Greetings one and all, and welcome to an unusual installment of Reviews You’ll Never Use. This week, I shall recount to you, my reluctant audience, my adventures, foibles, and heroic deeds during this past weekend’s Texas Frightmare Weekend. This will follow a slightly different format, with all wordy word words up front and then all the photos at the end. I tried sprinkling them throughout but thought it looked too cluttered. Also, some quirk of the site makes it very difficult to line photos up next to each other when captioned, so they’re just all in a vertical line, which also looks weird. Sorry.
This was TFW’s 12th year, and the convention continues to grow. They’re going to have to change locations again soon, methinks. The Hyatt Regency DFW’s entire bottom floor is a convention center, but on Saturday especially, it’s just wall to wall, to the point it’s barely fun and you can’t move. The logo doesn’t lie, however: this is the southwest’s premier horror convention. People come from all over; in Ted Raimi’s panel, he asked who was from out of state, and fully half the room raised their hands. I spent time standing in various lines with a lovely couple from Montreal, a man who claimed to hail from San Francisco and yet quizzically was not a gayhomofag, and some boisterous fellows from Monterrey, Mexico.
The wife and I always stay at the hotel from Friday through Sunday, as there is simply too much to see and do for a single day, and it’s much more conducive to drunkenness to be able to just go up to our room, rather than get an Uber back and forth to our house, about half an hour away. Friday night we dedicate to signature hunting and finish that task on Sunday because the lines during Saturday are just unbearable. Also, if you’re reading this, Hyatt, your $15 breakfast buffet is barely passable as food, and a lot of places don’t charge for that shit, particularly when it is of such low quality. Literally, the only good thing is that the bacon is made thick and soggy, just the way I like it. I am not a fan of crisp bacon, and if you are, I hate you, because people like you make restaurants think it is not only acceptable, bur desirable, to make crispy bacon. Seriously dude, fuck you.
There are always lots of guests, lots of interesting vendors selling interesting things, lots of costumes, panels, and film screenings. There’s a theme party on Friday night, a VIP party for people who pay more on Saturday, and a free Saturday night option of karaoke. I’ll let you peruse the guest list yourself rather than listing them all here, but this year we had quite a good haul of signatures and bought a few fun items. We attended the Friday night theme party (the theme was an Antarctic research post from The Thing), but Saturday I’m afraid we were simply too drunk to participate in any of the other festivities. The Friday night party was crowded but boring, so we broke open the glowstick necklaces laying about and made an art project on the tablecloth. We really only went because the decor and props were done by our friends at Dark Hour haunted house, and it would have been shitty of us not to show up to support people we hang out with. Seriously, we have season passes to this haunt, and had our 10th wedding anniversary there last month.
Saturday we managed to sit through a midnight screening of Karate Kill, with director Kurando Mitsutake in attendance to field questions afterward. I pointed out to him that the Texas flag was upside down the two times it appeared in his movie, which I’m proud of myself for having caught, it being 2 in the morning and my being drunk. Somebody asked him the budget of the film, and he said he wasn’t supposed to say prior to US distribution, but fuck it, he’d had too much whiskey, and he spilled the beans. Don’t worry, Kurando, I won’t tell. The film was a welcome re-introduction to actress Asami’s titties, which I had seen in previous films. She was in attendance at a TFW a couple of years back, and we got her signature. She was dressed conservatively in traditional Japanese female clothing. I wanted to tell her it was no use since most of us had seen her have fake sex on screen, and seen her boobies, but I suppose it made her feel better. Seriously, check out the movies she’s been in. Read that list and revel in its awesomeness. I have a couple of those movies and may review them in future.
One of the commenters, it may have been Suthen, mentioned The Legend of Boggy Creek once before. Well they had a screening of a 2016 sequel, Boggy Creek Monster, but unfortunately it had an early (8 pm) start time, and I was still getting blasted at the bar. But just know that it’s out there, waiting for you to see it : )
I only caught three panels this year: first was The Thing, which featured Keith David, Wilford Brimley, the guy who played Windows, and the cinematographer. Turns out Brimley is a hilarious dirty old codger with a lot of crusty old man stories, which is awesome. I also got his signature this year, and you’ll never guess the photo. The dude actually had an 8×10 of an old Quaker Oates advert featuring him. I couldn’t believe he’d be that cool. So of course that’s the one I got signed.
The second panel was Suspiria. This was the big one. Dario Argento doesn’t make it to stateside cons very often, and often cancels appearances. We had him, Stefania Casini, Udo Kier, Barbara Magnolfi, and, one of the founding members of Goblin, Claudio Simonetti. Dario’s limited English made it difficult for him to articulate complex thoughts, and Barbara and Claudio had to step in to translate for him increasingly as the panel wore on. The most interesting audience question, to me, was a person who asked the great director what he thought of the current generation of Italian horror directors. Argento responded that there was no current generation; just a bunch of retards mindlessly mimicking the giallo masters (specifically himself, Bava, and Fulci). Claudio chimed in his agreement with that assessment. They all thought Italian cinema had one glorious moment in the sun, and then decided it would retire as champion and never do anything innovative ever again.
Also, it turns out that while my full name is a common enough one to Italians, my nickname is a purely English diminutive. The first two Eye-ties I had sign things stumbled over it, and they spelled it out in block lettering, before adding my wife’s name in more natural-looking handwriting. It looks like we just crudely added my name onto all the photos after the fact. So for the last two pasta-eaters, I just gave them the Italian version of my name.
They were all hilariously stereotypically Italian. Overly expressive, waving their arms about as their spoke, everything was Brava! this, and Grazie! that, with several of them telling us in the audience that they loved us and each other a thousand times over the course of the panel, and while speaking with them while getting autographs. I did get the guy from Goblin to sign one of their LPs, which is better than a photo I think.
The last panel I went to was Ted Raimi’s. He didn’t have a moderator for some reason, so spent the whole time engaging the audience, running about, and is one of those guys who is always, “on.” When I asked my question, he asked me what was on my shirt. Of course, it was a Warhammer reference, so I had to explain to him in one sentence about the Skaven. I had two other people in the audience whoop in support of the Great Horned Rat. The audience respectfully (mostly) stuck to questions about him and his career, rather than only asking about Bruce Campbell and Ted’s famous brother.
We also secured Keith David’s signature, Amanda Bearse (she was there for the Fright Night panel), Ric Flair (why was here there? Who knows. But he did write, “Woooo!” under his name when he signed the photo, so I’m happy), and Michael Berryman. Mr. Berryman, as you may not know, has had to overcome tremendous physical obstacles in his life to become a successful actor, and he gathered all of us in line around his table to tell us stories of perseverance and positivity. He invited anyone who has a positive image, video, or story to post it on his Facebook page, so I’m relaying the good word to all of you.
We also got Chris Sarandon this year, of course as Prince Humperdink. He’s a humble guy if you talk to him. Or at least he says humble things. He claimed to not know whether any of his characters will stand the test of time. I think Humperdink is already pretty well there. He’s also much smaller in person than you’d think from seeing him in Princess Bride or Fright Night.
We also picked up Dee Wallace, who has been in so many classic films (E.T., The Howling, Critters, Cujo, et al) that she was kind enough to have a photo montage of them all, to keep me from having to chose. Rounding out the list was Ken Page, voice of Oogie Boogie in Nightmare Before Christmas.
A lot of the cast from Bates Motel was there and had huge lines, but I don’t watch that show so who gives a shit.
Oh and last but not least, Misfits guitarist Doyle was there, looking menacing and still with a great devillock. Except he probably wouldn’t want me to associate him with the Misfits, because I heard from several others that I spoke to while waiting in different lines that he just talked trash about the band, about how it was entirely his talent that drove them, Danzig is lucky that Doyle made his career, etc. Seemed kind of bitter. Oh well. Looks like the kind of guy Warty would like.
Ultimately it was a sad drive back to the casa on Sunday, as this, our big weekend of the year had come and gone. I love the experience, and my wife gamely tags along. There’s a wonderful buzz in the air, and you’re surrounded by people who dress like you, think like you, act like you, who understand every one of your obscure references, and who are just as passionate about the Dark as you are. The whole thing is a shrine dedicated to group worship of Death, in His manifestation on film. I get to spend a whole three days walking around with people who have fake intestines spilling out, fake eyes hanging by plastic nerves, t-shirts with catchy pictures and slogans, neon hair styled every which way, tattoos like you wouldn’t believe. Not to mention the occasional sluttily dressed hot chick, to compete with the fatties that seem to make up half of the female contingent of horror fandom. This is our fourth year, and we’re already looking forward to the next go-round.
Alright, some words about the photos. A lot of the guests charge extra for a photo op with the signature. I don’t care about any of you that much, so sadly many of the people I got to meet, I don’t have photos of. At first, I tried creep-shotting them, but my complete lack of skill with phone cameras, combined with the crowds, soon showed me the folly of this approach. So there aren’t as many pics of celebrities (or in some cases, “celebrities”), as I would have liked. This leads me to my next point: most of the photos are of very poor quality. What you see below probably doubles the number of photos I’ve ever taken in my life. I have never had any desire to visually document anything for any reason except insurance purposes, and so never take pictures, and have no facility with this. I don’t even have a picture of my wife. Why would I? I know what she looks like, and it’s not anybody else’s goddamn business. Nothing grinds my gears more than people who have photos of their own family. It tells me that either, 1) you frequently forget what they look like, or worse 2) you think I give a damn what they look like. Protip: I don’t. Anyway, I’ve never taken pictures at any previous TFW, and only did this year to have content for the site, so they’re terrible. The only time that sucked is when William Sadler looked genuinely deflated that we didn’t want a photo with him after getting his signature a few years back. If I mentioned meeting a guest up above, but don’t have a photo of them below, it’s because they upcharged for it. The only creep shot I kept was of Argento since I promised that one. You can see from how bad it is why I deleted the other attempts. Most all of these were taken late Friday night or Sunday afternoon. I had a lot more from Saturday, but the crowds were just too thick and the pics were all even worse than the ones you see below. You’ll also notice I stand somewhat awkwardly – I have some chronic lower back pain from a pretty bad motorcycle accident a few years back, so I have to stand pretty ram-rod straight if I’m going to be on my feet all day to mitigate it. Just thought I’d address it before somebody else brings it up because I agree, it looks weird. Anyway, you have been warned.