As you may know, I was one of the guest moderators for the Halloween: 30 Years Of Terror convention in Pasadena, which occurred Oct 31-Nov 2. Being my favorite film franchise, I would have gone to the thing whether I was hosting or not, so to be on the “inside” was a real nerd highlight for me. Anyway, just thought I’d post a few thoughts about it, if you were interested.
I missed Friday’s activities, due to my real job. I guess there was a pretty long tour of filming locations, and also a screening of the original. I’ve seen a lot of the locations, and I just saw the film in the theaters this past June, so I didn’t lose sleep about it. Still, both things are pretty awesome for fans who flew in from around the country (and a few from other countries) who don’t get to take such things for granted.
Saturday was the first “full” day of the con, and it was pretty packed. You had all the celebs doing their signings, nonstop panels, a big party... lot of stuff going on. Unfortunately, a lot of it wasn’t really for me. I don’t pay for autographs (why should I give someone 20 dollars to sign my own DVD that’s just gonna sit on a shelf? I know I met them; if someone comes over and demands proof that I met Scout Taylor Compton or Brad Loree, I’ll deal with it then), but I’m of the minority, so even going to say hello to some of the guests meant standing in long lines. Luckily, many of them I got to talk to on (or back) stage or have talked to in the past; the only real regret was never getting to chat with Leo Rossi. Relentless for the win!
The only panel I did Saturday was for Halloween 4, which meant a lot to me, since it was the very first one I ever saw. Unfortunately, the only people on the panel were actors and stunt guys, who are always the hardest for me to ask questions to. A director or writer I can ramble with all day, but when it comes to actors I’m always coming up blank beyond the usual nonsense ("did you do your own stunt in scene X", "how did you get involved with the movie", "how was director Z to work with..."). Also, I had no chair, and I kept thinking I was blocking Erik Preston (young Michael) as I awkwardly stood to the side and tried to avoid knocking over any pumpkins. ALSO, Kathleen Kinmont is a fox and she was way on the other side of the stage. If I knew better, I would have called her first and thus she’d be right next to me the whole time. Still, the audience had some good questions (save for one moron who asked about fans getting weird with the girls; he should know that Danielle DID have a stalker “fan” that kept her from doing these things for years. Luckily, Ellie Cornell stepped in to answer and we moved on to the next question) and I got to tell an abridged version of my “Halloween 4 broke my arm” story, so there’s something.
The party was a blast, once I had a few. We had to pay for drinks, but since the con was free and I didn’t find anything to buy, I was able to use the money I figured I’d spend at the con for drinks without too much concern. And towards the end of the night we got a few drink tickets, so woooo! Not a lot of the Halloween folks came, but Derek Mears, aka the new Jason, aka the nicest man in the entire world, was there, and even though I have my hobo beard, he remembered me. And I got to pal around with Uncle Creepy, who lives in San Diego, so I only see him every couple of months. Also: CHOCOLATE QUESEDILLAS! I also got to talk to a guy who had a kickass Loomis costume (he even shaved his hair to match Pleasence’s!), and gave a drink ticket to a guy wearing a Halloween III shirt (the least common shirt from the 9 films, sadly).
It was after the party that things got surreal. First, about 20 of us spilled into an elevator, which of course got stuck. The doors opened an inch or so, and three of us inside tried (and failed) to pry it open. Then, as if called by the ghost of Moustapha Akkad, Don Shanks (Michael from H5) appeared on the other side, and deftly opened the door as if it was two sheets of paper. This led to a resounding chorus of DON SHANKS! as we made our way over to the hotel for an after party or two. Along the way we spied an ice rink which was stupidly left open, so an impromptu snowball fight broke out. Then we ended up in the room of Halloween franchise guru Malek Akkad (Moustapha's son) for a few minutes, before Ken Foree himself herded everyone out. And this was the highlight for me; if I could tell my 9 or 10 year old self that the guys whose movies I was watching would be kicking me out of their hotel room, I’d... well, I’d probably be a bit confused what that meant.
Sunday was the key day for me, as that was when the HALLOWEEN III panel was set to occur. I basically told Sean Clark (who organized the whole con) that I’d only do Q&As if I could do III, so he obliged. Learning from the Kinmont gaffe, I called out Tommy Lee Wallace first, and since I had a chair this time, I got to chat side by side with him about this masterpiece of mean spirited Halloween glee. Tom Motherfuckin Atkins was on the panel too, and got him to talk about my favorite part (when he ditches his kids to drink beers with the girl he just met). Stacey Nelkin was also there (her first con ever, from what I understand), so that was great, as she offered some insight no one has probably heard yet. Wallace told a lot of great stories about the shoot and the trouble with marketing it, and I also got him to sing a line or two of the Silver Shamrock theme. And, unlike a certain other director who I got to share the stage with, he actually seemed like he wanted to be there, so I was in horror geek heaven.
Right after that was the panel for Halloween 6, for which I shared hosting duties with Uncle Creepy. There were a couple of cancellations, but it was still a good panel, thanks mainly to Dan Farrands, who told some hilarious/sad stories about dealing with Dimension on the film and also pointed out that Joe Chapelle (often blamed for the film’s failures) wasn’t really the bad guy in the situation, just caught in a bad position. He also said that Anchor Bay was interested in releasing the producer’s cut, should Dimension/Disney ever give up the rights. I have problems with both versions, but I’d be happy with a goddamn anamorphic transfer. He also told a good story about Paul Rudd waiting outside of a theater (where he was performing in a play) for a fan to bring him a copy of the P-cut, which is pretty awesome. I would have loved it if Rudd could come (and even moreso if the super hot Marianne Hagen showed), but oh well.
And that was the only real bummer about the weekend: the lack of top tier guests. With the exception of Wallace, NONE of the directors for the films were there, and the only screenwriters were Farrands (6) and Robert Zappia (H20). Also, other than Atkins, Harris, and the people from the remake (no Malcolm or Sheri, but pretty much everyone else), none of the film’s leads were there. Donald Pleasence is obviously out of the question, but Jamie Lee, Lance Guest, Beau Starr, Rudd, Hagen, Mitch Ryan, and the ENTIRE casts of H20 and Resurrection were MIA. Tyler Mane and Nick Castle, arguably the two most “memorable” in the role, were the only Michaels not present as well (well, Castle popped in, but refused to join the panel, or sign/take photos with anyone, which makes me wonder why he showed up at all). I can see not doing a Fangoria or whatever, but it’s a convention for a specific franchise – I was hoping more of the people directly responsibly for that franchise would show up and celebrate it with the fans. Then again, the people that were there seemed to genuinely appreciate their role in the franchise, and except for Nick Castle, loved talking to the fans, so I’d rather them than some stuckup yogurt eating broad anyway.*
Also, I want to give huge props to Daniel Roebuck**, who signed for EVERYONE who wanted his autograph, for free, not just the gold VIP members (also Bradford English, Dan Farrands, Malek Akkad, and (I think) Robert Zappia, who signed for the VIPs and possibly more, not sure, also free). Everyone else was charging, which I think is a bummer. BUT, I will say – no one forces people to fork over their cash, so if people are willing to pay for it, more power to them. I just remember going to Fango cons from 1998-2002 and getting all of the autographs I wanted for free, and then all of a sudden it was the norm to charge 10 or 15 bucks (and now 20). Nowadays, the only autographs I collect are from the directors of Fango “cover movies”, and luckily, directors don’t usually charge. Speaking of which, I somehow DON’T HAVE the Halloween III Fango, but Wallace signed my Fright Night 2 issue, so I was happy. John Beuchler, who directed Cellar Dweller (somehow that got a cover, but his F13 sequel, New Blood, did not?), was supposed to show, but didn’t, so I carried that one around all weekend for nothing.
All in all, it was a good con. My love of the franchise kept me entertained the entire time, which is more than I can say for some other horror cons I have attended recently. I wish I got to talk to more fans, because I love talking the movies (obviously) and it’s probably the only time I can guarantee I’ll be talking to someone who knows who Ted Hollister is or knows how many miles it is from Smith’s Grove to Haddonfield. Again, I just keep thinking back to all my childhood memories of seeing these movies for the first time (I can distinctly recall my first viewing for each film in the series), never in a million years thinking that some of those people would someday know me by name. Bring on the 35th!
P.S. If anyone reading this attended the con and took pics, PLEASE send any you may have of me on the panels, particularly III. I was obviously busy during those so as of right now I have no photos to show my friends back home. They think I’m a liar!
* I met the former Laurie Strode once... not my favorite celeb experience.
** Backstage, I got to talk about my Navy NCIs episode with him! He was the big guest star in the episode in which I extra’d in. That was awesome.