Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Fear Part II: Jason Takes Tatamagouche!

Last August, I reported from the first ever Summer Fear event, a one-day mini horror convention in Tatamagouche, NS. The inaugural event, which took place in a grain elevator that has been converted into a community arts centre, featured screenings of locally-made horror shorts and an appearance by Gunnar Hansen, AKA Leatherface in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The second Summer Fear was unleashed upon an unsuspecting rural Nova Scotia this past weekend and, in true horror sequel fashion, the ante was considerably upped. The event featured guests like Lenore Zann (a Truro MLA who appeared in early 80s slashers Visiting Hours and Happy Birthday To Me, and also provided the voice of Rogue in the 90s X-Men cartoon), Michael G. MacDonald (the title wacko in the Cape Breton-filmed horror spoof The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger), and none other than Kane Hodder, the stuntman-turned-thespian who has played Jason Voorhees in more films than any other actor: under his watch, Jason fought a telekinetic teen in Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood, took a bite out of the Big Apple in Jason Takes Manhattan, met his “ultimate” demise in Jason Goes To Hell, and brought terror to outer space in Jason X.
Last year’s Summer Fear had a modest but promising turnout of maybe 40-50 dedicated horror fanatics. I’m happy to report that Summer Fear 2012 (where I once again attended courtesy of Strange Adventures) seemed to have roughly quadrupled in attendance. The lineup to get Friday The 13th memorabilia signed never seemed to subside all day, with Hodder happily meeting and sharing stories of his career (which includes turns as a stunt player in the Chuck Norris vehicle Lone Wolf McQuade, and will soon feature a third Hatchet film) with the legions of diehards sweating it out in the August heat. The adjacent screening area was packed all day as well, with a program that included more local shorts and full-length features like the aforementioned Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger and Friday The 13th Part VII. To abuse my analogy once more, Summer Fear Part II was the rare sequel that improved upon the original. More guests, higher attendance, and a shocking twist ending (2011’s guest of honour, Gunnar Hansen, showed up unannounced at the end of the day!). The whole event is a bit like a horror film, after all—a bunch of folks go out to the middle of nowhere, there’s no cell phone reception, and a couple of psychotic killers are waiting to greet them. However, in this horror movie, when you wander off by yourself as I did, you don’t get an axe in your skull—you get an ice cream cone. Or, you find a Stedman’s that is apparently stuck in a time displacement bubble where it’s always 1992.
Oh yeah, and I did meet Kane Hodder and live to tell the tale. I confessed that The New Blood was the first Friday The 13th I ever saw, and that I’d never felt safe in a sleeping bag ever since. He lamented the original version of the movie, which he says was slashed to ribbons by the censorship watchdogs at the MPAA. Then, as he was happy to do for all the sweaty nerds like me who stood in line for him, he posed for a photo. Good times!