Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Likely to be more enjoyable than the Browns' upcoming season: Cinema Wasteland, April 10, 11 and 12.

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

It was with some fanfare a short time ago that a Bruce Willis-Ben Kingsley thriller called WAKE started filming in Cleveland...and it was with slightly less fanfare that the financing fell through. Whilst the Cleveland Film Commission assured that WAKE was still a green-light project, the trade papers say that the director and stars have all left. No money, you know. Write your own Cleveland punchline to that one. I do mourn for the local movie-crew support types who were gambling on a decent paycheck from working on such a project, in this still-flatline economy. No wonder the thing was called WAKE.

Perhaps instead turn your attention to Strongsville this weekend, and Cinema Wasteland, where cinematic, uh, accomplishments that actually made it successfully to large screens and small screens are hailed.

In the spirit of such movie-memorabilia and nostalgia expos as the Monster Bash in Pittsburgh and DragonCon in Atlanta, 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, likes to call the "Drive-in and grindhouse era" cinema, roughly from the late 1950s to the late 1980s.

That was a glorious bulldada age of horror, fantasy, science-fiction, spaghetti westerns, martial-arts, surfer, biker, 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, hillbilly moonshine actioners and rockabilly - whatever else the true mavericks of moviedom such as Roger Corman and George Romero could make or release, often cheaply, surprisingly compelling, and thoroughly outside the bland studio mainstream.

Just think, if guys like that were behind WAKE it might be out by now.

At Cinema Wasteland longtime connoisseurs of such entertainment turn out to meet and greet the stars, ask questions at panel discussions, enjoy revivals of the old classics, and dig into their wallets to buy, sell, trade and enjoy. As an added attraction local and regional filmmakers (such as Joe Ostrica and his Old School Sinema movie/burlesque bonanza) visit, peddling their wares. TV horror hosts come from far and wide, hosting live Saturday-morning and Saturday-night schtick (with none of those annoying censors). Room parties proliferate after hours at the valiant Holiday Inn (a hotel chain that really deserves an honorary Academy Award by now for enabling this kind of stuff, when you think about it).

A central attraction of Cinema Wasteland this spring is a reunion of cast and crew members from George Romero's original DAY OF THE DEAD. Returning veterans of the flesh-eating-ghoul apocalypse epic (many of them Romero favorites) include makeup great and actor-director Tom Savini, actress Lori Cardille, actor John Amplas (also the star of Romero's offbeat vampire drama MARTIN) and Howard Sherman, who under Savini's makeup, created the character of "Bub," one of the screen's all-time best zombies.

Further VIPs include writer-director Jim Wynorski, a frequent Corman collaborator, "scream queen" actress Melissa Moore, husband-and-wife horror filmmakers Mike Watt and Amy Lynn Best, character actor and prolific fantasy-cartoon voiceover actor Peter Spellos, and makeup f/x specialist Tom Sullivan with his traveling tribute to Sam Raimi's original EVIL DEAD.

Plus adult-film actress Jeanne Silver. I had never heard of Jeanne Silver before Cinema Wasteland. Let's just say that someday a major mainstream film actress will portray her in a biopic and get lots of Oscar talk. Let's just say that.

Plus expect a presentation by the one and only 42nd Street Pete about New York City's Times Square sleaze-pit scene of yesteryear; the Son of Ghoul hosting a Saturday festival of Three Stooges shorts (on genuine 16mm) and, of course, the tablesful of unspeakable schlock-film souvenirs and relics on sale, like books, soundtracks, posters (vintage and modern), cassettes, DVDs, laserdiscs, fashion accessories and action figures.

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 Friday, $25 on Saturday or $15 on Sunday, or you can buy at three-day $50 VIP pass. For more info check out the website


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