Kids, it’s late July and if you’re anything like me, you’re feeling the twinge of Halloween already. It’s not upon us quite yet, but it’s across town and has our addresses in its GPS. Every year around this time, I make a big to-do about the first Halloween merchandise that I spot in stores, and a couple weeks ago, I finally made my first sighting of the year. Right in the middle of the candy isle in a new grocery store that just opened up, I spotted one lone box of Halloween Reese’s Cups. Thing is, the other candy wasn’t ready yet. It was just doing its candy thing, hanging out, enjoying summer. But right in the middle, was one box of orange and black horror. I know the feeling, little buddy. I know the feeling.
So, let’s celebrate monsters! Specifically meeting some, in this year’s coverage of THE MAD MONSTER PARTY!. I’ve created a handy place on the site where you can go back and read about all my past years covering this particular convention. It’s become one of the things I look forward to the most. Right in the middle of March, when I’m bummed out that the holidays are over and I’m facing the dread of confronting many more months of humidity before I’ll get my next spooky fix, is a gathering of like-minded fiends.
In past years, it’s always been held in Charlotte, NC, usually at the same hotel. I’m partial to the usual location and didn’t care for it too much that one year when they switched to a different venue. This year was a wonky one too, now located in Rock Hill, SC, but it didn’t diminish the fun and collection of memories. Also on the upside, Rock Hill is a much closer drive.
As mentioned in every other installment of Mad Monster Party, every year, I enjoy the guest lineup, but there is always THE BIG ONE. The one guest that I would make that nearly two hour drive to see even if they were the only person there. And this year was no disappointment at all. I’ve been petitioning the organizers of the con for the past few years to get Felissa Rose, star of Sleepaway Camp. She’s hands-down one of my favorite scream queens, and is amazing to her fans. I’ve had many fun interactions with her on Twitter and she’s been placed firmly in my Bucket List for quite a while. AND THIS YEAR IT HAPPENED!
As it happens every year, I know going in who my BIG ONE is, so once I enter the con, I make a bee-line straight to their table. She was every bit as cool as I thought she would be, and as it turns out, we have a few acquaintances in common, but more on that in a second. At the table next to her was Mark Patton, star of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, the most highly underrated entry in the franchise, in my opinion. It’s also the one known for certain, not quite so subtle…themes. Mark also holds the distinction as being possibly horror’s first ever Final Guy.
They were sat next to each other because they’re also starring in Family Possessions together, directed by an acquaintance of mine, Tommy Faircloth.
Later that evening, we had a screening of the film with some of the cast. Some of it was actually shot near where I live. It was hardly the first time I’ve seen my town on the big screen, but it’s always cool when it happens. The film’s doing well on the convention/award circuit, so I suggest checking it out if you’re just looking for a solid little ghost story. Also later that day, I went to a Q&A with both Felissa and Mark. Folks, if you ever get the chance to meet either one, get on that. They’ve been around the block and have done a thing or three. Plus, they’re both just fun as hell and are down for having a drink with their fans.
Down the hall, was another pair that were a HUGE highlight this year — JUDITH O’DEA AND RUSS STREINER! AKA, “Barbra” and “Johnny” from Night of the Living Dead, some old black and white movie about a bunch of hungry drunk people or something. I guess it was some kind of big deal. Actually, as I write this, George Romero passed away about a week ago, and I’m incredibly bummed about it. I met him as well at last year’s convention, and he was every bit as nice as you would want him to be. So was George Kosana, who played Sheriff McClelland, who unfortunately also passed away not too long ago. I’ve met him several times over the years and bought a t-shirt from him once. We’re losing too many good ones these days.
O’Dea and Streiner are fantastic. If you ever do a con, make a point of waiting for some of these lesser known stars to have a clear table. I’ve had so many great interactions with down to earth so-called “C-listers” (although a lot of them are “A’s” in my book), and they’re often the most gracious and engaging. Judith and I spoke for quite a while and swapped stories back and forth. In the end, she didn’t even charge me for the autograph. Such a nice lady and arguably one of the first scream queens.
Russ was also incredibly nice although I didn’t get a chance to speak to him for quite as long. I did get both of them to record Station ID’s for my radio show though, and both were incredibly happy to do it. Russ really went for it and made it his own. Tune in some Saturday night and maybe you’ll hear it.
Alright, that’s going to do it for this installment. Part 2 should be up in a couple of days, involving more celebs, beer, bagpipes, a candy bar, and a hot Nazi. Now I’m going to go see if I can figure out where I put the key to that damn gas pump. Or maybe not. Don’t worry about it. I doubt we’ll need it.