Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Slender Man orders you to go to Cinema Wasteland, October 3, 4 and 5.

[Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.]

The Strongsville-centered Cinema Wasteland grindhouse-movie, sci-fi/exploitation and drive-in culture convention happens twice every year, in the spring and in the fall. It's a real head-spinner now to think about how much the world we know had changed since then.

Back in March/April 2014, LeBron James was far, far away, and Cleveland was never going to live down the humiliation of his departure. No adult knew what a Slender Man was. The Valentines disappearance of Malaysian Airlines 370 had triggered a massive search, was expected to be resolved straightaway. Donald Sterling was due to get an award from the money-grubbing NAACP. Everyone was anticipating a great year at the movies, starting with the Cleveland-filmed CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.

Now it's September/October 2014. The Malaysian Airliner enigma is still unsolved. Robin Williams suicided himself. War in Gaza. War in the Ukraine. War in Ferguson, Missouri. Donald Sterling out; his treacherous informant-mistress probably guaranteed a cushy media job anywhere she goes; thank you, "diversity" hiring. America is losing Iraq and Libya. Children are killing each other to placate Slender Man. Ebola is rampant. Illegals are swarming up from Central America...

Just about every corner of the planet is in turmoil...except Cleveland. LeBron is coming back (supposedly). Cleveland won the Republican Convention. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER was a tremendous success, in a year that is otherwise shaping up to be the film industry's absolute worst since the dismal annum of 1997 (a year I recall with particular soul-wrenching pain). Even the Browns won. At least one game, I'm pretty sure.

And Cinema Wasteland is back! And now CW celebrates the long-awaited turnaround in Cleveland's fortunes with a first: not one but TWO major adult-film starlets in the VIP spotlight. The GOP won't even be able to match that! Well, maybe, if it brings in the votes to defeat Hillary. I think the Republicans would adopt a hardcore Islam-fundamentalist platform at this point to defeat Hillary in 2016.

Who are these adult film stars, you might ask? (LeBron might ask too, but I personally really hope not).

They include the legendary Amber Lynn (you may remember her SPACE VIRGINS at the Cleveland Cinematheque...I'm kidding, right. Right?), who has also appeared in some non-porn genre fare such as the semi-legendary Canadian cult flick THINGS. Joanna Angel, known for her illustrious university pedigree (Rutgers BA) and running her own production company, has done the adults-only versions of TV's The Walking Dead and Scrubs. A lot of her titles lean toward a horror-spoof-sex niche, or am I just making assumptions about pics named DONG OF THE DEAD and EVIL HEAD? I don't know from porno, I just work here. But one thing I do know: these are also two ladies who would be offered employment in the media anywhere they go.

As I've said, an adult-film duo is a first at CW. But what is Cinema Wasteland anyway, newbies might ask? In the spirit of such movie-memorabilia and nostalgia expos as the Monster Bash in Pittsburgh and DragonCon in Atlanta, and the "HorrorHound" weekend, Cinema Wasteland is a fan gathering, film marathon, variety show and memorabilia expo at the Holiday Inn Select of Strongsville, devoted to what founder Ken Kish, of Berea, underscores as the B-movie golden era, roughly from the late 1950s to the late 1980s.

Those, affirms Kish, were the glory years of horror, fantasy, science-fiction, Roger Corman, spaghetti westerns, martial-arts, juvenile delinquency melodramas, nudie-cuties, Filipino actioners, Italian "giallo" thrillers, blaxploitation, rock'n'roll and psychedelia, post-nuke car chases, summer-camp sex and slapstick, underground comix-inspired animation and, well, whatever else artists du cinema could make or release quick, cheap and dirty.

At Cinema Wasteland longtime connoisseurs of such entertainment turn out to meet and greet the stars, attend panel discussions, enjoy revivals of the old classics, and  buy, sell, trade and enjoy all that's edgy and oddball in the movies. As an added subtraction, local and regional filmmakers visit peddling their wares, TV horror hosts come from far and wide, hosting live Saturday-morning and Saturday-night schtick, and Holiday Inn room parties proliferate after hours.

Additional guest at this upcoming CW include a trio of sultry actresses associated with England's revered Gothic-horror studio Hammer Films. There's Caroline Munro, who also did turns as a Bond girl not only in the bizarre 1967 joke version of CASINO ROYALE but also the "serious" 007 adventure THE SPY WHO LOVED ME). Blonde Veronica Calson was an imperiled heroine in Hammer's DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, among others. Martine Beswick is not only another Bond girl (THUNDERBALL, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) but was the rival cavewoman to Raquel Welch in Hammer's ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.

Between the three of them, these ladies are probably the main reason why Scotland decided to stay within the UK; Scotsmen didn't want to lessen any chance females of this quality would cross the border to visit.

Other guests include drive-in director-actor Greydon Clark; Patty Mullen, who played the lead in the notorious FRANKENHOOKER; John Waters regular actress Mink Stole; formidable screen bad guy Robert Z'Dar (MANIAC COP); and Sam Raimi f/x artist Tom Sullivan.

Plus expect vendors of unspeakable schlock-film souvenirs and relics on sale, like books, soundtracks, posters (vintage and modern), cassettes, DVDs, laserdiscs and action figures, and marathon film screenings, including the largely forgotten THE HAND, from director Oliver Stone's early, fever-dream horror phase; Martine Beswick's sex-change terror classic-that's-better-than-it-sounds DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE; and Greydon Clark's WITHOUT WARNING, whose central conceit about an alien big-game hunter stalking humans came along several years before the hit PREDATOR.

Cinema Wasteland takes place at the Holiday Inn Select of
Strongsville, at 15471 Royalton Road. Dealer-room hours are Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission at the door is $20 per day, or you can buy at three-day $50 VIP pass. For more info check out the website at

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