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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chiller Theatre Strikes Again!

Those of you who have been following my exploits here in The Vault of Horror for some years now have come to expect my (somewhat) annual report from Chiller Theatre, the Northeast's premier horror/genre convention. And I'm proud to say that I made it once again this year, progeny in tow as usual, prepared to bestow upon them all the wonders of geek culture. And this time we really outdid ourselves, because we were joined by the other half of the Terror Team, the one and only Captain Cruella of the Carnivorous Cadavers!

So there we were, the Terror Team along with Zombelina and Skeleton Jack (a.k.a. Wee-Sol), taking in what had to be the best thing happening in Parsippany, New Jersey on this particular day. Getting into the spirit as always, Zombelina was resplendent in Bride of Frankenstein white streaks. The boy simply had to get in on the act as well, and a quick on-site makeup job made him such a dead ringer for Zacherley that when we once again crossed paths with the Cool Ghoul himself, he couldn't help but be impressed and bestow a free autographed pic (not to mention agree to an interview--but more on that later, dear Vault dwellers...)

As for the Captain--well, it's not every day that one gets to attend a horror convention with a real-life zombie. As we plastered the place with VoH cards and took in all the sights, Cruella became one of the sights all to herself, attracting the usual attention and adoration with her unique, undead regalia.

Just as it is every year, Chiller was jam-packed with the kind of celebrities that make the average fanboy quiver with anticipation. So, of course, it was no surprise that we would run into the likes of Susan "Cindy Brady" Olsen and Butch "Eddie Munster" Patrick. However, imagine my shock and bliss when the Captain stopped and pointed out to me that none other than Ernest Borgnine, one of Hollywood's greatest living legends, was seated just a few feet away. Now I'm not one to lose it for just anyone, but this was indeed a treat--to meet the man who won an Oscar for Marty, starred alongside Sinatra in From Here to Eternity and survived The Poseidon Adventure. Not to mention, as I pointed out to the kiddies, is the voice of Mermaid Man on Spongebob Squarepants.

But in terms of photo opps, it got no cooler than P.J. Soles, my very favorite slasher movie victim of all time. We all took turns having our picture taken with this unforgettable scream queen, who once met her bitter end at the hands of Michael Myers in the original Halloween.

And of course, Chiller would be nothing without oceans of wondrous stuff on display, to tempt the hearts and empty the wallets of the faithful. This year, we walked away with a complete DVD collection of the ultra-rare Tales from the Cryptkeeper animated series (I didn't even know the show existed), as well as a vintage (OK, vintage reprint) issue of The Vault of Horror comic book--picked out by Zombelina herself (what can I say, she's proud of the old man.)

We all enjoyed a leisurely outdoor lunch, as the little ones took turns reading macabre stories from our VoH comic book. After the Captain and I did a little networking with artists and other creative types, and we enjoyed a few other celeb run-ins (Jack took pleasure in scowling at the evil Johnny from The Karate Kid), it soon became clear that the spawn were hitting the wall and it was time to make an exit.

But it didn't end there, because thanks to the resourcefulness and sense of adventure of my zombified counterpart, we soon found ourselves continuing the excursion in a most appropriate place--the supposedly haunted Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, situated about halfway between Chiller and Vault headquarters in idyllic Connecticut. Slipping in just before the gates closed, we wandered the graves with fascination, and even managed to stumble upon (well not literally, that would be disrespectful) the grave stone of Samuel Gompers, noted founder of the American Federation of Labor, and hero to the working class.

All in all, our Sleepy Hollow stopover was a perfect capper to the annual Chiller Theatre outing. And as always, it is one of the unique joys of my life to pass along all the nerdy goodness to my children, just as my parents did with me. This year, that experience was made even more thrilling by being able to share it with my lovely consort. It marked the first time that the Terror Team took Chiller Theatre by storm, and I look forward to many more such incursions to come.

Chiller will be returning in October, and we will certainly be making our best efforts to make it once again, or at least to return by next year's spring installment. I've been coming now for over a decade, and I've been privileged to share it with those special to me. It's a must-have experience for any genre fan, and even if it's gotten just a little smaller and maybe not quite as grandiose as in previous years, it still remains a pilgrimage that any Northeast horror fan worth his or her salt must make.


Pax Romano said...

Wow, all this and Ernest Borgnine too! I would have gone bonkers and started saying, "Whaddaya wanna do tonight, Marty?"

And PJ Soles? Not just for "Halloween" - but "Rock and Roll High School"!

B-Sol said...

It was so surreal, Pax! But to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure ol' Ernie would've gotten the joke at this point...

The Scream Queen said...

Have you hit up Monster Mania yet? I did Chiller last year and then Monster Mania this year (also in Jersey) and I found Monster Mania to be way superior. We even stayed the whole weekend :)

B-Sol said...

Have not done Monster Mania yet, but it's definitely on the agenda!

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