Maddie was enthralled from the moment we reached the doors and saw the Dragula. She really wanted to get in it, but being roped off, I was a little wary to let her. We also passed a green Creature of the Black Lagoon car. The creature car was so cute, with details on the sides, a plushie creature in the front seat and back window, and a liscence plate reading “creech”.
We got inside in time for morning cartoons. Maddie has never seen Woody Woodpecker or Chilly Willy, but recognized Bugs Bunny at least. a lot of fun watching and she laughed through it all. She also discovered the Three Stooges here. I don’t know that she’d seek them out, but she had fun watching them, describing them as weird but funny.
We got in and started to meet some of the guests. Judith O’Dea is someone I wanted to meet for a good while now. She’s the last surviving cast member from Night of the Living Dead that I haven’t gotten to see and she was a delight. Very friendly and outgoing. Maddie marched right up to her and I introduced her. She smiled and greeted Maddie and asked “You haven’t SEEN this movie have you?” Maddie smiled and admitted she’d only seen part of it (you may remember that we only made it through about half of it at the OSS zombie walk). They talked about how it’s scarier in Black and white, and I handed over my poster to be signed. I love it when people look over my posters to see who have signed it before them. She seemed to have a lot of fun looking at all the names spread across it, remembering the people – especially ones like Bill Hinzman who is no longer with us.
I also took Maddie over to see John Russo. This was always part of the plan for the day. Even though I wasn’t planning on buying something over at his table this time around (I have several times in the past) Maddie wanted to meet the person who created zombies and I thought he was a good choice, having written the screenplay for Night of the Living Dead with George Romero. He was extremely friendly with her and seemed genuinely pleased to hear her questions. Maddie asked how he came up with the idea for zombies.
He replied “Well when George and I were working on the story we wanted to start it in a cemetery – because cemeteries are creepy. We knew someone was chasing Barbra, but didn’t know who. I suggested it could be a dead person – and it went on from there.”
Finally Maddie asked how he learned to make a movie. He told her about going to the movies all the time a as kid and reading a lot. These things gave him ideas from making his own films. Maddie mentioned that she liked going to the movies too. He told her she could grow up to make them herself if she worked at it. Maddie said” It might even be easier now, with tape and video and things…” Russo loved that and told her (and later me) that she was very smart. Before we moved on he pulled out a trading card with his picture on it from Night of the Living Dead, and agave her an autograph.
You know, it seems like all day people were giving Maddie stuff. A led bouncy ball from the WOW table, suckers from one booth, a temporary tattoo from another. during our last pass through the dealers room, Maddie stopped to admire some coffins one of the artists had created. He asked which was her favorite and she pointed out the Dracula one. He told her that she could keep it.
We finally made it back to the film room for Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. The Abbott and Costello impersonators were back this year and introduced the movie, much to our delight. The lobby had been set up with elements from the films which was a great way of setting the mood. It was Maddie’s first time seeing any of these monsters on screen (outside of cartoon fare like Hotel Transylvania). I think that in our modern day, we forget how truly scary the Universal monsters can be. The transformation of the wolfman terrified Maddie and she cuddled close to me when the monsters were menacing people on screen. The comedy helped and afterwards she declared that she loved it! however she allowed that the monsters were a little scary. Not as scary as she finds zombies though.
Back to the dealers room for an autograph and to find something for Lydia. I did get around to meeting Joel Hodgson, but have to admit, he seemed like he was bored with the whole event. He was friendly, but didn’t seem to really want to be there. His manager was a little weasel, and his prices were a little outrageous. All in all, not a great experience. Tom Savini was also he normal reticent self. I have to assume it’s just an awkwardness with people he doesn’t know. I can relate to that, but on the other hand, I watched on fan talk to (at) him for ten minuets, and while he nodded and acknowledged her, he never looked up from his iPad. On the other hand, he is fun and charming in every panel I’ve ever seen him in, not to mention amazing during the fencing match he participated in with the show runners daughter.
This was really fun to watch by the way. They had a strip set up to monitor hits while the ref kept score. Apparently this isn’t their first bout either. In a pervious match, Paisley won. Tom attributes this to the fact that she’s 17 and he’s….*ahem* a senior citizen (His words, not mine!). Apparently a few years ago, one of her friends was over at Toms table looking at the photos, trying to decide which to get, and she found a fencing one. Tom was originally up for the role in The Mask of Zorro when Robert Rodregiouz was still attached to direct. When he left the film, the role went to Antonio Banderas and Tom was really disappointed about this, but came away with a knowledge of swordplay.
I spent the match cheering for Paisley, while Maddie cheered Tom on. The goal was best two out of three rounds, five touches each. Double touches allowed. It came down to the last round. Each had one win, each had four touches. Paisley lunged, Tom came in under her arm and DOUBLE TOUCH. Tie match. The ref laughed and shook his head. “There are no ties in fencing!” One more engarde and Tom took the win.
After lunch we headed back for the storytelling part of the show. This is something new that they did t his year, exploring the roots of oral tradition and urban legends, then telling some stories along the way. It was half panel and half entertainment, but very well done. Maddie loves being told stories (she made me tell her the story of Dracula on the way home) and this was a great addition, and a good example of how kid friendly this convention is.
We elected to leave shorly after the Monster kid home movies that they do, as it was getting late, the dealers room was closing and we; have to wait out another film that Maddie didn’t want to see before getting to the Abbott and Costello tribute show and cake. Still, despite leaving a bit early we had a great time and Maddie was estatic. She ended up buying an old Wonder Woman cup to bring home for Lydia.
Lydia’s Eyes lit up when maddie presented it to her and Lydia almost tackled Maddie hugging her. I like these too, they were Burger King premiums originally. I had a Superman one when I was a kid.
She also bought a set of trading cards for herself. She found some old “Fright Flicks” cards – another item I remember having as a kid. They feature pictures of monsters on them with funny sayings on the bottom and spooky stories on the back. The vendor handed them over to her with the warning “Don’t eat the gum. It’s older than I am!”
I do believe we will be back next year. Maddie really loved it and talked non-stop about it to both her mother and sister about it. In fact, next year…it may be Lydia’s turn to come too.
Frankenstein is EVERYWHERE!
Monster Bash really does have one of the best dealer’s rooms around.
I was so excited to find this. It’s a vintage eraser. There was a whole line of these back when Masters of the Universe first came out. I only ever had a Merman one, which I always substituted for the figure when I was a kid. I found this for a dollar in one of the booths.
One last note, we’ll be featuring Monster Bash all week this week on Violent Blue! Head on over and check it out!
I managed to scrape together enough money for admission and gas well most of the gas anyhow, I did end up borrowing a little from my gas allowance from work to get back home. Bash offers a great deal of fun stuff to do and see that’s included with the admission, starting the day off with cartoons where they serve you cereal – then moving on to old serials on the same screen. I love that stuff.
I really wish Bash would add a second movie screen, and kind of hoped that the move to the new hotel would do that. It’s a big enough con to have a couple things going all the time, but sadly, no luck. Still it has things going for it that no other show does.
The stand-ups and wax figures are such a great touch. You don’t see much of this around other cons and it fits in perfectly with the old B-Movie theme. This year there was a small wax display in one room, a very cool attraction I could have spent all sorts of time staring in.
One thing that Bash is also a little deficient on is cosplay. We all know I love my costumes and really, that’s never a big part of horror cons. But Bash is so low on cosplayers that they actually have to manufacture their own!
I did manage to say hello to John Saxon during the day, and we discussed the passing of Jim Kelly who had been doing shows with him recently. John told me he had seen Jim no less than three weeks before his death, and you’d never have been able to tell he was sick.
I also got around to the Munster table to meet Butch Patrick and Pat Priest. These two are regulars on the con circuit, but it was still my first time seeing them. I’m very much more of an Addams Family guy, but their panel was still interesting – particularly how they addressed the so-called “rivalry” between the shows. I can’t say I really came away with a better understanding of the series, but it was fun to watch them talk.
Who I DID come away with a greater appreciation for, was Shemp Howard.
I’m not a stooges fan in the first place, but I know them and watched them here and there and I subscribed to the general consensus that the Shemp ones weren’t nearly as good as the Curly ones. Everyone knows that right?
Shemp’s daughter in Law and his granddaughter were there along with some Bash mods who are also a bit of historians on the subject. I had no Idea that Shemp was so accomplished in Hollywood before doing the Stooges films.
I also had no idea that he was with the Stooges before Curly.
The original line up was Moe and Shemp, along with another actor who got top billing. As time went on, they added Larry Fine, and when Hollywood came calling, they came for Shemp first. He broke into films before the Stooges, and he and Moe decided to add Curly to the mix. After Curly’s stroke, Moe convinced Shemp to come back.
One thing about the new hotel, that dealer’s room is huge. It feels bigger than it has in past years and that’s a great thing
Well, that’s a great thing if you’re not broke.
When you’re at a convention, you kill time in the dealer’s room between screenings or panels and this was no exception. I was really bummed because I found some fascinating things I really wanted – someone had a DVD of the young Frankenstein musical that’s touring right now! A beautiful volume on the history of the Shadow and another on the history of the Green Hornet. The early student films of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell! The Zacherly scrapbook! ARRRGGGH!
To be fair, I didn’t walk away entirely empty handed, I had four dollars tucked away to bring home goodies for my girls and I stretched that like you wouldn’t believe, loading up candy, tiny monsters, bat rings (which I put in little coffin containers I already had at home) and Simpsons Halloween action figures
Some short Monster kid films by the resident filmmaker Brian Nichols. One of his movies was a retrospective of short spots his daughters had done with him, with the full knowledge that this would likely be the last movie they make with their daddy. Yeah, I know how this goes. There’s a reason I take my girls to cons and zombie walks. There’s a reason we do skits for church at least once a month. Don’t worry Brian, I’m not letting that time slip by either.
I ended the night by hitting the Abbott and Costello tribute show. It was fine. Not a big fan of the first routine, but the next couple were fun and they capture the spirit of the pair. I’m glad they ended it with a Who’s on First routine…then again they kind of have too.
There’s more going on after that, but it was after nine and I had a three hour drive ahead of me so I headed back to Cleveland. I saw in the program however that Judith O’Dae and Barbra Steel are coming next year so you know I’ll be back – and maybe I can arrange to have my daughters with me next year. 8 and 6 should be old enough…..
Now, most of the negative reviews I’ve seen generally fall into two categories :
The first is people who don’t like horror. Why these people would go see a movie titled “Evil Dead” I have no idea, but there are countless IMDB reviews complaining about violence, the excessive gore, even coining the phrase “Gore Porn” I guess the term “Torture Porn” has gotten played out.
The second category is people who are devotees of the original. This is the far greater category, those who revere the original film and prize it as a Horror classic.
It’s these folks especially that I have an issue with.
I like the Evil Dead movies. They possibly get more attention from me than they might otherwise because of their status as cult classics. More than once I’ve been known to marathon them, and for me an Evil Dead marathon includes not only the three films, but also “Within the Woods” (the short film made to finance Evil Dead- a sort of proof of concept), both of the musicals (not only “boomstick”, which everyone knows, but also the small production that was done without authorization in Chicago and shut down quickly) and a copy of Evil Dead along with the live commentary done at Cinema Wasteland a few years ago.
I’ve tried to get into the Army of Darkness comics from Dynamite, but really the only ones that really worked for me was the crossover with the Marvel Zombies. When I see them at Half price books though, I usually get them. On my wall is a print of Tom Sullivan’s original poster, sporting the original name “Book of the Dead”. It’s signed by a bunch of the cast. I’ve gone out of my way to meet as many as I possibly could, even Bruce Campbell was nice enough to sign the thing through the mail for me.
So now that I’ve established that I have some cred here, I’d like to point one thing out about the original Evil Dead.
It’s not meant to be. This isn’t cinema, it’s not art. It’s a B-Movie classic, a VHS memory. These things are good, they should be remembered, even celebrated. That’s why there are conventions like Monster Bash, and Cinema Wasteland. But let’s not overrate their quality. The original has a paper thin plot, minimal characterization and emphasizes gore over storytelling (all criticisms I heard leveled by fans at the new movie). It overcame it’s shortcomings by putting the passion of the filmmakers on the screen, and by not taking itself too seriously, venturing into a hyper-reality with comic book level violence and the occasional slapstick. It’s even possible that it could benefit from a modern remake (or preferably a sequel) that’s faithful to the original.
I think with this new movie, I take the greatest issue with the idea of “reimagining” rather than remaking it. “Reimagining” essentially gives the director the power to remake without any connection to the source material. It’s indulgent towards the film maker, not the audience, and that’s a problem. It’s especially a problem with a movie that is already fighting an uphill battle because it’s a remake and divergent from the original. In this case, they’ve used it as an excuse to skew dark and serious. Evil Dead was never dark and serious. If you get the tone of the film wrong, it casts a shadow over the entire end product and that’s a shame.
The “Reimagineing” excuse also allows them to change the rules. The most noticeable to me was how the Book of the Dead would not burn. It was a fundamental change in the relic, separating the continuity. It also gives them leave to stick in little homages wherever they feel like it…reminding you “this isn’t a sequel! It’s a reimagining!” Yeah. Ask Bryan Singer how well that worked in Superman Returns.
That said, this isn’t a bad movie. I really want it to be a sequel instead of an alternate universe, and I will probably continue to look at it that way. There could have been more than one book of the dead. Who knows if that’s even the same woods? but I’ll tell you what, if it is the same woods, I can totally understand there being more than one cabin out there. Maybe paranormal and archeological researchers are drawn out to that region for some reason. Perhaps it has a history. That’s enough rationalization for me anyhow. Moreover, I don’t NEED Ash for a sequal, anymore than I NEEDED Ripley for it to be an Alien movie. I’ve long disowned the third film in that series, and despite what they call her in the fourth, that’s NOT Ripley that Sigorney Weaver is playing there…and I’m cool with that. The same is true for Evil Dead. I’m good with it just being about the demons and the killings.
While they may get the tone wrong, introducing serious elements like detox and abandonment, they get the gore and the creature effects VERY right. These kind of practical effects in this sort of movie always hold up better than CG, and when CG is used, it’s used right – that is, it’s used to enhance the practical. The book of the dead looks shockingly good. The redesign was really well thought out, though I have one tiny little beef with it. There are a great many interior illustrations that are pretty straightforward. it’s dark art, but still very comic book figure looking. It’s close enough in style that they really should have given this job to Tom Sullivan (the man who created the original book of the dead. Here he is pictured with me – he’s the guy holding the book!). Tom could have created these nightmarish images just as well as whatever artist took the job, and the producers could have really played up the connection to the original movie. A real missed opportunity here. The Tree assault is done with more taste (marginally) and logic – there’s a point to it. The dialogue is chilling when we hear the demon declare “your girlfriend is being raped in Hell!” or “your mother hates you. She waits for you in Hell”. Even in the original, confidant lines like “you are all going to die tonight” was scary. It still works here.
I’m not going to lie here. I liked this movie. It’s not better than the original, but it’s not any worse either, and that’s something a lot of sequels can’t say. It’s got it’s flaws but if we can get past both that and our (somewhat unwarranted) reverence for the original, there’s a fun and scary movie here. I’ll definitely be buying this when it comes out and am looking forward to some commentaries. I’ll pop this at the end of my next marathon (something I wouldn’t do with the Nightmare on Elm Street remake) and I look forward to seeing where this goes next.
By the way, Simply Film is also doing a review today, check out the podcast here :
Spent a good deal of Saturday at HorrorHound in Indianapolis. You know, I’m not into big cons, even though I’m going to two this year. The thing is, they can bring in the guests. HorrorHound was doing a Terminator/Aliens reunion. I’ve been wanting to meet Michael Biehn for ages and the chance to fill up a poster with autographs from the colonial marines was just too good to pass up.
Man this joint was crowded. It felt like cattle being headed from one point to another. I really didn’t get to see much of the programing, but then again, it’s not Cinema Wasteland. Programing is secondary. They get points for having videos and movies, but lose a couple of points for not having much I was interested in. I’m finally getting my Elm Street poster going now, and this was a perfect chance to get Heather Langenkamp and Amanda Wyss. I’ve gotten Heather through the mail before but since she was there I wanted to take the opportunity to get a photo and start consolidating my Nightmare autographs in one place. She’s got such striking features….you see the wrinkles, but there’s not mistaking her. Amanda was EXTREMELY friendly. She wanted to talk and was absolutely effervescent. She looked over my NOES poster and was noting who had signed before then stopped short.
“Who is that?” she asked.
“Johnny Depp,” I replied.
She freaked out. Her eyes got wide and she exclaimed how excited she was, because she’d never signed something that he gotten first. She asked how I got it and I mentioned getting it through his agent (I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was likely an autopen – but better than nothing). The poster goes in the mail to Robert Englund next (I already met him a few years ago at Flashback in Chicago. I’ve got my photo with him, so I’ve got no regrets getting him again by mail) and hopefully we’ll be getting John Saxon in July at Monster Bash.
All in all, not a bad Con. I spent most of the day getting my autographs, which was really all I was there for. The staff weren’t rude per se, but detached and remote. (Come on, make me believe you having a good time! Again, I just think I’ve been spoiled by Cinema Wasteland). Was great to connect with the Aliens crew, and the Elm Street Girls, not to mention the Horror Hosts like Halloween Jack, Sammy Terry and the girls from Midnight Mausoleum Robyn and Marlena!
Pictures below. Browse through these, then head over to see whats going on over at Violent Blue this week!
When people come into my library or look through my autograph scrapbooks I frequently get asked “How did you meet THEM?”. To be fair, more than half of my autographs are acquired in person at Sci-Fi or Horror conventions like Cinema Wasteland and Monster Bash. However, there’s also a great many that I have gotten through the mail. I tend to target people that I don’t think I’m going to get a chance to ever meet in real life, especially older folks who don’t like to travel any more like Angus Scrimm and John Zacherly.
A couple of years ago I helped a friend send out his first autograph request and it occurs to me that it might be nice to show you a little about how I do it.
1. I write formal letters. No first names to the recipient, ever. It’s always Mr. or Ms. It may be old fashioned, but it shows respect.
2. A little flattery. You don’t have to mean it. They can’t see your eyes to tell if your lying.
3.Talk about specifics. Don’t just repeat the list of movies they’ve been in off of IMDB. Don’t even list all the movies they’ve done. Just talk about the ones you liked. What moved you about them and why you like them in the film. If you can’t think of anything, then perhaps you shouldn’t be asking for their autograph.
4.Include an item to be autographed. Don’t assume they have headshots laying around. Print out a picture. It’ll cost you about $4 at Target to use the automated machine. Some folks are nice and will return your autograph and include a picture or a headshot of their own along with it. Jerry Lewis actually swapped the picture I sent with a better, glossy copy of the same image. That was especially cool since that’s not the one he normally sends out.
While we’re on the subject, don’t be greedy. Send one picture. Maybe two. I never send more than that. I don’t resell the stuff, and the main reason I might send more than one pic is because I’m planning on getting a second autograph on that same picture and I want an extra in case it gets lost in the mail or never returned (That’s the reason I still have one Dick Van Dyke auto, even though Julie Andrews never returned the Mary Poppins pic signed by Dick that I sent her).
5. Send return postage or a SASE. Bottom line is to make this as easy as possible for the recipient. We just want them to open the envelope, sign the picture, slip it in another envelope and put it in the mailbox. Five minuets or less. If they have to put postage on it, or find an envelope, or dig out a headshot or get a headshot from thier agent, these things take time and money. Let’s not make this any more difficult than it has to be.
6.If you get a reply, send a thank-you note. I buy postcards (usually with a Cleveland theme – it helps them remember who they signed what for) and hand write thank-yous to a lot of the people I get autographs from. I don’t bother when it’s an agent’s address or a set because it may never arrive, but when it’s a home or PO box it’s good form to say thanks and it takes less time than you spent sending the original request.
7. Finally, don’t presume too much. Even though you’ve seen these people again and again on TV or at the movies, remember, you’re writing a letter to a stranger. Don’t act like you know them, or assume that them sending you an autograph makes you buddies. They are doing you a favor, not starting a relationship. You won’ t be exchanging Christmas cards in December or attending their summer barbecue. Sending repeated letters is bad form and makes the rest of us look like creepy stalkers.
And again, yes, they are doing you a favor. They don’t owe you an autograph, though it shows that they do appreciate their fans. They are people too and everyone is different. I wasn’t upset that Tom Savini was distant when I met him a few years ago. I’m not an especially friendly person myself and we were both strangers to each other. He was still polite and signed a poster and took a photo with me. I’m totally cool with that. Sometimes you will meet someone who is especially friendly, like when I wrote my friends favorite author and asked her to send him an autograph (I enclosed a picture and a stamped envelope addressed to him). She not only sent him the autograph but also a long letter (written mostly on the back of the picture) and then also sent ME a letter. Those are great experiences and really they are the reason we do this kind of thing. But not every one will be like that. To quote Clint Eastwood “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”.
These are by no means a definitive set of rules, but they’ve worked well for me over the years. It’s a rush when you send that envelope out and an even bigger thrill to get one back. For some reason, having an actor or director’s autograph just makes their films more fun to watch. For a moment, instead of the movie being simply a one way communication, it opens up into interactivity. You get to talk back to the people involved in it and for that moment they know you exist too.
Good luck. I’m going to go out and check my mail before I get back to Violent Blue.
Been a couple of first time cons this year. Lake Effect Conic Con and Monster Bash! Of course I’ve been wanting to go to Monster bash fro a few years now, but it always seemed to be the one that fell through the crack. It was especially sad the first year, because I missed the Creature from the Black Lagoon…but never fear…this year he was back!
I pulled up to the hotel and immediately knew I was in the right place. Great displays in the lobby as well as the cool banners outside.
One of the thi8ngs I noticed about this con is how many people in costume are around. I love cosplayers and the classic monster types are really cool.
They seem to have as many Horror hosts as Cinema Wasteland, but those guys also seemed to be taking more pictures.
Finally got my Creature from the Black Lagoon autograph and met the ingenue!
Got to meet Arch Hall Jr. as well and get a second autograph on my EEGah! poster!
The movie selection unfortunately wasn’t my thing – I’ve never been real in to Cavemen, but it’s absolutely worth the trip for the guests. (my only complaint with that was the panels were only thrity minuets long! You really NEED an hour!) It’s got a similar family atmosphere that I usually feel at Cinema Wasteland. People are easy to approach and talk too. I had one guy come up and straight out ask “How old is that Shadow backpack?”
It was that atmosphere that helped me find a couple of familiar faces that I didn’t know. I tracked down all the members of the B-Movie-Cast (a podcast I listen too frequently) and it was really fun to put the faces to the voices. The other person I wanted to find was Richard Scravani. He’s listed on the site as a guest, but what they don’t tell you is that he doesn’t have a table. HE hosted a couple of segments and spent the rest of the con attending events like the rest of us. I’m a big fan of his book on my favorite Horror Host, Zacherley and I wanted him to sing my copy….but couldn’t seem to find him most of the day! Late in the afternoon I caught him in the lobby and was able to sit and talk with him about Zach for a while. We both had similar experiences sending him letters and discussed how strange it was that certain areas he’s really well known and in others like Cleveland, he’s virtually unknown. IT was really nice to meet him and speak with him about everything. He left a lovely inscription in my book and seemed embarrassed I even asked him to sign it. Before we headed off to the Black Lagoon panel he told me I made his afternoon.
Of course one of the reasons I go to these things is so I can buy stuff you just can’t find in the real world. My real score was a bootleg copy of Spider-Man : Turn of the Dark. Yeah, that’s right. I have the Broadway musical. It’s AWFUL.
The girls loved the rubber dinosaurs I brought home for them and Lydia wore one of the bat rings I brought her to Church. I also got Maddie a Grim Reaper comic book (Same artist as Tiny Titans) and she had it open as soon as she got it and was trying to sound out words in story.
All in all a good con. I expect I’ll be back, but I’ll be mindful of the programming next time and pick a year with better movies.
So I’m getting ready for the bash and pulling posters I want signed and sorting through autographs.
It occured to me that even though I didn’t have my Dusk till Dawn poster a few years back when Fred Williamson was at Cinema Wasteland, I might still be able to catch him through the mail and get an autograph on it along with the ones already on it.
I found his website and there were instructions on sending items to get autographed. there weas a fee – I’m fine with that. It means I have a MUCH greater liklihood of getting my auto back. I shot out an email to his agent (her contact info was on the site, not his. Again, I’m fine with that. It’s smart.) to confirm that the info was up to date and that this was the right place to send the picture.
Her reply was : don’t use that address. I will get one for you.
I’m heading to PA for my first Monster Bash this weekend. Really excited about meeting the Creature for the Black Lagoon!