[BATB] Oh The Horror! – Convention Makes Dreams Come True
There were many tears shed at the first ever ‘Blood at the Beach’ Horror Convention April 20-22, 2012 in Virginia Beach, but not from fear of being chased by a masked psycho with a knife or a hungry zombie. These were tears of bloody joy at a rare chance for fans to meet their film and television idols in a unique atmosphere that was at once both intimate and chaotic.
The innaugural event kicked off with a ‘Zombe Walk’ – featuring an army of undead ghouls lurching around the unsuspecting Virginia Beach Town Center just after lunchtime on a bright and sunny Friday afternoon.
Cast members from the record-breaking hit television series ‘The Walking Dead’ – including N.C. actress Addy Miller (above) and actor Michael Rooker (Days of Thunder, Tombstone) – were on hand to help get the zombie ‘walkers’ into character before their 45-minute undead march.
When the horde passed by one elderly lady at the corner of Main Street, she asked what was going on. When we told her, she smiled and replied, “Well that’s just wonderful!”
Elisa Addabbo drove up from Frisco, NC with her 18-year-old son Noah days early so that they could spend hours applying professional-grade prosthetic effects on the morning of the event. It took so long to apply the makeup, Elisa and Noah almost missed the Zombie Walk, but they made it just in time, much to the gory delight of their fellow undead.
Prior to her current job as a Hatteras event planner, Addabbo spent 17 years working at the Haunted Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach, where she learned all the finer points of applying the most beautifully gruesome gore most average people will ever see up close.
“We love it,” Elisa told us about the attraction to an event like this. “We love Halloween, we love to get dressed up, and it’s for a great cause.” She said that walkers were asked to bring canned food donations for charity, adding in her best zombie growl, “…and we love to eat people!”
As for Noah, he just couldn’t wait to go scare some more unsuspecting victims. “I’m going to go to the mall like this now,” he said.
Following the Zombie Walk, the convention itself opened its doors to the public at 5pm on Friday, April 20th at the Virginia Beach Norfolk Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center – featuring more than 40 celebrity guests, two nights of live concerts, a tattoo festival, film screenings, filmmaker panel discussions, a wedding(!), and thousands of very happy fans.
Kaylee Davis wasn’t even born when ‘The Lost Boys’ hit theatres in 1987, but no one showed their love for the original ‘modern’ vampires more than the 16-year-old.
Kaylee made her entire outfit – complete with vintage (circa Lost Boys appropriate ’87) Converse high tops with odes to the film scribbled along the white plastic with a black marker; blue jean jacket decorated with patches and buttons featuring various cast members and the tag line from the movie in large letters across the back; the official hat, to which Kaylee added ‘1987’ to the back in blood red; and of course, fangs.
The actors from the film graciously hugged the teenager, signed her poster, and then did something that is somewhat unique to events like this one. These ‘celebrities’ and most of the others at this event actually thanked their fans. ‘The Lost Boys’ seemed as genuinely pleased to meet Kaylee as she was to meet them, and in a room where vampires clearly existed on this night, it’s not an exaggeration to say it was a magic moment to witness.
Original cast members Edward Herrmann, Jamison Newlander, Billy Wirth, and Brooke McCarter were at the convention with Grammy-winning musician G Tom Mac (who wrote the film’s immortal theme ‘Cry Little Sister’) for a special 25th anniversary celebration of The Lost Boys. Mac was also the headlining performer and rocked a packed house on Saturday night.
McCarter, whose sister lives in Kill Devil Hills, later talked to OBX Entertainment about his fondness for the Outer Banks, exclaiming, “I love OBX” after we handed him one of our stickers.
The highest profile guest of the weekend was easily actor Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead and the cult favorite The Boondock Saints. It had been announced via the convention’s Facebook group page weeks prior that Reedus would be arriving late on Friday and would be going directly to his table to begin signing autographs, and the line to that table began forming and quickly grew to hundreds about an hour before his anticipated arrival.
No one waited longer than 16-year-old Raven Storm Beard of Virginia Beach, who sat patiently for more than two hours before the line even started to form for the only celebrity guest she was interested in meeting.
Raven’s mom, Pam Beard told us that they were not originally planning on attending Blood on the Beach, until they heard on the radio that Reedus would be there.
“When we heard that,” Pam recalls, “We just said, ‘It’s fate.’ We have to go.”
Raven hired herself out to cut lawns in the weeks leading up the event in order to afford a single-day admission ticket, and then was surprised upon arrival that the celebrities at these events usually charge a $10-30 fee for autographs. Pam was not happy, but Raven was more than content to quietly wait in the vendor lobby until her hero arrived. She had enough money to buy his autograph, and she was not about to spend it on anyone else.
When Reedus arrived, Raven was ushered to the front of the line by staff security who had learned her story throughout the night, and not one person waiting in that long line of fans complained about letting her go first. The emotions were thick in the air as she embraced Reedus and posed for a quick photo. Moments later, she was in tears, holding her autographed 8×10 of ‘Daryl Dixon’ from The Walking Dead. Pam, despite her reservations earlier, could only look on blinded by her own tears of joy for her daughter.
We asked some of the celebrities why they charge, and the answer can be summed up in one word: Ebay. Prior to the mid-1990s, the few conventions that existed were places where fans could generally get things signed for free, but when those doing the signing started seeing those same autographs being sold online by someone other than themselves, it all changed forever and it’s never been the same since.
There were a few bumps along the way, such as when a number of the more popular guests did not show up at all on Friday. Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th Parts 7-10) cancelled his appearance all together after he got a call to be in an episode of The Mentalist, according to Hodder’s management. But overall, everyone we talked to at the event – guests, vendors, attendees, hotel employees, and event staff included – echoed the same sentiment: “It was awesome!”
Deloris Rodgers worked the bar in the vendor lobby all three days of the event and she told us that she loved every minute of it.
“Everyone has been just great,” she said, “and I have really had a good time here.”
Rodgers also confirmed to OBX Entertainment that every single room in the Holiday Inn hotel was booked during the weekend of Blood on the Beach, which all but guarantees a sequel to this killer innaugural event.
You can watch our Blood on the Beach photo slideshow using the video player below!
[photos by Artz Music & Photography]