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Tag Archives: horror convention

Notes From The Chiller Theatre Horror Convention 2013

30 Apr

April 30, 2013

This past weekend I went to the Chiller Theatre 2013 Horror Convention. This was my second year in a row and you can read about the 2012 con right here.

It was a total blast. I met and took pictures with Zacherle (The Cool Ghoul), John “Good Times” and “West Wing” Amos, Burt “Paulie from Rocky” Young, Jerry “The King” Lawlor, WWE icon, and Akira Takarada, more on him later. There were- literally- hundreds more guests, including The Monkees, Tia Carrera, and Jake Lamotta. Calling this a horror convention is very, very inaccurate.

A castle. Can you think of a better place to hold a horror convention than a hotel that looks like a castle?

A castle. Can you think of a better place to hold a horror convention than a hotel that looks like a castle?

I want to say at the outset that this was a ton of fun. The dealer’s rooms were huge and had tons of great stuff that I spent too much money on. The guests were all amazingly friendly and while it was very, very crowded, it was not too crowded to move.

I wrote all about the great time I had last year, so instead of repeat myself, I’ll present some of the odder things about the convention this year.

  • Jeremy Miller and Tracy Gold from Growing Pains were there signing autographs. They were the younger brother and sister on the show. Jeremy Miller has gone on to do pretty much nothing. Due to the setup of his area of the convention, I had to pass his table seven or eight times during the day. I never, not once saw him with a fan at his table. He was sitting next to Keith Coogan, best and only known from Adventures in Babysitting and Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. That guy had tons of fans. (BTW- he’s the grandson of Uncle Fester himself, Jackie Coogan.)
  • Tracy Gold had a pretty decent number of people stopping by her. And I have to say, I can see why. At 43 she looked great. I looked her up on imdb and she has not distinguished herself either, but I wouldn’t mind taking a picture with her… if it didn’t cost $20.
  • Across from the hot Tracy Gold (yes, I mean that) was Priscilla Barnes. She was in 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects but nothing else since. And as good as Tracy Gold looked, that’s how bad Priscilla Barnes looked. You might remember her from Three’s Company, but you wouldn’t recognize her here.  It isn’t that she is now 57, it is that her face looks like ground beef, three days old.
  • The saddest sight at the convention was Burt Young. He’s 72 and he appears to have had stroke. While he was signing, he didn’t seem to really be all there, and one eye looked blown out compared to the other. Later that night, Rocky and Rocky II were on cable. There was no comparison. Burt was not taking pictures, and I would have felt bad to ask him.
Photo Apr 27, 2 16 43 PM

Burt Young

  • I also would have felt bad to ask Greg “The Hammer” Valentine for a picture because for the second year in a row I am sure he was drunk. And sadly, he was not an invited guest, like “The King,” he and some other broken down wrestlers rented the table to sell autographs.  Brutus Beefcake was there, looking like a total a-hole.
  • Next in the total a-hole category was Todd Bridges, Willis from Different Strokes. He had an attitude of self-absorption and importance about him that was just wrong coming from someone whose claim to fame is being part of Gary Coleman’s catch phrase. (“Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”) His substance abuse issues are legendary, and he was accompanied by his bodyguard/sober coach everywhere he went, even on a smoke break. In case you are interested, he devoured a whole box of Tastykake Cocoanut Juniors while we were there.
  • This brings me to a humorous but off-color bathroom anecdote. Hey kids, time to switch to Barney for a couple of minutes. When I went into the men’s room, the first person I passed on his way out was Todd Brides bodyguard/sober coach. I immediately panicked, envisioning Todd Bridges lighting up with Lorenzo Lamas somewhere. I hope he made it back in time. Anyway, while I was in there, someone walked in and loudly announced “I can’t use a urinal, my cock is so big I need a stall.” After an awkward pause, he apologized.
Tood Bridges and his bodyguard. Todd is soming what appears to be a regular cigarette.

Tood Bridges and his bodyguard. Todd is soming what appears to be a regular cigarette.

  • In The Monkees room, everyone was swarming around Mickey Dolenz while Peter Tork (Peter “The” Tork- who gets that reference?) sat all alone at an empty table. Despite being a huge fan of the Monkees, the whole thing felt very off and I left without taking a picture with them.
  • I would have taken a picture with Tia Carrera if she had not priced herself out of the market by charging $30 for a picture, which was $5 to $10 more than anyone else asked for.
  • While there far less people walking around in costumes this year, Batman and The Penguin returned from last year, and a guy dressed like a member of Kiss was walking around. Totally ruining the effect was the fact that he was walking around with his wife, who was pushing their baby around in a stroller.
The KISS Family Man

The KISS Family Man

Bring on 2014!

———–

And speaking of horror and castle-themed hotels, we passed a Knight’s Inn on the way to the convention, and it looked like a condemned, filthy piece of hotel-like excrement. Check out Allan Keyes’ Knight’s Inn blog here.

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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 www.therealgrimreaper.com!“  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.

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