Fans' paradise comes and goes in T.O.

LOOKIE, LOOKIE A WOOKIE: Fans in Star Wars attire at the Toronto Expo ‘08 (Photo by Sarah Gopaul)Freaks, geeks and everyone in between congregated last weekend to indulge in their favourite hobby or obsession whether it is video games, anime, comics, sci-fi and/or horror. The annual Fan Expo had taken over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. But anyone that knows me knows I was there for one reason – the Festival of Fear.

This year, Rue Morgue’s special guest list boasted two of horror’s creative icons: Wes Craven and Toby Hooper. They also presented two of the genre’s legendary performers: Tura Satana and Sid Haig. And newcomer to the horror genre, Canadian maverick Bruce McDonald, talked about his new project Pontypool that is premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Craven, Haig and McDonald took part in hour-long Q&As at the site throughout the three-day event. Haig reminisced over the dozens of movies and television shows he was in over his decades long career. He then proved how nice a guy he is in juxtaposition to some of his more recent characters, becoming misty-eyed describing the hardships his grandparents faced and why he firmly supports Habitat for Humanity (he also donates to a no-kill animal shelter).

McDonald, in his signature cowboy hat, filled his hour discussing his new flick, which as of that session was still a work-in-progress. He also cleared up any confusion, explaining his horde of flesh-eaters is not zombies, but “conversationalists.”

Craven spoke of his early works, how his inspiration for Nightmare on Elm Street was a mix of childhood incidents and a need for money, as well as his wide-ranging career goals prior to becoming a director (Disney animator, pilot, novelist). He also treated everyone to a sneak peak of his next picture, 25/8, which looks like it has a few good scares to share.

Satana presented a special showing of her cult classic, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! at Bloor Cinema Friday night. Then, post-screening, Richard Crouse probed her about her early days before acting, when she was an exotic dancer, member of a gang of female protectors and a martial arts student. They also talked about the movie, her co-stars and shooting in the desert.

The last event of the festival was also at Bloor Cinema – “American Monsters: An Evening with Toby Hooper.” After screening Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the director talked about making the film, the hate everyone felt for him by the end, and his relationship to the phenomena it became. Oh, and he waved a chainsaw around.

Other than being in the presence of legends and heroes, the show also affords people the opportunity to disguise themselves as their favourite character or unleash their hidden personas outside of Halloween and be appreciated for it (mostly by being asked to pose for dozens of photos). Of course, they’re not just doing it for us but to be recognized in the Masquerade costume contest.

There is also tons of free promo stuff, cheap comics and lots of collectibles that aren’t so cheap. If any of these things interest you, you know where to be around this time next year.