Scream Gems

Wanna see something really scary?
You're sure to find creep-outs aplenty at the 1998 World Horror Convention. It may be a toss-up, however, whether they're among the panel discussions, celebrity appearances, and artwork, jewelry, books and videos for sale, or among the drooly grue-fans who turn out for the festivities.

It's the first time since 1994 that Phoenix has hosted the annual event, which emphasizes horror in literature and art. Bigwigs of the ghoul trade are scheduled to make appearances, among them prolific author Brian Lumley (Necroscope) and toastmaster John Steakley.

Filmmaker and gory special effects master Tom Savini is also on the agenda. Savini, a Pittsburg native and a combat photographer in the Vietnam War, is best known for his splatter effects--severed heads and limbs and gushing blood and shambling ghouls and hairy monsters--for George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Martin and Creepshow. In the last, he pulled off the astounding illusion of a swarm of cockroaches pouring out of the mouth of E.G. Marshall.

But Savini's resume includes shock effects for other notorious '80s horror flicks, including the original Friday the 13th. He's also a director himself (he helmed the misfired remake of Night of the Living Dead) as well as a stuntman and actor--he played a vampire-fighter in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk 'Til Dawn.

Another guest, at least equally prestigious in the eyes of the horror buffs, is comic-book illustrator Bernie Wrightson, who will be on hand to sell original artwork and prints, and "sketches, for a price." The veteran artist of the macabre has created works for everyone from Marvel to Scottsdale-based Chaos comics--he's drawn for such titles as Lady Death, Evil Ernie and Nightmare Theater--to the movie Ghostbusters to a superb illustrated edition of Frankenstein. But what's the Baltimore native's greatest contribution to Western civilization? He's the creator of Swamp Thing.

--M. V. Moorhead

The 1998 World Horror Convention runs from noon to roughly midnight on Thursday, May 7; 10 a.m. to midnight Friday, May 8; the same hours Saturday, May 9; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 10, at Embassy Suites, I-17 at Greenway Road. The cost is $100 for the full four days, $30 for individual days. 945-6890.

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead