Dark Carnival Expo – Hamilton ON, July 9-10, 2016

A horror convention in Hamilton? Sign us up!

Thanks to Rue Morgue magazine, Hamilton ON played host to two days of horror madness and mayhem this summer in the form of the Dark Carnival Expo. Actually, things were more in the line of horrific delights than madness and mayhem, but these could be easily imagined.

A Friday evening pre-expo event kicked off the festivities – a Haunted Evening at Hamilton Place with Mitch Markowitz of Hilarious House of Frightenstein and Spooky Steph of Haunted Hamilton. None of us were lucky enough to attend, but we did get to view Spooky Steph’s Museum of the Paranormal in the exhibition hall, and publisher Sean Palmerston along with honorary Hellbounder Kieran had a chance to meet up with Mitch Markowitz as well.


Sean and Kieran with Mitch Markowitz

Celebrating Frightenstein but no del Toro

Finding out about the Frightenstein related happenings were what made me decide to go down and check out the Expo. As a lifetime fan of the show, which incidentally was filmed about two-and-a-half blocks from my house, I had been to a Frightenstein-only convention back in 2006 but the show’s co-founder didn’t participate in that one. Having the chance to go see him talk about the show as well as the upcoming documentary that is currently in production on the program was a no-brainer. Mitch was a delight to meet and we even got to have a piece of the cake that they made – it was very nice!

My son Kieran and I were also going to go and see director Guillermo del Toro’s panel, which made us decide to miss the “An Ear for Fear” sound composition panel. Unfortunately Mr. del Toro became very sick the day of the panel and, on doctor’s orders, cancelled his Expo appearance at the last minute. In hindsight, I would have loved to have gone to the panel, as later on that day we met musician Edward Douglas, who makes up one-half of Ohio horror soundscape duo Midnight Syndicate. My son was so impressed with Douglas that he was inspired to buy one of their many CDs, The 13th Hour, while I bought a copy of their only album to be released on vinyl, Monsters of Legend. A review of said album will be forthcoming shortly.

— Sean

Dark Carnival Day 1: exhibition area and panels

Like Sean and Kieran, Adam Wills and I were disappointed by Guillermo del Toro’s last-minute cancellation. But we found out in time to attend the panel on horror soundtracks and even catch a good chunk of the preceding Q&A with Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2House of 1000 Corpses, Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Devil’s Rejects).

In the Dark with Bill Moseley

Moseley came across as a personable guy, and his frankness was also a reminder that however much they may enjoy some projects, professional actors are also, and even primarily, trying to make a living – often a significant factor in the work they take on.

An Ear for Fear

Goblin - Dark CarnivalAnother, if slightly lesser, disappointment greeted us with the opening of the horror soundtrack panel. Mark Korven (The Witch) was stuck in traffic, and though he arrived in time for a Q&A on his own later, he missed out on the panel he was scheduled to take part in. Musician and filmmaker Vincent Marcone (Johnny Hollow) jumped in to fill Korven’s place, and in the end the conversation between Marcone, moderator April Snellings (Rue Morgue), Edward Douglas (Midnight Syndicate) and Maurizio Guarini (Goblin) was fully engaging. The idea that stuck with me most from the dialogue was the panellists comments on horror film soundtracks shifting emphasis over time from composition to sound design.

Robyn Edgar of 93.3FM CFMU captured a much more detailed audio record for the Soundtrack program.

— Laura

Dark Carnival Day 2: the horror continues

Can’t Stop Wolfcop!


Kieran with WolfCop

While we wandered around the vendor displays again on Sunday, actor Leo Fafard was stretched out in one corner, undergoing his transformation into WolfCop. A short time later, Fafard and the rest of the WolfCop team gathered for a Q&A session: writer and director Lowell Dean, actress Amy Matysio (Tina), and “FX Master” Emerson Ziffle.

The panel discussion elicited some Saskatchewan love, some entertaining stories, some Shooting Guns appreciation from the audience, and a sneak peak at the upcoming sequel.

Some time later, the WolfCop transformation continued, so that a completed transformed “hero” could look badass alongside a bemused Kieran Palmerston.

Horror Comes to Hamilton

We went a little heavier on the panels on Sunday, which meant that after a few minutes’ wait we were sitting in on a discussion about horror film production and fandom in Hamilton. If you missed the conversation (or even if you didn’t), you should check out the participants:


In the Dark with George Romero

We enjoyed pretty much everything about the Dark Carnival Expo, but what stood out the most was the Q&A with legendary filmmaker George Romero. Here are a few tidbits:

  • On zombie movies and the impossibility of getting a small zombie film financed:

“Brad Pitt and the Walking Dead have ruined it all. … They’ll risk a hundred and fifty million but not three.”

  • When asked about collecting things other than movies:

“My wife and I collect rubber duckies … we have an Obama duck…” – at which point his wife Sue chimed in, “We have a George Romero duck…”

  • On what would make horror movies better:

“Substance.” [i.e., an underlying message]

  • On the original Dawn of the Dead being about something:

“The shopping mall was the star of that movie.”

  • On the meaning of film The Crazies:

“The point of The Crazies was you didn’t know who  was crazier – the infected people or the government.”

  • On what he’s angry about these days:

“I’m more sad than angry…”

— Laura

You can still find all the info about this year’s Dark Carnival Expo online at www.darkcarnivalexpo.com, for now at least. It would be nice to see that change in a few months to info on Dark Carnival 2017.

Laura is associate editor of Hellbound.ca and co-host of weekly metal show Kill Eat Exploit the Weak on CFMU 93.3 FM. She loves doom, prog, cats and basketball, believes in equity and social justice and is not cool with any form of discrimination, marginalization, harassment or oppression.

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.