Tuesday, October 31, 2023

First Ever ‘Hometown Haunts & Hops’ Brings a Horror Convention to a Brewery [Event Report]

From its autumnal aesthetic to its haunted history, Massachusetts is always a great place to spend the Halloween season, but horror fans were particularly spoiled this year. In addition to the usual festivities in Salem and repertory programming at Boston theaters, we had no less than four horror conventions throughout the state in the span of two months: Silver Scream Con, Terror Con, MonstahXpo, and Hometown Haunts & Hops.

Many convention memories are made in hotel bars, so why not set one in a brewery? The inaugural Hometown Haunts & Hops took place at Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth on October 28, providing a fun environment on the unseasonably warm Saturday before Halloween. Curated by America’s Hometown Horror podcast and Inebri-Art, both based in Plymouth, the event is poised to become an annual occurrence.

Lively but low-key, Hometown Haunts & Hops is a refreshingly intimate alternative to the often overwhelming convention experience. There were no shortage of activities, but you could also just relax and share craft-brewed drinks with fellow horror fans while listening to Tommy Reidy play acoustic renditions of punk rock favorites or watching the Southern New England Witch Dancers perform traditional routines.

Matthew G. Taylor, best known as Nemesis in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and Leonora Scelfo, who played the cheerleader in the bathroom in Scream, were guests at the event. Taylor has been enjoying the convention circuit since starting in 2019. “It’s giving us the opportunity to see a lot of interesting places and meet a lot of interesting people. It’s nice to see this side of the industry, if you will, in the sense of the people that really enjoy the work that I’ve done, which you don’t get to see a lot outside of these sorts of conventions.”

The Canadian actor/stuntman admits to not feeling considerable pressure when he booked the role as Nemesis because he wasn’t very knowledgeable about the franchise, but he continues to learn more about it to this day through fan interactions. “I didn’t have the pressure, but if I had to do it again maybe there’d be a little more pressure because I’d know what it would mean to the masses and the fanfare.” He cites Jason Voorhees in a Friday the 13th movie as a dream role.

Scelfo only did her first convention last year, and she’s eager for more. “It’s been amazing!” she exclaims. “I had no idea how much Scream meant to people. Obviously, I knew that Scream was a huge movie, but it means a lot to the real die-hard fans to meet the original cast members. I’ve come to find out that it was significant to most of them in their childhood, but now it has a resurgence because so many more Scream movies have come out, and also the people that loved the original in 1996 now have children. The reason I love doing conventions is the interactions with the fans. It’s really kind of a high.”

Scelfo was dating Scream star Skeet Ulrich during the making of the movie, but she earned her role through the audition process. In fact, she was up for the part of Sidney Prescott, and director Wes Craven personally told her that he liked her for the role but the executives wanted a bigger name. Nevertheless, since her cheerleader character survived, Scelfo hopes to reprise her legacy role in a future Scream film.

Taylor and Scelfo each participated in panel discussions, and other entertainment included live podcast recordings by America’s Hometown Horror, Ivy League Murders, and Bloody FM’s own Hometown Ghost Stories; an array of local vendors; horror trivia; costume and tattoo contests (that latter of which I won!); and free photos with replicas of Ghostbusters‘ Ecto-1 and Resident Evil‘s Raccoon City Police vehicles.

America’s Hometown Horror co-host Mike Walsh tells me that he jumped at the opportunity when Inebri-Art’s Andy Driscoll approached him with the idea of starting a convention in Plymouth. “Planning the event and getting to do our very first live show at the event was a special experience that I’ll never forget. All the vendors, celebrity guests, volunteers, employees at Mayflower, and everyone who showed up were awesome. We are already planning for 2024 with a strong possibility that we might be looking at a two-day event, which is very exciting!”

“This being our first event of this type, I am proud of how it turned out,” adds Driscoll. “It wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing friends at Mayflower Brewing. We have already started talking about how we can make next year a bigger and better event. The biggest challenge with a con set in a brewery is there is a set square footage. To grow much bigger we would have to change location, yet sticking with that venue size I think will lend itself to a more intimate experience for the con goer and keep the ‘hometown’ vibe in Hometown Haunts & Hops.”

Scelfo considers the experience “one of the best first conventions that I’ve ever seen. It’s really top-quality people here. The vibe is good, the energy is good, the location is good. Each year it’s only going to get better. I think that this is needed at this time in this town, right now, every year.” While there’s no denying the potential for growth with a passionate team at the helm, I also concur with Driscoll’s assertion: the casual atmosphere makes Hometown Haunts & Hops stand out among its peers.

The post First Ever ‘Hometown Haunts & Hops’ Brings a Horror Convention to a Brewery [Event Report] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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