Days of the Dead (Indianapolis) Convention Report

The Phantom of the Ville Spent a Recent Sunday Afternoon
Haunting the Halls of the Days of the Dead Horror Convention in Indianapolis!

Good Evening, horror fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville just back from the Days of the Dead horror convention in Indianapolis. I hope you all had a great Fourth of July weekend. For those of you who weren’t able to make the trip to Days of the Dead over the long weekend, I’m filing this convention report so you can get an idea of what the show was like in case you want to mark your calendar for the next show.

My hearse driver and I arrived early Sunday afternoon to the Wyndham Indianapolis West to find a fairly good crowd of horror fans wandering the halls. It wasn’t insanely busy, like at some other recent horror shows where the Fire Marshall had to be called in to deal with the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, but it was comfortably well attended. All the big celebrities always had small lines of fans waiting to meet them, but wait times were never more than just a few minutes, and all the celebrities we met were in great spirits and enjoying the interaction with their fans.

Don Coscarelli, director of the “Phantasm” series, making a rare horror convention appearance, seemed to garner the most consistently long line of fans waiting to get their silver sphere props and “Phantasm” DVDs signed. Also the director of “Bubba Ho-tep” and the recent, “John Dies at the End,” Coscarelli is one of the nicest and most down-to-earth horror directors you could ever hope to meet. There doesn’t seem to be even a hint of ego in his personality.

Also getting fairly long lines of fans were Roddy Piper (“They Live,” “Hell Comes to Frogtown”) and Gary Busey (“Lethal Weapon,” “The Ginger Dead Man”). The lines for both of them were likely due to the fact that they both tended to disappear for long periods and then suddenly come back to their tables to sign autographs. Busey, who has a reputation for his crazy real life antics, certainly fascinated and entertained the crowd, often actually “directing” the photography angles of those who took his picture. If Gary Busey didn’t like the way your photo turned out, he’d make you take it again!

One fan excited to meet Gary Busey was actually a celebrity rock star himself, guitarist Twiggy from Marilyn Manson’s band, was hanging out at Days of the Dead just as a horror fan! You never know who you’re going to run into at these shows. Lita Ford was another rock star meeting fans at the show.

Danny Trejo (“From Dusk ‘til Dawn,” “Machete”) was another very popular guest. Trejo seemed shorter in real life than I expected, but I wasn’t about to tell him so in person! He seemed really nice, but I’ve seen too many of his movies to risk getting on his bad side!

I was really excited to talk to Chris Sarandon (“Fright Night,” “Child’s Play”), who I hadn’t seen since the Fright Night Film Fest here in Louisville a few years ago. “Fright Night” is one of my very favorite vampire films, and I still have the 1985 paperback novelization with vampire, Jerry Dandridge, on the cover, which Chris signed for me. Chris says there’s a good possibility that he will be re-teaming with “Fright Night” director, Tom Holland, this Fall for a new horror movie called, “The Ten O’Clock People,” based on a story by Stephen King and also scheduled to star Chris Evans (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Avengers”).

Among the many horror stars on hand were Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Tyler Mane (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”), Derek Mears (the “Friday the 13th” re-make), Heather Langenkamp (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) and Louisville’s own, John Dugan (Grandpa from the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”)!

I spent 15 minutes chatting with “Hatchet” series director, Adam Green (“Frozen”), about his epic battles with the MPAA over the ratings given to his movies for excessive violence, who has “Hatchet III: The Unrated Director’s Cut” coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on August 13th. Green has added Zach Galligan (“Gremlins,” “Waxwork”) to his regular cast that includes Kane “Jason Vorhees” Hodder as swamp ghost slasher, Victor Crowley, and Danielle Harris as heroine, Marybeth. Green says this is the definitive end of the “Hatchet” series, and I can’t wait to see how he wraps it up!

Days of the Dead was also sponsoring “Thing Fest,” a tribute to John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi/horror classic. Most of the cast was on hand, including Keith David (Childs), Richard Masur (Clark), T.K. Carter (Nauls), Joel Polis (Fuchs), David Clennon (Palmer) and Thomas Waites (Windows). Also on display was an incredible collection of memorabilia from the film.

Personally, I was pretty excited to meet Butch Patrick, who was nice enough to personalize a photo to the Phantom of the Ville! That’s going up on my office wall. I mean, it’s Eddie Munster! It doesn’t get any cooler than that! I also took in the sword swallowing act of the Amazing Captain Stab Tuggo!

I then got to spend some time talking to writer/producer, Thommy Hutson, the producer of a series of great horror film documentaries including “More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead,” “Scream: The Inside Story,” “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” and “His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th.” Hutson has just completed work on what he calls the “ultimate” Friday the 13th documentary, “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th,” which should be released on Blu-ray on DVD just in time for Halloween this year. The main documentary, which is 420 minutes long, will cover every film to ever feature Jason Voorhees with equal care and attention. Hutson promises at least 15 hours of bonus materials. Not a single drop of blood will be overlooked!

The dealer’s room was huge, and stocked with lots of stuff Halloween fans would love. I took a few pictures of things I thought our readers would find interesting, including a guy who makes jack-o-lantern teeth, a full sized Sam figure from “Trick ‘r Treat” (2007), a booth dedicated to the beloved and recently departed Indianapolis horror host, Sammy Terry, and the Halloween-centric table of Indiana horror writer, Michael West!

I had a great time at Days of the Dead, which was very well organized and run. I hope some of you will join me in haunting the halls of this show next year. I’ll be back soon with new haunt news and previews!

The Phantom of The Ville

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