Connecticut HorrorFest Expands, Invades the Capital City

by Sean McLaughlin

For the ninth consecutive year (minus the 2020 Covid year) CT HorrorFest brought the guests, sights and frights to the Nutmeg State as 2023 would see the exceptional horror con call the XL Center in downtown Hartford its home.  Once again the convention was spread out over two days, but this year it was Saturday AND Sunday that hosted all of the horror fun and hijinks.

Fans flocked to the XL Center by the thousands, representing the largest and most passionate crowds that have attended Connecticut’s official horror convention since the first show in 2014.  In addition to the more attractive location, another new offering in 2023 were professional photo ops with the celebrity guests, both out of and in costume.

Speaking of celebrity guests, this year brought a killer lineup which would rival any previous version.  There were several heavy-hitters from the genre in attendance, including Cassandra Peterson (also known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Kane Hodder (who played Jason Voorhees in several Friday the 13th films as well as Victor Crowley in the Hatchet franchise), and David Howard Thornton, who portrays the newest horror film icon “Art the Clown” from the Terrifier franchise.  Terrifer writer/director Damien Leone as well as stars Lauren LaVera and Elliott Fullam were also in attendance, forming a much-anticipated Terrifier 2 cast reunion at CT HorrorFest.

But the guest list didn’t stop there, as 2023 represented several notable anniversaries for legendary horror movies.  The cast of 1978’s masterpiece Halloween (PJ Soles, Nancy Kyes, John Michael Graham and the original Michael Myers, Nick Castle) were on hand to greet their fans in celebration of the film’s 45th anniversary.  And this year also marked 45 years since the release of the brilliant zombie opus from George Romero Dawn of the Dead, with stars Ken Foree, Gaylen Ross and Scott Reiniger there to mark the occasion with their fans as well.  Rounding out the impressive stable of guests was the incomparable Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, The Devil’s Rejects), Quinn Lord (Sam from Trick ‘r Treat), Jonathan Breck (The Creeper from the Jeepers Creepers franchise), Paul Ehlers (Madman), Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Idle Hands), and Bonnie Aarons (The Nun from the Conjuring universe.)

A large and diverse array of vendors filled both the East and West Halls of the XL Center, to the delight of the attendees looking to pick up a poster, action figure, t-shirt or unique collectible with horror flair.  Booths selling custom art, offering on-the-spot tattoo appointments, and showcasing two local haunt attractions from the great state of Connecticut (Evidence of Evil and Nightmare Acres) were packed with excited convention-goers all weekend.  And both Saturday and Sunday played host to numerous panels with the celebrity guests.  Audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions during the panels for the Halloween reunion, Terrifier 2 reunion, Jeepers Creepers and the one and only Elvira.

The ninth installment of Connecticut HorrorFest was truly record-breaking in more ways than one… what’s in store for the tenth anniversary in 2024?  Organizers Christine and Rob Caprilozzi are already hard at work with their crew, planning what could be a monumental convention event that will provide the best experience for horror fans in Connecticut and throughout New England and the Tri-State area.  Stay tuned!

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