Starting June 7th and lasting all weekend, Days of the Dead brought in one of the biggest names in horror conventions to Las Vegas. I got the privilege to cover this big name convention in a town that doesn’t get to see the faces of horror take over very often. Hosted in the Plaza Hotel at the end of Legendary Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, Days of the Dead offered VIP treatment for Early entry to the convention, exclusive parties, and hosted discounted room rates and after parties that welcomed everyone.
One of my biggest weaknesses in any horror convention is the vendors within the convention hall. In this regard, Days of the Dead brought out a fantastic group of companies and individuals allowing any horror fan to contribute directly to the ongoing problem of running out of shelf space. My personal favorite was the presence of distributors Vinegar Syndrome and Severin Films, of which I was able to grab several titles missing from online stores for ages, and at sales offering significant discounts for multiple titles. Days of the Dead also hosted several independent filmmakers that allowed you to buy the film directly for the creators themselves. Unearthed Films were present with their collection of titles and an infamous baby kept under glass. If merch and props are more your thing, Trick or Treat Studios, Pallbearer Press, and many others could cure that itch.
Tucked in the back corner of the convention floor space, celebrities and special guests included Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Dee Snider, and many others. Days of the Dead also provided a full professional photo opp room that carried several appointments with whomever you’d want. The main attraction in special guests was by far the presence of Clive Barker. Ultimately, Days of the Dead provided the prime opportunity to be in the presence of Clive Barker. Barker had his own section of the convention space separated from the rest of the con, with a full artwork display, a selection of books and never an unbearable line.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a horror convention without a few screenings. Days of the Dead provided several opportunities to catch some films with several shorts blocks and some full-length films throughout the weekend. They did a wonderful job of highlighting special blocks for female and international filmmakers though, there was little literature or reference for finding which shorts would play during any of the blocks.
There was a panel event for every interest. Between special makeup effects, a meeting of the Jasons, and horror trivia, you could easily fill up your whole day with these panels. Some of the other prime events included a Bill Moseley and Sid Haig panel as well as a tattoo contest. In some of the more intimate panels, the extreme horror panel hosted participants Mark Savage, Steven Biro, and Marcus Koch where Biro brought a round for the table and we learned about their personal lines they won’t cross, an almost unanimous animal torture. My personal favorite was the horror writers panel hosted by Tim Chizmar of the Las Vegas Horror Writers guests Mark Savage and Katie Salidas. The grand surprise was a quick drop in by Clive Barker, where he shared some of his poetry and advice for writing.
Deeply ingrained within Days of the Dead is a massive association with local groups and collectors. Our friends at Las Vegas Horror Film Festival were present. Additionally, there were local filmmakers, Tom Devlin's Monster Museum, and many local organizers who helped with many of the events taking place during and around the entire convention.
While I cannot say that there will definitely be another year, or that Days of the Dead Las Vegas will become one of the most popular, successful Horror conventions of the west, for their first year in a new location, they’re off to a good start. The attendance wasn’t massive and crowds never got in the way of the enjoyment of any event throughout the weekend. Aside from the inevitable cancellations that hit every convention, almost any draw that you could want in a horror convention was in place for Days of the Dead. Las Vegas isn’t a town known for horror, but with good involvement and work with the locals as we saw, Days of the Dead Las Vegas could grow to be something worth taking a gamble on.