By Jason Harris
The 3rd Annual CT Horrorfest took place at The Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, CT. on August 27.
The 3rd Annual CT Horrorfest took place at The Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, CT. on August 27.
There will be a second post with pictures from Rock & Shock 2015 coming in a few days.
As your local shops fill up with skeletons, vampires and friendly ghouls to hang about your house, our thoughts turn to Halloween, and for folks dedicated to all things horror, that includes planning their annual trip to the biggest horror and music convention on the East Coast during the spookiest of seasons; ROCK AND SHOCK! October 16th through 18th, Rock and Shock will celebrate their 12th year of music and mayhem at Worcester, MA’s DCU Center with a full schedule filled with panels, film screenings, activities and contests running across a show floor jam packed with excellent guests and awesome vendors. You’ll find all the holiday gifts you need for the creepiest kids in your life!
This year’s guest lineup includes George Romero, Godfather of Zombies everywhere (and director of Night of the Living Dead if we need to mention that), Tobin Bell (SAW Films), Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), William Sanderson (Blade Runner, True Blood), Samantha Mathis (The Strain, American Psycho, Pump Up The Volume), Adam Green, Bill Moseley, William Forsythe, Doug Bradley, PJ Soles and more!
Check out the full lineup HERE!
This years’ bands include Danzig, Hatebreed, Twiztid, Prong, Soulfly, Soil Work, Blaze, Witch Mountain, Sanctuary, Superjoint and many more! Part of the “many more” is a special addition you’ll find only at Rock and Shock. Last year, primo photographer Jeremy Saffer presented to us THE ROCKING DEAD. Last year, primo photographer Jeremy Saffer presented to us The Rocking Dead. A band of music’s finest was assembled from acts that were on the Rock and Shock bill as well as surprise special guests, and with a mere soundcheck as their only practice as a unit they took the stage and belted out a set of classic Misfits songs. When they were done the fans knew they had seen something truly special, and in many a mind there grew hopes that this rare assembly would return. Well, their voices were heard, and Jeremy Saffer will once again present The Rocking Dead to you this year! But this time, the monster has grown! Led by musical director, protector of animals and rock and roll guitarist extraordinaire Ace Von Johnson, a band has been assembled that brings back many of last year’s gang but, like any good sequel, this one is even bigger!
The band and/or signings will include luminaries from rock and metal such as:
DOYLE WOLFGANG VON FRANKENSTEIN–The Misfits/Doyle
WEDNESDAY 13–Murderdolls/Wednesday 13
KYLE CASTRONOVO–Wednesday 13
ACE VON JOHNSON–Faster Pussycat
TAIME DOWNE–Faster Pussycat
ASH COSTELLO–New Years Day
NIKKI MISERY–New Years Day
MIKE D’ANTONIO–Killswitch Engage
ACEY SLADE–Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
BRET VON DEHL–The Relapse Symphony
As icing on the cake, many of the players will be signing during the convention! (Note: some will be signing all three days but due to touring schedules some will only be able to sign on Saturday.) As for the performance, what bands and songs will they cover this year? Will there be surprise guests? Well, some secrets are better kept until the show, but with The Rocking Dead added to an already stacked Saturday concert lineup this is an event not to be missed! Check out the full music lineup HERE!
We’ve got three days of films rolling out as well, including Chainsaw Maidens, Old 37, Fury, Diary of a Deadbeat, Pieces of Talent, plenty of shorts and some surprise features!
After cruising the show floor to shop with an incredible array of vendors, you can take in programming where amazing folks from the horror industry share their secrets with you, visit the Rock and Shock Creative Lair and learn drawing, writing, mask casting, creative activities and more, wave hello to super talented cosplayers roaming the floor or join them in our Cosplay Contest (for little AND big kids!) sponsored by Halloween Outlet and swing by the Idle Hands booth to test your horror knowledge or accept a challenge, all for killer prizes!
While every day at Rock and Shock provides a kid friendly atmosphere families will love, Sunday is KID’S DAY with a schedule including face painting, pumpkin decorating, a coloring contest and a cosplay contest just for your little monsters. We also show our appreciation for our servicemen on Sunday by offering FREE ADMISSION to all Police, Fire, EMT and Military personnel. Just show your service ID at the doors and you can receive up to 4 free tickets to the convention!
Hit up RockandShock.com for further info and to find the ticket option that best suits your fiend level!
Rock and Shock is a three day horror and music convention featuring celebrity signings, movie screenings, concerts, panels and more. Now in its 12th year, Rock & Shock has played host some of the biggest names in horror and rock. This year’s event will be taking place October 16-18, 2015 in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts at the DCU Center (http://www.dcucenter.com) and the Worcester Palladium (http://thepalladium.net).
Zombies are still lumbering around in pop culture after since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead arrived on the silver screen in 1968. Romero is considered to be the father of all zombie movies. They can even be seen on the small screen thanks to the AMC series, The Walking Dead. The Resident Evil zombies are still finding success on the big screen and the next incarnation, Resident Evil: Retribution, arrives in theaters this year.
Zombies are so popular that a London-based game developer, Six to Start, has created an app that has merged fitness and zombies, “Zombies, Run!”
Author and New England Horror Writer member Robert J. Duperre is continuing to give zombie fans their fix with his four-book series The Rift, which opens with a zombie apocalypse triggered by an evil buried deep in a Mayan ruin in the first volume, The Fall, the three books that follow are Dead of Winter, Death Springs Eternal, and The Summer Son, which is due out in July.
In his series, the origin of the apocalypse is the Mayan Ruins, which he chose because of the fact “the Mayans were so advanced, not only for their time, but for all time.” Even with their advancement, Duperre considers the Mayans as “somewhat primitive.”
“In that way their culture sort of mirrors our own—complex and sophisticated, yet clinging to some rather archaic ideals. So what if the same mysterious events that brought down their culture brought down our own? Poetic justice, right? Yeah, a bit of a stretch I know, but trust me, it works in my head.”
The author wasn’t planning on The Rift being a series. He thought it would be a simple zombie tale.
“It was supposed to be a humorous novella.”
Once it was over 400,000 words, he decided to split it into four books and completely rewrote it.
“The story had already been sectioned off into seasons, so I figured that was as good an idea as any to act as natural segues between volumes. The only problem is the first three books all end in cliffhangers because of this, which I’m sure can be a little irritating to readers.”
Duperre thinks there are “a couple of layers” to the zombie-apocalyptic trend.
“For me, [zombies are] the perfect tool for storytelling—they represent humanity in its most primal form, in many ways reflecting conventional and homogametic nature of our culture,” Duperre said. “Literature in the zombie genre forces a return to the basics by the survivors, in effect exploring that which made them human in the first place.”
He assumes the zombie-apocalyptic trend is popular because people are “obsessed with being scared, and nothing is as frightening as the prospect of the end-of-times.”
“A zombie apocalypse is, strangely enough, the most convenient and readily available outlet for that kind of fantastic exploration.”
He has never seen this “particular scenario play out before,” which he figured was a good point in his favor. This allowed him “to move away from traditional zombie lore and present some different scenarios and outcomes.”
Duperre considers his endeavor with The Rift series risky and knows he has annoyed more than one reader by straying from the typical zombie formula.
“I’m happier doing things my own way than sticking to a script someone else wrote.”
There are some prevalent motifs running through Duperre’s series such as isolation, personal tragedy, and social injustice, which he considers “the single greatest theme” that runs through all four volumes. The social injustices that he tackles are the treatment of women and the complexities of race relations.
“At heart, I’ve always considered myself a progressive and a bit of a social activist, and this series allows me to explore these themes in a no-holds-barred manner, sometimes disturbing manner.”
Duperre’s work has been influenced by a number of writers throughout his career including Clive Barker, John Skipp, Stephen King, and George Romero, whose original Dead trilogy is “the single biggest influence” in his life.
“It was the first time I realized that monsters could be used as metaphors, and I ran with it,” Duperre said. “Clive Barker has also been a huge influence, in particular his fascination with the concept of worlds within worlds. Though you certainly can’t write a good book without talent, the style any writer develops is always dependent on the authors they’ve read and loved over the span of their lifetimes. I’m no different, and to all the writers who’ve spurred me on over the years, I say a great big thank you.”
The Rift series is a collaboration between Duperre and fellow NEHW member, artist Jesse David Young, who has done all the series’ covers.
They had discussed as far back as 2006 about Young doing illustrations for him, but nothing came of it. Three years later in the summer of 2009, Young called about working on a comic book they could pitch to DC comics. Duperre was working on final rewrites on the first book in the series and asked Young if he wanted to do what they talked about so long ago, he said.
“We’ve been working together ever since, and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s nice to have a partner to share in the stress, after all. I wouldn’t have been able to get as much work done as I have without him by my side.”
His series is self-published, which allows Duperre to take risks, but not something he couldn’t have done through a traditional publishing company, he said. He doesn’t hold any “real love for self-publishing” since “it’s difficult and time-consuming.”
Duperre considers self-publishing “a means to an end” and doesn’t think he would be where he is today without it. He thinks the changing publishing world is “exciting and dangerous at the same time.”
“For the release of a book to be as simple as a click of a mouse, the possibilities are endless for success and failure. I experienced a bit of both.”
Duperre rushed The Fall to publication which resulted in the release of a poorly edited book, he said. It was full of plot holes, which he had to go back and fix post-publication. The same mistakes happened with Dead of Winter, but to “a lesser extent.”
“Thankfully for me, my sales didn’t really start to take off until after they were fixed which is a very good thing. It could have ruined my reputation something fierce had the lesser-quality work taken center stage.”
He considers this a huge problem since there are a lot of books on the market that are not good. These books are lacking “plot and characterization, are poorly executed, or simply put out there by someone who doesn’t have a clue about how to write.”
These problems have created a stigma for being a self-published author “that is rightly deserved.” This stigma has even put more pressure on authors like Duperre, he said.
“I need to work extra hard to make sure the work we put out is of professional quality, is edited, and cohesive. It’s a good thing I enjoy doing this, otherwise I might have walked away by now.”
Along with writing his zombie series, Duperre has published two anthologies, The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales and The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair. The first one was released in November 2010 and contains stories by him and a few writer friends. Each story contains an illustration by Young.
“After [the first anthology was released], I thought it would be a novel idea if the anthology became a yearly/bi-yearly event.”
The Gate’s sequel was released this past February. It contains stories from K. Allen Wood, David Dalglish, Steven Pirie and Mercedes Yardley.
He wants to publish a third volume next February entitled The Gate 3: 13 Creature Features.
“The goal is to have it be an actual paying anthology this time around, featuring some of my old-time and new favorites in horror and dark fantasy. I’m not entirely certain if I’ll be able to pull it off given the state of finances at the moment, but I’m dedicated to it, and I’ve found over the years that if I’m dedicated to something, I somehow find a way to pull it off.”
Duperre has been writing since childhood, he has been “obsessed” with it from “the process, the imagination involved, [and] the outcome.”
“My high school term papers were behemoths, and I decided that my life’s goal would be to teach English and write novels for a living.”
Life did get in his way back in his early to mid twenties until Jessica, his wife, told him to pick up his pen again. There would be “a gigantic hole” in his soul if he wasn’t writing, he said.
He began a website, Journal of Always, back in 2009 with the idea he would blog about what he thought was important, what bothered him, and maybe even discuss his own experiences during the writing process. It didn’t happen that way though, he said.
“I ignored it for far too long and eventually it was all but forgotten. Then, halfway through 2010, I decided I would start reading my fellow self-published authors and use the JOA as an outlet for reviews.”
The website has progressed nicely for the past two years until the past few months of this year when he had deadlines looming on other projects.
“I haven’t posted a review since February, even though I have a backlog of more than fifteen to write.”
He plans on adding more reviews soon.
Duperre’s advice to up and coming writers is the same as what other writers like King has told people. It is too read and write. He also goes farther and adds a person has to edit and rewrite too. A writer also has to “be open to criticism.”
“The only way any artist improves is by trial and error. There is no first draft of any book that is fit for publishing. Make sure you realize that and learn everything you can before putting yourself out there.”
Here is Duperre’s bibliography:
April 2010 – The Fall: The Rift Book I (novel)
July 2010 – Feeding the Passion (short story), Darker Magazine #2
November 2010 – The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales (collection)
November 2010 – The One That Matters (short story), A Land of Ash (edited by David Dalglish)
December 2010 – Dead of Winter: The Rift Book II (novel)
June 2011 – Silas (novel)
September 2011 – Chorus (short story), Dark Tomorrows, Second Edition (edited by J.L. Bryan)
October 2011 – 39 Days (short story), Unnatural Disasters (edited by Daniel Pyle)
December 2011 – One Good Turn (short story), Shock Totem Holiday Issue
January 2012 – Death Springs Eternal: The Rift Book III (novel)
February 2012 – The Gate: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair (collection)
Duperre will be at the NEHW booth at the South Windsor Strawberry Fest on June 16 in Nevers Road Park , South Windsor, CT. from 9 a.m to 5:30 p.m.
This article originally appeared on the Miami Herald website.
Colson Whitehead comes by his affection for zombies honestly. Sure, he’s considered a literary guy, one of those Writers with a capital W, winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, author of the critically praised novels Sag Harbor, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt and a book of essays titled The Colossus of New York. But his recent foray into horror fiction didn’t happen merely because he watched one too many episodes of The Walking Dead.
“Other kids liked to do sports. I liked to hang around the house reading horror comics and Marvel comics and Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft,” says Whitehead, who appears Saturday at Miami Book Fair International to discuss his latest novel, Zone One (Doubleday, $25.95), about the survivors stumbling through the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. “My orientation to zombies goes back to the first [George] Romero trilogy. I saw Dawn of the Dead in the theater. When I was in junior high and early high school, it was the heyday of Betamax, and we’d rent horror movies instead of being sociable teenagers. Kids today have grown up on 28 Days Later and Resident Evil and videogames, but my zombie is from the ’70s.”
Zone One takes place after the initial plague, following the adventures of civilian-turned-soldier Mark Spitz — not his real name; the moniker was given to him after a particularly close encounter of the zombie kind — whose unit is tasked by the interim government with clearing out Manhattan and making it ready for habitation again. There are still zombies staggering around, but most are “stragglers,” a less aggressive monster transfixed by the habits and places of their old lives.
The rabid zombies of Zone One are tougher to exterminate; early on, Mark stumbles into a nest of them in a long-forgotten Human Resources department: “He was the first live human being the dead had seen since the start, and the former ladies of HR were starving. … [T]hey were a thin membrane of meat stretched over bone. Their skirts were bunched on the floor, having slid off their shrunken hips long ago, and the dark jackets of their sensible dress suits were made darker still, and stiffened, by jagged arterial splashes and kernels of gore.”
So yes, there is gore, and there is flesh-eating and all those other horror requirements in Zone One. Whitehead does not skimp on blood or bodies, and his lumbering zombies are Romero-style monsters, not the speedy track stars of 28 Days Later. “The run and tackle zombies are scary,” he says, “but for me zombies are about the terror of the mob, of your community trying to devour you. That’s more horrifying to me.”
And monsters, of course, can always be more than ravenous creatures trying to eat your brain.
“With any kind of rhetorical device, whether it’s magic realism or a guy with wings or vampires and demons, you’re using a construct to talk about people. My first book, The Intuitionist, was about elevators, but it’s not really about elevators, it’s about transcendence and rationality. … Mark’s travails are about survival. He and the other survivors are really just trying to cope with a devastating event in their lives. It just happens to be the apocalypse. But it could be a minor apocalypse.”
Whitehead never loses his sharp sense of humor at human foibles; after all, apocalypse? We’ve all been there. One of the darkly funny elements of Zone One is the reconstructed government’s insistence that the units not destroy any property in their sweeps of Manhattan. After all, people are going to want to come back, so don’t smash any windows if you have to blow away the undead.
“My initial take on the psychology of survival is after the end of the world, things will be a little more bombed out, but everything we hate about contemporary society will come back, all the insane rules and the marketing and the bureaucracy,” Whitehead says. “Someone will decide the reboot of society needs a marketing slogan.”
Zombies are still big in pop culture these days, of course, what with AMC’s hit The Walking Dead, horror videogames, the upcoming World War Z movie starring Brad Pitt, even Jane Austen interpreted through an undead prism in Quirk Books’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But Whitehead has his own take on why he’s fascinated with this particular creature.
“My paranoid orientation toward zombies is really a fear of people,” he admits. “I guess my interpretation goes back to when I was a kid, any moment your friends and family stop to reveal themselves to be the monsters they’ve always been.”