ECLECTIC ARTS

ECLECTIC ARTS

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Crypt Of Rays - Venturing Into The World of Crypticon Seattle!



The ghouls, horror fiends, and other assorted freaks invaded Seattle once again for the 2012 edition of Crypticon Seattle on Friday May 25th, Saturday May 26th, and Sunday May 27th.  The event was again held at the Hilton Hotel SeaTac where it moved to in 2011 (previously in Everett in 2010, the Seattle Center in 2009, and the Double Tree in 2008).

This year's guest list was stellar.  Check it out for yourself:

*Doug Bradley (Pinhead from the Hellraiser films, Nightbreed)
*Dee Wallace (E.T., The Howling, Cujo, Halloween (revamp))
*Richard Kiel (Jaws from the James Bond classics The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Happy Gilmore, the Twilight Zone, Pale Rider)
*Ricou Browning (the creature from the Universal classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon)
*Don Coscarelli (director of the Phantasm films, Bubba Ho-Tep)
*Sonny Landham (Predator, The Warriors, 48 Hours)
*James O'Barr (creator of The Crow comic book/character)
*J LaRose (Saw 3, Saw 4, Insidious)
*Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 and 5, Halloween and Halloween 2 revamps)
*Marilyn Burns (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eaten Alive)
*Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever)
*Gangrel (wrestler, former WWE superstar)
*Voltaire (stop motion animator, musician, jack of all trades)
*and others

Along with the guests, there were numerous vendors, author's alley, panels, film screenings, parties, mixers, and everything else associated with conventions.

I was fortunate enough to be covering this year's Crypticon for Eclectic Arts.  A nod of thanks to Mr. Chris Saint for approving my press credentials.


Where to begin? 

I met so many people over the past three days that it's nearly impossible to recount every discussion or contact that was made.  I will do my best to do so, though.

Right off the top, one thing I can say is that I encountered no issues at the convention, aside from one (that I will write about later) that was more an annoyance than anything.  Overall, the convention was smooth and pretty much on target for my expectations.  Having covered ZomBcon in 2011, I was expecting something similar at Crypticon.  In many ways, Crypticon exceeded my expectations so hats off to the organizers.

I was accompanied by three different EA staff members during the weekend.  One who had helped me cover ZomBcon and two newbies - to get a different perspective from those who had never set foot in a convention of this or any other kind.  They added information to this event article that I missed or forgot about.  The photos that will accompany this article and the interview articles in the print version of EA were also taken by the same EA staff.

One aspect that I would really like to mention is the demeanor of the media guests.  Every single one of them were so accommodating, gracious, engaging, and a joy to talk to.  The EA Crypticon newbies were suitably impressed as well with the actors, their approachability, and how they interacted with the fans.

It only takes one guest with a lousy attitude to potentially sour or ruin a convention experience for a fan.  From my own personal perspective, being a fan of many of the guests in attendance, I was filled with a sense of renewed hope, that one can be successful and not have a raging ego or a bitter attitude toward the industry as a whole.

The first day of Crypticon, I wanted to get a lay of the land, look at the schedule, talk to a few of the guests to nail down approximate times (and days) for when I would be interviewing them.  I had already touched base with Ms. Dee Wallace and the webmaster for Mr. Doug Bradley in advance.  I was hoping to schedule a sit down interview with both of them, possibly away from the convention hall (due to the noise, distractions, etc).  But, if that didn't work, I just wanted enough time to do a decent interview.


Ms. Wallace's people (and herself) had told me to touch base on Friday at the convention and we would set something up for Sunday.  I also heard back from Laura, Mr. Bradley's webmaster, about doing the exact same thing (talk with Mr. Bradley on Friday about what day/time would be best).

My assistant on Friday had been to more than one horror convention.  However, she didn't know who was going to be there at this year's Crypticon until we walked into the vendor room.  I knew I wanted to find Ms. Wallace as soon as possible.  As we walked toward her two tables, my assistant was in a bit of shock, an OMG it's Dee Wallace kind of shock.  Being a huge Stephen King fan meant my assistant was also overly familiar with Ms. Wallace's role in "Cujo".

There were a few fans talking to Ms. Wallace at her tables.  Once they left, I introduced myself and much to my surprise, Ms. Wallace said it's so slow in here we could probably do the interview tonight.  Could I have done it?  Yeah, but I had mentally prepared myself for Sunday.  As a side note, Ms. Wallace suggested we do it away from the convention before the vendor room closed but she said she had to stick around after 8pm for a wedding in the middle of the vendor room.  She was rather dismissive about having to stick around and, in hindsight, that would of been an awesome time to do the interview in a nearby room but alas it wasn't to be.  Damn wedding (no offense to the couple).  Oh well.  We agreed on early Sunday - between 11am and 11:30am.

As we walked around the floor, there were always people at Mr. Bradley's table (the other guest I needed to speak with) so we continued looking around at the various vendor booths and such.  We were walking by J. LaRose's table.  I was looking at some of the photos for purchase on his table (mainly from the "Saw" films and "Insidious").  Mr. LaRose was very friendly asking how we were doing.  We ended up talking for a good ten to fifteen minutes about Seattle, conventions, and the beer scene in the NW and Florida (where Mr. LaRose resides).  He was so down to earth and interesting that I asked him about doing an interview later on in the weekend (Sunday).  He said sure and now I had two interviews scheduled.


Anyone that knows me knows how much I've been into the Crow and for how long.  I picked up the first print of the second issue off the stands back in 1989.  I've met James O'Barr three times prior - way back in 1994/1995.  At 8pm he was schedule to do a panel.  A handful of us were waiting in Emerald Ballroom C along with the moderator.  Unfortunately, after twenty minutes and no Mr. O'Barr, the panel was canceled.  I was a bit bummed but figured I could chat with him on Saturday or Sunday.

I later found out straight from Mr. O'Barr that he was scheduled to be in two places at once.  He told me that he didn't know anything about the panel.  He was told at 8pm to be at this VIP mixer for those fans that bought the VIP tickets.  He was rather upset about it as events like mixers just aren't his thing.  He would much rather be at a panel talking about his work with his fans.  I alluded to one bad aspect of the Con and this was it.  

Even though I'm jumping all over the place here, I must also mention the panels that I attended on Saturday.  Six hours of them in a row!  I would of stayed for the seventh but I needed to get into the vendor room before it closed at 7pm that day.

The moderator of four of the six panels I attended was Mr. Tony Kay.  Mr. Kay's credentials (from thesunbreak.com)

"In addition to holding down, you know, a real-live day job, I scribble freelance for this lovely 'site, Seattle Concerts Examiner, and City Arts magazine. I also host Trivia Night Tuesdays at the Bourbon Bar in Columbia City Theater; serve as schlockologist for Bizarro Movie Nights at the Aster Coffee Lounge in Ballard; and took home the ass-end of a trophy competing against fellow movie nerds on the Independent Film Channel's Ultimate Film Fanatic game show a few years back."

Mr. Kay impressed me.  A lot.  So much so that I actually talked to him a bit to say exactly that.  I honestly didn't expect to go into Crypticon being impressed by a moderator.  And I don't say that like I'm some aloof asshole.  I mean it wasn't on my radar to be checking out the moderators and how they went about their business.

Mr. Kay was professional, did a splendid job of balancing moderator with genre geek, and let the guests actually, gasp, SPEAK.  This was one of my biggest gripes about ZomBcon.  I expect the moderator to keep the discussion on course, to give the guest some bullet points to pull from, ask follow up questions when appropriate, and that's it.  The panel never is and never should be about the moderators IF it's concerning a guest.  Panels that are covering specific subjects or topics, of course then the panel of moderators will be discussing things with themselves and, hopefully, the audience.  But when there's a guest panel, I want to hear from the guest.  They are the focus.  If I wanted to listen to two or three or four geeks try to out do each other with obscure film references and facts, I'd listen to a podcast, you know?  But I digress.

The first panel I attended was with Mr. Kay moderating a discussion with "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" star and legend Mr. Ricou Browning.  The last survivng member of the famous Universal line up of movie monsters, I was looking forward to what Mr. Browning had to say.  And I wasn't disappointed.

Mr. Browning told stories of growing up in the water (via swimming and scuba diving).  He was as sharp as a tack as well.  He was rattling off dates, names, you name it he knew it.  It was interesting to hear about the Creature suit itself, the weight they had to use so that it would sink (the suit was made of rubber and was buoyant).  Many are probably not aware of Mr. Browning's creation of the Flipper character in film and television.  This panel really set the tone for the rest that followed.  I went in, learned a lot that I didn't know before, and left very impressed with Mr. Browning.

I stopped by Mr. Browning's table on Sunday and asked a few questions, following up on his panel from the previous day.  He told a great tale of a sea lion that he raised in his home for five years!  How it slept in a bed in the house, how they used the bathtub for it and how it loved to overflow the tub so that water ran down the hallway, after which the sea lion would slide on it's belly, much like a kid on a plastic Slip N Slide.  Mr. Browning is a legend, the only surviving actor from the classic Universal Monster days.  I was honored to meet him.


The next panel I attended was moderated by Ronnie Angel and featured Sonny Landham.  I've always been a big fan of the "Predator" film and Mr. Landham's portrayal of Billy in the film.  He was also quite memorable in "Lock Up" (with Stallone), and in the hit "48 hours" (with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte).  Mr. Landham came into the room in a wheel chair.  While he has naturally aged (like we all do), there was no mistaking that big, booming voice of Mr. Landham's.  He has the kind of voice that makes you drop what you're doing and hope to God he's not pissed at you.

Mr. Landham answered questions, and quite often had a remark for any one that opened the back door of the ballroom.  "You got the $50 bucks?" he hollared to one late attendee.  He also quipped at another fan who came in late "she doesn't know who the Hell I am" and laughed.

When Mr. Landham's panel was over, he shook the fans hands as he was wheeled out of the ballroom.

The next panel was an eye opening treat as well.  Doug Bradley is a horror fan's God (or Devil I suppose) or at least one of them.  Playing the iconic Pinhead from the "Hellraiser" films, he is someone I was stoked to interview later in the weekend.  As I mentioned to Mr. Bradley, he doesn't need a moderator.  Once you get him talking about a topic, he's off to the races with anecdotes, humor, wit, and matter of factness that is absolutely entertaining.  The moderator listed for this panel was not there.  I'm not sure who the gentleman was in her place but, again, luckily he didn't need to ask much as Mr. Bradley commanded the room like troops before battle.

After Mr. Bradley's panel, we had a decision to make.  Do we stay for the next panel (or two), or wander the vendor floor to perhaps speak a little one on one with the guests, maybe grab some lunch to eat (as it was 3pm now), etc.  The decision was pretty much made for us.


Toward the end of Mr. Bradley's panel, one of the next guests came in a bit early.  Mr. Bradley kindly told the guest, Mr. Richard Kiel, to "come on in Richard".  If you don't know who Mr. Kiel is, stop reading this blog right now and go jump into moving traffic.  Now.

But, seriously, it was a nice gesture on Mr. Bradley's part to not only recognize Mr. Kiel but to welcome him into the room while his panel wrapped up.

Mr. Kay was back in the moderator chair for the panel with Mr. Kiel, most known for his villain Jaws in two of the James Bond films "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker" and Ms. Marilyn Burns, the lone survivor Sally in the original horror classic, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".  Each guest had great personal stories to tell about their careers, their better known films, and were very well spoken and engaging with the audience.  I found it interesting to see that the prejudice that surrounds people that are of Mr. Kiel's size and stature to be rather true at the convention.  He spoke about trying to breakout of the monster role, the assumption that he's stupid due to his size, etc.  Movies have helped perpetuate that stereotype (Frankenstein anyone?) as has society as a whole.

Mr. Kiel really could be described as a gentle giant.  He is very articulate, warm, and has a story telling ability that pulls you in and takes you on a journey of decade proportions.  He was a fascinating guest to hear from and I followed up with him twice after the panel when he was back at his table in the vendor room.

We spoke about "Happy Gilmore" and how it brought him a new generation of fans.  He also recounted the tale of writing his book about Cassius Clay.  Mr. Kiel gave me the historical background and I found myself mesmerized by the depth of knowledge that Mr. Kiel possessed regarding the historical figure.  I asked if he had a copy of the book with him that I could purchase.  He said "I didn't think to bring any as I didn't think there would be any normal people here at the convention like you and I" and then laughed.

We then got on the topic of shooting overseas, Asian countries to be exact.  Mr. Kiel had asked about my background (being Asian).  He told me about shooting commercials in Japan, visiting Kyoto, working in Taipei and Hong Kong.  He is a great storyteller and he even interjected a few personal stories about his son, his past Asian girlfriend(s), and whether or not his son would live happily ever after with his newest girlfriend.  It was very amusing but for privacy sake, I won't go into the details here.


Ms. Burns showed me that she basically had her own personal horror film going on within the horror film that was "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".  Some of the things she and the cast endured in that sweltering heat on an indie budgeted film made the audience cringe.  She recounted a tale, during the dinner scene toward the end of the film, where she is tied down to a chair (wrists and ankles) and they needed a rag to stuff in her mouth.  Someone shouted out on set, "we need a rag!".  So a crew member went looking around the house (if you remember that dirty ass, nasty house in the film then you know how awful this is going to be) for a rag.  He found one on the ground, filth ridden, and proceeded to stuff it in her mouth.  She kept it in for take after take, tasting the critters, dirt, and whatever else was on that rag.  During one take, she fell over, still tied down to the chair.  She just lay there on the floor.  As the crew were setting up for another take, after probably minutes, someone finally said, "someone get the girl up".  Still think making a film is all glitz and glamor?  Hardly.

The next panel was also another treat.  Mr. Kay continued with Mr. Don Coscarelli - the director of such films as "Phantasm", the three sequels that it spawned, "Bubba Ho-Tep", and the sword and sandal cult film "Beastmaster".

Mr. Coscarelli was a pure joy to listen to.  He had story after story about making the films, things that happened on the sets, and other asides that made the hour go by insanely fast.  A funny and down to earth man, Mr. Coscarelli could do well hosting a show of his own.  Really!

At this point it's 5pm and the next panel I knew I wanted to stay for which was Ms. Dee Wallace.  Besides Doug Bradley, Ms. Wallace was the other guest that I was really excited to meet.  Mr. Kay was moderating this panel as well.  Someone must of been smart by assigning so many panels to Mr. Kay as, again, he did a bang up job.

Ms. Wallace was, well, Dee.  She is no bullshit.  She is funny, loud, engaging, caring, insightful, and has stories on top of stories.  She is a woman that has been through so much, has seen it all over her forty plus year career, and yet she still comes across as the most down to earth, real, person.  As Ms. Wallace has so many stories to tell, Mr. Kay did a great job of letting Dee go off on tangents and such, giving her space to work so to speak, but also keeping things moving forward as the panel progressed.

At this point, it was time to check out the vendor room before it closed for the day.  My assistant wanted to meet Doug Bradley before he left for the evening.  Doug was most accommodating with the fans.  My assistant got a signed photo and a candid photo with Doug.  She was happy and it ended the convention for her on a high note.

Sunday was a blurrrrrrrrr.  This was the one on one interview day for me.  I'll get into all that soon.

With two days down and one more to go, in many ways the most important day of the convention for me, I arrived at the Hilton before 11am on Sunday.  My assistant and I rode up with some other press in the elevator to the third floor and walked around.  Many of the vendors and guests weren't set up yet at their tables so we passed the time with those that were available.

After ten minutes or so, I noticed Ms. Wallace was at her tables, ready to start another day.  I asked her if this was a good time to do the sit down interview we had scheduled.  She said "it looks pretty slow right now so let's do it".

This interview will be in an upcoming issue of EA - when it's ready, I'll be posting about it here on this very blog.

A few side notes I can write about is that one fan came up to Dee's table with a genuine ET metal lunch box which I thought was cool.  She signed it for him and I asked if he had the thermos that goes with it (knowing that ups the value considerably).  Alas, he didn't but you could tell he was happy to have Dee sign it.

Another fan was looking at the various photos and didn't want to interrupt our interview.  He came back after the fact and bought a photo.

I can also add that Dee gave me more time than she had agreed on which I really appreciated.  There's another cool and funny story here but, again, it'll be in the one on one interview in the print version of EA.  Look for it soon!

Mr. Bradley was the next interview - I'm skipping through time here as his interview was in the afternoon.  He had an assistant with him to handle sales at the table so off we went with his interview.  Much like Dee Wallace's interview, Doug gave me more time than allotted, which made me feel good.  He also didn't break from the interview at all - even though fans would come up and look at the photos and such at his table.  He definitely didn't need to do that as interruptions happen at these things but, again, that was cool of him.

And you know what I'm going to write next - you can read his interview in an upcoming issue of EA.  Hey - EA started out as a print magazine and that will always be the main focus.  \m/


The last interview almost didn't happen.  I was supposed to talk with J. LaRose a bit on Sunday but every time I looked over at his table, he was nowhere to be found.  After three attempts, I told my assistant, let's go.  As we were leaving the vendor room, who shows up?  Mr. LaRose.  We walked to his table to do the interview then he decided we should do it somewhere quieter.  So we found a side room and did the interview there which was nice as the din of noise from the vendor hall was gone.

All together now - you can read his interview in the print version of EA!


After three days of Crypticon, I was ready to head home.  The convention was a ton of fun to cover and I think I did the Crypticon Seattle folks justice as well as the guests in terms of coverage.  This event article is just one of four things I am working on for the 2012 Crypticon Seattle coverage.  The other three being the in person interviews I did for the print version of EA.

To all the Crypticon organizers, Mr. Saint, guests, vendors, and random people I met over the three days, my thanks for making the convention experience a memorable one.  I can't wait for next year's Crypticon Seattle!

***

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