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A. Ghastlee Ghoul's 2004 Cinema Wasteland Wrap-Up

"Ain't No Place Like The Wasteland!"

Still in recovery mode here after the Cinema Wasteland fifth (I drank at least that much) anniversary show experience. Hard to believe it has been five years since Ken and Pam Kish first showed the Midwest what a horror convention should be, but the fact that going back to Wasteland is now as much a "family reunion" as a place to meet the monster makers behind the drive-in era classics definitely proves it's true. Back in 2000, my sidekick Jeff and I slipped into the show incognito, and had the time of our lives meeting folks like the Dawn of the Dead cast, director Ted V. Mikels and many others. We got drunk as monkeys, and managed to fly under everyone's radar as we behaved like a couple of fanboys in a candy store of horrors. Now, a blink of the eye later, we can't vomit in public there without hitting an old friend. It's a beautiful thing. The October 2005 show found Ken Kish playing ringmaster to another lineup of guests that were uniquely Wasteland. Two firsts were in the offing this time out, as Ken indulged another of his personal fantasy rosters and presented us with both LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and I DRINK YOUR BLOOD reunions! To add icing to the anniversary cake, director Jeff Lieberman (BLUE SUNSHINE, SQUIRM), actress Marilyn Chambers (Cronenberg's RABID, and porn classics like BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR), and Lynn Lowery (CAT PEOPLE, SHIVERS, THE CRAZIES) made rare appearances. Old friends like Kyra Schon from Night of the Living Dead and macabre artist Tom Sullivan (fx wizard from The Evil Dead) are always a joy to see, as is Famous Monsters of Filmland cover artist Basil Gogos.

The compliment of quality dealers on hand at Wasteland is always enough to have you spending every last penny in your pocket, and tossing a coin to decide which you want more; a cool collectable or another beer. Up-and-coming artist/author Stanlee Houston showed what makes him a name to watch for in the field of horror and fantasy, as he spent the weekend doing wonderful sketches while folks stopped by his table-- then surprising his new-found fans by presenting them with the work they had watched him create while they chatted. Meanwhile, Splat Books authors Joe Knetter and Matt Jorgenson fed passersby brownies from their signature bloody toilet, and Joe had everyone in attendance in a state of bemused shock as he dropped his drawers and sat on that very same commode to deliver a reading. YIKES! Joe claims that is the way Splat Books offering are meant to be read, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Joe just likes to show off his boxers at any opportunity. We're talking Wasteland here though, so nothing that happens should be too surprising!

The highlight of any Wasteland weekend for me is, of course, the Saturday night "Ghastlee Night at the Movies" event. Ken turns the attending horror hosts and assorted friends loose at 8pm on Saturdays, in what he likes to call "The Lamest Show On Earth"-- and I like to think that we never fail to disappoint. The 200 seat room was full past capacity this time out (one of the staffers even told me the next day that he couldn't get in), for the first ever (and probably ONLY ever) Wasteland Talent-less Show. Louu the Xxxmas Devil, Robin Graves and my beloved Suspira made up the version of The Undead Unplugged to open the show, assailing the audience with campfire versions of X, Blue Oyster Cult, Fleetwood Mac, and the theme to the film Spider Baby, before handing the reigns over to more capable hands.

THE BONE JANGLER, sporting a casual new look in his purple Neru jacket and chicken bone breastplate, roused the rabble back to a properly unmanageable state as he tag-teamed off to Austin's Professor Anton Griffin who would emcee the freakshow to follow. Both shined in their element, seizing the crowd by the boo-boo and refusing to let go. The judges-- horror host I. Zombi, The Zombie Cheerleader, horror host legend Dr. Creep, the lovely Suspira and Nocturna, Cleveland area disc jockey Neal Darewaves, and filmmaker Andrew Copp as "The Reverend Zealot" were particularly viscious and quick to drop the ax and gong contestants who didn't meet their apparently high standards of substandard talent.

Ok, so all but one of the varied acts got gonged. The panel was trigger happy, and were fighting over the button that set off the Wasteland "gong"; which was a loop of the cough from the beginning of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf". ( I wanted to call the presentation "The Bong Show", but Ken wouldn't go for it.) It didn't matter though; everyone who plays along gets something at the Wasteland Saturday night show. First place went to a guy named Bobo who played The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated" on the banjo, and had the crowd with him one-hundred percent. Second place went to another crowd favorite, a belly dancer. Third place demonstrates most clearly the type of talents appreciated at the Wasteland; it went to a girl who could shove her entire fist into her mouth! Runners-up included a guy doing a "geek act", who ate anything people gave him-- like cigarette butts, a snot rag, and a mini bar of soap. As I said, we had nice prizes for everyone though. First prize was a package of goodies Ken put together, worth $100, the top three got Wasteland 5th anniversary shot glasses too.

Since the Saturday night event is called "A Ghastlee Night at the Movies", we try to run a film at some point. This year it was "Alien Factor", hosted by one of the movie's stars, Dick Dyzsel... aka Count Gore DeVol (www.countgore.com). Dick took the crowd back in time by showing up in a screaming yellow 1970's leisure suit, which told everyone right off the bat what they were in for. No one was disappointed! Dick's running commentary had those in attendance laughing themselves silly, and eventually joining in to add a little Mystery Science Theater styled commentary of their own. It was the perfect topper to a fun four-hour long event.

Cinema Wasteland begins season six next April by rolling out a tribute to drive-in "biker films"-- and has yet another stellar reunion in the works that you'll have to check their website or sign up for their newsletter to keep informed about. Stay in-the-know by dropping by cinemawasteland.com! The party gets better and better every time!

Your ol' pal,

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