Us middle-aged dorks sure have it made these days. Just about everything we loved as kids is back, and stronger than ever. Let’s take STAR WARS for example. This weekend sees the release of a new film and just after I got to see Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back) at Chicago’s Days of the Dead . Despite the twenty-seven-year difference, the two films have been mentioned together a lot these days, with critics calling this latest installment “the best since Empire.” I can’t say if I agree with that yet as I won’t get to see it till Sunday, but totally understand why The Empire Strikes Back is used as a benchmark for STAR WARS greatness. It’s got a great story, the first appearance of Yoda, that amazing battle on Hoth, a twist ending concerning the relationship between Luke and Vader, defied movie standards by not having the good guys win, and featured one of the coolest bounty hunters in ANY galaxy, let alone one far, far away. It’s no wonder its a critical and fan favorite. It’s also no mystery why so many of us flocked Days of the Dead to celebrate the great Boba Fett and the man behind his mask.
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.
I had plenty of anticipation going into the 2017 Chicago Days of the Dead with goals to match. Although I’m no vlogger at this stage of the Terror Dave game, I wanted to capture as much video as I could while meeting celebrity guests, doing some shopping, and stepping out of my comfort zone for a bit of cosplaying (more on that later). This year’s headliners included Linda Blair, Sean Astin, Dee Snider, and Jeremy Bulloch. As a lifelong STAR WARS fan, seeing Bulloch, a.k.a. Boba Fett, was priority #1 while my kids had autograph ambitions of their own. On this Friday night, however, it was “adult swim” as my horror compadre, Chris, and I attempted to tackle as much of the event as we could before the Saturday crowds made it a challenge.
I spent our last night at the 2017 Indianapolis Days of the Dead just like I did the first one; taking in another screening at their “48 Hour Independent Film Fest!” This time around I’d be seeing Plank Face, an Independent film created by a group of Indianans who’ve managed to put out several genre movies for the past few years. I got my first taste of them here and would categorize them as “B horror films,” though this is not a criticism. I grew up on a steady stream of low budget films that I loved and will forever cherish. In fact, in my home state of Rhode Island, I work with an Independent movie company called Scorpio Films Releasing and consider several of their films to be the hallmark of my movie library.
If there was a finale for our weekend at the 2017 Indianapolis Days of the Dead convention, then surely the costume contest was it. I arrived at the hall early and roughly the same time that many of the contestants did. Just the few I passed on my way in let me know I was in for a treat. Some of the costumes weren’t just creative but downright brave. Case in point, a giant-sized Count Chocula that towered over all of us. As hard as it was for me to maneuver that crowded hallway, I could only imagine how tough it must have been for him.
I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to attend a Days of the Dead convention in the Midwest, but it happened. I work with the Rhode Island Terror Dave (David Albaugh) and have been to a few east coast horror events but wasn’t very impressed with them. Needless to say, heading out west to attend one of theirs was never a priority until the other Dave (Dave Fuentes) invited me. Both Daves knew I was a huge fan of Dawn of the Dead and arranged for photo-ops with me and the cast as well as the “godfather of zombies,” himself, George Romero! This left me NO choice but to be there! After securing the time off and getting a great deal on a flight, the wait was on! Thankfully, June 30th came quickly and I was on a 5:55 am flight for a 3-day weekend of HORROR and debauchery!