Crypticon Seattle 2015
May 22nd, 23rd, and 24th
Hilton at Sea-Tac Airport and Conference Center
The skies bled red, rats owned the streets, and my Memorial Day weekend was once again sacrificed to the Gods that run Crypticon Seattle!
This being the fourth consecutive year that I've covered the convention for my magazine Eclectic Arts (print, blog, and now video), I was looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and spending three days forgetting that I have a day job.
The ever-familiar row of hearses lined up outside the parking garage at the Hilton has become a welcome, and oddly, comforting fact that I'm back at Crypticon. Is that weird? I think not.
Said day job delayed my arrival on Friday. I picked up my press credentials on the third floor only to find that they were specific to each entity this year - a nice touch. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered some thief calling themselves Electric Arts had taken my passes! It was actually a typo, folks. I know how much work goes into things like a convention so something as small as a typo on my passes is going to happen. No biggie at all. I've been called a lot worse over the years. But, for new readers sake, it's called ECLECTIC ARTS - due to the eclectic nature of the artists I cover. Just so everyone knows. I suppose Electric Arts could be like a reference to amplification or something. Nah. Onward!
Other than one guest cancellation for Friday recently, all of the guests were present at their tables on Friday evening. The crowd seemed bigger than in recent years which was nice to see. For those that panel it all weekend, Friday provided topic panels only, along with films for viewings later in the evening. This was the same course of action last year as well (no guest panels on Friday). Parties all three days were on the schedule as usual, too.
It was nice to see Bill Mosely and Sid Haig again in Seattle. I saw them in 2011 for the now defunct ZomBCon. Both were as down to earth as ever.
Twin Peaks fans were drooling over the fact that both Sherilyn Fenn and Sheryl Lee were in attendance this year. With the third season of the show filming in the fall, there is a renewed interest in the show. And, of course, with it being filmed in the North Bend, WA area, that certainly adds added interest for sure.
Ted White, best known for portraying everyone's favorite hockey mask wearing killer, Jason Voorhees, in Friday the 13th Part 4, the Final Chapter, was in attendance this year. One of my favorite films in the series, I was looking forward to chatting with Mr. White over the weekend. And at his table - did I see hockey mask replicas like his character wore in Part 4? Oh man - my wallets going to take a beating this year before the convention closes.
The layout this year was changed from previous years. The biggest change was that the guest panels were all moved to the main Hilton building - which means you had to head down to the ground level of the conference room building (vendor room), walk across the breezeway, and then find the various rooms. In the past the three rooms between the vendor room and the author alley were used for guest panels (and topic panels, too).
Other than convenience with the old layout, the new changes were an improvement in my eyes. One - the Alpine room had better lighting. Still not ideal but at least it wasn't so off putting that in the past I wondered if I had a tumor when I walked into those old panel rooms. They seemed a bit bigger too but that may have been my imagination.
The waiting area was a vast improvement as it was a huge hallway between the new panel rooms and the gift shop. So there was really no congestion whatsoever. The old panel rooms used to get packed with folks waiting outside the doors as earlier panels finished up.
Other than the Sunday Brunch changeover taking longer than anticipated, the new set up should be considered for next year as well in my opinion.
I left Friday after checking everything out, knowing that Saturday and Sunday would be very full days. One of these years when I have some extra cash, I'm going to stay at the hotel and partake in the nightly festivities, as I know I'm missing out on a whole other aspect of fun at Crypticon. One of these years it'll happen.
I arrived Saturday at 11am, met my assistant, and then took in a few panels. A few family members were also attending on Saturday so it was sure to be a fun day. I had my eye on the Twin Peaks panel that Steve Lange was going to moderate. The Devil's Rejects panel that moderators Tony Kay and William Biven were going to co-moderate. And the Soska Sisters panel that T.J. Tranchell moderated this year. Any other panels were going to depend on my time and interests.
I walked around the vendor room, taking in more of everything than on Friday evening. The usual wares from repeat sponsors like Arakus Productions (heavy metal opera), Nightmare at Beaver Lake, and Champion Party Supplies to new artist tables. There's always a wide variety of dark, gothic, and horror related vendors at Crypticon.
The display for Christine - the car from the film and book of the same name - was also set up in corner of the vendor room. A wide display of memorabilia, books, film posters, etc was all set up around the perimeter of the car booth area. Package deals were there where fans could take a picture with Christine - either posed with or pretending to be attacked by Christine.
After a spin through the author's alley of folks, we ventured over to the panel rooms to hear the Twin Peaks panel. A full room greeted Sherilyn Fenn and Sheryl Lee. Steve Lange, being a huge Twin Peaks fan, moderated the panel. Well, I don't know if you could call it moderating. He said a quick introduction and then turned it over to the audience for a Q&A, interjecting a question or two of his own when needed. This format was fine as the audience had more than enough questions to last the hour-long panel.
Both actresses were funny, polite, cordial, and blunt at times. They talked of the upcoming new season of the show; things related to David Lynch, and a few other non Twin Peaks projects. A very entertaining panel - particularly if you're a fan of the show.
Next up - the returning Soska Sisters - Jen and Sylvia. Having guested at Crypticon 2014, the twins returned to a very dedicated fan base. They hit the ground running, constantly talking, laughing, swearing, and telling stories of upcoming projects and anything else the audience wanted to hear about. The lights in the room went out for a brief moment - which was kind of spooky as it seemed planned - but nothing happened other than the lights returned.
The sisters were very genuine - genre fans themselves - who are working their asses off to turn their love of horror into a career. They're getting more and more popular - and judging by how they treat their fans - there's a distinct reason for their popularity (see my Sunday interaction with them further in this report).
The third panel hour for me was spent at, arguably, the best panel I've ever been to at Crypticon. The Devil's Rejects panel has five actors from the film, celebrating its tenth anniversary. Bill Mosely, Sid Haig, Ken Foree, Michael Berryman, and William Forsythe sat at the panel table for the next hour. And what an hour it was!
The chemistry amongst the five actors was impeccable. They were clearly on friendly terms with each other, much like getting the "old gang" together. Co-moderators Tony Kay (hi Tony!) and William Bivens (hi William!) kept things moving. But with five characters like all of the actors mentioned, they didn't have to moderate much.
The actors told stories to the audience about the making of the film, funny goings-on during certain scenes, and shared so many memories that I was actually laughing out loud like I was at a comedy show.
It was such an entertaining panel - it made me want to watch the film again immediately (I did this on Saturday night).
After that high note of a panel, I ventured back into the vendor room for the remainder of the day.
I watched people take pictures with Clint Howard and his prop from his film "Ice Cream Man". I wish I had done the same as I decided to wait until Sunday to get a photo with Mr. Howard - but he ended up departing early (I believe he wasn't feeling well - based on what he said at his panel on Sunday).
Some of my family members got photos with Michael Berryman, William Forsythe, Sheriyln Fenn, and Sheryl Lee.
The convention seemed packed again - and not just because it was a Saturday. It seemed like there were more people in attendance this year than last. I'd love to hear numbers if anyone from Crypticon could confirm attendance this year.
I made the conscious decision that I would make my rounds with the guests on Sunday. My assistant from Saturday returned on Sunday so she got a double dose of Crypticon this year compared to last year. The originally scheduled Sunday assistant was under the weather as was Friday's assistant. But things worked out in the end, thank goodness.
Sunday for me started with the Clint Howard panel with Tony Kay moderating. Coming from a show business family, I was sure Mr. Howard would have plenty to say about his career as a character actor since the age of 2.
Mr. Howard was matter of fact, like he knew what he wanted to talk about ahead of time. Tony did a great introductory piece and kept the panel moving. It went by really quick. Those of us in attendance got to hear many stories of some of the legends Mr. Howard has worked with over the decades. It was rather mind boggling to hear in person.
Mr. Howard apologized that his voice was tattered from the three days of talking at the convention - which is why I believe he left early once the panel was finished.
After the panel, it was back into the vendor room to talk to the guests. First target - William Forsythe. Besides "The Devil's Rejects", I have always associated him with the TV series "The Untouchables" where he played Al Capone. One of my favorite underrated series, Mr. Forsythe told me how he got to know over 100 family and friends in Al Capone's circle. Think about that for a minute. He spoke with people that were around Al Capone. Incredible! He also mentioned that all of them spoke highly of Capone - that he was a very likable person - not how he was exactly portrayed in the film version of "The Untouchables" or the Robert Stack TV version.
I had heard William was either very, very nice or at times a bit difficult. I'm happy to report he was the former. He couldn't have been nicer to me or to anyone else I saw him talking with. I know he's been at Crypticon before (but I wasn't in attendance that year) so I'm sure the convention folks already knew he was a great guest to have.
Seated right next to him was Michael Berryman. Seeing that everyone was asking him about 'The Hills Have Eyes", I wanted to ask him about something different: his appearance in the Motley Crue music video, "Smokin In The Boys Room". Michael talked about his agent saying there was a music video being made that a company wanted him for. The band was Mutley Crue. He thought to himself what kind of name is that - Mutley Crue? Once he was on the set, he found out it was Motley Crue. Michael said that the ending 4 seconds of the video when he wiggles his ears was cut from the video but due to fan demand, it was cut back into the video. Little did I know that wasn't a trick as Michael wiggled his ears for me. I wish I had video taped that with my phone! He said the guys in the band were great and he has fond memories of making that video.
During this - William Forsythe was listening in. He chimed in that back in the day, he used to bounce at the Troubadour (club on the Sunset Strip in LA) and threw Motley Crue out of the club more than once. He then added that about two years ago, he met Vince Neil (singer of Motley Crue) and Vince said "great to meet you finally - I've been big fan for a long time" to which William replied, "we already met - I used to throw your ass out of the Troubadour motherfucker"! Great story from William!
I snaked my way back over to Sherilyn Fenn's table. Since 1992, I've been a huge fan of the Gary Sinise version of "Of Mice and Men". So, I had to talk to Ms. Fenn about that film! She was very glad to hear someone wanted to hear about that film as she loves it dearly. It was the film that made her feel like a "real" actress! We talked about the differences between her version of the character and the book, that I used to have the movie poster in my classroom, and that she was perfectly cast in the role.
I then brought up the subject of her writing - specifically her blog. She hasn't written in it since 2014 and I asked her if she planned on changing that. She said she knows she needs to write again as it's something she loves doing and it's very therapeutic.
If you haven't read it, check out the entry from late 2014. She writes about a very dark period in her life. I found it so raw and real that I couldn't help but relate to it (when I was going through my own dark times in my life). I told her about this and she was genuinely moved and understood the importance of what she may consider just a blog entry, is actually reaching out and helping others in the world. That's powerful stuff, folks. Perhaps she'll start writing in it when she has down time in between takes filming Twin Peaks this fall.
Sid Haig was next for me as he had a line - again. Sid has slowed down (perhaps due to his recent health issues) but the man's been around forever it seems. I love that he wrote "I'll fuck you up" on my 8x10. After I got a quick photo with him, he excused himself to go to the restroom. His assistant also went up to get Benadryl from his room as he was coughing quite a bit.
Odd aside to mention but I was in the bathroom stall taking care of business. The stall next to me, a guy walks in with big black shoes - shoes that I recognized belonged to Mr. Haig. He was coughing as well. How weird is it that here I am taking a dump and next to me Sid Haig is taking a leak? I don't know - I found it weird but cool I guess?
I heard a fan near the sinks bugging Mr. Haig with a gazillion questions. Dude, ask a question or two, and then let the man get back to his table. Or, better yet, wait until he leaves the restroom before asking him questions. Mr. Haig was polite enough but then even he had to say, "I have to get back to my table - there's fans waiting".
I went back to the vendor room to talk to Clint Howard only to find he had left. The Soska's, who had a line most of the weekend, still had one. So I made my way over to Ted White's table. Dressed up all three days like a gentleman, I introduced myself and talked to Mr. White about Corey Feldman - who was in Friday the 13th Part 4 The Final Chapter with Mr. White.
If you watch interviews with the director of the film, he says nice things about Corey. If you see interviews with Mr. White, he says the kid was a brat that drove him crazy. So, I had to find out what Corey was like from the man himself. Sure enough - Mr. White didn't like him. He said that Corey was a nightmare to work with, not only for the actors, but for the crew as well, just a crazy, arrogant, kid actor.
He mentioned he did a convention with him a few years ago and that at the panel, half of the audience walked out. True story apparently. It's kind of sad that as an adult he hasn't changed much. Mr. White did add though that as much as Corey bugged him, he did like his performance in the film.
We talked about what it was like working (stunt doubling) for John freakin' Wayne and Clark Gable! Just unreal the legends Mr. White has worked with. The scope of film history really became apparent when talking with Mr. White. It was a pleasure chatting with him.
I had debated about getting one of the replica Jason masks (due to cost) but then decided I needed one for my wall. Part 4 is one of my favorite films in the series anyway so what the Hell? My wallet didn't want to talk to me for the rest of the day, though.
At this point, I was getting ready to wind things down. I saw that the Soska's line wasn't so long so I stood in that. Tony Kay chatted me up a bit while I waited. He was trying to use the opportunity to get pics/chat with the guests as well as had been doing panels all weekend.
The Soska's do what smart bands do when they're coming up. They plant seeds by taking the time to talk with their fans in a sincere and fun way. Hugs abound, whether they know you or not, constant comments (in my case about my tattoos), and pictures sandwiched between the two of them. They did this with every fan. They took time to talk with every fan at length. Their fan base is growing because the fan's feel like they are one of their own that are making the films that genre fans love. I didn't quite get why they were back after having just been here last year. I get it now. They're awesome good fun!
It was time to head out as I had another commitment that Sunday night.
This year's Crypticon was a good mix of guests as always. There is always a friendly, familiar convention vibe there that I always enjoy. Every year I attend, it feels more and more like home.
Major kudos to the organizers and all the hard work they put into making the convention a success every year!
As I put my signed photos on the wall of my home, I feel a little sad that I have to wait another twelve months before the convention is back. But, before I know it, the skies will turn red once more - announcing that Crypticon 2016 has arrived!
Want more Crypticon Seattle reports? Check out my previous reports: