On Saturday, April 1, I was very excited to take the short trip to Edison for the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. I believe this was a first-time show, and for a first-time show to bring in as many names as they did, it was a nice surprise and put it on my watch list from the day it was announced. While it was far from the other NJ horror themed shows, NJ Horror Con provided a much more intimate atmosphere, and far friendlier pricing structures. Admission was $25, and table combos did not seem to exceed $30.
I had already met a number of these stars – Michael Berryman, Rick Hearst, Matthew Lillard, Tony Moran, and Sharon Smyth-Lentz. It was the contingency of Back to the Future cast members that caught my eye. I had all four of the BTTF stars sign my copy of Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, and I also got 8x10s from each of them for the collection.
Overall, this was a nice, fresh show bringing several new names to NJ’s convention scene. NJ Horror Con has another show slated for September, and I hope to attend once again.
Having attended RICC’s first three shows, missing just the fourth one, I thought I was due for a reappearance in 2016. This show is crazy, attendees run around like chickens with their heads cut off, but I f***ing love it. They always book that odd ensemble of guests that makes it great for autograph collectors. It’s a little pricier, but if you stay away from the stars in the main room, you can leave the show with a nice haul and a ton of table photo ops.
Having purchased my ticket just a few days earlier, I was able to bypass the line wrapped around the convention center and go right inside to the box office. Instead of then having to go back outside with ticket in hand and waiting in line, DDC staffers allowed us to go right inside the show. It was a nice little blip in the system.
After learning all of the big names were in the Dunkin Donuts Center, and everyone else was in the convention center, I headed into there. Mostly everyone was at their tables, and if they weren’t, they were trickling in at a steady pace.
In addition to the above, I also scored some signatures, but no photo ops from William Zabka and Michael Bell. For Zabka, I printed up a still from 1985’s European Vacation. He was floored that I had this photo. A convention regular, he has never signed one before. For Bell, I brought along a DVD from a movie in which he had a small role, 1977’s Rollercoaster. While he didn’t have a big part in the movie, his signature looks beautiful on my DVD cover.
Overall, it was a great show and it was nice to return to my former residence of Providence, Rhode Island. I wish there had been a few more guests that I needed to see, but fingers crossed, next year’s lineup will be even better and I’ll once again make the trek up there.
On Friday night, I attended my 14th Chiller Theatre Expo (I’ve missed just one since I began attending in 2009). It’s hard to believe there are now 14 in the books and that I’m a seasoned veteran, especially since I know there are folks out there who have been to 3x, even 4x more than I have. These intrepid fans are the real inspiration for attending. To think about just how many great stars the Chiller fans have had access to since 1990.
The evening started off on a bit of a sad note as longtime Chiller mascot, John Zacherle aka Zacherley the Cool Ghoul, had passed away peacefully the night before at the age of 98. While Zacherley was in everyone’s hearts throughout the weekend, there was still that never-ending buzz of excitement throughout the halls of Sheraton Parsippany. A rare appearance from Tim Curry, the return of Meat Loaf, Tony Orlando and Dawn together again, a Jaws 2 reunion, everyone’s favorite Jeannie – Barbara Eden, and a slew of TV and movie stars to span the decades.
I walked in the door a minute or two past 5, and began in the Skylands Suite. RK Sports Promotions had brought in three of my wants – Sasha Mitchell, Sonny Shroyer, and Dawn Wells, and I successfully banged out the three of them in around 15 minutes time. By the time I had finished with them, Ted Lange had arrived, and I crossed yet another name off my list. Despite pretty much being a “B-Lister” room, I think there were more household names in here than there were in the Living Room, and far more business transactions. All of the celebrities seemed to consistently have a customer in front of them.
I then moved onto the Livingston Room where the cast of Jaws 2 had taken up shop for the weekend. Other than Tim Curry, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Chiller. The guest lineup was lackluster, and while I always needed a good batch of name, none of them really excited me…until they added the Jaws 2 cast. One of my favorite movies, being able to see six of the cast members in one shot really made the 30 minute drive worth it for me. I was a little surprised with their pricing structure, $40 combos, but I bit the bullet and got them all.
I made a brief pit stop in the Morris Room to obtain some signatures for my buddy Wayne. He needed a slew of Bobby Rydell signatures, as well as May Pang.
The only guest I needed in the Living Room was Academy Award winning actor Martin Landau. Despite being a repeat guest, Landau had a reasonably sized line. After all, he is a living legend. The majority of the guests in the Living Room had absolutely no lines, and it seemed like most vacated their tables fairly early on in the evening.
At this point, I circled back through the hotel to get anyone who hadn’t been at their tables during my first spin around the block. Tonya Pinkins in the Skylands Suite, Telma Hopkins in the Randolph Room, and back to the Living Room for my main man, Caroll Spinney, who makes frequent appearances on this blog.
At some point, can’t remember exactly when, I lined up for the exclusive Tim Curry photo op. Tim was taking his time interacting with everyone, but the line still moved relatively fast and I believe I was done in about 30 minutes. I think the most frustration stemmed from the extremely long wait time for prints to be made ready for pickup. I think everyone waited at least 2 hours for their photos to come out. Tim had finished and gone back up to his room an hour before my photo finally came out of the printer. I’ve been to many shows where prints are available by the time you exit the photo area. Why this operation, helmed by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory star Paris Themmen, is so far behind on the times, I have no idea, but Paris handled the crowd like a real pro. I guess it’s just hard for anyone to be mad at Mike Teevee.
At the end of the night, I had some time to kill while I waited for the print of my photo op. Cue the impulse buying. I obtained Kyle Labine and Kristy McNichol before the night was through, as well as laying down some money for a few vintage autographs in the Vendors Room.
Before I wrap up, I want to say how great it was seeing Mr. Chiller, Kevin Clement, back at the reign this year. We’re all extremely happy to see him “home” where he belongs. I look forward to attending the Chiller show every six months, and he’s the man to thank for it. And now I impatiently await the next one and the day the guest list starts appearing online…
It’s hard to believe it has been over two weeks since I made my semi-annual, two-hour trek down to Cherry Hill, NJ for Monster-Mania Con, Philadelphia’s premier horror film & memorabilia convention. Definitely NJ’s most affordable show, the drive is worthwhile for prices alone. I usually hope to score at least five names, and with the addition early on of the Halloween 6 cast, there were five names alone guaranteeing my presence at the event. Any other additions would be a nice added bonus.
Headlining the show this time around was the iconic Robert Englund, star of course of the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. While I’ve never scored a photo op with Robert, I do have the autograph, so I opted to skip his long and slow moving line. Other guests included Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers (his “final” convention appearance), Ric Flair, Lee Majors, and Tara Reid, just to name a few, many of which I have already met and obtained autographs and photos.
When I arrived promptly at 10 AM, the main signing room was pretty bare, but the guests began trickling in not long after. My main wants, the cast of Halloween 6, had not yet arrived aside from George P. Wilbur, whom I met at a previous Monster-Mania Con.
At this point, the rest of the Halloween 6 cast had arrived, and I became one of their first customers. Having these cast members sitting together made it quite convenient for me, and it also enabled a lively chat and engagement between us all.
After I finished up with all my wants for the day, I walked by Adrienne Barbeau’s table and noticed she had an 8×10 that I’ve never seen her bring to any shows before – one from her deleted scenes in Rob Zombie’s Halloween. I just had to have it.
So in about an hour and a half’s time, I scored 8 names, 7 of which I had intended on, and found a nice surprise with that new Adrienne photo. The upcoming Monster-Mania show in October looks like a no-go for me, but I hope to make it back down to Cherry Hill in March for another great time!!!
With a free weekend on my lap and plenty of autograph opportunities in the area, I indulged myself. Competing with Chiller was The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, a large comic con event in Oaks, PA. While Chiller is predominantly adults and celebrity guests spanning the decades, Great Philly Con was geared towards family and included a set of celebrities geared more towards a younger generation. Needing a handful of names, I didn’t hesitate a bit and took the drive out there on Saturday, April 23.
First up was one of my first childhood crushes, Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Power Ranger. Amy Jo was the show’s special guest and was signing in a private room away from the main floor. Her line began forming prior to her arrival, but once she came in, it began to move quite quickly. She surprised everyone with table photos, but I had already purchased a professional photo op ticket, so I just got an autograph when I went into her room.
With about an hour left before my photo op with Amy Jo, I got the remaining stars I needed with no lines and plenty of time to chat.
Lastly, it was time for the Amy Jo Johnson photo op. Unlike the photo op operation at Chiller the evening before, the 8×10 prints of these photos were ready and handed to us within a minute of departing the curtained area Amy Jo was in. Very professional and accommodating for the fans, especially myself, who hit the road as soon as it was in my hands.
Overall, The Great Philadelphia Comic Con was a HUGE show, however, attendance was not nearly what I had expected. It was a fun time, and I hope that if it is held again next year, it is in my cards to attend. Now if you think that was it for the weekend, you have got another shock coming…