October 26, 2014

Con Recap: Chiller Theatre Fall 2014

If it's Halloween, it must be Chiller. That's right, it is that time of year again, when I make my biannual migration to the Sheraton hotel in Parsippany, NJ. Now, the horror guest lineup was not as strong as it has been at past shows, but that doesn't change the fact that there were a lot of cool people I wanted to meet. So, a few friends and myself piled into a car made the relatively short drive to the hotel. We were all buzzing with excitement for what the day would bring. We knew we would be fighting crowds all day, but we were ready for that if it meant getting to meet some cool celebrities, and maybe make some new friends.

Before the meat of the piece, check out a video recap (gotta love that movie mode on my camera):

We got there just before 9am. And we walked from the lot across the street to the hotel and then around the building where we found the massive line winding its way around the back of the hotel. We had the same condition last year, but something about it this year seemed to be less aggravating and chaotic. Sure, massive lines suck and kind of put a damper on the initial excitement, but it seemed to flow a little better. It is almost like they learned from the mess in the Spring and made adjustments. Whatever it was, it worked.

Once we got inside we decided that our first stop would be Linda Hamilton. We made our may down the main hallway to the room she would be in (there are a ton of rooms, big and small, so a map is a necessity). Her line was a combined line with James Remar. As we got in line a costumed fellow saw and recognized me from this site and told me he reads the site all the time! Well, I really appreciate the kind words and if you are reading this, thank you again!

As the line began to move and we got closer to Linda's table, we got to peek around the room at the crowd that was beginning to form and see other stars as they signed at their tables. I saw Barbara Steele, of Black Sunday fame. I met her in 2011 at the first show I ever went to. She looked to be having a great time greeting fans.

I looked right, towards Linda Hamilton's table, and there was James Remar saying, chatting, and signing autographs. The guy looked really happy to be there. I saw a fan come up with a Warriors vest, which he put on for a picture with the fan.

We finally made it to Linda Hamilton's table. I was unsure what to expect, as I had heard she does not do pictures at her table, in the past this has been an indication of the star's demeanor at the table. I shouldn't have worried so, she was an absolute delight. We talked about her role on Chuck and how the network messed it up, not knowing how to market it. She had a great time shooting that show. We also mentioned, of course, the awesomeness of Terminator. She was really happy and seemed genuinely excited to meet everyone.

The next guest on the list was just over from Linda Hamilton, and that would be her co-star in The Terminator, Michael Biehn. While waiting in line for him, I happened to see Bess Motta from The Terminator and Jenette Goldstein from Terminator 2 and Aliens.

I was anxious to meet Michael Biehn, having recently rewatched both The Terminator and Aliens. He was also in the western that changed my mind on the genre many years ago, Tombstone. He was very pleasant and we had a conversation about how The Terminator mirrors slasher films. He also took the time compliment my beard, talking about growing and trimming in the right way. It was pretty funny, I was not expecting to be discussing facial hair this day.

We continued on our trek and in doing so, I was able to snag some pics of Traci Lords of Not of this Earth, Cry Baby, and First Wave fame (among, um, others) and Kristanna Loken from Terminator 3.

The next line we waited in was for make up effects artist Glenn Hetrick. Now, I do not watch Face Off, but wanted to get my picture with him. So, my sister (who was getting multiple autographs) had me pretend to be one of her friends so I could get the picture. Now, not being a watcher of Face Off, I had to come up with something, so we talked tattoos and he winced seing my inner biceps being done, and he loved the Millennium Falcon on my calf. Very cool fellow.

We left that main room and moved to the small hallway lined with star filled rooms. First stop was the room housing th Italian Invasion. I went in and met Me Me Lai, of Eaten Alive, Jungle Holocaust, Man from Deep River, and Revenge of the Pink Panther. She was very pleasant to meet, although I was uncomfortable with all the nude photos she had available. I picked a head shot to have her sign, although I kind of wish I went for one of the shots from the movies.

Moving on down the line, I found the massive and slow moving line to meet the Godzilla suit actors. The line was split, one side of the hall was for Godzilla, the other side was for Ace Frehley, and when these lines combined, there was no room to move. It was nuts, and slow. Still, despite the speed it was well worth the wait to meet these legends of suit acting.

The first Godzilla I met was the original, Haruo Nakajima. The elderly gentleman was a class act, wearing a suit and greeting everyone. He did not say much, but was very appreciative of everyone there. It was fantastic meeting the first person to don the Godzilla suit. During his career he also appeared in Seven Samurai, as well as portraying Baragon (in Destroy All Monsters), King Kong (in King Kong Escapes), Matango (in Matango), Mothra larvae (in Mothra), and Varan (in Varan the Unbelievable)/

Next to him was the second generation of Godzilla actors, Kenpachiro Satsuma. He played Godzilla seven times beginning with Godzilla: 1985 and finishing with Godzilla vs. Destroyah. Additionally, he played Hedorah in Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (opposite Haruo Nakajima), as well as Gigan (in Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs Megalon).

The third actor to play Godzilla is Tsutomo Kitagawa. He was Godzilla in 5 films, beginning with Godzilla 2000 and ending with Godzilla: Final Wars. He also played King Ghidorah in Rebirth of Mothra III. He was a joy to meet and the only one who offered to personalize the autograph. While I was waiting, I saw him engraving his autograph in a glass Godzilla etching. That has to be one of the most unique things I have seen at a convention.

Next, I made my way back to the Italian Invasion room to meet Robert Kerman, he was not at his table the first time I went through. He was the star of such films as Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, he also had a long career in porn, most notably Debbie Does Dallas. This guy was a trip. He wrote “I wonder who the real cannibals are?” on my picture, then turned to the guy sitting next to him at the table and says “Republicans!” Guy was hilarious. His last role on the big screen was as a tug boat captain in Spider-Man (the Sam Raimi film).

We then made are way back to another room that we had not visited yet. We stopped along the way to chat with Jordan Garren of the B-Movie Film Vault, who was onsite to meet Haruo Nakajima. We caught up and then moved onto our next targets. We got in line for the Skyland room and while we were waiting to get into the room John Amos walked by and shook my hand, nice guy.

We made our way into the room and met one of the You're Next killers, Lane Hughes, who portayed Fox Mask in the film. Great guy who talked about how much fun the film was to make and about Simon Barrett, who wrote the film and played Tiger Mask, mentioning that he does not really do conventions, but will happily sign posters and such, if you can find him.

Right next to him was LC Holt, Lamb Mask from You're Next, so I was able to keep talking about this fun movie. Much like Hughes, he talked about how much fun it was to make the film and how everything in the movie was on the page. We talked about the throwback feel, who it has tension and danger, but mixed with dark humor. Really nice guy.

Moving down the line, I saw Bill Randolph from Friday the 13th Part 2. I had met him about a month or two ago at another show. So we chatted about Chiller, he was having a good time and was enjoying the crowds. It was nice to see him again.

Sally Kellerman was the next person I went to meet. She played a doctor in the original series Star Trek episode where Kirk has to battle wits with his old friend Gary Mitchell. She was really nice to meet. She also played “Hot Lips” in the MASH movie.

We made our way to the other side of the room and met Alan Howarth, a composer and sound effects creator who has worked won a wide array of titles. One of those titles, and the one that drew me to him today was They Live, which he worked on with John Carpenter.

The next line we waited in, and the second longest of the day, was for Teri Garr, who was making her first convention appearance ever. She was part of the cast of one of the funniest films of all time in Young Frankenstein. She has also been in films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tootsie, and Mr. Mom. The actress is also suffering from MS, going public with the condition in 2002. She looked happy to be meeting fans, but I must admit it was a little sad seeing her in a wheelchair. In any case, I am very glad to have met her.

Next up was a trip back to see if Joe Pantoliano was at his table, he wasn't earlier when we passed by. I was looking forward to meeting him, besides his roles in The Matrix and The Fugitive, I really liked him in Memento, such a good movie. He was all smiles when meeting us. We did have the momentary lapse when my camera battery died as we went to take a picture together.

I decided on a couple more last minute folks to meet, so we returned to the room that had the You're Next killers and Alan Howarth so I could meet Yaphet Kotto, who only recently began appearing at conventions. He was very pleasant and seemed to enjoy being reminded of his fight with Carl Weathers in Friday Foster. The man has a massive hand, such that when I shook it, mine disappeared. If the name is not familiar, he has appeared in movies such as Alien, Running Man, Freddy's Dead, and Live and Let Die, not to mention starring in the TV series Homicide.

I also met Louise Fletcher, but did not get a photo with her. She was really nice to meet and was all smiles as she signed my Star Trek poster. She is probably most famous for playing Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but also appeared in The Exorcist II, Flowers in the Attic, and fourteen episodes of Star Trek: DS9.

On the way back out, my sister wanted to visit Charlie Schlatter, who is known for Diagnosis Murder, 18 Again, and a lot of voice work, including the Honey Nut Cheerio Bee, which he demonstrated on the spot. I took the opportunity to get a picture with him. He was also the second celeb to compliment my beard.

We finally made it to the vendor room, overflowing with all manner of toys, movies, and assorted products to buy. I did not get much, but I am happiest with a couple of vintage movie programs. There was a vendor who came into ownership of a ton and they were in great shape. Being I was running out of money at the time, I was only able to get a few, but I picked up Star Trek 2, Superman 2, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Battlestar Galactica.

With that done, we made our way out, calling quits. We were all exhausted and tired from the long day of walking around and meeting people. Chiller is always a lot of fun, even with all of the chaos. You should try it sometime.

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