Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chiller Theatre, I Survived.

I was like a kid at Christmas the night before Chiller Theatre. Couldn’t sleep for the life of me and had images of Sugar Plum Demons dancing in my head, under my bed and in the closet. In the morning, the routine of the day was met with a spring in my step and an extra cup of coffee to keep my spirits up. Santa Claus had not in fact come, but horror convention day had. My first horror convention at that since I missed Monstermania so heinously.

Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, New Jersey. I have seen the advertisements year after year for this event and yet missed it every single one. I even drove past it while it was coming from a vacation years ago but was too exhausted to make the trek in after the long drive. I notoriously missed each and every one for one reason, good or bad. Usually I couldn’t figure out when the damn thing was. I didn’t even know that there were two of them to choose from (and I call myself a horror fan). I would love to be the consultant for their website. They’ve truly done some amazing things over the years but it has some holes that need to be filled (don’t we all… strike that… reverse it).

My future brother in law, his brother and a couple of new, good friends got my ass in gear today. I finally made it to my first horror convention. How convent was it? Well, there was definitely a conversation or two about nunsploitation if that’s what you mean. If not, it was awe inspiring, intimidating and overall a great experience. I feel better having gone and popped by proverbial cherry. I wasn’t this timid about going to Rocky Horror Picture Show and licking whip cream and a cherry off my buddies nipples. The line is a mile long. Get there early and enjoy the company of your fellow fan boys and girls. Saves you a trip to the zoo and you see just as much wildlife.

Something about famous people gives me the willies. I never know what to say to them. I always feel like I’m supposed to give them a bunch of praise, but I feel like they couldn’t care less or that I would seem ridiculous in my “we’re not worthy” Wayne and Garth moment. I don’t know how to approach celebrities. I work very well on the keys (that would be the keyboard), but face to face I clam up like an 80’s VHS tape. I’d say I broke that trend tonight when I went up to Lamberto Bava, shook his hand after removing a box of signables left there by one of my cohorts in crime and said, “Hi”. He was as timid as I was, but I think he could smell my fear. Same thing happened with Claudio Simonetti. I must truly come off as such a goon. “Hi, I’m a huge fan, but I don’t want your autograph because I don’t believe in paying for a signature”. Also, “My mind went blank, didn’t you score Neverending Story 2?” Things like this go through my mind after I left each table. It’s not like I was asking these horror icons out on a date right? Let’s get beyond my neurosis, but if you meet me at a horror convention in the future (and I assure you, you will) I may come off like one of the characters from the “Land of Confusion” video by Genesis.

I went on a Friday. The tame day. I’m ok with popping my cherry on the tame day before the place is a mound of protein and blood trying to fan worship their beloved icons to death. I’m ok to get first dibs on the “good shit” at the vendor tables (even if I barely bought anything). I’m ok to catch the guests fresh as fish because I have oodles to say to them (neurosis GROWING). So here’s the really real of what I on the tame day.

The Hilton in Parsippany is a strange venue for horror. Its modern circa 1990’s innards clash strongly with its kind of old-ish Germany/European, “I want to be a castle when I grow up” on the outside mystique. It holds a lot of peopleBad versions of pizza can be smelled in every room and it is not pleasant. Bathrooms are clean (on the first day). The place is like a labyrinth and I don’t believe that’s intentional. It truly lacks atmosphere. I think I expected more of a haunted attraction/house than a convention. It was probably better that it was convention and not a haunted house… fewer jump scares per square foot. The atmosphere is fan made via costumes and some really great T-shirts.
People watching is a must at one of these events just don’t get caught reading someone’s T-shirt over and over again only to discover that you’ve been staring at some girls tits for a half and hour and her gigantor boyfriend is hungry for geek meat. Didn’t happen… maybe almost happened. I assure you there were plenty of boobies floating around to stare at. I really wanted to get a better look at the damn shirt.

The guests look scared but are nice (mostly). I did not get any autographs as has been previously stated. I do not ask for them. I do not pay for them. When I was a kid at Disney World, I have vague recollections of having an autograph book forced into my hand which would then in turn be forced into the hands of people in suits pretending to be my beloved movie characters. I did not like this. I do not collect signatures. Maybe someday when I’m looking to break my social phobia this will be therapeutic for me, signature getting that is. Incidentally I was a US Census worker for a short time and a Clean Water Action employee and had no trouble getting signatures. Curiouser and curiouser. Met Lamberto Bava and Claudio Simonetti and stood close by John Zacherley. The rest I just stared at. I was intrigued by being that close to them but couldn’t broach the “talk” barrier. It was still worth it. These people are real and not Madame Toussot wax figures that animate when they yell “action”. Good to know.

I was able to say a few words to some of the artists who are the most approachable and well spoken of the whole rabble. Met Stephen Blickenstaff and shook the hand of the man who gave us the cover of Bad Music for Bad People. I wore that damn yellow t-shirt until it had holes in the nipples…. This was a good meet up. Don’t ask how I got holes in the nipples. Do go purchase his work. I still just might when I get the dough to buy that damn demonic, red eyed beastie that wants to eat my face. Also liked the work of Ken Kelly, Roger Kastel and Ted A. Bohus. It was a great thing to see the bodies of work these guys had especially original sketches, actual prints and on merch/mags. Very positive experience.

Saw one of the members of Dio. First thought was talk to them about their non profit organization etc etc. Then I remembered that I’m not social (I’m really am social just not in this context). Arn Anderson made me feel like he was going to rip my arms off if I didn’t buy something for him to sign. This confused me. I ran and ran and ran… all the way to the vintage theatre posters. I mean I watched this guy wrestle as a kid and rooted against him. It was as if he kneeewww. Suzanne Snyder has aged really well and seemed nice from three feet awa y since I had star crush on her when I was in my youth (which is ongoing by the way). I did not go anywhere near the Willy Wonka reunion. “It’s just too creepy,” to quote Beetlejuice. Eddie Munster isn’t a kid anymore ladies. Wink wink nudge nudge. We also avoided what we have come to call “The Gary Busey Room”. Busey and Nivek Ogre… one room. Something must be getting slaughtered in there and then eaten, worn or thrown at a dart board. Saw Ernest Borgnine and thought to myself, “we are about to lose Airwolf”.

By far the most fascinating meeting of the day was with the head honcho at Mad Monster. I am proud to have shaken his hand. I love what that magazine is all about and can’t wait for issue 2 (cover is on Facebook now). He’s a true fan, honest and I think he’s found an unexplored niche in the horror mag world. Refreshingly visual, thought provoking beyond even my previous conceptions of the mag. This thing comes out by Zodiac sign not month. The colors in the borders and themes are based on the Zodiac sign of the issue. This is the stuff of genius. More layers to appreciate here than any onion you’d want to eat and if you haven’t purchased this magazine yet, go get ‘em tiger. I should have asked him to sign my copy. I am a dunce… oh and I don’t do autographs which is to say I forgot.

I don’t know which days some of the guests were going to be there. Friday is my one chance at con-dom, so if I didn’t see a few of them it was probably better that way since I wouldn’t have said anything and would have been what I would have classified as a “lurker”. I wish I saw P.J. Soles. Twittering birds. Crush… crush crush. Alex Winter too (no crush… just owe him the debt of three years of my life due to his Bill S. Preston Esquire character). Maybe would have liked to talk to Chainsaw Sally (saw her but I couldn’t even face her general direction much less open my mouth to form words). Can anyone tell me if Tony Clifton really was there? Just curious. Oh and everyone was in Dr. Chud’s room… this is Jersey guys… we can see the Misfits all the time. They eat drink and piss with us. You can probably meet and greet them at McDonald’s in Lodi. I’m glad to see these guys have such a loyal following. They do good things for horror music even if Glen Danzig since I was born.

Vendors like to sell pirated DVD’s (not all of them). I do not like the concept of people “selling” pirated copies for twenty bucks a pop. Five is perfectly acceptable. Ten bucks would be fine. This twenty dollar shit has got to go. Half of them are pirated off line rather than burned from actual copies of DVD’s anyway. What trash. Exception to this rule is DiabolikDVD who is wonderful and who’s selection was inspired. Thoroughly enjoyed the meeting at their booth and still regret not buying anything (even a Blu Ray for a player I do not have… they had real life Arrow DVD’s).

Saw my first Human Centipede Barbie in person. It was a vision. I was going to ask how much it was but got anti-social again. Boo. Also didn’t want to spend money on something I couldn’t display or show around the house. I had a budget and didn’t blow it. I would call it sensory overload. Here’s how that worked. I would go to a table, start rifling through the Famous Monsters magazines or CD’s or Horror Film History books or Comic Books or whatever and suddenly I would realize that there were thousands of “artifacts” to be had here. It was like I was Scrooge Mc-Fucking-Duck in his money vault swimming in coin. Problem was that I couldn’t decided on anything so I’d move on. I could have sat at the Fangoria back issue counter for the entire convention if not pulled back. It was like seeing boobs for the first time. Something like that I suppose.

Speaking of boobs… didn’t see any… well no live ones anyway.

Overall I had a great time good friends and family and got a modest education in some very obscure shit. I think the “must see” pile on the movie list doubled. Best conversation of the day, talking to David Z. about being a father and horror fanatic and how to balance the whole thing. It’s a work in progress to be certain. Also, loved watching the kids get their gigantic theatre poster of Demons from Italy signed by the Italian Invasion folks. They seemed pretty impressed with its size. I was pretty impressed with its size. This is not Freudian. Also got a copy of an anthology of zombie comics featuring David Z’s collaboration called “Blind Dead”. I’ll be talking about that one in a future cast for certain. He even signed it (so I did get an autograph mother fuckers!) Also got Ultra Violent magazine. Excited to read that one. I had to bat my own hand away a couple times from purchasing other new magazines. There are so many great looking covers. Wow.

So all in all I had an experience that didn’t scare me away from conventions, gave me some ideas for how to do the whole thing better next time and ideas for what I might say to some of these great people. Listening to my friends talking to Lamberto Bava was special. A real connection between fan and artist. I think I had some much to say to Simonetti that my heart would have jumped straight out my chest and would have hid in his travel bag. Also, to be in the presence of John Zacherley is a privilege that few would understand. My father has always lauded him as the great horror host of old, the one he grew up with, the local hero… I felt that tonight. Got teary eyed. Also got intimidated etc etc. Bless his heart.

-Dr. Terror needs business cards and that Geoffrey Rush character from the King’s Speech… STAT!

Do you know what it‘s like to be in Bobby Rhodes’s presence? It’s like staring at a man who’s gonna fuck up some demons in a theatre only to turn into a demon himself… I almost thought he would have if no one was looking. Oh, and he’s a gentleman and despite what you may have heard in the movies… he’s also Italian which surprised me because the dub job in Demons is so bad I should have guessed it instantly. The Pimp Lives!

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