Last year I said it might be a while before I tried this one again. The crowds had become to much and honestly, that round trip to and from Chicago just about killed me. Still, It had been a chance to really cross a couple names off my bucket list and finally meet Simon Bamford (The last Cenobite from Hellraiser to elude me) as well as the unprecedented opportunity to chat with Andy Robinson (From both Hellraiser AND Deep Space 9). So what got me back to this show a second year in a row? First, one of my best friends had recently set up house in Chi-town, so I had a place to stay the weekend instead of doing the trip in a single day.
But more importantly, Clive Barker was coming.
Barker hasn’t done an appearance near me since I’ve been n the convention scene. He was scheduled at Horrorfind back around 2009, but both he and Ashley Lawrence cancelled for undisclosed reasons (So did Angus Scrimm for that matter, and the show shout down the next year. I’ve heard some shady things about it in the aftermath). A few years ago he was scheduled I believe for a Horrorhound (Or was it Flashback? I don’t think it was DOTD….), but that was when the heath issues took over and he cancelled a number of shows. For him to finally make a public appearance like this was definitely enough to make me brave the six and a half hour drive.
We pulled up to the convention center as the snow gently fell around us. It wasn’t a blizzard, but that white garbage sure did pile up around us fast. I know it’s November, but I don’t remember previous outings being this wintry. It’s not that big a deal, after all, DOTD has provided that wonderful overflow parking in the covered garage next door, but panels are held outside in a heated tent and you do have to walk from the hotel into the tent to get to them. It’s kind of a punch in the face, exiting the warm pool area only to be sucker punched by Jack Frost just outside the door.
Once we arrived, my friend Mike and I grabbed our prepaid wristbands and had about fifteen minuets before the doors opened. I always forget how long the admission line at this show gets and pre-registering was the best move I had made. We had enough time to nip off back to the car and grab a camera I had forgotten, then walk past the ticket line, right into the convention and straight over to Barker’s line. Even at open it was already begining to streatch out, but I looked over at Mike and told him “It will NEVER be this short again.”. I was correct. For most of the day, the queue ran around the corner and past the ticket tables.
Barker was late. The handler explained he’d just had breakfast and was making sure that his sugar was correct (Also mentioning that he was diabetic). About twenty minuets later the line began to move. Inside we were instructed “No personalizations. No photos at the table. Do not shake hands. He’ll give you a fist bump if you like.” It’s a little more than I’m used to at these things, but we rolled with it. Getting to say I fist bumped Clive Barker sounds way more fun than I shook his hand anyhow. He’s quiet. At times he almost looked bored, but mostly I was struck with how frail he looked. Far different than the interviews I had seen and more than a man in his fifties should. Inside his room, he had filled tables and walls with original artwork, books, apparel and photos. I saw a couple volumes I didn’t have and made note to look them up later when I had more money. I pointed out the hardcover of the Scarlet Gospels, noting I had been listening to the audiobook of this on the way up. Barker greeted me and my friend, signed my poster and I told him we’d see him later for a photo. He grinned with finger guns at me.
Our next task was to search out Ashley Lawrence. This was the first time I’d seen her make her way out to the midwest ina long time and she was another one I’d never met. Getting her on my Hellraiser posters would finish them (I don’t see Claire Higgens ever making it stateside). She was set up in a bad spot in one of the halls, creating a choke point in foot traffic, while at the same time somewhat concealing her (Particularly with the brighter Teriffier booth almost across from her).
Ashley is effervescent and charming, and the woman dosen’t age. She kept telling me my hat reminded her of a friend who always wears the same kind. Our photo came out bad and she teased me with a grin “Well don’t tilt you head so weird silly!”
I was pleased. We’d managed to grab both Clive and Ash before the Hellraiser panel that we now rushed off to. I was a little shocked then, when the moderator introduced Barbie Wilde, Nicholas Vance, Simon Bamford…and no one else. While it’s always fun to visit with them, we had this last year, with the addition of Dough Bradley and Andy Robinson. Perhaps it was presumptuous, but I had anticipated hearing from Clive and Ashley at this panel as well and found myself disappointed. We probably heard a couple new stories here, but at large, it felt like much of what we had seen the year previous.
Not so however, with the “Men behind the Mask” panel featuring Jason(s), Michael, and Art the Clown. Kane Hodder was in rare form at this one, wresting control from the moderator who just stared on in amused silence. We got fascinating stories in particular from Jim Winburn who has a long history as a stuntman and did falls in the original Halloween. David Thorton, a newcomer to the genre (fresh off his role as Art the Clown in “Terrifier”) was visibly delighted to be on stage with the others, laughing and sharing his experiences as a new movie monster. I’d actually waited to see this panel to kind of get to know David. I enjoyed Terrifier (and the 2013 anthology “All Hallows Eve” which no one seems to realize proceeded it) and think Art could be ne of the next horror icons, but it was the panel that made me want to meet Thorton. David is chipper and was fun to chat with. I’ve got experience and actual clown training, and it was interesting to compare our approaches to that kind of performance. As for the panel itself, “I was just so thrilled to be up there,” he told me.
We popped around the con, shopping, talking with people and playing with the monsters. Michael Myers in a Captain Kirk uniform was a BRILLIANT gag and he was delighted we got the joke.
“Guys like you are exactly who I do this for,” he exclaimed in satisfaction.
Moving on we grabbed a few more autographs and photos…but it’s not the same. I mentioned a few years ago the disturbing inflation creep I saw infiltrating Days of the Dead. It’s in full swing now. The handlers have become gatekeepers. They are in your face and you aren’t getting near the table without flashing some cash. $30 is the minimum for autographs (Many are more – and quite frankly, a lot of you B-listers don’t have any business charging that). Every table now charges extra to get a photo with a guest.That’s on top of the already high admission prices…
Guys, you’ve priced me out of the game.
I spent twice what I have in previous years, and it’s a drag. It’s almost stopped being fun. Between that and the overcrowding, unless there’s a bucket list guest (and that list is now pretty short), I think I’m done with Days of the Dead. It’s simply highly unlikely that I’ll be back.
A shame. It was fun while it lasted.
(Keep an eye on this blog. I think we’ll be doing a State of the Con pretty soon. Next years going to be different.)
I like Horror Relm, I really do – I enjoyed it all the way back to that first show they were doing, when they were still located in the Crowne plaza. The DoubleTree Hilton is a good home fore them, back at the Crowne, it felt like they were spread all across the hotel, while here, everything is fit in to one wing of the hotel. There’s a cozy fireplace with a great big Horror Relm banner greeting you as you walk in, a nice touch to have here in the dead of winter.
I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t been back since that first show – it’s a small event, and I really like small conventions. The larger ones I’ve been going to for the last couple years kind of made me forget how much I like these kind of little cons. The big problem with Horror Relm, is that they have far too many repeat guests. I see the same names on that website every year, and the ones that aren’t the same are pulled directly out of the convention circuit. I was planning on going to the show last year as well, but when it came time to streamline my schedule and drop a few shows this was one of the first ones to go, particularly since I discovered that every guest I was going to meet I could find at a different show on my schedule later on in the year. It makes it hard to justify the 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive to get out to Pittsburgh.
That’s a problem they seem to have solved this year… At least as far as familiar faces from the convention circuit go. They manage to grab every Nightmare on Elm Street character they could who didn’t actually appear at HorrorHound last year – a real coup for me, trying to pull together that collection of Freddy victims. In addition to that, Horror Relm gathered a really nice, respectable Return of the Living Dead cast reunion including a few people that had not managed to make it out to Motor City Nightmares last year! The theme thing really seems to work out well for them, especially considering the size of the show.
Horror Relm tries very hard to give you the most for your money. They run a film room, a panel room and an extra one for either photo ops or occasionally the author’s panel – I love that they have different things going on here like that! It’s always been a very literary based show, (which is a little unusual for horror cons) but they also include a best tattoo contest as well as a VIP party and an interesting little bit that they like to call “The Horror Match Game”. This was hilarious, based on the old match game TV show, they broght up a panel of familiar faces – Ken Kish and Amy Lynn Best who I know from Cinema Wasteland, as well as Mike Watts, another familiar wasteland face. They would bring up guests to ask questions, and you would score points if your answer is matched that of the panel that I kind of wish I could’ve got me in on this game, I didn’t realize that you had to sign up for it earlier in the day…
They’re running some very interesting movies as well – I’ve never seen “Spookies” before, and they’ve managed to dig up it’s unofficial sequel “Killer Dead” a film so rare I can’t even find a trailer for it on YouTube! They do have “Spookies” though, as you can see below.
Both great fun although “Killer Dead” was very poor quality and apparently that’s the only way it comes – there is no good print of it out there. I also popped my head in for The Survivors, the newest film from Silver Spotlight pictures. I’m already familiar with their work from “Captian Z and the Terror of Leviathan”, … I know I’ve seen posters for “Red Christmas”. Indie stuff and rare films is one of the best reasons to go to good horror convention and this was marvelous.
It was still fairly early in the day and I noticed that there was no line at Felissa Rose’s (of Sleepaway Camp fame)table. You’ll recall I met her back in June last year at Days of the Dead in Indiana. I dropped by her table to chat about that show quickly. She was one of the most fun people I met at that con and I told her so. We drifted onto the subject of her appearance on Adam Greene’s Scary Sleepover a few weeks ago and had so much fun talking about the show concept as well as her specific episode. She grabbed Tiffany Shepis (sitting at the next table over) who had been on last season to join in with her recollections about doing the show. I love Felissa. If I have a con crush, she’s it. To really understand how effervescent she is….here. Let me tell you a story.
A couple came up to meet Felissa and get an autograph. Felissa discovered this fan was having a birthday. She immediately got everyone in the surrounding area up on thier feet clapping and singing Happy birthday. When the crowd didn’t sing it loud enough she raised her hands and got more people singing. It was kind of like that thing where the servers at Applebee’s surround your table and sing you a birthday song crossed with just a touch of a charismatic Church revival…
Back in the dealers room I came across this fascinating model maker. His main display was a stunning graveyard, which he had funded by selling individual gravestones. You could see in a little book who each stone belonged to. There were mausoleums up with names in the back, people, monsters, cars, all sorts of great bits. he hadn’t even brought out the entire thing, as it had grown too big! He also had several dioramas done up utilizing old heroclix and horror clix. nice to see some of these getting a good home.
The dealer’s room was just a bit too small. You can pretty much do that thing to your satisfaction in about fifteen minuets. maybe half an hour. As a result, most of my time was spent in the film room or the panel room.
The Elm Street panel was predictable but somewhat enlightening that I wasn’t aware of some of Ken Sagos other roles, and it was interesting to hear this ecclictic cast talk about later Elm Street sequels. In particular it was interesting to hear about the speed in which they made those movies, how rushed the production was and how lowof the budgets were… You don’t think about that with these films considering how successful they were, but really it seems like nobody want to spend any money on these movies and yet they still came out with these amazing productions!
I ducked out a little early, we did hit some dead space in the show and I missed the return of the living dead panel… I’m still hoping it shows up on YouTube, but figured I could either wait for an hour and a half to see the panel, or I could get a head start on my way back to Cleveland and hit the Ghoul’s 40th anniversary party! But that’s a whole other story, and you can read all about it over at Kreepy Kastle.com!
I kicked off this years convention season with Days of the Dead Indy this weekend. Indianapolis and I have a tempestuous relationship, things always seem to go wrong in Indiana. But as far as big cons go, days of the dead is one of the better ones. They’re not immune to the inflation that has suddenly hit all the convention surrounding us it seems though as their admission price increase by $10. Still, they really try to give thier customers more bang for their buck – especially those extra bucks they are asking for now. This con, unlike other bigger ones like flashback, seems to have more access to the celebrities. better with this
Despite my trepidition, I almost always have a good time at days of the dead and this was no exception. I’m not exactly pleased about the rate hike, but something interesting they’ve chosen to do this time around is extended hours. The convention still hs reasonably normal hours but they’ve included parties and events going well late into the night, and this is a good thing, it’s one of the things that Wasteland and Shinboku con really excelled at and what made them work so well.
My main goal this weekend was really just to meet three people the last two remaining cast members from Dawn of the Dead, Galen Ross, and Scott Reniger – the last two I’ve never encountered before. Not just them though, but also to see George Romero again. I have recently started a day of the dead poster and needed his signature on it as well. George worries me. I can see why his charge is going up – his hands shake. He seems a spry as ever was a delight during his panel…
but his hands shake.
Perhaps it’s just that the recent death of Leonard Nimoy has freaked me out a little. Still, it’s an image that just stays unnecessarily in my mind…I worry.
The cast was nice and chatty, and did a wonderful panel together. It was the usual suspects from Dawn, but still, I’ve never see them all together like this before. I learned a few things I’ve never known about the film before and that’s really why you do panels.
I also got to see Jon Schnepp, the producer of The Death of Superman Lives. This was interesting, I’ve been following the making of this movie while now and he told me it will be available in May! I cannot wait! We discussed how he wanted to release it, something He only now getting into and wasn’t sure what to do. He asked what I thought, and I do believe alot of the future is streaming, although I also like the idea of doing it as any event film, much the way Adam Green and Alex Pardee are doing with Digging up the Marrow. He mentioned he’d been to the premier in LA, being a friend of Alex Pardee. I mentioned that Cleveland would be an excellent venue for an event like this film, being the home of Superman and dropped the name for Akron Comicon.
One of the things that was really fun at this convention with the Photo ops. The 502 Legion was there which means there were a LOT of Star Wars people wandering around. Interestingly enough,
I got extremely nice picture in front of the Mellinium Falcon! ! Then there was Skeletor and Evil Lynn. Remember a couple years back when I want to this same convention? I was unable to get my picture with them then, a situation I remedied this year. I got a second picture was George. Back when I met him and find in Gettysburg I got a photo with him looking reasonably normal. This time around I got it in some make up and my photo involved me menacingly staring at him about to attack! This was just epic.
I don’t usually come to horror cons in costume, I prefer to look like myself for photos with the movie stars, but as I walked in I saw a big sign with the the lettering “free zombie make-up”. I can hardly pass this up. is so rare for someone else to actually make me up and I was interested in seeing what techniques this artist used. We have a lot in common with greasepaint and latex, but also, this artist uses toilet paper! It was amazing, and I really wanted to see how she mixed colours and makes ridges.
Having something like this, getting made up, it’s one of those things I really like about this convention but those prices to continue forward and raise, I’m not sure how much longer I can continue to go. Still, of the bigger conventions I go to, I do believe that is why my favourite and I’m very glad I made the trip this weekend.
PS, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the awesome that was the Walking Dead Lego build displayed in the middle of the dealers room –