This article by Alex Bieler was originally published in the Erie Reader on Oct. 17, 2012.
At the Eerie Horror Film Festival & Expo, familiar faces roam the halls of the Warner Theatre. These faces aren’t from people that you’ve met in real life, however. Instead, they’re the inhabitants of your favorite films, the authors of those cult comics you adore, the people that help create the entertainment you love so much.
In one place, you can see “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” actor Vernon Wells walk down the hall while original “Dawn of the Dead” cast member David Early sits at a nearby table. Numerous films flicker on the screen, providing even more material for fans to feast their eyes upon.
Still, there’s one more person whose face you should know, because if it weren’t for him, Erie might not have been able to see any of this.
“When the Horror Fest came around, I really loved the idea of doing a convention-type thing, which was the nerdy part, with the black-tie affair of a film festival,” says Greg Ropp, the man who began this festival nine years ago. Greg is also the president of the Eerie Horror Fest and an interesting individual all around.
While the Horror Fest has been around for nearly a decade, the Edinboro native’s love of horror started long before that with the help of his family.
“I was about 5 years old, and my grandmother would babysit me a lot,” Greg says. “She was a night owl, which I sort of inherited from her. We would always stay up late, and sure enough, the late movie usually was ‘Frankenstein,’ the ‘Mummy,’ or the ‘Wolfman,’ or some such crazy thing that was going to warp my brain and rot your soul, so I had a cool grandma. I think early on, some of my fondest memories were sitting around this console TV watching these movies.”
With the support of his parents, Greg’s love of horror helped usher him into the world of film and literature. In addition to creating fanzines in his youth, he dabbled in music, recording multiple albums with the bands The Void and 5 Empty Chambers. In fact, he still gets requests from fans to this day.
“I’ll be at the [Eerie Horror] Film Festival, and somebody every year – it’s been nine years – someone pulls out an old CD and has me autograph it,” Greg says. “I think it’s hilarious, you know, this is [from] 15 to 20 years ago.”
Eventually Greg, ever the movie fan, started the Eerie Horror Fest and helped to found the Film Society of Northwest Pennsylvania, although he’s also tried his hand at a lot of different jobs. For 23 years, he ran a rent-a-video store in Edinboro. He’s sold scarves and e-cigarettes at kiosks before. He’s even run hemp rallies before, which actually served as experience for how to set up a large event. Read the rest of this article at www.eriereader.com