I know it was like two weeks ago but I just realized I never wrote about Zombcon 2011. I was waiting for Paul to post pictures on Facebook but seeing as he is still yet to do so I might as well write about it before I forget anymore details. For those who aren’t familiar with Zombcon I’ll fill ya in. Zombcon is Seattle’s premier Zombie convention held every October since…. You know I’m not sure, for all I know last year was the first one ever. This year the convention was moved from the Seattle Science Center Convention Hall to the SeaTac Hilton. Although I preferred the previous setting and last year’s setup (guests, events, layout) Zombcon 2011 was still a great opportunity to meet some of my favorite B-movie horror stars.
Just like last year we arrived at the supposed location and were immediately thrown off by the lack of advertising and people. “This is the place right?” seems to start off every Zombcon adventure, I guess that’s probably the case for most horror conventions, it really only attracts a cult niche. The big draw this year was makeup effects legend/actor Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th) yet looking back that was probably my least memorable encounter. Other features included a Walking Dead panel, although I never did find it, Silly zombie defense panels, and other things that clearly did not leave on impact on me because I can’t remember them.
The event seemed a little smaller this year but well attended. Of course there was all sorts of booths with cool merchandise or “merch” as they call it. There was a room with video games hooked up with stuff like Dead Island and of course a line of celebrity guest booths awkwardly positioned against some windows, which made taking pictures difficult due to the glare. Paul and I started out by doing a few rounds around all the merchandise booths, trying to build up the courage to go talk to our first guest. Though it’s not so much as building up courage as trying to think of something interesting to say, I mean these guys are probably asked the same questions over and over again then again they are being paid to be here
We approached Tom Savini first but unfortunately couldn’t think of anythingto say. We did the normal “I’m a big fan, blah, blah, I like this movie, blah, blah” so it was kind of lame but he seemed nice enough. He was a little more quiet than I’d anticipated and it’s always a little easier when the guests acutally make an effort to be interested. Take Bruce Campbell from last year, he took the time to actually ask each and every fan about themselves and start up a discussion. Don’t get me wrong it’s awesome to meet Tom Savini, I just wish he’d try a little harder to talk to his fans.
Second I went to go approach b-movie tough guy Sid Haig, best known today for his performance as Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Even though I hate those movies I’ve enjoyed other Haig roles and always thought he seemed pretty cool. He’s always had this giant badass kind of image but I guess things have changed a little over time. Now in his seventies, the once towering Haig seemed kinda frail and kept coughing and hacking, he was nice just kind of gross. I tried talking to him about Galaxy of Terror (a movie I reviewed for Shocktober) but I don’t think he remembered it very well, it was neat but like Savini, another case of awkwardness with no attempt on the guest’s part to ease the situation.
Fortunately Paul and I started to move into a more comfortable rhythm after went to go meet David Emgee aka “Flyboy” one of the stars of the iconic 1978 film Dawn of the Dead. Paul took the reigns and asked David about a story he heard where he was hired to work on the film after meeting George A. Romero at a restaurant he was working at. This launched him into a whole story about how he got involved with the film and really it was a treat. Sure you can read about that kind of stuff on the web, but hearing a first hand account? That’s priceless, and it’s that kind of personal care and human touch that draws me to meeting my b-movie heroes.
Next we moved to a section reserved for several of the stars of Day of the Dead and after this I felt like we’d pretty much met just about everyone who was in this movie. First up was Jarlath Conroy who played Bill the amusing wisecracking Irishman. We asked him about the small speaking role he had as the Undertaker in the Coen Brother’s True Grit, so he gave us a little backstory on that. When it came to taking a picture of us with Jarlath we needed to find someone to do so and who else stepped in but Anthony Dileo who played Miguel in the film. How hilarious is that? Paul mentioned that now whenever he watches Day of the Dead he’ll have to keep reminding himself that “That guy in this movie took a picture of us.” That was just too perfect. Of course I had to meet Anthony Dileo afterwards and I had a warm conversation about his role in the film.
Time started to wind down, but I felt I couldn’t leave until I had met horror character actor Bill Moseley. Moseley like Sid Haig is another one of those guys that’s been in about a million horror b-movies, mostly bad ones, but is best known today for his roles as Chop Top In Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Otis B. Driftwood, one the main characters in House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects. Though I really don’t like Rob Zombie’s films I’ve always enjoyed the enthusiasm Moseley has brought to his characters. TCM2 although a disappointing sequel, was a lot of fun to watch because of Chop Top he’s just a funny guy. Thankfully he’s a really nice and funny guy in real life and almost seems a little too normal. I saw that he had a still of him as a monster solider in Army of Darkness so I asked him about it. He talked about how he auditioned by performing Lewis Caroll’s “The Jabberwocky” despite the fact that he only ended up with like one line. I got my autographed Chop Top photo, a picture with him and I was a happy camper.
Really the convention wasn’t quite the same caliber as last year. Although it’s hard to top Bruce Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, and George A. Romero, who basically invented the modern zombie. That all aside I love hearing the stories of how some of my favorite horror movies were made and all the celeb swag is too much fun to collect, I’m already looking forward to next year.