Frightmare Flashback: Reflections on Canada’s Leading Horror Con

If you follow Maniacs and Monsters on social media (and we’re sure you must), you know that we recently attended Canada’s leading horror festival, Frightmare in the Falls. This two day event held annually in Niagara Falls is billed as “the most intimate and interactive Horror Festival in North America,” offering panels, celebrity autographs and photo ops, vendors, displays, props, and cosplay revolving around the horror genre. Having attended this event for the past two years we can safely confirm all of the above were offered in abundance.

Notable horror royalty in attendance this year included Michael Berryman, Dee Wallace, Barbara Crampton, Linnea Quigley, Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder and many others. The guest panels are a highlight of Frightmare in the Falls and because it is relatively small event, attendees have the opportunity to hear guests share memories from their film careers and ask questions in an intimate environment.

It’s always interesting to listen to actors and filmmakers share anecdotes from their behind the scenes experiences. In the “Scream Queens” panel, Dee Wallace, Barbara Crampton and Linnea Quigley reflected on the ups and downs of being an actress in the male dominated horror film community. Crampton revealed that her most empowering role was when she played a scientist in the 1986 film From Beyond. She also shared that she was thrilled to have her first female director when she appeared in Tales of Halloween several years ago but somewhat dismayed that it didn’t happen until 35 years into her film career. Linnea Quigley also shared some uncomfortable compromises she had to make to get her first break in film and how she felt empowered leaving a previous project when a director insisted she participate in an unnecessarily gratuitous scene.

In his panel, Michael Berryman shared some experiences from one of his earliest performances in the classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He recounted his time living with real patients in mental institutions to better understand his character and shared advice given to him by director Milos Forman who advised that to be an effective actor he needs to “be in love with the glass (camera lens).” He also noted the he “devoured” a book on cinematography that Forman gave him and his influence remains with him to this day. A humorous highlight from Berryman’s panel was a story he shared about having to console a woman who stormed out of a screening of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes due to its disturbing content while he was dressed as his character Pluto.

There was lots to choose from for collectors with over 70 vendors and exhibitors in attendance at the festival. With everything from masks and props to books, films and artwork, horror aficionados had the opportunity to pick up some rare items and chat with artists, writers and proprietors. One of the most striking booths belonged to Hamilton, Ontario based Butcher Shop which produces custom props, prosthetics and makeup effects with chilling and stunning detail. Another unique vendor was Newmarket, Ontario based The Little Craft which designs wood burned horror themed artwork.

And like any good Con, Frightmare in the Falls had its contingent of cosplayers representing various horror icons. A brief encounter with some rather sadistic killer klowns will not soon be forgotten.

For a relatively small but growing convention, Frightmare in the Falls is achieving its goal of creating an intimate and interactive event for fans of horror to come together and celebrate their common interest. Given its relatively modest admission fees and the accessibility of its celebrity guests, the event is worth checking out for those who are able to make the trek to Niagara Falls. We’re looking forward to seeing what the organizers have in store for next year!

Frightmare in the Falls took place October 26th-27th, 2019 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, Canada and was presented by Rue Morgue.

Photography by Michael Denney.

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