The Horror Honeys: Days of the Dead – Los Angeles 2016: Days of the Woman

Days of the Dead – Los Angeles 2016: Days of the Woman

A Horror TV Honey Convention Recap with Jennica


Bates Motel: Season 4, Episode 5 seemed a little lacking last week because it didn’t happen. With young Norman Bates on hiatus this past week and Damien killing me softly with his remixed theme score, I was forced to rise from my big comfy couch, turn off my television, and do something unspeakably spooky. I entered a strange waterfall portal and scrubbed off my couch potato grunge, I slathered my face in war paint, and… and I put on pants. But I gave these pants a purpose as I dragged my bones over to Burbank, CA for a weekend of terror at Days of the Dead Los Angeles. While Los Angeles has become a sort of Mecca for horror events and conventions, what stood out most about this year’s Days of the Dead was its focus on women in the horror film industry, as many iconic women and up-and-coming actresses and directors greeted fans and talked amongst each other regarding the benefits and obstacles faced when setting out to make a horror movie in what is still somewhat a man’s world.

Just don't touch my hair.

Entering the convention floor at a deadly hour in the morning, I got my blood pumping with a little window—or table—shopping to take a gander at the ghoulish goods offered at this year’s Days of the Dead and I was far from disappointed. I have attended conventions catering to other niche interests in the past, but the sky is always the limit when horror vendors are involved. Running out of room at home for your satanic bible and spell books? Halloween Psycho offers hand-crafted and custom-made coffin-shaped shelves of all sizes. Are you like me and spend too much time on your couch alone? You could find a frightful friend at Dreadful Little Things. For those who prefer a little reading material to balance out the hours of watching horror movies and TV, there were a number of tables loaded with horror novels by new authors. And finally, one major concern that enters everyone’s minds and noses on the convention floor is personal hygiene. We understand. You’re probably used to your stench as you spend much of your time hiding in your lair and inserting hours of gore into your eyeholes before remembering that your home contains a washroom. That’s why Sick Soaps graced Days of the Dead to remind all creatures of the night that looking dead doesn’t mean you have to smell dead. 

Want!
I'm a deadly little thing.
The pen is mightier than the sword. Or knife. Or chainsaw...

Need a new scent? Sick Soaps can lend a hand!
Many of the tables at Days of the Dead—or rather at any horror convention—are focused on what they can do for you as a fan. They are there to provide you with unique mementos and horror memorabilia purchase and take home with you. But there was one table this year that offered horror fans a chance to give back to the horror community and help build a bigger empire. The Hollywood Horror Museum booth displayed a few example props from some of our favorite horror and science fiction films that would potentially be placed on display in a new museum backed by some of the horror industry’s finest such as Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Fright Night), Joe Dante (Gremlins), and Mick Garris (Critters 2, Sleepwalkers) as well as descendants of horror icons such as Victoria Price and Sara Karloff. This museum is intended to explore the cinematic and psychological aspects of the things that we fear as human beings. So, of course, I could not resist throwing my money their way. 

Learn more at www.hollywoodhorror.org
While roaming the through the aisles on the convention floor, I came across many familiar faces other than those of my respective horror family. Bright and early, I approached Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects, Spider Baby) who was not quite aware of my presence as he went on to drop F-bombs and shit-bombs left and right. As he spun around, he smiled and attempted to convince me that he was only speaking French. Fortunately, I’m fluent in “French.” Although many of Sid Haig’s movie stills displayed across his table were from his work with Rob Zombie, I was caught by surprise when he showed great enthusiasm to talk about anything from his acting career but Rob Zombie’s movies. He told stories from his experience on the set of THX 1138 (1971) and what it was like working under the direction of George Lucas and he shared his fanboy moment with Lon Chaney, Jr. on the set of Spider Baby (1967). Sid Haig was warm and welcoming to all of his fans young and old, but he has expressed a deep desire to be appreciated in all of his roles from the start of his career to now rather than continue to be known solely as the tooty-fuckin-fruity guy. 

What does 'fuck' mean in French, Sid?
Another delight at Days of the Dead Los Angeles this year was the abundance of women actresses and filmmakers representing the underrepresented in the horror community. Showcasing their past and present work at the booths this year were happy camper Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), the totally rockin’ P.J. Soles (Halloween, Carrie), Camille Keaton (I Spit On Your Grave), and the best witch to play the worst witch Fairuza Balk (The Worst Witch, Return to Oz, The Craft). These are women that I grew up watching and idolizing as I entered the many phases of adolescent confusion. As many women in my generation have, I spent my pre-teen years as the socially and physically awkward Angela Baker, I entered middle school experimenting with my darker side like Nancy Downs, and I spent most of high school as party girl Norma/Linda. These are just a few of the role models who initially gave me hope for women to claim their place in horror society. In addition to these veterans, Days of the Dead also brought to my attention the beginning of a new generation of women in horror as I stopped in front of the Troma Entertainment booth where 19 year-old first-time director Kansas Bowling sat promoting her film B.C. Butcher (review coming soon!). Bowling is living proof that, despite the gender divide in the film industry, women are can and will continue bringing their aesthetic visions to life. 

We are the weirdos, mister.
Kansas Bowling inspires young women in horror.
Heading over to the panel room for my weekend dose of horror education, the most divided on-stage discussion occurred during the Etheria Film Panel. For those who have not heard of Etheria Film Night, this is an annual showcase at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA of unusual independent horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, and thriller films that are all by women directors. Curated by Etheria Festival Director Stacy Pippi Hammon, the panel consisted of both seasoned and forthcoming female directors such as Rebekah McKendry (Blumhouse, Fangoria Magazine), Kristina Klebe (As Human as Animal), Jackie Kong (Blood Diner), and Kansas Bowling (B.C. Butcher). Although we typically are flooded with examples of men treating women unequally in the film industry, the overall stance on the stage was strongly divided by culture, generation, and personal experience on and off film sets. However, while there is much focus on men’s treatment of women in horror or film in general, what was missing from the discussion was the acknowledgment of women’s treatment of women in the industry. Women in horror frequently encourage each other to advocate for other women in the industry, but are these ideals being practiced enough? 

Women in horror. Where do we go from here?
Days of the Dead Los Angeles 2016 appeared revolutionary in comparison to many horror conventions in the last several years because it not only gave praise to scream queens but also honored the women behind the camera creating someone of our favorite frights. In addition to giving admiration to women in horror, the convention also addressed women’s issues within the horror film industry and the horror community which are often discussed among women but seldom discussed publicly in front of a vast audience. Building awareness requires more than just complaining over the internet, it requires shouting from the rooftops and arms flailing until a need for major changes is made known. 

Looking to shake hands with your horror idols? Days of the Dead 2016 will be heading to Indianapolis June 24th through June 26th, Louisville September 2nd through September 4th, and Chicago November 18th through November 20th. Arise!

Were you lurking the floor at Days of the Dead Los Angeles this year? 
Share your experience with me on Twitter: @PrmQueenFrmMars