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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.

16 comments:

BJ-C said...

The title of this reeled me in quicker than Camille Keaton's face.

MarilynMerlot said...

Camille Keaton looks Fabulous :)

B-Sol said...

Plus, she seemed quite smitten with yours truly, if I do say so myself! Oh, if only it was thirty years ago... Oh wait, I was five then. Nevermind.

Dod March said...

Great write-up!

This was my first time there, and it was as you said, and absolute blast. I was almost overwhelmed by it all. I still have "convention regret" since there were so many things I wanted to buy, especially at the video tables. Ah, well, there's next year.

B-Sol said...

Dod! Were you there Saturday? If so, we should've met up. Maybe next time sir.

gord said...

What was Sherilyn Fenn doing there? Was it part of a Twin Peaks anniversary?

Also, I wish Canada had more awesome sounding horror conventions.

B-Sol said...

Probably looking for a way to pay her mortgage, who knows? She was just one of the many genre celebs at the autograph tables. I just happened to almost get knocked down a short flight of stairs by her. There are worse ways to injure oneself, now that I think about it.

Tenebrous Kate said...

It was SO great getting to see you and to meet Zombelina and Wee-Sol for the first time. Of course, I felt somewhat like a dirt-bag because I spent a majority of my con-going time in the two places you couldn't bring the kids (namely: The Italian Room and The Bar). I applaud your brave parenting for introducing your offspring to the weird and wonderful world of horror cons at an early age! My dad brought me to a Sci-Fi convention at the tender age of five, and look how I turned out! Wait--never mind that last part. Oops...

B-Sol said...

While the Italian room was indeed a high-sleaze, grown-ups only zone, we actually did have lunch at the bar earlier, before it got crowded. Later on, it was more the blasting music than the booze that I was staying away from. I've been known to throw a couple glasses of fine wine/beer back at family dinners :-)

But yeah, avoiding some of the more intense stuff is totally worth it if I can introduce my kids to the more "fun" (read: pre-1965) aspects of horror!

Ryan said...

Glad you all had a good time at Chiller this year! I went last year and had a blast... http://www.flickr.com/photos/laze/sets/72157616874747601/detail/

And I took my kiddo, too, who I'm stoked got to meet both Ian McCollouch (who was awesome and remembered my daughter's name hours later) and the conquistador zombie. Memories I'm sure she'll cherish many years from now. :)

the jaded viewer said...

You didn't see Blossom? I would have camped out for that. I may return in October.

My favorite part is the tent. You never know who mind be in there...its like a pinata of C level celebs.

Nice write up...

B-Sol said...

No tent this time, actually. They had all the autograph tables inside, maybe for fear of rain. Not sure.

Emily said...

Still sad I missed you and the Kate on Saturday, but love the recap. Seems like you found a great way to integrate your kids in the action. And ohmigoodness, your daughter has a blog all about books? Kill me with cuteness!

Keaton did look absolutely fabulous. I was excited to chat a little with Martino and Deodato (who, amazingly enough, had nobody at their table on Sunday!) and both were simply awesome. Agreed that Ferrigno was something of a jerk. Part of it was that he was handling his own money and photos (why, I don't know) and clearly didn't really know how to maneuver things. My friends really wanted a photo with him (it's on my blog now) and he signed it with something we've spent the last three days trying to read.

My gold star easily went to Grant Cramer from Killer Klowns From Outer Space. He was fantastic and I'm now in love.

Jaded-Blossom was there SUnday only. Apparently she has other things to do. That or she spent two days looking for her hat.

B-Sol said...

OK, maybe I'll cut Ferrigno some slack. After all, we both have a bone to pick with Vince McMahon (google it...).

Geof said...

Sounds like you had a blast. I have never made it to a Chiller yet since I moved back north but I really should the next time it comes around. That's great that you met some of fav bloggers.

suriya said...

I'm trying really hard to not be jealous of all the riding you're doing. I really am...

Chiller

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