Wonderfest (May 17th-May 19th)

Classic Monster Fans Shouldn’t Miss Louisville’s 24th Annual
WONDERFEST This Weekend at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel!

Good Evening, My Loyal Friends. It’s The Phantom
of the Ville, here to tell you about one of my favorite weekends of the year
here in the land of bourbon and boos. As a longtime lurker of the creepy halls
of the Crowne Plaza Hotel during the area’s biggest Toy & Model/Sci-Fi Expo,
WONDERFEST, I have some tips regarding the guests, panels and film screenings
that might interest fans of classic horror and science-fiction that frequent
this spooky corner of the Internet.

The show takes place from Friday night, May
17th, through Sunday evening, May 19th, with Friday night
serving as a FREE addition to a paid admission for a one day or weekend ticket.
Adults are $25 for a one day ticket or $33 for both days. Ages 4-12 are $8 for
one day and $11 for both days. Ages 3 and under are free. You can also purchase
an Early Bird Ticket for $55 which pays for the whole weekend and gets you into
the Dealer’s Room two hours early at 8AM on Saturday morning. The
Admissions Booth will be open Friday Night from 5PM until 8PM and again Saturday
morning at 7:30AM. The Dealers Room will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10AM
until 5PM.

The biggest draw to Wonderfest is the world famous
model contest, and the show annually draws model builders from around the world.
Even though you’ll find everything from rocket ships to dinosaurs to full size
movie props and costumes from “Star Trek” to “Lost in Space” to “Alien,” there
has always been a connection to Halloween and the classic monsters of the silver
screen according to Wonderfest Head Programmer, Dave Cononver, “Sure,” says
Conover, “the modeling hobby probably began with most of us building the classic
Aurora Monster Kits of the 1960’s and 1970’s.”

The Aurora Plastics Corporation began producing
model kits for a young demographic in the early 1950’s, mostly World War I and
II aircraft models and “slot cars.” Aurora’s biggest success came when they
licensed the images of the classic Universal Monsters in 1961 and began
producing a series of monster kits based on Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man,
King Kong, Godzilla and their whole devil’s brood. I was introduced to these
plastic wonders through the haze of the smell of cement modeling glue during the
Glow-in-the-Dark craze in the early 1970’s when Aurora re-released their monster
line with glow-in-the-dark heads and hands. One of the most memorable features
of the Aurora Monster models was the moody and evocative packaging artwork by
artist James Bama.

Just a couple of years ago, Wonderfest debuted a
documentary about this whole phenomenon, featuring an interview with Bama,
called “The Aurora Monsters: The Model Craze That Gripped The World.” It was
co-directed by Cortlandt Hull, who comes from classic monster lineage. He’s the
great nephew of actor, Henry Hull, Universal’s “Werewolf of London” (1935)
himself! He has also run a classic monster wax museum called “The Witch’s
Dungeon” (www.preservehollywood.org/) in Bristol, Connecticut since

This year, Hull and his partner Bill Diamond will
be debuting a new documentary on Friday night at 9:30PM in the upstairs Theater
A at the Crowne Plaza, “The Phantom of the Opera: Unmasking the Masterpiece.”
It’s a comprehensive look at adaptions of the Gaston Leroux novel through the
years, with focus on the silent Lon Chaney Jr. version, the 1943 version with
Claude Rains and the British Hammer Horror version with Herbert Lom. It will
feature interviews with Lon Chaney’s great grandson, Ron Chaney, Broadway
“Phantom,” Hugh Panaro and Hollywood make-up wizards Tom Savini and John

Then Saturday night there will be a double feature
of classic creeps and monsters starting at 9PM in Theater B with a screening of
Roger Corman’s classic, “The Raven” (1963), featuring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre
and Boris Karloff. The real treat for classic horror fans is the fact that Boris
Karloff’s daughter, Sara Karloff, will be there in person to introduce the film
and talk about some of the later films in her father’s long Hollywood bogeyman
career. Mrs. Karloff will also be hosting a panel about her father’s career on
Sunday morning from 11 – Noon in Theater A.

Directly following “The Raven” at 11PM on Saturday
night, Wonderfest will present “The Ray Harryhausen Super 8 Tribute Show.”
Master creature effects creator, Ray Harryhausen, who just passed away last week
was the man who released the Kraken in “Clash of the Titans,” brought the
Cyclops to life in “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” and rose an undead army
of skeletons in “Jason and the Argonauts.” Guests will marvel to the clicking
projector sounds of Super 8 digest reels for some of Harryhausen’s greatest
work. The Super 8 screening schedule follows below:


MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (17 minutes)
SAUCERS (8 minutes)
20,000,000 MILES TO EARTH (17 minutes)
SINBAD Cyclops vs Dragon (8 minutes)
AND THE ARGONAUTS – Talos (8 minutes)
GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD – ‘Making of’ Featurette (6

Other panels of interest to horror fans include a
Saturday 4PM session with Scream Queen, Brinke Stevens (“The Slumber Party
Massacre,” “The Haunting Fear”), who will be made-up as something horrible by
special effects make-up master, John Goodwin. Lee Meriwether, who played
Catwoman in the 1966 theatrical “Batman” movie, will be giving a talk at 11:30 AM
on Sunday morning. Last, but not least, the Rondo Awards (www.rondoaward.com) will present the awards for the years’ best
efforts in the horror genre at 5PM on Saturday.

There’s much, much more going on at Wonderfest
this weekend, and I’ve only touched on the more monstrous elements of the show,
so I recommend you check out www.wonderfest.com for all the details. I’ll see you back next
week when we explore a very unique, very local and very strange new
attraction/museum/cult film/punk rock showcase that could only exist in the dark
shadows of the Ville!

The Phantom of The Ville

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