Monday, July 28, 2008

The Watchmen panel was scheduled for 11:55am in Hall H, so anyone who knew anything about Hall H knew they needed to be there at 9:30am at the latest if they wanted any hope of getting inside.

As usual, there were a lot of great costumes at the Con this year, and for the first time I noticed a lot of people actually trying to stay in character for the Con's duration. In line for the Watchmen, I heard someone yell, "Torgo!" and saw the would-be satyr of the American Civil War shambling along further back in line as he responded with his characteristically quavering voice, "Hello. Good afternoon." I suppose he probably ought to've said, "Good afternoon. Hello. Good afternoon." It was a very nice costume, complete with the bulging knees and gnarled black staff. I saw Torgo a few other times during the Con, getting himself from place to place always with the same slow, tipsy gait.

Friday was a very nice day for panels, but it would've been even better if Dan Akroyd wasn't such a flake. Most of the panels I wanted to see on Friday were in room 6B, which is a big room, but most of the people assigned to it seem to be a little too big for it, while nearby 6CDEF, more than twice the size of 6B, somehow tended to feature panels that filled less than half of its seats. The Ghostbusters panel with Dan Akroyd and Ernie Hudsen was set for 1:45pm in room 6B, so when Watchmen ended at 1pm, I didn't really think I'd be able to catch Ghostbusters, but I figured it was worth a shot, and anyway I'd be in line for the subsequent 6B panels nice and early.

The line already extended to outside, onto a terrace. As I walked past a security guard, I heard her tell someone, "You know this line is for Ghost Hunters, not Ghostbusters, right?" I wasn't precisely sure what to make of that, but I supposed the lady was either confused or joking. So I sat down with my book and apple (I was reading Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron for the entire Con) and waited. A kid who sat down next to me asked what I was waiting for.

"Mystery Science Theatre 3000," I said.

"What time is that?"

"Seven," and he seemed a little taken aback. I gathered he was there for the X-Box Live panel at 4:25pm. He probably thought he was there epically early, yet so easily did I pwn.

People started walking along the line, shouting, "Ghostbusters is cancelled! Ghost Hunters is still on!" Apparently Ghost Hunters is a real show on the Sci-Fi Channel, but at the time it sounded to me like a weak ruse to thin the line. The line was thinned, but there were no Ghostbusters. I had a great seat to see nothing for about an hour before the Ghost Hunters panel began, so I left for lunch. I was particularly annoyed with Dan Akroyd when I saw a guy with his kids all in Ghostbusters shirts, not to mention all the people in full Ghostbusters costumes and proton packs with working lights.

I came back to 6B in time for the X-Box Live panel, which I wasn't remotely interested in. I hadn't even looked very closely at the panel description, so I was surprised when a cadre of horror movie directors took the stage. I had a sixth row seat to see John Clisham, Lucky McKee, Andrew Douglas, David Slade, and James Wan, the director of Saw. As a gimmick of sorts, Microsoft had apparently hired a bunch of horror directors to make short comedy films for X-Box Live original content.

Inappropriate laughter seemed to be a recurring theme at the Con, and James Wan, talking about the relationship between horror and comedy, talked about the test audience for Saw laughing throughout the entire movie. His collaborator (who was with him on the panel and whose name I didn't catch) postulated that it was because sometimes when something is really scary, the first instinct is to laugh. I didn't think it would be polite to tell them people had been laughing at Saw because Saw's a joke.

The moderator cautioned the panellists to avoid harsh language, so David Slade won points with me when he sat down and said, "Hello, you cunts. How the fuck are you all doing?" Slade directed Hard Candy, a movie I enjoyed, and 30 Days of Night, which I haven't seen. All the directors present showed clips from their short comedy films, and Slade's was easily the best; a simple computer animation short called Meatdog about a dog made of meat. Slade said the short ended with Meatdog having to make an important and noble sacrifice.

John Clisham explained that he'd ended up making a horror film instead of a comedy, and he showed a very brief teaser of a slow tracking shot in a dim high school corridor with the sound of a girl crying in terror somewhere in the distance. Then quick cuts with sudden loud noises showed a shambling janitor with sharp teeth and eye shadow. The film's title, The Janitor, appeared, and everyone laughed as they had throughout the teaser. "Ah, apparently I did make a comedy," said Clisham uncomfortably. The makers of Saw tried to console him, explaining this is what they had meant about laughter being the automatic reaction to sights too horrible. I still didn't think it was polite to point out people had probably laughed because The Janitor had seemed like a joke.

Hmm. I'd expected to get to more with this post. But I'm out of time; I have errands to run to-day. I've still barely scratched the surface.

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