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2013 RONDO AWARD
With this being our first big show of the year, we had been chomping at the bit. We know that Romero and Barker always pull in a big crowd, so we were expecting a pretty decent turn out. But once the full onslaught started on Saturday, I was blown away by the amount of people coming through the door. Sure there were some issues and complaining and we’ll comment on those shortly. None the less, those making it out the show were going to see one huge show and one good time.
I’ve been going to conventions for well over 20 years. And in those years, I have seen Romero more times than I can remember. So when I see the huge line of people wanting to meet him, it shows me two things. First of all, the man truly is an icon. Even if some of us aren’t too thrilled with his films over the last decade or two, you can’t take away what the man has done for the genre. And secondly, it shows me how new horror fans are always popping up. Each year, the genre acquires new fans that have joined the ranks of horror fans. And meeting an icon like Romero is just as exciting to them as it was for me 20 years ago. As a lifelong horror fan, it makes me smile to see all these new recruits going through the same paces we did all those years ago.
On Friday night, we helped HorrorHound managing editor Aaron Crowell run the Slasher Panel, which featured Peter Cowper, Tom Morga, Don Shanks, and later Tom Savini. While most of these guys had played icon roles in some horror films, I think we, as fans, tend to forget just what they do in the film business besides putting on a mask in a horror film. Since most were stuntmen by trade, there is a lot of work that goes into what we see on stage. And some of that is fascinating stuff. So the next time you see one of these guys at a show, instead of asking them what it was like playing a killer, ask them how tough it was to swing a pic axe at someone with hardly any vision and make sure no one gets killed. You’ll be amazed at how much work goes into these quick sequences.
Right after that was the DAY OF THE DEAD reunion panel. We had to get back to our table so was only able to stay a few minutes and grab some quick photos. As we’ve said before, these reunion panels can be a lot of fun since some of these people haven’t seen each other since making the movie. So there are always great stories that come out during them.
One of the guest on that panel was John Harrison. He has been connected with the Pittsburgh filmmaking community from way back. Working with Romero on several of his early projects, as well as making a name on his own for his work. As an actor, he was in the film EFFECTS, as well as playing the zombie in DAWN OF THE DEAD who gets a screwdriver shoved into his ear. As a director, he gave us TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE as well as the more recent BOOK OF BLOOD. But it was his work as a composer that I idolized him for. Harrison created the score for CREEPSHOW, which to this day remains one of my favorite scores. He also did the score for DAY OF THE DEAD as well. So it was a thrill to be able to meet him at his table and talk a few minutes about that score. It made it even better to find out that he was not charging his fans for his autograph. One class act, all the way.
Another icon from the genre that we were excited to meet was Richard Lynch. The guy has made a career out of playing the heavy in films, something that he did extremely well. From TV movies like VAMPIRE and GOOD AGAINST EVIL to his film roles in CUT AND RUN, INVASION USA, GOD TOLD ME TO, PREMONITION, BAD DREAMS, and many others. It was nice to see that we were the only fans of him and his work since there seemed to be plenty of people at his table. Lynch is 70 years old, and it was great to see him out still meeting his fans. A very nice guy, completely opposite of the evil characters he’s been playing over the years.
On Saturday, even more people were showing up for the show. It got so crowded during the day that at one point, due to the Fire Marshall there, they had to stop people from going into the show until some people came out. The last time I’d been to a show that crowded was the NY Fango show back in 2000, where Rob Zombie was scheduled to appear, but cancelled a week before the show. I know there were quite a few people pissed off at paying for their tickets and only then to be told that they can’t go into the room yet. And I don’t blame them. But I don’t think anybody expect that many people to show up. But I think that only lasted a couple of hours.
Another thing that I heard a few people complaining about was how long they had to wait in line to meet Barker and / or Romero. This really puzzled me. They were complaining having to wait so long in a line because there were so many more people just like them that wanted to do the same thing? And that is the show’s fault? If you didn’t want to wait 3 hours in line, then don’t. Go back to doing whatever you wanted to do and quit bitching!
Okay, enough complaining. Other than the crowds, which did make it pretty tough to walk around, it seemed like most people were having a great time. We got to talk to plenty of people who stopped by our table to check out our books and posters, or even just to chat. One fellow stopped by and was talking to my buddy AC. After a short time, AC introduced himself to this new found friend, only to find out it was Jeff Burr, director of FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, LEATHERFACE, and many other fun movies. He was in town on a film shoot and just stopped by to check out the show. He was a great guy and a lot of fun to talk to.
Saturday night led to one of the most interesting dining experiences that I’ve had at convention in a very long time. Over the last few shows, we’ve seem to have developed a curse when it comes to trying to find a place to eat after the dealer room closes for the night. At the last HorrorHound show in Cincinnati, this awesome BBQ place that we’d been told about turns out to have been closed for quite some time….after we drive out to find the place. One place that we usually go to while in Indy is the Texas Roadhouse. Great food and very close to the hotel. Of course, this time we find out that not only is the place closed down, but it’s been burnt down to the ground! So we head to another place real close the hotel, a Mexican place called El Dorado. There is about a dozen of us there, all seated around a several tables. We notice right away that it seems to be taking an awful long time for the waitress to come out each time we talk to her. While we’re still waiting to for her to take our orders, another waitress comes out and starts collecting our menus. She has a surprised look on her face when we tell her we haven’t ordered yet. Needless to say, it gets much worse. People are given the wrong food. It takes forever to even get silverware or a glass of water. I didn’t get my silverware until 20 minutes AFTER I got my food! The longer this went on, and the more alcohol that was consumed by some of our party, the more things heated up. Our ever faithful diplomat AC, trying to defuse the possible riot brewing, talks to the manager, telling them that we are only going to pay 50% of the bill, since the service was terrible, which they said was fine. After about another 20 minutes, they still hadn’t brought out the bill. So we got up and left. The funny this was that even though the food was so-so at best (even the raccoon fajita that Bob got) and the service was terrible, it was probably one of the most entertaining dinners I’ve had at a convention. And surely will be brought up at many conventions to come. You can almost hear those chants of “EL DORADO!”
We were only able to sneak over to the Mask Fest area or a few minutes, mainly to meet one of the guests that were set up there. It was noted Edgar Allan Poe scholar Paul Clements. Of course, we were fans of him from his starring role in THE BEAST WITHIN, where he plays a hybrid, half human-half cicada creature. Ooohhhh, the ‘80s…where have you gone? Clements was a great guy and even had an original press kit from the movie that included stuff like a t-shirt and bumper sticker!
There were also a couple of guests that were not on the lineup, but anybody that was into tape trading in the ‘90s had heard of this movie, even if they didn’t have the chance to see it. It was a vampire film called DARKNESS (1993), directed by Leif Jonker and starring Gary Miller. It was one of these low budget independent films that were flooding the market at that time. Except this one was pretty damn entertaining. Both Jonker and Miller were at the show walking about and signing autographs for free. And it was cool to see a lot of people coming up to them and talking about their film.
We tried really tried hard not to spend any money at the show this time, needing the money at home for more important things. But since we were doing so well at the show, my will power faltered a bit and I picked up a couple of things. The first one was work shirt from a place called Red Death Studios. They had T-shirts as well, but their work shirts are what grabbed my attention, with some beautiful poster art on the back. Being a big fan of work shirts, we had to add a SHOCK WAVES one to our collection. I know we’ll be picking up more of their stuff the next time we see them at a show.
The other item that we debated on buying over the whole weekend was the statuette of Vincent Price from THE PIT & THE PENDULUM that Amok Time put out. Years ago, we’d see this same thing as a resin model kit that we always had wanted to pick up. But now, for about the same price, you can get a statuette that comes already painted. So we just couldn’t pass it up. It has Vincent Price leaning over a pot of hot coals (that actually light up), holding a smoldering pincher. An amazing item for any collector.
It was long weekend, packed full of people and stuff going on all around. For the few problems that people might have run into, I think overall everyone had a great time. I know we did, and we be looking forward to the next HorrorHound show. They might need to get more space if they are going to continue on the path they are on. Job well done, guys.
MASK FEST 2010