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While going through some old photo books, I came across the pics that I took at my very first horror convention, way back in 1988. That’s right folks, as of this writing, it was over 22 years ago. It got me wondering why I never put these up on the website with a convention report like I usually do. Granted, these photos were taken years before digital photography was even thought of. Plus, who knows if I am going to remember everything about a show that happened so long ago? Not sure….but it’s it was a pretty important event for me, so there are a lot of memories that are still as fresh in my head as they were all those years ago….at least I think so. Keep in mind, that I’m am recollecting my thoughts about the show back then, not so much as how I now feel about Creation, Fango, and some of the celebrities that I will be mentioning. So let’s take a moment, set the way-back machine back to April of 1988…..and head to Los Angeles, California, to Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors convention.

As a fright film fan in Chicago in the ‘80s, there were very few conventions in this area, at least that I knew about. There was some sci-fi ones every now and then that might a little horror carry over, but not that much. At the ripe age of 23, I was on my way of becoming a serious student of the horror genre, and had been an avid reader of Fangoria magazine for several years. At the time, that was really the only major horror movie magazine on the market. Fangoria was holding their own conventions, but they were always either on the west or east coasts. So with a little more than a month away from my upcoming wedding, I decided that I was going to take a major trip on my own, and venture out to California for Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors convention, which was going to take place April 9th & 10th, 1988. And that show, simply put, changed my life.

Up until this show, I had never met anyone famous before. Granted, most of ‘normal’ society wouldn’t have considered the people at this show famous either but to a horror fan, they definitely were. The show was advertising names like Robert Englund, Christopher Lee, Tom Savini, Tobe Hooper, and many more. Being my first convention, I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was pretty excited. The show opened at 11:00am, and I figured there was going to be a line. It wasn’t like I was doing anything else that morning and I wanted to make sure I got in when it opened. So was up early and went down to find where it was going to take place. And at 6am…that’s right, 6am, there were already people in line.  Granted, only 3, but it was still a line. So I was the 4th idiot to get up that early. But that was okay. The first show excitement had me wide away and ready to go. After more and more people started to line up, I realized how smart it was to get in line. Eventually, they formed two lines: one for those who had advanced tickets and those that need to buy tickets. Both of these lines were getting longer and longer.

As we were waiting for the show to open, I had made friends with some of the other people in line. One of them was a younger kid, mid-teens with a Metallica t-shirt on. Which is kind of ironic because as we were talking, I notice that standing by the door talking to one of the convention workers was Kirk Hammett, guitarist for Metallica. He was pretty easy to spot, with the long black curly hair. So I point over to Kirk and start to tell this kid who that is. “No, it isn’t,” his reply was. “Yes, it is. Guarantee it.” So he grabs a piece of paper and pen and walks over there to find out. He stands there for a second until Kirk looks at him, and I see the kid ask him something, Kirk smiles and nods his head. He then hands him the paper to autograph, and then while Kirk is signing it, the kid turns back to me with a huge smile on his face with his thumb up. Those were the days….

They had a schedule of the events and the rest of the guests that were going to be at the show. I quickly scanned over the lineup and got even more excited. For some reason, Christopher Lee was not on the list anymore and must have cancelled at the last minute (yea…right.  Still the same Creation even back then).

So at 11:00am, the doors opened and they started to let only the people in with advance tickets into the dealer’s room. There were two separate rooms for the convention. The dealers room and the auditorium, where the Q&A sessions where going to be held. Once we got into the dealer room, it was a mad dash to scope out the different tables to see what offerings they might have that I knew I would have to go home with. This was a horror fans dream come true. There were poster dealers, magazine dealers, makeup supplies, soundtracks (on LPs no less), tons of different stuff.

I don’t remember exactly what all I bought during that weekend, but here are a few things that I do remember: I pick up a few soundtrack LPs like NEAR DARK and CREEPSHOW. Might have been some other ones, but not sure. I also remember picking up a CREEPSHOW one-sheet (ticket booth artwork) for $10. Yes, I still remember the price. Especially since they now go for a few dollars more. There was also someone selling 8x10 stills, which at the time I collected. I found a great 8x10 lobby card from THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, which made me even happier since one of the guests on the lineup was actor extraordinaire Roddy McDowell. But more on him later.

One of the displays in the dealer room was from the upcoming film FRIGHT NIGHT 2. They had tons of the props from the movies all spread out on several tables. From different hand/arm appliances and armatures, to the bat creature to several busts of some of the characters in the film.  Very cool.  They even have the bust of Julie Carmon’s character in the burn/melting stage from the end of the movie. Granted, this was before the movie was even out, so we really didn’t know what we were looking at. But these were the first real movie props that I had ever seen. Once again, very cool.

I spent about 90 minutes in the dealer room wandering around and taking it all in before I decided to go check out the auditorium area for the Q&A’s. As I left the dealer room, they were still letting the people in line with tickets in, and hadn’t even started with the people without tickets.  The non-ticket holders were not too happy. Quickly made a mental note in my head for future shows, especially ones run by Creation.

We thought it might be easier to read to just have a list the names of the guests that we saw there, with a little note about them.  So let’s start at the beginning.

  • Frank LaLoggia – This young and upcoming director was there promoting his latest film, LADY IN WHITE. His first film, FEAR NO EVIL, was a pretty decent low budget picture that was well written and some good stuff in there. From the trailer from LADY, this looked like a traditional ghost story, and looked very good.

  • Bob Keen – Keen is a makeup effects artist that worked on the HELLRAISER movie, and was there to promote his work on the film THE UNHOLY. He showed us some shots of the creature, which looked pretty damn cool (only to be replaced later by something that looked like a mutated muppet…very disappointed), as well as having some props from the movie. One prop in particular was used when they get their eyeball slit open.

  • Frank Darabont & Chuck Russell – Writer Darabont and writer/director Chuck Russell were there to preview their new movie, a remake of THE BLOB. Right from the beginning, you could tell that not only were they fans of the genre, but they knew what they were talking about. Nice to see that Darabont has never lost that love for the genre. At one point, Russell said that someone from the studio told him that there was no way you could show a kid getting killed in the movie. Russell’s reply to them, “Watch me”. Wish we had more filmmakers like that.

  • Dick Miller – Even back in 1988, Dick Miller was an icon. From his days working with Corman on all films like BUCKET OF BLOOD, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, THE TERROR, and countless other films, Miller remains today as a special character that you will always see in any Joe Dante movie.

  • Tom Savini – Back in 1988, Tom Savini was a god among horror fans. He was at the top of his game. He had recently done TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, and was there promoting George Romero’s latest film MONKEY SHINES that he did the special effects on. He had brought along some of the props from previous films, such as Grampa’s bust from TCM 2, the troll head from his episode of Tales from the Darkside TV series, some animatronics monkeys, as well as Greg Nicotero’s head from DAY OF THE DEAD. He gave a demonstration on bullet squibs, where someone got the chance to put on a white jumpsuit and get shot.  Of course, when I first encountered Mr. Savini just walking around the dealer room, I ask if I could get my photo taken with him. Amazing what 20 years can do to a person….but at least I know I was skinny at one point in my life.

  • Joe Dante – Don’t remember what he was there promoting, but his work up until made him a pretty important guest.  Not only was he a huge fan of the genre, but he also gave us such classic films as THE HOWLING and PIRANHA.

  • George Romero, John Russo, Tobe Hooper, and author Gary Brandner – Not sure what the subject of this panel was, but it having George Romero and Tobe Hooper was pretty damn big.  Romero was promoting MONKEY SHINES, while Hooper was talking about his next movie that was called FLOATER, which was based on one of Brandner’s novels.  Seems this never happened.  Not sure why Russo was there, and didn’t really care.

  • Anthony Perkins – Now here is one actor that as he was up on the stage talking about his work on Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, as you watched him, you realize it was Norman Bates standing there.  And that there is little difference in the characters standing there.  Not saying Perkins was a killer obviously, but the way he talked, moved, everything…was just like Norman Bates.  He was there to talk about his latest film DESTOYER, though most people wanted to hear about PSYCHO.  Go figure.

  • Linnea Quigley – Her Q&A was pretty quiet, since I remember her seeming to be very nervous being up there.  Not sure if this was her first show, but it sure seemed like it.  She was there promoting HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS.

  • John Buechler – Makeup effects artist who had moved into directing.  He was there to promote two films: CELLAR DWELLER and FRIDAY THE 13th Part 7: THE NEW BLOOD.  He had brought life size props of both Jason and the huge title creature from CELLAR DWELLAR.  Buechler has worked on tons of films over the years, including such classics as RE-ANIMATOR and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER.

  • Clive Barker – This was a year after his directorial debut with HELLRAISER and his writing was still going strong.  HELLRAISER 2 was in production and he was there to talk about it, as well as the countless other things that he is always working on  Barker has always been a very entertaining and damn funny speaker.

  • Mick Garris – Garris was there to promote CRITTERS 2, which was his first feature as a director, after making a TV movie and directing a couple episodes of some TV series.  We loved the original film and from the preview, had high hopes for this sequel.  There was even a guy dressed in a giant Critters costume that joined him on stage at one point.

  • Roddy McDowall – After a special presentation of FRIGHT NIGHT 2, Roddy McDowall comes out on stage.  Just as Anthony Perkins couldn’t shed his Norman persona, McDowall was the complete opposite.  As he talked, you couldn’t see the different characters that he had played over the years.  That is just how good of an actor he was.  We have been a huge fan of McDowall for years, from his work on the PLANET OF THE APES films, and many great horror movies like IT! CURSE OF THE GOLEM, the pilot episode of NIGHT GALLERY, and one of my personal favorites, LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE.  Even though this would be the first of countless conventions, McDowall remains one of my favorites that I’ve ever met.

  • Robert Englund – Since I was in line getting an autograph from McDowall, I didn’t catch that much of his Q&A.  I did manage to get back in there in time to snap a photo or two, but that was it.  The day was coming to an end and I need to start thinking about getting to the airport.

For my first horror convention, it really just blew me away.  Walking around there, seeing horror icons like George Romero, Clive Barker, and the many others that were there, was just amazing.  I am so thrilled that I was able to experience a convention back then, way before celebrities figured out they could sell their fans their autographs and photos.  Back when celebrities were actually there just to meet their fans and see the people that have supported them over the years by watching their movies over and over again, by going to the theaters and buying the movies.  Not to make even more money off them.  So looking back on that show, along with the other earlier ones, it does make me sad how they have changed over the years and that to most celebrities; these shows are more about making money than meeting fans.  But I guess there is nothing that can be done about that and we as fans just accept it.  Unless of course, we just stop paying those prices.  But that’s a whole other rant….

    So below are the rest of the photos that we took from the show.  As we said before, keep in mind this was back in 1988, so we apologize for the lack of quality, but does show that we've come a long way since then.  Especially just by looking at this photo to the right, of me and Mr. Savini. about skinny....what happen to THAT guy?