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…
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).
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.
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.”
Here are some shots taken from that amazing night…
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Photos courtesy of Joe Hart