Goth Chick News: Taking the Week Off

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image0023The interns are between semesters, the temperatures in Chicago are sub-zero and most important, the Boss is in Belize.

Belize…?  What’s in Belize?  Anybody?

Well, no matter.  What we have here is the perfect storm of opportunity to take the week off and get ready for Goth Chick News’ second busiest season besides Halloween.

Convention season.

In the coming weeks I’ll be road-tripping to St. Louis to cover the 2012 Halloween Costume and Party Show, chatting up the disturbing participants of C2E2 and joining my fellow Black Gate staffers at something called Capri-con (where I’ll appear incognito to see what all you Sci-Fi-er’s get up to when you get together).

Until then, it’s frozen blender drinks and days nights on the sand.

See you next week.

Are you hitting up any conventions this year?  If so, which ones?  Post a comment or drop a line to

Goth Chick News: 16th Annual Halloween & Attractions Best in Show

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 | Posted by Sue Granquist

24150_390196963255_167128213255_3900787_3094256_nLast weekend, St. Louis, MO played host to the 16th Annual Halloween & Attractions Show which was side by side with the Halloween Costume & Party Show. These events have not occurred simultaneous in several years and to have this much Halloween in one place was, well…

Let’s just say I needed to have a nice long lie down afterwards.

The HAS and the HCPS play host to vendors of every imaginable item for professional haunted attraction creators. Aisles of latex body parts, animatronic werewolves, smoke machines, scary sound effects, fake castle walls, grossly realistic masks and special effects makeup kept me engrossed for the full nine hours that the show ran on Saturday. In addition, I met several amazing artists, and a couple of horror movie directors that I’m sure you’ll recognize. But I’ll leave those as a surprise for later.

Over the coming weeks I will have the pleasure of bringing you several full-length interviews with the most intriguing people I met. But as I’ve done each year, we’ll start with a “Best in Show” list and let me say, it’s hard to stand out amidst this bloody mess. All of these items are available for purchase by the general public on the web sites indicated and represent the most innovative products for 2011.

I love this job.

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Goth Chick News: The Huge Quantities of Latex Gross-ness

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image001Yes, believe it or not, its time once again for the Halloween Costume and Party Show; the largest collection of Hollywood-style horror effects to be found in one place. Needless to say, this annual event causes just about as much activity in the underground offices of Goth Chick News as Halloween itself.

Generally held in Chicago, this year’s event has moved south to The America’s Center in St. Louis, meaning some well-thought-out preparation is in order. Having only rarely left my workspace unattended, sadly I know full well what has happened in the past when I’ve turned my back on the boys of Black Gate. Generally, it involves some manner of carnage being inflicted on my blender, my espresso machine or the barely acceptable unisex bathroom.

There was that one time when the espresso machine and the unisex bathroom ended up together, but I still can’t discuss that without needing a lie down afterwards.

So, with this in mind I will carefully remove all tempting objects out of the office to the trunk of my car  (including the super glue), make a pass through the local coffee shop drive-thru, and then I’m off to my most favorite event of the year.

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Goth Chick News: Cool Stuff in 2011

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

super_8There are bits of wrapping paper static’d to the lamp shade and tendrils of curly ribbon hanging off the chandelier. Here I lay in a sugar and red meat coma under the pressing weight of one too many conversations with the essence of Christmas spirit, three times distilled. With New Years Eve still in front and a bacchanalia of epic proportions behind, what can I do but think happy thoughts about the coming year and a time when the little troll living between my ears will finally stop running in circles and shouting.

Trust me, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

But 2011 looms large and full of promise; that not all movies will be filmed in 3D, some remakes may be worth watching and some events will be worth waiting for. So for you I pull myself up off the sticky floor and shake the glitter off my Mr. Grinch flannel PJ’s to bring you the annual “Cool Stuff in 2011” list. I know you probably have some of your own things to add to it, but far be it from me to ask you to get up and try to type in your current state. Nope, leave it to me to take one for the team, and if you feel up to it later, go ahead and chime in.

Now that the room has stopped spinning, let’s start with the movies.

Super 8, a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams is the obvious place to begin, mainly due to the two gentlemen at the helm.  Until its release in June, you can content yourself by following along with the elaborate viral marketing campaign that has been teasing the crap out of those of us trying to determine the focus of this film.

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Goth Chick News: The International Halloween, Costume and Party Show

Thursday, March 4th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

hcpChicago once again played host to the IHCPS, February 26-29, but to say the show as a whole was a disappointment is the understatement of the century.

This is the event around which my entire calendar revolves, and it usually requires a full ten-hour day to visit all of the exhibitors. I actually have a countdown clock on my computer ticking away the days to this most anticipated of events.

However, in their first year back after a two-year run in Vegas, this year’s show was less than 50% of the size of previous years. Gone was “The Dark Zone,” my most favorite area, which used to take up the entire upper floor of the convention center, and where Hollywood’s finest special effect magicians from the horror genre showcased their latest wares.

The exhibition hall itself was spread thinly across two rooms instead of three, and was heavily dominated by been-there-seen-that costumes and drug store decorations.

Even the “party” part of the IHCPS seemed to be missing. In the past, yet another hall was occupied by general party items, not Halloween themed. Though a little tame for my taste, I always found one or two cool things to share with you, as well as for my own future use. All in all the IHCPS consumed the entire convention center in prior years.

And sacrilege of sacrilege, this year my beloved “Dark Zone” space was occupied by…I can barely write it…a GOLF show. Oh the humanity!

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2007 Halloween, Costume and Party Show and the 12th National Haunt and Attractions Show

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | Posted by Web Master

February 23-26, 2007, Rosemont Convention Center, Rosemont, IL

Reviewed by Sue Granquist

Copyright 2007 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.

Ever visited a really high-end haunted attraction and wonder where all those blood-soaked fake zombies came from? Or better yet, watch a great horror movie and wonder what the people in charge of the special effects do with their free time?

Being the sort of twisted individual who actually ponders stuff like this, I had the opportunity to attend the holy grail of haunted trade shows and get all the answers. If a goth chick died and went to goth heaven, the Halloween, Costume and Party Show would be precisely what it looked like.

Unfortunately, the HCP Show is a “trade only” event, so you’re going to have to take my word for how cool it is — unless you know someone in the business who can get you in. In addition, security is very tight and all attendees are screened to ensure they’re really connected with the haunting and Halloween industry. I can assure you this level of screening isn’t uncalled for. Were it not for these precautions, every strange person in black clothing and pasty makeup you’ve ever seen would most assuredly be saving their pennies to fly to Chicago every February. Lucky for me I have Black Gate as my cover and I gleefully waded in.

Imagine two rooms a bit bigger than a football field, filled wall to wall with every bit of Halloween and horror paraphernalia you can possibly think of. There’s a company selling nothing but realistic plastic bones — and a large variety of items made out of these plastic bones. The most normal items were skeletons in every size, and most unusual was a chandelier made out of what looked like human remains.

Then there were the “Deady Bears” which were your standard stuffed teddy bear with sick twists… like holding a chainsaw, or chewing on a human body part. Oh, and they each come with their own death certificate.

Half of one floor was completely dedicated to very high-quality and extremely expensive animatronics. Most of the companies touting their nauseatingly realistic wares in this area are Hollywood special effects people who have “fun” side businesses, lending their talent to the gross stuff that somehow doesn’t fit anywhere in the movies. Here I saw an utterly convincing outhouse, and when you opened the door it appeared that someone had slaughtered a small farm animal inside. An additional feature had water flying out of the toilet right into the unsuspecting faces of visitors.

As you would expect, the current hot movies have a lot of influence on the types of attractions. For instance, I saw several robotic examples of that creepy little girl with the black hair hanging over her eyes from the two Grudge films. However, my personal favorite was a $25,000, eighteen-foot creature that actually strode toward you, supporting itself with two enormous spears upon which were skewered several dead bodies. It was set up in a darkened room and for a second when it came out of the black-lighted corner and lunged toward me, I thought I was going to die. It’s rare that I find myself in a position of wanting to mortgage my house, but there I was.

The people you see walking around the show are average for the most part. But what is amazing is meeting a charming old couple who just happen to run their state’s “most terrifying haunted house” every Halloween. They come to the show each year to add to the attractions in their collection. Thrilled, they left this year with a remote-control corpse that ran on tank treads. From a distance of 200 feet you can cause the body to suddenly start pulling itself along the ground with its hands, chasing people.

“It’ll scare the crap out of the kids,” the gentleman told me. You can just never tell about people…

These are some of my personal favorites for 2007. All of these products are available directly to the general public via the web sites shown.

  • “The Mask Maker”: Ed Edmunds, a Hollywood mask and prop man brings you a kit containing everything you need to make a realistic and gruesome rubber mask. I bought one on the spot.
  • “Haunted Memories Changing Portraits”: Vintage photographs that could have come out of your grandmother’s attic, whose faces change into monsters through the magic of holographics. Portraits and greeting cards are available and it’s never too early to start thinking Christmas.
  • “Tekno Bubbles”: Blowing bubbles with a very cool twist. They glow in the dark.
  • “Morticia Stewart’s Ultimate Halloween Monster Bash Kits”: As if the name of this alone didn’t get you, check out these awesomely creative kits for your next Halloween party. Or in my case, any party.
  • The “Confetti Shooter” by Omni Party: Small versions of what looks like flare guns which shoot a blast of confetti backed by real gun powder. Not as dangerous as it sounds and an absolute must-have for any gathering.
  • And last but certainly not least, my friends at Midnight Syndicate who never fail to impress with their eerie soundtracks that make the perfect backdrop to your parties or game night, are teasing us with the prospect of a movie called The Dead Matter to be released sometime later this year. While you wait there’s always their latest release Out of the Darkness to hold you over.

What would any trade show be without a celebrity sighting? I can tell you from personal experience that Dee Snider is a nice regular guy who I really enjoyed chatting with. He was there promoting his rock opera Van Helsing’s Curse which he is quick to tell you has nothing at all to do with the movie Van Helsing. Additionally, Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster for those of you old enough to know) is very friendly and I’m proud to hang his signed photo in my office.

Sadly, after seven years in Chicago, the HCP Show is moving to Las Vegas in 2008. But I’ve already bought my plane tickets.


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