The big event of the first day was the TFW red carpet and fans flocked to get pictures of the conference headliners. Seeing Robert Englund for the first time was electrifying. I could not believe how cool he looked, sipping what I think was a scotch and chatting with TFW volunteers and organizers. He looked like he should be sitting in a wingback chair smoking a cigar and spinning yarns from his days in Hollywood, which he would do on Saturday during his Q&A. Robert Englund’s Freddy may be the bastard stepfather of us all, but right then I wished he was my uncle.
Eihi Shiina of Audition and Yoshihiro Nishimura, director of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl graced the carpet quickly and quietly, a sharp contrast to the screams and laughter that erupted during the screening of their film. SAW stars Cary Elwes, Shawnee Smith and Costas Mandylor lingered for some great shots on the red carpet. Cary was particularly accommodating, shaking hands with one fan and posing with the event poster when asked. Shawnee Smith looked slick and amazing with a short semi-bouffant hairdo. Costas Mandylor must have had fun because later on in the convention I saw him hobbling on a pair of crutches while he talked to fans.
Friday was shopping day and my first stop was the Toy Matrix booth which was plastered with horror t-shirts and collectibles. I walked away with my first horror tee, on it the black and white image of Dracula munching on his barely conscious female victim as his trio of brides looks out from the edge of the shirt.
At another vendor booth I snagged a pair of 11 by 17 posters for Robert Englund’s Phantom of the Opera and Sid Haig’s House of 1000 Corpses. These posters are really popular at conventions because they come in protective plastic sleeves and are the right size for easy travel and storage. I also picked up some free swag at the Anchor Bay booth, including Frozen berry-flavored lip balm, and huge posters for the original Halloween and the I Spit on Your Grave remake.
Things really picked up on Saturday and the con was packed inside and out. There was a Shock Rod car show in the parking lot with tricked out hearses and a Phantasm hot rod. Inside I could barely move against the sea of horror fans that descended like a zombie horde on the aisles of horror themed merchandise. Dead Barbies competed alongside clay figures of horror icons and tons of collectible toys and posters. My favorite items were the silver Creature from the Black Lagoon belt buckles, a too cute Frankenstein onesie and a collection of plush slasher dolls. I walked away with the Freddy version.
The highlight of Saturday was the Q&A with Robert Englund. The man is a consummate performer and he loves the spotlight. He shared stories and set the record straight about rumors that he was the one who convinced Mark Hamil to go up for the role of Luke Skywalker. According to Englund, he went up for the role of the surfer in Apocalypse Now. He was too old for the surfer and too young for the cook so producers sent him next door to try out for the role of Han Solo. They thought he wasn’t old enough and Mark eventually got the role of Luke. Englund also shared that he will probably never direct again after his feature film 976-EVIL which came out in 1988. Something about directing doesn’t appeal to his performer’s clock since it takes so much time. He even commented on the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, only to say that there are “only x amount of stories to be told” and that remakes are a perfect example. Talking about his contribution to the character of Freddy Krueger, he told the audience he “saved the Fedora” that gives Freddy his unique silhouette.
Sunday was my day to get autographs, though I admit I was cutting it kind of close. I saw several people at the end of Robert Englund’s line who came too late and missed out on meeting him on the last day. I got there around 11 am to get tickets for Robert Englund and Sid Haig. To keep lines from getting out of control organizers hand out tickets and call fans in groups of 10.
Meeting Sid was nerve-wracking. I spotted him at the bar on the first day of the convention and scampered away like a frightened bunny. Run Rabbit! Ever since I saw House of 1000 Corpses as a teen I have not been able to get his angry hillbilly speech out of my nightmares. He, like so many of the other horror stars, turned out to be a really cool guy. We made small talk about how 1000 was the first horror film I ever saw in theaters and how it kept me up until 3 a.m. tossing and turning in the dark. He told me that if I was scared sleepless he had done his job and when I asked him to scare the crap out of me for a picture he kindly agreed.
I got Robert Englund’s autograph to match Jill Schoelen’s on my Phantom of the Opera poster and he shared with me the story of Phantom of the Opera 2, the movie that never was. In the sequel, Erik the Phantom lives in the bowels of the New York subway with his pipe organ in a subway car. He hears the dulcet tones of a blind girl who sings on the streets above for money. Entranced with her voice, he gives her the gift of his music. Unaffected by his monstrous appearance she accepts his kindness and she is later discovered by the metropolitan opera. After her success, she gets corrective surgery to restore her sight. In love with the young ingénue, Erik watches her sing from the darkness of his opera box, his face covered with the stitched flesh of his victims, his heart breaking for the girl he loves but who must never see his face.
And that boys and ghouls concludes this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend. Next year promises to be bigger, better and badder and will be at the DFW Hyatt hotel to make room for more vendors, more big name guests and more swag. Sleep tight.