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This is the 3rd year now that Fango has been back in Chicago.  Being local, we are always happy to see horror cons in Chicago.  And I must say that Fangoria always brings out the horror fans when they do come to town.  I really donít understand it sometimes, but the fans do show up.

Now of course, you know Iíve got some complaints about the show.  So letís get them out of the way first.  It seems now that Creationís latest scheme to get more money out of the fans is their special ďPhoto OpsĒ with the stars.  The celebs are told not to let fans take their picture at their table, even if they are buying something.  If they want that, they have to wait in line, and pay Creation $40 to get their little 8x10.  Okay, so the fans are already paying $20 to get one autograph, now they have to pay another $40 to get a photo with them?  Funny thing was that I know a few of the celebs didnít care for that policy and was letting people take their pictures anyway.  Good for them.  Itís just between the gold seating passes, and now this photo op thing, itís really getting out of hand.

And did anybody else notice how many fewer dealers there were this year?  The downstairs dealer room (if you could call it that) was half the size it was last year.  I really feel sorry for those poor bastards set up there.  On two different days, I went down there about a half hour after the show opened to check out the room, only to find that security still hadnít even unlock the doors for them.  So the dealers were just standing around waiting to get it.  Hereís an idea, folks.  If youíre going to have a second dealer room, at least make it big enough to make it look like itís worth looking around.  When someone goes down there and sees about 8 tables, they are not going to spend much time down there, and definitely arenít going down there a second time during the weekend.  Itís just not fair to those dealers who were paying the same price as everyone else.

Now for me and the other dealers that are there (especially on the main floor), fewer dealer tables isnít bad news.  It basically means less competition.  But hereís the real problem.  For the fans that are paying to get in there, thereís not really the cool market place that conventions should be.  Why is that?  Could it be the ever increasing table cost?  Two years ago is was $150.  Last year it was $250.  And this year it went up to $350.  Could it be them raising the rates to recoup the cost due to the number of dealers that are dropping out?  Or maybe Creation really doesnít want that many dealers there, since they might be taking money out of Creationís Photo Op chances?  HhhmmmÖ..

Why am I complaining?  Itís simple.  It seems to me that they are just cutting their own throat here, and Fangoria is the one that is going to bleed.  Most people donít walk away from here blaming Creation if they didnít like the show.  They blame Fangoria.  Fangoria really needs to step in and tell Creation how they want THEIR show to be run.  Stop with the photo ops (or at least make it a hell of a lot cheaper).  Lower the cost of dealer tables, that way you can have a much wider selection of merchandise for the fans.  Everybody wins there.

Okay, enough of that.  How about the good aspects of it?

We were set up right next to the FRIDAY THE 13th guests, specifically right next to composer Harry Manfredini.  Over the weekend, in between some interesting jokes, I got to pick his brain on the art of composing movie music.  Being a huge fan of movie scores, it was fascinating to hear how that process works.  Maybe in the somewhat near future, weíll be scoring an interview with him.  Adrienne King was very nice and really seemed to love meeting her fans.  She had some a great poster that she had made up which included her production notes from the day she and Betsy Palmer were going to fight on the beach.  Very cool.  You can even purchase this from her official website, HERE.

But out of all the FRIDAY guests, I must say that Betsy Palmer is just the sweetest person you could ever meet.  Not only is she ever so pleasant and courteous to her fans, but sheís got a great sense of humor.  During the Q&A sessions, she would not only have some great stories, but also had no problem knocking her movie son, Ari Lehmanís, ego down a few notches.  Fun stuff, people.  So if you ever get the chance to meet Miss Palmer, please do.  She is just a delight to talk to.

Friday was a little slow compared to the last yearís show.  But there was enough of a crowd to keep us busy.  That evening, the Music Box Theatre was having a special screening of the original  FRIDAY THE 13th, and the new French film INSIDE.  But the real treat was they were going to have a Q&A session with the FRIDAY reunion crew from convention.  My buddy Aaron and I were the designated drivers for the guests, getting them from the hotel to theatre and back again.  I must say that was pretty surreal.  The Q&A was fun, with some hilarious remarks from all, especially Betsy Palmer.  The Q&A was being run by Adam Rockoff, author of the great book Going To Pieces, who was at the show promoting the new film he's working on.

On a quick side note, I'm sure everyone out there enjoyed the documentary GOING TO PIECES.  If you did, or even if you didn't and are a fan of slasher films, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Rockoff's book.  Yea, I know, it's $40.  But just think of it as an investment in your knowledge of horror history.  You will get a lot more information from that book then you can from the documentary.  Not that I'm knocking the documentary, since I really enjoyed it as well.  But nothing can beat some good old fashion book-learning.  Give it a try.  You can still get a copy of the book from Amazon.  Click HERE for more info.

On Saturday, we had quite a few more people coming through the door, but still not like last year.  Throughout the day, we had many people stopping by our table, including director Neil Marshall.  He was there promoting his new movie DOOMSDAY.  He picked up a copy of Dennis Giffordís Pictorial History of Horror Movies, which he said was the book that got him hooked on horror movies when he was a kid.  Nothing makes me happy to not only hear that, but also that people still remember these books from their childhood.  It damn near brings a tear to my eye to hear that these book have ignited the passion of the horror genre on young minds, enough to make them some day created horrors for the rest of the fans.  And more importantly, that they still can have that effect.

Later on, up and coming director Douglas Buck showed up at our table to look over our selection of books as well.  Being a big film buff as well, he also found something he needed.  Buck, along with his partner John Freitas, talked horror shop with us for a while, showing they were big fans of the genre.  Buck was the director of the very powerful FAMILY PORTRAITS, which features three short films of his, all three leaving quite an impact.  He has also recently directed the remake of SISTERS, which is just hitting DVD.  Do yourself a favor and seek out FAMILY  PORTRAITS.  Youíve seen nothing like this before, and will never forget it either. Go to our Review section to check out our review of it.

That night, we were off to the Music Box again, this time with Robert Englund and Ray Wise in tow.  The theatre was screening the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and the uncut version of SWAMP THING.  Once again, the Q&Aís were really fun.  Along with Rusty Nails, director Gary Sherman, who had worked with Englund on a few projects, such as DEAD AND BURIED, ran the Q&A with Englund.  Lots of great stories, ones that you wouldnít normally hear in these types of sessions.

A quick thing about Mr. Englund that just amazed me during our short time together was his passion for film and theater.  I donít know how he actually gets any work done, since it sounds like he must spend most of his time watching movies and going to the theater.  His knowledge of the business, the people behind the camera as well as in front of the camera, is incredible.  Plus he speaks about these movies and performances with such love and admiration, I never would have believed it, had I not been sitting there.  But it was so cool to see this horror icon, getting all geeked out when talking about a movie.  Guess all movie fans are pretty much the same.

But we do need a big round of applause to Rusty Nails for making this little extra fun for the weekend for not only the convention fans, but also for the Chicago area horror fans.  Rusty is the man behind the Music Box Massacres which are held every year in October.  But they are planning their Sci-Fi Spectacular for this May, as well as a mini-Massacre for some time in the summer.  Stay tuned here for more info on that.  You can also check out more information about the Music Box Theatre by clicking HERE.

Sunday was the usual slow day.  Most of the people there were there to see Robert Englund, who was only appearing on Sunday.  So if you wanted to see him, you had to stay for Sunday, and wait until the end of the day.  But at least that kept people at the show.

As usual, we had a blast seeing our usual friends there, like Liquid Cheese creator Dave Kosanke and his buddy Ryan, Bob & Matt (aka Putrid, artist extraordinaire), Kristin, and many, many of the familiar faces whose names are escaping me at the moment.  But we also had a chance to hook up with John Pata and Drew Schuldt, director and star of Better Off Undead.  If you still havenít heard about this entertaining little zombie flick, you really need to check it out.  Made for no money, Pata and company prove that with very little money, but a lot of passion and creativity, with a nice helping of talent, you can turn out a 30-minute zombie movie from Wisconsin that proves that independent horror films still can be good.

We also made several new friends that weekend.  Throughout Friday, we were suppose to get in contact with Adam Rockoff to talk to him about that nightís Q&A at the Music Box.  But since we didnít know what he looked like, that made it kind of tough.  Then at some point, we had a guy at our table talking about horror reference books.  Then when I asked him his name, low and behold it was Mr. Rockoff.  Adam is also another Chicago-based horror fan that just loves to talk shop, just like the rest of us.

One other new friend that we made was the unbelievable talented artist Chris Kuchta.  Chris had a table there selling prints of his incredible artwork.  His work mainly consists of the classic monsters, like Frankenstein, the Mummy, and such.  Not only are the portraits just dead on, heís got a great style as well.  What more could you want then a bitchin print of the creature from I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN?  Got me.  You can check out his work at his website HERE.  He may not have his monster art up just yet, but will be soon.  So keep checking back.

So as a whole, we had a good time at the show.  Now, if we would have been down stairs, I donít think it would have been the same story.  So we are grateful for that small thing.  I do think that Fangoria really needs to step in and start taking more control over these shows before Creation runs it into the ground, just like they did back in the early 90ís.  We can always hope.