Flint Horror Convention Part Three

Flint Horror Con 2011
by Michele Roger
When one thinks of Flint, the images of a Michael Moore film, or General Motors or homelessness on Christmas may all come to mind,  And in a way, those images would be correct; much like most of the country imagined when the world “Detroit” was uttered.
While the state of Michigan is fighting its way out of a recession bigger than it has ever seen, it has some creative “come back” left in it.  The west side of the state has boomed with eco tourism, Detroit has its big three car makers back in black as well as a large green movement helping it along.  But Flint has taken on a reinvention of itself that is far more creative.
Flint just hosted its first ever Horror Convention and it was a successful one at that.  While I am not suggesting that Horror, on its own, is what’s saving this town, its the stuff that horror is made of that seems to be giving Flint a much needed financial shot in the arm and the folks hosting the Horror Con took every scrap of it and made it work in their favor.
Horror is about theatrics. This year’s Flint Horror Con kicked off with a horror film festival that ran simultaneously with the convention throughout the day.  Independent, often Michigan based film makers specializing in horror films showed their work for a film fest lasting over ten hours.  Further more, many of the directors, film makers and screen writers came to Flint Horror Con to give presentations, lectures and short workshops personally.  Students, horror enthusiasts, film nerds and the general public kept the theater filled.  It was a fantastic element to the Con itself.
Local celebrities like Wolfman Mac from Detroit television came to the Con and MC’d while those hosting haunted forests and haunted houses advertised their local events.  They gave away free posters.  They had a costume contest for all ages.  They put the fun back into the same old routine and highlighted new attractions for horror fans all through the state of Michigan.
Michigan’s unemployment rate is at 9% and the city of Flint in particular as somewhere near 12 or 14%.  The Flint Horror Con offered vendors, store owners, writers and artists booths for rock bottom prices for the entire day (under $50 including free meals).  Those who collect horror memorabilia were in heaven as vintage posters, films on DVD, grave photography, vintage comics and goth and steam punk jewelry abounded.  Writers talked to film makers and artists.  T-shirt stores traded information with cartoonists.  And the public supported their local vendors with cash purchases; a rarity in so much of the art market.
Film makers gave away door prizes and haunted house reps gave away tickets to keep the public interested in staying.  Kids ran through the building dressed as zombies in the old Masonic temple located in the heart of downtown, where the Horror Con took place.  In addition, a few ghost hunters hung out in the stair wells as the old Masonic of Flint is said to be haunted.  These same ghost hunters interviewed staff of the building.  Both patron and vendor alike listened to the modern day ghost stories with a keen sense of enthusiasm.  They passed the stories on to their neighbors.  It added to the ambiance of the evening, making a trip up to the top floor for a bottle of water far more adventurous.  Fewer and fewer people waited for the elevator and instead, became first time ghost hunters, hoping to have an encounter as they approached the famous second floor.

All in all, it was wildly successful.  The parking was full, the local bars and taverns benefited as Horror Con patrons slipped from the warmth of the Masonic Temple to that of the pub just a few doors down; dodging the cold, half frozen rain as evening turned to night.  It is the sincere hope of this horror writer and Michigan native that the folks at the Horror Con keep up the good work and keep the creative ideas coming.  They are on to something uniquely Michigan…..and that’s a very good thing.

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