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Where 'weirdos' unite: Duluthian launches Twin Ports Horror Society

“People are fascinated with true crime, and they won’t go anywhere near a ‘Friday the 13th’ movie, and that’s weird to me," said Cory Jezierski.

horror society game showjpg
Matt Rasmussen, Michael Vaerconum and Tom Frichek compete in Uncle Clutch's trivia game show during the 2021 Ghoulish Gala. The event is hosted the Twin Ports Horror Society.
Contributed / Cory Jezierski
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TWIN PORTS — Finding the Twin Ports Horror Society was a nightmare come true for Jason Zissos.

The Duluth man had been acting as online administrator of an all-things-horror group with folks across the U.S., but he quickly found what he wanted was buried in his own backyard.

A man smiles for a selfie; a man crosses his arms in front of him while standing in a prop coffin.
Jason Zissos.
Contributed / Jason Zissos

After joining the Twin Ports Horror Society on Facebook, Zissos was soon meeting group members in real life for double features at Zinema or at Crypticon in Minneapolis.

It’s where “us weirdos” get together without being shamed for liking things that aren’t the norm, Zissos said. “You can drop your guard a little bit and not worry about people judging you for liking a murderous, possessed doll.”

A woman dressed with red bullseyes on her cheeks and in a red bowtie poses next to a carnival sign.
Dawn Ricketson, dressed as Jigsaw from "Saw," works the Carn-Evil games during the 2021 Twin Ports Horror Society's Ghoulish Gala.
Contributed / Cory Jezierski

This is what Cory Jezierski had in mind when he created the Facebook group. Five years later, the horror society has nearly 1,000 members.

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Man smiles with dog; man with Halloween mask over his face poses for a selfie
Cory Jezierski.
Contributed / Cory Jezierski

Its hearty discussions and memes snowballed into horror-themed trivia nights, an annual Ghoulish Gala and a YouTube show “Twin Ports Horror Society Presents…” in which Jezierski interviews local horror-core hip-hop artist ILL Fortune , Ghostbusters North and Duluth Paranormal Society members, and a Duluth native running his own West Coast special effects studio, among others.

A person dressed with a pumpkin head costume sits at a table with a board game on it.
Darrell Davey shows off his original board game, The World of All Hallows Eve, during the 2021 Ghoulish Gala. The annual event is hosted by the Twin Ports Horror Society.
Contributed / Cory Jezierski

The key to keeping it light online, Jezierski said, is making it local. If you’re talking to someone you might see at the grocery store, there’s a better chance you’ll avoid impoliteness or over-opinionated commentary, he said. This good-naturedness virtual space is a draw for its members.

A person smiles with their thumbs up while wearing a deep blue suit coat.
Kala Moria.
Contributed / Kala Moria

Kala Moria, of Duluth, has had her fair share of in-depth group conversations — on special effects vs. CGI; or if it’s zombies or infected humans in “28 Days Later.” Whatever the topic, it always stays respectful, she said.

When Moria joined in 2019, there were plenty of online crafting and sports groups, but the horror society was for her. She and fellow members have done Haunted Ship meetups; she helps host horror trivia nights; and she cultivated new relationships, which she didn’t see coming.

You meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise, find more things in common and make new friends. And for Moria, having the horror society during the evolving stages of COVID-19 was a lifesaver.

Mandy Lozon double mug.jpg
Mandy Lozon, of Superior, poses for a selfie, left, and Lozon in her "Midsommar" costume.
Contributed / Mandy Lozon

“I’m an extremely extroverted, social person, so just being able to have people I could talk to regularly, even if it was just online, was very important to my mental health,” she recalled.

The horror society introduced Mandy Lozon, of Superior, to a “very vocal” local camaraderie. “You’ll get your memes, your discussion — you’ll get everything,” she said.

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Horror isn’t always viewed as a reputable industry, said Lozon. Still, she appreciates it because it’s a vacation from life’s chaos.“I've never felt so disconnected from reality than when watching a horror movie. It’s a great way to disconnect and dive right into something so different than my own reality,” she said.

Two people raise their arms, one dressed in a white dress, the other in a black suitcoat and a red vest.
Eve Flesvig and Mike Schell enjoy themselves at the 2021 Twin Ports Horror Society Ghoulish Gala.
Contributed / Cory Jezierski

Horror can be dismissed as just violence and gore, but it’s more than that, said Jezierski. “People are fascinated with true crime, and they won’t go anywhere near a ‘Friday the 13th’ movie, and that’s weird to me," he said. “I don’t need 10 more movies on Jeffrey Dahmer. That stuff doesn’t fascinate me beyond hearing it the first time."

The draw of the genre is its variety; sci-fi, folklore, action, comedy all fall under the umbrella — and, “it doesn’t take itself seriously.”

Moria gravitates to horror for the escapism. “There’s plenty in the real world that’s scary or real-world creepy for not-fun reasons. It’s nice to be scared and know it’s fake,” she said.

Learn more about the Twin Ports Horror Society on Facebook at tinyurl.com/ytnkse23 .

Cory Jezierski's top flicks

A sea monster raises its finned hands.
"The Creature from the Black Lagoon."
Contributed / imdb.com

  • “The Exorcist”
  • “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
  • “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark”
  • “The Greasy Strangler”
  • “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”

Kala Moria's top flicks

A woman holds her hands against a bloody window.
"Pontypool."
Contributed / imdb.com

  • “28 Days Later”
  • “Nightmare on Elm Street”
  • “Aliens”
  • “Pontypool”
  • “The Grudge”

Jason Zissos' top flicks

Four long-haired vampires in shredded '80s clothes stand on the top of a hill.
Billy Wirth, Kiefer Sutherland, Brooke McCarter and Alex Winter star in "The Lost Boys."
Contributed / imdb.com

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  • “An American Werewolf in London”
  • “Underworld”
  • “The Lost Boys”
  • “Army of Darkness”
  • “House of 1,000 Corpses”

Mandy Lozon's top flicks

A man wearing a black shirt leans in close to the camera with a sinister smirk on his face.
Mark Duplass in "Creep."
Contributed / imdb.com

  • “Army of Darkness”
  • “Hell House LLC”
  • “Event Horizon”
  • “The Fly”
  • “Creep”
MORE BY MELINDA LAVINE
"I’ve been out on that trail. I know what the hills are like, I know what the conditions are like. ... I have so much respect for them," Mallory Cummings of Duluth said.

Related Topics: DULUTHSUPERIORMEMBERS-ONLY
Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346, mlavine@duluthnews.com.
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