The Chiller Theatre Horror Convention 2012

8 Nov

November 8, 2012

This year’s Chiller Theatre Horror Convention was held in the Sheraton Parsippany, New Jersey, hotel the weekend before Halloween. This was their first year at that location and, despite being a pain in the neck to get to, the hotel was perfect- from the outside it looks like an old castle.                  You would almost expect Vincent Price to be prowling around the halls, like in an old Roger Corman epic based on one of Edgar Poe’s tales. Well, Price was not there this year, chiefly due to scheduling conflicts with his death, which was back in 1993. But while The Price of Fear may not have made the scene, the Red Death was there in full regalia. 

Death was a popular guest. There was more than one Reaper stalking the halls, and in fact they would sometimes run into each other and wave scythes at each other in a vain attempt to banish the other to the underworld. 

As you can tell from both pictures, Death loves hand gestures. Anyway, this particular avatar of doom would not stop yelling. You wouldn’t know it from the picture but from the depths of his rubbery skull issued the muffled voice of eternity, bellowing out “I am the REAL grim reaper! Visit my website!“  So I went to his website, and discovered that The Real Grim Reaper is a registered trademark. I hope that Pestilence, Famine, and War have protected themselves online as well.

Creepy hand gestures were not limited to the masters but their servants used their menacing digits as well. Barlow from Salem’s Lot was making the scene, and he seemed to be flashing some undead gang signs. 

I have to point out that none of the guys walking around in costumes- and there were many- were guests of the convention. They were just men and women who dressed up and walked around. And though I mercifully took no pictures of them, the scariest of them all were the trannies and drag queens.

I took fewer pictures than you’d expect, but there were two men whom I had to photograph.  First, The Dark Knight. 

While there were three of four Batmen walking around, the others really were Dark Knights, all dark armor and black costumes. This was the only Adam West Batman in the place and was easily the most photographed.

The problem with Batman is that Gotham is never safe with him around. The argument from Gotham’s Mayor is that a loony like Batman invites loony crooks. You never see freaks like Killer Croc in NYC. He may be right, because no sooner did I snap Batman’s picture than did the waddling arch-criminal himself make an appearance, the Penguin. 

Seriously, how many times do you see people dressed up as the Penguin these days? And I have to tell you, this man reeked of cigarettes. I stood next to him and it was disgusting.

There were literally close to a hundred guests at the convention, each charging for their autographs. Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara was there, as were dozens of minor actors from 1950’s B-movies. There was a reunion of the Porky’s cast (what that has to do with horror I have no idea) and Ace Frehley from KISS, the one with the spaceman makeup was there. By far, he had the longest lines for autographs. There were many real names there, like the guy from Perfect Strangers (Balki? Schmalki? Whatever.) But also among the riff raff were people like Danny Glover, Valerie Harper (still not sure what she was promoting, it looked like some fan film about her hair) and believe it or not Penny Marshall, whom I am still sure is too big a name to be stooping to selling her signature at a horror convention. I had no interest in paying $25 dollars to talk to her, though my brother had the perfect opening line: “I always wanted to meet Myrna Turner!”

I didn’t spend much money there, though I was tempted, very tempted. There were hard to find DVDs (and tons of bootlegs), toys, comics, old games, high-end horror merchandise, and tons od t-shirts. In fact, I passed on it all and only spent money on one special autograph, from this man: 

No, no, not him. Although The Hammer was there I am pretty sure he was drunk.

The man whose autograph I got, and with whom I spent about 15 minutes talking with, was famous in the 1950’s and 60’s in horror television circles. 

Yep, the Cool Ghoul himself, John Zacherle. 

Check him out:

The “y” at the end of his name is apparently optional.

This man is 94 years old and is still going strong… as least as strong as he can. We briefly talked about his career, his job on radio, and my brother, who met Zacherle in 1994 and Zach didn’t remember. (Frankly, why would he?) The man was still having fun and was happy to be there. I could have left right then and there, but there were so many things left in the dealer rooms for me to drool over.


9 Responses to “The Chiller Theatre Horror Convention 2012”

  1. zathra November 8, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    The Porky’s cast ? Penny Marshall ? Some of them might have come there to keep the Grim Reaper from taking the scythe to their careers.
    I CAN understand Sara Karloff attending though, since Billy Pratt’s acting is already the stuff of legend.


    • bmj2k November 8, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      She is the owner of Boris Karloff Enterprises, which makes her a nice living from merchandizing her father’s image and name. But to her credit, she seems to keep it under tight control and the quality of the products is very high.


      • zathra November 8, 2012 at 9:48 am #

        I saw Sara Karloff talking about Boris Karloff Enterprises on an episode of Biography many years ago. & I saw her personal website a few times. No idea if she’s been on the silver screen or stage herself.
        I’m kind of surprised ” Elvira ” wasn’t there. 😉


        • bmj2k November 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

          Yeah, Elvira has been there in the past, not sure why not this year.
          Before the Frankenstein/Bride double feature they ran an interview with her and Bela Lugosi Jr. She explained that she is terrifed of acting, and one time when she watched her father in a play she paid more attention to a dog onstage than her father. Boris told her “this is not for you.”


          • zathra November 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

            Sounds almost like she’s developed or had some kind of phobia combined w / a variety of ADHD.


  2. Irv O. Neil November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I haven’t been a Chiller convention in a couple of years, but that new venue does indeed look like a Corman set! Enjoyed your witty coverage and photos!


    • bmj2k November 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Thanks, I appreciate that. Prior to this I hadn’t been to one in over a decade. The vibe is the same but I remember there being more merchandise geared toward classic Universal and Hammer films, where as this was more toward high-end dolls and collectibles, But still a lot of fun.



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