Imagine some of the most twisted and downright creepy people pop culture has to offer assembled under one roof. No, it's not the Republican National Convention, but it is something equally as horrifying. It's Screamfest 2003, a two-day celebration of all things horrible, and we mean that in the best possible way. Taking over the Holiday Inn Plantation/Sawgrass (1711 N. University Dr., Plantation) this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the festival -- a wet dream for serious horror aficionados who scoff at Trekkies -- signals the first time a major horror convention has bared its fangs in South Florida.
Produced by Fort Lauderdale-based KMG Productions, Screamfest promises to be the event of the year for the Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers crowd. The fest features vendors galore, hawking everything from horror collectibles and memorabilia to DVDs and props -- the perfect place to do some early Christmas shopping for the freaks in your family.
In addition, the event draws some of the horror world's most infamous names for blood-curdling signings and panel discussions. Guests of honor include actors Gunnar Hansen, the man who made chainsaw murder chic as Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Glenn Shaddix, currently of HBO's Carnivale but best known for his turn in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice; Reggie Bannister of the flying ball o' death series of Phantasm movies; Vernon G. Wells, the mohawked villain of the dystopian classic The Road Warrior; and scream queen Linnea Quigley. Rounding out Screamfest's guest roster are veteran artist Basil Gogos, horror novelist John DeVito, and the original "Godfather of Gore," Herschell Gordon Lewis, creator of such schlocky treats as Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs.
A slew of ancillary events tie into the festivities, including horror movie screenings and several live music performances at local venues, featuring several of Screamfest's guests of honor. Terrifying, indeed. For further information, event lineups, and to purchase advance tickets, visit www.screamfest2003.com or call 954-472-5600. -- Larry Carrino
A Look at Luc
Dutch native Luc Leestemaker blitzes South Florida media this week, with a biopic in the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and a show at New River Fine Art Gallery (914 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale), which leaves many bewildered people wondering, "Who the hell is Luc Leestemaker?" Of course, the best way to answer that is to catch the Florida premiere of Leestemaker: Portrait of an Artist at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale) at 7 p.m. Thursday. British filmmaker Terrence Gross followed Leestemaker around for two months to create the film, which recounts Leestemaker's arrival in America 13 years ago; his struggles with marriage, finances, and his own health; and finally his acceptance as one of the best recent torchbearers for the abstract-expressionist movement.
Meanwhile, the artist's work hangs at the New River Fine Art from November 7 to 21. For those whose Leestemaker interest goes beyond even movies and exhibitions, indulge that unhealthy obsession at New River's champagne reception for Leestemaker from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. If you've got substantial amounts of cash to throw around, you can even pick up one of the artist's paintings. What with the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival's screening of Leestemaker's life, a portion of proceeds taken in by the New River benefits the film festival. Reservations are required for the artist's reception. Call 954-524-2100. -- Dan Sweeney
Teens get the spotlight
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Do you think you have that certain something, that hunger deep inside, the power to win? No, this isn't an open call for a Gatorade commercial, but there is a place, deep in the bowels of Boca, where your talents can be showcased. Showtime at the Coffeehouse Theatre presents "A Variety of Expressions," a weekly open-mic night for teens ages 13 to 19. Whether you fancy yourself a writer, poet, rapper, comic, singer, artist, musician, yodeler, tap dancer, or even if you can burp the alphabet backward, you have the spotlight. The performances take place every Friday and Saturday in November at the Academic School for the Performing Art's Coffeehouse Theatre (23114 Sandalfoot Plaza, Boca Raton), and director Burt Richards hopes to give participants an "education in theater." "We try to offer teens a chance to become solo artists," Richards says. "I like to call it 'teens entertaining teens,' which is not always an easy thing." Show starts at 7 p.m., and donations are accepted. Call 561-929-0333. -- Audra Schroeder
No, we do not mean the attempt to photograph ghosts. Instead, "Places of the Spirit: Sacred Sites of the Adirondacks," the new exhibit at the Esther B. O'Keeffe Gallery (Society of the Four Arts, 2 Four Arts Plz., Palm Beach) represents an attempt to capture spiritual moods and moments through a photographer's lens. The genesis for the exhibit came from the Lake Placid Institute for the Arts and Humanities, which commissioned four photographers to travel through New York's Adirondack region and snap photos of places they felt had a sacred or spiritual sense. The four shutterbugs were certainly chosen with an eye for diversity, with Heather McLeod's black-and-white landscapes, Adirondack native Barry Lobdell's color images, Shellburne Thurber's color prints of building interiors, and Romaine Orthwein's somewhat egotistical insistence on placing herself in all her photographs. The exhibit is on display at the Society of the Four Arts through December 14, and the exhibit's curator, Mara Jane Miller, offers a lecture at 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, though donations are accepted and even expected. Call 561-659-7226. -- Dan Sweeney