Event Report: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014
Frightmare! The premier horror convention in the Southwest has come again, and it was a riot. Well, not literally. Thankfully, massive improvements were made this year with line management of the more popular guests and parking so even when things were hot and heavy on Saturday, we never reached the critical mass found last year.
The movie and television guests were a literal who's who of icons throughout the years. The three guests of honor, Linda Blair, George A Romero, and Tobin Bell, were all busy with fans at their tables all weekend. I heard that Bell went till 1am signing on Saturday to make sure everyone was taken card of.
Having tables set up near empty walls for attendees to line up against and usage of tickets when lines got too long were big improvements. With the three guests of honor and other fan favorites such as Scott Wilson and Chandler Riggs ("The Walking Dead"), this line management allowed for attendees to still move around the con floor even on Saturday.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Terminator, and a list of actors and actresses from throughout the Terminator franchise were on deck to celebrate the occasion. A Q&A panel was held with all the guests, and it was like a reunion of old friends. Peter Kent, who performed the stunts for Arnold Schwarzenegger for not only the T-800 but many of his other most iconic roles as well, told stories of some of his craziest stunts on the Terminator movies and hilarious interactions with Arnold on set. Robert Patrick gave the attendees an inside scoop on not only how he got the role, but also the various methods that he used to get into the role of the T-1000, such as mimicking natural predators like eagles and preying mantises. Earl Boen, who played Dr. Peter Silberman in the first three Terminator films, provided his perspective on technology after his time working on the movies. The original film's protagonists, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, gave stories throughout their time with the franchise starting with when they first got their roles to what it is like looking back on the franchise and seeing other people play the same character.
Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince, and Barbie Wilde, three of the original Cenobytes, did a Q&A panel entitled “Cenobite Me.” All three of them were an absolute delight, telling stories of being in the make-up chair, interactions with fans, and their favorite lines or scenes from the films. Rather than being like three co-workers on the stage, it was like three old friends getting together to hang out and tell stories. The biggest thing that all three of them made abundantly clear was their love and gratitude for all the fans of Hellraiser. Once the inevitable question was asked about the rumors of a Hellraiser remake, Doug Bradley replied, "Why remake it, when it is already what the fans are happy with?"
The panel “Get Up and Kill” was held for George A. Romero and two cast members of Dawn of the Dead, David Emge and Scott Reiniger. The two actors told their stories of how they first met Mr. Romero. Reiniger said that multiple times when working on the film or reading the script for the first time, he had the immediate reaction of, “That's gross!” George A. Romero made several comments to how he did not see himself as the “legend” that so many of the fans call him. Even when people made claims that his choice of Duane Jones in Night of the Living Dead was a political statement, George Romero confirmed that he picked the actor just because he was the best person for the role.
A big part of any Frightmare weekend is the movie screenings, and this year they teamed with the legendary Alamo Drafthouse to screen a series of films related to the weekend at the Drafthouse, and then folks from the Drafthouse moderated several of the panels at the con and officially 'presented' the film screenings.
I wish they'd enforce 'Alamo rules' at the screenings because I had to attempt to shut up drunken talkers at both screenings I attended in the big Enterprise room. Seriously, people, if you're in a film, SHUT UP. God bless the Alamo for their 'talk and we throw you out' policy. I'd love to see it at the con.
That said, this year saw several world or American premieres such as Circus of the Dead (review), Gun Woman (review), Pick Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter, Zombie TV, SX_ Tape (review), and several short films. IFC Midnight also screened several of their films - Beneath, The Den, and Witching and Bitching.
At midnight of the second day of the weekend, the local troop Amber Does Dallas performed a shadowcast of Repo: the Genetic Opera. The first surprise of the evening was an appearance and impromptu Q&A with Pavi Largo himself, Nivek Ogre, giving the fans a brief look into his personal experience with the film's production and his appreciation for the fans' devotion to the film. For those not familiar, a 'shadowcast' is when actors and performers act out a film in front of the screen, miming what's happening on screen. Invented/perfected in Rocky Horror theaters around the world, Repo has now become a common shadowcast target, and Amber Does Dallas is one of the best in the world. The shadowcast of the movie itself was phenomenally done with fantastic performances all around. The MC and more experienced audience members made the show an absolute riot with funny one-liners being thrown out left and right with excellent timing.
A big change this year was the inclusion of rock stars alongside horror stars. I'm not sure about this addition, as some were strange fits, but the crowds dug it so I'm not going to naysay the addition. Dee Snider showed up and signed all weekend as well as hosted a panel discussion. Other rock luminaries present included Corey 'Slipknot' Taylor, Twiggy Ramirez, Ace Frehley, and a brief appearance on Saturday of Ghost BC on their way to a nearly sold out show at the House of Blues.
The weekend's entertainment was rounded up by a massive party on Friday hosted by Amelia Kinkade of Night of the Demons fame, with Twiggy Ramirez doing a guest DJ set as well as the traditional Scaryoke on Saturday.
As always, the Hyatt DFW did an amazing job hosting things, going way outside the call of duty to make us horror freaks feel welcome. Because of the musical guests, this year saw the addition of a sound system in the lobby playing dark metal like Slayer, Slipknot, Disturbed, and Rob Zombie all weekend. Not something you usually hear in the lobby of a high-end hotel.
The weekend went off without a hitch, and it seemed like the thousands of attendees had a blast. Founder Loyd Cryer continues to up the ante with Frightmare, and new primary sponsor Fangoria provided a seamless transition from the previous sponsor, Rue Morgue. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This is THE horror con in the US. The way it's organized, the activities available, everything about it places it head and shoulders above the rest.
Next year come down to Texas and let us show you how it's done. Texas Frightmare Weekend 2015 is already planned for the Hyatt so make your plans and join the mayhem!