Jim ended up doing me a favor since, forcing me to look at those pictures, helped me realize there were some fun moments too. I just wasn’t in the mindset to appreciate them. It seems enough time had passed for me to look back objectively.
This was the first year the Hyatt Regency would host Flashback Weekend. All previous events took place right down the street at the Crowne Plaza. I have lots of fond memories of Crowne since it was also home to G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) and all the great family memories that go along with it. Unfortunately, it’s become a tight squeeze for its growing crowd and is no longer practical. Especially in the fun Pandemic world, we’re now all living in. Hence, they’ll be moving to the Hyatt next year too. Now what percentage of Mike Kerz’s decision to move Flashback was based on logistics rather than revenge for the Crowne opening its doors to Days of the Dead last year I cannot say. I do know the Hyatt proved a LOT more spacious and I never felt uncomfortably warm like I did at Crowne whose air-conditioning was never a match for Chicago’s summer heat.
When they finally opened the doors to the dealer room, we were very impressed. Not only did they have plenty of room for the multitude of vendors and celebrity guests, but even enough space to give the station wagon from Halloween (1978) its own showroom.
I never had a chance to see all the vendors but, as a collector of physical media, I was very pleased to see boutique Blu-ray labels such Synapse, Severin, and Vinegar Syndrome in attendance. Although my visits to their booths were all too brief, they were long enough for me to walk away with a stack of new acquisitions. The guys from Severin were the best! They brought a good chunk of their library and said everything was three for $50. I chose a few for myself along with their 2021 releases of Grizzly (1976) and Day of the Animals (1977) for my friend, Jason. He’s always so generous to me throughout the year it felt great to finally be able to do something for him in return. After making a large purchase they took off another $35 and then one of them pulled out a long cardboard box full of additional titles. “Here,” he said. “Since you were such a great customer you can’t take whatever you want from this box for free.” FREE? I couldn’t believe it. Not wanting my movie collector dream to go to waste, I greedily chose several titles including Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory (1961), The Sinful Dwarf (1973), The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971), and The Beast in Heat (1977). In other words, a bunch of sleazy movies I’d feel guilty actually paying for. Vinegar Syndrome wasn’t giving anything away but still cut me a good deal; $25 off my total purchase.
Speaking of physical media, I got to meet Richard Diaz – one of my favorite YouTubers on the subject. He was by himself so I seized the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed his channel. He was awesome and we talked movies for a while before he rejoined his friends.
The autograph situation was pretty dismal. Despite big plans to get more signatures for my Friday the 13th poster (see my post on Days of the Dead from earlier this year) as well as some Steelbook/slipcovers, I only had time to meet a handful of guests , one of which was unplanned. I’m referring to the show’s last-minute headliner (after Tobin Bell canceled), Meatloaf. It’s not that I don’t like his music or that I didn’t enjoy him as “Eddie” in the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). In fact, he and I even share the same birthday. He just wasn’t on my bucket list. That is until one of my dearest friends swooped in that evening and helped deal with my car situation and my distraught family member (who, thankfully, sustained no injuries in the accident). She was so awesome, I offered to get her a Meatloaf autograph since she’s a fan. I was glad to do something for her but the man is so long-winded, he effectively sucked the last 90 minutes of my convention time. He did offer a wide variety of 8×10’s along with ‘Bat out of Hell” drum covers which I chose for my friend.
It long waits in line had nothing to do with there being too many people, quite the contrary there were only about ten people when I joined it. The problem was that he’d take over twenty minutes talking to every person. The man was fan-friendly to a fault, even telling all of us to “gather round” so we could also hear his numerous stories. The problem was that, due to the hall’s acoustics, you couldn’t hear a word he was saying even standing just five feet away. So we all just stood there in mock understanding; nodding with goofy grins for over an hour. By the time he signed that drum cover, the other guests were gone and most of the vendors were packing up. It was frustrating for me but a dream come true for his fans and I think it’s pretty awesome they were able to have this experience.
I obtained two more autographs for my Halloween (1978) poster, too. One was from Will Sandin who played the six-year-old Michael Myers at the beginning of the film, and the other was the sister he’d just hacked to death, Sandy Johnson (Judith Myers). I can’t say either of them was all that exciting to meet, but at least my poster is almost full.
The only physical media I had signed was my Australian import of Fire in the Sky (1993) that Imprint Films released earlier this year. D.B. Sweeney was happy to see the movie was finally released on Blu-ray and that it sold out.
This convention was definitely slasher-themed with cast members from the Halloween franchise (both old and current series) as well as Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine (1981). I was particularly disappointed I didn’t get to meet Peter Cowper from My Bloody Valentine. In my opinion, that movie never got the love it deserved. It WILL at least be getting a fan film soon. My friend, Chuck Ryan, created a screen-accurate Harry Warden/Miner costume and will be starring in an upcoming “Valentine Bluffs ”fan film he’s been working on with a team of fellow enthusiasts. The project had no trouble reaching its Kickstarter goals earlier this year and if it is anywhere near as good as Friday the 13th’s Never Hike Alone films, it may prove that slasher franchises are better off in the hands of their fans rather than clueless Hollywood executives (see STAR WARS).
The rest of my experiences revolved around a certain MeTV horror host I’d not seen since before the Pandemic. No Flashback Weekend would be the same without its Svengoolie Saturday. And this one was long overdue. And that story will be coming up next…