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Rock and Shock celebrates ten years of frights, fans and fun

Halloween is synonymous with October, but another annual tradition also takes place locally this time of year, namely the Rock and Shock Festival, held annually at Worcester's Palladium and DCU venues.

The author with space alien Gordon Shumway
The author with space alien Gordon Shumway
Melanie Pacheco
Rock and Shock!
Massconcerts/Rock and Shock

This year's festivities took place a week later than usual-October 18th through the 20th-due to a scheduling conflict with New York's Comic-Con which led to an unfortunate number of cancellations last year. Rock and Shock 2013 ran comparatively on schedule, and once again resulted in one loud, fun-filled weekend of horrors.

The DCU Center burst at the seams with countless horror fans-many in costume and clutching their prized culture collectibles to be signed by their favorite genre film stars-all of whom milled about the spacious convention grounds, browsing the copious stands of vendors or venturing into the guest room, which was lined with stars from the world of horror television, media and film.

Headlining guests for this year's installment of Rock and Shock included A Nightmare on Elm St. scare maker Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund, Terminator star Robert Patrick, Gunnar "Leatherface" Hansen as well as alumni from AMC's hit show The Walking Dead which included Michael Rooker, Scott Wilson, Lew Temple and Irone Singleton.

Additionally, Rock and Shock lined up a wealth of additional guests to their 2013 lineup, a fantastically diverse crowd which included Clerks and Mallrats actors Jason Mewes and Brian O'Halloran, Jason Voorhees himself Kane Hodder, Tuesday Knight (A Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master), Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and Tony Moran, one of the many actors who portrayed "The Shape" Michael Myers in director John Carpenter's landmark slasher opus Halloween.

The Woodhaven Production company was also on hand to promote their latest film Army of the Damned-which screened upstairs at the DCU as part of Rock and Shock's annual film festival-bringing with them their own panel of stars which included Candyman star Tony Todd, Eric Roberts and former N'SYNC singer Joey Fatone. Cancellations were relatively scarce this year, with only Cheers star John Ratzenberger, Ginger Snaps star Katherine Isabelle and Andrew Divoff from the Wishmaster series regrettably cancelling their appearances.

Rock and Shock's primary strength lies within their ability to hit so many creative buttons when it comes to horror culture. There is something to suit the taste of almost anyone who attends, regardless of whether one's interest lies within horror comics, DVD collecting, make-up application, books, posters or any sort of ephemera. Rock and Shock isn't just for autograph hounds, and there is always something to do, from the upstairs screening room to the expansive dealer outlet.

Elsewhere, the adjacent Palladium venue harbors a weekend full of performers, kicking off on Thursday with a pre-show from progressive metalcore heroes Between the Buried and Me, supported by The Faceless, The Contortionist and The Safety Fire. Friday ushered in the premier of director and Comic Book Men star Kevin Smith's new film, Jay and Silent Bob's Groovy Cartoon Movie, while Saturday featured headliner Danzig, who performed a set of solo classics, as well tunes from his time with punk rock pioneers The Misfits. Danzig was joined for this latter selection by his former Misfits bandmate and guitarist Doyle, while supporting groups for the day included Otep, Butcher Babies, A Pale Horse Named Death and more, while Sunday's musical guests included horrorcore hip hop acts Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Twiztid and Anybody Killa.

Guest panels also serve as a huge part of the Rock and Shock experience back at the DCU Center. Among the most fun and interesting panels included a "State of Horror" panel with staff from Fangoria magazine and Joshua Thomas Gravel of Providence's own Arkham Film Society, a "Women in Horror" panel with actresses Tuesday Knight, Sarah French and Jennifer Jostyn, as well a one-on-one Q&A session with Robert Patrick.

One of the most anticipated and attended panels of the weekend was the gathering of horror's four horsemen for a once in a lifetime event as the stars of Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm St. and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre took questions and shared fascinating stories of their time haunting the nightmares of horror fans around the world. Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Gunnar Hansen and Tony Moran were frank and approachable, despite their iconic horror status. Still, the electricity of their presence upon a single dais certainly resonated within the standing-room only panel area, resulting in a well-deserved ovation from fans.

Finally, additional accolades should be laid at the feet of Rock and Shock's large, dedicated staff and crew. Attendants and assistants are a constant present during the weekend's festivities, ensuring a relatively stress free weekend for all involved. This level of professionalism has earned Rock and Shock a nearly bullet proof word of mouth reputation amongst fans, guests and industry alike.

This year marking the convention's tenth anniversary show, it's almost a certainty at this point that Worcester's annual Rock and Shock festival shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

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