Wasteland for Life!

On the Thursday before the show, my newsfeed starts to blow up with all these people posting “Wastelanded”. Why are they getting there a day before the show even starts??? Well, there is a reason for that.

When I used to post my convention reports, I usually would use the word “survivor”. But it really doesn’t do justice when you’re talking about Cinema Wasteland. Sure, after the weekend, you did feel like you ran a marathon (might be due to the lack of sleep) but the word “survivor” makes you feel like the event was an ordeal and that you’re glad it is over. That is not the case for this particular convention.

I’ve been going to Cinema Wasteland since its very first show in September of 2000 and have never missed one. We were dealers there up until right before the pandemic but have still continued to go even though we’re not vending. Why? Simply because it really is like no other and is so much fun. And this past show was no different.

Granted, the best part of Wasteland is the gathering of fellow horror fiends/friends, getting together until the wee hours of the morning discussing the finer (and lower) points of the horror genre. I consider these people part of my horror family and am damn proud of them. This is the place where, as a die-hard horror fan, you really feel like you’ve found your tribe.

One of the things that Wasteland does so well is bringing in guests that you’re probably not going to see at most other shows. Why is that? Well, to be blunt, because those fans wouldn’t care about them. I know that sounds harsh, but I’ve been to a few of the bigger shows where true horror icons were guests, only to have their line dwarfed by the line to get a photo op of a replica of a car from a movie or an actor who had a bit part in a zombie TV show. Let that sink in. But not at Wasteland. People coming through the door know who these people are and show them the love and respect they deserve. They really keep those films they worked on alive and well. That, my friends, is Wasteland.

At this last show, that took place last weekend, not only did I get to meet, but actually sat across from him at dinner, but the one and only Zandor Vorkov, who played Dracula in Al Adamson’s Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971). Sure, most fans will laugh at that film, but I thought it was great as a kid when I first saw it and love it even more when you learn more about the making of it. He had some great stories of working with Adamson and Sam Sherman, showing just why these films are so special, even if they didn’t have the budget. The fact that we are talking about them today proves that. Definitely something I never thought would happen all those years ago when watching this film. Also, the rest of the gang in this photo are pretty cool and damn talented too, especially Carolyn Brandt!

Also at the show was the incredible Carolyn Brandt, making her first convention appearance. Brandt was married to Ray Dennis Steckler and appeared in quite a few of his films, such as Thrill Killers (1964), Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966), and of course, Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies (1964). So again, who would have ever thought that years ago watching Steckler’s films, and then now getting to hang out with her at her table and chat throughout the weekend. Such a lovely lady and sure had some great stories of her days in those films. Even better that the Q&A was run by two of my good friends, Aaron AuBuchon and Chris Curry (who has a new book coming out soon about Steckler and his films, called The Incredibly Strange Features of Ray Dennis Steckler).

They also had a little Motel Hell (1980) reunion with director Kevin Connor, and stars Nina Axelrod and Paul Linke. Once again, they had some great stories during the Q&A. I will say that one nice thing about not vending there is that I can actually stay for them instead of having to worry about getting back to my table!

And to add to all of that, it is the dealer room that is just filled with amazing products tempting your money from your wallet. Not too many shows these days can really make me wish I had more spending cash because there are so many cool things at this show. Make sure you check out one of their future shows and see if you understand what I’m talking about. Hope to see you there.

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