Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dragon Con 2015: Horror Track Director Interview

Today my pre-con adventures take us to the world of horror. More specifically, the horror track of Dragon Con. I had the chance to ask Derek, director of the Horror Track, a few questions. They're bringing us all kinds of goodies this year so get your sneak peek on here.

How long have you been interested in horror?

 I've loved monsters as long as I can remember. I branched out into
non-monstery horror (such as psychological thrillers and the like)
during my teenage years, but monster movies will always be my primary interest.

How long have you been involved with Dragon Con?

2015 marks my 10 year anniversary as a track director, although I have been attending since around 1995. This will be the third year for the Horror Track.

What exactly does a track director do?

A track director organizes the programming in their area. For example, a track director will decide which panels will be part of the programming, assign speakers to the topics, and then makes sure things run smoothly during the convention!

So there is a separate zombie track at Dragon Con called Apocalypse Rising. How does the Horror Track cross over or differ?

I would like to clarify that while Apocalypse Rising has programming
about "zombie apocalypse" scenarios, they are not a zombie track per se.
In the past couple of years, they seem to have been moving away from
such a heavy focus on zombies in order to cover a broader range of
"end of the world" stories and media. For example, the science fiction series
"Defiance" is a major part of their track this year. Zombies are not completely off-limits for the Horror Track. While I try not to intrude into other track's material, we have hosted panels devoted to "Return of the Living Dead" and zombie literature. I know that it sounds like splitting hairs, but the Apocalypse Rising Track was created before there was a proper Horror Track. Consequently, zombie apocalypse films, shows, and stories were grandfathered in there.

I personally love Poe and Lovecraft for more classic literature, Stephen King (like Salem's Lot or IT) and David Moody for newer books. In movies it's pretty much old Carpenter or Aliens. And I'll watch pretty much anything (within reasonable limits) with zombies. Any thoughts or feelings on any of the above (and feel free to tell me how and/or why I'm wrong. (I get that a lot around Needless Things).

I can't tell you that you are wrong for liking something :) That's all a matter of taste. I like all of the authors that you mentioned, with Poe being a particular favorite.

What are your horror inspirations? Favorite movies or books that have driven your love of horror?

As far as books are concerned, my favorites are Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," Ray Bradbury's "The October Country," Stephen King's "The Shining," Clive Barker's "Books of Blood," Manly Wade Wellman's "John the Balladeer," Anne Rice's "The Vampire Lestat," and the works of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell's childrens folklore book "Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark" was an important early influence. My favorite horror movies in no particular order are "Bride of Frankenstein," "An American Werewolf in London," "Sleepy Hollow," "The Lost Boys," "Suspiria," "Psycho," and the Tod Browning "Dracula," aka the one with Bela Lugosi. I'm a huge fan of contemporary horror television, like "Hannibal" and "Penny Dreadful."

Horror has made a huge comeback with great movies like The Conjuring and It Follows. There are also more horror shows on basic cable and network TV than I ever thought I'd see. How do you feel like this has changed the landscape of modern entertainment? And is it all for the good or do you see any sort of backlash on the horizon?

I don't foresee a backlash because there are so many platforms to choose from than ever before (cable, Netflix, Hulu, et al.). I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. What I, as a fan, find exciting is how talent like Bryan Fuller ("Hannibal"), John Logan ("Penny Dreadful"), and Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story") are embracing the horror tag.

What has the Horror Track got lined up for us this year?

We have a lot of great programming lined up. On the media side, we have Tom Mison and Corey Castellano from "Sleepy Hollow," Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson from "Hannibal," and Erika Ervin, Mat Fraser, Naomi Grossman, and Rose Siggins from "American Horror Story: Freak Show." We always have a strong line-up of horror writers, and 2015 is no exception; we'll have Jonathan Maberry, Karen Taylor, James R. Ruck,
and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, among many others, joining us.

Who and what are you personally excited about this year?

It will sound trite, but I'm most excited about seeing my friends who
I only get to see once or maybe twice a year. But I will admit that I am really looking forward to meeting Mat Fraser from "American Horror Story: Freak Show" and Tom Mison from "Sleepy Hollow." But that's not to discount any of the great guests and speakers who will be a part of the track.

Anything else you'd like people to know?

While the Horror Track's website is located at horror.dragoncon.org, it is important that you check the mobile app or the Daily Dragon as the event gets closer. Times can change, and the app will be the fastest way to stay on top of things.

And thanks to our sponsors, the one and only Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta! Even if you don't typically like walk through haunts, Netherworld features great special effects and attention to detail. You should really check it out this Halloween season.
Also, cheap promotional plug, but my own website is located at dreadpunk.com. "Dreadpunk" is the term I have coined to describe the Gothic Horror Revival in popular culture.

So there you have it.  Big things in horror in store this year. And finally, someone who doesn't tell me my opinions are wrong. Take that Ryan Schweck and Jay Hornsby! Yeah I guess I knew that the Apocalypse track wasn't just for zombies, but when I think apocalypse I think zombies. There are so many damn dystopian worlds now that it gets hard to keep up with. Don't forget to check out Netherworld starting in mid-October and going on through early November. It really is the best haunted house I've ever been to. Check back soon for more exciting interviews!


Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been revived as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet.

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