It was a bustling Saturday at the 2018 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend and one could easily lose track of time in the immense ballroom I mentioned last time. Regardless, I was determined to attend at least a couple of the celebrity panels – especially the one featuring some of the child actors from Stephen King’s IT. Horror conventions are in no short supply of players from older projects, so I give Horrorhound props for boasting actors from 2017’s biggest horror blockbuster. The film debuted the same weekend as last year’s Indianapolis Horrorhound and none of us could have predicted how it would have smashed Box Office nor change the world of fandom. Somehow it destroyed all conventional wisdom and endeared us to a new Pennywise the killer clown despite the thankless job of filling in the footsteps of Tim Curry. In fact, I’ve yet to attend any genre event since that hasn’t had at least three cosplayers dressed as Bill Skarsgard’s new version. Unfortunately, Skarsgard was not in attendance here which was a pity since I’ve no doubt he’d of had conventioneers falling at his feet if he had. Fortunately, most of the film’s “Loser’s Club” was here and willing to come together for a panel. I’m glad that Jason and I arrived early because that room was packed by the time Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), Wyatt Olef (Stanley Uris), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), and Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie Denbrough) walked in.
I first read Stephen King’s “IT” when I was a sophomore in high school. It was the longest book I’d ever read at that point (later beaten by King’s full version of “The Stand” a few years later) and I remember being consumed by the story and characters. The iconic author is known for his uncanny ability of capturing the angst of youth as well as tapping into what scared us. In truth, it wasn’t until my late ‘20s when I read IT a second time that I truly appreciated that. We adults tend to romanticize childhood, reminiscing about our favorite cereals and TV shows, while dismissing the grimmer realities of neighborhood bullies, parental pressure, and how helpless we were. Many people site their first exposure to IT via the 1990 TV mini-series but I’ve always been much closer to the source material.
I have always been a fan of not only monsters but of Halloween. It was only natural for me that in 1985 I combined both loves into a small yard haunt. Each year the display got larger and it eventually got to a point where I had more than 30 people volunteering their time to make sure my haunted yard (known as FRIGHT NIGHT since it was only open on Halloween night) went off without a hitch. It was at this time, in 1989, that I met James Lurgio, another resident of Jamestown, Rhode Island. Unbeknownst to me he was also a fan of monsters and Halloween and after one of my shows he called me and I invited him over to see my collection of masks, props and costumes. We have been friends ever since.