It was 7:30am when the alarm went off and the final day of Horrorhound Weekend began. In lieu of the previous night, it was a minor miracle I didn’t have a hang-over though this should not suggest I was feeling anywhere near 100%. The non-stop activity, coupled with lack of sleep, had begun taking its toll and I quickly dressed before heading to the hotel lobby in pursuit of free coffee.
After a long and busy Saturday at Horrorhound Weekend, Brian and I relaxed and ordered dinner in our room. While it’s rarely a positive experience for any Chicagoan to order pizza outside of city limits, this was the perfect food choice when one planned on following it up with copious amounts of alcohol. Saturday nights at Horrorhound were notorious for their raucous all night gatherings…and this year I was determined to join their party! Afterwards, I headed outside for some air and met a guy in the lobby who pulled out a mason jar that looked as if it were half full of motor oil. “Want some moonshine?” he asked.
I smiled but hesitated. It had only been the week before on St. Patrick’s Day when I’d indulged in another home-made concoction with my fellow pod-caster, Jason, resulting in a drunken argument between us. I’m batting a 1,000 with friends these days, folks! Please check out the “Podcast” link at the top of this page to hear our first (and possibly final) eight episodes of Terror on Tequila!
I met Tom Savini for the first time twice during my first Horrorhound Weekend back in 2010. Although it would be my last pre-Terror Dave event, I walked in harboring lots of goals concerning the horror hosts and the celebrities that were attending. Of course the main plan was to have a great time and I was joined by my friend, Jason. I remember us being particularly excited about having the opportunity to meet some of the folks behind one of our favorite zombie films; Dawn of the Dead. Tom Savini, Ken Foree, and the godfather of zombies himself, George Romero, would all be there and we couldn’t wait.
2013 Horrorhound Weekend Pt. 6: Why you should never try and sell Michael Madsen a pair of Sunglasses!
The big celebrity draw at this year’s Horrorhound Weekend were cast members of AMC’s hit show, The Walking Dead. As this program is currently a hot topic for both traditional and non-traditional horror fans alike, it was no wonder the convention had such a gigantic turn-out. It also explained why a lot of guests wore vests with angel wings (showing their support for Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon) as well as a few less rebellious fans opting for the sheriff’s deputy uniform of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
Still reeling from The Horror Host Hall of Fame, I went across the street with my friend, Russ Wrangler, to that gawd-awful Crown Plaza restaurant I mentioned earlier. It was Saturday and Horrorhound Weekend was now in full swing, though the lines seemed to be moving quicker (not quick, just quicker). We ate lunch while watching Dr. Destruction storm out again due to the service (for some reason that never got old) before Russ and I returned to the convention to do another walk through.
Unlike the last few years, 2013′s March Horrorhound Weekend featured only a sparse number of horror hosts which, in many ways, seemed like a “last stand.” After the Vampira Tribute in 2010, Jason Hignite continued the Horrorhound Weekend/Horror Host tradition with a Zacherley Tribute in 2011 along with “inducting” at least ten horror hosts into the Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Horror Host Hall of Fame. The tradition of choosing ten random hosts for induction would continue in 2012 and, despite the lower turn-out, took place again this year.
It was after 8pm when I walked out of Horrorhound Weekend’s main convention hall during its opening Friday night. While maneuvering past the immense line of patrons (still looking to gain access) I walked across the street to The Crown Plaza hoping to catch a screening of The Profane Exhibit. It’s a new Italian film written and directed by Ruggero Deodato whom I’d met a couple of years back in Massachusetts. As the previous film was still playing, I took a seat in a comfy, lounge chair located outside the room. I was in the process of checking my phone messages when I heard a familiar voice call, “Hey Dave!”
There was no doubt that the fan costumes (many of which seemed to mix gore with sex appeal) kicked things up to whole new levels at Horrorhound Weekend! Check em’ out!
It was around 3pm on Friday, March 22nd when I arrived in Cincinnati for Horrorhound Weekend. Brian Maze from monkeygoatboy.com graciously asked me if I’d like to save expenses and room with him. This was in lieu of the person he was originally supposed to be going with cancelling due to an injury. Brian was staying at the Livinn Hotel which, while across the street from the event’s official hotel, was actually right next door to the Sharonville Convention Center and closer. Rather than seeking out my press pass, Brian saved me a LOT of anguish by also giving me his fallen compadre’s “vendor pass” which was even better. This act of kindness can not be understated as getting inside that convention center was like storming the gates of Mordor.
Hard to believe, but we’re now heading into the final week before the March Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati! It’s a bittersweet event for me as this is my fourth straight year attending this event and had always been done so with friends while, this time, I’m the lone Terror Dave. That should not imply that I won’t still have a blast nor be surrounded by friends and I’m looking forward to seeing many of them. Especially my pal, Brian Maze, who will be making regular appearances on this site and I think is one great guy!
Recently we shared some pictures taken by Svengoolie fan, Jerry Victory, while visiting the host at The Little Boots Rodeo. Jerry also had the privilege of addressing Elvira: Mistress of the Dark during a recent appearance on The Stephanie Miller Show. Svengoolie and Elvira met at The Flashback Weekend convention in 2008. See that clip below… and she had this to say…
Well, gang, this is our final post regarding the Ohio 2012 Horrorhound Weekend before we aim our focus at future events! As mentioned prior to this gathering, David and I were asked by Jason Hignite to participate in this year’s Horror Host Hall of Fame ceremony by doing an induction of our own. Not for a specific host, but for a unique package of films that lead to their proliferation.
The theme of the 2012 Horrorhound Weekend was “Women of Horror.” While Pam Grier isn’t necessarily a horror queen, she is the quintessential blaxploitation actress an absolutely grindhouse royalty. If that isn’t enough for purists, her having SCREAM BLACULA, SCREAM on her resume,’ certainly justifies her spot at this event. Grier was located in her own private signing area in the hotel but fans had no trouble finding her as her line remained constant.
More ghoulish characters featured at the 2012 Horrorhound Weekend costume contest…
Horror hosts come from all walks of life and from all corners of the United States (and beyond). America’s heartland is no exception and it is here, tucked down in his basement, where Gunther Dedmund lurks. Gunther has been entertaining folks in his native Kansas for ten years now and, if you’ve never heard of him, consider this an introduction of sorts. The Daves met Gunther at Horrorhound Weekend Indianapolis last March. The quiet and assuming host would later prove to be quite versatile – even creating a host group photo of those present at the event in lieu of one not actually being taken. He honored us by giving our site the honor of distributing the photo and even further by including The Daves in his special Horror Host collector card set!
While Vampira & Zacherley are often thought of as the “mother and father” of all horror hosts, many prominent Midwestern hosts can credit their true lineage to Cleveland’s Ghoulardi. Never taking himself nor his film presentations seriously, radio announcer/disc jockey Ernie Anderson would create an irreverent template of wit and sarcasm many hosts still use today.
We’re pleased to announce that just a few hours ago, Horrorhound Magazine writer and events organizer, Jason Hignite, launched the official G.O.T.H.I.C. (Gathering of Television Horror Hosts Internet Cinema) website!
Last year, we posted a blog featuring the classic horror hosts of Southern California (which you can revisit HERE). California, however, is a large state and has an equally rich history in its northern region. The new book, “Shock it to Me,” written by Michael Monahan a.k.a. Doktor Goulfinger, is a MUST HAVE for any Horror Host fan’s library – highlighting these very hosts!
Who, Me? Part 1: A Little “Superstition” Leads To Elvira And Svengoolie, Inspiring A Late-Blooming Monster Kid! by Jamie Lee Cortese
The Daves would like to welcome our latest guest blogger, Jamie Lee Cortese. We met Jamie recently at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis and were immediately impressed with her, especially with her horror host knowledge! We think she has a huge future ahead of her and we are honored to have her writing on our site!
Let me start off by admitting that I have not been a real “Monster Kid” for very long. In fact, the first full-blown horror movie I ever saw all the way through was Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street when it was in theaters. However, as I began my “monster” journey, I quickly realized that from the very beginning, all signs pointed to my eventual transformation into one. For one thing, I’ve always been drawn to offbeat, “weird” things: I am a huge fan of Tim Burton (hence my seeing Sweeney Todd), and a consistent highlight of any October is my family’s annual visit to Fright Fest at Six Flags.
If someone had told me even two years ago that I would soon be watching a new horror movie every week, hosted by “the guy who comes on after Stooge-A-Palooza” (Stooge-A-Palooza is a local show where Three Stooges shorts are presented uncut and uninterrupted by the host, Rich Koz), I would’ve stared at you and responded with the title of this article: “Who, me?”
And yet, not only have I done just that, but I have also been relentlessly researching since September for a school project I’ve chosen to do on horror hosts. Shockingly, in the mere year and a half since I began faithfully watching Svengoolie every week, I have met the man in person so many times that he now recognizes my name in e-mails I send to him, and even recognizes me and my family when we’re in line at appearances. Pictures of us have appeared on his show multiple times, and he always makes it a point to say at each and every appearance I see him at that he’s received my latest e-mail. Not only this, but I have followed a blog, and now find myself writing for that very blog! My reaction to all of these events, including my writing being published at all, is always a stunned, “Who, me?”
In hindsight, strangely enough, my being a fan of horror, and especially horror hosts, can actually all be traced back to Fright Fest. For as long as I can remember, the Six Flags park my family goes to has had a motion simulator ride. At Fright Fest, it was a tradition to show “Superstition”, hosted by none other than Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! In the introduction video shown before you enter the ride, Elvira greets you and tells you about her soon-to-open “scream park” (cue a bloodcurdling off-screen screech), which she calls “Elvira’s Tragic Kingdom”! Of course, it took me many years to finally understand all of her double entendres, but the humor I did pick up on had me splitting my sides with laughter! At the end of the introduction, she reveals that she is going to take you on a virtual tour of the park, and for a ride on her “personal favorite” of the thirteen attractions, “The House of Superstition”. A bolt of lightning sucks you and Elvira into the computer system, whereupon the theater doors open, and you are taken on a wild ride! Unfortunately, the entire attraction was shut down just a few years ago.
“Superstition” was always my family’s first stop at Fright Fest, and we’d stop back frequently throughout the day, usually ending up being on one of the last rides of the night when the park closed.
A few years ago, my mother and brother went out to run some errands, and came home with an unexpected treat! Apparently, while they had been out, my brother had recognized Elvira on one of the DVD covers on the shelf and pointed it out. That movie was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. My family set a night aside to watch it for the first time and, in short, we LOVED it! Ecstatic at the realization that there was more to Elvira than a motion simulator ride, I decided to do some research and find out more. Here is what I found out that fateful night:
1. Elvira was a horror host. (A horror host? What the heck is that?)
2. Horror hosts… host horror movies.
3. This is not a new concept.
4. Most horror hosts are on local television stations. (Local television? What the heck is that?)
5. Local television… is television that is only broadcast in a certain area. Locally.
6. This is not a new concept, either. (Huh. That sounds pretty cool. Does Chicago have a local horror host?)
7. Uh… yeah. Svengoolie. (Oh yeah! He’s the guy who comes on after Stooge-A-Palooza, right?)
8. Uh… yeah, sure. Oh, and by the way…
9. Svengoolie is the host of Stooge-A-Palooza. (WHAT?! No way! … Really?)
So that’s how this all got started. Right after I started watching, I also found out that Svengoolie himself would be appearing to meet fans, sign autographs, and take pictures at… Fright Fest! We had ordered our official Svengoolie T-shirts, but they had not arrived yet by the time the appearance rolled around. So, the night before, using some pictures I found on the Internet and some drippy fonts (which proudly proclaimed, “I HAVE A FEELING WE’RE NOT IN BERWYN ANYMORE!!!”) I created my own T-shirt design, printed it out on iron-on paper, and (with the help of my mother) made T-shirts for my brother and myself to wear when we met Svengoolie the next day.
We made sure we got in line very early the next day (believe it or not, we actually ended up being around third in line). From our incredible vantage point, I was hoping to catch at least a quick glimpse of Svengoolie before we actually climbed the steps to approach his table. Just before he was supposed to arrive, as if they knew we were all trying to get a sneak peak at Mr. Goolie, some people came in to arrange the table, and propped a big, framed picture of Sven on the corner of it that was facing us, and at just the right angle so that we couldn’t possibly see him until we were literally right in front of him. Honestly, it was like something out of a movie.
When the moment finally came and I suddenly found myself face-to-face with the man himself, my mind instantly became a total blank. All I could say was, “Hi, Svengoolie!” and “We love your show!” My mom pointed out my shirt to him, and he turned around to look at it. Upon reading it, he even laughed! Words cannot describe the immense joy and excitement that was simply overflowing from me at that moment. I wondered in awe to myself, “He thought something I wrote was funny? Who, me?”
Exactly one week later, we were lucky enough to meet him once again at Party City. While we were waiting in line, my brother wondered aloud if Svengoolie remembered us. I reminded him that Svengoolie meets a lot of people at every appearance, especially at Six Flags, so he might not. During the wait, Party City employees began walking around the line selling rubber chickens to the fans! We ended up buying two: One for me and one for my brother. Svengoolie was even kind enough to sign them for us! Suddenly, the line began moving. We were on our way!
When we got up there, my brother immediately asked, “Do you remember us?” I hurriedly tried to jump in and remind him again of the legions of fans Svengoolie meets all the time, but before I could, Sven responded:
“Yes, I do!”
My jaw dropped wide open.
Not knowing what else to say, I enthusiastically added, “We were the ones who made the shirts!”
“Yes, I remember you guys!”
He remembered us? He remembered me? Who, me?
The, uh, very second time I ever met the great Svengoolie! The rubber chicken seen here is the one he signed for me! And yes, for those of you who noticed (both of you), I am indeed wearing the same shirt as before… but, in my defense, so is Sven!
The next month, footage from the Fright Fest appearance was shown on his show, and my brother and I began bouncing off the walls when we suddenly saw ourselves on the screen! Who, me?
As fate would have it, the very next year found us meeting him once more at Fright Fest, at the exact same location in the park as the year before. I got in line an hour and a half early, and, to put it bluntly, had an extreme case of nerves. But I had already met the man three times in the last year: Why was I so nervous? Because this time, I had an agenda: I had been assigned a school project for which I could research any topic I wanted, so long as it had something to do with my planned major or career. I hope to be both a screenwriter and a performer; unfortunately, there aren’t too many people currently who consistently work on both sides of the camera. Then, one night, while I was watching Svengoolie, it hit me (no, not a rubber chicken): Rich Koz always writes his own material! Upon further research, I found out that it was the same with many horror hosts. And, boom! I had my topic: Horror hosts. My parents had encouraged me to ask him for an interview. Now, I already knew that he was a really nice guy, but I also knew that he was a very busy man as well. As my heart bounced about heavily in my chest, I tightly clutched a small gift I had for him in my hand. Over the summer, while on vacation, I had seen an amusing little red magnet in a small store that said in yellow letters, “MY MOOD IS:” with a green Godzilla pictured next to them. I laughed and immediately bought two: One for myself, and one to give to Svengoolie at his next appearance. A wave of self-consciousness suddenly washed over me as I anxiously sat on a bench awaiting Sven’s arrival. Who was I kidding? He doesn’t have time for a school project! And, really? A tiny magnet with Godzilla on it? It’s not like I was six years old and this could be considered “cute”. But still I waited, holding onto my gift to Sven, and even checking every minute or so to make sure it was still there.
At last, a line began to form, and all of us Sven fans were enthusiastically socializing to pass the time while we shuffled our feet and checked the time every thirty seconds. Those of us in front watched happily as the line grew exponentially.
Suddenly, people behind us started cheering, and my mother announced to me, “Look! There he is!”
“What?!” I spun around, and sure enough, there he was: A smiling Svengoolie walking up behind us, greeting the fans as he made his way up to the table set up for him. He actually startled a few people in the unsuspecting crowd, including myself, since I did not expect for him to be about two feet behind me when I turned around.
Our family was second in line this time, and when I found myself face-to-face with Svengoolie himself for the fourth time in one year, my mind became a total blank. For the fourth time. Thankfully, I had enough of a grip on my senses to sheepishly present him with the little Godzilla magnet, preceding it by telling him that I had saw it while on vacation over the summer and immediately thought of him. He took it, looked at it, and laughed! He sincerely thanked me for the gift and proudly showed it off to the people around him, even going so far as to try to stick it on the frame that bore his picture on the table and, when that didn’t work, hunt around himself for something metal to put it on right then and there! Mr. Jim Roche, who accompanies him to every appearance armed with a camera, joked that he (Mr. Roche) had some metal in his head. Wow! Svengoolie himself was marveling over something I gave him? Who, me?
Svengoolie’s warm response to the gift lifted my spirits quite a bit, and helped me to remember the question I had for him. So, taking a deep breath, and summoning up all of my courage… I asked Mr. Roche. In my defense, Sven had a long line of fans waiting to meet him, and I didn’t want to bother him and hold up the line!
Mr. Roche listened intently, then replied, “Well, I’m not a horror host. You’d have to ask him.” So, still hoping to ride on the same bout of courage, I turned around to face Svengoolie.
My heart skipped about five beats.
Apparently, Sven had been listening the whole time! He answered me before I even began repeating my spiel!
For the rest of the day, that whole scene replayed over and over again in my mind. I began to doubt my memory; did I really gather up the guts to ask him? Did he really say yes? But, no matter how many times those memorable moments reran themselves throughout the day and even into the night, they were always, miraculously, the same.
Wasting no time, the very next day, I sent him an e-mail thanking him a million times over for his kindness the day before.
Exactly one week after the Fright Fest appearance, we found ourselves meeting Sven again, this time in (say it with me) Berrrwyyyn! As we all waited in line inside the jeweler’s store, we saw people constantly walking in and out one of the doors behind the counter. “Aha,” we fans figured. “He must be waiting right behind that door!”
Well, somebody forgot to tell Sven. At the designated time when he was supposed to appear, he appeared, all right, but not from that door in front of us! We suddenly heard cheers from the fans lined up outside the store, and when I turned around, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I found Sven right behind me (Notice a pattern here?)! We all hurriedly scurried out of the way to let him through, and the signing began. When our turn came, his face grew suddenly serious, and he asked me:
“Now, you and me are the ones who are going to be doing that special project, right?”
Numb with shock, I nodded and said yes. Completely at a loss for words, I asked him if he had by any chance gotten my e-mail. He smiled and nodded:
“Yes, I did, and I sent you a reply!” (Note: This reply was mysteriously lost in cyberspace. Neither Will Robinson nor Rod Serling could find it. But, that’s not the point here. The point is…)
Coming up in Part 2: HorrorHound! Find out how I finally met The Daves after reading and following their blog for months, what the various hosts’ reactions were to my project, what I look like in a different shirt, and why a certain horror host even thought my name was fake!
After being sufficiently ”hyped up” from our previous night’s meeting with Svengoolie (see David A’s recent Blog), we were eager to embark on our journey to Indianapolis to attend Horrorhound Weekend! Last year’s convention was life changing for me (see seven part blog series covering that event) and this time was sure to be even more amazing as I would be attending with my like-minded co-blogger, and best friend, David.
It was just four months after the last Indy Horrorhound that TERROR FROM BEYOND DAVES was created and we’ve always thought of ourselves as the bastard child of Scary Monsters Magazine and Horrorhound’s Vampira Tribute. This time around, most of the hosts in attendance would already know who we are from their participation in our weekly reports and, in many ways, it would be more like a macabre family reunion versus public event.
We arrived at the Marriott around 4pm and quickly brought in our luggage before heading downstairs to the main hall. Like most fan-based gatherings, it is the fans themselves that add an extra level of fun and excitement to the occasion. Many folks were dressed up as creepy characters (some as well known faces in horror while others chose original designs) providing lots of laughs as well as great photo ops.
The convention set up was a bit different than last year. For one thing, Horrorhound no longer had to share space with other groups, such as elderly war veterans or The Christian Women’s League (combos that went about as well together as peanut butter and pizza), as they did the previous year.
This time around we had the entire building to ourselves which was a good thing since every bit of space would prove necessary. A hotel attendant later told me that Horrorhound is their largest event and one in which the entire staff dreads the most - later conceding that it also brings in the most money. After one look at the eager crowds of fans, it was easy to see why.
As a rule, Saturdays are always the busiest day for any weekend convention. David and I wanted to hang out with our horror host friends but also wanted to meet some of the celebrity guests featured as well. As the celebs were Horrorhound’s main draw, this was something that needed to be done Friday before the bulk of the conventioneers arrived.
Disappointed that we would not be meeting the Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento (who canceled a couple of months back due to filming commitments), we debated for weeks whether we wanted to see his replacement, Corey Feldman. My old friend, Jason Lucas, was our camera man and (like every good Jason) was a big fan of the FRIDAY THE 13th films. Feldman having played a part in one of its better entries; FRIDAY THE 13th PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER made him of interest to Jason.
This decision would ultimately be made for us. As we entered an elevator Friday evening t0 see Jason, Feldman walked out with his entourage. “Hey guys,” he said as he whisked past, dropping a cigarette on the floor as he went. I grabbed it and later gave it to Jason as a joke gift. My understanding is that it is now sitting in a glass curio cabinet on permanent display in his apartment.
We decided that this brief encounter was sufficient enough and we’d bypass the convention’s main headliner. FRIDAY THE 13th Part IV, GREMLINS, & THE LOST BOYS are all great movies (both featuring a young Feldman) but they were nothing in my world next to THE FOG and the original HALLOWEEN series.
Next chapter: The Daves meet The Toms – Tommy Lee Wallace & Tom Atkins!
The biggest draw of any fan convention lies with the celebrities they feature. I find that there are few experiences more gratifying than seeing your idols up close and having an opportunity to tell them how much you appreciate their work. You can also get a small glimpse of what they are really like as opposed to the 2-Dimensional view offered by the small & large screens.
Of course, this can be a double edged sword; Sometimes you gain a new respect for a celebrity like Ardriene King who, though not a horror fan, is happy to share her FRIDAY THE 13th memories while supplying unique genre items for fans to purchase. Other times you become disappointed, as was the case of when I met Linda Blair, who was so stand-offish I started sympathizing with the demon from THE EXORCIST.
The success of a celebrity encounter, however, is not all centered on their behavior. There are things that us fans can also do to increase the chances of having a positive experience with them as well.
1) Mentally prepare yourself that you will be standing in line. We’re an inpatient society and we tend to want, what we want, yesterday! Like it or not, waiting in line is a fact of life and even more so at a fan convention (STAR WARS CELEBRATIONS being the WORST in that regard). Wear comfortable shoes and hopefully find a buddy to chat with. It will make the time seem to go much faster while offering an opportunity to make new friends. You’ll also be less of a crab ass when you finally meet the big headliner.
At last years Horrorhound Weekend I waited 4 hours to meet George Romero. During that time I chatted with a friend, did ample “people watching,” and later enjoyed a cocktail (brought to me by the aforementioned friend). By the time I met the Godfather of Zombies I was calm and in a happy frame of mind. I’m not encouraging alcohol consumption during convention lines (I’m not discouraging it either) but am merely pointing out that the situation can be a more “social” occasion as opposed to a tedious one.
Everyone is conscious of how slow a line is moving while they’re standing in it. Unfortunately, this is quickly forgotten once you reach your quarry. Now, suddenly, you feel as if you can take all the time in the world and those poor saps behind you will just have to wait a little longer. Granted, you have earned some “one on one” time with the star. There are still, however, some things you can do to keep the encounter relatively quick while increasing its overall quality. This brings us to our next tip…
2) Have whatever it is you want signed OUT and ready to go! Some conventions limit the number of items that can be signed, or discourage photo taking with a celebrity. I find this to be unacceptable. The way I see it, if I’m willing to drop some of my hard earned, “non” celebrity money at their table (and willing to pay for each item) than I deserve a picture and having them all signed. At the same time they need to be out of their protectors and ready to be signed when the big moment arrives.
Likewise, if you’re purchasing one of the celebs own 8×10′s then choose your shot BEFORE standing in front of him/her. Most people are so transfixed watching them commune with the people in front of them that they don’t do this. Don’t use your time with a celebrity in choosing a picture, use it instead for…..
Be sure to limit that to one comment or question. This isn’t a lecture hosted by The Screen Actors Guild, this is a brief meeting between fan and star. Even if the celebrity is all alone, and with NO line, try to avoid the mindset that this is an opportunity to become their new best friend. Keep it short and sweet….not scary and stalkish!
4) Take the lens cap off! The simplest piece of advice is often the most overlooked. Get your cameras out and, more importantly, READY to go! Allow me a bit of “true confessions” as I share an embarrassing story that happened to me about 15 years ago. I accompanied a friend of mine to a small KISS convention here in Chicago. This was back before I had any monster friends and the thought of attending a horror convention would ever occur to me. My friend was (and is) a HUGE fan of the group and this event, while tiny, happened to feature one of the most elusive members of the group – Vinnie Vincent (he’s still alive but best of luck finding him today)!
It was a long line and, like waiting for Romero, we decided to have a cocktail. Unlike Romero, however, we didn’t just stop at one. By the time we made it to Vincent, we were both two shades to the wind. As my friend posed with the guitar master himself, I stood holding the camera, joyfully snapping away. As I smiled (and swayed) in my drunken splendor, I was oblivious to the fact that everyone was yelling at me to take off the damn lens cap! Before the sounds even registered, I remember noticing the mob of angry faces, many mouthing the words “dumb-ass!”
5) Don’t forget to pay! In many cases, this isn’t a free “meet & greet.” The attending celebrities are often not getting paid to do so. They are usually responsible for their own travel and room expenses and those 8×10′s they offer weren’t donated to them either.
You may wonder why some of the bigger stars need charge at all since they are, by many accounts, wealthy individuals. Well imagine if you’re sitting at a booth and some guy asks for your autograph. You sign the picture and, later that week, see it selling on ebay for $50. You won’t get a nickle of it, yet it’s YOUR signature! The sad fact is that many people standing in those lines are doing so more for profit than out of devotion. Charging for autographs (with larger fees asked for bigger celebrities) is a way of deterring this practice.
With Horrorhound Weekend looming just over a week away, I can not help but check over my list of “things to do” and pack for the big event. I’ve attended many conventions in the past and it seems like every time I go I realize, too late, that there is something I managed to overlook.
There was the one year I forgot my razor and, by the end of the weekend, looked a bit like Grizzly Adams. Then there was the time I wore my loafers and forgot to pack my walking shoes. Apparently I had forgotten that even the smallest conventions require a sufficient amount of standing in line and walking. The pain and blisters I endured the following week made that a lesson I’d not soon forget.
I’ve forgotten other things over the years as well but, more on that later. For those attending Horrorhound (or one of the many other events slated to take place throughout a horror fan’s year) I offer you a guidepost in the hopes of optimizing your overall experience.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I would advise that you make a list of clothes and personal care items that you can physically “check off” before embarking on your journey. My son is a boy scout and their mantra of being “prepared” is never more evident than when we’re given a packing list before one of his designated camp-outs. They’re usually about 2-3 pages long and contain everything this side of the kitchen sink!
Assuming you’ll be staying in a hotel as opposed to a pop tent, your list will be considerably smaller. Hotels generally supply such amenities as soap and shampoo but, unfortunately for me, razors and shaving cream are not. Some hotels have little gift shops that offer more specialized items but, with that convenience, comes a heftier price tag. Now I ask you; when you’re at a convention, do you want to buy things you need or stuff that you WANT? Many stores carry special “travel size” items that are also inexpensive!
Once your basics are packed, it’s time to focus on the more entertaining aspects of the convention. You’ve got your wallet and convention pass and are ready to enter the big hall, right? Wrong! Unless you’re just planning on window shopping, you’d best come prepared.
MONEY: I know what you’re thinking; “Duh! Of course I’m going to bring money!” It’s not bringing money that’s the issue but “how” you bring it that counts. Few people like running around with a wad of cash in their pockets and opt instead to pay a visit to the hotel cash station upon their arrival. This, however, is a mistake. Cash machines only have so much money in their reserves. A convention full of eager customers will empty it out in no time. I’m not sure what’s more frustrating; not having money, or having the money but not being able to use it.
Best to have cash in hand before you arrive. Many dealers do accept credit/debit cards but there are an equal number that do not. Be sure to bring your cash in 20′s, 10′s, and 5′s. Dealers aren’t banks and nobody wants to be handed a $50 bill for a $7 item. Smaller bills invariably mean MORE bills and your wallet may not be able to hold so much (or, if it does, you might be walking around with the appearance of having a bad case of elephantiasis).
One solution to this problem is what is commonly referred to as a “fanny pack.” It secures around your waist and has a zipper in front for easy access. Be sure to lace the fanny pack through your belt loops (if you have them) and always remember to zip the pack up after each use. It’s also ideal for coinage, receipts, and business cards you may acquire during the course of the event.
SHOULDER BAG: Do not rely on dealers to supply bags for your purchases! Even if they do offer them you can easily end up with several bags, increasing your chances of losing one while navigating the crowds (the stuff in which nightmares are made). Having a decent shoulder bag (I hesitate to say “man purse”) is not only great for storing purchases but also for keeping items you may be bringing into the convention to have signed by a featured celebrity. Ideally, it will also have a few extra pockets for smaller items you may want to keep separate.
POSTER TUBES: During last year’s Horrorhound Weekend I had no intention of buying posters. The first person I encountered when I walked into the main hall was J.D. Feigelson - writer of one of my favorite films: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. The minute I saw his 11X17 poster of DNOTS, I knew I had to have it – especially with a signature from the man himself. So, while I had no intention of getting a poster, it ended up being my FIRST purchase!
There I stood, holding a brand new, crisp poster while facing an immense dealer room I had yet to conquer. I had no choice but to return the poster to my room before exploring the rest of the main hall (pain in the butt!). This year will be a different story. Although I still have no desire to purchase posters this year, I’m packing some poster tubes in my carry bag none the less! You can find these relatively inexpensive at packing stores or your local Post Office.
AUTOGRAPH TRANSPORT: I’m not one of those fans that needs celebrities to sign something that I already own in my collection. In many cases, I am perfectly content having them sign one of their own 8X10 stills. Aside from keeping things more simple in terms of convention prep, I like framing them and hanging them around my room. Sort of of like waking up in Hollywood’s Brown Derby (a restaurant known for its caricatures & signatures of vintage stars).
Regardless, there are few things worse than taking the time (and money) to frame something that has a big crease in it. Like posters, you want to avoid them becoming bent but, unlike posters, rolling them up in a tube is not an option. Packing a hard plastic folder (which will fit nicely in your shoulder bag) is one option. Another option is going to the local comic store and picking up some magazine size plastic sleeves & back boards. I like this option, especially when I want to take them out and ogle them back in my room. The plastic protects them from finger prints and the backboards keep them from getting bent.
Speaking of celebrities, tune in for my next convention prep blog featuring tips on optimizing your encounter with the featured guests!
The upcoming Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis is really a quadruple threat. You have celebrity guests, an immense dealer room, the horror hosts, and Maskfest! This is not to suggest, however, that any of these need be exclusive. While Maskfest could easily be a convention in its own right, horror hosts can be quite crafty themselves.
Not long ago my co-blogger, David Albaugh, did an extensive piece on David Lady (if you were naughty and missed it you can check it out HERE). David Lady, host of The Late Dr. Show, and his wife are well known in the horror community for their amazing creations. In this, they are not alone.
Horror hosts have historically needed to be crafty when it came to creating props & characters for their shows. Working on a shoestring budget afforded very little luxury for buying state of the art materials or, for that matter, co-stars. Some hosts have been more successful at accomplishing this than others. Dr. Destruction is an artist and craftsman who has relied on his abilities to get the most out of his show. With no assistance, he has single-handedly created his own set, art work, and even masks – most notably a replica of “The Elephant Man.”
Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-in boasts the talents of Dave Ivey. Mr. Ivey is no stranger to the realm of horror hosts. In 1976 he joined Ohio’s The Ghoul Show. Here he would serve multiple functions as the show’s Art Director, writer, cartoon animator, as well as prop maker. This would include The Ghoul’s beloved character “Froggy.”
Dave Ivey would go on to continue both his craft, and The Ghoul’s legacy, via Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-in. Assisting this show with writing, creating characters, along with his costume making/prop skills has clearly earned Ivey a respectable rank in the Wolfman’s pack. One of his most ambitious characters is that of “Oscar the Ogre,” whom I had the privilege of meeting at The Chiller Drive-in Open House last September (more on that story HERE). My favorite Dave Ivey character, however, is “The Milkman” featured in Wolfman Mac’s presentation of EVIL BRAIN FROM OUTER SPACE. To purchase this episode and other great Mac merchandise be sure to visit their website!
But there is one host who has gone above in beyond in not only in the creating his character, but an entire “Monster Madhouse.” More on that story in our next installment!
And don’t forget to cast your ballot for “Best Blog of 2010″ TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES by clicking the link below!
Ever since Vampira cooed to her pet spider, “Rolo,” and the great Zacherly whispered “my dear” to an invisible paramour just outside the camera’s reach, sidekicks have been a common feature of horror hosted shows.
These companions are often as colorful and diverse as their host creators. Some are the skeletal variety such as Svengoolie’s Tombstone or Wolfman Mac’s conniving Boney Bob. Others are even more bizarre and imaginative such as Doktor Goulfinger’s Count Zygote (the world’s first horror host fan), Ms Monster’s..”ahem”.. melons “Tit & Tat,” or even a coy houseplant whom Mr. Lobo affectionately refers to as “Miss Mittens.”
For matters of horror host history, I always seek out my friend, Michael Monahan (Doktor Goulfinger), to supply the answers. I asked him if he had any idea who some of the first host sidekicks were and, expecting him to need some time to ponder the question, was surprised when he responded almost immediately. The following is a list of early host sidekicks the good Doktor shared “just off the top of his head.”
Aside from the aforementioned Vampira, he also listed Kansas City’s The Host – Rodney, Son of Ghoul in the 90′s – Fidge, Sammy Terry – George the Spider, Dr. Paul Bearer – a spider named Spinjamin Bock, Commander USA – Lefty, The Ghoul - Froggie, and Morgus the Magnificent – Chopsley.
Less common were the “living” sidekicks. This was a luxury few commercial hosts could afford with barely enough money in the station’s budget allotted for themselves let alone an assistant. This, of course, is not an issue with hosts working on public access as it is all the labor of love. Good friends, loved ones, and fellow horror fans show their support by acting as supporting cast members.
One should, however, take their time before adding names to their roster. This is a lesson Kenosha’s Dr. Destruction learned the hard way. Once, while hosting a dinner party that utilized multiple sidekicks, an on-air battle erupted between them (apparently jealous over their host’s attention). Destruction, none too pleased at having to interrupt his performance to put an end to the altercation, decided to leave all the footage intact for public viewing. I would like to add that I met his latest sidekick, Deadgar Winters, last weekend and he was one of the nicest, easy going guys you could ever meet. The on-air sidekick battle was clearly before his time.
Behind every great man lies a great woman and this is certainly the case with many other hosts such as Zomboo’s Miss Transyvania, The Bone Jangler’s beautiful Enchantress Nocturna, Dr. Dreck’s Moaner Lisa, Count Gregula’s Countess, and Undead Johnny’s Romania. Perhaps in these instances the word “partner” would be more appropriate than sidekick, though they still serve the same role of enhancing the performance of their host.
Great hostesses can also rely on their men to back them up as well. If not a great man, than certainly a great “wolfman!”As is the case of Penny Dreadful’s partner, both on and off screen, Garou!
I met Garou last March at the Indianapolis Horrorhound Convention and then again at “Rock & Shock” last month. This was the first time David met the wily lycanthrope and he was very impressed with the way he stayed so flawlessly in character.
This was something I had witnessed at Horrorhound and I wasn’t alone. Brian Maze, the fantastic artist who created the horror host illustrations used in our current updates, also met Garou at Horrorhound. Apparently Mr. Maize made the mistake of handing Garou a “silver” marker to sign his autograph, prompting the werewolf to toss the Sharpie while reacting as if he’d just been burned.
Garou is played by Penny’s real life husband, Magoo Gelehrter. While putting together her show, Penny recognized Magoo’s comic potential and asked if he’d mind playing a non-speaking werewolf character. According to Penny, his response was a simple and direct, “Cool, Baby!” And the rest is “Shilling Shocker” history.
With the aid of a werewolf translator, Garou delighted me by taking some time out and answering a few questions….
DAVE: Tell us how you came to be “Garou?”
GAROU: I’m always pulling faces to make Danielle laugh, and when we decided on the witch, werewolf and monster hunter characters, the name Garou, as in Loup Garou, just came to me, and that was decidedly that.
DAVE: I know that prior to Penny Dreadful, Danielle had some experience with acting, had you as well?
GAROU: It has long been my ambition to be a silent film actor, but it’s very hard to find leading parts that don’t have spoken lines. Danielle and I were both in a film called THE ART OF ETIOLATION in 2002. I’ve also been in some plays. Danielle and I were in the play “The Hot_l Baltimore” together a few years ago.
DAVE: Did you grow up a fan of monster movies and, if so, what are your favorites?
GAROU: I used to watch Creature Feature when I was a kid, my favourite then was ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. My favorite classic horror film is of course, THE WOLFMAN but I also love so called “bad” horror films – like Ed Wood’s BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and Herschel Gordon Lewis’ GRUESOME TWOSOME and stuff like THE GIANT GILA MONSTER.
DAVE: What episode of SHILLING SHOCKERS are you the most proud of?
GAROU: This is the hardest question! I love the movie CARRY ON SCREAMING! (Season three). I also have a certain fondness for the Coffin Joe movie we showed in Episode 2 of Season Three, and our hijinks in that episode always make me laugh because we filmed some of it at my wonderful in-laws’ home with Danielle’s mother and her mom’s best friend Mary Lou and they nearly feed Garou until he explodes. They didn’t have prior acting experience but they sure were Method actors! They were really shoving the food in my yap, I was lucky I didn’t swallow my fangs! Seeing them dance with us around the coffee table and seeing little Twinkie the dog chasing us around makes me nearly cry with laughter. And the episode where we show SWEENEY TODD, Garou gets a haircut from Danielle’s since departed grandfather as the barber he was, so having family in the episodes always makes it extra special for me. Those are both pretty early episodes and we do get better technically in the later ones, so those might be more to be proud about. Our director Rebecca Paiva does the hard work of shooting the episodes and editing them, so she’d be the one to ask about what’s the episode to be proudest of. The episode where we showed THE SEVENTH SEAL was a very hard shoot. We shot on the beach in Rhode Island during the summertime and it was hot as blazes and we didn’t bring enough potable water. It is not the only episode where I found myself dangerously dehydrated, but I was really close to the edge when we were randomly saved by beach goers who let us join their picnic and revived us all with their generosity. They noticed we were running around and when we finished shooting they invited us over, and ended up doing a song for us which closes out the episode. They were real lifesavers!
DAVE: You were a lot of fun at “Horrorhound” and “Rock & Shock” – managing to always stay in character. Do you enjoy making public appearances?
GAROU: I love doing appearances! Being in character comes naturally once I am dressed as Garou. At most of the conventions we go to there are kids, and Garou tends to have a Pied Piper effect on them. They can relate to him because they know how it feels to be mis-understood, and to communicate non-verbally, plus he’s funny and not afraid to be silly. And I respect the right of children to enjoy their innocence, so staying in character is a must. I don’t want some little kid to see me break character when I’m Garou, and then start to wonder that if Garou isn’t real, then what about Santa and the Easter Bunny, and then poof- their childhood is over, just like that! I don’t wanna be that guy, the one who kills the joy of simple pleasures for them. Also being in character all day at a convention is a great way to get into character and come up with bits that we can use in the show. Doing a convention before we start a new shooting season really helps get me ready. And much as I love to talk, I really do enjoy communicating with people non-verbally. For me, that is the most addictive part of wanting to be an actor. Though being able to memorize large monologues would be great, and a well delivered line is a thing of great beauty, for me the soul of acting is not what you say, but what you convey when you’re not speaking. One reason I like to watch movies more than once is so I can enjoy watching the people in scenes when they are not the one speaking. That’s where the real acting is, if you can see them listening to the actor who is speaking, that’s where the magic happens.
DAVE: How long does it take to make your “transformation” into Garou? Do you do your own make-up?
GAROU: When the moon is full and the wolfbane is in bloom, it takes no time at all! I had no experience using makeup until we did this show, and I learned everything the hard way! I tried all kinds of different fixatives to apply the Garou nose before I finally found something reliable. But now that I know what to use and how to use it, it only takes about half an hour or so to pull myself together. It also depends on the humidity. The fixatives I use take a bit longer when it is very humid before I can attach the nose and ears.
DAVE: Your comic timing is impeccable. Who would you site as your comedic influences?
GAROU: Thank you for the compliment! I’m sure my answer will surprise very few people: Harpo Marx is at the top of my comedy influence hit parade! But I am also a huge fan of George Burns, he is the all time best second banana ever. There isn’t a day in my life where I am not inspired by his words. I also love W.C. Fields and quote them both at least twice a day. But it’s not for a lack of love of the man that I never quote Harpo! He did it all without saying a word. I also love Mel Brooks, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. I wish I could do a better Stan Laurel! Along with Burns & Allen, Ace Goodman and his wife Jane Ace were a great comedy duo who are not remembered often enough these days. And I love Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.” That show had an amazing cast. Aside from Sid with his amazing physicality, he had Howie Morris whom I utterly revere, Imogen Coca, and Carl Reiner. Howie Morris is another huge influence. You might recall him as Professor Little Old Man in Mel Brooks HIGH ANXIETY. My mother took me to see my first Woody Allen film when I was seven and it had a huge influence on me. I hadn’t been too optimistic about my prospects until I saw that film- it let me know it was okay to be a nebbish and a runt, that you could still attract women not only in spite of that, but because of that! I have always loved his physical comedy for which he’s always been under-rated, yet he moves so well. He does some his best physical comedy in SHADOWS AND FOG and ZELIG. I know it’s not PC to like him these days, but funny is funny and he has always made me laugh and to feel less alone in this world. Aside from comedy, I think Lon Chaney Jr. is one of the all time great actors, his pop was no slouch either but I love the humanity Lon Junior conveys without having to say a word. Even in his last roles when his health was failing, he managed to impart incredible pathos. I put him right up there with actors like Cary Grant and George Sanders.
DAVE: I know that Danielle did not grow up with a horror host. Did you?
GAROU: I used to watch Creature Feature when I was a kid, they showed double features, lots of Godzilla movies mostly. They had a voice-over announcer telling us to stay tuned but not a character who appeared onscreen.
DAVE: What advice do you have for other horror host “sidekicks?”
GAROU: It’s okay to occasionally lick the scenery but try to avoid chewing it. You don’t want to drown out your co-hosts when they are speaking or pull focus from them with your antics. Try to find the balance between adding a little color without upstaging the focus.
DAVE: This one I can’t resist. I love the story of how Penny Dreadful, through a misguided spell, became a hostess. What is Garou’s back story and how did a werewolf end up the love interest of a 600 year old witch?
GAROU: I hate to leave you hanging but you’ll just have to stay tuned to Shilling Shockers to find out more about Garou’s past.
Well Dave, thanks for asking all these great questions, you gave me much to consider. I think this is where I should say goodnight but I’ve never been good at goodbyes, so I’ll leave it up to someone else. And to end, since I can’t quote Harpo, here is something one of his brothers once said. Groucho to be specific, though I love them all, even Gummo and Zeppo. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Chico as well. “Until then, so long, skol, arrivederci, prosit, salud, hasta la vista, a bientot and ciao. (Ciao, in case you don’t know, is an Italian salutation. It is also a breed of dog that will bite your ass off for no reason at all.)”