“Creepshow Expo” and the Mystery of the Travelling Ashtray!

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Back in July I had the privilege of seeing super collector, Joe Hart’s, THING-FEST (covered HERE) at the Indianapolis Days of the Dead convention. This event featured a massive collection of props and memorabilia from one of my all-time favorite films, John Carpenter’s THE THING. During the course of the weekend, I had an opportunity to meet Hart and soon discovered that he was much more than a mere collector. Rather, I began to see him as the ultimate facilitator of sorts; bringing his fellow fans closer to the films they loved. As this is something he does without monetary gain, I feel he deserves our applause and our sincere gratitude. Trust me, folks, I’ve attended quite a few horror events since THING-FEST and would absolutely consider that one to be the most satisfying. THE THING, however, is not the only 1982 classic that Hart is devoted to…

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Five months later George Romero’s Creepshow, a horror anthology written by Stephen King, made its way to theaters and, despite mixed reviews, went on to be Warner Bros, highest grossing horror film that year. The last three decades have seen its popularity increase and, just like THE THING, bringing in new and younger fans. In fact, Richard Braden, who at age 16 became the graphics designer for this site, considers Creepshow one of his all time favorites and an inspiration. (Side note: Braden, now 18 years old, is attending The Tom Savini School of Effects).

1266571_10151734683977956_484981166_oTom Savini ‘s latest class (Richard Braden towards the top right, black shirt)

Joe Hart, however, has been a fan since the very beginning and, in 2011, had the idea of creating an event to celebrate the film which would later become Creepshow Expo. With the help of Rue Morgue Chief Editor, Dave Alexander, it took place on Halloween night that same year. It would later be featured in January/February 2012 issue of Horrorhound Magazine in commemoration of the film’s 30th Anniversary.

1369154_10152243085194338_497400752_nJoe Hart

Hart, resides in Canada and is a former Boxer from New Jersey who was trained by the Real Life Rocky Chuck Wepner in the P.A.L. of Bayonne. His success in the ring, however, is secondary to his love of movies and he compares his Creepshow Expo at the TIFF Halloween Night  in Toronto to be the equivalent of his “going for the ultimate Knock Out.”

1371556_10152243001409338_882674113_n“go ahead and make fun of Creepshow…I dare ya!”

Here are some shots taken from that amazing night…

1278388_10152242999119338_161855243_nRomero checks out Hart’s collection

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While the Creepshow Expo featured amazing props collected by Hart, none were as prized as the infamous “traveling ashtray.” Hardcore fans of the film know that this ashtray was originally owned by Romero, himself, and can be seen all of the featured Creepshow stories…most prominently in “Father’s Day” where it is used as a murder instrument.

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This attracted the attention of its former owner (the Expo’s Guest of Honor) who not only playfully cracked Hart over the head with it but would later single him out during his presentation.

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Right before showing a 35mm print of the movie to an eager audience, Romero participated in a Q&A referred to as “In Conversation with George Romero.” Romero shocked the unsuspecting Hart by asking him to please stand up where he, himself, received a standing ovation. Later, in the green room, Romero passed Hart again and said, “We need to hang out sometime.”

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Hart hopes to share his collection and fervor at future events and, just like THING-FEST, it is done as a labor of love. “I do these events for the fans to enjoy,” he said. “Some of the best things in life are free, like a smile.”

And Joe Hart is one man that’s brought plenty of those to his fellow fans. And, if you haven’t seen the film, it’s affordable and available HERE.

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Dave Fuentes

Photos courtesy of Joe Hart

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2 thoughts on ““Creepshow Expo” and the Mystery of the Travelling Ashtray!

  1. Perhaps the most legendary figure on the Canadian horror landscape, David Cronenberg has developed into his own institution over nearly four decades of making movies. Known as the Baron of Body Horror, Cronenberg reached the cult status with early cult hits like SHIVERS (1975) and RABID (1977) and later in THE BROOD (1979) and the head-exploding, telepathy based SCANNERS (1981). Follow up efforts included the shocking reality-morphing VIDEODROME (1983) before his breakthrough smash remake of THE FLY (1986). Prior, Cronenberg won critical acclamation with his impressive screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel THE DEAD ZONE (1983) which he followed up with DEAD RINGERS (1988) and NAKED LUNCH (1991). Cronenberg then moved from strictly being a genre movie-maker to a fully realized international recognized auteur with the provocative CRASH (1996) and in the virtual reality head-trip of EXISTENZ (1999), both of which fared well at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals. The turn of the century saw Cronenberg shift gears with the films SPIDER (2002), A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005) and, recently, EASTERN PROMISES (2007), all of which avoid expressing his propensity for physical horror in favour of a more psychological exploration of human condition. Cronenberg is also known for his cameos in Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED (1990), Gus Van Sant’s TO DIE FOR (1995), and JASON X (2001). Rue Morgue is extremely proud to announce Canadian film icon David Cronenberg as the official Guest of Honour of the 2010 Festival of Fear.

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