Regular horror con attendees have their own “A” list celebrities, ones the average theatergoer has probably never heard of. These include folks like Kane Hodder, Felissa Rose, and Tom Atkins – guests who treat their fans like friends. Us horror fans are nothing if not loyal and, in return, make multiple trips to their tables, support their external projects, or even dedicate vlogs and blogs to them such as this one. Amongst those hallowed individuals are the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia. These twin film-makers from Canada have a reputation for ramping up the excitement level at every show they attend while leaving with a legion of devoted followers. Somehow I’d never met them, but the 2019 Days of the Dead in Chicago gave me an opportunity to rectify this. On the morning of the convention’s second day, the two would kick off the day’s celebrity panels with a special Q&A. Needless to say, my friends Jason Schoolcraft, Ron & Angela Urban, and I made sure to take advantage of our VIP passes and get ourselves a front-row seat.
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.
After his signing, Svengoolie took a little break while I headed to the main stage for the costume contest. At this point, things had gotten pretty rowdy outside with a fight erupting in front of the Port-o-Potties; some drunk guy yelling at a girl for taking too long. This eventually led to more people getting involved including the police. I met back up with my daughters who were huddled next to a building. It was a great way too “people watch” while staying dry from the light rain that began moments earlier.
This year’s Nightmare on Chicago Street had near-perfect weather and another large turnout. My daughters and I arrived at the Safe Zone early to take photos and peruse a few antique stores located inside. The plan was for us to stay together until the arrival of MeTV’s national horror host, Svengoolie. At that point, I’d take off to assist him while the girls covered what was going on in the streets. And believe me, there was a LOT going on.
By Jason Schoolcraft
This year instead of my normal Halloween viewings of (mostly) classic horror films, I decided to change things up a bit. The challenge was to watch thirty-one new-to-me movies in so many days. It seemed like a great plan but ended up being more challenging than I thought. As many of you know, I’m a movie fanatic and finding a NEW horror film isn’t easy. Now the results are in and here’s a list of everything I saw and my brief reactions to them. It was a lot more fun than I expected. Remember, I rate a film on its own merit and don’t compare Independent/low budget movies with mainstream Hollywood tentpole films. These are MINE and only my ratings so watch at your own discretion. And here’s the results of my 2019 challenge…
In comparison to most of the Svengoolie appearances I’ve attended, my 100th was rather subdued. It happened nearly two weeks ago at the 2019 Chicago Ghost Con presented by Chicago Hauntings; a true crime/ghost tour company that illuminates the darker side of the city’s history, The heart of this organization is Ursula Bielski who’s something of a local legend if not treasure. Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural you have to appreciate her books/lectures on Chicago cemeteries and the incredible amount of research she put behind them. This event took place at the Holiday Inn Chicago SW-Countryside Conference Center – a large and beautiful building that boasts modern conveniences in a somewhat old-fashioned setting. In fact, when I pulled in, it’s curved brick walls reminded me of a castle. Since I was early, I decided to finish my coffee in the car before going in. During this interlude, I observed a woman dressed to the nines walk outside for a smoke. Either I was way underdressed for this occasion or she was cosplaying as a deceased debutante. Things got a lot clearer when I walked inside only to discover I was crashing a wedding party. Obviously, I’d parked on the wrong side of the building! I quickly drove around to the front entrance which was decisively less regal and jam-packed with cars. In place of a bride’s maid, this time I saw a goth looking gentleman smoking instead. After he crushed out his cigarette, I followed him inside.
I’ve never attended a horror event that was being protested before but this would be the first. I’m not talking Kent State level protesting of course but rather just a few religious people screaming at everyone who was trying to enter. Personally, protesting doesn’t bother me as the right to do so helps make our country what it is. However, being in close proximity to somebody screaming at the top of their lungs is irritating no matter what the cause. Unfortunately, that’s what we had here with a couple guys holding a sign while another yelled about choosing Jesus over the Satan. Instead of just ignoring them, some guy felt the need to go up and start an argument. On the one hand, I was irritated by his feeding into their nonsense while on the other grateful his distraction provided me safe passage inside.