Anime and Cosplay

After COVID Killed Its Launch, the Colorado Festival of Horror Finally Arrives in Denver

Laurene Landon, seen here in Maniac Cop, is one of the guests of the 2021 Colorado Festival of Horrors.
Laurene Landon, seen here in Maniac Cop, is one of the guests of the 2021 Colorado Festival of Horrors. Maniac Cop
The rising of the Colorado Festival of Horror, an intimate convention for all things terrifying, is a welcome thing for fans of the genre. The first annual COFOH takes place over the weekend of September 10 through 12 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denver Central Park.

Of course, the past year has had its share of real-life horrors. For the COFOH, the spread of COVID-19 meant the demise of what should have been its launch. “It was a huge disappointment in 2020 that the pandemic forced us to postpone our show that we had been planning since 2018,” says co-founder Bret Smith, who adds that he “picked a hell of a time to try to start a new convention.”

But Smith and his fellow fright fans, who’ve been working for years to spark life in the COFOH, are committed to creating a safe and entertaining space for the like-minded.

Frightening fun will abound, including a “Death Dealers Room” hosting a menagerie of artists and vendors selling creepy wares; renowned horror comic book writers and artists; engrossing horror actors with autographs, selfies, merchandise, Q&As and film screenings; delightfully fiendish panels, workshops and interactive audience events; and the faint-inducing Gore Galore Costume Extravaganza contest. There will even be after-hours activities for haunting fun like Jigsaw’s Horror Trivia and a Drawn in Blood art competition. Outworld Brewing has provided a custom brew called Elixir Immortus that will be available at the con.

As with all fan conventions, the headlining guests are a major draw.

“I’m super excited to meet ’80s horror icon and 'Scream Queen' Brinke Stevens!” says Smith. “She has well over 200 IMDb credits, which all began with the classic Slumber Party Massacre in 1982 and has continued to this day.” Stevens has a long history with fan conventions, winning the first 1973 San Diego Comic Con Masquerade as Vampirella, and going on to run that contest for years to follow. She also served as the model for “Betty” in her onetime husband Dave Stevens’s classic Rocketeer comic. “This will be her first-ever Colorado appearance,” Smith adds with a true fan’s excitement.
click to enlarge Beer-soaked horror? That sounds very Colorado. - XANDER SMITH
Beer-soaked horror? That sounds very Colorado.
Xander Smith
Brinke isn’t the only guest star making horror hearts go pitter-pat. Other headliners include Victoria Price (daughter of screen icon Vincent Price and COFOH virtual guest), Laurene Landon (It's Alive III, Maniac Cop, Terror Tales), Brian Bonsall (former child star of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Family Ties and horror film Mikey), Ed and Marsha Edmunds (Distortions Unlimited and Travel Channel’s Making Monsters), horror film directors Christopher Mihm (The Giant Spider) and Jimmy Lee Combs (Terror Tales), horror comic artists Zach Howard (Hellboy, Joe Hill’s The Cape) and Jolyon Yates (Creepshow); Hollywood concept artist Xander Smith (Godzilla vs. Kong, American Horror Story), and many more.

Smith says having an extra year has helped the organizers prepare to make it a safer event. “We have additional costs — masks, hand sanitizer, plexiglass, etc. — and additional time to stay completely on top of all state and local COVID-19 guidelines. We want to keep all of our guests, volunteers, leads, everyone, as safe as possible.”
click to enlarge "Coffin Joe" is the mascot of the COFOH. - JOE OLIVER
"Coffin Joe" is the mascot of the COFOH.
Joe Oliver
Everyone at the event has to be either vaccinated or masked, preferably both. This rule applies to guests of any age, and masks are required in certain spaces where social distancing is limited, such as movie rooms and panel discussions.

“Thankfully,” Smith says, “Colorado is better equipped for an in-person event than many other states due to a higher vaccination rate.”

While VIP passes for the three-day event are already sold out, regular weekend passes and single-day tickets are still available at the COFOH website. Tickets are available at the door for a higher price; kids under ten get in free with a paid adult.

“We’re doing everything we can to make the inaugural Colorado Festival of Horror a frightful and wonderful experience for our horror fan community,” says Smith. “It’s the start of something that I think will be very important for the Denver area for years to come. Don’t miss out on all the horror goodness coming your way!”

The inaugural Colorado Festival of Horror takes place over the weekend of September 10 to 12 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denver Central Park. For tickets and more information, see the COFOH website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen