Monsters & Memories Special Report: FantaCon 2013‏ – by Ed Davis

 

Greetings Groovy Ghoulies! Boy, it was one of the busiest weekends and one of the longest times out of the crypt in quite a while. Ghoulie #1 and I spent the better part of the weekend hanging around Albany and Colonie in New York for The FantaCon festivities.

What a convention! There were special movie events in downtown Albany at The Palace Theater. Showings of Night of The Living Dead with the cast Q &A afterwards, Friday The 13th with original Jason, Ari Lehman’s band First Jason, doing a set afterwards, and rounded off by all night Zombie fest on Saturday. Whew! We were able to make it to Friday the 13th after securing Drooly Ghoulie for the night, and it was a lot of fun. We were treated to a great DVD print of the movie, though I would have loved to hear the hum of a projector. The movie was introduced by Ari Lehman himself, inviting us back to Crystal Lake, informing us that Mom was waiting for us! I really don’t know if I’m ready to hang out with Pamela Voorhees at camp; might be a real pain in the neck! He was very humble regarding the fact that here we are thirty some odd years later, still watching this movie that he was a part of.

 

I do love the first Friday movie; I think the camp is great. The old cabins and woods really give a great atmosphere. The cast seems to be having a lot of fun with the script. The effects by Tom Savini are great.

 

Towards the end, we almost didn’t get to see Pamela meet her fate when the screen went dark before our eyes. We had sound for a bit, and then lost it all together. The crowd had some fun with this as we waited. In a move I though all in good fun, Ari came back out to inform us the spirits of the Palace didn’t want to see Mrs. Voorhees lose her head. Ari worked his magic, and convinced the ghost to let us have our fun. A few more minutes later, we picked up where we left off seeing the ending where the young boy, Jason jumps out of the lake and terrifying a new generation of horror fans.

After the movie, First Jason took the stage. Ari plays as far I know, the only “Keychete” out there. It’s a monster keyboard attached to a large machete, and the show was under way. We were treated to such songs as, “Jason Never Dies”, “Machete is my friend” and “Sink or Swim.” It was a thrashing and slashing set.

 

Afterwards, we were leaving and I was looking over the memorabilia for sale, and was told Ari would be coming out to meet with the fans. That was cool. So, we hung out for a bit. I figured it would be tough to talk to him at the con the following day, so this would be a good chance to meet him. Ari is really nice guy. The security seemed like they wanted to wrap the night up, but he took time to talk to all us that were there. I got an autographed picture of young Jason drowning, and took my picture with him. I promise he didn’t cut too much off with that knife! It was a great start to the weekend.

 

The following morning, we headed to The Marriot in Colonie for a full day of FantaCon fun! From the beginning, the staffs running the con were all great! Checking in with our tickets was no problem, and we were giving SWAG bags with a comic and some other goodies in it. I can’t tell you how many of these bags I filled, and they were always ready to give you another one. They had a set up in the main convention room, with tables also set up around the whole outside. Some highlights included the Asgard room; they seemed to have everything in there! Comics, old horror and sci-fi books, even replicas of important horror figures medical documents. I checked, and I was not on the list. This old ticker is still going strong, phew! A steady array of awesome music piped out from the duel LP system set-up and I found a Star Trek book from the ‘60s and the Star Wars Spectacular from the folks who did Famous Monsters back in the ‘70’s. This is something I always stared at in the back of Famous Monsters, trying to will it into my hands from the ad. It was well worth the thirty year wait.

I also came across a table with the cheeriest bunch of people there! It was the cast of stab! It seems they have taken all of the movies within the movies of the Scream franchise, and have made those movies. You can find them on YouTube and they have their own site as well! Check out the end of this article for all the great sites you can visit. I got to meet Rayah Arnold, Ashley Younger, and Joshua Patrick Dudley. They signed some autographs and I learned all about Stab! I haven’t had a chance to watch yet, but I did check out some trailers on YouTube. Looks like they will be a fun watch!

 

Venturing into the main hall, it was like Christmas morning! There was so much to see and cool people to talk to. I saw the big Godzilla shogun warrior from the ‘70’s, still have mine keeping watch over things in the crypt. Comics from the beginning of time forward. There were great issues of Eerie, Creepy, Famous Monsters, and more. I ended up with an issue of Famous Monsters from 1969, my earliest to date, an issue of Horror Tales from 1971, and some other goodies.

 

There was a ton of celebrities there. I wish I had the keys to Fort Knox, just so I could take the time to talk and get a picture and autograph from everyone there. Everyone seemed so nice that we did get a chance to have a conversation with. And you can check out the whole list of who was there, over at FantaCon’s website. My hat and head is off to whoever helps line up the talent because they did a great job. The cast from Night of The Living Dead, Ari Lehman, Theodus Crane, Belinda Balaski, TNA Knockout Angelina Love and so many more! I would have loved to go back on Sunday, and talked to those I didn’t get the chance to do.

 

I did manage to go gush over at Tom Savini’s table for a few minutes, and I have always been a huge fan of his work. Whether it was special effects, stunt work, or acting – his body of work helped form me into the horror fan I am. I managed to get some words out about reading about him in Fangoria when I was younger. He signed a Planet Terror poster for me, and I had my picture taken. Things were off to a very cool start. Next to Tom was Taso Stavrakis, who was in Dawn of the Dead, the greatest zombie film ever and also helped Tom Savini with the effects for Friday The 13th. He also worked too many other films to mention here. I think he could tell that I was already in star struck mode, and signed a Dawn of The Dead poster for me, and was nice enough to also have his picture with me.

It was great to see the celebrities that were thing mingled in with the dealers. And there were some awesome displays! I wish my overloaded head remembered to take pictures of some of the displays!

 

I met Godzilla Joe over at the Phantazmic Comics and Toys table. He had a ton of Bandai Godzilla figures out, and I was just amazed at them! There were many of the different Godzilla looks from over the years. Rodan tried to fly right off the table! It was that jam packed! He knew his stuff, and I think if he didn’t have a figure, he would know where to find one. It was a fun table, definitely worth checking out their stuff if you run into them at a future con.

 

I also had the chance to chat with Steven Benja who has some great talent! He does some beautiful oil paintings of iconic classic and modern horror monsters. He had one of the Phantom in the red death costume that was just amazing. He also had a ton of t-shirts with some great images on them. I picked up a shirt with the classic universal monsters on it, took me right back to Saturday afternoons watching Creature Double Feature.

 

Speaking of great artists, I also spent some time talking with Douglas Arthur, a local artist here in Albany. He has a great strip called Tales from the Dougside, and I picked up his special FantaCon exclusive, Horrible Book of Horrors. He has a great imagination and sense of humor about Horror. I was wearing my Marvel Godzilla shirt and we got to talking about how that comic got him into drawing, and he showed me some of his early work as a kid. I think all of us Monster Kids had similar origins, and it was so nice to meet another one.

Overall, this convention was just the best. They had rooms showing horror movies with discussions. There was a sci-fi room showing episodes of great shows. It was a day that I didn’t want to see come to a close. The staff was friendly, and always making sure the people paying the money to get in were satisfied. I think the layout was spaced well. It didn’t seem like you were crowded, plenty of aisle room. And besides my own star stuck self, the celebrities were all approachable.  Lots of great finds, and I really hope I get to be doing a report on FantaCon 2014 next year!

 

So, it’s back to the crypt for now. I was influenced heavily by all the great talent I met this weekend, thank you for giving me that extra push of inspiration, and I hope I was able to give that back to you somewhat! Here are some great sites for all you to check out, definitely worth your time:

 

http://www.fantacon.com
http://www.firstjason.com  Ari Lehman’s project

 

http://www.stabmovies.com Check out all of the Stab movies!

 

http://www.coolcomicsandtoys.com Phantazmic Comics & Toys Inc. – Home of Godzilla Joe

 

http://www.classichorrors.info/ Steven Benja’s oil paintings, shirts, and more!

 

http://www.facebook.com/TalesFromTheDougside Doug Arthur’s Tales from the Dougside

 

Until next time Groovy Ghoulies, watch the skies!