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PHX Comicon Day 2: Horror
And The Prop-Ban Letdown

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Image by Mike Sallusito.

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Slash Of The Titans As Horror Films Get Bigtime Attention; Attendees Express Frustration At The Sudden Restriction On Props After A Wacko Spoils The Fun
By Mike Sallusito
Modern Times Magazine
May 27, 2017 — Horror has always had a special place in pop culture. The names Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers are just as recognizable as Spider-Man, Batman, and Wolverine. This year, Phoenix Comicon has really made a point to sate the needs of horror movie lovers with a number of panels catering to fans of fear-inducing film.

Phoenix Comicon has invited special guest Rebekah McKendry to be part of a number of panels celebrating horror. McKendry is not only an award-winning filmmaker but also holds a Ph.D. in Media Studies with a focus on Horror and Exploitation. Currently, she is the Editor-in-Chief at

Those who are fans of horror films know the Blumhouse name. They just recently produced the horror hit Get Out by Key and Peele’s Jordan Peele. Get Out’s mixture of horror and social commentary about race in America is already being pointed at as a new trend to look for in the genre, proving that horror films can be just as effective at addressing current social issues as dramatic films like this year’s Oscar winner, Moonlight.

During Friday’s State of Horror panel, the conversation naturally drifted to the impact Get Out has had on horror audiences. Monte Yazzie, director of the International Horror and Sci-fi Festival, moderated the panel. He said of Get Out, "It's a social satire, but gives us the familiar horror themes we like."

As the title of the panel suggests, McKendry made it a point to share her unique insight on the current state of horror. Although films like the Universal/Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy are looming just over the horizon, McKendry pointed out that big-budget, horror-inspired movies were most likely to stay below a PG-13 rating to attract a wide audience. She noted that most of the best horror films of the last few years are still primarily coming out of the independent market.

On Friday, McKendry was also a member of Female Perspective: The Heart of Horror, an all-female panel of writers and local names in horror such as FilmBar programmer Andrea Canales. The panel discussed the undeniable influence women have had on horror despite it being commonly looked at as a male-dominated genre. McKendry pointed out that currently horror movies are still overwhelmingly created by male filmmakers, but noted that, “You're starting to see more women in production roles.” The panel stressed the importance in encouraging more women to take a seat in the director’s chair, to offer their unique voice to the horror genre.  

If you’re a fan of horror films and want to hear more from Rebekah McKendry, she’ll be at Phoenix Comicon all weekend. On Sunday, she’ll join a number of other horror film names on the Stream for Me: Streaming Horror panel at 12:00 pm.
Cosplayers and Attendees Express Frustration Over Phoenix Comicon’s Props Ban
Standing in line at Phoenix Comicon, security is clearly on edge. The convention goer in front of me, wearing a Deadpool t-shirt, begins to question the man directing attendees with a security wand. “So, any word on that guy from yesterday,” he asks as he’s waved over with the wand. The security guard is reluctant to speak, he’s either too focused directing cosplayers into the convention center or is just over being asked this question a hundred times today.
Today, we do have more information on the man who was arrested on Thursday trying to enter Phoenix Comicon with four loaded guns and a knife. Matthew Sterling, a 31-year-old Mesa resident, entered the Convention Center after making posts on Facebook stating he intended to harm police and was targeting guest Jason David Frank who played the Green Ranger on the 90s Fox television hit, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Post-Prop Ban Slide Show

As bizarre as this story was, Phoenix Comicon made the tough decision to ban prop weapons from the convention, much to the dismay of cosplayers who often spend large amounts of time and money preparing for the event.

Harrison Yancy, an attendee at the convention, was understanding, but expressed much of the frustration other attendees were experiencing, "It's a scary situation and I'm glad it was resolved before anything really bad happened. Obviously, safety is important and a touchy subject lately, but I can't help but think they went a little overboard on the props ban."
One attendee dressed as Edward Scissorhands said he was forced to leave his “scissorhands” at home.
“I feel like everyone who sees my cosplay is disappointed,” he said.
This doesn’t mean cosplayers stopped doing what they do best; getting creative with limited resources in their best attempt to stay true to their favorite characters. One cosplayer, dressed like Link from The Legend of Zelda video game series, replaced his trademark Master Sword with a yellow umbrella.
Sterling was charged with attempted murder and his bond was set at $1 million. Sterling’s court date is set for next month.
Mike Sallusito is a freelance writer — among other things — living in Phoenix.
Morganna Guzzon contributed to this report.

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