The Weekend HE Came to Chicago: Flashback Weekend Celebrates “Halloween!”

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Thanks to the 2015 Flashback Weekend, I was able to add two more signatures to my Halloween (1978) poster; Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Leigh Brackett) and Nick Castle (Michael Myers or, as billed, “the Shape”). If you walked into the main ballroom, the vendors took up the bulk of the space while celebrity guests could be seen along the room’s perimeter and in a row of booths located on the far left side. After checking out all the merchandise, we found ourselves exactly where we needed to be and at a good time as well. There was Nick Castle, Michael Myers, sitting there all by himself and ready for us to meet!

I handed Castle my poster for signing and I should mention that I’m far from alone in this quest. I saw several other fans walking around with their signed Halloween posters which made for an interesting observation; all the cast and crew members seem to always sign their names at the same specific spots. At one point I compared my poster with another fans and, I’ll be damned, his was nearly identically signed…except for that fact that he had Jamie Lee Curtis’ signature from a rare Horrorhound Weekend appearance she did a few years back; thereby inciting instant jealousy. As the quintessential Michael Myers, Castle appropriately signs his by the hand holding the knife!

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Castle was very friendly; in fact I’d say everyone I’ve met associated with this film has been except for maybe its cantankerous director, John Carpenter (covered HERE). We talked about how he had no idea the film would have reached such cult status back in the day when this was just a low budget, Indy film. Though he didn’t do much in the way of acting after its success, Castle did remain active in Hollywood as both a writer and director. He’d even collaborate with Carpenter again, writing for both Escape from New York and Escape from LA.

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Next up was Charles Cyphers who was sitting nearby. We did have to wait a few moments to meet him as he was having a conversation with another fan. This is one thing I’ve always liked about Flashback Weekend…you’re able to spend more time with the guests. I had no problem waiting patiently as I knew it would soon be my turn to do the same thing.

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Cyphers couldn’t have been nicer and happily completed my poster signing goals for the day. For whatever reason, I decided not to ask him any Halloween related questions and asked what it was like working with Sarah Michelle Gellar instead. In terms of celebrities, I should mention I’m a huge fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and would easily put meeting Gellar ahead of Jamie Lee Curtis… even it meant never getting  this poster fully signed! In the Season Two episode titled, “Go Fish,” Cyphers played an evil swim coach. As the cult series was often a metaphor for teen angst and the high school experience, Cyphers represented an extreme version of the “win at any cost” mentality and coaches pushing their teams too far…in this case turning them into humanoid sea monsters!

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In terms of getting inside information and making the most of your celebrity encounter, asking an actor what it was like working with someone is a bit of a gamble. Most will play it safe and give you a generic, “Oh, they were great!!!” (Smile) while divulging little if anything substantive. At present date, my favorite answer to the question came from another Halloween alumnus, P.J. Soles, who wasted no time telling me that working with her STRIPES co-star, Bill Murray, was a veritable nightmare (seen HERE)!  Cyphers offered a much different depiction of Gellar while thankfully veering away from the usual platitudes.

“She was amazing and actually stood up for me while filming,” he said. “I knocked my head really hard on one of the ceiling pipes in the locker room set…I mean REALLY hard,” Cyphers emphasized the point by rubbing his temple. “I started bleeding and told the production crew that it wasn’t safe and they all just sort of waved me off. As soon as Sarah heard about it, she was furious! She marched right up to them and demanded that they fix the problem or she wasn’t going to film another scene. I could tell that she not only cared about what happened to me but that she was going to make sure it didn’t happen again. It meant a lot that the star of the show would concern herself with a guest actor’s safety as much as she did.”

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Not only was it great learning that my admiration of Ms Gellar was far from misplaced, but pretty awesome discovering that she was much a hero behind the scenes as she was in them! I walked away very satisfied with the encounter and my poster signature count now up to seven!

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We checked the time while leaving the main hall and saw it was nearing 2pm which meant Svengoolie had likely already arrived. Susan took off for a prior engagement as I prepared to take up my Sven-stalking alone.

To be continued…

Dave Fuentes~

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