I decided I’d have actors who played Jason sign in gold and all others in silver. with CJ Graham the first. CJ, as you may recall, braved Covid to fulfill his obligation and attend Days of the Dead July 2020 in Indianapolis. He was a much-needed highlight in a pandemic-decimated show. Although many fans will point to Kane Hodder as the quintessential Jason, my allegiance will always be with Graham as Part VI is one of my favorites in the franchise. I was early and none of the guests had arrived. CJ, being a military man, is known for always being on time so I had no qualms planting myself in front of his booth. Not long after, I noticed another fan nervously pacing nearby. He continuously inspected the items available for signing, walking away, and then returning to make sure nothing had disappeared in the seconds they were out of his sight. He must have noticed me staring as he gave me an explanation…
Amid all the customary 8×10’s available for signing, there were a handful of small machetes with the Friday the 13th logo on them. These went for $70 which included a signature. “They only bring a few of those machetes to every show,” he explained. “I want to make sure I get one!”
Since I was the only person ahead of him in line, I didn’t understand his concern. Did he seriously think I was going drop $490 and walk off with all seven machetes? In truth, I had no intention of buying any of them until he put the idea in my head. Before long, I was staring at the machetes alongside him. By the time CJ arrived, I had one picked out and left his table with a signed poster and weapon. After I shared this story with my friends they unanimously agreed the fan was probably working for CJ to stimulate machete sales. They had no doubt there was probably another case of them sitting under the table. It’s true that when it comes to horror film consumerism, I am easy prey. But if they’d seen the anxiety on this guy’s face, they’d have never doubted his sincerity.
Before signing, CJ asked if I wanted just his signature on the machete or if I wanted him to leave room for other Jason’s. Naturally, I went with option B.
By the time CJ finished signing, Warrington Gillette arrived and added his signature to both the poster and the machete as well. I brought my own sharpies but Gillette had me beat. He literally pulled out an attaché case full of sharpies and paint markers in just about every color imaginable. He even tested them on scrap pieces of paper just to make sure they’d work properly before signing. That extra step goes miles with us collectors.
With the two Jason’s down, it was time to seek out their only victim present at this event – Thom Matthews. Matthews played the older Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th Part VI and recently reprised his role in the Friday the 13th fan films, Never Hike Alone and Never Hike in the Snow. While I had him sign the poster, I popped out my Return of the Living Dead Blu-ray insert that Linnea Quigley had signed the night before.
I set my poster at a nearby empty table and waited for the autographs to dry. Jason, Don, and Bunny met up with me and we all shared how our mornings had gone so far. Don and Bunny graciously gave me back the new Candyman poster so that I could have it signed by Tony Todd (who hadn’t shown up at his booth yet) and we all separated again as I brought my Friday the 13th autographs up to the room.
I returned to the convention hall to have William Forsythe sign my Dick Tracy (1990) Blu-ray insert. Forsythe had played the villainous Flattop in the 1990 film along with an all-star cast. Personally, I don’t think the movie gets the recognition it deserves and I’m shocked over the last thirty years it hasn’t become a cult classic. I was a big fan of Madonna back in the day (as any good gay teenager in the ‘80s would be) and must have seen the movie about four times in the theater. When I went to Forsythe’s table he was alone and appeared a little cranky. I told him I was surprised they didn’t come out with a 30th-anniversary edition or give this release a better upgrade. “Yeah well you know that’s up to Warren Beatty,” he grumbled. I asked him what it was like working with Madonna in her prime and he snapped, “There were a lot more people than just her working on that movie!” Translation – “She got all the attention and wouldn’t give me the time a day!” As I left, I was so put off by his attitude I hastily put the Blu-ray insert back into its sheath before giving it a chance to dry. The result was a smeared mess that made me wish I could retract the last five minutes of the convention even more than I already did.
With the Caddyshack restaurant now open, Ron and Angie and I decided to go get lunch. Jason wasn’t hungry and said he would remain in the hall while graciously offering to wait for Tony Todd (who was running late) so he could sign the Candyman poster before his line inevitably got out of control. I handed him the cash before taking off with the Urbans. During lunch, Jason texted that he’d been successful as Todd arrived only minutes after we left. He brought the poster into the restaurant and recounted the story about how Todd was shocked to see him with the official double-sided theater poster as the film’s been delayed like every other 2020 flick. He said that Todd stared at the poster a while before explaining to Jason that he really wanted to write a line from the new film but that Jordan (Peele) would kill him. Jason assured him that he would not publicly reveal the signature until after Candyman came out and I will honor that by not mentioning it here.
After lunch, Jason and I went downstairs for the panels. The first was Tony Moran from the original Halloween (1978). While Nick Castle played the predominant Michael Myers in the film, it’s Moran’s face you see when he’s briefly unmasked by Jamie Lee Curtis‘s, Laurie Strode. I’ve seen entire YouTube videos dedicated to dissing Tom Moran but he was friendly when I met him at the “Days of the Indianapolis last year. True. his part was mere seconds but I’m pretty sure if any of us had a minuscule part in a major horror franchise, we’d milk it for the almighty dollar if we could, too. In fact, I once saw a man who played a background zombie in an episode of The Walking Dead charge $20 for his autograph. After attending Moran’s Q&A panel, however, I did understand where some of that animosity comes from. For one thing, he doesn’t give a crap about Halloween nor the franchise – something you should at least pretend to be when addressing (and getting cash from) its fan base. Secondly, he ripped on a lot of other horror convention sweethearts such as Tyler Mane and Derek Mears. Even my friend, Bunny, wanted to throttle him after I told her all the nasty things he said about Erik Estrada. Bunny was a huge fan of the TV show CHiPS and has spent the better part of four decades fantasizing about him tossing her on his motorcycle and driving off into the California sunset. She was not about to let some “two-bit celebrity wannabe” bad mouth him. At one point he had his teen daughter come on stage and sit next to him for no apparent reason. Like any teen caught off-guard the poor thing just stared at the audience like a deer in headlights. Poor Summer from “The Dolls of Horror” podcast had her work cut out trying to moderate this panel.
Next up was Linnea Quigley and Amelia Kincade discussing Night of the Demons (1988). Prior to this event, Jason and I rewatched the movie so it was fresh n our minds. Most of the audience questions, however, seemed to be geared towards its first sequel, Night of the Demons (1994) – which neither of us had seen! I have since purchased a Blu-ray import of the film and really enjoyed it. I guess it’s time to give Night of the Demons 3 (1997) a try too.
And here is where my Days of the Dead coverage ends. After this panel, Jason I headed to the historic Pickwick Theater in nearby Park Ridge to see Godzilla vs King Kong (2021) on the big screen. Naturally, we’d already seen it for free on HBO Max but couldn’t resist seeing it again on the big screen. For me, it was especially nice as this is the same theater that hosts the Godzilla films for G-FEST (Godzilla Festival). It’s the theater I saw the original Gojira (1954) while sitting only ten feet away from one of its stars, Akira Takarada. It was a perfect ending to an amazing weekend.