Vampire Con’s anti-‘Twilight’ stance: Go for the jugular

Hero Complex contributor Nicky Loomis is back with a look at a local event out for new blood in its second year.

For a couple of self-described “horror film geek freaks,” the idea to start a vampire convention came natural.

But as Wendi Mirabella, an event planner, and her longtime friend, Lotti Pharriss Knowles, a writer/filmmaker, set out to separate themselves from the current vamp-scape of pretty-boy fangers and TwiPhones full of Edward Cullen head shots – it left them feeling a little long in the tooth.


“It almost seems like there is a bit of vampire fatigue,” said Mirabella, the organizer behind the 2nd Annual Vampire Con, a Thursday-Saturday (June 24-26) film festival that celebrates the original gangstas of vampire lore – not the current breed who’ve perfected creating a good brood and, well, looking pretty.

Fang fatigue there may be, but with the recent True Blood” Season 3 premiere (they’ve added sexy werewolves to the mix), and “Twilight’s” third installment, “Eclipse,” premiering June 30, there’s no shortage of blood in this town yet.

Mirabella said her event was a strong success in its first year, and though V-Con aims to be “grassroots,” free from the money-making “Twilightization” maelstrom, there’s no denying part of that success came from the surge in vamp culture – with the prom king and queen vamps of “Twilight” on one side of the frenzy and the darker, raunchier, blood-lusting vamps of HBO’s  “True Blood,” on the other.

Lost-Boys-Poster-C10106105 “Last year it hit a crescendo,” Mirabella said, describing a surprisingly Twi-free audience, with a huge “cross-section” of goths, celebrities and mere mortals old and young.

Whether these die-hard fans feel their culture has been usurped by a bunch of tweens is another question, but it didn’t stop them from storming Hollywood in vamp garb, listening to panel discussions on all things macabre, and watching a smattering of ’80s “sleep all day, party all night” flicks like 1987’s Kiefer-Corey-Corey’s, “The Lost Boys,” and Tony Scott’s 1983 classic, “The Hunger.”

This year, V-Con is skimming the fat of the fest by sticking solely to films, which Mirabella sees as the undying element of the over-vamp-load. She holds that it’s the cult conventions that have jumped the shark and not the vampires themselves.

With a “Twilight” Convention being held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza this weekend, and upcoming dark material fests like “Weekend of Horrors,” and “Bloodlust”, it doesn’t make sense to compete, Mirabella said.

Plus, conventions are expensive.

“It’s a much bigger nut,” Mirabella said. “We’re only in our second year.”

Classicists can hide out at the New Beverly Cinema, recently bought by Quentin Tarantino, as the festival premieres a 1960s vs. 1970s mash-up of blood-gushers including, “ The Fearless Vampire Killers,” Roman Polanski’s 1967 campy satire starring Sharon Tate, Nosferatu,” Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake starring his best friend, Klaus Kinski, and 1979’s “Dracula,” starring the dreamy Frank Langella.

“We like vampires who are sexy and threatening – and who adhere to that role of a predator,” said Knowles, co-producer of V-Con. “There are those threads throughout the mythology, but every generation puts their own tweak or spin on it.”

Bela-good_hwssftkf On Friday, V-Con goes for the Spanish jugular, with a screening of the Spanish version of 1931’s “Dracula.”

The film was shot at night, using the same Universal Pictures sets as the English version, which starred Bela Lugosi, only with a different cast and director. (It’s considered by some to be better than the English version.)

“At the time they had this interesting foresight to shoot those two films simultaneously,”  Knowles said. “The film honors that foresight of the people who made it – who acknowledged that there was a market for both.”

Little known fact: the Spanish version stars Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, whose grandson, director Chris Weitz, coincidentally directed “New Moon.” Guess there are vampire clans, after all.

Vampire Con takes place Thursday-Saturday.  Costumes in the vampire-Edwardian-steam punk vein encouraged. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased, cash only, at the New Beverly Cinema located at 7165 Beverly Blvd.

Full Schedule:

Thursday: Summer of Vampire Love – Swinging 60’s Bloodsuckers

7:30 pm – The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), directed by Roman Polanski

9:45 pm – Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), from Hammer Horror Films, starring Christopher Lee

Friday: Let There Be Sangre!

7:30 pm – Dracúla (1931 – Spanish version)

9:30 pm – The Blood-Spattered Bride (1972), aka La Novia Ensangrentada

11:59 pm – Trasharella (2009)

Midnight Madness – separate admission

Saturday: Saturday Night Vampire Fever

5:15 pm – Nosferatu (1979), starring Klaus Kinski

7:30 pm – Dracula (1979), starring Frank Langella

9:30 pm – Love at First Bite (1979), starring George Hamilton

— Nicky Loomis


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Photos: Top – Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” Credit: Summit Entertainment. Second – Poster of the movie “The Lost Boys.” Credit: Warner Bros. Last – Bela Lugosi (left) and Dwight Frye in 1931’s “Dracula.” Credit: Universal.

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