Horror Realm brings mix of eerie fun to South Hills

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The screening of 16 indie horror films is only the start of what’s in store for fans of the sixth annual Horror Realm Convention.

The three day event that runs Friday through Sunday at Crown Plaza South in Upper St. Clair and includes guest stars, horror trivia, hula hoop and costume contests and photo and autograph opportunities with horror film stars. The event will also include vendors selling films and horror memorabilia, a luau, a cabaret and a food drive held in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Zombie Squad to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.

"Over the past six years, we’ve done a good job growing our audience," said event co-producer, Sandy Stuhlful of Castle Shannon. "We’re having more coming in from out of town. We’ve become a destination and fun vacation.’’

The convention takes place in all eight meeting and banquet rooms of the hotel, located at 164 Fort Couch Road opposite the South Hills Village shopping mall. The films will be screened in the Carnegie Room, and the schedule permits those wanting to see all the films to do so.

"We like to focus on indie horror films, a lot of which are not well-known," said co-producer, Rich Dalzotto of Peters, along with Michelle Linhart of Peters.

Two highlight films include "13 Score," which was filmed at Conneaut Lake and won the Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay and Audience Choice awards at the 2014 Horror Realm Independent Film Festival, and "Inflection," winner of Best Feature Story at the 2013 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival.

The convention will also include a 1 p.m. screening on Sunday of "Chairpocalypse," a film made by Teen Think, a teen group based at the Carrick branch of the Carnegie Library, as well as a midnight screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" on Satlurday. A local group, the Junior Chamber of Commerce Players, will get in costume and do a performance of the film to the side of the screen and interact with the audience, Mr. Dalzotto said.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the debut of TV’s “The Addams Family,” Horror Realm will include appearances by Lisa Loring (Wednesday Addams) and Felix Silla (Cousin It). Among other guests are William Forsythe (“The Devil’s Rejects,’’ ”Boardwalk Empire’’), Lew Temple (’’The Walking Dead’’ and “The Devil’s Rejects’’) and Pittsburgh’s Chilly Billy, Bill Cardille (noon to 4 p.m. Saturday only).

The guests stars will be at tables signing autographs and taking photos for a fee.

Another highlight is a reunion of four cast members from George A. Romero’s third zombie film, "Day of the Dead." Cast members Terry Alexander (first time Pittsburgh appearance), Lori Cardille, Antone DiLeo and Joe Pilato will be on hand for a joint appearance.

Beginning at 10:45 p.m. on Friday, a cabaret of dark acoustic music by Will Bozarth and spooky burlesque by Steel City Cabaret will round out the day’s events. A zombie luau at an 8 p.m. on Saturday will feature live music by The Ubangis from Maryland followed by dance music from The Muzik Machine DJ Service at PJ’s Tropical Poolside Bar. All are free.

Ms. Stuhlful, a Pittsburgh native, said she grew up watching Chilly Billy on Chiller Theater, which spurred her interest in the horror genre. Prior to launching the first Horror Realm, all three co-producers helped at area zombie walks, volunteered at other horror conventions and screened horror films at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont and The Oaks in Oakmont.

"We wanted to do something bigger, so we organized the first Horror Realm Convention six years ago," Mr. Dalzotto said.

Details: www.horrorrealm.com.

Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer, suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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