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2013 RONDO AWARD
Back in the early 90ís, Fangoria was holding their Weekend of Horrors conventions here in Chicago. But then they left for some reason, most likely for poor attendance. But for the past 4 years, theyíve been coming back, with some success. We know there is this shadow that is still looming over them, but it just might be breaking. Of course, that shadow is Creation Entertainment. Creation is the company that runs the conventions. Any reader of this website has read my many rants about this company and how they run shows.
With some new blood running through Fangoís veins though, it seems that things were running a bit different than previously. The last couple of years, if you were a dealer stuck in the basement dealer room, you were lucky to see a half dozen people stroll through there. But this year, they put most of the celebrity tables down there to try and get the crowds. And it worked. But the problem was that room was just too small and it was very crowded and very warm in there. But at least those dealers were happy to have people walking around the room.
What about those in the main upstairs room, which is where we were? Unless you were in the main aisle, which was basically set up for Fango and Creation, or were a tattoo vendor, you werenít too easy to find. That is what happened to us. We were stuck somewhat around a corner amongst the tattoo guys. So we didnít get a lot of people at our booth. I hope in the future, they would maybe have the tattoo guys down in the basement and the rest of the regular vendors all together. They also seemed to be wasting some space, like two booths worth, just so something one can take photos of tattoo art.
But all that aside, I did see the show run a lot smoother and better than it has in the past. I really think that has to do with Fango maybe (and Iím hoping here), trying to take the reigns of their shows. It was also nice to hear that quite a few of the celebrities were letting the fans take photos with him, even though they are not suppose to do that, but instead pay Creation $40 for their stupid Photo-Op deal. Iím really hoping that goes awayÖ.fast.
There were rumors starting at the beginning of the weekend that Fango wouldnít be coming back to Chicago. But apparently it was the hotel they wouldnít be coming back to. They are looking for a bigger venue for next year. So letís hope that they find a good place.
Now letís get to the show. For the guest lineup, the only one that I really wanted to see was Tobe Hooper. I had met him at my very first convention back in 1988, but didnít have anything to get signed. So I was happy to be able to add his signature to my TCM poster. But he cancelled days before the show. But there seemed to be other guests that were taking off the list at the last moment. Sure, I know that guests cancel for a variety of reasons. But that type of stuff smells of Creation and hopes that is something that changes.
That being said, I think this was one of the best lineups that they've had in quite some time, even with the cancelations. You had a mix of the old icons as well as some of the newer up-and-coming artists. I know we've mentioned in past reports, but the Chicago guest lineups are usually a lot weaker than those for the LA or NY shows. We understand that is where the talent lives and it's much easier for them to come out for one day. But, if you want a lot of fans to come to the show, you have to make it worth it. Like the old saying goes, spend money to make money. This time out, it looked like they were talking a step in that direction. Still have a lot more to go, but it's a start.
The main headliner was George Romero, who has appeared in Chicago many different types over the years. But that didnít stop the crowd from waiting in line to see him. Every year, we have a new generation of horror fans wanting to meet this icon. So as much as heís not a draw for us personally, itís great to see him still getting the attention that he deserves. No one could argue this work in the horror genre, as well as respecting and admiring the hell out of him for not selling out to Hollywood and intent on making films the way he wants to. For that alone, we give him tons of credit. He was there discussing his latest zombie flick.
Another iconic director that was attending was Herschell Gordon Lewis, who stopped by our table Friday morning. The man truly is an icon, creating the first gore film, and never looking back. It was also great to hear so many fans telling us they got the chance meet him, and being very excited about it as well. Like Romero, itís great to see Lewis still having that fan base. And when you find out just how friendly and great he is to talk to, it's even better. He still loves to talk about his films from 40+ years ago and is more than willing to give advice to up-and-coming filmmakers trying to get their feet wet.
Making their Chicago debut was the triple terror from Italy, with Lamberto Bava, Ruggero Deodato, and Sergio Stivaletti. I donít think they had the crowds they deserved, but I think they still had a great time seeing the fans that did come to see them. I know they enjoyed seeing their fans as well, especially since all three of them were talking photos of the crowd while doing their Q&A. I think these guys are just amazed at their fan base over here in the states. It would have been nice to see them get more of a turnout during their Q&A, but that just means we need to keep educating the younger audiences about what else it out there.
And would someone tell me how Ashley Laurence is just getting better and better looking each and every year? I think someone needs to check her place for a painting that is getting older by the day. Because she certainly isnít. Wow. Laurence is always super friendly to her fans and really seems to enjoy making that connection to them. What a sweetheart.
There were quite a few other guests there, from Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma team, to Raine Brown and Joe Zaso, to Doug Bradley, hometown alumniís like Tom Towles and Bill Moseley. The was also a Texas Chainsaw reunion panel, that included Marilyn Burns, Caroline Williams and Tom Savini. This was the second to last panel on Sunday, and I think Moseley had to leave early, so he wasn't able to participate. Bill Johnson was also on the list, but he was one of the cancellations. But between Burns and Williams, they had some great (horror) stories about working on the TCM film they were in.
There were also two newer directors there promoting their new films. First off was David Gregory, with his new film Plague Town, which looks pretty interesting. They were screening the film during the show, but we missed it since we were working our table. The other was Toby Wilkins, promoting Grudge 3. We may not be rushing out to see that one, but we did enjoy his previous film Splinter.
Closing out the show on Sunday evening was Chicago's own WildClaw Theatre group. Attending members of the group was Charley Sherman (Artistic Director/Founder), Brian Amidei (Managing Director), Charley Athanas (Graphic & Set Design), Paul Foster (Production Manager / Technical Director), and our own buddy Aaron Christensen (Director of Audience Development). They were there promoting their upcoming play The Revenants, which tackles the zombie genre. Can't wait for that one. It was great to see them at the show, but it's just a shame that they were on last. If you from Chicago and are a horror fan, I would strongly suggest you checking out WildClaw's plays. They are doing a great job bringing back horror and blood to the stage. Check out their website HERE.
But like any convention, it was a great time just seeing and hanging out with our other horror friends and fiends. Liquid Cheese creator Dave Kosanke was our official helper over the weekend, keeping us company. And of course, we had Bob & Nicole, and Putrid & Christina, Dan & Nora, and the Horror Society Gang (Mitch, Jessica, Brian K, Bryan S, Kristin, and Kirsten). Always great to see you guys.
Our favorite zombie filmmakers from Wisconsin (now pronounced WUS-con-sin) John Pata and Drew Schuldt were there, along with their buddy Seth. These guys never cease to amaze me how they make sure they have a good time. Just sitting around and having a simple conversation with them is fun and usually quite memorable. And our other friends from cheese-land, Jessica and Ben and company making their way down for a very short stay at the show. Too bad we didnít have more time to hang out. If you are a reader of HorrorHound, you might have recently seen Jessica and Ben in their Collectorís Spotlight. They have one amazing collection!
Keeping us company at our table was artist Chris Kuchta and his wonderful wife Lori, whoís table was right next to ours. Chrisí work is nothing short of amazing. With a style that leaves a lasting impression, his work has to be seen. You can check out his website HERE. Of course, there were several other of our artist buddies at the show as well. Although it is getting kind of strange how more and more of our friends are artistsÖ..But none the less, we also got to hang out with Don Englund from Slaughtered Lamb Studios and his wife Nina, and Steve from Classic Horrors and his brother Ron. And of course, how could we not mention the one and only Putrid. While he didnít have a table at the show, Putridís work speaks for itself. And if that doesnít impress you, just ask him about his video collection and his unbelievable knowledge of films from the 70ís & 80ís. He just knows too much for such a young punk!
And how could we fail to mention our favorite T-shirt dealer around, Jill from Lix. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see each other much that weekend since she was in the downstairs room and we were upstairs. But we were able to hang out in the evening, and watch her get everyone attempting the hula hoops. Always fun.
So thanks to everyone who did make it out to the show and did stop by our table. We would have liked to seen more of you, but maybe next time. But Iím hoping that everyone that did come out did have a good time. Please make sure that you let Fango know both the good and the bad about the show. That is the only way they can continue the good stuff and try and fix the bad. And for the first time, I actually have hope for this show. Let's give them our support and see what they can do with it.
ITALIAN HORROR INVASION