Last weekend was HorrorCon, one of the largest horror conventions in the UK. Held in the former steel mill Magna, the industrial decor more than suited the convention. Admittedly, this was despite the red lighting, which at times made it feel more like set from a porn set.
Headlining the event was Doug Bradley (Hellraiser’s Pinhead), during a rare trip to the UK. Doug remained smiling throughout the weekend, despite an incredible number of people waiting to meet him. Alongside Doug was Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th) and Emily Booth, amongst others.
Emily Booth was particularly engaging, as she elaborated on the missing scenes from the cult sci-fi/horror film Event Horizon, as well as recalling how Sean Pertwee (and some of the other actors) tried to see what was happening during the filming of those scenes.
The convention was spread out across three halls at Magna. Whilst this prevented crowding, it also meant that parts of the convention were missed until much later due to poor signposting. Panels and Q&A sessions were hidden behind a curtain and the entertainment room was similarly unmarked.
Queues happen at all conventions, and HorrorCon was no different. This was compounded by the lack of information as to where events were taking place. A convention map displayed on the walls would have easily resolved this.
The first room was a mix of reception area and traders, as well as makeup artists and snake charmers. It was at this latter stand, that some of the braver attendees could hold tarantulas and a 14ft python, who was apparently quite friendly.
Another room was dedicated to interactive entertainment, such as the zombie shooting range, which offered people the chance to practise with crossbows, throwing axes and throwing knives, or even fully automatic (replica) weaponry.
The main room was packed with dozens of traders, with one side of the hall dedicated for the guest stars. Dotted amongst the traders were authors and artists like Nick Percival and Alex Davis. It was great to see some of the stallholders getting into the spirit of HorrorCon, such as identical twin authors C. L. Raven, who were obviously enjoying themselves.
Lurking amongst all this Mr Punch’s Cabinet of Curiosities, a freak show without the freaks. Created by a group of magicians, the show was apparently so shocking it required a government health warning.
Later in the afternoon, a zombie grind core band entertained a small crowd, mostly because there was little indication of where they were going to play. Other than the sound of the band reverberating into the first room, there were no announcements.
Many attendees took the opportunity to cosplay as some of their favourite horror characters, from Pennywise to a werewolf. Unfortunately, there were some who took the cosplay too far, and insisted on sneaking up on people and screaming in their ears. This quickly became annoying, not just for their unfortunate victims, but for everyone else in the room.
However, this brings me to one of my biggest issues of the event. Despite parents being urged to exercise caution, HorrorCon was billed as a family-friendly event.
Although all the attendees, traders and guests were always friendly, HorrorCon was not a place for young children due to nature of the event and some of the imagery. No matter how much Pennywise may smile and wave, it is still scary.