Movies, Toys, washed up tv celebs, full fledged rock stars, idolized actors, people in costume, special effects gurus, bats - real ones, tattoo notaries, magazine publishers, and the dorky collector who only comes out of his cave to collect more crap & then store it in mom's basement (where they still live) - they were all there 3 weeks ago at the Spring 2005 Chiller Theatre Toy, Model & Film Expo in Secaucus. It takes the entire weekend to sift through everything - here's the rundown; I hope you have a hour... There are several innovative toy manufacturers now, one there was Living Dead Dolls - a ghoulish twist on the girly doll; pictured here is Redmond Gore, a Teddy Scares creation - cuddly and scary - each bear has it's own bio... Redmond, for instance used to be a bus driver and his favorite color was BLOOD RED. Redmond, of course, is dead. Other vendors there specialized in Nightmare Before Christmas goodies (yes, still), japanese toys; even welded action figures. On to the meat of the show; the dreaded celebrities; Tonya Harding was there, selling ice skates, boxing trunks and I'm sure her mother if you'd take her.
Daveigh Chase was there - she plays Samara in The Ring movies; XXX queen Seka, American Werewolf David Naughton, Tim DeKay and Adrienne Barbeau of HBO's series Carnivale were signing autographs as well. Adrienne has some real horror cred - I HAD to get a signed photo of her in The Fog where she plays a disc jockey. There were some reunions happening at Chiller this weekend; Happy Days, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead. Let's just say they could have all been touted as dead in some way or other! Special effects master (he played the badass Sex Machine in cult movie From Dusk Til' Dawn also) Tom Savini was in attendance, Creature from the Black Lagoon (water scenes only) star Ricou Browning was there, Lou Ferrigno, Angela Cartwright, Laraine Newman-- maybe she's done something since Saturday Night Live? Dunno. A lot of times I am stumped at these shows - I can't always figure out why some of these celebs are asked to appear (it's generally known as a horror convention), and a lot of them I am amazed to see are still alive. Speaking of which, sad to lose Frank Gorshin this past week, he seemed to be a genuine nutjob. I met him once at one of these shows and have a photo of the 2 of us together I'll have to dig out. I am pretty sure he was drunk that day, he wanted to touch my tattoos... There's an aspect at Chiller of checking out the celebrities and seeing who looks good and who looks really bad. They are kind of lined up in one area, so you can just walk by and scan them, much like the sideshow of yesteryear. Winner of the "still looks really good" award = Sean Kenney. This guy played Captain Pike in the Star Trek pilot about a million years ago; his hands give him away, but he was extremely well preserved. Winner of the "oh my god they look like shit" award = Erin Moran from Happy Days. Even making out with Scotty Baio couldn't help her now. Christopher Atkins looks much better as an adult than he did as a kid with Brooke in the Blue Lagoon, and by the way girls - he was selling nearly naked pictures of himself. You had your choice of the bear rug butt shot or the full frontal "yes, that is my pubic hair sticking out of that loincloth" shot. Both were sold out in record time - yes, I checked. The legendary radio & tv host John Zacherle was there; he was at the very first Chiller years ago when it had been named Horrorthon; he still gets up on stage to perform Monster Mash at the party on Saturday night, and has to be over 80 years old. If you need to take a load off during the convention, there are guest speakers and film screenings throughout the day, a very cool auction always on Sunday, and there is a costume contest/monster mash party on Saturday night featuring live/dead entertainment. Some years the music can be really ho-hum, but this year there were some pretty cool happenings at the party. The winners of the costume contest were the trio of BooBerry, FrankenBerry and Count Chocula; my favorite was the demented surgeon who I think got 3rd place. It was nice to see the pope in attendance trying to fight evil there as well. So yes, the party is always interesting, usually the Halloween event (yes, Chiller is twice a year) gets an unbelievable turnout for the costume contest, but this year didn't suck. The Dead Elvi usually start off the show, playing surf tunes & 60s/70s faves for the fans, and someone always joins them onstage. I didn't get any pictures of Charlene Tilton (she was on Dallas in case you've forgotten) drunk in front of the stage carrying on and dancing with her galpals, but did get a decent shot of Monkee Peter Tork playing with the Dead Elvi. He got onstage and played I'm A Believer with them, and then Daydream Believer... I would have rather heard Gonna Buy Me A Dog, or Zilch or one of the weirder, more associated with Peter compositions... Peter Percival's Pet Pig Named Porky, even, but Daydream Believer - that was a real Davy Jones number, and Peter Tork is no dreamboat nowadays (was he ever?)- even Rodney Bingenheimer would do a better job - at least he looked like Davy once. Peter then treated the crowd to a bunch of acoustic numbers... maybe tortured would be a better description, but nevertheless, the typical Chiller crowd is not usually that clued in to the rock thing, and I just have to deal with that. Nostalgia is OK even if it's in the shape of Peter Tork. Hell, at least Mickey Dolenz is still doing something - these guys are not that old! The highlight of the evening for me was Bouchard, Dunaway and Smith, with special guests Ritchie Scarlet and Corky Laing. Mountain is on tour & I guess were in the vicinity, and although we didn't get Leslie West in there, Ritchie Scarlet who plays bass with them now hopped onstage to round out a few Mountain numbers (he played guitar tho) with Corky Laing at the drums. Bouchard, Dunaway and Smith, to be exact is Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult (this is the man who wrote Hot Rails to Hell), Dennis Dunaway & Neal Smith both of the Alice Cooper Group from the classic lineup that put out the first 7 albums (when they were a group, not a he). They played a well-rehearsed set full of Alice Cooper great's, Blue Oyster Cult classics, and a couple of new ones from their BDS release. As Cartman would say, "Kick Ass!" Corky Laing first came onstage to play cowbell on Don't Fear the Reaper (where is Christopher Walken when you need him?) and then took a seat to run through some Mountain numbers at the end. His drumming style is forceful, and he really reminded me of the late Buddy Rich - who I had the opportunity of seeing numerous times when I was younger- a seemingly all out breakneck attack - they both have the same posture on the "throne". Corky's facial expressions even reminded me of the jazz legend's; but he's got his own rock thing about him, and is a legend on his own. He signed a Mountain lp for me as well as a pair of drum sticks, woo hoo! Dennis Dunaway was using one of his original basses from ACG days - if you look closely at the pic above you can see the mirrors all over the headstock and that bit of green on the body of the bass is a reflection of the wristband he was wearing - mirrored all over the entire thing -- glam lives! Noted; gone were the platform boots of the past - all the fellas onstage were wearing "sensible" shoes.. you gotta keep your balance! They tore through Godzilla, Sick Things, Desperado & even Black JuJu, and then of course had to give the crowd the hits - 18, School's Out, Under My Wheels, Don't Fear the Reaper - even Michael Myers approved - shown with Joe above...! The rest of the weekend was browsing & doing a little shopping - if you ever want that Ed Gein pillow or Jeffrey Dahmer clock, check out Andy Gore's fabulous Satan's Sideshow gear, Rue Morgue Magazine was there; one of the more comprehensive horror based culture magazines out there - you don't feel like a dork or a pervert reading their publication; and I got to see famed tattoo artist Bob Tyrell from the Detroit area at the show as well; his black and grey portraits are equalled by none nowadays. He really remembers that black & gray does include black - not washed out timid portraiture which seems to be the flavor in the tattoo world now. Check out some of these insane photos of his work... Seminars on model sculpting & airbrushing were available for all convention goers, as were talks on Anime creation, a writer's panel, and Q&A sessions with some of the guests were happenings all weekend. The convention attracts all ages, the goths, the metalheads, the horror freaks, the makeup enthusiasts, the shut-ins, the serial killer demographic, the jaded dj, the collector's collector, and oddly enough, just the regular family outing types. You could find mullets & bondage fashion in the same room; the metaphysical with the pornographic, wrestlers & child stars, all under one big happy roof. The only "situation" I remember ever happening at a Chiller event was when Ken Weatherwax (a/k/a Pugsley Addams) was there and apparently was smoking pot up in his hotel room. He was smoking out so heavily he did not notice that the smoke alarms went off; the fire department was called.. when they busted into his room he was sitting there in a haze with his bong. So now his autograph is even more rare, as he will not be invited back. But seeing some stars in their "post-glory" days is like watching a car accident. You just have to look. No word yet on who will be showing up for the Halloween show, but I recommend a walk through at least once in a lifetime.