In the eyes of many, Halloween is not just one night. It’s a month-long celebration and a lifestyle choice. To them, if you aren’t excited at least two weeks in advance of Halloween, when downtown Fort Wayne is traditionally transformed into a zombie apocalypse as part of Fright Night Weekend, then you simply aren’t taking full advantage of the season.
The Dead Convention, one of the Midwest’s largest horror and paranormal gatherings, runs during Fort Wayne’s Fright Night Weekend, Oct. 15-17, joining in on the fun Fright Night brings to Fort Wayne annually.
Fort Wayne a Great Spot
Many similar conventions take place around the country throughout the year but usually in much bigger cities than Fort Wayne. The Summit City is a perfect place for DeadCon though, according to founder Eric Vernor. The three largest hotels in the city and the Grand Wayne Convention Center are in the apex of the festivities surrounding Fright Night.
“With the annual Zombie Walk bringing ten thousand people straight to our doorstep, we know we will have a packed event all weekend long,” Vernor said.
The convention books more than a hundred stars from horror films and paranormal television shows to come to the city to meet fans, spread their love of the horror genre, and enhance the activities taking place all around the downtown area.
“We are so excited to have photo opportunities for fans to get once in a lifetime meetings and signed photos with Hollywood mega stars like Danny Trejo,” Vernor said.
In addition to Trejo, Bai Ling from The Crow and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is scheduled to appear along with William Forsythe from The Devil’s Rejects, Ken Foree of Dawn of the Dead, Ellen Dietz from The Exorcist, Robert Mukes from House of 1000 Corpses, and former Megadeth bassist and horror filmmaker David Ellefson. Six stars of The Walking Dead will also make appearances.
Plenty of things to do
Though the celebrity meet and greets are some of the biggest draws to DeadCon, there are plenty of other activities taking place that will hold interest all weekend long, beginning with Shock Rock, an all-ages concert kicking off the festivities on Friday night and featuring First Jason, the band fronted by Friday the 13th star Ari Lehman, along with headliner Koffin Kats.
Local bands The B-Movie Monsters, Creep, and The Lurking Corpses will open the show to ensure a full night of monster mashing.
A celebrity led ghost hunt takes place at the Masonic Lodge at 216 E. Washington Blvd. on Friday and Saturday nights, running from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. On Friday, Travel Channel Consultant Father Casey, Ghost Hunters International star Joe Chin, Travel Channel’s Daniel Klaes and Madison Smith, Paranormal 911’s Chris Sanders, and author Angel Rae will lead the hunt while Saturday hosts are Chin, Klaes, Smith, Sanders, Rae and Ghost Hunters Shari DeBenedetti.
A masquerade ball, starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, will feature a mix of horror film soundtracks with a myriad of surprises. Colored lights and spooky fun decor will greet those who want to brave the dance floor, partake in the cash bar, or both. Costumes are required. You will need a day pass to enter.
Artist alley has Goosebumps artist Tim Jacobus, Walking Dead/Talking Dead featured artist Scott Spillman, and several others available for autographs and discussion.
The authors attending include the international bestselling author of Dracula the Undead, Dracul, written by the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker.
“This international release is not only a hit but being picked up by Paramount Pictures for telling the origin of Dracula,” Vernor said.
See the Films and meet the stars
A horror film fest will run throughout the weekend featuring a diverse mix of styles from hand-held rough “real feel” found footage, similar to The Blair Witch Project, to fan-made films that add chapters to the Friday the 13th series and Silent Hill.
At least 15 films are scheduled for screening during the weekend, including a documentary about Jason from Friday the 13th and a film starring Ari Lehman titled The Black Book.
Vendors will be on hand all weekend as well, offering a wide variety of items including horror icon branded clothing, color contacts, spooky jewelry, CDs, horror toy figurines for collectors, The Walking Dead novelty books, games, Funko Pop figures, movie posters, original art and prints, tools for ghost hunters, and just about anything else a horror fan would want.
“We set high standards of quality for our vendors and are quite proud of the people who are coming to display their wares to the fans,” Vernor said.
Q&A panels with The Walking Dead cast, Destination Fear, Ghost Hunters, Rob Zombie’s film stars and American Horror Story are slated, along with the car Baby from Supernatural, The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine van and a replica Dr. Who TARDIS.
Undoubtedly, there are enough activities available at DeadCon to keep any fan of the season occupied and happy.
Vernor likens the event to an amusement park.
“It’s the thrill of the adrenaline rush and love of all things Halloween,” he said. “People come to see stars of shows and movies they wouldn’t normally get to see in their lifetime and talk to them, get autographs, and ask questions. We are making memories for people to cherish, and we are just as, if not more, excited for our plans and stars already booked for next year.”