This past weekend, Halloween cheer was alive and well during Midsummer Scream’s Awaken the Spirits gathering at the Pasadena Convention Center in California. For the last two years, the horror convention has had to cancel its original event in Long Beach due to the pandemic. However, the crew managed to put together a smaller version that was absolutely spooktacular.
Let’s Talk Horror
The two-day festivities included discussion panels featuring prominent figures in the horror community and some of SoCal’s most popular haunts. Saturday’s lineup spotlighted Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights, Fangoria, Winchester Mystery House, and Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, to name a few.
I attended on Sunday, which showcased a brand-new roundup of panels. There were specific ones I was interested in checking out. The team behind Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest shared how they come up with the ghoulish SFX looks for their scare actors and gave the audience a sneak peek at some of the haunts created for the 2021 Halloween season.
Another discussion I attended was a thought-provoking presentation by the Horror Writers Association. A group of authors expressed their thoughts on how the topic of plagues and the current COVID contagion are shaping the future of the horror genre. Writer A.E. Santana mentioned a fascinating short story called Mondays Are for Meat by Kathryn E. McGee. The tale centers on a young woman who refuses to leave her apartment three years after the pandemic has ended. I definitely plan to read it. This conversation was stimulating to hear and inspiring for my creative writing.
The final panel I sat in on was “Masterminds of Dark Harbor.” Dark Harbor is the annual Halloween event that takes place aboard the historic Queen Mary. It came as no surprise that it was cancelled last year, but there’s been only radio silence regarding its return for 2021. The creators gave fascinating details about how they come up with storylines and characters for the attractions, accompanied by nightmarish photos. I’m no mind reader, but I could sense that the question lingering in the room was whether or not Dark Harbor was taking place this October. That was answered during the Q&A. Sadly, it won’t be back this year, but they left us with hope of its resurrection in 2022.
Spooky Vendors & Other Treats
More than 200 vendors were also present selling their most macabre art, attire, home décor, wares and memorabilia. I came away with a nice bundle of goodies, which included gothic-inspired body soaps from Hellflower Soap Company. I found an exquisite necklace by Steeling Pompeii that has a nodding skeleton at the center. Other treasures included a Mortus Viventi tee with a morbid depiction of Justice from the Tarot deck. And because I have a penchant for dark art, I was elated to discover the shop Wicked Damsels by artist Kurtis Rykovich. He draws the most dark and beguiling characters!
I must also mention the LVCRFT Lounge named after a group of musicians that creates Halloween music. The bar served adult libations while clips from iconic horror films were projected on the walls and haunting tunes blared from the speakers. It was a perfect spot to rest and have a drink.
It’s been more than two years since I’ve attended a horror convention and my black heart was jumping for joy during my time at Awaken the Spirits. Midsummer Scream is planning another event for this year that’ll be happening just in time for the holidays—Season’s Screamings! It’ll take place December 17th through December 19th at the Pasadena Convention Center. The horror con is slated to return to Long Beach, California, with its big event from July 29th to July 31, 2022, and you can bet I’ll be attending at least one of those days!
Keep up with all the screams at the official website.