Monthly Archives: April 2017

An Old-Fashioned Horror Convention? No Fear.

One of the long-term plans for the Birmingham Horror Group when it launched in December 2015 was for members to host an old-style horror event in the city, as opposed to the soulless, commercially-orientated merchandise and autograph fairs which have proliferated since “geek culture” became fully monetised. After all, what’s the point in hanging out with friends in a pub, discussing old episodes of Doctor Who or your favourite comics, when you can stand in line to pay £45 to be photographed next to John Barrowman (£10 extra if he wears his “Captain Jack” overcoat) or buy five versions of the same superhero reboot with different covers but the same identical Manga-style interior art? In fact, why even hang out with friends in the first place, when there are thousands of “friends” willing to give pretty much any passing comment a ‘like’ on Facebook?

Well, I believed there was still life in the original concept — and boy, does it look as though I was wrong. Running the monthly group has long ago ceased to be the fun it should have been, the erratic turn-out proving most “fans” are now only willing to show up if there’s some kind of gimmick, like a guest speaker or a free screening, and prefer to scurry back to the warm glow of their computer screens as soon as that part’s over. As for the Birmingham FearFest, ticket sales have been embarrassingly lack-lustre, and we’re currently facing the very real likelihood of having to pull the plug on its incubator. It’s been suggested to me that it could simply be postponed until later in the year, allowing a new round of publicity, but I’m not convinced I have a sufficiently deep reservoir of energy or optimism.

A little over thirty years ago,so many people turned up at a Novacon I chaired in Birmingham that we ran out of programme books, and we’d printed more than 500. These days, I find myself quite literally unable to run a party in a brewery. The world has allegedly evolved, but I’m not sure whether I want any part of this latest mutation; it clearly wants no part of me.

Updated 4 May.

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Down the Tube [5]

Bloodthirsters-Lee.mp4_snapshot_01.01_[2017.04.16_01.05.38].jpg Artichoke @ WeekendMag screengrab2.jpg
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The latest of my reports for Made in Birmingham TV aired Saturday evening. the first half of a discussion with local rock musician Joe Dempster, whose band The Bloodthirsters has since supplied the theme tune for the first of Chrissie Harper’s and my Club Vamporama minisodes.

Other recent contributions to Birmingham News Weekend Magazine have featured Vamos Theatre (whose performers wear full-face masks), the producer and director of Worcester-based crime thriller Artichoke, performance duo notnow Collective, Birmingham-based space artist David A Hardy, Birmingham CAMRA chair Sally Lavender and award-winning licensee Brendon Daly (whose pub has already served as an ad hoc studio on three occasions). The majority are now available to view on our YouTube channel.

Clockwise, from top left: with musician Joe Dempster; with film-makers Fernando Antonio Maffei and Lawrence Donello; with artist David A Hardy; with performers Hannah Kimpton and Aron De Casmaker of Vamos Theatre.