Top 6 Chicago Summer Festivals and Conventions for Horror/Sci-Fi Lovers

Top 6 Chicago Summer Festivals and Conventions for Horror/Sci-Fi Lovers

If you’ve been paying any attention to the glowing, hellishly-tinted heat index charts lately, you know that summer is officially here. There are a lot of big events going on in the sci-fi/horror community, especially in the horror realm. All but one event are in Chicagoland, but I had to mention Days of the Dead. It's close, and the guests are awesome. Check out the sites for these huge festivals and plan accordingly. See you there!


July 6-8, 2012 - DAYS OF THE DEAD
The fun starts this very weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. Okay, not a Chicago location, but it’s just a few hours away and many Chicago filmmakers and vendors are there as we speak. The convention runs Friday through Sunday, with notable guests such as Roddy Piper, John Waters, John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt’s “Crypt Keeper” himself!), Lamberto Bava, Patty Mullen (Frankenhooker!), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp!), Sean Whalen (“Roach” from The People Under the Stairs!), Tom Savini, Dick Miller, Bill Moseley, and more – even a few zombies from The Walking Dead! Fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will also appreciate a cast reunion from the original 1974 film! If you’re up for the drive, head on over this weekend for horror fun with film screenings, celeb meet and greets, costume contests, burlesque shows, panel Q&As, tattoo contest, Girls and Corpses' Miss Dead Pageant, “Scarey-Okee” and a big party on Saturday night. I can't make this one, but I am certainly going to try for the one in Chicago this fall!


July 13-15, 2012 - G-FEST
Next weekend, rabid fans of the kaiju genre will be flocking to G-Fest, the largest gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world! It’s got the “western world’s largest kaiju-oriented dealers room” and will have screenings of movies, contests, and Q&As with actors and crew from Godzilla films, and more.

Heads up! On Thursday, July 12th, FOUR films will be screening at the Pickwick Theatre in connection with G-Fest, outside of the screenings within the festival all weekend. These films are: King Kong (1933), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Gorgo (1961), and Gamera (1965). Also, on Friday, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) will screen, and Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995) will screen on Saturday. Crowne Plaza O’Hare, 5440 North River Rd, Rosemont.


July 13th, 2012 - TERROR IN THE AISLES 11
Next weekend will be the Midwest Premiere of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed: Cabal Cut at the Portage Theatre, an event horror fans have patiently waited to happen for over twenty years. It’s a must-see, once-in-a-lifetime event! Films screened: Nightbreed, Hellraiser in 35mm, Candyman in 35mm, three short films, and countless cult trailers. Mark Miller, Russell Cherrington, and star Anne Bobby will be present for Q&As and free autographs! All this for only $12?? Plus, you can see the Nightbreed: Cabal Cut again on Saturday night for $10 with Russell Cherrington in attendance. No other films, however. For a more in-depth story on this monumental occasion, please see my previous post.


August 10-12, 2012 - Flashback Weekend of Horror Convention
Chicago’s largest annual horror convention, Flashback Weekend, celebrates its 10th Anniversary this summer! I’m excited about this because I’ve never seen legendary filmmaker John Carpenter in person! He directed plenty of films you may have heard of: Halloween, They Live, The Fog, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, Christine, Escape from L.A., Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness and many more! Yes, many of his films have been remade. Flattering, indeed.

Looking forward to more great guests: Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall), Linda Blair (The Exorcist, Hell Night, Savage Streets, Roller Boogie), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, The Frighteners), a Friday the 13th Final Girls reunion, Kane Hodder, Svengoolie, and many, many more! Check the site for the full guest list!

Friday night will be an event not to miss with John Carpenter introducing a special 30th Anniversary screening of The Thing at Muvico Theatre! James Marsters (“Spike” from Buffy and Angel) will also host a concert and 50th Birthday Celebration Friday night.

Saturday, don’t miss Linda Blair introducing a benefit screening of The Exorcist at Muvico Theatre at 8:15pm! 100% of ticket proceeds will go to the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation. Next, hit up Flashback’s 10th Anniversary Party at 10pm Saturday night. Cameras recommended!

On Sunday, Tim Sullivan (Driftwood, Chillerama: I Was a Teenage Were-Bear) hosts a “Slash Course” two-hour workshop guiding fans about horror filmmaking.

There will also be both a costume contest hosted by Svengoolie and a Zombie Pinup Beauty Pageant hosted by filmmaker John LaFlamboy. These aren’t your average contests. People go all out for these things. I’ve been on the jury panel for a few of the zombie beauty contests in the past, and have been amazed at the amount of ladies that sign up and impress with such elaborate, ghoulish, and gory creations! Movie screenings, vendors, and more! Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont.


Aug 9-12, 2012 - Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2012
As usual, Wizard World occurs simultaneously with Flashback, which is handy for fans that traveled far and are looking to get as much entertainment in as possible. Comic Con has a few offerings for horror fans, like appearances by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness), Amy Acker (The Cabin in the Woods), Actors from The Walking Dead, Sean Young (Blade Runner), Sam Trammell (True Blood), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks), Cleve Hall and Constance Hall (SFX artists, Monster Man TV show), Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), Lloyd Kaufman (President of TROMA), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca!), Stan Lee, William Shatner (Kingdom of the Spiders), The Boondock SaintsNorman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco... And WAY too many more!!! Seriously, check the list. It’s insane.


Aug 30 - Sept. 3, 2012 - The 70th World Science Fiction Convention
I don’t know much about this convention, but anything titled “World Science Fiction Convention” must be pretty darned interesting. Hyatt Regency Chicago is hosting this 5-day event! Chicon 7, or "Worldcon," is an international gathering of authors, artists, fans, dealers, and more in the global science fiction community. It covers all genres of written speculative fiction, including sci-fi, fantasy, horror, science, media (movies, TV, anime, online), fanzines, gaming, costuming, and much more.

Thurs, Aug. 30 is opening night at the Adler Planetarium, with an evening reception held 6:30-10:30pm. View museum exhibits, watch Carl Sagan’s son Nick Sagan’sThe Searcher” (stunning visualizations of the formation of our universe, collision of galaxies, supernova explosion, supermassive black hole) playing every 30 min in Grainger Sky Theater for $5. Enjoy a sky-viewing session on the exterior deck with telescopes and docents. Masquerade Costume Contest, Independent Film Festival showcasing film shorts, features and trailers from sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comic genres. Dealers room, exhibit hall. Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr. 60601.

Whew! The motherload of Chicago-area festivals – Which ones will you choose to attend?

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    Kristin Wicks

    Horror movie fanatic. Sculptor of oddities. Owner of Chicago Creepster Yahoo!, festival volunteer, writer, artist, social media freelance. Officially a biomechanical Frankenlady. Doing what I can to support our spooky community.

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