Thursday, April 11, 2013

Horror in the Hammer's Guide to Shock Stock 2013

by Aaron Allen

There is no other horror convention in Ontario like SHOCK STOCK (April 12-14 at Centennial Hall in London, ON).

Sure, there's that big show in Toronto that has horror guests, but they're mixed in among the sci-fi, anime, and comic book people and shoved over in a corner somewhere. You're lucky to get to them if you can make it past the crowded food court, so I wouldn't call them a horror convention. Even the Niagara Falls Horrorfest is appended to the Niagara Comic-Con.

At Shock Stock, however, the organizers put the pure horror content and exploitation cinema right on front street for three days of controlled fan-fueled chaos. For pure horror and exploitation celebration, Shock Stock stands alone. Shock Stock is as much a horror convention as it is a sub-cultural flea market with the trappings of a sideshow carnival mixed with a tailgate party.

If this weekend will be your first year at Shock Stock (April 12-14, 2013), make the most out of your trip by letting us guide you through the sleazy, cheesy world of Shock Stock's vinegary vineyards that have earned it the reputation as one of Canada's best horror fan experiences.

1.) Make it a weekend!

To make the most out of your Shock Stock experience, definitely make a weekend of it. The organizers of Shock Stock have packed so much content into the three days of the convention that there's no way you're going to get your fill with a single-day admission. Horror in the Hammer has been going to Shock Stock since its first year, and even we left feeling like there was still so much more to see after three days. And we're not just talking about the scheduled events, such as all the film screenings and panels. There's plenty of cool vendors to check out on the show floor, film-makers to meet, and a handful of surprises. Last year, for example, somebody in an inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was scaring the heck out everyone who thought he was an inanimate decoration. You don't want to leave too early You might miss the random game of Kick the Burger and win some free shit.

2.) Check out Shock Stock's off-site events and parties

Half the fun of Shock Stock takes place outside Centennial Hall at Shock Stock's separate ticket off-site events. Canada's filthiest horror convention is starting to earn quite the reputation for throwing memorable and unpredictable off-site events.  In 2012, Shock Stock blew the minds of horror fans everywhere with a live performance of Goblin horror movie music by Goblin members Claudio Simonetti and Maurizio Guarini while London, ON by-law officers and cops roamed the party to prevent porn star Joanna Angel from taking to the stage for an opening act dance. It was a legendary night, and you can read all about it on The Zed Word.

This year, Shock Stock is presenting a BRAND NEW DCP edition of Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday introduced by none other than Patricia "Magenta" Quinn herself....LIVE...and in the FLESH with a performance by Excited Mental State: Toronto's Rocky Horror Shadowcast. Then, on Saturday, Shock Stock celebrates cult icon Christina Lindberg's first-ever Canadian appearance with a special theatrical retrospective on her career followed by a Q & A. The party continues at the bar Call the Office with a performance by The Matadors

3.) Talk to your favorite guests. Really talk to them.

At a lot of the big horror conventions attract horror celebrities who have no more interest in the show than how much money they can shake out of their fans for photos and an autograph. This is not the case with Shock Stock. For the past two years, Shock Stock has attracted friendly guests who truly love to talk with their fans. In 2011, the female cast of The Evil Dead were super nice, and exploitation superstar Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa She Wolf of the SS) was nothing but a complete sweet heart. Hell, even Canadian glam rocker Thor himself offered to send me a copy of one of his movies because there were none for sale at the convention. In 2012, we at Horror in the Hammer had an even better experience. Geretta Geretta and Bobby Rhodes from Demons were open and lovely. Claudio Simonetti and Maurizio Guarini were incredibly nice. But to top it all off, when Joe Pilato (Captain Rhodes from George A. Romero's Day of the Dead) found out that Fright Night Theatre host Jay Winger couldn't make it to the show, he used my phone to call Winger at work and ream him out in the persona of Captain Rhodes. It was, as the kids say these days, amazeballs!

Fan favorite, Joe Pilato at SHOCK STOCK 2012
4.) Say "Hello" to Rocco

Rocco (left) poses with Thor (right) at SHOCK STOCK 2011
Who is Rocco? Well, besides being a local personality, public figure  and frequent film collaborator with James Bialkowski and Jake Grimbro, the organizers of Shock Stock, Rocco is the life of the Shock Stock party. No, scratch that, he's the life of every party. Local fans who came out to our March Fright Night Theatre screening of Colour Correct My Cock got their first exposure to Rocco, and I'm sure they want more. Rocco's got that mad biker look, so he comes off as kind of intimidating, but he's really one of the most out-going and nicest guys on the convention floor.

5.) Be Social!

Hamilton Shock Stock attendees partying with Vampire Santa (Sal Lizard) and Jesus Maggot
Shock Stock is not a big corporate convention where everyone's packed shoulder-to-shoulder to listen to Hollywood pitch its latest remakes. Shock Stock is made by the fans and for the fans. If you love horror, exploitation films, sleazy and cheesy B-movies, and you're a collector of 16mm, 35mm, VHS, Laser Disc, or any of the other "dead" formats, Shock Stock is the perfect place to meet your fellow freaks. Get out there and meet some people, or reconnect with old friends you haven't seen in awhile. Pack your hotel room with people like a raft from Cuba. Shock Stock ain't no convention to go solo.

This year, Shock Stock is even resurrecting the lost art of VHS video dating. Make your VHS video profile at Shock Stock and, who knows, maybe you'll find that special someone.

6.) Stop and smell the VHS  

Among all the great guests, parties, local personalities, and screenings, don't forget to stop and smell the VHS. It's fans like the attendees and organizers of Shock Stock that are keeping the VHS format alive. Without dispute a great era for movie promotion and packaging, the late 70s and 80s produced a lot of collectible and, more importantly, just plain cool films on VHS, many of which aren't yet available on Bluray or DVD. Even if you're not a hardcore fan of VHS, take some time to pick thorough the boxes of VHS and explore the tangible world of VHS cinema.

Shock Stock is not a corporate human cattle pen like other conventions. Take your time, talk to the guests, meet your fellow freaks, and rummage through the toys, posters, VHS, and collectibles looking for your holy grail. Above all, take your time and soak in the Shock Stock atmosphere.

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