Ok, It’s late Saturday afternoon at Texas Frightmare, and I wake up from a powernap just in time to find out that the con ends at 6pm for the day. They have the VIP party to get ready for. (Mirthquake note to self: Next year, splurge for the VIP ticket.)
So Casher and I retreat to the hotel’s sports bar to grab a burger and brew, and figure out what to do next. Would we venture into Deep Ellum to see Ghoultown? Brave our better judgement and go catch the Elm Street remake? Stick around ’til 10 and watch the screening of the remastered Dark Night of the Scarecrow, a film I knew naught about other than Fright-Rags thought it was cool enough to do a shirt of ?
Well, who would be sitting next to us in the bar but Jim Cirronella, the producer of Autopsy of the Dead, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the original Night of the Living Dead, Gary Streiner, the sound man and a featured extra in NOTLD as well as the force of nature behind the Living Dead Fest in Evans City, PA, and (OMG!) Judith Ridley!
Judy actually coming to a convention was the reason I went ahead and do TFW. Of the still living major cast members, she was to my knowledge the only one who had never done a con before! And let me tell you right here and now true believers, she *still* looks amazing!
Mind you Casher and I knew who they were, but neither of us were going to geek out on them. They are just people too, and welcome to their privacy. So we were making plans for the rest of the night, when suddenly Judy turns to us and sweetly asks “I don’t mean to interrupt, but can I ask you two a question? Should I be here?” referring to the entire TFW convention.
Sweet, unassuming Judy Ridley wasn’t aware of her place in horror cinema iconography, which literally made her all the more charming. Cash and I assured her that indeed, not only did she belong at a horror movie convention for the “little film” she worked on over 40 years ago, but if it weren’t for her, horror conventions like TFW might not even exist.
This was the beginning of a two and a half hour conversation, that spanned from the death of the old guard in horror, how Psycho and Night of the Living Dead changed the face of the horror film, and much more. We heard behind the scenes stories that hadn’t even been on the DVD commentary! Judy, for example, learning professional make up techniques for Image 10 (because everyone has many jobs in independent film), needed someone to make-up for her final… and Jack Russo ended up with the makeover of a lifetime!
(I’m not going to tell ALL the stories. Gary had some doozies that I’m not going to share… one because I don’t want to steal his thunder on any upcoming projects, and two, some things are better told in person!)
Suffice it to say, THIS was the best bit of TFW for me. How often do you get a chance to spend hours talking with people who made independent cinema history? And THEY asked US?!
That’s us in the bar, taken by Jim on my crappy cell phone… because I didn’t think anyone would believe us without photographic proof.
I now realize that it was a three day con… so this should be a three part post. Next time, meeting icons, contact from Krypton, and imaginary fruity drinks!