Chicago’s 2019 Days of the Dead took place at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont; a new venue for this convention but certainly not for me. After fifteen G-FESTS and a handful of Flashback Weekends, I was well acquainted with the place as well as its monolithic manager, Don Johnston. This event took place last November; not the most ideal time for me but workable. Several months earlier, my friend Jason Schoolcraft generously purchased VIP passes for us and arranged to fly in from New England to join me. As many of you know, the man loves film and I always enjoy our pre/post-convention movie marathons. We arrived at the hotel around 3 PM that Friday and were greeted by my friends, Ron and Angela Urban. I was just introducing them to Jason when Richard Dreyfuss breezed past us. The Academy Award-winning star of JAWS and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a bit shorter than I’d envisioned and had noticeably bad knees but there was no denying it was him.
Written by Jason Schoolcraft
A Brief History
In 2012, after two years of planning and preparation, Rhode Island was going to get its own comic convention – an East Coast taste of what San Diego enjoys each year. It got off to a rocky start due to safety codes and its venue unable to contain all the people it would attract but, if anything, it showed how underserved we New Englanders were in terms of our fandom. The Rhode Island Comic Con was an instant hit and has grown exponentially ever since.
As soon as I saw that framed poster of The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) standing at the entrance of Horrorhound Weekend‘s Fact or Fiction-Fest, I knew I was going to love it. That familiar image of a hairy monster gliding through the water drew the cryptozoology fan in me like a moth to a flame. Or in this instance, a Mothman to a flame. I was very excited when Horrorhound announced the addition of this show; an entire room dedicated to UFO’s, Bigfoot, and even ghosts. It even featured notable guests such as Giorgio A. Tsoukalos a.k.a. the wild-haired personality from the Ancient Aliens series who’s since gone on to become a meme. Continue reading
Horrorhound Weekend boasted a cavalcade of celebrities as well as excellent panels and vendors. We literally left one aisle of MASK-FEST before seamlessly finding ourselves in the middle of it; a transition putting us in immediate temptation. Everything looked so incredible, you could easily blow a hundred bucks without walking more than five feet! Fan conventions have gotten a lot pricier since this site began nearly ten years ago. The biggest increases are from guest celebrities. They charge top dollar for their autographs and you should count yourself lucky if they don’t tack on an additional fee for a selfie. I had brought along a couple of Blu-ray covers I’d hoped to have signed but when I saw those prices…well let’s just say those covers remained untouched throughout the weekend. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money but rather my being haunted by all the things I could do with that cash instead. And it wasn’t as if Horrorhound didn’t offer plenty of alternatives.
Although I’ve attended every Horrorhound/MASK-FEST for the last eight years, this one had me nervous. Having outgrown their old Marriott hotel guests were treated to a significantly larger (and pricier) one last year that didn’t seem to make a lot of folks happy. This year they finally graduated to the Indianapolis Convention Center – a venue I’d last visited back in 2005 for STAR WARS CELEBRATION III. I had no doubt it was large enough but was primarily concerned with the logistics and parking situation. Thankfully, it couldn’t have gone better. The 2019 Horrorhound Weekend would prove itself not only a winner in terms of organization but a true fan-pleaser by offering THREE events for the price of one. In addition to Horrorhound Weekend and MASK-FEST, there’d be a third show called Fact or Fiction featuring notable personalities from the world of the unknown. So if you’re a horror fan who’s also into UFO’s AND Cryptozoology like I am, this was the event you’ve been waiting for!
Saturday, August 3, 2019, 5 PM: The Flashback Weekend costume contest ends and Svengoolie reunites with his crew before we all head, single file, to the main convention hall. Don Johnston takes the lead; helping to reel in celebrities for Sven to interview. I’m the caboose of this entourage doing my best to stay out of the way while taking photos. Suddenly, Svengoolie makes an unexpected detour to visit one of the vendors. She’s a Svengoolie fan who follows him on social media and mentioned how they’ve never formally met despite his passing her booth every year at Flashback Weekend. This time, he makes sure to break tradition and say ‘hello!’
Saturday, August 3, 2019, 4:15 PM: I enter Ballroom 1 at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont and quickly take a seat next to my friend’s, Ron and Angela Urban. Those two always show up to panels and events early and get the best seats. The participants in this year’s costume parade were all lined up against the wall. The first thing I notice is how many kids there are. Usually, the Flashback Weekend costume contest kids division is lucky to have three or four entries. This year, however, they were a force to be reckoned with. But I’m getting ahead of myself here…