The crowd hushed as WGN Radio personality, Nick Digiglio, took the platform. For as long as I’ve been attending Flashback Weekend it’s been his job to introduce Chicago’s local-gone-national TV horror host, Svengoolie, to the audience before the annual costume contest begins. It’s a fitting role for Digiglio as they’re genuine pals and Sven’s been a guest on his program numerous times. Whether delving into the illustrious career of his alter ego, Rich Koz, or dishing on their favorite horror films, it’s always a treat for us listeners. On this occasion, however, it was a one-man show as Sven replaced him on stage. The crowd broke into applause and for good reason. For us seasoned attendees, we knew we were in for an hour of imaginative costumes coupled with Svengoolie’s quick wit and banter.
“I go online and print everything I can find on Svengoolie and then hang them all over my kitchen walls,” said the older lady to my right. “I’m just worried since I saw him at last year’s Flashback Weekend he’ll think I’m stalking him by coming to this one.” Considering the number of Svengoolie appearances I had under my belt, I confidently gave her some reassurance. It was just a few short weeks since G-FEST and I was back at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, this time swapping Godzilla for slashers. Somehow the two conventions still seemed related thanks to the presence of my friend, Don Johnston. Don’s a powerful presence at the hotel and it’s never more apparent than when his venue hosts events such as these. He’s a larger than life character that appears to be everywhere at once – a titan with a heart of gold who shares my love of comics, horror, and Svengoolie. He was definitely in the “convention zone” on this day as he barreled past me near the photo op area asking if Sven’s crew had arrived. Minutes later, MeTV’s national horror host and company materialized; ready to take on Flashback Weekend as they’d skillfully done at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) last April. And, just like that occasion, they permitted me to stay amongst them where I could observe the broadcasting legend interact with fans, host the annual costume contest, and interview celebrity guests. In exchange, I’d assist them in selling T-shirts and posters while snapping a few fan photos when needed. This gave producer (Jim Roche), director (Chris Faulkner), and cameraman (Chas Ailing) more freedom to keep the appearance running smoothly while capturing material for his upcoming Saturday night shows. So to be put things into perspective – I get the best seat in the house doing something I enjoyed doing anyway.
Last month, G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) celebrated its 25th show. The kids and I packed into Rosemont’s Crowne Plaza like sardines; amazed at how popular this event’s gotten since our first visit 15 years ago. Thanks to the unexpected success of Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, the world’s most famous atomic monster has been enjoying something of a renaissance these days. Consequently, these last few years have seen G-FEST become something of a giant monster itself. Of course, this isn’t the first time an American version of the “Big G” made some waves. Two decades ago there was another. One so controversial that die-hard fans will only refer to it only as “Zilla” or GINO (Godzilla In Name Only). That being said, I was pretty surprised to see “Zilla’s 20th Birthday Party” listed in this year’s itinerary. Almost as shocked by how badly I wanted to be there for it.
Did you hear the big news? Halloween is coming early this year! Although summer’s usually winding its way down when I start my annual Countdown to Mask-Fest, 2018 is a whole nother story. The premiere Halloween mask-making event is taking place alongside Horrorhound Weekend in August this year rather than September. It’s 10th Anniversary Show promises to be bigger than ever and is taking place at a new venue. In an effort to fire up the regulars while whetting the appetite of possible newbies, I’ll be counting down the four Fridays leading to the event with photos from last year’s show. Please note, there will be all new masks at the upcoming show! In the meantime, please enjoy some of the gruesome creations from the 2017 show…
Having just seen The Lodgers, I’m convinced of two things: (1) I should spend more time out in the sun and (2) need to quit complaining about my dysfunctional family. The film is Directed by Brian O’Malley, and features twin sister and brother, Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) who are virtual prisoners of their family estate. The isolated, Irish countryside alone inspires chills while the film’s dark, psychological components slowly bring things to a boil. Together, they help make The Lodgers much more than your average gothic thriller.