As I mentioned in my earlier report, I had already met Argento years before and gotten a couple of items signed for free. So kept pondering why did I need to do it again, especially since I’d be paying $60g $60 this time? I had brought along my copy of Alan Jones’ book Dario Argento: The Man, The Myths, & the Magic to get signed if I decided to, but was really struggling with it. Lucky for me, that debate was easily decided when a dealer friend of ours graciously offered some extra dealer badges since we hadn’t purchased our tickets yet, which saved us exactly the same amount needed for the Argento signature. So…it was really hard to pass up then since we had just saved that much, right? Funny how fate works out that way.
Granted, the real reason we were here was for our buddy Bryan Martinez to meet the Maestro, since he is not only a fan of Argento’s work, but because this director was a huge influence on him, which would later come out creatively with Bryan’s show The Giallo Room. To say that he was a little excited is a slight understatement. We decided that getting in line right away Friday would be the best bet, since it was early, the line wasn’t that big with maybe a dozen people already in line. Plus, you want to get to Argento early before he gets worn out by all the people coming to see him. I mean, the guy is in his mid-70s after all. Once Argento came down and started, it went pretty quick. I went first and held out my book to him. He paged through it a bit, signed it, then looked up and said “Very good book!” I then sat down next to him for the photo. The guy handling the camera shots was very nice about the whole thing, taking several shots to make sure he got a good one in there. Very different than some of the cattle drives that I’ve seen/heard of before. Argento seemed to be full of spirits and really happy to be there.
Bryan was next up. The look on his face reminded me a little kid on Christmas morning, so full of excitement and wonderment, to finally get to meet the man that has not only given him hours of entertainment but to make him want to get into filmmaking as well. So no matter what else happened at the show, for this little moment, to see Bryan’s face light up like it was, was more than worth it. And yes, he was pretty much flying high the rest of the weekend.
Scott was up next and Argento immediately noticed his Tenebre shirt, pulling open his vest to see more of it! Again, Argento really seemed to be having a good time and was very pleasant to us all.
So yeah…I paid for an autograph and photo. But $60 for an icon like Argento was a little easier to swallow than for a kid that was in one movie 40 years ago and expecting the same kind of money. Ridiculous.
As for the rest of the show, a lot of time was spent in the Q&A room, where I got to sit in for three great panels. Well, actually sat in for two, but had to stand in for one of them because it was so crowded. Usually at shows, I only have time to pop in, get some photos of the guests (since you usually can’t take them at their table unless you pay for it), and then have to get back to my dealer table. So it was a nice change to be able to sit and listen to the whole panel. The first one was for The Thing, which included cinematographer Dean Cundey, and actors Thomas Waites, Keith David, and Wilford Brimley. Unfortunately, the staff couldn’t figure how to get the main lights on before the panel started so most of my photos were a little dark. Thankfully, they had them on for the other panels.
Now I had heard stories just how funny Brimley was at these panels, so I was looking forward to seeing and hearing it for myself. And he didn’t disappoint. There were several times where a comment of his had Waites putting his head down because he was laughing so hard. Some of his comments could have been taken the wrong way, or that, as he put it himself, was being a wise-ass, but as he explained to the crowd, he has the upmost respect for the fans because they were the ones responsible for giving him a career in the movie business and that he was very grateful for that. But they all had some great stories working on the film, with their fellow actors, including Kurt Russell, and of course, working with Carpenter. They are all very happy to see that the film it still around and now considered a classic, especially since it bombed when it was first released.
The next Q&A was for the Bates Motel, which was so packed, I was standing in the back of the room. So no close up shots of the cast for this one. The panel consisted of Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nester Carbonell, and Ryan Hurst. I am a big fan of the series, though I hadn’t seen the last season yet and there were plenty of spoilers coming out during the talking. Oh well. But the way the crowd was reacting reminded me of the kind that follow The Walking Dead, hanging on every word spoken. Very passionate fans, to say the least. But like the last one, they all had some great stories working on the project, both series and some quite funny. So even though I sort of know what is going to happen in season 5, I am still looking forward to it.
The last panel was the Brain Damage one, which just had director Frank Henenlotter and actor Rick Hearst. Even though there was just the two of them, and even though Henenlotter did most of the talking, it was one of the most informative and entertaining panels that I’ve sat through. Henenlotter had so many great stories of working in the underground film market, from stealing shots to dealing with shabby distributors, and really not giving a shit about anything other than making his movies. I give this guy a lot of credit for doing what he’s been doing, making the movies that HE wants to make. There were some great stories about working with John Zacherle, who did the uncredited voice of Aylmer, and why he wasn’t given credit for it. Great story.
Besides those panels, wandering the dealer rooms when there was room to walk, chatting with friends, that was pretty much the show. As always, we ended up each night in the bar chatting about our favorite subject…horror movies, of course! Our flight was early Sunday morning, so our plan was just to stay up all night Saturday night and then head to the airport. Seemed like great idea at the time, but by the time we were sitting on the plane, I was dead tired, but for some reason still couldn’t fall asleep.
Overall, it was a very successful trip. We met our main objective of getting Bryan to meet Argento, so the rest was really just icing on the cake. Not sure if I’ll make another trip down there, since it really isn’t different than some of the bigger shows here in the Midwest, and it really is more about the celebs than anything else, which really isn’t the draw for me these days. But it does look like the people that run it go out of their way to make sure that everyone has a fun time there. And when it comes down to it, that is the most important part.