Fiends and ghouls, today we have something a little different. As horror fans it is quite obvious that we are a passionate bunch when it comes to our beloved genre. There are few better examples of this than the horror convention. Think about the concept. You get anywhere from dozens to hundreds of fans of the macabre and blood and guts, throw them into a building together with vendors shilling their same love, actors and directors that are beloved by these same fans, and let them loose for a weekend of debauchery. Some of these conventions have become more about the corporate image or just taking advantage of horror lovers’ wallet.
I have not had the privilege of attending many different cons due to my geographical location as well as financial problems, but there does seem to be certain ones that are universally beloved (Cinema Wasteland, HorrorHound Weekend) and ones that the fans have steadily turned their backs on due to the aforementioned wallet-hungry corporate shills (Festival Of Fear). Then there is Shock Stock, the annual weekend of horror and grindhouse loving, VHS trading and other things that can’t really be mentioned here. I have absolutely no issue telling fans of the site that Shock Stock is usually the best weekend of any given year for a fan such as myself. From the familiar faces over the years (shout out to Ron Mackay from Troma!) to the always friendly guests who seem relieved with the more laid back vibe that the show offers compared to similar events.
As a big fan of the weekend’s festivities, and with the Deadhouse starting to gain a following, it seemed natural that to help promote this year’s event, an interview with co-founder Jake Grimbrother was in order. I met Jake several years ago through him running Vagrancy Films with his cohort and the other half of the Shock Stock equation, James Bialkowski. Over the years we have become what one might say friends, and I have a deep respect for both Jake and James for what they have been accomplished with Vagrancy and Shock Stock.
So without further a due, allow yourselves to get a little taste of the madness that is Jake Grimbrother.
First off, tell us a bit about yourself?
Jake Grimbrother: Well my name as far as you need to know is Jake Grimbrother. I’ve been a filmmaker and a special events coordinator in London for close to 10 years. Never really made any films I was happy with though so let’s talk about Shock Stock right?
How did you go about getting into grindhouse and horror?
Jake: I think that you don’t really get into grindhouse and horror as much as it gets into you. Like most kids in the good old days I had a small town gang of goons and we rode our bikes for 45 minutes each way down a dirt road to a trailer-turned-convenience store to rent videos. The gorier the better and damn if we didn’t force the lady who ran the place to get every Media, Cannon, and Paragon tape we could find out about. The titles and art pulled you in, ya know? Shit like Troll and Ghoulies were a staple but we also got the odd Wizard tape, and one time on a trip to town I got a Cannon Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 tape and the case said it was the 89 minute version though the tape inside was the full 101 minute version. Made me a bonafide gore lord.
Tell us about Vagrancy Films since that was a precursor to Shock Stock?
Jake: Vagrancy Films was James‘ deal. He and Cliff ( RIP ) started that around the same time I graduated college and was doin’ my thing with a movie I had co-produced and was still eager to work on shit for free. Vagrancy was originally an Underground Railroad of rare import movies, but moved into theatrical exhibition of rare 35MM sleaze. The first VF screening was Fulci‘s Zombi and they had some contest before the show to see who would eat a big strip of raw tripe soaked in raw eggs and hot sauce. Of course I was a maniac and wanted that big ass box of DVD-Rs so I beat those other two sad sacks in 2 seconds flat… I think after the show I bought another box of bootlegs from some guy in the parking lot… Either way I started working some original video content into the pre-show and the shows got wilder and over time, and now that 35MM is dead we don’t do them, we do Shock Stock.
When and how did the idea for Shock Stock come about?
Jake: I thought of the name, but the idea of a show came from years of being a patron (and vendor) at someone else’s show. You know when you’re at a movie, or eating a meal, or whatever and you say to yourself “I coulda done this better my way” ? That’s what we felt like and after a couple years of being wild and crazy much to the chagrin of other shows promoters, we decided to piss our wives off and take on a large money sucking endeavor of our own.
The first year of Shock Stock, while a blast for the people who attended, was not a smash success. Did you have doubts about continuing the con?
Jake: I don’t know. Thinking in the moment I don’t believe we thought we would do it again, but it’s hard to just quit. It’s an addiction! There’s an outlet for you to make your own dreams, and the dreams of complete strangers, come true. It’s surreal to think that through our little show that peoples lives have changed, but I’ve had people tell me it has. It’s humbling.
The second Shock Stock was much more successful due to a wicked array of known horror stars and underground people. How do you go about maintaining that balance?
Jake: There’s a balance? I don’t think we put as much thought into the balance as we do into the booze haha.
As for underground versus known horror stars I’ve lost touch with that.. All these celebrity guests are known to me. I love ’em all! I guess we just know how to pick ’em! More so we look for celebs who are down to earth, like to meet their fans, and don’t want to charge an exuberant amount of money for an autograph. Expensive autographs piss me off.
Which guest has been the most fun? Most difficult? If you were able to bring back any guest for a return shot who would it be?
Jake: Without a doubt the most fun I’ve had personally with a guest would have to have been Joe Pilato from Day Of The Dead. Capt. Rhodes was a true showman and a wild man and often would go off on tangent to crowds of 2 or 20, it wouldn’t matter. I also had a memorable conversation with him on the Thursday night before the show about London’s architecture and how it reminded him of an old neighborhood in Boston.
Most difficult guest… Don’t kill me for sayin it… Would have to be ROCCO!! He’s so difficult we can’t even get rid of him! Maybe it’s the fact that he steals the limelight but really I don’t think he can control it haha. But yeah if you’ve been to Shock Stock you’ve said hello to Rocco. Every year he’s got a new movie coming out that never comes out. But yeah this summer we’re shooting the new Pussy Pound movie so it’ll likely happen.
And as for guests returning.. Too many great guests, I want them all!! Since having them at Shock Stock we’ve reconnected with quite a few past guests either in travels, or at other shows. It’s always fun. Went to a hibachi with Dyanne Thorne and Howard Maurer (of Ilsa fame) in Ohio and the cook was sprayin’ saki in our faces… ‘Cept Bilo‘s wife she got them titties hosed down.
This year you have set up a partnership with the crew behind Evil Dead: The Musical and ensured that anybody with a weekend pass gets in free. How hard is it for you to setup these alliances and continue ensuring that guests get the most bang for their buck.
Jake: It’s not so hard as it is expensive!! We bought those tickets with cash money!! Seriously though being independent is difficult because nobody wants to partner up. We’re lucky to have FANGORIA support us, as well as the Station Park Inn and Centennial Hall, but in terms of cash flow people see the show and assume we’re rich bastards. We’re broke as fuck! I spend all the money from Shock Stock on Shock Stock.
As for the Evil Dead tickets it’s our way of supporting the local scene too, when we can. It’s great timing that Iglesia Productions is putting this show on and really it’s a horror fans wet dream to have Evil Dead: The Musical as part of a horror con weekend. You don’t get that in Toronto!! London, baby! That’s where it’s at!!
What do you have planned for this year and beyond?
Well we get lots of requests to do other events, so we’re testing the waters with the London Comic Con happening June 14-15. Small show, cheap passes, and so far we’ve announced the iconic C. Thomas Howell (E.T., The Outsiders, Red Dawn) as our first official guest there.
Aside from that we may or may not be looking for some real estate in the GTA to do a one off show, kinda like a “here’s what you been missing” kinda deal… That’s only an idea right now though.
Any parting words for people both planning to attend Shock Stock and those that are on the fence?
Three days of madness for half the price of a pizza at Fan Expo? Who’s on the fence?
S A D. S A C K S. That’s who. You wanna stream a torrent of The Devil’s Rejects then go for it… We’ll be eatin’ fried chicken with Captain Spaulding.
I want to thank Jake for taking the time to talk to me here, especially as the annual weekend draws closer and things can get very hectic.
For those of you wondering about who will be at Shock Stock this year, take a look at this list. Sid Haig of The Devil’s Rejects, Felissa Rose of Sleepaway Camp, James Lorinz and Patty Mullen of Frankenhooker, Gerritt Graham of Phantom Of The Paradise as well as many others.
Plus, a collection of some of the coolest and most awesome horror fans around, myself included.
For more details as well as to get your tickets, check out The Official Scumbags Page