Con Report: Motor City Nightmares rocks Detroit


To say that Detroit, Michigan has a reputation can be a drastic understatement. Known to most as the murder capital of the nation, Detroit may have earned its pessimistic moniker, but it’s a name seemingly pulled from the urban decay of a glass half empty. Lest we forget the top of this glass: The half that is filled with the fastest cars and loudest rock ‘n’ roll to ever blaze this planet? For a number of years, Tommy Brunswick has been hard at work putting Detroit back on the map of optimism with one blood splattered Michigan mitten shape at a time. She’s a filmmaker, she’s an entrepreneur and she’s co-founder of the ever-expanding horror convention, Motor City Nightmares.

Tommy grew up like most genre fans and was intrigued by fright fare at a young age. “Growing up, we didn’t really go on vacation. We didn’t have a lot of money,” says Tommy of her childhood. “All we did was go to the movies and of course my mom and dad’s favorites were always horror.” In no time, she became well versed in the horror classics and reveled in the excitement and terror found within the celluloid of the day’s B-movie cinema. “I’ve seen just about every slasher, horror and monster movie you could imagine,” she says. With the drive-in as her stomping grounds, she cites SPAWN OF THE SLITHIS, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP and the re-release of Hitchcock’s THE BIRDSD and VERTIGO as just a handful of films that were vital to her development and burgeoning obsession with all things covered in guts and gore.


Before long Tommy began making genre movies of her own and for over ten years now, she and husband Todd Brunswick have been utilizing some the best actors horror has to offer. “Kane Hodder has been in our movies,” says Tommy of their film EXIT 33. “And Brad Dourif has been in our movies” she says of BORN OF EARTH. Over the course of many features, Tommy and her husband began developing a relationship with these and a host of other horror heavyweights. Through the stars of their films, Tommy was able to branch out and reach many other notable names in the vast, but tight-knit, horror community and soon enough Motor City Nightmares was born. The convention itself has become a perfect amalgamation of her desire to spread the word about her films and to bring a little slice of death back to her home state of Michigan. “We make movies. That’s why we started this,” says Tommy. “We’ve been making them for thirteen years and that’s how we’ve been able get a lot of the talent for Motor City Nightmares. We started doing these conventions for self promotion, but now they have a life of their own.” As this year sees thousands of patrons passing through its hallowed halls, it’s plain to see Tommy’s words are not simply hyperbole. In the matter of a few short years, what started as a smallish get-together to give back to horror fans has transformed into a full-fledged beast of a horror convention.

Bringing in this year’s foot traffic was a lineup overflowing with enough genre talent to satiate the appetite of horror fans both young and old. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST’s Heather Langenkamp was seated next to Amanda Wyss, AKA Freddy Krueger’s first on-screen victim. Much to the delight of a lucky few, the two paused for a brief reunion. THE WALKING DEAD’s Michael Rooker drew large lines, but all were met with his vibrant smile and energetic charm. Dee Wallace of THE HOWLING was ecstatic to share in her daughter Gabrielle Stone’s first convention appearance. Look for Gabrielle in the upcoming SPEAK NO EVIL. Also in attendance were the always lively Sid Haig (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES), the always lovely Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, HATCHET II), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD scribe John Russo and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD star George Kosana, DAWN OF THE DEAD’s Ken Foree, Michael Berryman (THE HILLS HAVE EYES), P.J. Soles (HALLOWEEN) and Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley.


Tommy shows no signs of stopping and remains undaunted as her creation continues to grow beyond her wildest dreams. “This is the fifth Motor City Nightmares,” she says. “Last year grew so much and this year, even more. The presales were huge.” And she’s in no hurry to stop the progress. Many of horror’s legends have yet to take part and that’s something she wants to rectify. “There’s a lot of people that we’ve been unable to have yet,” says Tommy. “We’d love to have Wes Craven and Robert Englund and Lance Henriksen (ALIENS). We’ll keep doing Motor City Nightmares and hopefully we can get them here in the future.”

And, Tommy and her husband have some big plans to concurrently ensure the success of their films and their convention. “We’re starting our own distribution line and we’re also opening our own special effects house,” she says. The horror community was built upon ethics like these and Tommy seems destined to once again prove that hard work indeed pays off.

The success that Motor City Nightmares has garnered can be attributed to a number of factors, but none more important than the dedication and passion of its founders. “Everything we do we create from nothing, and it does so well because we just love what we do,” says Tommy. “All the talent that comes in, they know they’re going to have a great time. We’ve become like family.”

For more information about Motor City Nightmares and the films of Tommy and Todd Brunswick, please visit the official Facebook.




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About the author
Jeff Tuttle
Jeff Tuttle is a life-long musician who cut his teeth in the Detroit underground scene and subsequently traveled the world with the notorious and critically acclaimed The Dillinger Escape Plan. He is currently studying film at Michigan’s The Motion Picture Institute and fronts the proto-hardcore misfits Old Gods. He is also obsessed with all things horror and has a difficult time shutting up about it.
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