Whenever national Horror Host, Svengoolie, makes a public appearance, I try to not only attend the event but also linger whenever possible (remember, “linger” sounds better than “stalking”). Though his average guest turn out is so large that it affords me little time to actually interact with the host, there are definite benefits to just “hanging around.”
There’s always a special place in my heart for the big ROCK N SHOCK horror convention that takes place each fall in Worcester, Massachusetts. Back in July 2010, when David Albaugh and I created this site, there had never been any plans for us to formally meet (that story covered HERE). ROCK N SHOCK provided the opportunity and venue for this to not only take place but to also solidify our friendship – turning online pals into best friends. By the time the weekend was over, there was never any question that I would return.
Being the “Midwest Dave” of TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand I have more access to many of the horror hosts we feature on our site, including Svengoolie who makes numerous appearances in my native Chicagoland. There are also more conventions and fan events that are within driving distance, thus sparing the costly need for airfare (not that gas is much better these days). When you’re running a horror site, fan conventions go from recreation to inspired work as you busily try to a) cover as much of the featured events as possible, b) snap as many photos as you can, while c) also trying to make meaningful contacts.
My original intention when attending the first annual DAYS OF THE DEAD was simply to enjoy it as a horror fan. Having gathered lots of materials for our blog via HORRORHOUND last March, David (my co-blogger) remained in New England while my goals were more about relaxation and celebrating an old friends birthday (who was slated to join me on this trip) as opposed to “working.”
Unfortunately, there are instances when the friends we had in our 20′s are not necessarily the ones we should be having in our 40′s. Part of getting older and wiser is understanding that its more important to associate with people who build us up and support us as opposed to seeking out “good time Charlies” who wait for you to bend over so they can give you a square kick in the butt! Simply put; when you’re friends with someone who puts you down in an effort to build themselves up, they ain’t your friend. After 20 years of that crap, I finally decided enough was enough and cut the cord. This was one week before we were supposed to leave for DAYS OF THE DEAD so one could certainly question my timing if not my sincerity.
One of the guests I was determined to meet, regardless of my convention goals, was PJ Soles! Ms Soles extensive resume’ included such genre cult favorites as the original HALLOWEEN and CARRIE – two films in and of themselves that would make her a horror convention’s guest dream come true. I met up with her twice at DAYS OF THE DEAD and both times she was very open and candid – as she was during the Scream Queens panel which was covered HERE.
On Friday night I approached PJ and had her sign my HALLOWEEN poster which had already been signed by Tommy Lee Wallace last March at Horrorhound. She asked if I was planning on seeing John Carpenter in Kentucky at Fright Night and I said that I was. She suggested I plan on standing in line awhile since, aside from attracting a large following of fans, Carpenter is known for taking numerous cigarette breaks. I asked if he was still smoking even after his recent heart attack scare and she disgustingly nodded her head.
As the convention wound its way down, there were fewer lines and the celebrities had more time to chat with their fans. Throughout the weekend, I was assisting Illinois public access host, Count Gregula. Gregula was a host without a crew and, in lieu of my situation, decided that a team up would be mutually beneficial. We drove down together while assisting one another in collecting materials for both “Count Gregulas Crypt” and TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES. While he and I have very different work styles I think, so far as this event was concerned, we ended up being a pretty good team.
Gregula, in many ways, is like the little engine that could. What he lacks in journalistic skill & experience he makes up for in sheer drive and determination. Hanging with him not only granted us both interviews with many of the top celebs, but also access to the VIP party (to be covered in a future post). Needless to say, we were both elated when he got PJ Soles to agree to an interview! I am grateful to the Gregulas for there kindness and turning what could have been a depressing weekend (in lieu of circumstances) into an amazing one.
PJ had already given lots of tidbits during the Scream Queens Panel the day before and I didn’t want to ask questions we already knew the answers to. Off camera, I asked her what it was like working with John Candy and Bill Murray during STRIPES. “John Candy was an absolute sweetheart!” she said. “Bill Murray not so much.” I recounted a story I heard during the Dorian Gray Art Show about a possible feud between Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. “I haven’t heard anything about that,” she said, “but Bill Murray was difficult to work with. I think he’s manic depressant or something because we never knew what mood he was going to be in when we arrived on the set each day. It was a difficult situation.”
PJ reiterated that her favorite movie was ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL as she was a huge fan of the Ramones and was able to wear her own clothes during filming. She also spoke of CARRIE and how her ear drum was damaged during the climactic scene where the title character kills her classmates. “The fire-hose was on and hit me full force on the side of my face, directly in my ear. It was a great scene but it hurt like hell and I really was passing out when you see the scene.”
I turned my attention to her co-stars in HALLOWEEN. What I wanted to know was whether or not she still kept in touch with Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) or Nancy Loomis a.k.a Nancy Kyes (Annie Brackett). Aside from having PJ sign my poster, I also had her sign one of her own available 8×10′s which featured her and her famous co-stars. I had no sooner fulfilled my Ace Frehley quest (see that story HERE) before starting a new one; my hope being to one day have it signed by the other two actresses featured as well.
I told PJ I had wondered if Ms Loomis did fan events and she said, “yes.” I told her this was a question I wanted to ask her ex-husband, Tommy Lee Wallace, but decided not to. “Good call,” she said. “They had a nasty divorce and I don’t think either wants to speak of the other.” I asked if the two would ever both attend a HALLOWEEN reunion event and her response was, “Never!”
This led to me asking her what I really wanted to know; do the HALLOWEEN gals still keep in touch? “Well, of course I see Nancy every once in awhile at these conventions,” she said. “When we’re together its just like we’re back on the set of HALLOWEEN and no time has passed,” she explained. “Kind of how like being with William (points to William Katt who is seated next to her during this event) makes me feel like I’m back on the set of CARRIE.”
But what of Jamie Lee Curtis?
“We used to keep in touch and send each other Christmas cards every year,” she said. “But as time went on, and our kids grew up, we drifted apart and fell out of touch. I certainly wish her well even though we may never talk again.”
Understanding exactly what she meant, I thanked her and walked away.