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Nightmare city

PREVIEW Trench coat alert: The World Horror Convention is oozing all over Van Ness Avenue, unleashing four days of panel discussions (on everything from horror art to horror-themed television shows), readings (outstanding local true-stories zine Morbid Curiosity hosts an open mic), and special guests, including Ring author Koji Suzuki and cult-movie actor Bill Moseley, best known as sadistic Otis Driftwood in The Devil's Rejects and — yee haw! — Iron Butterfly–loving grandma's boy Chop Top in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

The event also features a dusk-till-dawn film festival curated by Shannon Lark, host of the Chainsaw Mafia movie nights at the Parkway Theater. (Side note: As part of that series, on May 25 she presents Lucio Fulci's The Beyond, starring all the eyeball-crunching tarantulas your nightmares care to entertain.) For the convention Lark gathers more than two dozen shorts (Confederate Zombie Massacre sounds like a winner) and nine features, including the gloriously titled Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove.

My weakness for anything starring P.J. Soles (Carrie, Halloween, Rock ’n’ Roll High School) drew me to Death by Engagement, writer-director Philip Creager's slick slasher flick. A woman dumps her fiancé at the altar after realizing she's about to marry the world's biggest rageaholic (he's addicted to rageahol!). He promptly tracks her down and beats her to a pulp — but is soon brought to the edge of death himself by a pair of trigger-happy cops, one of whom discreetly slides the honkin' diamond ring off the bride's bloody hand. The cursed bauble then snakes its way though the lives of several young and fabulous LA types, leaving a trail of corpses in its wake.

More of a raunchy comedy than a straight-up horror film (i.e., you're more likely to be surprised by the sudden appearance of boobs than by any of the plot twists), Death by Engagement is notable for a few reasons: the appearance of the pawn shop from Pulp Fiction (but, alas, not the Gimp); the snarky dialogue, as when a cop refers to two brain-dead victims thusly: "So, we have a whole salad bar here, eh?"; and Soles, who is predictably great in a classic creepy-mom role. (Cheryl Eddy)

WORLD HORROR CONVENTION

Thurs/11–Sun/14

Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

1500 Van Ness, SF

$50–$140

www.whc2006.org

www.thechainsawmafia.com