Wrapping Up the Silver Scream Festival

Presented by Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and the Santa Rosa Entertainment Group, the Silver Scream Film & Comic Festival debuted this last weekend with a horde of special Hollywood guests, independent films and filmmakers and some of the most talented artists working in comics and graphic novels. Kicking off with a ribbon cutting courtesy of Nightmare on Elm Street star Robert Englund, better known as the scarred, finger-knife wielding Freddy Krueger; the three day horror extravaganza treated fans to engaging and unique opportunities to meet their heroes and discover new talent.

Friday night, I attended the Wes Craven tribute screening of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, followed by a panel with Englund, actress Heather Langenkamp and longtime Craven producer Marianne Maddalena, all of whom lovingly swapped stories about Craven, who passed away last August. Craven was remembered by these close friends as both a meticulous  storyteller and a practical joker, and fans got to ask Englund to give them one last Freddy laugh, which he happily offered. 

I spent most of Saturday watching a few of the documentaries that Silver Scream presented, one on classic movie makeup pioneer Jack Pierce, The Maker of Monsters. Pierce created all of the iconic Universal Studio monsters of the 1930s and 1940s, including the famed Frankenstein monster portrayed by Boris Karloff and the Wolfman as played by Lon Chaney, Jr. Also showing was the documentary on Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine founder and rabid Hollywood collector Forrest J Ackerman, Uncle Forry’s Ackermansions, which showed Ackerman’s extensive collection of memorabilia and chronicled the rise of science fiction and genre films throughout the 20th century.

Saturday night boasted the biggest screening of the weekend, as people packed the large theater 12 at the Roxy to watch An American Werewolf in London, with director John Landis, makeup effects artist Rick Baker and actor David Naughton all on hand to recall the film, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Landis told the crowd how he had written the script a full decade before making the picture and how Naughton’s infamous transformation scene encompassed five grueling days of torture for the actor, though the results are obviously well worth it, as the scene where David becomes the werewolf is still one of the most amazing moments of cinema special effects ever achieved without the use of a computer.

Sunday was no slouch either, as I caught the excellent indie horror film Mania, directed by Jessica Cameron, as well as a screening of the newly restored 1980s suspense thriller, Venom, presented by director William Lustig and available from his company Blue Underground, in which actors Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed play would-be kidnappers who are terrorized by a black mamba snake.

Throughout the fest, the Roxy’s upstairs lobby was filled with activity, from live paintings by Rob Prior to makeup effects demonstrations, signings, vendors and everything else in between. 

The Silver Scream Festival really was a blast of a weekend, and Famous Monsters owner Philip Kim told me they’re already planning for next year. Thanks to all involved.

Sonoma County Library