The artist behind the table waved me over. I shuffled in my Ghostbuster suit.
“Can I take your picture? I’ve got a guy on the other end of the phone who don’t believe you exist!”
Under the gorilla mask I smiled, and waved my Monkey paw.
I was there for the first Horror Realm, held in this very hotel. It was the year I was getting back into the convention scene and was early in my first big tour. The show was being heavily promoted by the It’s Alive Show (My favorite horror host show at the time) and I kicked off my Dawn of the Dead poster with a reunion there and the rest was history.
I was also there for the last Horror Realm, held in a different hotel, where I managed to plug a bunch of the holes in my Nightmare On Elm Street collection. It had been quite a few years in between, and I found myself remembering how much I enjoyed it and resolved to come back the next year.
Only there wasn’t a next year.
The promoters ran into some family problems, and real life had to come first. They ended up not being able to produce the show any longer and reluctantly retired. We thought, for good but last fall I took a peek at their website and noticed they finally managed to pull things together to bring the convention back and I was determined to be there.
As I pulled into the city limits, I noticed a car that merged in front of me. There was a Jason mask on One side of the trunk and I Michael mask on the other. It was Frankenstein monster on the bumper just below superman license plates from Ohio. I grinned and switched off the GPS, Figuring it would be a safe bet to just follow this guy the rest of the way. Once we pulled into the lot of the hotel, I discovered that he was actually from Lorain – the suburb that neighbors my own hometown near Cleveland. We chatted about Cinema Wasteland and then made our way in.
I was severely displeased to discover that Tiffany Shepis had cancelled. I understand cancelling because you’re sick, but the con didn’t post notifications on Facebook until 10 am, and by that time I was well on the road, my pre-departure website check irrelevant. There was a hand written sign posted inconspicuously behind the registration table. I didn’t notice it until I had scoured the vendors room twice searching for her. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the only one I was there to see. I made a beeline over to Kelly Marooney’s table to get her autograph on my Chopping Mall poster. I’m sad that she was overcharging and her price list was (unintentionally?) misleading about the gouging upcharge on photos, but it’s Chopping Mall and she’s the last one the con circuit from that movie available. It’s a terrible film that I have a strange obsession with, and I’m happy to have as many autographs on it as I do.
I moved along, doing some shopping. There was a huge box of loose He-Man figures for cheap. I grabbed several that still had their armor. Some still needed cleaning, but finding a Man At Arms with that breastplate and shoulder armor for four bucks is a big deal. I grabbed a functional Battle Armor Skeletor as well as a few others to hit that five for $20 mark. I found lip balm for Lydia and stickers for Maddie as well as a catnip Jason Mask for Sparky and loaded up on movie deals. Good shopping here and great vendors.
After hitting up the short film block it was time to get into costume. I’d brought out Tracy the Ghostbusting gorilla, just for fun. I don’t know if the Filmation Ghost Busters was just big in PA or what, but I think I got recognized in this outift more here than anywhere else ever! People got the joke, and several asked me about it – just to make sure, asking if the name tag was intentional and then showing delight when I confirmed that yes, I was doing THAT character. Its also just as fun as ever to watch people explain to their friends just what I am. This isn’t a big cosplay show (It’s not designed to be either) but there were a few notable costumes roaming – a fun Art the Clown from Terrifier and an amazing Chatterer from Hellraiser, not to mention a brief appearance by a Killer Klown. Over at the Happy Cloud Pictures booth, author Mike Watt grinned hysterically and fist bumped me. Actress Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead, Star Trek and Babylon 5) ran over to me and had me video chat with someone on her phone….it was a good day to be a gorilla.
One of the things I really enjoy about Horror Realm is that they do some fun things, beyond just good panels and film screenings. They do a tattoo contest as well as a Match game where contestants get asked silly questions and see if their answers match a group of specially chosen panelists such as Ken from Cinema Wasteland and Amy Lynn Best from Happy Cloud Pictures.
It’s hard to tell, but while the crowd was respectable, it did seem a little thin. Because of the gap, Horror Realm has been knocked back into a rebuilding mode. The film selection suffered and wasn’t nearly as entertaining as previous years. Fears over the Corona virus may have played into it as well, but in any event you can see they are starting over. Still, Horror Realm is a name with some respect behind it and you can still see the heart they put into throwing this con. I still love it and I’m totally coming back, sooner I hope, rather than later.