This year’s Syfy Digital Press Tour started a little differently – last year there was a low-key reception dinner just with the Syfy executives – this year it was a luau theme, complete with Hawaiian shirts, a fire dancer, and this time, with the talent! One of the first I met while waiting for it to begin was Rhys Ifans, the actor who has played a wide variety of roles such as a the crazy roommate in Notting Hill, “The Leg” in The Replacements, Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, and now James Hook in the upcoming Neverland and Dr. Curt Conners/The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man.
The luau itself, hosted by Josh Gates (Destination Truth – true story, he apparently forgot his Hawaiian shirt, so he bought a shirt off the back of a guy at the pool!), was a bit chaotic, and I didn’t really get a chance to talk to anybody else at length (including the execs – and boy did I have questions for them!), but also in attendance (that I saw) was Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne (Sanctuary), Meaghan Rath, Sam Witwer and Sam Huntington (Being Human), Anna Friel and Charlie Rowe (Neverland), Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Alicia Fox (WWE Smackdown), Cleve Hall, Constance Hall and Roy Knyrim (Monster Man), and Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13) and his family. The noise of the luau seemed to make it difficult to speak with anyone though. I would have liked something closer to last year’s event, with a quieter venue, but with execs and talent at each table rather than people hanging around the bar chatting (I’m not one to forcefully introduce myself).
During the luau, they asked for volunteers for a special “surprise” panel the next day. They wouldn’t say anything about what it was for (only that it was a panel for an upcoming unannounced unscripted show), but volunteers had to sign waivers stating the were in good health, not pregnant, etc. Of course I volunteered…
Schedule wise, after last year’s dinner running late, it looked like they scheduled the luau longer before we took off for Halloween Horror Nights. But that meant less time at HHN – which was unfortunate. Last year we were able to do all the houses and scare zones as well as the Bill & Ted show – this year, we only got through half the houses, and only a few scare zones…but, we had Eddie McClintock in our group, which made it a fun time! He is a blast to be around. He named our group “Spiders from Mars”, and if we got delayed he’d tell a joke…Pete Lattimer is very much Eddie. And no matter where I went during the whole event, I somehow kept running in to Eddie and his family. Also joining us were our friends from the press – my “adopted” buddies James from Geekstronomy, Allison and Kristyn of worldofpopculture.com, along with long-time Digital Press members Michael of Airlock Alpha and Kathie of Blastr. Unfortunately due to the rain I didn’t get any pictures.
We went through a couple scare zones first – “7” and I believe “Grown Evil”. Neither were spectacular but it did startle a few people.
The first house was “The Forsaken” – the story behind this one is that there was a fourth ship that sailed with Christopher Columbus. But when the crew of the fourth ship tried to take command, the other three sent it to the bottom of the sea. Now the ship and the cursed crew are back! This was a great themed house, although the sailors had glowing green eyes – easy to see where they were, reducing the chance of any startling effect.
The next house we went through was “The In Between”. This was a weird one – you don “3D glasses”, although they seemed to be more like “starburst” filters or similar, where point lights get a more starry effect. The house starts out with a comic-like theme, but then you travel through a disorienting tunnel, the effects kick in as you enter the juxtaposition of our world and another…the glasses did give an interesting effect – it made the actually 3D objects look like 2D-turned-3D – sort of a flattening effect but with depth. But otherwise it was rather ho-hum.
Next we passed through the scare zone “Canyon of Dark Souls”. Unfortunately, all I remember of it was black fabric “walls” making it seem narrow.
The third house was “Nevermore”, which brought the works of Edgar Allen Poe – and the writer – to life. This was probably the best house of all in my opinion – plenty of eye popping moments and things to see.
Saws n’ Steam was the last house we managed to get through. This grew up from the one scare zone last year that gave me a startle, so I had high hopes for it. In this house, water is all important, as it is needed to produce steam to power their engines…they need water. And your body is mostly water…although well themed, I think the scare potential actually was pretty low…it seemed to be a small house, and there weren’t too many chainsaws that I recall. But there is plenty of steam – enough that in some sections you can’t see at all – and perhaps most frightening of all is the thought that something might jump out at you at any point, whether it does or not. It is also a bit gory, with a number of scenes of people being cut up. It did have a few screams to it too, like when you find out that body being cut up isn’t quite so dead…
We had gotten in line for “H.R. Bloodengutz presents Holidays of Horror”, about a TV horror movie host who was fired and returns to the station for one last broadcast…but there was a delay (they may have been changing the cast) and it was getting close to 11:30, when the Bill & Ted show was scheduled. So instead Eddie asked if we could go on Jaws before seeing Bill & Ted, so we all took a quick spin on the ride (something we didn’t do at all last year), and then watched the Bill & Ted show).
Bill & Ted is a pop culture comedy show, where they cover things and people who were in the news last year, wrapped within some base problem. It wasn’t nearly as funny this year as last year. A martian with a pot belly threatens to have a giant Kirstie Alley eat the Earth, and Bill and Ted try to stop him. In between we are treated to references to Twilight vs. True Blood, smurfs, various female performers like Lady Gaga, and Seal Team 6 chasing around Osama bin Laden. But a lot of the jokes fell flat and some pyrotechnic timings seemed off.
At this point it was past midnight, several of us were tired and staying offsite, and Eddie needed to get back to the resort…so we all decided to head out then…we had another whole day ahead.
[More pictures of the Syfy Digital Press Tour can be found on our Facebook page]