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Archive for July, 2019


essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Hazard Con 2019

Conman54405417_823993254624547_1364624260852613120_n.jpgA man in a billowing black cloak approached me.

“Where were you yesterday? You would’ve been a shoe in at the masquerade!”

By my robotic side, my diminutive companion, resplendent in her Pokémon gear giggled. It was Sunday morning at Hazard Con.

In all fairness, I’m really not much more than a tourist when it comes to anime. However, my daughter just turned 13 and is slowly finding herself more and more ensconced n the genre – and she anticipates Anime conventions now with equal or greater interest than comic book conventions. While I had previously been content to include one every year, I get the impression we’re going to be hitting more of these as time goes on.

I had recently become aware of Hazard Con, though I never attended it before. It’s been about a decade since I need to drive into Erie Pennsylvania (is Erie Horror Fest even still a thing anymore?). It’s about two hours from Cleveland, but it’s not a hard drive – you basically drive in a straight line on a single freeway for the entire trip, the convention 67330188_2613366932041047_1082462003475251200_ncenter being attached to a hotel that sits right by the exit.

We had chosen to come on Sunday for a couple of reasons. Hazard con does not offer single day passes for Friday or Saturday, you either by the weekend pass for $40 or simply go on Sunday when the admission is reduced to $15. Because it’s Sunday, hours are little shorter as well, with things closing up around 5 o’clock. That’s fine, I wasn’t even certain that Maddie would make it all the way to 5 o’clock. Besides, this seemed like a nice low key opprutunity to try out the newly repaired Voltron costume and see how the changes held up. Maddie for her part, was looking forward to bringing out her Serena outfit again.

In addition to a vendor‘s room, Hazard Con also sports a flea market – held for half a day in one of the panel rooms. If you think the dealers room is eclectic, you ain’t seen nothing 67408675_2613366812041059_2005463660935249920_nyet! Movies and toys in bits and bobs littered the tables, and we resolved to come back and check it out a little bit later – that ended up being a mistake since we misjudged how long the market would last and by the time we returned, they were all packing up.

As we pressed further into the convention center, we passed the movie room, then rounded the corner and found ourselves face-to-face with a giant robot. I don’t just mean someone in a costume like a Voltron outfit I was wearing. No, there was an actual eight or 9 foot replica of one of the giant robots from Pacific Rim. Next to it was a small one person land speeder and they were both gorgeous! We took photos by the props before hassling into Kyle Herbert’s panel. Kyle is a voice actor – and an incredibly prolific one. He was a regular at the late and lamented Shinbokou Con. It was good to hear his casual and self-deprecating humor as 67641557_2613367058707701_3859623758700478464_nhe hosted a very informal panel – more of a talk with those of us in the crowd and the sort of easy back-and-forth that Herbert excels at.

Once his panel concluded, we proceeded to explore further – the vendor‘s room was in an adjacent wing. It seemed bigger than the ones I’ve seen at Woo-Con or Zipcon, but perhaps it was just the floor plan. Being set up in the atrium, the bright mid-day sun poured down on the room creating a warm and positive atmosphere – it was a remarkable effect. Inside, Maddie spotted a No-Face – one of the characters from Spirited Away. I prodded her and encouraged her to go and ask for a photo. The cosplayer happily greeted her. The No-Face’s arms slowly emerged from the inky blackness of it’s costume, and you could see a gold coin offered up in the black hand. No-Face had come bearing gold, just as it had in it’s movie. They were chocolate 67494214_2613367435374330_7926014522999963648_ncoins, and Maddie happily accepted them.

“Come pet our table!” One vendor shouted out. We wandered over to her table and noted half of it was covered in color changing spangles, and the other half was covered in soft fur.  Among the curious wares were little stuffed dumpings. Each came with an adoption certificate and back story. Maddie had already dumped her con allowance into a pokeball with a small Pokemon and candy inside. I decided to grab a dumpling to take home to Lydia. It was by far the cutest thing I found in that dealer’s room. I grabbed a “Bag of Cheap” for myself and was excited to discover the blind bag contained Tenchi and Cyber City Odeo DVDs! I was hoping for Japanese candy – some of the more interesting Kit Kats or something, but didn’t find anything that really interested me. Nevertheless, I grabbed some more deals on a Cap figure and some Cash movies, topped off with a couple of buttons for my con bag.

67327258_2613369828707424_3270078388529790976_nWe briefly checked out the tabletop room but they were between Pokémon tournament, and gaming is never really been a big thing for either of us. Around the corner and down in a separate hall we discovered the arcade. This game room flat-out puts to shame every convention video game room I’ve ever seen.Sure there were the tables with old systems  set up for retrogaming just as you would expect, but what really drew your eyes as you entered was the room packed full of Japanese arcade machines – over a dozen games the US has never seen. There are familiar games like Dance Dance Revolution and some 2D fighters, but they were outnumbered by rhythm games and flashing light and spectacle. Maddie’s favorite was a rhythm game that involves two gigantic drums. Two players standing side-by-side would try and keep the rhythm with the graphics on the 67262625_2613368198707587_2969431008522272768_nscreen. I enjoyed seeing the Genesis set up again and the other retro games, in fact I probably could’ve spent all day in this room alone, but anime was calling our names!

We broke for lunch briefly and then hit the Anime room for three episodes of Seven Seeds. The second episode is really scary with some monsters on board and I wondered how Maddie was going to react – this stuff is more serious then a lot of the light-hearted magical girl things she watches, but she was entranced – and when they finally ended this run to break for the next panel, she was already insisting that we need to find more of this. It’s on Netflix by the way, it’s some good post apocalyptic stuff which probably appeals to Maddie‘s Hunger Games and Walking Dead sensibilities. Next up was the Studio Ghibli panel. Even I’m familiar with Miyazaki, indeed Spirited Away was the first film out of his studio that I ever saw (coincidently that was at Lake Effect Comic Con). It was interesting to hear a little more about the history of the studio and the idiosyncrasies of its creators. We headed back to the Anime room, but somebody had turned the air-conditioning way up to uncomfortable levels. Perhaps they were just trying to save us from having to watch the terrible Godzilla animation. We made one last pass at the game room and decided to call it a day. I was correct, Maddie didn’t last all the way until five, though she may have if that Anime room had frozen us out. We made our way out to the car around 4:15 to start the long trip home. This is one of those cons that is the exact right size for me, not too big not too small – I just wish it was closer to home. Nevertheless it looks like this might be one we come back to next year,and  I’ll be interested in seeing what the guest list looks like then.



Death Kiss

franchisebannerindex.jpgDeath Kiss may have flickered on my radar a year ago but I forgot all about it and didn’t really notice it until I was pretty much done with this series. Death Kiss is a homage to the Bronson films of the 70’s, particularity the Death Wish films, and features a gimmick like no other.  A lookalike, standing in for Bronson.

The film opens with a very young looking Charles Bronson (younger now than he looked in most of the the Death Wish films, three and on) emerging out of the dark to patronize a pimp. He’s trafficking in underage girls and our Bronson lookalike takes him down with a quick pistol whipping. The blood flies quickly – and I note that it’s bloodier than what we used to see in the dearth wish films actually.

The Bronson lookalike is convincing until he opens his mouth and speaks to the dubbed dialogue. I almost wonder if they would’ve been better off just using the actual actor’s normal voice – even if it’s nothing like Bronson. After all we know that’s not actually images3Chuck walking on the screen. The look sometimes feels out of lace as well. While I’m sure his wardrobe was meant to be fashion neutral, it’s all comes off  as kind of vintage in a movie where all the other characters, settings, filters and cinematography are extremely 2018.

It’s honestly exactly the sort of film somebody would make if they were trying to make something LIKE a Death Wish film. It’s way closer than that awful “A Daughters Revenge” film I talked about last week.  It hits all the right elements – street gangs, big guns, it even attempt social commentary using Daniel images4.jpgBaldwin as a radio announcer (And I wonder how much of this was inspired by the media segments in the Death Wish remake) to deliver its anti-crime message. But it’s also ham fisted, and the filmmakers fail to capture the heart of the Bronson films.

It sounds like I’m down on this film, and I’m not necessarily… I’m down on what this film wanted to be. It’s a novelty piece rather than a fun low-budget action film. For a micro budget flick like this, the action and violence are really well done – it’s fun, there’s even some nostalgia seeing a young Bronson here, But index2it’s melancholy, because the lookalike, who’s trying his hardest, isn’t the talent Charles Bronson actually was. Bronson was a man with range and acting chops. This guy fires guns really well, but his overdubbed dialogue fails to move me.

This is a cool movie. Catch it where you can. Hopefully as a rental – I’m not convinced it’s worth the cost of the Blu-ray or iTunes download, but it is definitely worth seeing.

Hazardcon this weekend!

We’re heading out this Sunday to check out this show – it’s a new one to us, but Maddie wants to do more Anime cons! Don’t just wait for us though, Hazardcon runs all weekend at the Ambassador Banquet & Conference Center 7794 Peach St ( I-90 Exit 24 ), Erie, Pennsylvania 16509!



essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


box8filmsimages2I like the way broken start us off in a dreary rainy London – it puts me in just the right mood for this movie… Especially since I’m watching this in the middle of hurricane season.

Doctors and upper middle-class homes, Whiskey in a decanter,this could be a drama. That is, until a mirror breaks… Then things start to get spooky.

Beautifully shot, the movie draws you in to a feeling of unease with eerie images, views from inside the mirror, and numerous false jump scares.  they dole out the creep moments out slowly, with a dream sequence here, and a false start there. as we sink  into paranoia imposter syndrome takes hold. It’s a crazy slow burn to get to the third act, but we kickoff the final stretch of the film with brilliant and bloody kill that reveals exactly what’s going on.

I’m not sure how much rewatchability this has, but it’s definitely worth your time first time through – it’s a horror movie disguised as a thriller with well done twist at the end that ultimately satisfies.


essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday




BenSpidey-710x1024Every year during SanDiego Comic Con, Carol and John’s comic shop holds thier annual “Not at Comic Con” sale. Last year they partnered with the local North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club to host a swap meet in addition to the sale. The event was held just a few feet down fro the store, in the empty space CnJs uses for Free Comic Book Day. I missed it last year, but decided to pop in after Church and look around for a few minuets before heading home – I’m still looking for a Twiki to go with my Buck Rogers collection. I figured I’d be in and out real quick, after all, how big could it be?

You see that graphic? The one that says “Over 40 tables” with the number 40 crossed out and replaced with 70? THAT’S how big it could be. Forty tables crammed into the FCBD space with people shoulder to shoulder looking over wares. Outside, vendor tables lined the walls, stretching along the sidewalk from the grocery store to the Dollar Tree, with more occupying the space in front of the comic store. In the parking lot, a large section had been roped off, with tents and another twenty or more tables popping up amoungst the cars. There were more vendors than 67705163_2599502666760807_4923164807739211776_n_2599502663427474some comic conventions I’ve been too. It was like a smaller flea market, but without the porcelain teddy bears and antique lamps. Nothing but toys and comics and books as far as the eye could see.

What surprised me was the amount of comics on sale. Tons of quarter bins and fifty cent comics. They may actually have outnumbered the dollar comics. I’ve lamented in recent years that the quarter bins seem to be vanishing from the convention scene – and to be fair, there were more here than I’ve seen at any recent conventions I’ve gone to, nevertheless, this gives me hope. I went crazy in these longboxes, grabbing dozens of issues – particularly Superman and Dark Avengers.

I never did locate a Twiki (or any other Buck Rogers toys for that matter) and I must say I showed admirable restraint in not pulling the triger on MULTIPE Talon Fighters, complete with Point Dread.  I picked up two Sabrina mangas for Maddie for a dollar each (and sour patch kids for Lydia next door at the dollar store – have to be fair!), as well as a cute Hulkbuster plushie and a Masters of the Universe Snakeman, also for a dollar each. The Snakemen may not have 67061464_2599504800093927_5906164087422713856_n_2599504790093928been my favorite of the He-Man villians, but for a buck? I’m buying that Rattlor!

The real find of the day though (and the one that, combined with the quarter bins, made me go over budget) was a loose Doctor Who figure. It’s a #3 – My doctor. Even more importantly, he was in green, and wearing calf boots. He was perfect and priced so low that it was a steal.  I can’t even begin to express how excited this purchase made me.

I couldn’t believe I’d been there almost two hours. I never expected something so big or to find the deals that I did. This was actually pretty fun, and may just become a regular annual stop for me.

Pekar Park Comic Fest

Conman67134062_2598019236909150_873194695549779968_n_2598019233575817This was one of those weekends where there was too much going on to choose. Over in Eastlake, my buddy Ed was heading out to Weplcon, while I noticed Mark and Brandi hitting Grossfest in Pittsburg. Maddie had already bailed on Geekfest in Akron (which I was planning on skipping anyhow – great show, but it’s always EXACTLY the same thing every year) and I figured I would just take the weekend off.

Then a notification popped up in my feed from Craig, a friend from Panels : The Comic Club. Pekar Park Comic fest was also happening this weekend up in Cleveland Heights. I haven’t been out to Coventry since Big Fun moved out. The heights district just seemed to lose some of it’s soul when the shop shot down. Still, this is an event that’s been around for a long time, a celebration of indie comic artist Harvy Pekar and as such, very focused on that style of comic book. When I say “Indie” by the way, I don’t mean Image and Dark horse. I mean R Crumb, American Splender, underground comix and the ‘Zine scene. I noticed that Urban Otaku was also involved, taking a good 1/3 – 1/2 of the activities, infusing the event with a significant anime influence. It’s a show that I’ve always meant to get out to, but keep forgetting about. That and the screening of My Friend Dahmer, complete with a Q and A afterwards was enough to get me moving.

While screenings and panels are held in the library, normally the vendors and most of  the events set up outside, but this weekend Cleveland was in the middle of a record heat wave and the decision had been made to move as much as possible indoors. Vendors were split between the Library and the Grog Shop across the street. A tent popped up to give shade to the chalk art section and the cosplay fashion show had been moved to the Grog shop.

I settled into the screening room at the Library around noon for the anime shorts. Some confusion with the laptop led to us watching One Small Step three times. Still, Control67759688_2598019323575808_7886950025916317696_n_2598019320242475 Bear and Out of Sight were charming. On Your Mark  and Poulette’s Chair were beautifully done and Cat’s Run was lighthearted and fun – almost loony toons meets Anime.

I ran out into the artist alley while Urban Otaku set up for their panel, grabbing stickers for the girls, a flyer here, a zine there, and a couple of indie graphic novels I’ve never heard of before. I was back in time for Pocky at the Anime panel where we discussed the history, themes and diverse art styles in Anime. Just over a dozen people filled out the back room and we each went around sharing names and our favorite anime. The moderators kept conversation flowing, tossing candy and pocky to anyone who answered questions and participated in the discussion.

Afterwards, I decided to head over to the Grog shop and check out what was going on over there. An entire second set of artists and vendors were set up inside the club, but I never made it across the street. Between the Library and the shop, I ran into the chalk art contest.  As I was looking around I noticed a few empty squares. A quick watch check showed me I had well over an hour before the next panel that I was interested in, so I grabbed a square 67107203_2598020013575739_7590693803292360704_n_2598020006909073near some pastels and pulled up a reference picture of Stitch on my phone before rendering him on the sidewalk.

Before I knew it, an hour had passed and I realized I needed to  move my car from one of the three hour parking spots to a different one. My phone was dead so I sat and charged it for about ten minuets (enough to be able to take more pictures)  while I read one of my new comics.

Recharged and ready to go, I popped into Mac’s Back bookstore for a moment (Used book shops are becoming an increaing rarity in northeast Ohio and I hate to miss an opportunity to browse one) then moved on to the Grog Shop for the other vendors. Scott (Formerly of Comics are Go, and writer of the book by the same name) caught me near the entrance and we talked about NEO comic con coming up in two weeks. The summer is flying by. A little further down, one of the Urban Otaku guys was there and pointed out my Excel Saga shirt.

“Much respect for the old school anime,” he told me. We chatted a while about the different eras in the genre and reminisced about the late and lamented Retropolis – an anime store hidden near the border of Lakewood. It was a closet. A hole in the wall that you could only find if you actually knew about it. This sort of lace could only exist back in the days when the only way to get certain anime was to pirate it – THEN transfer it to VHS. Funny, most of my Anime collection is STILL on VHS.

67191099_2598020516909022_7106243035859517440_n_2598020513575689I realized I had missed the last two panels but made it back to the Library in time for the film screening. My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel as infamous in Cleveland as it’s subject matter. Told from the perspective of a high school friend, it chronicles serial killer Jeffery Dahmer’s adolescence and was only recently made into a film. As the end credits rolled, the author of the book wandered in.

“Hi, I’m Derf,” he said in a friendly, casual tone. Derf took up a spot in the corner and proceeded to field questions about the graphic novel and how the movie may have altered certain parts to fit the narrative. The director had done a great deal of research to expand the story beyond Derf’s work, detailing events that hadn’t been a part of his experience. I sat, fascinated.

Afterwards, as the library was kicking us out so they could close, derf signed an autograph for one person and took a photo with a young lady who had mentioned they were studying his work in her college class.

“Do you get extra credit for getting a photo with me?”

“I better!”

You know, I had come out to the comic fest on a whim, mostly out of curiosity. I wasn’t sure I’d stay that long, but they managed to keep me engaged and entertained all day. It was well past seven before I made the walk down the block to my car. I had a good time here. A REALLY good time, and I wish I’d made it out sooner.




essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

Death Wish : Another Beginning

franchisebanner300px-DW6cWhat the actual eff.

No, I mean it. While I was doing research on this series I happened across a mention of a film titled “Death Wish : Another Beginning” with a beautiful cover and a VERY vague description that tenuiously links it to the Death Wish series.



Allan A. Goldstein presents a MARC VORLANDER FILM

Experience the world of director Marc Vorlander for the first time.

Immerse yourself in a bizarre world of arthouse, action and provocation.

No movie is like this !!!”

I couldn’t find this thing anywhere. After more searching (and more expense that I deathwishwant to admit) I managed to get a copy shipped to me from Germany. I grabbed my region free player and fired it up.

I don’t understand what this thing is.

It starts off with an interview with Allan Golstein who is indeed the producer of the classic films. He chats about the death wish movies for a bit and then we move into what passes for a story. We get a few shot-on-video segments of sorta actors pretending to be cops looking for the Vigilante and a girl who claims (in the last scenes) to be his daughter. (Don’t read too much into that description. It’s more detailed than the actual segments). These skits, sloppily shot with production values lower than the sketchiest porn videos, serve as bookends for long music video presentations that have little or nothing to do with SIGNALS_X.pngthe narrative.

This thing is garbage. Don’t let the slick looking packaging fool you – this video is worse than amateur quality. My best guess is that it was done to be a promotional vehicle to the band who’s CD is included (as a bonus! Ugh.). It’s got nothing to do with the Death Wish series and I have to wonder if Goldman is even aware of it.

The DVD appears to only have been released in Germany and perhaps a few European backwaters. Feel free to avoid it. If you’re desperate to see it, contact me. I’ll give you a copy. I plan on pirating the crap out of this trash.


essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

Yahpett Koto

AutographsYahpett is one of those legendary actors that you sometimes can’t believe is real. It was such a cool thing to actually get to meet him!13139345_1178202745557480_6872030205089383459_n


essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

From Within

box8filmsimages4From Within starts off with a bang!  With blood and death and pervasive shadows it hits the ground running. In a small religious town, suicides start to break out and yet, one has to wonder if that’s what’s really going on.

We don’t get our first monster in till the half hour mark, but when we do – it’s a doozy. As we continue on, the local town begin to suspect a curse has been laid by the local village witch– she was murdered before the movie begins, But her, children remain.

In a last ditch effort to reverse the curse, the witches son grabs the local pastors daughter to search for the witches last grimoire, but will it be enough?

Despite being wonderfully creepy, I can’t stand behind this one. The film bothers me in its portrayal of Christians in a very red state in a very Hollywood stereotypical display.  I’m never a fan of these sort caricatures, and I get the feeling that someone has an axe to grind. The betrayal of the wiccans isn’t any more accurate, it’s very Hollywood magic. All around it gets up my nose enough to make me pass on this one.


essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

Jor-El and the Superman family






essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

Death Game

franchisebannerMV5BMTM0MTAwNTUwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTYxMzAwMQ@@._V1_.jpgI know it’s not strictly a death wish film – but Death Game actually has a right to be included in the series as this film did start off life as Death Wish six; the new vigilante . I’m not sure how much of the DNA from that script that remains, I can’t find anything else out about it… But, after Canon folded, Mannerheim rolled Death Wish six into this. The movie starts out with the “new Canon” logo. New Canon? What the actual heck?

The credits are annoyingly captured freeze frames and have a basketball game which set up the team star player being quoted by the mob. The coach tries to intervene in the players personal life and gets beaten up for his troubles. Interestingly enough, the Masters house appears to be the same one used in deathwish5 . If it’s not, as exterior sure you look the same. Inside, Billy Dragos it’s on the throne of swords, long before Game of thrones was created. He meets with yours and Ryan resemble more closely at the Doug Koller death which movies then the masters of the later ones.

That has finally arrived at the coaches house wearing nylon masks – the least effective nylon mask at that! Still have this weird hybrid mobster in the street… they’re after the coaches kit, but luckily the most precious pug ever is protecting him and all they manage to do is murder the dog.

index.jpgIt is just a shot across the bow go as we find ourselves in more familiar death wish territory with an assault on the wife about halfway through the film. It’s an ugly one and the catalyst to buy and reset the coach off on his vengeful killing spree. Kind of any help, he’s really only going after Billy Drago and his guns – and those mobsters shoot like storm troopers… Automatic weapons that can’t hit a thing! It culminates in to do that at the end and is basketball and 18 like slo-mo game win. At the end of the day, it’s half deathwish and it’s easy to see why this didn’t go anywhere.


essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

Iron Man and Friends


15135753_1342970545747365_6185691983144285167_n 15107321_1342970619080691_5196337997659427952_n14021508_1256973741013713_6071499101879785004_n

Have I mentioned that Iron Man has gotten zombified just like Batman did? Amazing how often that happens…..


Dark X-Fest 2019

Conman65511938_2561231197254621_7254725780473643008_nI heard nothing but good things about last winter’s Dark X-Mas. This combined with the stellar gust list they were boasting made it a no-brainer to hit Dark X-Fest this summer. With admission at $15 ($13 if you pre-ordered), the only thing to worry about was getting out there. Hudson is a good drive from me, but it ended up being a shorter ride than I expected, and one hour beats the two and and a half to five hour drives I’ve been known to embark on when I hit out of state shows. Still, the hotel was out in the middle of nowhere and I almost drove past it thinking “This can’t be the place”. Seriously, the desolate and solitary hotel looks like something straight up out of a horror movie. You expect to see bodies in the dumpsters out back and creepy semi-transparent children wandering around the lonely stretches of road outside. I parked in the front, right by the sign (Which said nothing about the convention being at the hotel….), near the entrance I had driven in from. This was not the correct entrance. There was another lobby in the BACK of the hotel that would lead to the convention area. I’d end up moving my car later once I’d gotten my bearings.

A pre-ordered pass allowed you to get into the show a half hour early. If you were counting on that however, you were out of luck. The doors were open, but half the 65550794_10219162137955462_955527221454307328_nvendors and most of the guests weren’t there. The entire show started about a half hour behind it’s posted schedule and that’s a really bad way to kick off the day. I wasn’t pleased. After the poor organization at the last two shows I’d been to this year, I really wasn’t in the mood for more. It would cause them to run a half hour late for most of the day and eventually jettison the Sleepaway Camp panel altogether to catch up (Monster Bash usually runs late like this as well, but that’s because events run long, not because they start late).

The vendor’s room itself was well planned and flowed., set up into two distinct segments. An electric chair  was visible as you wandered in and if you dared to sit down in it the chair would light up and vibrate with a lout buzzing. I found a group of guest in the back but was confused – I could swear there were more. I exited the dealer’s room in search of the movie room and panel room. There was an alcove that opened up past the inflatable Pennywise clown. Before a long hallway, there were doors to the “Chainsaw Room”. All the guests from TCM as well as some makeup guests were there.

Down the hall and guarded by a giant Stay Puft marshmallow man, one room was set aside for movies, and another, with chairs and tables served as the panel room. It was like a small classroom from college, with each row 65591939_2561231287254612_6769429205131198464_nelevated above the other. The guest would sit at the bottom and talk. The room filled up fast, with the tables actually limiting how many people could watch a panel. Fortunately, the attendance was low enough to mostly accommodate the setting, and only a few people ended up sitting on the floor to listen to gusts talk about their work.

Autographs were generally $20-$30, and most people weren’t upcharging for photos. All of this was a nice change from the gouging that’s been pervading the con scene lately. Makeup artist Alan Tuske wouldn’t take any money for autographs (“I’m just here to hang out with the fans!”) and Walking Dead zombie Dusty Horne would only take five dollars if you brought your own piece, then he’d insist on taking photos (“Lets do one normal, and then one scary one!”). Even Alyssa Levine, Zelda from the new Pet Semetary film, was only charging $20 (I’m seeing WAY to many new actors asking for twice that).

Felissa Rose’s line was halfway down the length of the vendors room early in the day. I figured I’d bide my time and by the time I finally got around to her, the line was gone and she was chatting with Paul T. Taylor (The newest Pinhead from Hellraiser Judgement) from the table next to her. As I approached they greeted me and included me in the conversation.

“…and a lot of times, it’s like you get just a side eye,” Felissa was saying.

“Well, that’s the thing,” Paul replied. “One eye is safe. It’s casual, but two eyes is intimate. Looking someone into both of their eyes creates a connection.” He mimed looking at her with one eye, and then gave her both. She turned to me and looked into both my eyes. I almost immediately felt uncomfortable, but suppressed an urge to turn. Paul was right. This was more intimate, and I hadn’t even realized it.

“That’s exactly it,” Paul explained. “We don’t even realize we’re doing it.” Felissa nodded as Paul pulled out his phone. “Especially since we’re always walking around like this -” he then stared with both eyes at the screen. Felissa laughed and shook.

“Wow,” she said.

“I know,” Paul said with some disbelief. “That was a hell of a pep talk…”

“That was totally better than an energy drink!” Felissa continued to laugh as she greeted me in earnest. I unrolled my Victor Crowley poster. The last time I’d spoken with Felissa it had been right after I went to see the movie during Adam Green’s tour. When we’d chatted about it she was able to tell her assistant about how he’d done it in secret. “It was like Finally! I’d been dying to tell someone and she is one of my best friends and I was 65663806_2559373164107091_7337680539765178368_n_2559373157440425about to burst!”. I’d just recently re-watched it in preparation for the con. I still think. it’s the best in all the Hatchet series, and Felissa is the best thing about it, something I told her. Seriously, I want to see more of that character from her.

“Oh my God, when Adam told me what I had to do with her I was just like I can’t!” It really is a horrible character and brilliantly broad comedy. I slipped her the cash fot the autograph and after she handed me change, she stopped me.

“Hang on, I really want to sign something TO you. Grab a photo from the table.” I did and she signed it to me, then insisted on taking photos with me. She hugged me and and told me to come out for karaoke later. I mentioned that if I did, it would be with a different face (and a Jason puppet) She screamed in delight and promised to watch for me. I love Felissa. She’s always one of my favorite guests.

66259002_2559372930773781_1761687450427588608_n_2559372927440448Paul T. Taylor is no slouch either. He gets a lot of hate from certain parts of the Hellraiser fan base who really believe only Doug Bradley can be Pinhead. I’m not one of those people though I’ll readily admit I prefer Doug. So does Paul for that matter.

Paul is fun to talk to – he’s a real fan who’s steeped in the lore, from the movies to the comics (as far as  talking about how much he’d love to see Kirsty as Pinhead, the way the Boom series had done). It was really illuminating to talk to him about how he approached the character as well as how the movie had been reshot at the close of filming. The original ending was actually completely different, and made way more sense than what actually made it to film. I did a re-watch of Judgment when I got home with a whole new appreciation for the film.

One of the nice things about the recent horror cons popping up in Ohio is the familiar faces. With more in the immediate area, I’m far more likely to have friends there to hang out with. I spied Jason and Tina unloading their car as I moved from the front of the hotel to the back where the entrance was. He greeted me and let me know Beetlejuice 64251034_10219162138275470_8091847827388366848_nwould be down later. Inside, I rounded a corner and comletely unexpectedly ran into Jen and Mark, in a group with Jennifer and Chris. I haven’t seen these guys in a while and it was good to be able to hang out for a while. Sarah was set up at a vendor’s table and Steve Eggs caught up with me just after I gored up. Randy was there with teh Retro invasion and Lily absolutely need a photo with me. Mark showed up with his wife Erin and the Black Leaf Coven decked out in thier creepy finest. It was cool to actually be able to see Cliff in his new burlap costume. He’d been showing me photos at the screening of Annabelle Comes Home, but in person is a whole different experience.

Mark caught me as I was popping outside and between drags of a cigarette asked when I was getting made up.

“Right now!,” I exclaimed, heading to my car to make the transformation into Freddy freddypollKruger. Freddy wasn’t a capricious choice, I had actually run another poll during the week to see what people wanted to see creeping around Dark X-Fest. It was a much closer result than the previous one. Uncle Frank took an early lead, but ultimately Freddy prevailed.

I actually went into makeup early, because the day was hot. At 92 degrees outside, I was worried about how my Freddy makeup was holding up in the hot car. Even with the windows down, the temperature is enough to melt glue and dry latex. I had my appliance spread out around my had like a dummy head, keeping it streched and preventing pieces from sticking together. Still, there was some separation by the nose. No biggie. I’d planned on doing patchups anyhow. When the photos came back from Free Comic Book Day, I noticed that the beard by the corner of my mouth hadn’t been entirely covered by the chin and latex. I’d resolved to fix that with this application. I flattened my facial hair with beeswax and applied the adhesives. Between repairs, application and coloring with makeup and blood gel, the entire process 65310964_2559377110773363_9198146907946352640_n_2559377107440030only took a satisfying forty minuets. I’d be done in time for the Hellraiser panel. There had been paint leftover from fixing up Mr. Freeze for Akron Canton Comic Con last week, so I had used some on my glove to help make the blades look more metal than plastic. I had brought the ripped sweater that opened to reveal Freddy’s chest of souls. To push the absurdity just a touch further I’d be carrying a large puppet Jason with me. He’d actually been built a couple of years prior with this very idea in mind, but it happened to take me this long to break out Freddy again.

I had decided to go hard with the costume this time around since the show was sponsoring  a costume contest. While this isn’t exactly as common in the horror convention scene as it is with comicons, it does seem to be filtering in slowly. A lot of haunters love these kind of shows and are eager for the opportunity to strut thier stuff. With only one winner in the adult and kids categories though, I wasn’t expecting to nab a win, but wanted to make a good showing. To my delight, the trophy went to Mark’s Black Leaf Coven. I love it when good things happen to my friends. But even better was who won the kids/teen division. The previous week I had gushed over a killer Ronald 66051661_2559377277440013_1241613489802313728_n_2559377274106680McDonald at Akron Canton Comic Con. It was my absolute favorite costume that day and I was disappointing she didn’t win any awards there. She won the kids/teen division at Dark X-Fast and it absolutely made my day (especially beating out that Michael Myers as a furry…..don’t ask).

As the day was winding down I had finally discovered where the show had been hiding Alan Tuskes (in the back corner of the Chainsaw room, past the vendors). I nipped out to the car and grabbed my folder of Items to be signed. As I was coming in I was greeted by a dude with half his face gone. he was hanging out with a reasonable facimile of Glen from Nightmare on Elm Street who both wanted to chat and take photos. We ran over to where the pro photo ops had been – they were done now so we borrowed thier backdrop to take our own pictures. Freddy fought the baseball bat 65971406_2559377570773317_6077555053722337280_nand gored Glen as amused passerbys watched.

We talked a little about our outfits and upcoming plans. The dude wanted to get a Brain Damage costume going with an articulate Elmier. I mentioned that I loved doing suits were things ride on the shoulder and described how I had gotten Baby Groot and my Borg Tribble to sit on my shoulder using magnets. His eyes went wide.

“I never thought of mounting him with magnets! Dude, this is what I love about cons and talking to other cosplayers. The way other people figure out how to do things a way you’d never come up with yourself!”

Finally I was making my way over to Tuskes. I actually caught him on the way over to the dealers room (which I feel bad about), but he was excited to talk – he’d been watching my exchange with the other guys. He poked my chest of souls with an index finger.

“Is that…?” he inquired knowingly. I nodded in acknowledgement. “Great stuff. That expanding foam stuff for cracks and insulation.” He loved it and waved me to follow him over to his corner. Tuskes looked over my collection of pictures appreciatively. As he came to the Dusk Till Dawn 8×10, he asked if I’d ever heard the story of how the film got made. I admitted I haden’t and he proceeded to spin the yarn about Tarintino’s early days at the video store and how the script originally came to him before he really hit. After True Romance and Resivoir Dogs, the studio were asking if he had anything more. Out of his back pocket came Dusk Till Dawn, but he couldn’t direct it. I’m sure this is a story most peole have heard, but it’s exactly what I love about these kind of shows, hearing the stories of the industry straight from the mouths of those who were there. 

65311420_1292255877596366_8145436310434217984_nI found myself so busy during the show that I only made it to about half of one film. I should have spent more time in that movie room. It was about ten degrees cooler than the rest of the convention space. Still, it was worth it. I caught both the Hellraiser panel and the Sean Whalen’s talk. I had stuck around so I could see the Sleepaway camp panel next (which never happened) and found my self captivated by his stories – and the image of homer Simpson in a moo-moo on his shirt.

I probably ended up staying later than I intended to, but that’s the sign of a good show.despite the bad start, I really came away from Dark X-Fest feeling like I’d gotten a real convention experience and had a great time. I’m really digging this show and hope to make it out to the Dark X-Mas show later this year.