Hello Glibs, it’s been awhile, but your old Master of Scaremonies the Cryptkeeper is here to provide my annual superfuntimestory of the bestest holiday on my calendar outside of Halloween – Texas Frightmare Weekend! This article is *at least* five times as long as it needs to be, because I know you’re reading this at work and I’m trying to give you an excuse to not get back to that for an extra 10 minutes. You’re welcome. Do keep reading, though – there’s lots of cursing, lame jokes, celebrity stories, and a 40k reference for my fellow hyper-nerds. Plus I had fun last year with our game of, “There are so many links, I wonder which one of them randomly goes to a weird porn site?” that I decided to play again this year. Happy hunting!
To begin with, this shit has gotten completely out of hand. They sold out of Saturday single day tickets (est. attendance this year of 35,000), and the fucking hotel rooms sold out at the main venue within two hours of going on sale. We were able to snag a room at the last second because they caught some dude reserving 20 rooms and trying to re-lease them out at a markup. Thankfully the dumbass advertised them on the Facebook meetup page for the event, so the organizer cancelled his block reservation & they opened the rooms back up. My wife received an automatic update and we jumped on one. True story: we got the last one, and it wound up being a handicapped room. It was YUUUGE. Like twice the size of a regular room. What’s a fucking cripple need with all that space? Don’t they need less space? It’s not like they’re prancing about or have friends that they can invite up or anything else requiring room. Even the shower was much larger. Don’t just take my word for it, here’s a photo. It’s so big you don’t even get the edge of the bed in frame.
Now most, if not all of you, are probably mentally saying to me, “Gojira, we know that Texas Frightmare Weekend is always held on the first weekend of May. So why come this year, Dallas Fan Expo, the larger (50k+ attendance) pop culture, sci-fi, and comic book convention that used to be called Dallas Comic Con, moved its date to directly compete? Aren’t they targeting the same people?” Well astute reader, indeed that was the plan – of the FanExpo organizer. Here’s a little inside baseball for you, as was related to me by a buddy of mine involved in the whole sordid affair: FanExpo wanted to be the only game in town & approached the Texas Frightmare organizer, Loyd Cryer, about buying him out. He told them to fuck off and die in a fire (paraphrasing mine -ed). In what is possibly an act of pure spite, which is just my conjecture and in no way libelous, FanExpo moved their event to the same weekend. I think their big-shot corporate overlords thought that the nerdy public is one undifferentiated mass, and that being the larger event with more headline guests, they would draw interest and put a little bit of a beat-down on ol’ Texas Frightmare.
Turns out the Venn Diagram of people who are comic book and pop culture nerds, and people who are hardcore horror fans, does have overlap, but not nearly to the degree that the FanExpo jerks had hoped. I do fear, though, that this blatant act of separatism has resulted in some unfortunate battlelines being drawn and our two populations being given reason to resent and distrust one another. Thanks alot, FanExpo! If I ever see Jonathan Frakes on the street, I’ll fuckin’ kill him and leave a human turd on his forehead and a little note written on a cocktail napkin that says, “Defend Horror” written in his blood and pinned to his body with a little plastic sword along with some photos of those abused dogs from the SPCA commercials.
Interestingly, the above paragraph wasn’t just one long setup to a largely unfunny joke about murdering Will Riker. There really is a distinct difference between the two groups, and if you swing both ways, as I do [insert “Oh My!” George Takei gif], you notice it when surrounded entirely by one group or the other. By and large the horror crowd, where I spend more time, is more…enthusiastic…about ordering their lifestyle around their interests. They don’t just dye their hair, they have a shit-load of tats and piercings, dress somewhat raggedly, curse a lot more, drink a lot more, and are generally more “blue collar” types. They also skew distinctly more conservative. There are a lot more pro-2A shirts, and shirts making fun of liberals, at horror events, than shirts or patches with leftist slogans. Hell, I saw a couple of Confederate flag patches on vests this weekend, and nobody gave them a second glance. For all you aspies rushing to the comments to correct me that it’s actually the battle flag of Northern Virginia or whatever the hell, save yourselves the spittle-flecked outrage. When I say, “Confederate flag”, you damn well know what I’m talking about, so just simmer down and roll with it. If you promise not to be a ludicrous pendant, I’ll not purposefully replace the word “magazine” with “clip” in any future firearms articles I may write.
The thing is, I’m not sure why this is. This is a group of people who are obviously comfortable with, shall we say, non-traditional mores in terms of public behavior, modes of dress, etc., and yet they actually skew conservative. The sci-fi/comic crowd is overwhelmingly leftist, but they also are overwhelmingly just fat guys able to take off their blue TOS shirts at the end of the day and blend back into “regular” society. I can’t help but wonder why this is. I’m sure Ken Shultz has a theory that he’d like to expound on (just ribbing you in good nature, Ken). Joe Bob Briggs mentioned it during his panel, as well, so it’s not just me making shit up…this time.
So not as many photos this year, for which I apologize. If you haven’t read my past entries on this event, be warned: this is literally the only time of the year I take photos, so I cannot be assed to get good at it because I just don’t care. Anyway, even five years ago, when you purchased an autograph from a guest, it came with a selfie. Now every one of these greedy fucks charges an extra $10, except for a few who are cool.
I will note that they didn’t have glowsticks available at the after party again this year. I think our little art project that I showed you all photos of in the 2017 entry put the kibosh on that for everybody. At least I hope that’s why there weren’t any. I’d love to believe that my one merry band of assholes managed to ruin something for tens of thousands of people. It’d put me right up there with John Dillinger.
Great guests though, and great panels. We had Jeffrey Combs, who given his wonderful Star Trek roles would have been just as at home at FanExpo, but he’s also done great work in horror. I’m a huge Jeffrey Combs fanboy, so this was a special treat for me. We had Meat Loaf, who fell off the fucking stage at his panel and broke his collarbone. Looks great for his age, though, really. Jenna Jameson, on the other hand, does not. Her ass looked like a fucking tray table. I wanted to set my drink on it, then smack her hard in the face and see if the drink fell off. It doesn’t show up in google image search, oddly enough. Trust me, I wanted to add a picture. Traci Lords has aged a bit better, and Cassandra Peterson (better known as Elvira) I’d still drill like an out of control oil rig. The big guns were Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, along with Sam’s brother Ted Raimi. Robert Englund, Lance Henrickson, Tom Savini, and various other regular guests were in the house, as well as…Lee Majors! Scott Ian and Charlie Benante of Anthrax were also present, and the corpse of Tim Curry. Along with many other assorted peoples who had roles in some sequels or other.
Seriously though, I just felt bad for Tim Curry. To get “his” autograph, you had to give his handlers the merch, then they’d mail it back to you later, signed. Yeah, sure pal, I totally believe that’s a legit signature that you can’t do in front of me because reasons. They wheeled him around for his photo ops, and he was just sitting there all stroked out. I’m poking fun, but really, I feel for the guy. If you saw him, you’d swear they were only keeping him alive in a high-tech chair out of fear that when he dies the psychic beacon that emanates from him that provides the only known fixed point by which to navigate the warp will blink out and the galaxy will be rent asunder by Chaos. He looked that bad. Plus I saw them sacrifice a few thousand psykers to get him through the second day. They did it in Convention Hall B.
The year started off with a screening of Re-Animator on Thursday night, with Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbot, and Barbara Crampton (who, like Elvira, is still super do-able despite being old) in attendance to do a panel. They also had Kathleen Kinmont from Bride of Re-Animator, but really who cares about her. She does reappear later in our narrative in a humorous role, so that’s something I suppose. In addition to their panel at the screening, they had a panel during the main convention.
The panel was great in that, rather than just tell stories, almost the whole thing focused on the craft of filmmaking, particularly low-budget film making in the 80s. Without going into great detail, they spoke about the long days on low-budget shoots (14-18 hrs per day, as principal photography had to be completed in 18 days), and about how big name actors can get away with being aloof, but working in the nooks and crannies, the only way to get a good performance is for the actors to be completely emotionally available to each other in order to create instant chemistry. They mentioned that, as they all were coming from theater backgrounds, they got together at Barbara’s apartment for a few weeks beforehand to rehearse, which is a big no-no if SAG finds out about it because it constitutes working without pay. Jeffrey mentioned that sometimes having fewer resources forces the director and editor to make tighter, better choices, because when given infinite time and money, some people go overboard and don’t know when enough is enough. He also mentioned that, back when you had to actually film on, you know, film, low-budget productions would purchase things called “ends”. These were the chopped off leftovers of film reels after standard budget films were done using the reels. They’d cut off what was left and sell it cheap. So it was a great way to accumulate film on a tight budget, but you’d only be able to do like 3 minutes on each one and it was annoying to have to work through. As for the audience questions, it’s bizarrely awkward to ask a question to a woman whose tits & bush you just saw, along with her about to get eaten out by a revenant holding its own severed head between her legs (if you haven’t seen Re-Animator, stop what you’re doing and watch it now. It’s better than any Marvel film by x1000).
The Lee Majors Q&A was a bit depressing. Due to the way television contracts were structured back then, he never saw a dime from any Steve Austin merchandise, and indeed claims to have had no idea so much of it was ever produced until he started doing conventions. He spoke about the old snobbery that shut out television stars from film productions, and told a funny anecdote about how he loved Bill Shatner when he worked with him, but that Shat had a tendency to, “die to the balcony”. He explained that it’s theater slang for wildly over-acting. He also talked about how Andre the Giant, when playing sasquatch on the show, pissed in the suit all the time, which was super gross, but was also the nicest guy in person you could ever hope to meet, which was super great.
Joe Bob Briggs did a good panel, and spoke about the state of trash cinema and its relative place in modern film production vs. where it was when he got started way back when. He and I chatted a bit about small towns in west Texas. He didn’t think I’d know a few of the places where he’d lived, but I went to college in Lubbock, and so we shared some fond memories of a shitty place that is populated entirely by people who fail out of that college. Another really nice guy. Honestly, the only person who has ever been a dick to us after all these years that we’ve been going was Billy Zane. I still think that, much like Georgia against Texas this past year, Alabama against Oklahoma in that Sugar Bowl a few years back, or Florida against Louisville a few years before that, he just didn’t want to be there and therefore that magically excuses shitty performances.
We bought a few stupid things, like a full-size xenomorph skull
because I’m buddies with that vendor and he gave it to me for wholesale. There were some good costumes, but frankly the best ones were people who come every year, and I already took pictures of them and showed you all over the last couple of years. So below are some pics from this year, but not nearly as many. Karaoke on Sat. night was awful, like always, though everybody was in a good mood. Kathleen Kinmont showed up to rock out, but was wasted and happened to share an elevator with us back up to our floor. She was drunk enough that she didn’t stop singing or rocking out once off the stage – it went for the whole elevator ride. There were no infamous David Arquette episodes, however (fun fact: right before he got on stage that night, he bought me a beer at the bar. I didn’t know until later that he was supposed to have been on the wagon. Whoops). I’m also now turning it into an annual tradition to bum a smoke off of Lance Henrikson. Nice guy, but seriously, American Spirits? C’mon, Lance, I wanna see some fancy Hollywood cigarettes.
The year ended with the Sam & Ted Raimi with Bruce Campbell panel. It was really a treat. They’ve known each other since middle school, and told great stories about each other growing up. Sam busted Bruce’s chops constantly, and they told stories about all the things they did as they went around Detroit trying to scrounge up money to make Evil Dead. Sam Raimi has an annoyingly nasally voice, FYI. Anyway the highlight of the panel was, when half the room is raising their hand to ask a question, a particular person who was picked stood up and asked them their opinion on Mac and Me, a shitty 1988 E.T. knockoff. Now keep in mind, none of the panelists had a blessed thing to do with that abomination of a movie. Nothing. It was the non-sequitur from hell. They were so confused they didn’t even know what he was asking – Ted kept thinking he was asking about “mac and cheese”. The moderator even face-palmed and said under his breath but still audibly into the mike, “You get a chance to ask these guys a question and you ask about fucking Mac and Me?” and you could hear the exasperation in his voice. I mean it was bizarre. The questioner was booed down, and after the panel ended and I was waiting outside for my wife to use the restroom, Ted, Sam, and Bruce came out through that side hallway. They were still talking about that, making fun of the guy and wondering what the fuck he was talking about. Seriously, this is like getting to go back in time and pose a question to George Washington, and all you can come up with is asking him if he likes the new Prius body style.
So that was this years (mis)adventure. I was quasi-drunk for most of it and blew $1,500 in three days, but fuck it, that’s why I fight for $15. I look forward to updating you all on the event’s 15th iteration next year, if you don’t see me in the news for bombing FanExpo beforehand.