September 8, 2014

Con Review: Mr. Hush Weekend of Fear II

It seems that there are new conventions popping up all the time. In my area it is getting a little hard to keep up with them, picking and choosing where to spend my hard earned dollars. I admit that I love going to these, I love collecting autographs, I love getting a moment or two to spend chatting with the guests, I love the friends who go with me, or whom I have made going to these shows, and I love the atmosphere. I also know that there has been a lot of talk about the changing culture, escalating costs, and the like. I see where you are coming from, and I wish I was going to shows in the glory days. Still, I love conventions.

That brings me to Mr. Hush Weekend of Fear II. The first Weekend of Fear was back in, I believe, 2010 and coincided with the release of showrunner David Lee Madison's film Mr. Hush. I was unaware of that show (and hadn't even attended my first convention ever). I wish I did, as it was billed as Betsy Palmer's last convention. It also featured many stars of Mr. Hush (Brian O'Halloran, Stephen Geoffreys, Brad Loree, Steve Dash), as well as other notables like Fred Williamson, Joan Severance, and Gary Klar. But that was then and this is now.

I had seen postings about the show on Facebook and have to admit I was curious. It was within easy driving distance, I just didn't know if I wanted to make it. Well, obviously I did and I am glad I did. The con was a little over two hours away and I made the decision to go on Sunday, hopefully avoid any crowds. I arrived at the hotel about twenty minutes before the doors were to open. I went inside, got my ticket and waited.

As I stood there with a few other early arrivals, I saw Jeremy Ambler (Highway Walker from The Walking Dead) walk in, along with effects legend Tom Savini, and Dawn of the Dead's helicopter zombie Jim Krut. Steve Dash arrived and greeted me with a smile and a handshake. It is interesting to watch people arrive. Anyway, as 11:00 rolled around, I went in and saw a lot of empty tables. I took a little time to walk around, get the lay of the land, seeing where the tables were for the folks I wanted to meet. This led to a conversation with Robert Bruce from The Comic Book Men. He was setting up his table and we talked about the collector mentality versus being a strict vendor. Nice guy.

As I continued to walk around I came across the table of artist Rusty Gilligan. This was one of the highlights of my quick day there. Before today I was not familiar with him or his work. He is a former professional wrestler and currently works primarily as a comic artist and writer. He has also worked on feature films and television shows including the original Heavy Metal movie, Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, and the first season of The Walking Dead. He is very fan friendly and loves talking about conventions, art, comics, movies, pretty much anything. I picked up a print of a piece he did of Spawn that was the first wall hanging of the character. If you get a chance, talk to him, look him up on Facebook. The guy is pretty awesome. He also created a comic book based on his rescued cats.

Now it was time to get down to business and the real reason I was there. I approached the table of Bill Randolph, better known as Jeff from Friday the 13th Part II. I unfurled my poster, which he had never seen before. He looked it all over and picked out a location to sign. We chatted for a few minutes about the lasting affect of the series, about how the weekend was going and a little prep for his upcoming Chiller appearance. He was a real nice guy and if you are looking to meet him, Chiller is just over a month away!

Next table down was Ron Millkie, who you may remember as Officer Dorf in the original Friday the 13th. He, too, loved the poster I have (picture below), and made a joke about that “Bill Randolph guy.” He also told me about this being Steve Dash's last convention. I asked if he knew why, and informed me that he has some health issues and was not feeling up to them anymore.

Fun fact about the picture of Ron and me, there was no one around to ask, so Bill Randolph offered to take the picture!

Keeping on down the line I met Kevin Spirtas, who played Nick, the boyfriend of Lar Park Lincoln's Tina in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. In front of me was a couple who had him sign their copy of Crystal Lake Memories. This led to a conversation with all of us about some of the other cast members and some of the autographs that he had gotten (he even had Kevin Bacon!). Again, I unrolled my poster and before I had even gotten it all out, Kevin mentioned seeing it while Ron was signing and complimented it. He was a very gracious fellow who likes talking about Friday and other projects (he was also in The Hills Have Eyes 2, the original one).

Steve Dash, Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part II, was next to him and I approached his table. He looked up, smiled, and greeted me. I listened as he told a story of a convention appearance with Amy Steel, she had a pitchfork with her, and Steve had his machete and they were posing for pictures with them and they were a great hit. When they left, Amy was not going to take the pitchfork, not knowing how to fly with it. Steve told her to check it on the plane. She did, and she told him it cost her 15 autographs to do it! Steve was in good spirits, relaxed and greeting fans. He signed a photo for me and posed for a picture. He told me he is having memory problems, which was part of the reason for him leaving the convention circuit, saying the next time you read about him it would be an obituary. I wished him the best as I took my leave.

I brought with me a print of Christopher Ott's zombie Clerks piece (which is gorgeous) and had Brian O'Halloran sign it. He is a fan of the piece, having a version of it at his table. Difference here is that I have the black and white variant numbered 98/100. He signed it and added “Bunch of the Savages” as if it were graffiti on the wall. It was nice seeing him again, previously meeting him at Monster Mania and seeing him also at Chiller and Bizarre AC earlier this year.

The next table down was Marilyn Ghigliotti. I had previously bought her autograph from eBay when I met Dante the first time. It was nice to actually meet her in person. She was nice and liked meeting witht the fans. The one thing I never realized before was just how short she is!

Lastly, I met Scott Schiaffo, better known as the Chewlie's Gum guy from Clerks. He was a blast to meet as well, loved chatting about the convention and fandom. He signed my print and added on “Cancer Merchant”.

Overall, I have to say it was a fun time out at the show. Sure, it was small, probably the smallest I have attended, but it was nicely laid back and allowed me to actually have conversations with the guests without having to run off. The guests also seemed to enjoy it, sometimes it is about the interactions more than the money (not that they don't want that too), it did seem like they all were enjoying their time with the fans.

Other guests that I did not meet that were there included Kane Hodder, Tom Savini, Brad Loree, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Gene Snitsky, and Sharon Smyth Lenz. There was also a small vendor room with folks selling art, jewelry, DVDs, posters, and toys.

I have nothing to complain about with the show, it was small, and probably would not have enjoyed a full weekend, but the time I spent on Sunday afternoon was time well spent.

Here's that Friday the 13th poster, it is hard to read all the autographs, but I am up to 31 on it:

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