Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Crypt Away - CRYPTICON SEATTLE 2019 Report! 5/2/19 - 5/5/19

Crypticon Seattle

Doubletree by Hilton at SeaTac Airport
Seattle, WA
Friday 5/2/19 through Sunday 5/5/19


It’s always the day after syndrome from any amazing event that hits you in the heart later. Be it a concert, convention, sporting event, they’re all eerily similar. You ride the wave so to speak during the event and then you come back down to Earth afterward, feeling a bit blue, missing your friends, the interactions you made with the guests, and just the feeling of belonging. It happens to all of us to varying degrees and I’m no exception.

My name is Mark Sugiyama. I started a freelance media outlet called Eclectic Arts in 2011. Since our humble beginnings Eclectic Arts has expanded into everything arts related (with a few eye brow raising exceptions). Music coverage (reviews, photos, and interviews), musical theatre (reviews and interviews), theatre (reviews and interviews), ballet (reviews and interviews), and opera (only reviews – so far – keep watching this space) just to name a few key areas we support.

I first started reviewing Crypticon Seattle in 2012. So, I was not there from the beginning when the convention was held at the Doubletree originally (and where it is currently staged at) nor the one lone year it was up north in Everett. My memories go back to the Hilton – just up International Blvd – and what fond memories they were.

2012 featured Dee Wallace, Doug Bradley, Ricou Browning, Sonny Landham, Richard Kiel (RIP), and other guests. My first year covering the convention was eye opening and surreal. The fact that I managed to get anything accomplished is a testament to either my determination or my stupidity at the time. But, damn it, this was my first year of being credentialed for Crypticon Seattle and I didn’t care if I had to risk my health to be there. Seven years later and I still believe my decision to risk my health at the time may have been a poor one, especially since I don’t feel like I’ve ever been the same since the accident. There’s obviously a personal story here but I digress.

2013 I happily returned. Tyler Mane, Derek Mears, Fred Williamson, and Lew Temple were some of the guests that year. I’m writing this from memory so forgive me if the guest lists aren’t complete. I remember buying a ticket to see a screening of, “Compound Fracture” the following week at the Varsity in the U-District in Seattle. I had another great time.

2014 I was fortunate to return again as press. Jeffrey Combs, Eric Roberts, C. Thomas Howell, Zach Galligan, Doug Jones, and the Soskas were some of the guests that year. I remember feeling that 2014 rivaled 2012 in terms of the guests, the coverage I did, and the overall satisfaction once the convention was done that year. It was a benchmark convention for Eclectic Arts.

2015 I found myself back again as press. Sid Haig, the Soskas, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, William Forsythe, Michael Berryman, and Ted White were some of the guests I remember from that year. To this day “The Devils Rejects” panel was arguably my favorite panel that I’ve ever covered at Crypticon Seattle. Another grand time.

2016 Eclectic Arts was making headway into the concert coverage portion of the outlet (reviews, interviews, and live photos). I was yet again fortunate to be credentialed as press one more time for Crypticon Seattle. Lance Henriksen, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, and Elvira (in costume for photo ops) were some of the guests.

This brings me to this year: 2019. I was happy to be back covering the second convention ever for Eclectic Arts (the first being the now defunct ZomBCon) in an official press capacity. Crypticon Seattle will always hold a special place in my heart as it was five consecutive years of covering the convention. Eclectic Arts has grown exponentially since then. I was looking forward to seeing what had changed, what hadn’t, and what my impressions would be having been away from the convention for two years.

As always, my reports in the past have been all over the place. I try to go through each day of the convention and my recollections but sometimes I jump from day to day. Just know going forward reading this report will be like talking to me in person – a rambling mess at times but hopefully interesting.


As I mentioned earlier, I had never been to Crypticon Seattle while being held at the Doubletree at SeaTac. So, me being me, I left early on Friday to scope out parking, food options, and to allow for traffic. Parking sucks down by the airport. Most likely you’ll be paying to park somewhere or taking your chances and hoofing it from residential areas or businesses that may or may not ticket or tow you. And paying to park for one day is already bad, paying to park for three days is horrendous unless you have excess mad money (I don’t). If you’re staying overnight in the hotel, I can’t speak to the parking costs. I’m assuming the veterans of the scene have their own methods for saving cash for the convention itself just like I do. Of course you can also use public transportation to get down there as well if that suits you.

So I parked off site. I walked to the hotel entry and saw a line of freaks and geeks waiting to check in to the hotel. It’s always a pleasure seeing the freaks outnumber the "normal” folks in any line. I asked a nearby worker where the entry to Crypticon was. He pointed me in the right direction. Passing the coffee shop and the restaurant, I saw the ticketing area. A long line of fans were ready to get things started. I got my wristband (thanks Jasen M.! I appreciate it!), grabbed a program, and then headed into the vendor room.

Large. It felt larger than the Hilton vendor room. Whether it is or not I’m not sure. I did what I’ve always done – wandered around and just got the lay of the land. It was already busier than I remembered for a Friday afternoon. Some of the guests weren’t set up yet, others were getting set up.

I had scheduled an interview with Ms. Dee Wallace ahead of time directly with Dee. This goes back to my first Crypticon in 2012 when I interviewed her in terms of how I scheduled something directly with her. Once she was set up and talking with fans, I waited for a lull and re-introduced myself. I know that Sunday is usually the slowest day at these things. We chatted a bit and decided to do the interview on Sunday (as expected). I had offered to do audio only since the convention rooms are always poorly lit and loud (white noise) instead of a video interview. Dee asked if I had a light to do a video interview. I did but not at home. I would have to travel to get it. She then asked if I had even a little light that would work. At that point I caved and said I did (knowing I would have to drive elsewhere to pick up that light). But hey – it’s Dee Wallace! A little inconvenience is nothing compared to the opportunity to talk with her again. So, all was set for Sunday!

 (My signed photo from Dee Wallace)

I looked at the other guest tables and wandered through the vendor tables as well, knowing I’d be back more than once to look at them again, in more detail. I left the vendor room and couldn’t find the artist room (or the former artist alley). I had to ask someone for help and they pointed me in the right direction. The Northwest room that the artists were in was out of the way and kind of cramped. You had to have a reason to go down to that room otherwise you most likely wouldn’t see it (unlike the other layout at the Hilton where it was in the midst of a lot of foot traffic). I don’t think there’s any way around this based on the room layout that I saw. Maybe making it the closest Northwest room to the ticketing area would increase visibility and the combining the last two rooms for performances, etc.? I don’t know. It’s not a big deal – just a mild observation.

I looked through my program and saw that the panels, photo ops, and films were on the second floor. This is one design area that the Doubletree definitely has it over the old Hilton. How very convenient to take one of three stairwells or elevators up to the second floor right from the main entry to the convention. I walked up stairs and saw signage as well as staff willing to point people in the right direction.

I had only seen one shorts/film segment before and that was when Luchagore was showing their latest film reel. So, I thought this would be a great opportunity to pop into the Evergreen rooms and see what kind of shorts were being shown. A small group of fans were inside and Eric (I think it was Eric) handed everyone a sheet with details of the screenings for the weekend. The shorts block I attended were shorts where the film makers couldn’t be in attendance so they showed their work first at 6pm.

Some were better than others. The Trump one was pretty clever, especially the end when his hair crawled away like an outtake from Carpenter’s “The Thing”. It’s pretty incredible what kind of artists are out there making these films, shorts or not. I really wanted to see more films but decided to wander around downstairs a bit more.

Unlike the party people, I have yet to stay overnight at Crypticon Seattle. I know. Lame, lame. But, other duties called me up north Friday evening. End Day 1.

 (Cryption Seattle)

Saturday - Day 2 would be a long but enjoyable day. I loaded everything in the car, including a change of clothes for the evening, and headed back down 405.

Yet again I parked elsewhere and walked to the hotel. The weather has been so nice this was not an issue at all. If anything it was a great way to wake up before taking on day two of Crypticon Seattle.

The ticketing area was not as crowded as I would have thought for a Saturday. However, there were definitely more people in attendance (as usual) and many more in costume. Saturday is always the day to be seen if you’re going to go in costume, cosplay, etc.

I went back up to the film room and caught the first 40 or so minutes of the film they were showing, “My Soul to Keep”. Light hearted and somewhat 80’s influenced, it was enjoyable for the portion that I saw. I would have liked to have stayed but I wanted to get a seat for the upcoming guest panels.

Saturday was to be guest panel day for me – at least three hours-worth. In succession starting at noon: Dee Wallace, X-Files group, and Barbara Steele with no breaks.

I waited outside the Evergreen rooms with a few other fans as Bone Bat cartoons were in there from 11am to noon. Once fans started leaving the room, I went in and grabbed a seat six rows back or so. This turned out fortuitous as I’ll later explain.

Noon arrived and the Dee Wallace panel began. Moderated by Amie Simon, Dee was her usual entertaining, genuine, self. She covered her early films such as “The Howling”, “E.T.”, “Cujo” “Critters”, “The Frighteners”, the Rob Zombie work she’s been a part of, and her upcoming projects “Critters Attack!” and Rob Zombie’s “Three From Hell”.

She spoke about her claire audient healing – Conscious Creation. She made mention of how she had just lost her younger brother two weeks prior as well. As she put it, she’s from Kansas and she was taught to always honor her commitments, no matter what. She used the example of when her husband died during the filming of, “The Frighteners” to illustrate her point as well. The room fell silent for a moment or two and then took a turn back into the various topics at hand.

This moment tattooed itself in my mind. Dee being so open about the tragedy in her life (read her book and you’ll understand this lady has earned every fucking thing she has) and the lack of response from the crowd troubled me. I know it’s hard and sometimes very awkward when someone says something where you really feel for them but you just don’t know what to say. Remember this moment – I’ll be coming back to it.

Dee received a loud round of applause as her panel wrapped up. Deservedly so. What an amazing woman and an inspiration to all.

 (Dee Wallace)

The next panel was probably the most widely attended – the X Files panel. William B. Davis, Mitch Pileggi, Nicolas Lea, and Brian Thompson. Moderated by Tony Kay this panel was full of laughter and good times.

Remember what I said about my seat in the sixth row or so? Well, the front three rows were now reserved for the VIP fans who shelled out the big bucks for the weekend. So, those fans that were sitting that close for Dee’s panel had to move. I, not being in the first three rows, didn’t have to move anywhere to the back to find a seat. I got lucky on that one! The rows were later marked with labels so people knew not to sit in them until the panels started. If there were open seats in the VIP section, then you could sit in them after.

Did the panel reveal great insider details? Not really. But the banter between these four gentlemen, particularly Thompson and Pileggi, was priceless. This panel in many ways is a prime example of what happens when a multi guest panel goes right. It can be magic. I’ve never seen more than an episode or two of the X Files (you can start your booing now). But, even I was entertained for the whole hour. For me, when panels are this fun, this is one of the best aspects of Crypticon. The panel is fun, the room isn’t the size of a damn arena, and you can actually hear and usually see what’s going on on the stage without the help of video screens, etc.

The third panel from 2pm – 3pm was the legendary Barbara Steele. Tony Kay again moderated the panel. In his usual fashion, Tony came prepared. He went through many facets of Ms. Steele’s career. She was delightfully intense at times, very funny, and engaging. When she argued with Tony about the Ryan Gosling film she was a part of, I couldn’t stop laughing. What a treasure to be able to hear from this legend in person!

 (Tony Kay and Barbara Steele)

At this point I needed to excuse myself from the panel room so I missed the next few, including the Final Girls panel which I really wanted to see. I met up with a few family members who bought tickets and were late arriving. So, I showed them the lay of the land and then we split up for the rest of the afternoon.

I enjoyed seeing the various costumes on Saturday. A friend of mine and her son were there. I watched as people wanted pictures with him (and vice versa). He was the little Predator walking around. Hi Sony and Ramses!

Due to an opening night commitment I had in Seattle, I departed for McCaw Hall and day two of Crypticon Seattle was over for me.

 (Crypticon Signage Was On Point This Year)

When I awoke on Sunday morning, I’ll be honest, I was beat. The thought of driving back to SeaTac wasn’t that alluring. But, I remembered what I was going to do before the convention and that thought got me going again.

I made a purchase before driving down 405 again to start day three of Crypticon Seattle. You probably guessed it – I walked over to the hotel (look I saved a shit ton of money by parking elsewhere and walking – more to spend at the convention is the way I look at it) and double checked the schedule again.

The VIP Brunch was still going on (no guests yet at their tables) – always a favorite event at the con – so I ventured into the vendor room and wandered around. Eventually the guests started coming to their tables. There were already a lot of fans for a Sunday morning so I took my time and waited until Dee Wallace had a moment to talk to me. We figured out a game plan to do the interview right then and there.

Speaking only for myself, I am always mindful of the guests I interview – at any event, not just Crypticon. I’m a fan myself so I know when a fan comes to a guests table, they come first. They paid their money to have their moment with their favorite celebrities and I get it. A little patience goes a long way I’ve found over the years. Anyway, there was a lag and we did the interview in five or six minutes. Considering the horrible lighting and the white noise in the room, I think the interview came out pretty good. Check it out at the end of this report.

As I mentioned earlier regarding Dee’s panel on Saturday, once our interview ended I thanked her and waited as more fans came to her table. Once there was a break, I said, “I have something for you. You mentioned you lost your brother two weeks ago and I wanted to give my sincere condolences to you”. Dee was looking me straight in the eye. I handed her the card I had picked out Sunday morning and she was genuinely touched. She said, “oh my gosh, how sweet of you! We lost him suddenly, just ….how sweet of you!” She gave me a big hug and then opened the card. With it saying, “Wishing you healing and much love” (two of the concepts she preaches daily) she said it was, “Perfect. Thank you so much”. Another hug and then more fans came over.

I waited and once there was another break I got Dee to sign a photo for me and then take a selfie. She gave me another big hug and I thanked her for her time today.

Why do I mention this? It’s not to say I’m some great thoughtful guy and look at me or any crap like that. It’s to illustrate I’ve been there when people have died in my life. I know how much just a little note, word, or saying can mean during those times. It’s the little things, I tell you. And a lesson I learned (and am still working on) is it’s always better to do something for others when you don’t expect anything in return. Truly. It’s a hard concept to break into practice. But once you do, watch your life change.

I wanted to give her something to acknowledge what she said on Saturday. The guests that we admire and look up to – they’re real people, too. They have ups and downs just like the rest of us. A little courtesy goes a long way. And a thoughtful word or two can make their day, just like it would make any one of ours.

(Dee Wallace with some bald guy)

This leads me to the atmosphere at conventions, but specifically, Crypticon Seattle. The air in the hotel during any of the years I’ve covered has always been one of acceptance, fun, and caring. We’re all there for different reasons but the one thread that holds us all together is our love of horror. Some want to party all night, some want to wear elaborate character costumes, some want to geek out at topic panels, some want to meet their favorite celebrities, on and on. This year, maybe even more so than any other, the atmosphere at Crypticon Seattle was so good natured it made an already fantastic convention even better.

If you’ve never been to Crypticon and you have even a slight interest in the horror genre, it is so worth going for at least a day. You won’t be laughed at, put down, or sneered at. You’ll be welcomed into this wacky world that is Crypticon Seattle. Block out the first weekend in May 2020 so you can partake in the frightful festivities next year.

Okie back to Sunday!

After my interview with Dee, I went upstairs to take in the Twin Peaks panel with Ray Wise and Sheryl Lee and the Modern Monsters panel right after it.

The room was full for the Twin Peaks panel. Moderated by Amie Simon this panel could not have been more fun and entertaining. Ray Wise is a veteran actor. He has such a respectfulness about him that was completely endearing, especially with Sheryl Lee on stage next to him. He always deferred to her to make sure he was not hogging the stage. They seemed to genuinely like each other and it showed. Ray was also very funny and Sheryl was a very poignant lady. I liked that she said a few things that stuck with me. One of which was her answer to what’s coming up next for her. She mentioned she just closed a long chapter in her life and then ended her answer with, “I’m still living in the question”. I love that! A wonderful panel!

The Modern Monsters panel teamed up C.J. Graham, Eugene Clark, Jason Brooks, and David Howard Thornton. Moderated by The Grave Plot Podcast team this panel was interesting, off the cuff, and at one point, hilarious (to the audience - I don’t know about the moderator who was manhandled).

The theme of old school came up a lot during the various guest panels this past weekend. How things were different back in the day such as childhood discipline, participation awards, being a professional on set, respect, etc. Even though the guests on this panel were different, it still worked. Eugene Clark and C.J. Graham did most of the talking but are also veterans of these panels. They know to make sure everyone has their air time, share the air so to speak.

But when one of the two moderators asked about how do you emote when you’re wearing a hockey mask (no facial expression) and no dialogue, C.J. Graham surprised everyone in the audience when he said he would need a volunteer. The moderator crossed the stage to volunteer and C.J. grabbed him by his shirt and just pushed him across the stage and back into his seat. The audience gasped and erupted in applause! Shit it shocked me too! C.J. was only illustrating a point. He made the entire room stand up and take notice of his actions – and he didn’t say one thing in the process. To the moderator that C.J. grabbed – you have bragging rights that you got to “act” out a scene with C.J. Graham so kudos to you! I would have shit myself if he grabbed me like that unexpectedly. Or cried. You handled it well.

 (Krampus VS Predator)

I went back downstairs to take in the vendor room one last time before exiting. I did not see the (Saphira) Velociraptor in person but damn I wish I had. Those video clips from the afternoon were great! Kudos to the Ghouls … for pulling off that surprise on Sunday!

And, like that, it was over. In some ways I felt like I took in a lot at this year’s return to Crypticon as press, in other ways I felt like I missed a good chunk of things. Of course my report isn’t filling in every exacting detail (like when I ventured outside to take in the hearses) but the majority of it is here.

I wanted to see the Shibari demonstration. I saw a bit of Aidra the Juggler. I saw a bit of Harry Manfredini’s panel. The small Cascade room was packed. If there’s a way to have all of the guest panels in the Evergreen rooms next year that would be super. Most were.

 (Anubis Hearse Club)

To the Crypticon Seattle staff that put on the event – my sincere thanks. I know, and have always known, it takes a Herculean effort to put these conventions on every year. It is not lost on me how much work all of you do for an entire year to make this convention happen. For all the late nights, arguments, sacrifices, and other details by the billions – thank you. The convention from an outsider’s perspective rocked every single day!

To the fans – Crypticon Seattle is our little summer horror camp getaway each year (to paraphrase Tony Kay). Thank you for being weird, loving the genre, and for showing your support by coming to the convention. Just like concerts and other events that I cover, if the fans don’t come out, the scene dies. It’s that simple. So, thank you!

To the guests – thank you for taking the time. Yes, we all know it’s a business when you make these appearances but it’s also a grand way to connect with your fans, to keep your name alive, and to honestly make memories for so many people. I know I have tons of memories from Crypticon guest appearances and I stated some of the guests right off the top of my head earlier in this report. The old adage “never meet your heroes” is rarely, if ever, true at Crypticon Seattle. If anything it’s the opposite. “Meet your heroes” if you’re at Crypticon because they will become your heroes - for life.

 (Anubis Hearse Club)

I’ve been writing more in the past twelve months than I have in a long time. I’ve found that when I review shows, concerts, operas, ballets, and the like, I tend to take the higher ground when I can. Could I pick at things? Sure, but what’s the point? Constructive criticism can be helpful but even it has a time and place. I prefer to talk about the good as much as possible. There’s so much negativity in the world right now that every bit of good means a lot.

I hope I did the convention justice with this report. Knowing me I’ll remember something tomorrow and I’ll edit this report again. But for now I stand by it.

Crypticon Seattle 2019 – it was one for the books. Thank you!

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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(Eclectic Arts Video Interview with Ms. Dee Wallace)

 (Anubis Hearse Club)

See You All Next Year!

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