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) as well as the underrated thriller The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), and writing and directing another of my favourites, The People Under the Stairs (1991); but his next set of films would cast a critical eye on horror tropes in such a clever way.  The top-grossing Scream (1996) and its franchise would become another blockbuster winner, and Craven’s vision took it to the next level of cult fandom.  It revived the horror movie yet again, and gave us another go-to Halloween costume with the creepy Scream killer, Ghostface.

Slasher of the 90's-Ghostface

Slasher of the 90’s-Ghostface

 

Craven gained a huge following and was greatly respected within the horror nerd and teen set because he had his finger on the pulse of what horror fans wanted; crushing the idea that horror had no charm or intelligence by mastering what others dismissed.  He was also a mentor to many of his peers and had a knack for casting actors such as Neve Campbell, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund that would make or revive their careers.

And speaking of charm, it seemed as if all his colleagues and friends could attest to his lovely nature.  Looking at his pictures, and following his Twitter feed, you didn’t have to know him personally to see he was a kind man who loved his craft and his fans.  It is incredible to see the heartbroken horror community and their outpouring of grief, admiration and love for his films and accomplishments, as well as support for those close to him.  I think I can speak for horror fans everywhere when I say that I am truly saddened by his passing and send out the deepest condolences to his family, friends and peers over this terrible loss.

Check out his official website for synopsis of his films and details on his career.

http://www.wescraven.com

I am also consoled a little by knowing that he collaborated on a 5 part comic series with my favourite comic writer Steve Niles called Coming of Rage.  Check out the details here.

 

*Wes Craven died of brain cancer at the age of 76.  I think cancer is the real monster here.  It’s insidious and preys upon unsuspecting victims; finally attacking with gusto.  It has taken many people close to me, including my father, and brain cancer recently took a wonderful, no-nonsense, teddy bear of a man named Dwayne who was one of the kindest souls I’ll ever meet, so I thought I would list a few organizations you might want to support:

Canadian Cancer Society:

www.cancer.ca

American Cancer Society:

http://www.cancer.org/

Stand Up 2 Cancer-celebrity driven charity that still gains a lot of press for cancer research

http://www.standup2cancer.ca/

 

The Red Cross-cancer patients use blood services more than we think.

http://www.redcross.ca/

 

Look Good Feel Better-an organization that helps women being treated for cancer take care of their beauty needs.

http://lgfb.ca/en/

Pixie’s Day at FanExpo 2013

Published August 27, 2013 by vfdpixie

So this weekend, I decided to check out the 2013 FanExpo.  Why, you ask? Because I am a nerd? Well, yes, there’s that, but also because even though I am not exactly a groupie, I thought I’d come out of my shell and head out to meet a couple of people, one of whom I might not get a chance to see again, perhaps ever, but more on that later.

I was originally going on my own, as most of my friends aren’t interested in horror or live out-of-town, when I found out that my good friend Nicole’s brother-in-law Henry Shel had a booth there and was promoting his books.  She wanted to go and lend her support,  so I ended up having company, and since she gets a kick out of anything against the norm, away we went!

Let me first say that I wished I had eaten a high calorie breakfast of eggs, waffles, pancakes, whipped cream, and syrup, because the amount of walking we did was insane.  We walked a couple of blocks from the subway to be ushered into a tunnel, (reminiscent of some sort of disaster movie where we line up to enter a bomb shelter) and waited in a four person deep line to buy tickets.  It moved fairly quickly and once inside, we meandered past cosplay enthusiasts, fellow nerds, and giant strollers filled with costumed babies.  Bumping into Henry Shel, we headed to his booth where he was promoting his books Space, Love, Superheros:  The Chronicles of My Secret Identity Crisis on Infinite Earths  and Operation:  DREAMGIRL (The Reluctant Diary of a Lovesick Average Joe).  pretty cool guy and definitely worth taking a look:  www.lulu.com/henryshel  Click on either of the 2 books to see a 10 page preview, or just buy em’!

Since we were in the artist section, where there were scads of talented artists signing and selling their work, I realized that Steve Niles was in the area.  I am a big fan of his and he was one of the two people I really wanted to meet. 30 Days of Night is an incredibly crafted story, and was my introduction to his talent.  I have since followed his work, the latest being Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem (which I plan to devour this Labour Day weekend as a treat), and was really jazzed to meet him and get him to sign a copy of my 30 Days of Nights graphic novel.  I would just like to add that I had a Starbucks coffee that morning.  For most, this is not an issue, but for this pixie, it’s a problem.  I just needed a boost, see?  To get me through a long day of walking around.  So I was kind of, um, supercharged.  When I found his booth, I was ecstatic!  Steve Niles!  Creator of the best vampire story around!  Eek!  Well, I really nerded out, spouting coffee fueled babble about the film adaptation of 30 Days, my 30 Days of Night manicure, Danny Huston as the best vampire ever, and turtles, but he was just lovely!  He signed my copy, and took a picture with me.  Worth the sore feet for sure, and who knows if I will ever get the chance to chat with him in person again!  http://www.steveniles.com/

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Pixie and Steve Niles!!

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My 30 Days of Night manicure. Inspired and yes, obsessed!

Other highlights included seeing  Luis the Suspect Guy from Suspect Video, some of the cast of Bitten and the hosts from InnerSpace, and ridiculous cackling over complete nonsense Nicole and I were prone to as we dodged the crowds.  We also stopped to check out a unique comic called The Black Bastard.  I was familiar with this one because I had met the creator, Matthew Mohammed, a few years ago at a previous FanExpo.  He was cool then and is still just as cool with his satirical take on racial stereotypes.  That site is currently under construction, so check your local comic book store for copies.

On to the “stars” as we kept putting it.  Where were they?  Way over in the North building.  Which meant around 5 escalator rides combined with a fair bit of walking to the main exhibition area.  Just before that was a walkway above the action.  It was here we could look down and see the tables where celebrities were signing autographs and posing for pictures.  However, we were promptly told to move as we were obstructing the flow of traffic, which was moving quite smoothly past us.  Whatever.  As we made our way down, I felt this side of the expo had a weird vibe.  We walked past different booths selling their wares, huge models of Daleks, K.I.T.T. the car from Knight Rider and then past the autograph areas.  Michael Rooker (Merle of The Walking Dead), Ron Perleman (Clay of The Sons of Anarchy and star of freakin’ Hellboy!), Dean Cain (Lois and Clark), Shawn Ashmore of X-Men fame, Laurie Holden (Andrea of The Walking Dead), George Takei (Sulu of Star Trek), and Linda Hamilton of Terminator fame were all graciously signing autographs that you basically had to pay for.  I don’t know the ins and outs of this fan expo business, and I’m aware everyone has to make a buck and bills have to be paid, but a lot of the costs for pictures and autographs were a bit steep.  I would have liked to have seen Norman Reedus (Darryl of The Walking Dead) but a) he was on a 30 minute break, and b) my sixty dollar photo fee did not include a foot massage from him.  Because for sixty of my hard-earned dollars, that’s what I would have wanted, if not more.  I also couldn’t be bothered to do any stealth photos liked I planned.  My contacts were drying out and the vibe was like a party that hadn’t quite taken off yet, with people milling around awkwardly watching the celebrities.

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Trust me, there are “stars” down there. Right Nicole?

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Exterminate! Exterminate!

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Some sort of K.I.T.T hybrid car thingy

great cosplay of Dr. Who's Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint

great cosplay of Dr. Who’s Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint

Anyhoo, after some lunch and a great bevvy, we returned to the fun South Building so I could meet Adam Lopez, founder and director of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  I’ve corresponded with him via Facebook and email, so it was finally time to meet face to face.  Greeted with a lovely and warm welcome, Adam told me about some of the exciting sneak peeks coming up in the next few weeks.  He was super nice and super excited about the Spotlight Screening Nights-films being shown before the actual festival to get fans revved up for October.  Check out this link for show times and info.  The cost for tickets are really reasonable, and it’s obvious that Adam and his crew put a lot of effort into this event every year.  Because the festival is being held at the Scotiabank Theatre for the first time, it should be an awesome venue to pack in rabid horror fans.  I can’t wait!!

http://torontoafterdark.com/2013/

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TADFF founder and director Adam Lopez and Pixie!

There were plenty of seminars on writing, gaming, larping, cosplay  and screenings which we unfortunately missed, along with a David “The Hoff” Hasslehoff sighting, but all in all, this pixie had a great time.  FanExpo is a place where all the weird and woolly folk can go to express themselves as their favourite characters, buy all kinds of weird stuff, see their favourite stars, and feel like they belong.  Hope to attend next year!

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