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2013 RONDO AWARD
AUGUST 2-4, 2002
Congratulations out to Mike Kerz and his Flashback Weekend convention! He did an awesome job bringing in a great guest lineup, and even better, by advertising the hell out of the show. The funny thing is that every time I mentioned how great it was that he was really promoting the show, with ads in Fangoria, setting up radio interviews with the guests, Mike seemed puzzled why I would be surprised that the promoter of a show is actually promoting the show. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done shows that besides the dealers, not too many people knew about the show. Once again, great job Mike, and looking forward to next year.
As for the details of the show, we had a great time there. There were plenty of dealers, offering quite a variety of goods, from videos, T-shirts, books, posters, and DVDs. A collector shouldn’t have had much trouble finding something to invest their money in. We were parked right next to Jill from Lix, one of the best places to get some really cool T-shirts. It always amazes me how Jill is always happy and in a good mood, even if she is a little too camera happy. We still are waiting for that LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE design too, Jill!
Of course there was also Ken and Pam from Cinema Wasteland. If you can’t find something from them to spend your money on, you’re at the wrong show. They were kind enough to drag our motley crew around to find food and the theater both Friday and Saturday night. We’re really looking forward to their next Cinema Wasteland show in October. That is one show not to miss.
As for the guests, the main attraction seemed to be the folks from some movie called EVIL DEAD. Bruce Campbell was there, also promoting his new trade paperback edition of his book, IF CHINS COULD KILL: CONFESSIONS OF A B-MOVIE ACTOR, which has added footage…I mean an added chapter that wasn’t in the hardcover (I didn’t know Anchor Bay was into publishing...). It was amusing seeing a kid in the dealer room, probably around 6 or 7 years old, showing off his ARMY OF DARKNESS lunchbox, which Campbell had signed. That will be 2nd grade kid in the lunchroom with some pretty impressive bragging rights.
Along with Campbell, making their first appearance at a Chicago area convention was the Ladies of EVIL DEAD: Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, and Sarah York (Theresa Tilly). To be quite honest, when I heard that they were starting to hit the convention circuit, I figured they were just in it for the money, charging $20 for their autographs, bringing up a fake smile to a fan while signing a photo and sending them on their merry way. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each one of them really took the time to talk and listen to each of their fans. Yes, they were charging for autographs, but only $5, nowhere near the cost of what some ‘celebrities’ are charging. But the best part is just how interested they were in meeting their fans and hearing what they had to say. That does mean a lot to the fans. So it was nice to see that they were doing it for the right reasons.
Also along with the EVIL DEAD gang was the man who created them, Tom Sullivan. While this wasn’t the first time we’ve come across Tom and his EVIL DEAD Museum, it’s still an amazing thing to see all of these props, and to hear his stories of the making of the film. Tom is one incredible artist. The work he did for the Book of the Dead is amazing, as seen here in one of the reproduction photos that he is offering. Plus the fact that he’s also one of these guys that loves to meet his fans. Just ask him anything and he’ll be more than happy to explain how something was done for the film, or even some helpful hints at how to get started in makeup…even if it means only taking college courses that you want to, instead of what you’re suppose to…
But the highlight of the convention for me at least, was the chance to meet the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis. When meeting a legend like Lewis, and yes he is a legend, and you discover just what a nice guy he is, it really shows you the old school way of treating your fans. Lewis was so tickled that someone knew who he was and that they admired his work. He was happy to answer any questions people threw at him, usually going into a very amusing story. He never complained about signing whatever somebody put in front of him. And his stories of the art of low-budget filmmaking back in the 60’s and 70’s are a piece of history that we will most likely never see again. People like him are getting rarer these days. Not to mention the fact that he is one hell of a funny storyteller.
And to make it even more of a bonus, his notorious partner in crime, the other half of the Gruesome Twosome, David Friedman was also there. Like Lewis, Friedman is another person from the old school. And also like Lewis, his contribution to the cult film industry is astounding. He loves to meet and hear from his fans, and always has an entertaining story for anyone listening. Those days are definitely gone, as well as the mold in which these two people are from, which is a real shame.
Also at the show, for the screening of BLOOD FEAST 2, were the producer Jacky Morgan, and writer Boyd Ford. Another two very friendly individuals who were curious to hear people’s opinion of the new film. While there was some mention of hiding in the back of the theater in case they needed to exit quickly, I don’t think they had anything to worry about. Of course, some might think that somebody who would write and produce a film such as BLOOD FEAST 2 would lack any sense of taste or culture. But as you can see in this photo, here they are admiring the artwork in the hallway at the hotel, showing us a bit of their more intellectual side.
There were other guests there as well, such as Felissa Rose from SLEEPAWAY CAMP, Richard Kiel from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER, plus many more (who still is one big man), Robert Z’Dar from MANIAC COP, Ben Chapman who played the creature from THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, and the Tempe Video people.
But even besides the great dealer room and all the guests, there were also the movies. About 10 minutes from the hotel is the Pickwick Theater. During the weekend, they were showing films like SLEEPAWAY CAMP (being introduced by the director Robert Hiltzik and star Felissa Rose), CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, MOONRAKER, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS (introduced by Lewis), EVIL DEAD (with intro and Q&A with Bruce Campbell and the Ladies), EVIL DEAD 2, and MAD MONSTER PARTY. But the real highlights of the films being shown were H.G. Lewis’ return to the director’s chair for BLOOD FEAST 2 and a special sneak preview showing of BUBBA HO-TEP, starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Don Coscarelli. For more details on those movies, check out our Reviews section.
So with all said and done, this was the best show that I’ve been to in almost a year. Not since last year’s Cinema Wasteland show, did I have such a great time, both as a dealer, but also as a fan. I was able to run around and take a shit load of photos for the site, as well as pick up few autographs and other little goodies. And plus, it’s always nice to hang out and see friends that we don’t get to see until the conventions. Once again, kudos out to Mike Kerz for making this happen, and we hope to do it again next year. Also thanks for everybody who stopped by our tables to say hi. We’ll see you at the next show.
DAVE FRIEDMAN & H.G. LEWIS
THE LADIES OF EVIL DEAD