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It’s July 22, and the continent is in the chokehold of one
seriously punishing heatwave. In Louisville, Kentucky, fans and guests
congregate for the start of the 2011 Fright Night Film Festival under a steamy
blanket of humidity. Returning guest Sean Clark of HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS
describes a previous year in which the fest venue’s AC suffered a sudden and
fatal coronary, turning a packed hall into one gigantic oven. Needless to say,
grumpy and perspiring horror fans and sweltering celebrities do not a recipe
for happiness make. Fortunately, this year’s location in the Fern Valley
Conference Center is more than equipped to deal with both the weather and
influx of enthusiastic bodies.
Upon entry into the pleasantly cool hallways, the usual
suspects can be found at tables or milling around the convention floor.
Clusters of chatting fans suddenly go silent as Kane Hodder, owner of the most
threatening walk in the business, strides past. Tiffany Shepis entices visitors
to her table with her customary mix of high energy and salty sense of humor.
Yet these folks are almost a distraction alongside the presence of the guest of
honor—the architect of the modern horror film, John Carpenter. The director is
welcomed with an eager politeness by the fervent Kentucky faithful, and seems
honestly humbled by all the attention and affection shown.
For your Fango correspondent, the most entertaining aspect
is the wide array of Carpenter paraphernalia in constant flow underneath the
man’s felt-tip throughout the day. His signature is scrawled on homemade white
Shatner masks, actual butcher knives purloined from home (Mom’s gonna be
pissed…), massive and antiquated laserdiscs of vintage titles (MEMOIRS OF AN
INVISIBLE MAN is conspicuous by its absence) and a fantastic range of poster
art—foreign and domestic, authentic and reprint, familiar and alternate. One
lucky character has Carpenter sign a copy of the extremely limited Shepard
Fairey poster design for THEY LIVE, issued by Mondo to commemorate the recent
Alamo Drafthouse screening.
Alongside its popular convention showcase, Fright Night is
still, at its core, a film festival. Its directive of featuring and supporting
indie productions is strongly reasserted by fest organizer Ken Daniels during
his emotional closing speech. In terms of the awards scoreboard, the locally
shot OVERTIME, an amusing and breezy sci-fi/action comedy, looks to dominate
until Darrin Dickerson’s soldiers-vs.-mutants flick D4 swoops in to claim the
big plaques for Best Director and Best Film. (Fred Olen Ray’s soggy SUPERSHARK
is unsurprisingly shut out.) A self-deprecating Carpenter then reappears
onstage for a brief acceptance speech after collecting a Lifetime Achievement
Award, along with a customized Louisville Slugger baseball bat.
For Fango readers unable to hit up the festivities in
person, enjoy the exclusive videos below of the spirited Carpenter Q&A
session that took place Saturday afternoon. Watch as Carpenter reveals his
favorite film subgenre, which contemporary actress he’d love the chance to
direct and the real reason for the introduction of pagan mythology into the
early HALLOWEEN sequels, and more.
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