CLUSTER is the word that best describes Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 22-24, 2013. Albeit an incredibly fun cluster, the convention was frought with poor planning and even poorer execution.

This year’s event promised to be an enormous affair upon confirmation of appearances by much of The Walking Dead principle cast including Hershel (Scott Wilson), Laurie (Sarah Wayne Callis), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Shane (Jon Bernthal), Meryl (Michael Rooker), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Axel (Lew Temple). The producers had to foresee that an appearance by the group including Norman Reedus would be huge. At the last event Reedus had appeared at the line for authographs was out the door of the hotel the entire weekend. This lineup, together with the cast of Christine, the case of House of 1000 Corpses, Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, etc.), Tony Todd (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead, etc.), Robert Patrick (Terminator II, Alien, etc.) and Butch Patrick and Pat Priestly (The Munsters) et al, would surely break attendance records. And, the producers recognized the magnitude of the event by booking the adjacent Sharonville Convention Center as opposed to the previous venue, The Crowne Point Hotel. But, that’s where the planning and accommodations seemed to end.

The event was set to begin at 5 pm on Friday and the doors were to open at 4 pm for early entrance ticket holders. Well, apparently the only thing special about their tickets was the extra cost attached. Maybe some made it into the event early, but we met many who had to wait for hours with the rest of us to enter. There were lines in two different directions wrapped around the entire convention center and snaking around the parking lots. We waited, as our extremities froze, for two hours to finally enter. We couldn’t understand why the lines barely moved until we finally made it to the front. There was only one person scanning tickets with his phone and another putting on wristbands and each of them spent much time talking to people around them. Ridiculous.

Once in, it was a bit of a free-for-all trying to locate the correct line for the correct celebrity. All weekend we spoke with fans who had been waiting in a line for over an hour and thereafter be told that they were in the wrong line. Also, it appeared that fans had to wait in one line for a professional ‘photo op’ with Walking Dead cast members and a different line to get their autograph! And, the lines were long, HOURS long. We understand that the average wait to meet Norman Reedus was three to five hours! In an attempt to accommodate the crowd and sign every autograph requested, Reedus was insanely gracious and stayed signing autographs until around 1 am each night even though the venue closed at 10 pm each night!

Friday night we were able to sit in for one Q&A panel with the cast of House of 1000 Corpses. Sid Haig and Bill Mosley especially are always good fun and interesting. Shortly thereafter, we were treated to a yummy burlesque performance by Burlesque le’ Moustache straight out of Davenport, Iowa!

On Saturday morning the line to enter the venue extended from around the venue out into the street. Fortunately, those of us with weekend pass armbands were able to move forward fairly quickly. For the rest, it was another long wait and many were turned away by mid-morning when the event sold out. Some told use that they had driven from as far away as Cleveland and Chicago.

The upside, if you will, of the overwhelming interest in the Walking Dead cast was that it was generally pretty easy to maneuver through the array of vendors (located in another area of the convention center) selling deliciously evil wares! Some of our favorites were the Werepups, Impale, the Dent Schoolhouse, Little Punk People and Cigarette Burns. As for eats, Zombie Dogz out of Dayton, Ohio looked like they were to die for!

There were more horror movie Q&A panels scheduled for Saturday and 90% of people in attendance were shut out because there was not enough room. And, we’re told that the Walking Dead panel was a bizarre rip off because only two cast members would be in together at a time in 5-10 minute increments. But, we wouldn’t know – we couldn’t get anywhere near the panel rooms.

We were able to meet other iconic horror genre celebrities such as Michael Madsen, the cast of House of 1000 Corpses, Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) and one of the masters of horror, John Carpenter. We also saw our favorite local horror icon, Kittie Zombie. The charge for autographs at the event ran from free (Dee Snider) to around $20 and $40 for each member of the Walking Dead. Fans had to shell out some serious coin and invest a whole bunch of time to get a signed Walking Dead poster. But, for everyone who did, it seemed that the actors – Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, Scott Wilson and company made sure it was worth their time and people seemed to walk away very happy.

All weekend, the festival hosted screenings of independent horror shorts and full-length feature films. We caught two Saturday afternoon. The short, Eaglewalk and feature film, Manic starring Elijah Wood. Eaglewalk was well-made but hardly original. Manic, however, blew us away and Pazz Magazine will post a review of the film.

Saturday night was a rockabilly blast at the Crowne Point Hotel. We opted out of the costume competition but attended a great rockabilly show featuring The Big Bad, Dead Dick Hammer, Harley Poe, Stellar Corpses and the Koffin Kats. Great performances!!

Sunday we took a last tour of the vendors and celebrities and headed out fairly early. In all, we had a great time and the schedule of events and options were incredible for any horror fan. But, the execution . . . . a CLUSTER.