BITS at Shock Stock: Memories and Reflections

Posted by Kelly Michael Stewart on March 7, 2018

Conventions have played a big part in our outreach for the festival, with our team going out to on average about five a year across southern Ontario. This has included London Comic Con, CK Expo and KW Darkcon, with our main two Shock Stock and Niagara Falls Comic Con. Here are a few memories and reflections on those experiences for us.

Shock Stock

To give a bit of background on this convention, its creators Jacob Windatt and James Bialkowski created this convention in 2011 with a focus exclusively on horror and underground cinema. These crazy guys would come down to Toronto hosting their own screening events at the old Toronto Underground Cinema, screening double bills of films like Gone With the Pope and Andy Warhol’s Dracula and gave out porno movies as prizes with a bull horn.

I started going in year two of the Shock Stock event in 2012 as part of the Fangoria team. This was the year that Goblin had its first ever North American show and it felt like a once in a lifetime event. One of the more surreal images I had in my head was Day of the Dead’s Joe Pilato rocking out to Goblin in a crowd of no more than 100 people.

Once BITS started later in 2012, I setup a small spot on the edge of the Fango table with a few shirts in 2013 but then by 2014 we started getting our own table each year. To be perfectly honest, this convention does not get big numbers usually, but it is by far our favourite convention to attend each year and it is great team building weekend for our team, which usually includes our programmers Kirk, Jason, Melanie and Carolyn along with our Festival Coordinator Jen Gorman.

Shock is unlike any other event I have ever been to and it is kind of hard to describe if you have not been there. I will say it is certainly not something you can go to casually. You really have to go for the entire weekend because the convention itself is really just an excuse for the wildest party of the year. I think what makes it unique is that there really is no separation from the guests and the patrons (which in large part are also the vendors).

One of my strongest memories was from 2013. Chris Alexander and myself ended up in car with Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds from The Brood along with Lynn Lowry from The Crazies looking for an Italian restaurant. Once we got there we joined a few other people including John Russo and Russ Streiner from Night of the Living Dead.

The other odd thing that makes Shock Stock quite unusual is how they mix horror stars with adult performers at the convention. So it would not be unusual to be at one of the after parties with Sid Haig on one side of the room and Ginger Lynn on the other.

As you can tell the convention itself is only part of the weekend and the other half really takes place at the hotel. Usually the BITS team has one of our beer sponsors on board (Currently Beau’s) to give out free drinks in our hotel suite. It is always extra fun when some of the guests stop by.

One of the highlights for me personally was in 2016 when I received the first ever “Crystal Shocker” Lungzilla Award for Horror Community Support named after the late Sarah Doucette which will always be special to me. Sarah was a special part of our horror community and when she passed away this award was named in her honour.

In 2017, the organizers remodelled the convention away from downtown London and moved it into the Ramada Inn so that the event and hotel rooms were all a part of the same package and experience. This was a quantum leap forward because it fit more with the spirit of the convention than ever did before. This is also the year we launched BITS Radio at the convention and had our own screening lounge area.

You can find out more details on Shock Stock 2018 here <--- We’ll be there!

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