Calgary Horror Con lets fright fans get up close and personal with the folks from their nightmares

Weekend event collects together some of the stars of classic franchises including Hellraiser, Gremlins, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jaws.

It’s one of Calgary’s other conventions aimed at the fabulous freaks and geeks among us.

And it’s growing.

The Calgary Horror Con is celebrating its seventh and biggest year so far, with more guests, more notable names and more to take in this weekend.

“Each year, year by year,” says organizer Katrina Kryzalka of the growth of the event, which takes place this weekend, June 10 and 11, at the Clarion Hotel in the city’s northeast.

“It’s taken awhile because it’s a smaller subculture than other cons that come to Calgary, but at the same time it’s a lot more personal, because when you come to the con you can come and talk to the guests for awhile and you don’t get rushed through the lines.”

She quickly adds, “Nor do we really have a bunch of lines unless it’s just at 11 a.m. when the doors open.”

With the roster of horror heavy-hitters showing up this weekend, chances are pretty good that there will be a fair sized gaggle of gore lovers and fright fans waiting for the doors to open on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Guests this year include: Doug Bradley (a.k.a. Pinhead) and Ashley Laurence from the Hellraiser films; Zach Galligan, who was the lead, Billy, in the Gremlin films; John Dugan who played Grandpa in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as the 3D remake in 2013; stuntman Dick Warlock, who was also Michael Myers from the 1981 sequel to Halloween; and director, writer, producer and co-founder of schlockmeisters Troma studios Lloyd Kaufman will make his second appearance at the Horror Con.

“We try to get a wider variety just because there’s so many different fans in the horror genre,” says Kryzalka. “But we try to stick pretty classic for the most part just because I find that the classics attract people a little bit more.

“Or people who have been in remakes of classics. When we brought in Tyler Mane and Ken Kirzinger last year (Michael from Rob Zombie’s Halloween films and Jason Voorhees from later Friday the 13th flicks, respectively), they brought so many people into that place, because people love the Halloween and Friday the 13th  franchises.

“But this year, we tried to stay pretty classic, even bringing in John Kassir, the Crypt Keeper (from Tales from the Crypt), and Suzanne Snyder from Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and Susan Backlinie, who was the first killed in Jaws — so we’re hitting a lot of classics, monumental people in the franchises this year.”

Other than signings, most of the guests will appear on panels, dishing on the films that made them (in)famous, and there will also be panels featuring locals who work in the biz, as well as screenings of shorts and full-length horror flicks, including “pure b-movie cheese,” says Kryzalka with a laugh.

There’s also the VIP Party on Friday night at Dickens, which kicks the whole thing off with most of the guests in attendance, hobnobbing and sharing a pint and a chat with fans, before a white-hatting ceremony.

Kryzalka admits that, again, is part of the charm of the Calgary Horror Con and the guests that it attracts, the fact that it’s so personal and just how appreciative some of the stars are to be here.

“You get the high-maintenance guest once in awhile, but most people we have are amazing and they have such a great time,” she says.

“We try to make the connection really personal. We always take all of our guests on a Banff trip and the gondola or just around Banff, show them the mountains because lots of them don’t get to see the beautiful Alberta mountains ever, so I find lots of people as we’re coming back into Calgary on the bus, they’re so appreciative of us and our con for doing that for them.

“They’re like, ‘This isn’t like any other con — you actually get to hang out and get to know the people who run it. Usually we just show up and they shove us up to our hotels and you just go to work the next day.’ Which is unfortunate …

“Just being a smaller con leads for some more intimacy, that’s for sure.”

Calgary Horror Con takes place June 10 and 11 at the Clarion Hotel (2120 16 Ave. N.E.). There is also a VIP Party June 9 at Dickens Pub. For tickets and a full schedule of guests and events please click here.

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at He loves classic horror films, good new horror films. In other words, he thinks Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes are shit. Michael Myers wasn’t white trash, he was evil. Period.