The Fall 2019 edition of the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival recently scared the life out of genre fans, as the genre convention took over the Atlantic City boardwalk earlier this month, just in time for the Halloween season! The convention-film festival’s continued goal is for fans to see amazing horror movies in the indie scene, while also having the opportunity to mingle with big names in the genre. ShockYa was excited to attend as press the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival, which was held last weekend, October 11-13, at the Showboat Atlantic City hotel. We participated in celebrity panels, saw vendors from around the horror scene and watched the latest movies that frightened us to death!
Filmmaker Ryan Scott Weber and Comic Book Men producer-pop culturist Rob Bruce formed New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival, which also included photo ops and signings with genre celebrities, film awards, vendors, cosplay and a trivia contest. This year’s guests included Charlie Sheen, Christina Ricci, Edward Furlong, Craig Sheffer, Heather Langenkamp, as part of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ reunion, and writers-directors-producers-actresses Jen and Sylvia Soska.
The New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival was launched in 2017, after Weber attended other horror cons and film festivals. He wanted to put his own spin on the culture, so he asked Asbury Comic Con founder, Rob Bruce to join him on his journey and add his years of experience to the event.
The Atlantic City-based convention and film festival team is made up of professionals in the horror field and past convention creators. It serves as both an industry insider’s networking event and a chance for fans of the genre to get together, meet some of the creative talents in the field and generally spend a weekend celebrating all things scary.
Here are the highlights from our experience at the Fall 2019 New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11:
5pm: Our time at the Fall 2019 New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival commences as press pass distribution begins in the lobby of the Showboat Atlantic City. We head upstairs to the second floor to browse through the merchandise being sold before the screenings and panels start.
5:30pm: The film festival portion, which is sponsored by Wild Eye Releasing and is also located on the second floor, launches with one of its first screenings, the terrifying horror feature, ‘The Night They Knocked.’ The chilling, thought-provoking drama, which premiered at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival, was written, directed, edited and produced by Sean Roberts, and stars Linnea Gregg, Jack Buckley and Rachel Donahue.
‘The Night They Knocked’ follows a group of friends who are staying at a reclusive mountain house together for one more weekend of fun. But their fun is suddenly interrupted by a knock at the door by a group of mysterious strangers who are intent on killing them for seemingly no reason.
8pm: We head back downstairs to attend the panel with iconic horror filmmakers, Jen and Sylvia Soska. Our first night at the convention-film festival winds down as the directors of such horror movies as ‘American Mary’ and ‘See No Evil 2,’ as well as the action feature, ‘Vendetta,’ discuss their careers as genre filmmakers.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12:
1pm: Our second day at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival commences on the first floor with the ‘A Nightmare on Elma Street’ reunion panel, which celebrates the original slasher movie’s 35th anniversary. Series star, Heather Langenkamp, who portrayed Nancy Thompson in the first drama, and later returned for ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ and ‘Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,’ lead the discussion about what the experience was like working with the legendary Craven on the franchise.
4:15pm: Our second day continues as we head upstairs to the second floor and prepare for the screening of the horror thriller, ‘Artik.’ The intense drama was written and directed by Tom Botchii Skowronski, and stars Chase Williamson, Lauren Ashley Carter, Gavin White and Jerry G. Angelo in the title role.
‘Artik’ follows the title antagonist, a comic book obsessed serial killer who teaches his son, Adam (White) how to get away with a series of brutal murders. Their existence is jeopardized when the teen befriends a local man, Holton (Williamson), who’s recovering from his own demons, and threatens to expose everything.
The horror-thriller was officially released in theaters on September 6, and then on September 10 On Demand, including on Amazon, Google Play and YouTube, and on Blu-ray, courtesy of Epic Pictures. The Blu-ray includes the following special features: Director’s Commentary, The Characters Behind the Scenes Featurette and The Chair Behind the Scenes Featurette. For more information on ‘Artik,’ visit its pages on the studio’s website, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
We stay on the second floor for the screening of the horror comedy, ‘Clownado,’ a legendary love letter to the slasher subgenre. The movie, which was written, directed and produced by Todd Sheets, and produced by Mem Ferda, stars Rachel Lagen, John O’Hara and Joel D. Wynkoop. The feature was released on VOD September 3 and DVD September 17 by Wild Eye Releasing.
7pm: Following the second day’s screenings, we stay on the second floor, as The Soska Sisters return to the event’s stage to host the film festival’s awards ceremony. The writing-directing-producing duo, whose latest project is the upcoming contemporary horror reimagining of the David Cronenberg classic, ‘Rabid,’ which is set to open in select theaters, digitally and On Demand on December 13 by Shout! Studios, honored the festival’s top contenders.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13:
1pm: Our third and final day at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival begins on the first floor with a panel featuring actor Craig Sheffer, who played the protagonist in the dark fantasy horror film, ‘Nightbreed,’ which was written and directed by Clive Barker. The performer discusses what his experiences in the genre have been like.
3pm: Our time at the convention ends on the first floor with the ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ panel, which includes stars Edward Furlong and Danny Cooksey. The performer, who made his feature film acting debut in the sci-fi-action movie, discusses his experiences on the set, including what it was like working with the co-writer-director, James Cameron, as well as his co-star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Furlong, who was honored with an award from the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival during his panel, also mentioned his happiness about his opportunity of reprising his role of John Connor in the upcoming sixth installment of the adventure franchise, ‘Terminator: Dark Fate.’ The fifth follow-up, which is a direct sequel to ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day,’ was directed by Tim Miller, and is scheduled to be released in theaters on November 1 by Paramount Pictures.
(The full video of ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s panel is courtesy of Fandom Spotlite.)
We loved our time at New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival Fall 2019! For more information on the convention and festival, including how to purchase tickets for the next event, which is set to return to the Showboat Atlantic City hotel March 27-29, 2020, visit its official website, as well as its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.