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.
The inimitable “Russ Wrangler” arrived at my place around 1pm; all smiles and full of energy. Clad in sunglasses and sandals, he looked more prepared for a day at the beach as opposed to a horror convention but clearly the overall message was “vacation” and a welcomed one at that. We loaded my things and immediately embarked for Indianapolis with no lulls in conversation, making the drive go by much quicker.
This was my third Days of the Dead in Indianapolis (fourth overall) and Russ’ second. I remember attending the very first one while being impressed with how fan-friendly it was; something I’d hoped hadn’t changed. It seems like fan conventions of any kind start off slow and friendly and, should they find success, later become out-of-control Goliath’s with the fans getting lost somewhere in the mix.
The biggest draw of any fan convention lies with the celebrities they feature. I find that there are few experiences more gratifying than seeing your idols up close and having an opportunity to tell them how much you appreciate their work. You can also get a small glimpse of what they are really like as opposed to the 2-Dimensional view offered by the small & large screens.
This past weekend, Chicago celebrated it’s annual Wizard Con at the Donald E. Stephen’s Convention Center in Rosemont. This is the Midwestern version of the famous San Diego Comic Con – largest of all fan events.
It’s been a long time since I collected comic books and about 12 years since my last Wizard Con (or whatever they called it back then as it has changed ownership periodically over the years). Upon discovering that THE EXORCIST star, Linda Blair, along with a few alumni from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” would be in attendance, I decided to give it another shot.