“I’m so glad to know I’m in the right place,” the guy told me as he got out of his car. I bobbed my head up and down in the monkey costume and was greeted by a young woman at the entrance to the hotel.
“I have no idea who you are,” the girl told me, “but I love you.”
Tracy the Ape was feeling very welcome here at retro invasion
Retro invasion weekend is a small convention in its first year in Westlake, one of the shortest drives from my house ever – a mere 20 minutes on the freeway, closer than my office commute actually. They also had the curious distinction of being held in the same hotel where I attended my first Star Trek convention, so it was good vibes all around.
I really dig the philosophy here, Retro Invasion was holding a reunion for the film Just One of the Guys, as well as attempting to hold a Sleepaway Camp reunion. Going for weird little films that were not necessarily mainstream horror but still running with the horror vibe really makes for an interesting convention…
Because it’s their first year, one can understand that there’s going to be some problems… A number of their issues were not their fault, but then again there were also plenty of problems that were. Let’s start with the stuff that wasn’t their fault
Retro Invasion had been plagued with unfortunate cancellations. The first guest to bow out was Courtney Gains who played one of the murderous children in Children of the Corn. His dropping out had been announced months earlier so while it was disappointing, it was expected. However it also appears that Felissa Rose and Kathrine Kamhi cancelled quite late in the game, and this was not adequately advertised. I only knew because I’ve made a habit to repeatedly check convention websites just before the show (Because of what happened way back in 2012 with North Coast Comic Con). I saw more than a few people wandering around in Camp Arawak shirts still expecting the Sleepaway Camp reunion that was no longer going to happen. It also will have seriously cut into the convention’s income as they were offering a special Sleepaway Camp photo op in costume – it was actually reasonably priced and I was actually considering taking advantage of it (and we all know I NEVER do these things).
In any event, the guest cancellations had to have affected attendance. Another factor was Colossalcon happening the same weekend. While there is not a ton of crossover there, I can imagine it weakened the support a bit. None of these things are the shows fault, however there were serious organization problems that really showed
The dealers room was small and cramped. One vendor, upon seeing how tight the room was, asked the promoter if you could just set up his booth in the hallway instead, creating an entire little alcove near the registration desk for his wares. The room itself was divided into three aisles, but you could only access the middle aisle by going behind the tables on the end caps and slipping between that and the tables on the outer aisle… Someone had marked the path with bright pink duck tape arrows on the carpet – nevertheless it was difficult enough to get through that the vendors in the middle aisle were really feeling shafted… And wern’t shy about expressing their displeasure. To get a better feel for the place, check out Neon Trash’s video review (My monkey ghostbuster actually opens the video)
Panels and films were held in a completely different part of the hotel – a problem the late and lamented Shinbokucon used to have. Motor City Nightmares manages to make this work, with photo ops and one of their two movie rooms occurring on a different floor, however the second movie room on that floor only shows skullhouse pictures – their own work. For them, it’s overflow rather than main attraction. With Retro Invasion, the movie room and the panel room were both on the third floor, over in the other side of the hotel. This made for a lot of walking back and forth, and neiter room was adequately marked. After some walking, I found the panel room because the door was open, but I had to ask two different people to find the movie room. It would’ve helped have had these two locations marked with large “Retro Invasion” signs as well as schedules posted outside those doors.
Still, I can’t complain. The film selections were fun and the panels were well done – by the numbers, but on the other hand I had no idea how much fun it would be to watch Danny Hicks and Robert Kurtzman bounce off each other. Retro Invasion offered good programming, but it’s way too hard to figure out where that programming is actually LOCATED.
Overall, the convention was very lightly attended, which will make it difficult for them to secure vendor’s for thier next show. At one point, a panel was announced over the loudspeaker. One of the vendor’s voices rang out “And you’ll have NO PROBLEM finding a seat!”. Around noon, a lot of the vendors in the small room began tearing down and giving up for the day – that’s never a good sign.
I really did enjoy my time at Retro Invasion, though I think the $30 ticket price is a little high for what they offer. I would however, really like to see them succeed – I seriously dig having a horror convention so close to home and like the quirky philosophy that they seem to bring to their show. They’ve scheduled a second go around later this year – on Nov 1-3. Nevertheless, they’re going to have a hard time finding vendors for a second year and unless this show gets better very quickly, it’s going to vanish.
I’ll be back in November. Let’s see what happens.
Again? I’m in Indinapolis again??? Why on earth am I making this trip for a third time in four months? I mean, I remember mentioning after my first Days of the Dead indy that I probably woun’t be back to this one…so why am I here TWICE this year?
Yeah, that’s pretty much the big draw for me. I mean, I said it last time – despite it’s size, I always ahve a good time at Days of the Dead, but it is a long five hour drive and this time I didn’t have the Dark Tower to plow through in the way down (Insomnia this time, but only about half of it) and if it hadn’t been for Angus, I would have skipped this one. I’m very glad I didn’t.
I got my tickets online, both for admission and my autograph ticket for Angus. $30 is actually less than he was charging at Flashback and they went out of thier way on the website to point out that you could take photos at the table with your camera (some guest won’t do that if the con is also selling professional photo ops, but Angus is far to classy for that). the pre-purchase was supposed to give you line jumping privileges as well, but forget that. I got in line a half hour before he was even supposed to be at his table. I had no intention of having a repeat of Flashback Weekend, where i waited a couple hours and the line shut down, missing my chance to meet him. I chatted with my line mate while we waited, and out of nowhere my friend Brandi tackled me while her husband grinned. They’d seen him yesterday, but it was still fun to chat with them for a bit. Mark and Brandi have been hitting a lot of the same shows I have this year – they’re regulars at Cinema Wasteland, but they were also at Motor City Nightmares on a different day as me this year, and Monster Bash last year.
About an hour later I got in. Angus’ line always moves slowly and you can kind of see the man slowing down a bit himself, but it was the highlight to the con for me – one of the best moments from con life ever. It was my fourth try trying to meet him….so happy.
Of course there were other guests I was eager to meet as well. I’ve been wanting to hit a con with Felissa Rose for a while now. I know it’s shallow of me, but wow…she grew up to be unbelievably beautiful! I mean, way hotter than the Springsteen chick that played the character in the later Sleepaway camp films…
But the the thing about Felissa is how remarkably friendly and effervescent she is. She was SO happy and SO outgoing, greeting me with a hug and talking with delight about the movie. I discovered that her real name is Felissa Rose Esposito! I mentioned that Dave, the person in charge of programming Cleveland Cinemas Late Shift is OBSESSED with the film – Felissa wants to come to a screening some time.
Kane Hodder teased her from across the isle with an empty whisky bottle.
“You finished it without me?”
“Yeah well,” Kane replied. “I had another signing later last night…in one of the hotel rooms….with my penis….”
Felissa laughed and rolled her eyes at me
“Because we all know I have penis envy….”
If you’ve seen Sleepaway camp, you’ll get that joke. If not…go watch Sleepaway Camp.
More hugging and then I was off to see Imogen Boorman – the little girl from Hellraiser 2. Another remarkably happy person, and really pleased to talk about the movie, and what it was like workign with everyone. She seems to have genuinely good memories of this film, and it’s remarkable that this was her first con appearance.
Finally, off to see Tony Moran before the Angus Scrimm Panel started. Tony was the unmasked Michael Myers in the first Halloween, and man is he a chatter. He reminds me of Robert Englund in the way he tells stories constantly, entertaining the entire line as he does. I loved hearing about his disbelief that donald Pleasence was going to be in the movie and that being his main reason for taking the role. It was funny that he never told anyone he did the film and his family was surprised when they saw him on screen – years later!
PJ Soles had a panel with him but there’s just one problem…..
The next day she lost her voice! She’d been coughing all con long and it finally caught up with her. Saturday she posted this sign at her table.
Angus’ Panel was fun – I never realized that he played Abraham Lincoln in a short educational film. Apparently it’s on the Phantasm 2 blu ray which is a good reason fro me to go and find that. He gave soem interesting insight on Phantasm 5 as well, something I can’t wait for. But his hearing isn’t good, sometimes he’d have probelms hearing the questions and perhaps get a little lost in his answers. I love hearing him speak. He has a great presence and you really feel how much of a career he’s had.
I caught Tobin Bell’s panel as well, another very humble person talking about working his way up in Hollywood. Fascinating to hear about his scenes in Goodfellas being almost comepletely cut out, Scenes with Sharon Stone in the Quick and the dead being trimmed down, and this happening again and again until saw – where NOTHING got cut! Fun listening to his surprise about hearing someone call him a horror icon for the first time…
They had him settled in a little side room which I found curious. His traffic never seemed as heavy and Angus. The Scrimm line wound all the way down the hall and around the corner all day. For some reasons, conventions seem to consistantly underestimate the turnout for Angus Scrimm. If anyone should have a side room with barriers and a twisty line it should have been Scrimm.
I ran into my friend Jeff from back here in Cleveland, a couple times actually and each time he was wearing a different face. Days of the dead has more cosplayers than your average horror convention and it’s something they encourage by bringing in groups like monsters amoung us and doing both costume and make up contests.
They really went the extra mile this time around, by creating a bunch of environments and settings for photo ops. Empty rooms, open coffins, the local haunted house created an asylum in brought in a cage and populated them with their own monsters as well that you could pose with. It gives the car on a distinct flavour, and a much more fantastic atmosphere.
I really do like days of the dead, and a lot of that has to do with how even though they’re big con, they try very hard to put on a great show. I got my little girls gremlins and fright flicks trading cards from the “don’t eat the gum” booth, which they loved.
the autographs I got this weekend were my prize, that I and the time spent with some great people, in particular my line mate whose name completely escaped me…Brian?
He’s another one of those guys who shares with me just as much love for the Phantasm films as you can imagine. We talked about meeting the rest of the cast – he actually got in to see Angus at Flashback. He plays in a KISS tribute band which led to us talking music, and discussing Reggie Bannister’s CD. I asked if he ever heard Bill Thornbury’s music, but he hadn’t. I’ve got one and he did tell me he knew Bill played – he’d see his country stuff and his religious stuff. Bill plays music in the worship band at his curch, just like I do at mine and we enjoyed talking about that. Brian recalled that Bill was very genuine and sincere about his faith – it had impressed him. He’d gotten a bad crack in his windshield on the way to a con that Bill was at, and Bill had prayed over him for a safe trip home.
Yes. I’m that guy – the one that still talks about Jesus even when he’s at a horror convention.
Anyhow, we were in lines for both Angus and Tony, and bumped into each other by the cage, then took pictures for each other. You made my con a lot more fun dude, and I hope I see you again.
Oh, but I have more pictures….of course I have pictures…..