The most important lesson I got from Linda Blair at Chicago’s Days of the Dead is that sometimes celebrity encounters offer a learning curve. The last time we met was over seven years ago at Chicago’s Wizard Con where things didn’t go as I’d planned. Back then, I was fairly new to the convention circuit and assumed, incorrectly, that celebrity guests were all fan-driven and eager to discuss their movies. Instead, meeting Blair was like getting a crash course from the conventioneer’s “school of hard knocks” as it was evident the The Exorcist star was much more interested in discussing her canine-driven, Worldheart Foundation, rather than horror films. Since I was such a fan of her iconic role, that really disappointed me. So this year I decided to literally throw all expectations to the dogs and lead in with her foundation rather than wait for her to drag me into it. In doing so, I’d inadvertently gain a new respect for the actress along with a hard lesson about mistaking ones passion for standoffishness.
It was a sunny Thursday morning when we entered the main entrance of the Freetown State Forest in Massachusetts. Aaron Cadieux, the director of The Bridgewater Triangle, was en route and shot me a text asking if I wanted coffee. It was a gracious gesture, especially considering he was already doing me a huge favor just by coming out to meet us. Fortunately, my pal Jason Schoolcraft had already supplied me with my daily caffeine requirement, thereby granting me the necessary endurance to combat the Massachusetts morning traffic and an alleged evil forest. As soon as I turned off the ignition, Jef Taylor was out of the car and checking out the map.
I wasn’t sure when I’d ever make it back to New England until the lure of the other Dave’s recent surprise birthday party (featured in my last post) unexpectedly made it this year. Sure, the timing could’ve been better but I was grateful for a chance to return; not just to see friends but also more of Massachusetts which has intrigued me since my first visit back in 2010. And how could it not? “The Old Colony State” is rich in American history with some of our country’s oldest and most sinister roots stretching just below the surface of its otherwise beautiful landscapes. It’s a State with the type of scenic countenance and coastal charms a Midwesterner like myself often pines for. Yet, despite its allure, Massachusetts unnerves me with a subtle creepiness I can feel if not adequately explain. I’m not sure why that is considering I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and am certainly not naïve to my own city’s spooky tales and violent past (nor present I might add). I guess for me visiting New England is like stepping into an old attic loaded with strange relics, musty memories, and a glimpse of an ominous history we grazed over in school. In keeping with that metaphor, Massachusetts is like the old, locked trunk sitting in its darkest corner. This year I decided to pull back some of the cobwebs and use the party as an opportunity to covertly visit and explore a series of sites in Massachusetts that are all part of its infamous Bridgewater Triangle. If you live outside of New England, you’ve probably never heard of it but, for many of the locals, it’s arguably more notorious than Salem itself.
Smack dab in the middle of Erie, Pennsylvania are 75 acres dedicated to its dead. The 167 year old cemetery is treasured by its community for its beautiful setting and historical markers while others whisper of its darker side. I, myself, knew nothing of it until that cold Saturday morning in early March when the other Terror Dave, Dave Fuentes, drove me through its gates. That in itself wasn’t unusual, we Daves enjoy visiting old graveyards, but there was something rather unique about this one. And so, within minutes of our arrival, we’d begin our search for the crypt of a vampire.
With a few exceptions, I can’t say I was overly impressed with 2016’s horror movie selections. In fact, I’d pretty much written it off as yet another lousy year until the other night when I popped on a screener copy of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The film made its debut last September at the Toronto International Film Festival before receiving a limited theatrical release here in the States on December 21st. It was filmed in the UK and marks the first English-speaking movie by Norwegian Director, André Øvredal, who also directed and produced a film the other Dave discussed back in 2011, Trollhunter. I can only hope this won’t be his last.
My fellow Terror Dave, David Albaugh, celebrated his birthday just a week shy of our road trip. Since we’re rarely within nine hundred miles of each other during special occasions, I offered to treat him to dinner while we were on the road. My plan was to find something fun and unique; ideally in Roswell, New Mexico. Unfortunately, while the UFO capital of the world was chock full of gift shops they came up decisively short in terms of gimmicky food places. Not to worry because, as fate should have it, there was an alien themed restaurant right down the street from a hotel we were already booked at. And so, just two weeks after David’s special day, we’d celebrate at the E.T. Encounter Diner in Sedona!
Upon entering the immense exhibitor hall of C2E2 (Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo) we made a beeline for our pre-scheduled Insidious: Into the Further 4D Experience. Despite the size of this event and its countless attractions, our destination wasn’t hard to find. Located at the far end of the convention, our destination was two large truck cargo holds adorned with an Insidious: Chapter 3 poster and converted into a thrill ride. The previous Insidious films were both somewhat rides in their own right and, in my opinion, highly satisfying. Their original stories (a novelty in the horror world these days) were chock full of frightening imagery and effective atmosphere making it a personal favorite. When I saw this amazing opportunity to experience these films in a whole knew way, and that it was coming to C2E2, I knew I had to get on board. This was also a great way to gear up for the new film opening in theaters this Friday. The experience being in 4D meant you could experience the films almost as participant, rather than a mere viewer and what horror fan would ever pass up on that?