by Lucy Leitner
From September 21–23, the Crowne Plaza hotel near the South Hills Village transforms into a blood-spattered festival of everything that makes us scream. Celebrity guests line the walls of main room, ready to sign autographs and interact with fans while vendors (like House of the Dead) peddle their monstrous wares. Horror fans mingle in this spooky bazaar and attend film screenings and panel discussions during the days and a Monster Prom Party on Saturday night.
Currently in its fourth year, Horror Realm is a celebration of scary movies old, new, completely obscure. An entire room at this year’s convention is devoted to screening VHS films—from Tromeo and Juliet to Undead Holocaust to Spider Baby—on a TV. And, as is the case with all Pittsburgh events of this nature, it has a special focus on our region’s unique horror heritage.
“We are fortunate to have so many local people who are part of Pittsburgh’s horror history. We have many returning Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead cast and crew members appearing,” said Horror Realm owner/coordinator Sandy Stuhlfire, aka Miss Dee.
Locals Kyra Schon, Mark Tierno, Lori Cardille, and Mike Christopher will reprise their now regular appearances to be joined by new additions Phillip G. Kellams, Randy Kovitz, and Jeff Monahan. The convention will also feature a screening of locally made short horror film Tablet of Tales and an appearance by Doug Bradley (Pinhead of Hellraiser fame) who, though not born a Pittsburgher, stars in the Conneaut Lake-filmed Scream Park.
“And of course, what Pittsburgh horror con would be complete without Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille?,” Stuhlfire added.
Though many of the local guests are of the zombie subgenre, Stuhlfire saw that vampires were duly represented this year. Along with the US premiere of the UK film Blood and Bone China, author Denise Verrico will lead a panel on the history of vampires. And just about every other creature of the night—from psychopathic clowns to Cenobites—will be present in the South Hills this weekend.
Ken Foree, a Pittsburgh favorite due to his heroic turn in the original Dawn of the Dead, is appearing, along with horror icon Sid Haig (House of 1,000 Corpses, etc). John Waters film staple Mink Stole will represent filth while Brian O’Halloran (Clerks) will be there, although he is probably not even supposed to be there that day. Authors Eric R. Lowther and William Todd Rose will lead a panel discussion and sign copies of their books. Ed Demko will talk posters, Joe Lemieux of Grim Films will discuss the art of independent cinema, and Benzidream FX Studio will demonstrate special effects makeup techniques.
So, for the aspiring filmmaker seeking advice on each aspect of making an indie film or fans seeking more macabre items to line the walls of their home, Horror Realm is a fantastic way to kick off the Halloween season. Because in Pittsburgh Halloween deserves its own season.