If you’re looking for a good scare and can’t wait till Halloween, then mark September 21st-23rd on your calendars. As the season changes from Summer to Fall, this year’s New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival invades the Showboat Hotel on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, bringing horror movies, celebrities, special events, cosplay, and more. The brainchild of filmmaker/producer Ryan Scott Weber and Comic Book Men producer/pop culturist Rob Bruce, NJ Horror Con and Film Festival is moving to their most ambitious location yet and bringing the tri-state area another killer con. Their massive guest list features over 30 celebrities from the worlds of horror, television, and rock and roll all signing autographs, and posing for photo ops. The film festival will showcase over 25 short and feature length horror films.
It’s been over 25 years since Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs came out in 1991. Despite grossing nearly 4x its budget, the film is rarely mentioned among Craven’s best work. The film is marketed as a pure horror film, the poster featuring an ominous skull over a creepy house, and even the title triggers visions of monsters in the basement. What the film is though, is way ahead of its time. The film is brimming with social commentary that fits much better in 2017’s America than it did perhaps in the early ’90s. This weekend at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival in Iselin, NJ, stars of the film reunited to meet fans, sign autographs, and take pictures. On Saturday morning, Sean Whalen (Roach), Yan Birch (Stairmaster), Brandon Adams (Fool) and Kelly Jo Minter (Ruby) took the stage for a Q&A discussion with fans.
Emanating from the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ; the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival welcomed several film reunions. Over the weekend stars from The People Under the Stairs, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, and Night of the Demons (1988) all met up for group panels and Q&As. Perhaps the most eagerly attended panel though was for The Goonies. NJ Horror Con welcomed Mikey and Andy, Sean Astin and Kerri Green and the room was packed upstairs with fans of all ages, many wearing Goonies-themed shirts.
Moderated by Chris Stiles, Astin and Green took the stage to a loud applause. Stiles open by asking about their audition process back in 1984-85, and Astin jokes about being shocked he got the role since he couldn’t remember any of the lines. Kerri Green adds how embarrassed she felt about losing her shoes during her audition, later finding they were taken by director Richard Donner as a joke. It’s fascinating listening to these actors discuss day to day interactions with titans of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner. Astin described Donner as scary but lovable. The two trade stories, mostly about Astin being a kid and the kids running wild on set, while Kerri and the older kids were much more relaxed. Chris Stiles asked about the competition for box office in those amazing middle 80s years with films like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Commando, etc coming out and that lead to a panel-long gag between Stiles and Astin over Chris’s obsession with film competition.
Fans attend conventions for a variety of reasons. It could be the celebrity guests, cosplay, panels, and Q&A sessions. One thing that unites all cons, is merchandise. This weekend fans poured into the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, New Jersey for the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. There were celebrities signing autographs and snapping photos, films running upstairs, and vendors galore downstairs. The horror fans had their pick of everything and anything their hearts could desire. There were plenty of t-shirts, comics, and DVDs but this con had some truly unique and original merch up for sale.
The New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival took over the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ this weekend for three days of scary movies, celebrities, cosplay, and more. While much of the fun was held in the convention and ballrooms downstairs, two viewing rooms were set up on the second floor for special screenings, as well as for film festival entrants. I took time to catch a block of short films, as well as a screening of a horror film that had been on my radar for a long time.