Exclusive DAYS OF THE DEAD Interview with promoter Adolfo G. Dorta
GOBLINHAUS: Let’s just start from the beginning. Where did your love of horror come from?
Adolfo Dorta: I grew up in that wonderful era where there was a mom and pop video rental store on every other corner and my parents would always take my brother and I to pick out a stack full of tapes every Friday after grade school. My mother was always strict about making sure I stayed out of the horror section lest I be stricken with nightmares by some of the ridiculous cover art that was so common back in those glory days. Despite her best attempts, I always found a way to sneak away and marvel at the gruesome, gory, and over the top imagery that adorned those beautiful boxes, and the fact that it was "forbidden fruit" made it that much more enticing. As I got older and my mother eased up a bit on her restrictions, I made it my mission to rent every single horror title in the store (a feat I managed to accomplish many times over). From there on, it's been a life long love affair.
GH: And then at some point you started attending horror conventions. Do you have any particular shows that inspired you or any good convention stories?
AD: I've been going to Sci-Fi and comic book conventions since I was a young, young kid, but didn't really start doing shows that were exclusively horror until about 6 or 7 years ago. Being a Florida native, I've always been a long time fan and loyal patron of Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend and have attended it religiously for their past 5 or 6 shows. Since moving to the Chicago area 3 years ago, I've expanded my convention going a bit more, taking advantage of all of the great horror shows in the mid west, along with the occasional Sci-Fi and comic show for nostalgia's sake.
GH: So what drove you to just haul off and put on your own horror convention?
AD: Aside from DAYS OF THE DEAD, I also run a website called From Dusk Till Con (along with co-founder, Rick Lara) which covers the horror convention scene and culture behind it and has been growing quite steadily since its inception on Halloween of 2009. Originally, DAYS OF THE DEAD was going to be the mid west expansion show for one of the long established horror conventions on the east coast (which I am not at liberty to name) and they approached From Dusk Till Con about sponsoring an event for that show. A few months later, the original promoter changed his mind and Rick and I were offered the opportunity to take their place as a partner and the face of what went on to become DAYS OF THE DEAD. As huge horror fans who go to about 4-7 horror conventions a year, it was an offer we simply couldn't refuse.
GH: How did you go about assembling a guest list from scratch?
AD: When Rick and I got on board with DAYS OF THE DEAD, we got together with a bunch of our friends who are also avid convention goers and horror fanatics and over a few beers shot ideas back and forth of people we would like to see who either haven't been in the mid west or haven't been in the area for a few years. I also shot off a dozen or so emails to some of my convention friends in different states and asked for their feedback as well. With all the input, we came up with a wish list of 150 some odd names and set off to whittle it down by inquiring to see who was interested, who was available, who was within our budget, etc. I'm happy to say that most of the people who ended up on the current guest roster were names compiled from that original list we created with the help of friends and fans, with other names being added later through suggestions via email, Facebook, and just taking to people after show hours in hotel bars and what not at other horror conventions. It may sound like a very simple approach, but fans are always very willing to tell you what they think and offer you advice - you just have to be willing to listen.
GH: Who are some of the guests that will be at the first Days of the Dead that people will be excited about?
AD: The beauty of the line up for DAYS OF THE DEAD is that there are so many different kinds of guests on our roster that everyone I talk to is looking forward to someone different. Aside from some of the bigger names like Edward Furlong, Roddy Piper, and Heather Langenkamp, we also have quite a few fan favorites such as PJ Soles, Derek Mears, Reggie Bannister, and Camille Keaton. There are also quite a few names that have only made one or two prior appearances such as Monica Keena, Mark Patton, Michael Kenworthy, and Zoe Bell, and even several first time ever guests such as Carlos Gallardo, Jacob Reynolds, Marc Price, and Stacey Alden. I think any genre fan would be hard pressed to not find 3 or 4 names to really get excited about at DAYS OF THE DEAD.
GH: Along with celebrity guests, what kind of events do you have planned for the attendees?
AD: We don't want DAYS OF THE DEAD to be just an autograph show, and to that end we have a weekend stacked full of events for fans to enjoy. Among them will be the Fangoria Film Festival, of which we are honored to be working with arguably one of the biggest brands in horror to put together a line up of the best up and coming indie films horror fans are going to love seeing. We also have Wickedbeard's Wicked Costume Contest hosted by the King of Costumes himself, Jeff "Wickedbeard" Cochran and judged by none other than Derek Mears (Friday the 13th), Brian Steele (Predators, Hellboy), and Melissa Cowan (The Walking Dead). "Rowdy" Roddy Piper will be doing a special stand up comedy performance and Heather Langenkamp will be showing her new documentary, I Am Nancy, with both events happening on Friday night. We will also have a bitchin' tattoo contest sponsored by Altered Image Tattoo, a beauty pageant sponsored by Girls and Corpses Magazine, and the first ever Nightmare on Elm Street Museum featuring over 40 screen used props from the various films of one of horror's greatest franchises of all time, including the only of its kind screen used Freddy Krueger glove worn by Robert Englund in the original NOES and both Englund and Mark Patton in NOES 2! We feel that if you're spending ANY time in your hotel room throughout the weekend outside of showering and a few hours sleep, we didn't do our jobs!
GH: Finally, do you have any announcements you can make about Days of the Dead for GOBLINHAUS readers?
AD: I'm pleased to announce through Goblinhaus the addition of horror vixen, Linnea Quigley to our July guest line up. Not only will we be adding Linnea, but she will be participating in a very special "Scream Queens of Horror" panel, which will also feature actresses Heather Langenkamp, PJ Soles, and Camille Keaton. As if that wasn't awesome enough, we will be having honorary Scream Queen, Mark Patton (of Nightmare on Elm Street 2 fame) moderating the panel. To our knowledge, this is the first time these 4 ladies have ever been on stage at the same time, and we're very excited to be part of celebrating women in horror with this event.
THE BIG LIST: Every All Things Spook column.