Looking Back on Scares That Care 2016

Horror Drive-InA funny thing happened at Scares That Care Weekend 3. I was in the Celebrity Room, and I noticed something. The room was laid out with media personalities all around the perimeter, against the walls. Writers were mostly in the center. It occurred to me that, at least at the moment in question, there were more people engaging in conversations and sales with authors than with the actors and such.

Two legends: Thomas F. Monteleone and John Maclay. (Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)
Two legends: Thomas F. Monteleone and John Maclay.
(Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)

Now, I certainly do not hope for lack of success for the media folk. On the contrary, they are the lifeblood of most cons; but it did my horror-reading heart good to see so many attendees interested in books and writers.

There were the usual individuals known to the community. Then there were members of the random fandom who toil behind the scenes. And I saw a lot of movie fans lured to the author tables. New blood in the horror fiction arena.

That’s merely one of the things that are so great about Scares That Care. It isn’t the only con to feature both horror fiction and media programming, but it is one of the best at it. There are plenty of writers to go around these days, God knows, but we always need more readers.

There have been three Scares That Care shows so far, and I have had the privilege of attending them all. I’m an old con veteran from the days of SF conventions in the ’70s, and I can honestly say that the STC shows are the best I’ve ever been to. From the caring and kindly staff to the overall decency of the attending lunatics, Scares That Care represents the horror convention at its very best.

The nicest people at Scares That Care: Joe and Karen Lansdale. (Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)
The nicest people at Scares That Care: Joe and Karen Lansdale.
(Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)

It certainly isn’t just me. The convention is insanely popular. So much so that the hotel for STC 4 sold out in record time just a few days after the announcement. There are still rooms at nearby (walking distance) hotels, so if you are considering going, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

People go to cons for different reasons. Some enjoy the panels and readings. I like that stuff to a degree, but I generally end up skipping a lot of them. There are the celeb autographs, and I have a select few of them. I’m very discriminating in that regard, and I have only bothered to get signed photos by Dick Miller, Mary Woronov, Ruggero Deodato, and The Bowman Body. Bowman was a horror host in my area in the seventies.

No, it isn’t any of that stuff, and it damned sure isn’t cosplaying. I attend conventions to be around book people.

I don’t get a lot of that in my real life. Some here and there, but it’s rare. At conventions I can talk about my favorite and near favorite writers, and be around people who know who they are. People afflicted with the same kind of obsession for dark fiction. Those who are familiar with more than just King, Lovecraft, and other big names.

Rise of the Super Movie Nerd Horror Writers: Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini. (Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)
Rise of the Super Movie Nerd Horror Writers: Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini.
(Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)

A group of friends and I bring books to show off, as well as to share with others. People think we’re crazy, but I love sharing books with people who will love and appreciate them. I spend nearly every weekend searching thrift shops and flea markets for choice items, and I get a thrill out of handing them out to appreciative collectors.

I do enjoy the celebrities though. Even if I have no clue who most of them are these days. I don’t follow the TV stuff, and a lot of the current movies have eluded me. I no longer watch a lot of movies, and these days I prefer to spend my precious few spare hours with books.

Books. Treasure chests of wonders and terrors. Of love and hate and fear and joy. Of sprawling adventures, and the miracles that occur in every seemingly mundane household. I always come home from Scares That Care with boxes of books—gifts from friends, and I buy more than my share of them. This past year I bought great books by Thomas F. Monteleone, John Maclay, Brian Keene, Adam Cesare, Ronald Malfi, Matt Serafini, Joe R. Lansdale, Scott Cole, Mary SanGiovanni. The only reason I didn’t buy from other writers in attendance is because I already had the stuff they were selling.

jonathan-janz-and-kristopher-rufty
Two of today’s hottest rising stars: Jonathan Janz and Kristopher Rufty. (Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)

I’ve heard people in the community say that they dislike conventions. To each his or her own, but I will never understand that. There is nothing I enjoy more than congregating with my fellow horror lovers at a convention. And there is no better con to do it at than Scares That Care.

Did I neglect to mention that Scares That Care is a nonprofit charitable organization? It is strictly a volunteer effort and all proceeds over and above expenses go to needy children. The man responsible for it all, Joe Ripple, is a Saint of a human being.

Of course I am a fan at heart, and even without the stuff I have mentioned above, how could I resist going out to see legends like Joe R. Lansdale, Thomas F. Monteleone, and John Maclay? Or newly established masters of the form such as Jonathan Janz, Ron Malfi, and Kristopher Rufty? Or tomorrow’s superstars like Matt Serafini, Kyle Lybeck, and Michael M. Hughes? Plus a host of other writers that vary from newcomer status to legendary acclaim.

Ronald Malfi and Brian Keene want YOU to attend Scares That Care 2017! (Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)
Ronald Malfi and Brian Keene want YOU to attend Scares That Care 2017!
(Photo Copyright 2016 Mark Sieber)

Also, our own Richard Chizmar was to be a Scares That Care guest in 2016, but had to bow out at the last minute due to family obligations. Maybe next year, Rich?

It’s a wild, whirlwind weekend of raucous fun that is like no other. Scares That Care is located in Williamsburg, Virginia, and there are numerous historic and entertaining attractions nearby to complete a family vacation.

Mark Sieber learned to love horror with Universal, Hammer, and AIP movies, a Scholastic edition of Poe’sEight Tales of Terror, Sir Graves Ghastly Presents, The Twilight Zone, Shirley Jackson’s The Daemon Lover,The Night Stalker, and a hundred other dark influences. He came into his own in the great horror boom of the 1980’s, reading Charles L. Grant, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Russell, Skipp and Spector, David J. Schow, Stephen King, and countless others. Meanwhile he spent as many hours as possible at drive-in theaters, watching slasher sequels, horror comedies, monster movies, and every other imaginable type of exploitation movie. When the VHS revolution hit, he discovered the joys of Italian and other international horror gems. Trends come and go, but he still enjoys having the living crap scared out of him. He can be reached at horrordrivein@yandex.com, and at www.horrordrive-in.com.

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