I was probably ten years old when I got my first taste for (fake) blood. It was quite by accident that a local television network aired the uncut version of Friday the 13th during the day. Their plan had been to play the edited version during the afternoon (you know, for the kids), and the uncut version that night — Halloween night. Man, they buggered that one up.
There I was in the basement of my childhood home on October 31st, with a couple of friends. I think my little brother, Mike, also witnessed the televised bloodbath at Camp Crystal Lake. Scarred for life? Hardly. In fact, I believe it was watching Jason Vorhees’ mother (spoiler alert, it was her doing the killing in the first one) murder all those sex-addicted, camp counsellors that gave me an interest in horror movies.
Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors in Toronto
30 years later, today is Halloween. I’m writing this reflecting on how my interest in the horror genre led me an interest in film-making, acting, and makeup effects. I’m no expert in any of these, but I love to dabble.
When I was 18, I had the time of my life at a hotel near the airport in Toronto. I was there with my best friend, Skinny. The two of us had saved up enough money to stay at the hotel and attend Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors convention. If you know horror movies, you know Fangoria.
Back before this whole Internet fad, we had to find information about our interests elsewhere, often in magazine form. Fangoria (and also Gorezone) were our two favorites. Both publications specialized in the horror genre. They wrote lengthy articles about the latest slasher flicks, cool makeup effects, and featured interviews with actors, directors and makeup artists like Dick Smith, Rick Baker and Tom Savini. Fangoria hosted an annual convention where horror geeks would truly rejoice — in 1990, it was hosted in my hometown.
Swimming with a Scream Queen
Skinny and I freaked out as we swam in the hotel pool and noticed, Linnea Quigley. We were both awkward boys, who couldn’t muster up the courage to say hello to the gorgeous scream queen. On the show floor at the convention we lined up with fellow Evil Dead fans to meet Bruce Campbell. He was as outgoing and gracious as fans would expect. We also met my favorite horror makeup artist (and actor), Tom Savini. Even Kane Hodder was there, who I credit for my being at Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors in Toronto. I credit him because he played Jason in most of the Friday the 13th series.
We were so into the horror genre that Skinny and I both had fishing tackle boxes filled with horror makeup. After school (and sometimes skipping it), we would meet up at each other’s houses to dabble in gory effects. We would even make short films, and later freak out our families with our bloody wounds. Good times.
Reflecting on all of that blood
I find it is a good exercise to recall something you were passionate about as a kid. Think of what you learned from your experiences, and consider how you use them in your adult life. Here are some examples for me.
Makeup — Halloween fun for the family. Severed fingers.
Filmmaking — Creating short films of Max and other weird stuff.
Convention going — I absolutely love attending (and speaking) at conferences and conventions.
Embracing your inner freak — I’m writing this now, right? Chris Brogan even wrote the book about it.
Skinny is a filmmaker now and even runs his own advertising company and studio. It’s funny where life takes you.
How about you? What were you passionate about as a kid? How has it helped shape your adult life?