Chiller Theatre April 2009

Posted: April 23, 2009 in Culture, Movies
Tags: , ,

Flash…7 Campus Plaza, Parsippany, New Jersey

So I’m in the tent with the lower than b-stars of yesteryear, hasbeens, stillbeens and really never was beens and certainly never will bes (the game’s really over but no one told them yet–thank god for nostalgia). They’re seated like trained monkeys waiting for a treat. Most of the older ones don’t look a day over two hundred. Nevertheless their wrinkled hands are outstretched, Magic Marker in one for their signature, the other waiting for the reward for a lifetime of acting–twenty bucks for an autograph, includes ear to ear smile and handshake totaling ten seconds of time (photo  too with the actor’s sweaty withered hand on your shoulder best buddy style).  A couple of years ago I was at either Chiller or Monster Mania, also here in the Garden State, and in the tent they had Larry Hagman propped up in a school desk, the kind with the writing board on one side. He looked like some tall class prankster who had been sent to detention: Now Hagman, as punishment you will be forced to s it in that ridiculous chair meant for ten year olds and sign you name for these nice gawking people (though you will of course receive monetary remuneration).

Let’s see, there’s the incredible hulk guy Lou the Frig or something,…oh, there’s the guy who played Larry on “Threes Company” (my nephew has the DVDs for official signing). Somebody takes a picture catching every nuance of that withered face without paying. “Larry” takes it upon himself (evidently seeing himself as the guardian of the wilted stars) to castigate the young man. Holy shit my god man you took my once recognizable mug shot for free (well not his exact words). Seated next to him is some guy from a seventies TV show (and I swear if you give me a few more days I’ll finally come up with the name…Pat Harrington sound familiar?)

Jesus Christ, there’s Ahern from “F Troop.”  It’s a show I’ve seen on cable or Hulu a few times. Pretty funny.  He’s wearing that same hat from the show, only now he’s being really cool and has an arrow through it. That’s right Ahern, have fun with it;  it’ll all be over soon. There’s Christopher Atkins, still very youngish looking, from “The Blue Lagoon,” though he looks a bit out of place surrounded by blow up photos of himself in a loin cloth and holding hands with Brook Shields. There’s the Iron Sheik; the guy’s drooling on himself and ranting.

Goths by the tons are mostly dressed in black t-shirts with monster movie slogans and pictures of horror movies. Some walk around in full costume, Darth Vader, ghouls of various stripes. One woman is dressed in a long flowing blue felt robe carrying a plastic brain (I hope it’s plastic). Goth girls walk around in shorts and stockings with garters and high heels (of course all black). There are so many Goth breasts hanging out of  black leather halter tops it’s a show in itself. Everyone is exceedingly polite. You’re bumped into in the hall, or the Dealers Room, and everyone apologizes. Very civilized despite appearances. There’s a few b (or c or d) -grade horror movie girls here. You can tell them right away because they look like transvestites with gigantic silicon breasts bursting over their tops. They too are after their twenty bucks a shot (plus they’ll throw in one of those you-next-to-my-boobie photos).

The original “Night of the Living Dead” actors are here, along with director George Romero. These guys aren’t even d-listed anymore but they’re pulling in the bucks. The first time I tried to get in the room the line was too long; probably two hundred people waiting. Later that afternoon we tried again and got in, but therer was still a wait of twenty minutes or so.

Japanese horror and formula sci-fi movie titles are so predominant in the Dealers’ Room that you wonder if maybe the entire Japanese homeland isn’t making a horror movie after they get home late at night from the Tokyo office district.

Syd Haig isn’t here this year, though he was at the rival Monster Mania last year. But not to worry, there’s plenty of other d-listed ones here who at a big monster mash like this are the true stars anyway. People from the “Halloween” movies are present and accounted for.  I think that guy right there is Jason from “Friday the 13th.” The fifties’ Lois Lane (Noel Neill)  is here, very frail but very friendly.

I’m out in the hall using the men’s room and in walks the original Trek’s Chekhov. He looks small and lost like a little 70 year old kid who can’t reach the urinal. A guy comes up and shakes his hand and in a roundabout way asks for an autograph. Chekhov stands firm for his twenty bucks though (he’s probably been talking to Larry the Hag): No sir you must go to the table in the foyer (with Worf  from ST: TNG and a couple of other newer Trek guys).  Btw, a couple of years ago when  I went to Chiller I had the not-so-great honor of hearing Lou Albino wheezing and pissing up a storm in the stall next to me)….Later on…Good lord, there’s Mickey or something from the “Monkees”; across the way is Tony Curtis in a big white cowboy hat and white turtleneck; the guy’s racking up the twenties. I’m wondering if he still gets royalties from “Some Like It Hot.” But of course this being a horror movie festival for the most part, people are having him sign DVDs or pics of “The Boston Strangler.”

Chiller Theatre

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