Monster-Mania Con 14

Hey look it’s me, your Unkle Lancifer standing next to his hero TOM ATKINS star of such classics as THE FOG, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS! Now, normally I’m a bit apprehensive about meeting my idols, I’m kind of scared that they’ll let me down in some way (plus, there’s the infamous LORI SINGER facial tick fiasco of ‘82 to consider) but in the case of MR. ATKINS, I just knew he was going to be as genuine and down to earth as he appears on screen and I was 100% correct.

To me, TOM ATKINS has always represented the unheralded coolness of the unpretentious everyman. In his finest roles he’s down on his luck, in the wrong place at the wrong time yet perfectly willing to step up to the plate and save the day. He’s the hero risking his life intuitively with zero interest in compensation or recognition for his efforts. I can’t say that I’ve ever fully understood the ritual of hand shaking until I met this guy; after growing up with his films and learning to appreciate them further still as an adult, it was just a genuine honor to shake his hand. I met MR. ATKINS at the Monstermania convention in Jersey last Saturday and even though he was my main inspiration for traipsing out during a near hurricane, he was to be the first of several exceptional folks that I was lucky enough to hobnob with.

So I’m sitting at the hotel bar with Aunt John drinking a beer (as designated driver A.J. is responsibly drinking cola) and who should plop right down next to me and order lunch but NEIL AFFLECK “Axel” from MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)! Now, if you’ve seen the film you know Axel is the guy doing the killing, so I’m basically sitting next to Harry Warden himself! Don’t worry, I let him eat his lunch in peace but before it arrived I talked his ear off. He told me how much he loved the town they filmed the movie in; that he thought the remake was good; that his daughter has now seen both versions and even about the time his car broke down in a Texas snow storm. NEIL now works in animation and has directed episodes of FAMILY GUY and THE SIMPSONS. He’s a super modest, salt of the earth type of guy and a joy to talk to. He was really happy that the remake had brought new attention to the classic film but I informed him that there were many of us who were already crazy about M.B.V. I stopped just short of confessing that the release of the uncut DVD was kinda sorta the high point of my existence on account of I didn’t want him to think (know) that I was a weirdo.

Now hours later I’m up at the bar again ordering another beer (don’t judge) and a coke for A.J. and this handsome cat is standing next to me and it’s STEVE MARSHALL from NIGHT OF THE CREEPS!!! (I swear Aunt John, he said hi to me first!) I told him how much I dug the extras on the recent DVD and how I noticed the obvious camaraderie between he and fellow stars JASON LIVELY and JILL WHITLOW. He said that they really are all best friends and that he and JASON love to tease JILL. In fact he revealed that while on a recent pit-stop into Philly for cheesesteaks they were able to convince her that all of the horses pulling carriages in the city were mechanical robots built by Walt Disney. (Sorry, JILL but that one is too good not to repeat!) Anyway STEVE was a blast to talk to and very funny, so much so that when I left him at the bar I totally forgot to grab the coke I ordered for Aunt John…oops.

Now, you’d think that would be enough to institute a red letter day but there’s more. The truth is Aunt John and I knew we were going to be in good company for the festivities because we were meeting our pals TENEBROUS KATE & BARON from LOVE TRAIN FOR THE TENEBROUS EMPIRE (it will make you diabetic if I tell you how we feel about those two, so I’ll skip it.) There we all were laughing it up when I spy JOHNNY BOOTS the overlord of FREDDY IN SPACE who I recognize immediately from his Horror Blips avatar. He tells us he’s there to meet GEOF from the swell blog ENTER THE MAN CAVE. Hey, we know GEOF, he’s a past traumafessor!

Soon we’re all gathered round the table swapping stories about the convention and forging a makeshift legion of doom. It was gratifying to be around fellow bloggers that I admire and to see everybody’s die hard enthusiasm shining through. I have to thank that impromptu group for helping me reestablish why I enjoy blogging so much in the first place, nobody was there to compete or debate it was all about basking in our collective horror fanaticism. Even with our widely divergent tastes, we were all there for one thing and one thing only, the love of the genre.

I know there are those who question the validity of blogging in general, (who are these blogging people and why should I care what they think?) They might even try to pull rank and suggest that blogs are inferior to flashy websites or ye olde printed page but I say they’re just kicking up dust. All I know is that when I was growing up I had exactly ONE other friend who felt the same way I did about horror movies, ONE other friend who read FANGORIA and stayed up late to watch anything that even remotely resembled a horror film, ONE other person who knew what the hell I was talking about. Now I talk to countless people every week about horror movies and we at kindertrauma get emails from all over the world. Blogging allows a two way street paved on an even playing field that other mediums and means of communication can only envy. As E.M. FORSTER once twittered “Only connect.” So here is a picture of me and TOM ATKINS, where once I only had only ONE person to share it with, I now thankfully have all of you.

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Chris (@chris)
11 years ago

Atkins is the man. I was lucky enough to meet him a few years back, and what a gentleman. Not only did he answer all my (silly) questions and deal with my fanboy-ish ramblings, but, even though he met probably hundreds of people that day, always remembered my name every time I passed his table. “Hey Chris! Having fun? Pick up anything neat?” 

As a hero of mine as well, it was a great treat to spend a few minutes with one of my idols, and even better that he was just as cool in person as he is in his films.

Pax Romano
Pax Romano (@pax-romano)
11 years ago

Sounds like a blast – I was this close to going last week (considering that Cherry Hill is about eight miles from where I live), but the rain kept me home.

Jeff Allard
Jeff Allard (@jeff-allard)
11 years ago

Wish I could’ve gotten down to that con – sounds like a great time!

Meep Parker
Meep Parker (@meep-parker)
11 years ago

What a wonderful post. I’ve been kind of down on going to cons for quite awhile now, but these lovely words definitely restore the faith.

PhanWolf (@phantomwerewolf)
11 years ago

I love it when stars and other famous type people remember HOW they got famous and WHO makes them so. I’d love to meet Mr. Atkins, all I hear are awesome stories and I love the cheesy movies he’s in.

Professor Von Whiskersen
Professor Von Whiskersen (@professor-von-whiskersen)
11 years ago

I love how it looks like he’s introducing YOU in the picture, like you are the movie star and he’s the fan.
Either that or he’s making a pretend pistol with his hands and aiming it at your chest.

VicarOfVHS (@vicarofvhs)
11 years ago

Wow, sounds like a great time! I wish I could have sat next to Harry Warden, or attended the MBV reunion panel. I think I’ve told you about my shared love for that until-recently little-known slasher before. 🙂
Your thoughts about blogging and its side-effect of meeting people far and wide who share the enthusiasm, attitude, and interests you grew up thinking no one but you had is a great one, and exactly parallel with my own blogging experience. Now I just have to make it out of Arkansas to some cons to meet some of my horror blogging friends!
Though as you might be aware, Unk, there *are* plans in the offing. 😉

TenebrousKate (@tenebrouskate)
11 years ago

The Baron and I love you guys more than is entirely seemly, and it would betray our icily imperious exteriors to talk about that in public–thanks for doing your part to keep up the charade…!
Seriously, ’twas great to hang out, and I’m looking forward to the next get-together already.  We braved the Noo Joisey monsoon to see our geeky pals, and would gladly do the same again!

WarpedRecord (@warpedrecord)
11 years ago

Wow, Unkle Lancifer, I had no idea you were such a hunk (Hunkle Lancifer?).
And Tom Atkins is da man, but I knew that already.