Hotel Ottumwa — Saturday, Oct. 14 starting at 11:30 a.m.
The eighth-annual horror showcase — taking place in the purportedly haunted Hotel Ottumwa about a 90 mile drive southwest of Iowa City — is full to the brim with film screenings, vendors, contests, live music and other features befitting Halloween.
Here are five elements of Saturday’s Halloweenapalooza that make it a unique Iowa spectacle.
Children of the Corn, revisited
Children of the Corn, the campy but classic 1984 horror movie filmed in Iowa, is the central focus of this year’s Halloweenapalooza. Two of the film’s titular children — now adults — will join the showcase as celebrity guests: John Franklin and Courtney Gains.
Franklin played the homicidal young cult leader Isaac in Children of the Corn and its 1999 sequel. He has also performed in the two Addams Family films as Cousin Itt and in TV programs Chicago Hope, Star Trek: Voyager and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Gains portrayed Isaac’s red-headed acolyte Malachi in Children of the Corn. He went on to work in Back to the Future, Can’t Buy Me Love, Seinfeld, Charmed, My Name Is Earl and many more movies and shows.
Halloweenapalooza will mark the first time Franklin or Gains have visited Iowa since they filmed the Stephen King adaptation more than three decades ago. While set in Gatlin, a fictional Nebraska burg, Children of the Corn was filmed in Iowa towns Hornick, Salix, Sergeant Bluff, Sioux City and Whiting.
The two horror icons will be signing autographs and posing for photos throughout the day, and will participate in a Q&A after the 8 p.m. screening of Children of the Corn.
Children is far from the only horror feature at Halloweenapalooza. A film festival will be held from noon til 8 p.m., with a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show serving as an epilogue. As per worldwide tradition, audiences are encouraged to shout, sing and toss toast along with the film (a Rocky Horror survival kit will be available for purchase).
For some Halloweenophiles, the aesthetics of the season are more than an ephemeral holiday trend. Halloweenapalooza is offering a way for patrons to make a permanent tribute to their favorite holiday: Renowned tattoo artist Scotty Potty of Rubber Monkey Tattoo in Wilton, Iowa, will be tattooing throughout the event. He will bring with him horror- and Halloween-themed flash images, and the first to line up will be the first to get inked.
Live shows: Hypnotists, podcasters and musicians
Iowan Ray Thompson has been blowing the minds of audiences for decades, creating interactive shows that combine magic, comedy and especially hypnosis, which Thompson calls the “theater of the mind.” The mentalist will take the ballroom stage at 4 p.m.
Fans of the horror-centric podcast Attack of the Killer Podcast can bear witness to the show’s first ever live episode starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Hosts, friends and horror movie nerds Insane Mike Saunders, Jason Bolinger, Teri Terford and Bryan Clark have teased the “explosive birth of a strange new world” at Halloweenapalooza, likely as full of monsters, bloodshed and quick-fire humor as their podcast series.
Saunders will return at 9 p.m. to lead a two-hour trivia competition with questions centering on — what else? — horror films. Prizes and surprises are to be expected.
The Zombie Walk and costume contests
The Zombie Walk is probably the most kid-friendly event of Halloweenapalooza. The seventh-annual walk is free — though donations to the Heartland Humane Society will be accepted — and welcomes participants young and old to don their best torn and bloodied clothes, decayed makeup look, zombie masks and other undead garb for a group shuffle, starting at 5 p.m.
Participants should bring their A-game, as a zombie costume contest will take place immediately after the walk. Prizes are at stake.
A more formal costume contest will take place later in the evening, awarding prizes to the best boy, girl, man, woman, group or couple and best overall child and adult. This 8 p.m. program will also serve as the film festival and cake decorating contest awards show.
Would you rather embody a horror movie character than dress as one? Video game junkies can battle as some of their favorite villains — Leatherface, Jason, Alien and Predator — in a Mortal Kombat XL tournament starting at 2 p.m. Make sure to sign up beforehand.