Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The most wonderful time of the year

So a couple of weeks ago was HorrorFind Weekend, down in Maryland, and it's always one of my favorite weekends of the year.

It's a horror movie and book convention, complete with screenings, celebrities signign autographs and authors reading from their work.

But really, the most fun part is kicking back with the crew from HorrorTalk and having a good time.

This year was the fourth straight year I've gone (out of five conventions) and the third at the maze that is the Hunt Valley Marriott. Who knows if they'll be back, though, since some yahoos set off the fire alarm not once, but twice, and vandalized the building. Stupid idiots always ruining things for others.

One letdown was that the Timewarp guys were hoping to be able to screen "Dead Hunt" this year, but it isn't done yet. Still, next year should be a good year, since it'll be out by then. Maybe I'll get to sign some autographs! Yay!

But that doesn't mean this year wasn't fun. In fact, it may have been the most fun ever, despite the fact that I thought the con was probably the weakest ever in terms of content in the vendor room. They did pack in the people, despite the world's biggest anime convention being the same weekend, in the same area.

So here's the tick-tock on my trip to the con.

I used to go down on Friday (the con starts Friday night and runs through Sunday afternoon) and stay over through Monday, but two years in a row, something major news-wise happened on Thursday. Two years ago, it was the major East Coast blackout, and last year, it was New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey coming out of the closet and resigning. So this year, I did the smart thing, and took Thursday off.

So I drove down Thursday afternoon, and after missing my exit, finally got there Thursday night. It's not far from where a lot of "Dead Hunt" was shot, so I knew most of the route by heart, but jotted down the last exit number wrong.

When I got there, Stewie was there, with the HorrorTalk Webmaster (Peter West, Danger Seeker) and Renaldo. I've roomed with Stewie the past three years now. We don't mind each other's snoring, and we're cheap enough to want to split the bill.

Stewie had rigged everything up so we and Renaldo had adjoining rooms, and both had patios next to the pool. This was cool, because it meant we could spend most of our time sitting outside at little tables, drinking beer. I got eaten alive by bugs, but that's not the point.

So Thursday night, we drank.

We started out in the bar, with all the cool con people, and then headed back to our patios.

There, Joe Ripple, the director of "Dead Hunt," stopped by, and that rocked. Joe ran security (no, the damn alarms weren't his fault) and I hadn't seen him or talked with him much since the end of the shoot (he's working and going back to school for nursing) so it was great to see him. Joe also gave me my very own TimeWarp Films shirt, and that may have been the highlight of the weekend. I put it on Saturday, and I don't think I took it off until I got home, except to sleep and shower.

Problem was, my Captain-and-Coke evening backfired, because the stupid sleep study I had Wednesday night gave me a raging nosebleed that just won't go away. So that night, it started again, and when I honked down the blood, I wound up puking my guts out. Yuck.

I've decided that while barfing is funny when other people do it, it's not so funny when I do it.

So Friday starts off with a bang because somewhere in our drunken wisdom the night before, we'd agreed to hit the big ol' breakfast buffet with Peter.

Yeah, like I could eat. I got a nice omelet and I wound up pretty much staring hungrily at three crispy strips of bacon that I was just too scared to eat. It's one thing to barf in the privacy of your room. It's another to do it in public.

So, no breakfast. Spent most of the afternoon screwing around, since the con didn't open until the evening, then hopped on line for my wristband and off we went!

I was finally feeling better by then, I might add. In case you were concerned.

My rule on vendor rooms is this: I make at least one lap of everything before I buy ANYTHING - that saves me money in the long run. Not that I didn't run out, but heck, I run out every year.

So I actually ended up buying virtually nothing on Friday. I did take a picture of Stewie with Sid Haig, star of Rob Zombie's two horror films. No, I have no idea how to post pictures on Blogger. Go to the HorrorTalk forum, and you can see it there. Stewie's the one with hair.

And Friday night, more drinking. Fnordboy and his lady arrived Friday (I think; between the booze and my usual forgetfulness, the days kind of run together). So that was more fun. That was before she got food poisoning.

Highlight of the night: Stewie and Renaldo grabbed some barricade posts that were nearby, blocked off our patio, and put up a sign that said something like "Private Party, Guests of HorrorTalk only, please." So these kids come by and ask us if we mind if they use the pool. Hah!

And then, after they'd hopped the fence and gotten caught, the manager or whoever made them hop the fence to get out (rather than letting them in the hotel-side entrance) and one of 'em just completely duffed it going back over. Clang! Thud! Ow!

This night, by the way, I'd recovered enough to drink this cool new flavor of Woodchuck cider I'd found at the liquor store while buying my contribution to the party. Dry and Dark. Yum, though I must say I like the Granny Smith better.

Saturday, we gave the buffet another shot. And the bacon was good!

And then off to the con. Bruce Campbell was the headline celebrity, and the line for him went around the freakin' hotel. Fortunately, the line for the guys I wanted was much shorter.

That was the cool part of the morning. Rob Long, the guy doing the "Dead Hunt" poster, did a very cool limited edition poster for "Phantasm," and mailed me a bunch of signed copies for the HT folks. So me, Stewie and Renaldo got in line for Don Coscarelli, the director, and Angus Scrimm, the star.

Oddly enough, I've worked with Coscarelli's niece for five years and never put two and two together. One of the other newsroom movie fans told me the day before I left.

So we're in line, and poor Angus - who's not as young as he used to be - had to use the men's room, so they tell us two of us can get signatures and stuff, then he's going to "take five for a minute." Stewie wanted to get to this reading downstairs, so he switched with Renaldo (I was first of the three of us, somehow) and the two of us got our pics and autographs. Both were very cool. Angus Scrimm was a real gentleman, possibly the only person at the con in a blazer and tie. And even moreso considering he had to take a leak. Coscarelli was great, too, and me and Stewie both got our pictures taken with them before hustling off to catch Reggie Bannister, one of the other "Phantasm" stars, and wait for Renaldo.

We got Reggie's autograph and were listening to Renaldo whine about how he didn't get Angus' on his poster, when Joe comes running up asking if we'd seen Angus. Seems he had a senior moment after his return from the men's room and, depending on who you ask, either wandered away from the table or made a break for the exit.

(They found him soon enough. I don't even think he made it out of the room. God bless him, he was a great guy, very nice. I don't mean to make him sound senile, it was just kind of funny. They were so nice to him, walking him to the bathroom and all, and he just BOLTED.)

So after that, we went to a reading by Brian Keene, the author of the drop-dead-cool "The Rising" and plenty more - who named a character after Stewie in an upcoming book, and Stewie swore to us Keene would be reading the excerpt the character's in.

But no, he didn't. Still, it was a great reading - Keene's a terrific reader, and not all great authors are, believe me. He really gets into it. And getting gifts of whiskey from the audience probably doesn't hurt. Watch for "Earthworm Gods," or whatever it's going to be called, coming soon. Sounds great, and Stewie's in there somewhere, just not in the part he read.

Then I bought some books - there's a new genre out there called "bizarro," and I thought I'd give it a shot. As a headline writer, if there's one thing I can appreciate in a book, it's a catchy title. I mean, "City of the Dead" (the sequel to "The Rising") is a cool title, but pretty self-explanatory.

"Dead Bitch Army," on the other hand, virtually demands you buy it to see what's what. And frankly, three books for $20 is a gamble I'll take any day. I wound up leaving with about ten books for less than $100.

And that's without Cemetery Dance, one of my new favorite horror publishers, being there. Another publisher wasn't there, either, but for the life of me, I can't remember what they're called. Which is unfortunate, because I wanted to buy a book from them that I caught at a reading last year, but I can't remember the author - I knew what table was selling the book, but they'd closed up by the time I got down there, and they weren't there this year. Bummer.

Then, Saturday afternoon, I did my first "DH"-related interview. A company called Video Kitchen is doing a documentary on Timewarp producer Don Dohler, and they asked me to do a formal interview with them. That was cool, since I hadn't seen them since "DH" wrapped, either. Good guys and gal. So I hope they don't make me look like an idiot. I tried to be both eloquent and funny, and I hope it worked. They asked me some tough questions, which surprised me. On the upside, I got to wear my cool shirt, too.

Then it was off to dinner with indie horror film director Kevin Kangas ("Fear of Clowns") and his buddies. Fun. I had something called "sour beef," and it was much better than it sounds.

Anyway, Saturday night was our big drinking party. Everybody who was everybody was there, including Kangas and a trio of friends, the awesome actor J.P. Barry ("FOC," plus two Timewarp films, including "DH"), the aforementioned HT members, retired reviewer Supernova, plus forum ladies Freakmagnet and Meatyhook.

The highlight of that evening was the skinny-dipper. Somebody spotted this girl swimming (again, after hours) and so I nudged J.P., who had been working security at the show, and asked him, "So what do you carry that cool flashlight for, if not for moments like this?"

And he lit her up. Like the sun.

And she responded with a moon. God bless the exhibitionists.

Did I mention Kangas brought Coronas?

So Sunday dawned with another go-round at the buffet, where I found the guys eating with Keene and fellow author J.F. Gonzalez. So after chatting a bit with him about writing and work and such, it was back down to the con for some more books. But first, I hung out with the Video Kitchen crew a bit, and saw Joe and his "future ex-Mrs. Ripple," his saintly wife.

After a while, the con petered out, we said our goodbyes, packed our stuff, and for me and Steve and the VK folks, it was off to Don's house to see some footage of "DH." The movie's about halfway done with editing, and it's freakin' TIGHT. Y'all are gonna love it. Trust me, it's just rockin'.

So that was a kick-ass end to the weekend - I was going to stay over at Chez Stewie on Sunday night and go home Monday, but it was still early when we were done at Don's, and Stewie's is the wrong way, plus he had to roll out early (or so he thought). And so I just drove on home, and got what amounted to a free day off to sort my loot Monday.

Besides the books, I picked up three DVDs - I'm working on a review of one - plus another DVD arrived in the mail while I was gone. Working on that review, too.

Now I just have to get that killer poster framed.

It was a blast. Can't you tell?

HorrorFind Weekend, the bestest con ever
HorrorTalk, the reason I go
TimeWarp Films, Joe and Don's company
Marauder Productions, Kangas' company
The Video Kitchen gang
J.P. Barry, the other half of the "DH" Asian Invasion
"Phantasm," a horror classic
Brian Keene, awesome horror author
Eraserhead Press, publishers of "Dead Bitch Army" and more
Die Monster Die!, publishers of "The Dead Walk!" and more

This weekend was brought to you by:
Captain Morgan spiced rum
Woodchuck Draft Cider
Corona, with or without lime

And, by the way, Stewie already covered most of this in his blog. I'm just a little slow to report in.


Stewie said...

Dude, great coverage, great time.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

Aric Blue said...

Kangas brought Coors Light. The girls with him brought Coronas.

Get it straight, ya drunk!