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CHICAGO FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL

A GREAT CONVENTION THAT FEW KNEW ABOUT

 

During the first weekend of June of 2002, we were at the first annual Chicago Fantastic Film Festival.  It was held at the Gateway Theater, on the north side of Chicago.  It was an awesome place to hold a movie convention, since this theater had been around for years.  Itís the type of theater that you donít see too often anymore.  Itís a huge place, which even has a balcony.  Whenís the last time you were at a theater that had one of those?

During the whole weekend, they were showing movies, such as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, an uncut print of VAMPIRE LOVERS, and Stuart Gordonís latest film DAGON.  The guests included where Stuart Gordon, Ingrid Pitt, Joanna Cassidy, Billy Gray, and artist Basil Gogos.

Stuart Gordon was there to premiere his latest film DAGON, an awesome film based on a couple of stories from the highly underrated H.P. Lovecraft.  According to Gordon, this was the film that he was suppose to make after RE-ANIMATOR, but could never get it off the ground.  He was there all day Saturday, talking to fans, signing anything and everything that was put in front of him.  He wasnít charging a dime for his autograph, which seems to be a rarity these days.  He was even giving away mini posters from DAGON.  Every time I came out of the dealer room when he was signing, there were only one or two people in line.  If he had been at a Fango show, the line would have been out the door!  Gordon is one hell of a nice guy, and they donít seem to come as friendly as he is these days.  As for the movie, it will be released on DVD / VHS this July, and it is one title that you should definitely put on your most wanted list.  The movie is incredible, filled with atmosphere and style, feeling very much like a Lovecraft story.  It was great to be able to see it on the big screen.  Gordon stated that when he was a young kid, he would come to that very theater to see movies.  He said it was like a dream come true to see one of his own movies showing on the screen that he used to watch as a kid.

Billy Gray was there to reminisce with fans about his dealing with the might Gort from THE DAY THE EART STOOD STILL.

Joanna Cassidy was also there.  They were originally supposed to screen BLADE RUNNER, but the studios at the last minute pulled it.  So instead they showed ROGER RABBIT.  Not as good as BLADE RUNNER, but not a bad replacement.  She still has that entertaining little cackle of a laugh that could be heard throughout the day.

And then there was Ingrid Pitt.  She was the star of Hammerís THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and COUTNESS DRACULA, and having major supporting roles in WHERE EAGLES DARE and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD.  She was also there to introduce an uncut version of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, possibly the first time that version was ever played on the big screen here in the states.  It was a beautiful print and was great seeing the full decapitation sequence at the end of the film, which is so (pardon the pun) hacked on the video version.

But unfortunately, it didnít seem that too many people knew about the show.  I donít know what the final number that came through the door, but it didnít seem to be that much.  I understand that this was the first show, but I was at Cinema Wastelandís first show, and there were tons more people there for that.  So I donít think it was necessarily that.  It may have had a little to do with it, but not much.  I think it was just a lack of advertising.  From what I was told, nothing was in the local papers.  Iím sure that would have brought in more people.

It was nice to meet some new fans of the genre, hearing theyíre favorites, and hooking them up with something new.  That is one part of the shows that I really enjoy the most.  Well, maybe not as much as finding a great find in the dealerís room, but close.

So all in all, we did have a good time at show.  Financially it was pretty bad, but we at least had a really good time.  And really, for me at least, thatís what is important the most.