November 05, 2005

Chiller Theatre Expo

After three prior trips, it pains me to say this: I can no longer recommend Chiller. Not in its present form. Not to anyone. I don't care how brave or how prone to self abuse they are.

Minutes after my 1,600 mile flight from Dallas, I stood in an interminable line among the throngs who'd also flocked to New Jersey in hopes of eyeballing George Romero, Adam West, Barbara Eden or any of the other 100+ assembled B-luminaries. Everywhere I looked ... chaos and bewildered-to-furious faces. "Is this the line?," someone would invariably ask. When they should've been asking, "Which line is this?"

There were dozens.

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Chiller: Blood Trilogy anniversary

DOWNLOAD MP3 (39 min, 22 mb)

Ah, here's what made it all worthwhile for this gorehound! A once-in-a-lifetime Blood Feast reunion: The Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis. His partner in crime, Dave Friedman. Would be Ishtar sacrifice, Connie Mason. And horror's very first grueslinger, Mal Arnold as Fuad Ramses! In this schlockcast, listen as the four ghouls of honor mark The Blood Trilogy's 40th anniversary with colorful yarns from yesteryear and field questions from a new generation of schlockmeisters. Listen using this handy player or download the complete schlockcast (39 min, 22 mb).

Afterward, yours truly moseyed over to the autograph tent for an audience with my friend and hero, The Godfather of Gore. Visiting with Herschell is always such a joy. It was especially great to hear him beam over Grim Fairy Tales. (More on that in a sec.)

I then stepped away to gush over the goreteur for a documentary Jimmy Maslon's working on. Says to look for it next year -- maybe even on The Discovery Channel.

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Chiller: Grim Fairy Tales

Herschell shoo'd me back up to the dealer rooms to meet Andrew Allan and Andy Lalino of Film State 51. Turns out I already knew them through their shocker short Filthy. (Andy's even an avowed CineSchlocker!) The longer we chatted, the higher I started to hover off the ground as they told me about their plans to lens Herschell's pet project -- Grim Fairy Tales!

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Chiller: Signing tent

"If you can't find a friend -- make one."

Actually, I made two! Enchantress Angela Bettis and director Lucky McKee of May. Lots going on with these two. Lucky is just off Showtime's Masters of Horror where he subbed for a sidelined Roger Corman. While Angela recently directed Lucky in the title role of Roman -- an upcoming companion piece to May! (Excuse me while I squeal like a giddy school girl!) Speaking of, Lucky's next feature, The Woods, takes place at an all-girls boarding school.

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Chiller: Dealer delirium

Maybe I should thank them. Being fleeced by J.R. and Connie Mason probably curbed my spending among the miles of dealer tables. I lingered over of NECA's prototypes for upcoming Cult Classics figures -- featuring Dawn of the Dead's Flyboy and Bubba Ho-Tep himself! They say we can expect Bruce Campbell as Elvis in the next wave! Forgot to ask if the elder "E" will come with a walker -- or whether he'll be paired with Ossie Davis as JFK. In stores now are The Tall Man and a fresh Leatherface.

It was also cool to see how Anchor Bay packages some of its foreign DVD releases. Phantasm in a silver sphere of death. Hellraiser in a jumbo puzzle box. Probably did my biggest double-take at the Krypt Kiddies booth, though. So that's how John Wayne Gacy looked as a baby!?!

As I ranted before, with the dealer rooms effectively on lock down all Saturday afternoon, it was actually pretty easy for the leering press to speedily survey the available goodies. On previous trips -- 2001, 2002, 2003 -- I'd exhausted every moment of the 3-day convention. But I'd had it after almost six hours of the unorganized endurance challenge Chiller's become. Not even their legendary costume contest could keep me from beating feet outta there.

For fans' sake, let's hope Chiller returns as the world's premiere horror convention -- and not just a horror.