I arrived at Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street early this year. It seemed a wise choice in lieu of their having pre-sold over 8,000 tickets and my desire to find a decent parking spot. With the weather clear and in the ‘70s that day, it was no surprise that they’d end up bringing an additional 10,000 and technically “sell out” (though I don’t believe anyone was turned away). My first stop was Svengoolie Headquarters where Elizabeth Haney and Alice Moring had my passes. The local-turned-national horror host has been a staple of this event since the very beginning and this year his HQ was right across from Elgin’s Martini Room. It offered a back room where I could store my Sven shirt in anticipation of his appearance at 8pm. Alice and Elizabeth would end up surprising me with one of their own shirts which really made me happy since I loved this year’s design. I think it’s because it reminded me of the cover of an ‘80s comic book and I was BIG comic nerd back in the day.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been an avid fan of Marvel Comics. Though I didn’t mind watching the DC “Super Friends” on Saturday mornings nor seeing Linda Carter twirl into “Wonder Woman” via prime time, I was completely “brand loyal” to Marvel when it came to print. I collected all the Spider-man, X-Men, and Avengers titles but particularly loved the more obscure ROM: Spaceknight which I discussed years ago here and, more recently, in Scary Monsters Magazine. Aside from being a throwback to vintage sci-fi films, ROM regularly featured something the other titles didn’t: namely, giant monsters! And if there’s one thing this overgrown kid loves more than just about anything, it’s a decent monster. Years before Marvel would revolutionize the world of super heroes, they were a very different company. In fact, many of their titles resembled the works of another favored brand of mine, EC Comics. “Tales to Astonish,” “Journey into Mystery,” and “Strange Tales” would not only see the first appearance of several popular, modern day superheroes such as Ant-Man, but also a slew of amazing monsters created by such titans in the industry as Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby. Sadly, by the time I was born, these comics were long gone but, thanks to two amazing books, I can finally enjoy them without spending an arm and a leg in the secondary market. Earlier this year, Marvel released MONSTERS Volumes 1 & 2 which has not only brightened up my Omnibus collection but puts a big smile on my face every time I open one.
Walking into Hofbrauhaus Chicago (actually in Rosemont) is like teleporting to Europe. The German restaurant/microbrewery is highlighted by giant kettles of beer, Bavarian décor, an alphorn (those long horns from the ricolo commercials), and folks dressed in traditional Oktoberfest clothes. Here the alcohol flows freely with shots served on a wooden paddle they’ll smack your butt with upon request. Having already gotten whupped by the $15 parking fee, I decided to skip the additional beating an opt for a glass of water instead. I do love a good novelty restaurant though this wasn’t the sort of place I’d have ever visited if not for the annual Roe Conn Halloween show. This was my third year attending the occasion with the last two having taken place in the south suburbs where I live. After an hour’s drive I brushed past their gift shop (loaded with collectible steins) and took a seat as close to the stage as I could get. The room was huge with rows of long tables and I tried taking in as much as I could while the waitress handed me a menu.
What would a fan convention be without a bit of cosplay? In the world of expos, these daring men and women guarantee we all go home with fun photos to commemorate the occasion as well as spice up our social media pages. For years I’ve stopped them for photographs while having no real appreciation for the amount of work that went into it. Thanks to my friend, Chris Carr, this would all change during last month’s Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend. That Saturday, Chris would don his Jason Voorhees costume while I’d act as escort. In the end it would prove a fun experience while providing numerous positive interactions with fellow fans I’d of never had otherwise. It also offered some much-needed illumination regarding the creative world of cosplay.
I love when I get an email from my friends, the Terror Daves, and it starts with, “Would you be interested in reviewing this film?” My answer is almost always “YES” and it’s even better when the film turns out to be a decent found footage film such as this.
Salem at Halloween time has been an almost annual event for me for the past 7 years. With Halloween being my favorite holiday, there is no place better to celebrate. Everything about Salem is perfect from the museums, stores and haunted houses to the people watching.
I had heard about It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection but until we arrived in Salem, and went by the Peabody Essex Museum, I had forgotten that it was actually in Salem! How excited was I to see that not only was it in Salem but was in fact still available to be viewed.
Last Saturday I was sitting at my work desk while gazing at the tempest outside. Since it was the weekend, I had the whole office to myself and decided to turn off the main lights in favor of a small one hanging over my computer. With the dark clouds and rain pounding on my window, it seemed to make the otherwise chaotic place cozier; something you could never accomplish during normal business hours. With Halloween only a couple weeks away, we Chicagoans can be sure of two things; the weather will be erratic and our local/national TV horror host, Svengoolie, will be amidst a busy schedule of appearances. In fact, it almost seemed like this year’s list of events rivaled that of his ultra-busy 2012. I’d covered almost all of those and remember being thoroughly exhausted by the time it was over. This year, however, my “Svengoolie-stalking” activities were clearly lacking as my schedule never seemed to be in sync with his. On this rainy day, however, he was slated to make two appearances with one starting just when my shift ended. I decided it was high time I broke out of my Svenertia. and braved the elements to see him at Fantasy Costumes – the largest costume shop in the windy city!