The greatest show on Earth? Not quite.
But the greatest horror show on Earth? Now that's more like it.
At least that's the goal at Fangoria Trinity of Terrors, a Halloween-weekend horror-palooza haunting the Palms today through Sunday.
Rob Zombie and Slipknot headline the musical portion of the horror show. (See Jason Bracelin's Slipknot story in the Sounds section.)
An exhibit hall features the latest in dark diversions, from toys and games to films and filmmakers.
Speaking of movies, Trinity of Terrors' cinematic arm includes screenings of 17 features, plus appearances by a virtual who's-who of horror legends, among them directors Roger Corman (who's accepting a lifetime achievement award Saturday night) and George A. Romero. (Romero's latest, "Survivors of the Dead," has its U.S. premiere Saturday -- at the witching hour, of course.)
Corman has received so many lifetime achievement awards (including one from the long-gone Las Vegas International Film Festival) that he's running out of shelf space to display them at home, but "each one is nice," he acknowledges.
And this one, which means "a free trip to Vegas? I'm delighted."
Among those joining Corman and Romero on the guest list: director John Waters (with his one-man show, "This Filthy World: Filthier & More Horrible"), actors Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, Bruce Campbell, Malcolm McDowell and Dee Wallace, plus Oscar-winning special effects expert Greg Cannom and numerous others.
"We have the biggest celebrity guest list at any horror event, ever," says Fangoria Entertainment vice president Scott Licina. "They're so excited to come to Vegas for Halloween with Fango."
Fangoria -- Fango to its friends -- has sponsored conventions for more than two decades, and, frequently, "celebrities just show up," Licina says. "You never know who you're going to run into just walking around the show."
Unlike its previous conventions, however, Trinity of Terrors is designed to showcase the fact that Fangoria's focus has widened to include more than movies.
"In the last year, we've worked hard to become a lifestyle brand," Licina says -- a brand that appeals to hard-core horror fans.
"It's really kind of exciting" to see such devoted followers, Corman says, citing horror and science fiction as two movie genres that "inspire more of the cultlike feeling" among fans, in part "because they are so unique."
Filmmaker Ted V. Mikels, a longtime Las Vegan who'll be in the exhibit hall with his movies and related memorabilia -- including bobbleheads from his "Astro-Zombies" horror series -- cites "the fans that come in from other states, sometimes other countries, just to shake your hand," he says. "They're very respectful. Sometimes they come up and say they've been watching your movies since they were a kid -- and they may be 60 years old."
Actor-turned-director Corbin Bernsen, whose credits include starring roles in "L.A. Law" and "Major League," will appear Saturday night at the "black carpet" premiere of his latest, "Dead Air," about a radio shock jock (Bill Moseley) besieged by flesh-chomping maniacs following a terrorist bio-attack.
Attending conventions such as Trinity of Terrors helps filmmakers understand the audience, Bernsen says.
It also gives him a clearer picture of "people in the genre," he adds. "You expect everyone to be crazed and ghoulish, but they're not."
Indeed, despite the prevailing image of black-clad Goths, horror fans gathering this weekend at the Palms could include "your dentist," Licina says. Or "your grandma."
In addition to movie screenings and panels, the Halloween haunt also features costume and tattoo contests, photo sessions with guests and previews of coming horror attractions.
And because "it's been a very, very hard year for everyone" economically, Licina says, Fangoria officials have lowered ticket prices for this weekend's inaugural Trinity of Terrors. Admission ranges from a $20 day pass to a $250 Silver Bullet Pass that includes admission to movies, concerts, the exhibit hall and tonight's VIP party. (Schedule and ticket information is available online at www.trinityofterrors. com.)
"We wanted to be able to provide both a show and a location that would be cost-effective for every economic condition," Licina explains.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 horror fans are expected at this weekend's monster celebration, Licina estimates.
Attendance was "hard to gauge," he says, in part because "there's never been a massive horror undertaking the way we're doing it."
Contact movie critic Carol Cling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272.