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April 1st - 3rd, 2011

Wasteland # 19….wow.  One show away from the Big 20!  But just like each and every other show, we had a great time.  There is no other show out there like the Wasteland.  Just ask any of the people coming through the door.  Especially the ones that come through the door each and every show.  These are the die-hard fans that make this show so much fun.  Once you come to the Wasteland, it will hook you and you'll want to come back to each and every show.

At this show, we had an Italian invasion, specifically the people that worked with director Ruggero Deodato.  We’ve met Deodato before and he is always fun.  Being so excited to be there, his enthusiasm for the fans is incredible.  It might have something to do with the fact that in Italy, they don’t seem to get the attention that he does here, especially at the Wasteland.  Joining him was Michael Berryman, who has worked with Deodato on three films, CUT AND RUN (1985) being the most notable.  LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT star David Hess worked with Deodato on six films, such as HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980).  From his most notorious film, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, actor Carl Gabriel York and actress Francesca Ciardi where making a little reunion.  Robert Kerman was original scheduled to be at the show but had to cancel at the last minute due to illness.  None the less, the Q&A panel with all of them involved was quite entertaining.  Deodato explained in his best English how American actors sometimes had difficulties getting use to the European way of filmmaking.  A lot of things are done on the fly, last minute decisions, and having to think on your feet.  He mentioned about telling the "architect" (probably the set designer)  on HOLOCAUST that he wanted to impale the girl on the big stake tomorrow and he needed to figure out by then.  And the guy did, using stuff that he could find in the middle of the jungle.  That is fast thinking.  The stories from Hess and Berryman about filming in the jungles there were far scarier than anything we seen on film.  From poisonous snakes to eels swimming around in the water, you just never knew what was going to happen.  But as Deodato stated, it is very different way of filmmaking.

Back in 1993, we had travelled to Pittsburgh for a 25th Anniversary show for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.  It was at a convention center that was right across from the Monroeville Mall, where the original DAWN OF THE DEAD took place. Almost all of the surviving major cast were there at the show.  So I had gotten a poster signed by then by everyone there, from Romero down to Kyra Schon.  Of course Dwayne Jones had passed away some time ago, but everyone else was there. Except for Judith Ridley.  Ridley played the young Judy who gets stuck in the house with her boyfriend Tom.  But she was making an appearance at Wasteland so I knew that I need to add her signature to my poster.  Funny thing was that for the other eight signatures I had gotten back then, I hadn’t paid a single dime.  Now, eighteen years later, I fork over $20 for one signature.  Man…how times have changed.

Also for the first time in Wasteland history, they a few guests and quite a few dealers that had to bail out at the last minute due to illnesses.  But the hard working Ken and Pam worked their collective butts off to find new dealers that were willing to take a table at the last minute.  Just shows how many people want to get their foot in the door to get a dealer table.  Because they know the kind of crowd that this show pulls in every single time.  These are hardcore fans that are there to have a good time.  Watch movies, drink, party, and celebrate the drive-in atmosphere at the show.  No other show is like it.

Another guest there that we wanted to meet was the multi-talented John Buechler.  He started out in special make up effects, but then has moved on into everything from directing, writing, producing, and even acting.  The first and last time we'd seen Buechler was at our first horror convention in LA back in 1988.  He had just finished directing FRIDAY THE 13th Part 7 back then.  Again, how times have changed.  We wanted to add his signature to our rare RE-ANIMATOR poster that has an ever growing list of autographs.  We have really gotten out of the autograph thing for the most part, but when there is someone special, or we have a poster that already has a bunch of signatures, we like to keep adding to it.  Within reason of course.  Hard for me to justify a $20 price tag for a guy that basically was on screen for 3 seconds.  But someone, like Buechler, who worked on the autopsy corpses, is much deserving of the praise.

There was plenty more guests there, like two of the lovely ladies from EVIL DEAD, Lynn Lowry from I DRINK YOUR BLOOD and many other great classics, and Tom Atkins, who seemed to be having the time of his life.  So great to see these guests look like there are really enjoy themselves.  I’m sure that has a lot to do with the crowd of people that come to Wasteland.  Sure, they are there to have a good time, but the guests are always surprised at how nice the fans are as well as how big of fans they are.  That really shows how die-hard and hardcore the Wasteland fans are.  And that is just one of the things that makes this show so great.

Making the trip with us this time was mostly our Wasteland regulars, our artist buddy Putrid, Kreepylady Kristin, Dave “Liquid Cheese” Kosanke and his buddy Ryan.  But also joining us for his first Wasteland trip, was my son Nick.  He has been hearing about this show for years and has wanted to come for a very long time.  So we thought it was about time for him to experience just what Wasteland is all about.  And I’m pretty sure he had a blast.  On Saturday night, after we got back from our usual massive act of gluttony (called dinner by most folks), we stumble into the bar area.  I look at Nick wondering if he could be in there, since he’s still only 18, though looks much older.  Then we glance over at the benches to see two little kids completely passed out and dead to the world.  The best example of what Wasteland is.  But I guess that answered our question pretty easily.

As always, one of the best things about these shows is getting to hang out with your friends.  From talking about the show, about movies, or whatever, it is always a good time.  A lot of fun, some great conversations, and making a bunch of new friends.  Always a good time.

Speaking of friends, our good buddy Don England was celebrating his birthday over that weekend, so it was great to give him a very memorable birthday, though he may not be thinking the same thing.  But it is because of friends like Don and his wife Nina that make these conventions so great.  Just being able to hang out and talk about movies and whatever, really puts it into a great experience, and one that we look forward to each and every time.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY DON!!!

And of course, showing just how cool and great of a person that Michael Berryman is, he stopped by to have some birthday cake with us and to wish Don a Happy Birthday.  They don't make guys like Mr. Berryman that often.  He is a one of kind human being and is always a pleasure to meet.

During the evening, when they are screening films on 16mm, we are usually spending that time hanging in the bar.  This year, they were screening one of Roger Corman’s early classics, ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, which I really wanted to see.  But by the time we got back from eating Friday night, we had missed most of it.  Damn shame, since that sounded like a great time.  Yet another great thing about Wasteland….the movies.  With 16mm films screening most of the weekend to the constant films playing in the video room, there is always something to do there.

Like all good things, they must come to an end.  So that Sunday, after a pretty surprising busy last day, we pack up the van, say our goodbyes, and make our way back into the van to start that 7 hour journey back home.  The ride back from any show usually can be a bit of a downer.  The show is over and we’re all heading back to reality.  We’re tired and those 3 days of very little sleep are catching up with us, some more than others.  There are discussions about the show and what is coming up next, or anything else to keep the conversation going.  But most of the time, it gets quieter the longer we’re on the road.  But there are a few things that can happen that can wake everyone up and make you wonder just what the hell are you seeing.  Like pulling back onto the highway from a rest stop, only to see a truck driver not 10 feet from his truck on the side of the road taking a squat.  At first I thought he was just sitting there, thinking “Ha…looks like he’s taking a dump!”…then realized that was exactly what he was doing.  Only in American.  Also, stopping at one of the lovely oasis on the way home to get some food, and making the stupid mistake of getting some Italian food from Sbarros.  Now, the idea of getting Italian food at some oasis on the side of I-80 in Ohio probably was not the smartest thing to do.  Nick and me both ordered a piece of lasagna, some potatoes and some rice.  Our total bill…..$26.96!  I couldn’t freaking believe it.  But once again, how fucking stupid was I ordering something like this at a TRUCK STOP!!!!  I know that is one mistake that I will never make again.

But we make it home once again, safe and sound and tired as hell.  But then can’t wait for our next show so we can do it all over again!


PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS

Ruggero Deodato
        

David Hess
        

 Francesca Ciardi
        

Carl Gabriel York
     

Judith Ridley

John Buechler