An Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend like no other

In many ways, attending the latest Horrorhound Weekend/MASK-FEST in Indianapolis was like a visit to an alternative Universe. For one thing, the huge gathering of horror buffs was taking place at an all-new venue; one that promised better parking and a larger layout to accommodate vendors and fans. For another, I was attending with a friend from Rhode Island who’d never done a Horrorhound Weekend before. Jason Schoolcraft joined me last year in Indy for Days of the Dead and assists me every so often with his “Killer Reviews.” We had a great time at “Days” and Jason loved having an opportunity to meet independent filmmakers which he hoped to continue to do at Horrorhound. For me, it was all about the masks.

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Svengoolie and the Celebs of Flashback Weekend!

For faithful viewers of MeTV’s Svengoolie,  you know some of his best “On the Road” segments feature the host interviewing celebrity guests at horror cons. In this regard, 2018’s Flashback Weekend has given us a LOT to look forward to. Just after hosting the event’s annual costume contest, he and the crew made their way out to the main convention hall where the magic all began. I’d been sitting with the audience and quickly grabbed my camera and dodged other attendees to catch up. The team graciously allowed me to join them and this was always my favorite part insofar as it’s always so unpredictable. You see, pinning down convention guests for interviews is something of a crapshoot – even if you are hosting a highly rated television show on prime time Saturday nights. You just never know who’s going to be available nor who will participate if they are. Fortunately, Svengoolie had the considerable might of the hotel’s manager and friend, Don Johnston, on his side.

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Svengoolie and the Creepy Costumes of Flashback Weekend!

The crowd hushed as WGN Radio personality, Nick Digiglio, took the platform. For as long as I’ve been attending  Flashback Weekend it’s been his job to introduce Chicago’s local-gone-national TV horror host, Svengoolie, to the audience before the annual costume contest begins. It’s a fitting role for Digiglio as they’re genuine pals and Sven’s been a guest on his program numerous times. Whether delving into the illustrious career of his alter ego, Rich Koz, or dishing on their favorite horror films, it’s always a treat for us listeners. On this occasion, however, it was a one-man show as Sven replaced him on stage. The crowd broke into applause and for good reason. For us seasoned attendees, we knew we were in for an hour of imaginative costumes coupled with Svengoolie’s quick wit and banter.

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Svengoolie and Fans at Flashback Weekend!

I go online and print everything I can find on Svengoolie and then hang them all over my kitchen walls,” said the older lady to my right. “I’m just worried since I saw him at last year’s Flashback Weekend he’ll think I’m stalking him by coming to this one.” Considering the number of Svengoolie appearances I had under my belt, I confidently gave her some reassurance. It was just a few short weeks since G-FEST and I was back at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, this time swapping Godzilla for slashers. Somehow the two conventions still seemed related thanks to the presence of my friend, Don Johnston. Don’s a powerful presence at the hotel and it’s never more apparent than when his venue hosts events such as these. He’s a larger than life character that appears to be everywhere at once – a titan with a heart of gold who shares my love of comics, horror, and Svengoolie. He was definitely in the “convention zone” on this day as he barreled past me near the photo op area asking if Sven’s crew had arrived. Minutes later, MeTV’s national horror host and company materialized; ready to take on Flashback Weekend as they’d skillfully done at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) last April. And, just like that occasion,  they permitted me to stay amongst them where I could observe the broadcasting legend interact with fans, host the annual costume contest, and interview celebrity guests. In exchange, I’d assist them in selling T-shirts and posters while snapping a few fan photos when needed. This gave producer (Jim Roche), director (Chris Faulkner), and cameraman (Chas Ailing) more freedom to keep the appearance running smoothly while capturing material for his upcoming Saturday night shows. So to be put things into perspective – I get the best seat in the house doing something I enjoyed doing anyway.

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20 Years Later: Reconciling the TriStar Godzilla

Last month, G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) celebrated its 25th show. The kids and I packed into Rosemont’s Crowne Plaza like sardines; amazed at how popular this event’s gotten since our first visit 15 years ago. Thanks to the unexpected success of Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, the world’s most famous atomic monster has been enjoying something of a renaissance these days. Consequently, these last few years have seen G-FEST become something of a giant monster itself.  Of course, this isn’t the first time an American version of the “Big G” made some waves. Two decades ago there was another. One so controversial that die-hard fans will only refer to it only as “Zilla” or GINO (Godzilla In Name Only).  That being said, I was pretty surprised to see “Zilla’s 20th Birthday Party” listed in this year’s itinerary. Almost as shocked by how badly I wanted to be there for it. 

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