Copyright © Kitley's Krypt 1998-2014
Before our first convention of the year, there is that countdown to the show, waiting for months for the show to finally get here, so we can see all our convention friends and family, as well as meet plenty more. Oh yea…and there’s plenty of guests to see and a huge dealer room (or two) to browse through. So as the days get closer, we get our stuff ready for our table, making sure we don’t forget anything (which we usually do anyway) and look forward to a great time. Like our last show, the Krypic Van only had one extra passenger this time, Dr. AC himself, Aaron Christensen. The rest of the van was filled out with the rest of my family. My wife Dawn and son Nick would be joining us once again to the show, making the Kitley’s Krypt table literally a family business. But a few weeks before this show, I had pulled something in my back, making it extremely painful to be sitting for any length of time. Even worse was trying to move AFTER I’d been sitting for any length of time. So the idea of getting in the van and driving 7 hours to Columbus wasn’t something I was looking forward to. But…after all, this is a horror convention…nothing short of death is going to keep me away.
Once we got on the road, it didn’t take long, less than an hour before my back was in agony. But as long as I didn’t move too much, it was bearable. Getting out of the Chicago area went much quicker than we thought. We’d been told by our fellow convention buddy Joe Wallace that there was construction outside of Indianapolis so we might want to avoid that if possible. But just as we got onto I-65 to head south to Indy, there was a sign saying that due to an accident, I-65 South was completely closed for a stretch. Stuff like this is never a good thing, especially when you are trying to make good time to get to the show. So we take a little side road, which was pretty much like going in a roller coaster. Normally flying down this little road at about 60 mph, feeling your stomach hit the back of your throat is a fun time. But it played hell on my back. But we kept going like that for a few miles before we found a way back onto I-65 that was now open.
Finally we made it to the show, after several stops for me to get out and try to walk again (which would take on average about 10 minutes), stretching out the back. The more I moved around, the better it would get. So I knew once we were there, we’d be okay. We found the hotel rather quickly and looked for our table, which was not in the main dealer room, but in the section we fondly called the “wedding tent”, which was technically outside of the hotel. But there were celebrity tables in there as well, so we knew that the crowd of people would be working its way through this room as well. We were also located right next to Mr. Wallace of Turntabling.net once again (I think he’s stalking us). So at least we’re in good company. Even before we got set up, we could see the huge line of people waiting to get into the show ever growing. For a first time venue for the show, there was always a chance that the regulars won’t make the trek to the show and you’ll just draw the local crowds. But from the huge guest list they had, and the diehard HorrorHounds out there, the people were piling into the hotel for the show. That is always a great thing to see.
Once we got set up, we had a chance to look around the dealer room before the onslaught of people were let loose. Fellow HorrorHound scribe Matt Moore and his wife Suzie made the trip to the show this time, bringing along plenty of her incredible strawberry cookies that damn near put me in a sugar coma before the weekend was over. Don England was there as well, with a few new items set up at his booth. His work gets more and more impressive each and every year. One surprise we got while walking around was seeing AJ and Amy Wager from Meatspider Studios. We had first met them last year at the Flashback Weekend here in Chicago. AJ’s sculptures are just stunning. Even more so once he created a 3-D image of our logo that is something I look at every single day and am amazed at his talent. So it was great to see them set up here at this show. Seeing that he had some more of little “Blob in a Jar”, we knew we’d be spending some money at their table, including picking up one of their Aylmer creatures from BRAIN DAMAGE. If you haven’t checked out his sculptures, then you are really missing out.
Being a horror enthusiast (aka nerd), you could say that black t-shirts are a common thing. And Fright Rags is one place where I have gotten several shirts from over the years. With booming full color prints with some great characters designs, they’re shirts really stand out. They were set up at the show and it was the first time I got the chance to meet Ben, the man behind the shirts. Also helping him at the show is the princess of horror nerdom, Kristy Jett, who has done so much for the genre in her non-stop promoting, writing, and tons more, she is definitely one that you want on your side.
But we had to get back to our table before too long since the doors would be opening and the crowds would be flying in. We had to make sure we had our schedule for the Q&A panels, which are always a fun time, and also gives you a chance to get some photos of the celebs without having to pay for the damn things!
One of the guests that I had never seen before that I really wanted to meet was cult icon Pam Grier. While most of her movies have been straight up exploitation films, she had appeared in a few horror films, including Eddie Romero’s TWILIGHT PEOPLE, which is a favorite of ours. So we wanted to make sure we tried to get to see her at some point. Dr. AC was lucky enough to be the one running her Q&A session, which we got to sit in part of. Grier is an amazing woman who had a very rough childhood, bringing all of her history into her performances. She is one woman that was not going to be pushed aside. And in her films like COFFEY and FOXY BROWN, you can see just that. She is also one of the friendliest people out there. Very easy going and sets her fans at ease. No tension there when you meet her.
One of other panels that we made it to was the DAY OF THE DEAD panel. Appearing there were actors Lori Cardille, Anthony Dileo, Taso Stavrakis, zombie actors Mark Tierno and Debra Gordon, and makeup artist John Vulich. Now I’ve seen Cardille and Dileo before and have heard them talk about the film. And some may wonder just how interesting could it be to hear from some extra play a zombie. But I have to tell you, you just might be surprised. Each member on the panel had some great and interesting stories, from terrible makeup stories, getting into character, or just how they got to work on this film. So if you have the opportunity to sit in on one of these Q&A’s, I would highly recommend it.
Making I believe her first convention appearance was Carolyn Purdy Gordon, wife of director Stuart Gordon. If you’ve seen any of Gordon’s films, you probably have seen Carolyn in there somewhere, specifically RE-ANIMATOR or FROM BEYOND, but especially in DOLLS. So it was nice to be able to hear some of her thoughts on these films, her performances and her reactions to the fans. Joining her on stage was her husband Stuart and Barbara Crampton, as they talked about both FROM BEYOND and RE-ANIMATOR. Stuart Gordon is such a friendly guy and always has some great stories about the behind the scenes of his films.
Now even though we were not a big fan of the original movie, the creator of BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, co-writer and director Scott Glosserman and Vernon himself, Nathan Baesel were there to try to their sequel off the ground. Hosting the Q&A was the aforementioned PR dynamo Kristy Jett. They have some interesting ideas for their sequel if they can get the funding.
I was also just flat out shocked at the line that Norman Reedus was drawing throughout the whole weekend. Sure, I know THE WALKING DEAD is a huge show, but there were people waiting 2-3 hours each day to get the chance to pay him $30 for an autograph. Nothing against Reedus, since I’ve enjoyed his work in the series, as well as BLADE 2, but it just amazes me what people will pay for that opportunity just to say hi and get a signature and a photo. Oh how do I long for those days where the celebs would come to these shows to promote their latest film or even just to thank their fans for their support over the years.
Since these shows are little mini-reunions where we get to see and hang out with friends that we only see at the shows, after the dealer room closes for the night, the real party starts. A group of us, usually a larger one, all conjures at one place to eat, usually making the waiting staff regret their career choice. Oh wait…that’s just me. It is a fun get-together to talk about the show, recent movies, and a general catching up. Of course, sometimes getting to the restaurants can be a task in itself. Since there might be so many of us, and trying to take a few vehicles as possible, sometimes someone might get the get stuck in a slightly uncomfortable spot. On Friday night, a bunch of us ended up at a Texas Roadhouse, where most of us are so damn hungry from not eating all day, we’re about ready to tear into anything the waiter brings out. But it is always a great time to be able to hang out with some incredibly fun company. That really is one of the best parts about these conventions for us.
Once we dragged our overstuffed carcasses back to the hotel, we find more friends and basically sit around nerding out, talking about the show, movies, and whatever else comes to mind. Sure, this might sound pretty boring to the average person. But when you get a bunch of die-hard horror fans together, that might not have that many people they can talk to about this stuff, with the same amount of passion that they have, the game is on. Two of our good convention buddies, Ken Johnson and Justin Allison, had come out to the show. Normally we just have a few minutes to chat at our table during the show. But this time we wanted to get some serious talking going. Which we did….until about 3am! Just throwing movie titles out there and hearing different opinions, whether you agree or not, it is always a good time. We had so much fun that we did the same thing again the following night!
Once we dragged ourselves out of bed the next morning, one of the places that my son wanted to hit for breakfast was a Waffle House, since we’ve always seen them, but had never stopped at one. So we did. This guy name Al was there to greet us and help us find a seat. Al was moving stuff around, helping get situated and get our menus. Al was very friendly. We knew his name was Al because he kept telling us his name was Al and to remember him when we left. So we did….I took a photo of him and told him now we would remember him.
While at these conventions, you just never know who pops up at your table. Since we sell reference books, our cliental is a lot more selective than most, but we’re okay with that because we truly believe in the power of books. When someone comes to look at our books, we know they are a serious student of the genre. So at one point while I was sitting behind my table, without looking up I noticed a couple of people at our table. I quickly grabbed my camera, held it up above my head and snapped a photo. When I looked at the camera to see if the photo turned out, imagine my surprised when only then did I realize that it was Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley perusing our books. Now this is something that really makes me smile. Not that he is shopping at our table, but it shows that he truly is a fan of the genre and ended up buying a couple of books from us. While other celebs are there to do the whole ‘meet-and-greet’ (while making some fast cash), there really are some there that are into it just like the fans coming to meet them. And that always impresses me.
Another example…near the end of the show on Sunday, a man walks up and starts looking at the books. We start talking about the Universal classics and Hammer films and just had a great conversation about the classics and reference books. Turns out this gentleman was author Mark A. Miller, the author of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and Horror Cinema: A Filmography of Their 22 Collaborations. So you just never know who might meet at one of these conventions.
All said and done, it was a pretty successful show. There were plenty of other celebs there that we didn’t get time to get to, or had seen before at previous shows. Also, since it has become a standard to have to pay to even take a photo of a celeb, we don’t even bother anymore. But the ones that we at least talked to were friendly. But more and more for us, these shows are becoming more about seeing our friends and having a good time than it is about the celebrities. Sure, the Q&A panels are fun and interesting…and are still free. And if we had time away from our table, we might even take in a film at the film screenings they have. But waiting in line, and paying a ludicrous amount for an autograph and/or a photo just seems silly these days. And I really fear will be the downfall of movie conventions in general. But we can all hope for the best.