EVENT REVIEW: HorrorCon UK, 2017
– By Kriss Pickering
While horror conventions and film fests seem to take place every weekend over the pond in America, here in the UK, and in particular the north, we have simply had to look on in envy. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen one website or another plugging the latest fest and been gutted when it is inevitably taking place in some little town in the backwaters of the ‘States. So imagine my pure delight when “HorrorConUK” announced they were returning to the Magna Centre in Sheffield (or more accurately Rotherham) again!
This edition of the con took place over the weekend of 13th and 14th May, 2017, and boasted Q&A’s and autograph/photo opportunities with genre legends Heather Langenkamp, Sid Haig, Wolf Creek’s John Jarrett, “The Mistress Of The Dark” herself, Cassandra Peterson, Thom Matthews and Linda Hayden. Although these horror stars were the con’s big draws, there was plenty of other stuff to do, which I’ll get into later.
Because we had priority tickets, we arrived at Magna at about 9.45, and were shocked to see the queue was already massive. The security and guys on the door were great though, and it moved at a surprisingly rapid pace. Once inside, you start to realise just how good a venue Magna is for an event like this. It’s an old steel works, and it really adds to the atmosphere.
The first thing you are met with inside the con is a huge room with a DJ playing horror themes and heavy metal tunes. There was also a really fun “Zombie Survival School”, where you could fire Daryl Dixon style cross bows, shoot a handgun and throw axes at zombies. It really set the tone for the day.
After killing a few of the undead, we then moved into the ‘Big Hall’, where most of the con happened. There was a huge market, selling everything horror related you could ever wish for. But for now, that had to wait as I wanted to get the autographs of the stars!
We queued up to meet Nightmare On Elm Street’s Heather Langenkamp, who charged £30 for a signed photo of her and a “selfie.” She spent about 5 minutes with us, and personalised the photo to me, and I was really happy that I’d met one of the people who got me hooked on horror in the first place!
Up next was Wolf Creek’s John Jarrett, who was an absolutely brilliant bloke. His signed, personalised photo was a little cheaper at £20, but while you got the sense Heather was going through the motions with her fans, John really looked to be enjoying it. Because his queue wasn’t as long, he spent about 10 minutes with us, telling us about the filming of the Wolf Creek films, and about his new film, Boar. Altogether a really nice guy!
Next we wanted to join the queue for Sig Haig. Due to his popularity, they were using a ticketing system to meet him. We were given a number and told that it would be at least 1.30pm when they would be calling our number due to his Q&A and booked photo ops. This was fine. While waiting, we decided to go to Return Of The Living Dead star Thom Matthews. I had a copy of Cult Screenings/Dead Mouse Productions book 245 Trioxin which he was happy to sign, and after speaking about his experiences filming ROTLD, said he didn’t want to take any money off us for signing the book, which I thought was great!
After checking on the Sid Haig line, we decided to have a look around the market. I was in my element! There was toy stalls, plenty of t-shirt sellers, a couple who sold original movie posters, home made sweet stalls and, my favourite, a stall selling movie replicas like Jason masks and Freddy gloves. I spent, all in all, about £450 on various things, and could easily have blown double!
There was also a room with The Monster Project display. A scheme set up for the Make A Wish charity where artists take a standard Frankenstein’s Monster bust and go to work making their mark on it. There were some truly exceptional pieces of work, and if you have the money, then please have a bid on some of them and raise some funds for an amazing cause.
Also in this room was the Project Paranormal’s Haunted Museum. It wasn’t much, just a few tables with items that are said to be/were haunted. The couple that ran it were lovely and we had a really good chat with them, and they gave us some DVD’s with photos and videos of their work on.
Finally, after explaining that we were really running short of time, the lady let us join the Sid Haig queue. Unfortunately, I think he was getting a bit fed up, as he wasn’t very talkative and didn’t seem to be happy that I wanted him to sign my NECA figure. I’ve got to say though, people who spoke to him earlier in the day said he was a pleasure, and he did seem cool in his Q&A, so maybe it was just with it being towards the end of the day.
As well as the autograph ops, there were also Q&A’s with the guests. I saw three of them, Heather Langenkamp’s, John Jarrett’s and Sid Haig’s. It was really good to hear some of the legends of the genre talking about (for example) their experiences whilst making their films and projects they had coming up. I’d definitely recommend these for any fan!
There was also a fancy dress competition (or cosplay, as the kids call it!), and some of the outfits were amazing. I can’t imagine how much was spent on some of them. Personal favourites included the Negan one (complete with “Easy Street” being played on repeat), a brilliant “Mr Babadook” and one of the most accurate Jason Voorhees I’ve ever seen.
The only down side, for me anyway, is the fact I couldn’t make it to any of the short film screenings, due to doing other things! 😛
To sum things up, this con was a fantastic day out and I’d recommend it to any horror fan. Just take my advice and a) get queuing early for the guests autographs, and b) make sure you take PLENTY of money. Follow those two rules and it will be one of the highlights of your year!
Visit HorrorCon UK’s official site HERE!