I went to my first horror con!!! That's right, kids. Somehow in all my years, I had never made it to a horror con, until yesterday. In my defense, there's never been one near enough for me to attend until last year when Days of the Dead added an Atlanta date, and sadly I didn't make it then. This year though, there was no way I was going to miss out. The guest list was packed with awesome people that I wanted to meet, I had saved up a little money and was excited to hit the vendors for cool horror stuff, and last but not least, my brother was visiting home, far away from his home in NYC. Yes, friends, this weekend was going to be fantastic, no doubt about it.
When we first arrived, we decided to do an initial walk through the vendors and scope out the merch. One of the very first things I spotted was this sign:
Suddenly, everything else stopped being important. My mission was clear. I had wanted one for years, yet had never seen one anywhere except online. Sure, I could've just ordered myself one online, but that would be too easy. No, I had to come across one in person. Before the day was over, I would have a Hellraiser Puzzle Box of my own. We started off in the direction of the arrow, we walked and walked, and not a puzzle box was in sight. When we hit a wall, there was another sign, pointing in a different direction. We pressed on, and again, no puzzle boxes. Eventually we spotted a third sign, and it was at that point that I decided that the building itself was in fact the puzzle box, and if were were to find the fourth sign, it would complete the puzzle, and a portal into Hell would open up, allowing Pinhead and the Cenobytes to enter our world. There would be chains, hooks, and bloody body parts everywhere! As awesome as that sounded, I hadn't met Kane Hodder yet, and before we completed the puzzle, that had to happen. I momentarily abandoned my search.
As we continued through the vendors, I spotted all kinds of cool shit, talked to a bunch of really cool artists, walked through a large booth that was basically filled with every single toy I had ever owned throughout my childhood, saw lots of great masks and movie props, and finally stumbled upon some absolutely gorgeous custom built Hellraiser puzzle boxes! My jaw dropped when I saw them, these things were amazing. The vendor selling them then picked one up, twisted the top, and it began to play creepy music. I wanted one SO bad, unfortunately they were way out of my price range, as I assumed they would be. I was going home without a puzzle box.
After the vendors, it was time to meet the celebs I was interested in meeting. As I was working from a budget, I had a very specific list of people in mind. Going in, my basic plan was to ask Kane Hodder to choke me, get a hug from Frankenhooker, meet Bill Moseley, meet Gunnar Hansen, and time/money permitting, tell Sid Haig that I was gonna put my boot all up in his ass. Here's how I did:
Primary mission SUCCESSFUL! Not only did I meet Kane Hodder, and get him to choke me, but he was the most awesome, down to Earth celebrity I have ever met. He talked to us for a long time, my friend had on an ICP hockey jersey, and he asked which of us were juggalos, which of course was all of us. We talked about music, which psychopathic albums were our favorites, etc. It had to have been 15 minutes or so that he just yacked with us. After all the autographs, it was picture time. The conversation regarding my photo went like this:
Me - Can I get a picture of you choking me?
Kane - Sure. I'm going to really choke you, ok?
Me - Choke the shit out of me, sir.
And he did. My reaction in the photo is of course fake, but folks, that dude meant what he said. It was hilarious. More hilarity occurred while we were waiting our turn in line. We were maybe three people back, and as per usual me, my brother, and our friend that came along were just talking shit, cracking jokes and whatnot, and my brother says "Man, I should've brought a sleeping bag. I'd ask him to slam me into the wall in it." which of course we all laughed at. Well, all of a sudden, Kane looks up from the picture he's signing, looks right at my brother, and says "I heard that. I can go find one." OMG, it was hilarious! Not only is the dude extremely awesome, but he has super-hearing! Meeting Kane ended up being the highlight of the day. I can't say enough about how cool he was.
Mission two SUCCESSFUL! A hug from Patty Mullen, the Frankenhooker herself! She was so sweet, it was a pleasure to meet her. I didn't even have to ask for the hug, I asked if I could take a picture with her, she said "of course", I walked around the table and she just hugged me. It was great. Very, very cool person.
Mission three SUCCESSFUL! Bill Moseley was yet another incredibly cool cat. We talked a bit about my favorite of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, the highly underrated TCM 2. I of course picked out a photo of Chop Top for him to sign. Being that this was my first con, I wasn't exactly sure what it was ok to ask and what it wasn't ok to ask, so I kinda waited for the celebs to ask me things. Generally it was "Who do I make this out to?" and I would tell them my name, and off they'd go. Well, Bill asked my name, I told him, and then he asked me if there was a particular line from the movie I'd like him to write on it. It sort of caught me off guard for a second, as my mind started racing through all of the lines I love. Eventually, I settled on "Bubba's got a girlfriend" just because I wanted to be different. I'm sure he had to sign "Dog will hunt" and "The saw is family" at least a thousand times during the con. I like to think I'm one of only a handful of people who would ask for "Bubba's got a girlfriend". He started writing, and to my surprise, he went full Chop Top, and recited almost the entire scene. I'm genuinely thrilled that nobody took a photo of my face while he did though, as I'm certain I had the stupidest fanboy grin that Atlanta has ever seen.
Mission four SUCCESSFUL! Gunnar Hansen was the most "by the numbers" of all the people I met. Gimme $20, I'll sign your photo, sure you can take a pic with me, peace out Bonesy. Not to say he wasn't a nice guy, he certainly was, he just didn't engage in conversation at all. It also appeared that he didn't quite know what to make of us. He even glanced over at my brother right as we were taking the pic of them together. Gunnar realized he had done it, and said "Woah, let's do that again, I looked over at you right as the pic was taken." To that I responded "Uh oh, Gregg, he can tell you're a shady character." to which Gunnar laughed, which made me feel a little better about the situation. Still, cool guy, glad I got to meet him.
That would be the end of my autographs, save for one, which came as a surprise totally out of the blue. While I was walking around, I came across a table which had the Return of the Living Dead documentary, More Brains! on it. I'm ashamed to admit, as big of a documentary whore that I am, I still hadn't seen it. So I grabbed it, and behind the table was Michael Perez. I ended up talking to him for a while. We talked about More Brains!, the Nightmare on Elm Street documentary "Never Sleep Again" which I already had, but my brother bought a copy of from his table, and an upcoming project he has been working on for the Friday the 13th franchise. He asked if I'd heard of Crystal Lake Memories, and I told him I had a copy of the coffee table book. Apparently, the documentary they're working on shares the same name, and is based on that book. It was originally scheduled to come out early this year, but more and more people keep coming out and doing interviews, so the tentative release date has now been set for summer. I can't wait to see it. After I picked up my copy of More Brains!, he was nice enough to include a mini-poster and sign it for me.
Sadly, I wasn't able to get autographs from Sid Haig, PJ Soles, Danny Trejo, and so many other awesome people. The guest list was so overwhelming, there was simply no way I was going to get to everybody. I'm pretty happy with what I came home with though. I did have random run-ins with Tom Savini, Sid Haig, and Danny Trejo though, all three of which were hilarious. Savini we ran into, randomly leaving the vendor area. He had some strange, flesh colored something or another in his hand, and a completely serious look on his face. He kinda looked right at us, and we stopped in our tracks, but of course he just walked on by. Later I was standing with and talking to another friend of mine who I just randomly ran into there, and I looked up and Sid Haig was walking right toward me. I was admittedly star struck, so no words would come out, but my friend yelled "There's the man!" to which Sid replied "Hey, HEY!" as he walked past. Finally, we were all just kind of standing in a hallway over by Danny Trejo's table, trying to decide what to do next, when he suddenly stood up and started walking toward an elevator. Our friend with us said "Trejo!" and Danny turned around and said "Hey homie!". Of course from that point forward it was decided that we had a celebrity amongst the group, and proceeded to make jokes along the lines of "Danny Trejo's homie doesn't wait in line!" and "Do you KNOW who this is?! Danny Trejo's homie does not tolerate this kind of treatment".
Back to the merch! Here's some pics of all the swag I came home with...
These prints were from an artist named Jason Flowers. He was one of the first artists we stopped and talked to, and he was a very cool guy. I started thumbing through his portfolio, and found two that I really liked. I especially loved the Pumpkinhead.
I randomly picked up this small print, just because I love the movie so much. I initially thought about asking Bill Moseley to sign it, but decided to just grab one of his photos instead.
Here are the only dvd's I bought. The "More Brains!" I talked about earlier, the other three came from the VHSPS booth. If you're unfamiliar with them, I recommend taking a look at their site here. I absolutely had to have Elves and Mom, which if you've been reading this blog long enough, you've already seen me ramble on and on about. Glad to finally have copies for my collection. Rawhead Rex is of course a classic, and while I've seen it countless times, I picked it up on impluse because my VCR is only going to last for so long.
This t-shirt I absolutely couldn't leave without. "U mad bro?" is a running joke between my 8 year old and myself. Not surprisingly this was his favorite item that I came home with. Also worth noting is it exists as a testament to my resolve. I was in a room filled with literally hundreds of horror related t-shirts, and I only came home with one.
And now for some other random photos...
This little life-size Sam sadly wasn't for sale. Had he been, I know a certain someone who would've been going him with him.
Best five dollars spent the entire day, our friend paid the tranny Elvira impersonator to pose with my brother.
One of the most impressive costumes from the show, Harry Warden in all his glory. Side note, I absolutely love that people were walking around the Sheraton all weekend with pick axes, hatchets, and all other manner of weaponry.
That just about does it for my Days of the Dead Atlanta experience. It was one hell of an incredibly awesome experience. I was geeking out all day long. I've been to plenty of comic conventions, but nothing compares to the memories from my first horror con. I'm already excited about Days of the Dead Atlanta 2014, which I will most certainly be attending.
Oh, there was just one more thing...
That's right BABY! I found myself an affordable Hellraiser puzzle box!!! It's every bit as awesome as I knew owning one would be! I still haven't figured out how to open a portal to Hell, but give me some time, I'll get there.....