My 15th Chiller Theatre Expo came and went fairly fast on Friday, April 21. Despite having purchased a pre-show ticket for Friday night, work held me up and I didn’t arrive at the Hilton until 7 PM, two hours after doors opened. With a somewhat lackluster lineup of guests, and a growing cancellation list, I would find myself finished by 9:30 PM, and quite a bit of time was spent socializing, touring the newly updated Hilton, and grabbing a couple of traditional convention hot dogs.
Upon arrival, I was frustrated with the layout, and hastily began getting to work in what was formerly the pit area at this property. The pit has since been filled in, and the stars were really out in the open. I heard other attendees remark about the lack of security, and several even bragged that they didn’t purchase admission, as wristbands were not being checked anywhere.
Max Gail ~ Best known for his role of Detective Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz on “Barney Miller,” Gail also appeared alongside fellow Chiller attendee Dee Wallace in a short-lived ABC sitcom of my childhood – “Sons & Daughters.”
Jon “Bowzer” Bauman ~ Sha Na Na’s Bowzer was an attendee at my first ever Chiller Expo back in 2009, however, I skipped him that time around. 8 years later, I couldn’t turn him down. We had a nice chat about his role in Grease and the residuals that still come in from it.
Both Max Gail and Bowzer charged $50 for combos, the norm for Chiller’s main room stars for the past few years. At this point, out of my other “pit area” wants, George Hamilton had taken a break and Tom Berenger’s line was long – much longer than I ever expected it would be. So, I decided to seek out some of the more budget friendly stars, and low and behold, there were actually plenty of them. I didn’t keep great track of the pricing this year, but I can tell you that none of the following names were more than $30 for a combo.
Peter Riegert ~ A new face to the convention scene, Animal House‘s Boon Schoenstein came with plenty of photos from his career. He was very appreciative of all the fans who came to see him.
Art LaFleur ~ I was really excited when LaFleur was announced as a guest. With one look at the dozens of photos on his table, my childhood movie memories just came flooding back. From his start in Rescue from Gilligan’s Island to The Sandlot, Field of Dreams, A Cinderella Story, and more recently as the Tooth Fairy aka the Molinator in the two sequels to The Santa Clause, he was a huge part of my childhood. I found his $30 so reasonable that I bought a couple autographs from him – each a different role – which is something I seldom do.
Carol Lynley ~ Tucked behind the room-length line for Pat Priest, was another blonde bombshell from Hollywood’s yesteryear – Carol Lynley, star of The Poseidon Adventure. Like her table neighbor Priest, Lynley was charging a mere $20 for combos. Word of this quickly spread and everyone was hitting her up. A $20 combo at Chiller is the next best thing to a freebie. The downfall was that her photos were not organized in the slightest, you had to dig through her albums for the perfect shot. However, Carol chatted with you the entire time you dug, and seemingly loved the company and constant attention.
Mike Maronna & Danny Tamberelli ~ Big Pete and Little Pete, respectively, of “Pete & Pete” were a lot of fun to chat with. I brought a Home Alone photo for Maronna, which he signed for me at no charge, and even obliged when I asked him to inscribe “You’re such a disease.”
Stacey Nelkin ~ If you couldn’t guess it by my shirt, Halloween is my favorite horror movie franchise, so naturally I opted for a photo from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Stacey was a sweetheart and added a quote, as well as her character name.
Alexandra Paul ~ It was a bitch trying to find a high resolution photo from when Alexandra was on the “Perry Mason” revival in the late 80s, so I had to settle with getting one of her 8x10s. Luckily, she had a really sexy shot from American Flyers that I snatched up. Sorry “Baywatch” fans, but the short haircut just didn’t do it for me.
Dale Raoul ~ Before heading back out to finish up with the headliners, I popped in to see what Dale’s prices were. For a $25 combo, I quickly laid out the cash and my Out to Sea DVD. We spoke for several minutes about the movie, and she echoed other costars that I’ve met when saying what a great experience it was.
And then it was back out to price gauging heaven where I would score the remainder of my combos for the night. Hamilton’s line looked longer than it was, as it weaved in between Barbara Hershey’s and Dolores Hart’s. Berenger’s showed no signs of slowing down at all – but he moved quickly, making it a short wait.
George Hamilton ~ I guess it was the way he behaved on “Dancing with the Stars“, but I expected Hamilton to be standoffish or snobbish, however, I am happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was a true gentleman, and we got a good laugh when he told a story about a little girl freaking out at the airport recently because she recognized him as the villain, Desmond Spellman, in Casper Meets Wendy, a direct-to-video classic from my childhood.
Tom Berenger ~ No doubt about it – Tom had the longest line of this show. He was a huge draw. I think he was only signing Major League and Platoon items until I presented him with a “Cheers” 8×10. He was an Emmy-nominated guest star during the series’ final season. He was really surprised that I had it, and got a good laugh out of it.
By the time I was ready to leave, Barbara Hershey’s line had dissipated and there was only one or two people at her table. Having spotted a Hoosiers photo earlier in the night, I was quick to hand over the cash and score the headlining star prior to leaving.
Barbara Hershey ~ A fairly last-minute add-on, this was Barbara’s first convention appearance. With a career that spans the decades, and several iconic film roles, she was the respective headliner for this show.
Probably my fastest Chiller, and possibly my smallest – just 13 stars – Number 15 was in the books. I even came in under budget and brought money home with me!!! As always, a huge thank you to Mr. Chiller – Kevin Clement – for putting together the largest show on the eastern seaboard. I look forward to this all year, and am impatiently awaiting the guests for the October incarnation.