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Monday, April 19, 2010
Chiller Theatre: The Best Time You Can Have in New Jersey Without Being in the Mafia
I can always count on the venerable Chiller Theatre Expo, the Northeast's coolest horror convention, to be an absolute blast. And it didn't let me down this time, either. I had the distinct pleasure of immersing myself in the joys of genre fandom once again last Saturday in Parisippany, New Jersey--and just as I did for the October 2008 edition, I brought the brood along. No, not Cronenberg's Brood (although that would've been awesome, all those mutant dwarfs running around the Hilton...), but my brood.
Are there drawbacks to taking my kids along? Sure, I won't lie, of course there are. For instance, the Italian horror panel, featuring cast and crew from Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, etc.? Yeah, kind of off-limits. Nevertheless, all that was made up for by the kick of spreading the geek to the next generation, passing it down as it was passed down to me. Seeing their expressions as I introduce them to "The Incredible Hulk" Lou Ferrigno (even though he was kind of a jerk, but that went over their sweet little heads...) Letting the boy have his pick of the Godzilla models; letting the girl pick out her fave issue of Creepy Magazine. Watching them get them their first official autograph, from none other than Sharon "Nurse Zombie" Ceccatti (who was anything but a jerk, happy to report):
But of course, it isn't just about the kiddies. Daddy's got to have some fun, too, after all! Which is why I did manage to slip into the Italian horror room juuuust long enough for this to happen:
Yep, that's Camille Keaton herself, looking positively unreal for 59 YEARS OF AGE. Partly because of ISOYG, partly because of the Buster Keaton connection, and partly because I've never heard of her doing a con before, she was the one I was most interested in meeting. And of course, I also couldn't resist snagging an autograph for BJ-C, owner of the Vault's sister blog Day of the Woman (the alternate title of I Spit on Your Grave, of course.) "We make a great couple!" Ms. Keaton said to me as the picture was snapped. I don't know, Camille, I saw that movie--forgive me if I'm trepidatious!
As always, Chiller was a treasure trove of goodies--and yes, even though the era of the internet makes everything easier to acquire these days, there's nothing that beats that certain feeling you get hunting down and finding stuff, and coming across miscellaneous pop culture detritus you may have completely forgotten about. I managed to get my hands on a few things, including a bootleg UK DVD of a certain film not even released yet officially in the U.S. (shhh), the last of the 28 Toho Godzilla flicks I didn't own yet (Tokyo S.O.S. if you're wondering), and this sweet Frankenstein T-shirt (currently discontinued) emblazoned with a vintage 193os poster for the Universal movie, by French artist Jacques Faria:
Not to mention that where else but a horror convention will you see something like this:
Yes, it's cutesy Dr. Herbert West and Conquistador Zombie buddies!
I even had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with other blogging peoples, such as Doug Plomitallo of the horror web series Scared Stiff; as well as one of my very favorite bloggers of them all, Tenebrous Kate of Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire, along with her ever-faithful Baron:
Needless to say, my daughter was highly excited to meet another female blogger (she is Zombelina of Book-Town fame, after all). But alas, the aforementioned Italian horror panel meant it was time for us to part ways, which turned out for the best anyway, as it allowed the kids the opportunity to hand out Vault of Horror calling cards to hapless passersby, drawn in by their irresistible cuteness to become new recruits to the VoH cause!
Then finally, after six and a half glorious hours of rummaging through crates of '70s cartoon bootleg box sets, shaking hands with Frankie "Go Home and Get Your Shinebox" Vincent, literally bumping into Sherilyn Fenn, trying in vain to keep count of how many people were trying (with varying degrees of success) to rock the whole "vintage '50s kustom kulture" look, and other such activities, lil' Zombelina and Wee-Sol did finally hit the proverbial wall, and it was time to bid farewell to Chiller Theatre.
In the end, a splendid time was had by all, even if we lost the bag containing his Justice League mini-buttons, her Universal monster mini-buttons and my Return of the Living Dead refrigerator magnet. I've loved Chiller for more than a decade now. It reminds me of all the things that are great about being a fan, surrounds me with wonderful like-minded people, and takes me back to a simpler time, when the most important thing in life was getting the next issue of Starlog.
Can't wait to go back in October.