Thursday, May 15, 2014

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014

A couple weeks ago we went to Dallas for Texas Frightmare Weekend which is an annual horror convention. This year was a ton of fun so let me share some highlights with you.

On the way to Dallas, we stopped in Waco to visit the Dr. Pepper Museum. The museum had a lot more exhibits than I expected. It was really cool to see the old bottling equipment. They even had dozens of old soda machines from a wide range of decades. I got a lot more insight on the process of making soda. There’s even an old timey soda fountain where you can indulge in as many Dr. Peppers as you wish. I had one!

This year’s guests were all incredible icons from some of my favorite horror films. George Romero was in attendance as the guest of honor with Tom Savini, David Emge, and Scott H. Reiniger of DAWN OF THE DEAD. We saw Linda Blair from THE EXORCIST and John Kassir aka The Crypt Keeper himself! I was more excited to see Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde, and Nick Vince of HELLRAISER.

For as long as I can remember, Pinhead has been my favorite horror icon and getting to meet Doug Bradley was a dream come true. He was very nice and told me I have a lovely name. I wanted to buy his book, but unfortunately he was out. He did offer to mail me a copy when he got home. How stoked was I to get a package in the mail from Pinhead himself! Barbie Wilde was incredibly gracious as well. I’ve wanted to read her book for a while and was pleased to see it for sale at her booth. She was kind enough to sign it for me. The HELLRAISER panel was awesome. Everyone talked about how remakes are awful. When Nick Vince brought up the idea of a “reboot,” Bradley said that was a bullshit word. I completely agree. Most remakes are atrocious to begin with. A HELLRAISER remake is completely unnecessary since the story lives on in the comic books. In fact, a NIGHTBREED comic book is slated for release later this year. Clive Barker either writes or has creative control of all the series and I must say they are fantastic. We should always remember that Clive Barker is a writer first and foremost. His stories are best told in their original medium free of censorship and the Weinsteins.

My other favorite panel of the weekend was the one with Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis 3. This case was something that I followed for many years and felt very personal to me. To be able to sit in a room with Baldwin as he told his story was really emotional. His outlook really puts things into perspective. Most of us complain about asinine things like traffic or the wrong coffee order while this man spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit and he still has a positive attitude about life. I am just inspired by his courage. He mentioned that initially he was apprehensive of being a guest at a horror con simply because of the backlash that was received upon initial arrest. He has since embraced the community because he realized there is nothing wrong with liking horror movies or wearing black clothing. There’s nothing wrong with being different. There is something wrong with a justice system that will persecute an individual based on their outward appearance. Jason talked about life since incarceration. He continues to be an advocate for equal justice and prison reform. He and his wife have produced the upcoming film, DEVIL’S KNOT based on the events of the case. I certainly hope some good comes of this horrible tragedy.

Another fun panel was the TERMINATOR retrospective. This panel included Michael Biehn, Earl Boen, Jenette Goldstein, Linda Hamilton, Peter Kent, Kristanna Loken, and Robert Patrick. They talked about everything from nude scenes to extremely dangerous stunts. Peter Kent, Arnold’s longtime stunt double, did an amazing impression of Arnold. He seemed like he would be a lot more fun to hang out with than the real Arnold.

We saw a panel hosted by Dee Snider with Tom Savini, Bill Moseley, and Tom Morga. I was actually surprised to see how engaging and well spoken Dee Snider is. He talked a bit about STRANGELAND which was a terrible film. I guess he’s working on a sequel. Tom Savini is always entertaining to listen to. The man has a lifetime of stories to tell about his movie making experiences. Tom Morga was also really interesting as he’s done a lot of stunt work for things like FRIDAY THE 13th, HALLOWEEN, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and JURASSIC PARK.

TX Frightmare Weekend always falls on Free Comic Book Day so I usually miss out on all the madness at my local comic book shop. This year I got lucky. Writer/artist Mike Norton of Battlepug fame was in Dallas signing books at Zeus Comics. Battlepug is my favorite comic book and it always brightens my Mondays when a new installment arrives. It was really cool to meet Mike and talk about pugs and beer. He was even kind enough to donate some prints for auction to the Pug Rescue of Austin. Of course I had to buy a print for myself.

Saturday evening we drove to downtown Dallas to explore Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was assassinated. I would love to have visited the museum in the book depository building, but it closes early in the day. Nonetheless, it was very eerie wandering around the infamous grassy knoll at night. There are two “X”s in the middle of the road marking the spots where Kennedy and Governor Connelly were shot. As a kid, I was really engrossed in the Kennedy Assassination and history of the slain president. It was really fascinating to examine the scene of such a notable, historic event. The whole area virtually looks the same as it did in November of 1963. I definitely want to go back and visit the museum.

We had a really great time in Dallas. This is definitely one of my favorite conventions to frequent. It’s nice to see so many people who share the same interests as you do. Every guest I encountered was so cordial and grateful to all the fans that showed up. I look forward to next year’s event!