Conventions as a whole had eluded me for quite some time, with the exception of drinking in hotel hallways with some hardcore nerds at an Anime Convention. But not long ago I had the opportunity to enjoy a slightly more macabre fan collision. Texas Frightmare Weekend is a yearly convention in Dallas celebrating all that is Horror. If the name doesn’t send that clear message, then it wouldn’t take you longer than stepping out of the parking garage to see the trail of ghouls, living carcasses, and well known nightmares from the silver screen, all of which are plodding around the smoking area. Mostly to vape politely.
Myself and my attaché, (part-time photographer, full-time Beardo), descended into the Airport Hyatt for fun and frivolity but mostly anguish for our limited budgets. That anguish turned out to be ill conceived as we both burst our original limits like Chucky’s head at the end of Child’s Play 2. Making my way through a sea of horror fans and masked abominations, I managed to draw an interesting contrast between this convention and my limited time walking through Anime-Con halls. And that was the marked absence of con-funk. Yes it’s true, despite being dressed in some of the most ratty and purposefully disgusting costumes there was at least 90 percent less body odor and when you find yourself shoulder to shoulder with people for hours at a time, by gum that’s something to appreciate. But I won’t kid you, there was a lot more to appreciate at this con than just the lack of stank. I was lucky enough to see a lot of amateur and independent horror films, one that manages to stick to my mind was “Bag Boy Lover Boy”. It was the story of a seemingly harmless but lustful dullard hot dog vendor who catches the eye of a photographer who uses him for his constant soulless facial expression in what would be a series of photo shoots combining sexuality and murder. Being exposed to that particular stimuli would prove too much for our lead creep to handle as things go out of hand very quickly. As far as weird off the wall independent horror goes, that’s a movie I won’t soon forget. But aside from that there was a screening that I almost felt stupid for not realizing it’s purpose. The Fake Horror Trailer Showcase was one of the more elating experiences from the weekend for me (aside from locking eyes with Wilford Brimley) because it had an element that a lot of people in our scene can jive with. It was the rookies and scrubs all trying their hand at both film making for the first time, and honing their skills further. It was a mixed bag of poor editing, interesting filters, and tongue-in-cheek warnings to fear the inevitable horde of CHILDREN dun dun duuuuun. My favorite though had to be the trailer that was just one full minute of boiling water. I can’t think of anything more terrifying. Looking forward to a sequel involving frying bacon while shirtless.
While Beardo snuck about hunting down the best costumed oddities, I marveled at the cornucopia of celebrities and their range in overall fame. The voice of Oogie Boogie, Frankenstein Doyle, close to the full cast were on hand from Rob Zombie’s film 31 including Malcolm McDowell and EG Daily. The voice of Tommy Pickles was in the midst of a thousand Freddys and a thousand Jasons. EG from what I understand has been making a side living from these con appearances as well as a lot of the other well remembered faces but poorly remembered names. I will however always remember the name of the first celebrity to have his personal security detail block the bathroom off for peaceful pooping purposes. His name is Freddie Highmore. The mom from E.T. I’m happy to report is still very recognizable and I was lucky enough to brush shoulders with Keith David multiple times while he was in the middle of talking. It was like I was in the presence of the Arbiter himself. Alas he was there along with Wilford Brimley for a retrospective on the classic “The Thing” but seemed to be having a great time schmoozing with fans which is always fun to see. Among the horde of fans I even managed to run into YouTuber BowserVids getting ready to make more hilarious content and he didn’t disappoint.
Though there were many panels and Q&A sessions I found myself mostly enamored with the sea of merch that even extended into living things! Plants! Carnivorous Ones! Of Course! The madman (who was actually a veryniceandhelpfulman) from the Texas Triffid Ranch was doling out many a strange and exotic plant with the utmost care and consideration for the plants and their new owner. It’s a comforting dichotomy that’s present in this fandom: A love for brutality and slaughter that exists alongside the fans being extremely kind and empathic. I caught Beardo at the same booth multiple times poring over the most rare and most brutal of experimental terror from overseas, the legality of some is still in question but it’s far too late for those type of questions. They disappeared into his bag of goodies, and off we fled having been thoroughly exposed to all the things we still couldn’t afford. Like that damn old school Mars Attacks! shirt. I won’t forget you, nostalgic goodness!
All in all I have to say my experience was a great one and I highly recommend keeping yourself informed for next years festivities. With the pictures our trusty Beardo got, I think you can see why.