WonderCon 08: Day One Impressions

An Asian booth-babe in short shorts, mirrored sunglasses, and a blonde wig showed me dirty pictures on the floor of WonderCon today.
By  · Published on February 23rd, 2008

An Asian booth-babe in short shorts, mirrored sunglasses, and a blonde wig showed me dirty pictures on the floor of WonderCon today. And that was in the first five minutes. Sure she was shilling for Lionsgate, and I was just another mark to her, but damnit her exposed midriff spoke to me. Unfortunately it was begging me to go see Larry the Cable Guy in Witless Protection, so I had to turn away.

Lionsgate is one of a handful of studios presenting their wares at WonderCon 2008 this weekend in San Francisco. WonderCon, like its bigger (much bigger) brother ComicCon is ostensibly about comics. In recent years though Hollywood has gotten wise to the fact that comic book fans are a large part of their base for certain kinds of films. Whereas ComicCon is pretty evenly split now between comics and movies, WonderCon is still mostly comic book oriented. With more than 90% of the booths and guests focused on that world, the film pickings were slim indeed, and I found myself returning again and again to the Lionsgate display…

Aside from my new girlfriend and her taut tummy, Lionsgate was also pushing the upcoming Clive Barker adaptation, Midnight Meat Train. By pushing I mean they had some posters up on a wall. It’s a great poster, and the trailer for the film looks pretty cool, but more of an effort would have been nice. Equally as impressive (feel the sarcasm) was the Warner Independent Pictures booth advertising the upcoming remake of Funny Games. One nice touch, the high school graduates who were hired to work the booth were dressed all in white, including gloves, as a nod to the two young killers in the film. Having learned nothing from their redo of The Vanishing, Hollywood has the original film’s director remaking it (almost verbatim) in English. I asked why Michael Haneke felt compelled to tread such familiar ground, and was told he had remade it in English so its message could reach a wider audience. I’ve seen the original and don’t recall a message or moral other than don’t ever open your front door to strangers, so we’ll have to wait and see if maybe something was lost in the translation.

One movie booth that that did make an effort was for first-time director Bruce Dickson’s Red Velvet. They had props, posters, and a trailer playing, and were working hard trying to sell the movie, literally sell it in fact as they have yet to sign a distributor. “It’s gory, funny, and sexy! And it’s got some names in it… like… the kid from ET!” Henry “Penis Breath” Thomas I asked? One in the same they replied (after a pause), and then informed me that he was scheduled to appear for an autograph signing later today! The engaging hucksters continued as I took photos of the admittedly eye-catching posters. “It’s not torture-porn. We didn’t want to do that. This movie’s for everyone, kids, even Grandma would enjoy it!” I was about to remind them of their “gory, funny, and sexy” claim, but who am I to judge someone else’s family?

In general, day one was a very low-key convention floor experience. Some of the booths were still being set up and decorated. Aside from the seemingly millions of comic books for sale, you can also purchase miscellaneous movie-themed swords and knives from four separate dealers. Bootleg dvds and vhs abound, but nothing really worth paying for. One interesting exhibitor was Reynolds Advanced Materials. Sexy name I know, but they make rubber, plastic, and foam materials for film effects, and they had a couple display items of interest. Namely Angelina Jolie’s upper and lower lips. Okay, they were part of a whole-face mold, but I still touched them. The same fingers I’m using to type this report that you’re reading touched the rubber that came out of the mold that touched her face. Has to mean something in a Six Degrees of Angie’s Lips kind of way. A handful of folks walked around in costume, from the titular Hitman character to some equally titular anime-themed ladies. From the ubiquitous and convention-required Star Wars Storm troopers to some guy dressed as Lou Ferrigno from The Incredible Hulk. Oh wait, that is Lou Ferrigno. Alone at a booth, with no one in line for a picture or autograph. As the saddest piano music ever heard on television played in my head, I turned, hiked my backpack over my shoulder, and walked slowly away. Back to Lionsgate it is…

For more photos from WonderCon 2008, head over to our Official Flickr Page where I will be posting new stuff all weekend.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.