When someone approaches you and says, ‘Hey Ash, would you like to present the Midnight Movie on Saturday night at this year’s Nine Worlds convention?’, the answer is fortunately relatively easy: ‘Yes.’ When someone else approaches you and asks, ‘Would you be interested in being on a panel discussion about zombies?’ at the same convention the answer is thankfully also pretty easy: ‘You betcha.’ Then the next question comes: ‘How do you fancy trying to decide whether Horror is Evil?’ and, other than the risk of making a fool out of yourself in front of a room of people, you can’t think of a good reason to say no. At this point you’re up to your neck in the convention* and with only a few days to go you decide to turn around to the first person to approach you and say ‘Hey, would you like me to present Thursday night’s film as well?’ and the answer comes back ‘Sure, as long as it’s easy’. It was easy. Super easy.
First, the panels. I wasn’t nervous in the slightest when I walked into the room at 9am on a Saturday morning to discuss zombies. Being fuelled by about 4hrs sleep, it was impossible to be nervous: I was almost a zombie myself. Many thought I was hungover, but here’s a shocking revelation for you Hammered Horrorites out there; I spent most of Nine Worlds sober. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have a drink (I did, preferably with a peer group), it was that I was just so damned busy that drinking took a back seat. I know, I was shocked as well. The first panel was a nice leisurely discussion of the possibilities of a zombie apocalypse, taking a trip to the argument of fast vs slow ghouls, the various social commentaries including those presented by ‘In the Flesh’, and the distinct problem of child zombies. I wish I could give a more detailed account but other than the fact I got decidedly more (re-)animated as the panel went on most of it is a blur. A joyous, wonderful blur. Much to my surprise it was also surprisingly full for 9am on a Saturday, which can often be found to be a veritable ‘graveyard slot’ at residential conventions.
The second panel was a much more intimate affair, as Prano Bailey-Bond, Doc K Oughton and myself took centre stage in the film track room to try and work out if Horror is evil. I’m not sure how much we stuck to that topic but I do know it was a blast dancing around it as we took in video nasties, possessed toys, teenage rebellion, reputation vs reality, and an encore of my minor rant from the earlier panel about why Hollywood and modern audiences make so much modern horror ‘dumb’.
I think the second panel is one of the most fun panels I’ve been on at a convention. The smaller number of panellists, the handheld microphones and lack of tables gave the entire thing a ‘talk show’ vibe and put us a lot closer to the audience. I confess I felt intimidated by my fellow panellists; they were learned, scholarly and industry savvy. However I was made to feel very welcome and ended up not just being the source of ‘dick and fart’ jokes (as I credited myself). My only real cringeworthy moment was forgetting every single example of ‘Last man standing’ in horror films, which is embarrassing given my namesake.
My only real regret about the panels I was on is that I didn’t record them. They were immensely entertaining to be part of, and I’d have loved to have known how they came across to the audience. I even had the equipment in my bag, but a tight schedule and a lack of forethought on my part meant it was not to be. So it goes.
Now the film trailer reels. During my research for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, the Saturday night movie, I had uncovered many gems of the British cinema experience, however since I was going for the ’80s experience’ I had no need for 1970s adverts and bumpers. However when I saw ‘Horror Express’ enter the arena for Thursday night I knew I had somewhere I could put these finds to good use. Paired with the adverts were a selection of trailers. Not necessarily horror but certainly horrific, with a few films covered by Hammered Horror thrown in for good measure. As a bonus you’ll find a special advert attached to the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ reel that was created just for the convention, with the aid of Mr Paul’s dulcet tones.
Once again, thanks to everyone at the Nine Worlds convention, to all the lovely people I met, to those who joined us for the midnight movies, and to everyone who organised it. It’s a special convention and one I’m immensely proud to be a part of. For more information on Nine Worlds past, present and future check out their website here.
* For full disclosure of how deeply involved I was in the convention: in addition to panels and films I was on, I was also part of the evening ents team for the convention, part of the team that brought ‘Rock Club London’ to Nine Worlds, and co-hosted the ‘End of the Con Quiz’.