Infect Scranton is back for a third year, but this year, the infection is spreading.
In addition to the walking corpses, convention goers can get a little more spooked by the addition of a new horror element — the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s” Leatherfaces. Event organizer Shannon Keith said this year’s event will expand to include more than just zombies to hopefully attract a larger crowd.
“We tried to keep it exclusive to zombies or have a survival focus, but this year we kind of changed things because there’s more out there other than just zombies,” Keith said. “The event has been a learning process over the years.”
And the lesson that came from the other two? There’s no problem with adding a little more horror.
Leatherface, also known as Jed Sawyer, was the main character in the horror-film series. He wears masks made of human skin and engages in murder and cannibalism. The first movie, in 1974, starred Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface. In 1986, Bill Johnson starred as the second, followed R.A. Mihailoff in the third, in 1990. Dan Yeager who starred as Leatherface in 2013 in the 3D remake will also be a guest at the convention.
“This year we’re bringing four horror icons together in one place,” Keith said. “We think a lot of fans will come while there’s still an opportunity to see someone as famous as Gunnar Hansen here in Scranton.”
Hansen and the other Leatherfaces said they are excited about the opportunity to come and meet some of their fans in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“I really enjoy meeting the fans. I’m surprised at how dedicated some fans are to this movie,” Hansen said. “I’m glad that this is an event that raises money for a good cause. There should be more events like this one.”
“You’ve heard that old cliche ‘an offer you can’t refuse’,” Mihailoff said. “I hope people come out to say hi. Don’t be shy. I’m looking forward to coming to Scranton, meeting the fans and drumming up a little money for the fundraiser. I doubt there is a family in this country that hasn’t had some sort of trouble.”
The convention, which raises money for the Make a Wish Foundation, will begin on Friday, Sept. 5 and run through Sunday, Sept. 7. On Friday, a meet and greet at the Mall at Steamtown in Scranton is scheduled. Walking Dead actors Brighton Sharbino, who played Lizzie Samuels, and Michael Koske, who portrayed numerous walkers including Calloway, will be there starting at 5 p.m. The pair will sign autographs for the first 200 people who bring two canned good items. All food collected will be donated to Keystone Rescue Mission Alliance.
Following the signing, the annual pub crawl will kickoff. Check in for the crawl will begin at 7 p.m. at the mall.
Pub crawl participants are encouraged to look their deadest. Zombie and other horror attire is not required in order to take part in the crawl, but if people want to dress up they should feel free to, Keith said. The Steamtown Mall will have an area where people can get a zombie makeover before the crawl, Keith said.
Cost of the crawl is $15 and includes an entry bracelet to participating bars and access to drink specials. Participants will also receive a commemorative tee-shirt.
On Saturday, Sept. 6 the Zombie Survivor Challenge will take place at its new location, Reaper’s Revenge. There are several ways to participate in the challenge: as a runner, as a shambler zombie, a slow more decayed zombie, or as a hyper zombie, a zombie that can have sudden bursts of speed and sprint toward its target. Runners wear flags, similar to those in flag football, and the object is to have as many flags left on your body as possible by the end of the race.
“The runners will run the route the wagons take, they’ll also run through trails that are used behind the scenes,” Keith said. “Medals will be awarded to you by one of the stars that we’ve brought in.”
Advance ticket sales to the convention are $10. Active military members and children 12 years old and younger are free.
“We want the event to be affordable so that everyone benefits,” Keith said. “We want the community that’s hosting the convention to also benefit by having so many people visit the downtown area.”
For more information about the event visit www.infectscranton.com.