Few horror sequels actually get better as time goes on, but Shock Stock is proving to be something of an exception.
As plans continue for the convention’s sixth year — set for May 27-29 at Centennial Hall — organizers are looking to capitalize on Shock Stock’s reputation in the horror and cult film communities.
Andrew Kitt is one of those organizers.
Working in tandem Jake Windatt, the founder of Shock Stock, Kitt credits the convention’s five-year history with growing the local fan base of these sometimes polarizing film genres.
“This being our sixth year, we’re actually quite pleased,” Kitt said. “With anything in this day and age to survive for five years, especially something as niche as Shock Stock, we’re pretty proud of it.”
Just like any franchise needs to constantly upping the level of excitement, Kitt is working hard to raise Shock Stock’s game as well.
This year will see the addition of a film festival element to the convention.
Films and movie culture have always been fairly closely tied to the show, Kitt said, and so hosting a movie festival seemed a natural next step.
Although final details are still being worked out, the plan Kitt is working out is for “a ton of Canadian premiers,” and numerous directors coming to take part in their respective launches.
One film in particular Kitt expects fans will get excited about is a movie out of the U.K. called Scrawl.
The movie features Daisy Ridley, a name most people don’t recognize until they realize she recently played Rey, the leading character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“So many people have wondered where they found Daisy Ridley,” Kitt said. “Well you can come down to Shock Stock and see the movie where she had her breakthrough and where Disney spotted her.”
As work continues on the final lineup for the film festival portion of the convention, Shock Stock has already confirmed numerous icons of the horror and cult film genres will be appearing in London.
That list features Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger, Return to Nuke ‘Em High volumes one and two), who is billed as the King of Independent Cinema.
Other celebrities include: Dyanne Thorne (the Ilsa the She Wolf franchise), Shock Stock’s first celebrity guest; Kenny Hotz (Kenny Vs Spenny), the so-called Canadian Wild Man; A. Michael Baldwin (the Phantasm franchise), who will be making his first-ever Canadian appearance; and Mink Stole (Pink Flamingos, Cry Baby, Hairspray), a staple in many of the films of cult legend John Waters.
Kitt said he credits the relationships Windatt and himself have crafted over the yeas with helping to build the Shock Stock and Comic Con brands.
That has translated into success on the business side of the operation, particularly for Comic Con.
In the festival’s first year, 7,500 people came through the front door — all the more impressive considering 6,000 were expected.
The past couple years had seen Shock Stock attendance level off somewhat, Kitt said, which is why the decision was made to add the film festival.
There are two factors that have led to the festival’s success.
First off is a rapid fan base for the horror and cult movie genres, drawing fans from Ohio, New York and Quebec.
But he quickly adds it is the willingness of celebrities to embrace the convention culture — especially the relaxed nature of the London event — that has driven success.
“Celebrities are more willing to come and do these kinds of things. At Shock Stock, it’s very hands on. You can sit and chat with them for like a half hour,” Kitt said. “The celebrities enjoy that. They come out to the after parties in full force, hang out with all the fans. The party continues well into the night. It’s a great vibe.”