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.
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, 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…
Friday, August 2, 2019, 8:30 PM: When the Svengoolie 40th Anniversary panel ends, I rejoin Don Johnston and the crew before heading upstairs the room. Svengoolie and Jim eventually join us and the host gets to work removing his makeup so they all can leave. As it happened, Robert Englund’s panel took place right after his and the two managed to meet up in-between. They’re old friends who see each at Flashback Weekend just about every year. The challenge, of course, is finding a moment between their busy schedules to do so and this year it happened off-camera. According to Sven, Englund was very kind and shared tips on doing out-of-state conventions with him; a subject that came up during Sven’s Q&A. I must say, the idea of Svengoolie venturing outside of Chicagoland and meeting his newer fans is exciting to me. I’m always fascinated by seeing the impact he’s made on people since MeTV went national back in 2011.
The Following highlights were “transcrammed” from the 2019 Flashback Weekend panel celebrating 40 years of Rich Koz’s Svengoolie. The event began with a video presentation narrated by the original Svengoolie – the late Jerry G. Bishop. The panel was moderated by WGN Radio’s Nick Digilio and proved an entertaining 90 minutes – with a few surprises!
5:30 PM, Friday, August 2, 2019: I walk outside the hotel just as the Svengoolie crew parks. Sven’s in the passenger seat with his producer and assistant, Jim Roche driving. In the back is his director, Chris Faulkner, and “hit the theme for us” Chas Ailing. As soon as they come out I hand them their passes. The last to exit is the host, himself, and I jokingly hold up his lanyard like a Hawaiian lei, prepared to put it over his head. “Well, if you’re gonna kiss him, make sure you do it on his cheek so you don’t mess up his makeup,” quips Jim. When it comes to comedy, these folks are “on” whether the camera’s rolling or not.