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 It's no secret that your friendly neighborhood editor writes for HorrorHound Magazine.  But we also
do the convention scene.  Fellow Fangirl Slick Matecheck came to one of our cons in Pittsburgh, PA
also known as the Land of the Zombie.  Read on to see how she enjoyed her first Horror Convention.

  

 

Popping My Convention Cherry: Report From The HorrorHound Convention, Pittsburgh, PA, June 20 To June 22, 2008

By Slick Matecheck

 

Where to start? This was probably the best weekend of my life, literally, for so many reasons. I flew into Pittsburgh and was overwhelmed on the drive from the airport to the hotel by how green, gorgeous and mountainous the city is. I grew up in Ohio only two hours from Pittsburgh, but moved to Florida when I was 14. I forgot what mountains look like! It reminded me very much of my hometown. The view of downtown as you come out of the Ft Pitt tunnel is nothing short of stunning. You see the buildings, bridges and greenery that make Pittsburgh so unique. I was in George Romero's town, Zombie Town USA, and I was absolutely elated. I was also more excited than I'd been in a very long time for I was about to meet two people who are very dear to me that until that point I'd only known via email or phone. I was about to meet Jessica, creator and editor of FanGirl, and Greg Nicotero, who was my first interview with FanGirl more than three years ago. I honestly never thought I'd get to meet either in person, but dreams do come true, as hackneyed as that sounds.

 

I got to my hotel and called Jess to see where she was. As she also writes for HorrorHound, she was already at the con and told me, "Wait until you see Greg's table. He's got Bub up and everything!" I told her I'd be there very shortly. Jess had me listed as staff for the con, so I had the inside track, so to speak. I got there, walked in, saw Jess at the HorrorHound table and ran to give her a massive bear hug. We screamed and giggled with glee. It was an absolutely divine moment as I finally got to meet a dear friend and fellow FanGirl. She immediately gave me my kick ass staff shirt, done up in blood red, and took me to meet THE man, Mr Nicotero. I stood a bit away from his table as some fans were there speaking to him and getting autographs. I just looked at him and thought, "Is this really real? Am I truly standing here next to Jess looking at Greg only a few feet away?" I've not only been a fan of Greg's work for many years now, but I've also harbored a serious girlie crush on him for at least a decade. Greg is ten times more beautiful in person, and it was a bit overwhelming. As the fans at his table walked away, Jess caught his eye and kind of pointed to me and he immediately knew who I was. He came out from behind the table and gave me a massive wonderful hug that I'll remember for the rest of my life. And the strangest thing of all...I was comfortable with Greg right away. I know he's a genius, but he's also an unbelievably down-to-earth, cool guy. He's also a fellow fan. After all his years in the movie industry, after being friends with everyone who's anyone in the movie business, he's still simply a fan. It's really amazing to me.

 


Greg doing his thang on the phone whilst his babies grace the table


 

After I got meeting Greg under my belt I was very comfortable at the con. I have to say, with my staff shirt on, I walked around like I owned the place! And as someone who normally walks through life with little or no self-esteem or confidence, it felt brilliant. I dubbed myself Greg's 'handler', which was just an excuse to sit next to him behind his table for a good chunk of the weekend. That was maybe the best experience of the con for me. I sat next to Greg and watched fellow fans come up and check out his table of goodies and get autographs. I listened to their questions and comments for him, I saw the love they have for him and I saw how wonderful he is with them. There's no ego, no pretense, there's just a guy who does special effects for a living and is still a fellow fan. Greg's also incredibly funny, charming, flirty and charismatic. Everyone is drawn to him. I met a lot of people at the con who've known Greg much longer than I, and you'll never hear a negative word about the man. Everyone absolutely adores him. And Greg is far, far too humble to ever cop to that. If he reads this, he'll be embarrassed, I know that. But it's all so very true. If we were all more like Greg the world truly would be a better place. A bit cliched, but so true in this case. 




Slick and your friendly neighborhood editor get ghoul cuddles from Greg and Fluffy.

 

There were so many horror icons at this con it was overwhelming. On either side of Greg’s table you had gore guru Tom Savini and Martin and Day Of The Dead star John Amplas. I took my Martin DVD sleeve to have Amplas sign it. What a wonderful man! He has no idea how beloved he is. He told me that he only recently started appearing at cons and that the response has him hankering to get back into films after writing, directing and acting in theatre productions in the Pittsburgh area for decades.

 

Also in attendance were some of the featured zombies from Dawn Of The Dead…Sharon and Clayton Hill, the Nurse and Escalator Zombies respectively, Mike Christopher, the Hare Krishna Zombie, Jim Krut, the Helicopter Zombie and Lenny Lies, the Machete Zombie. And David Early was there as well. It was truly a great con for Dawn fans. I had a great moment with Early as I was talking to David Bidwell of The Monster Company (check out his site, you won’t believe all the cool shit he’s selling, www.themonstercompany.co.uk). Early came over to speak to David and I said, “That’s David Early!” with glee and he gave me a lovely hug. I still can’t get over how incredibly warm and kind and cool everyone was. No egos present at this con.

 

Brian O’Halloran and Jason Mewes were there as well, and both not surprisingly drew lots and lots of fans. Mewes is shorter than I expected, but incredibly sweet. He handles the fans as though he’s chatting with friends. And O’Halloran is an utter joy. As I was getting my picture taken with him I commented on how wonderful he smelled. He said, “Thanks…I just farted.” That left me crying in fits of laughter and I had to make sure Jess didn’t snap the photo until I had the laughter under control. Still, it’s obvious I was laughing in the pic with Brian. I told him he shouldn’t do that and he said, “But that’s what I do! I make people laugh!” And he does it all too well. And I discovered Brian has a hidden talent. Saturday night was karaoke night at the hotel bar. I walked in and someone was doing a kick ass job on Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. Okay, admittedly, I’ve been permanently sick of that fucking song since about 1987, but I was curious who was singing it. I looked and was delighted to find it was O’Halloran. He was giving a little song shout out to his Jersey boys. And he really did a brilliant job of it. He had the whole bar rocking out.



He is supposed to be here today!



Snoogins.

 

 

One of the biggest draws of the con for me (and countless others) was the appearances of John Landis, Griffin Dunne and David Naughton. They were there for the world premier of a brilliant documentary about An American Werewolf In London called Beware The Moon. The screening was preceded by a Q&A session with Landis and Naughton. It was very funny and offered some nice insight to their experiences making AWIL. Kesslerboy Productions Ltd, an English company, created the documentary and I was fortunate enough to spend time with some of the wonderful and lovely people behind it, Paul Davis, Romy Alford, Adam Knight and Tony Bueno. Just between the four of them, they cover the direction, writing, production and shooting of Beware The Moon. The documentary is expected to air on television in the UK at some point. The version I saw wasn’t finished (although it certainly didn’t seem that way). They’re currently working on doing more interviews for it and tweaking things here and there. With any luck it will eventually see the light of day on DVD. It is easily one of the best film documentaries I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s raving about it, including Edgar Wright and Greg Nicotero. You can visit the official MySpace page for BTM at www.myspace.com/kesslerboy. Keep up with this one, you’ll want to be damn sure and not miss it when the chance comes! And writer/director Paul Davis’ MySpace page is at www.myspace.com/mortall_thoughts.



The Boys of AWIL


Slick and THE MAN, John Landis


 
Landis, Dunne and Naughton drew very long queues when they were signing autographs. Landis is one of my top filmmakers of all time, and he did not disappoint. I’ve only ever heard good things about the man, but it’s hard to convey just how cool and hysterically funny he is. He is absolutely no bullshit and tells the hell out of a story. He could read you the train schedule and you’d be riveted and laughing your ass off. At one point a gentleman dressed up (rather brilliantly) as Pinhead came to Landis’ table for an autograph. I should note now that Doug Bradley was actually at the con as well. When Landis saw ‘Pinhead’, he pointed in Bradley’s direction and said, “The real one’s right down there!” And then he had Jess take a photo of himself with ‘Pinhead’ with his phone. I’ve got a great pic of Jess doing that, and it’s very bright as about five other people with their flashes on had to get pics of Landis with ‘Pinhead’. Classic moment. 

 


Landis has Jessica line up the shot.

 

Another standout at the con for me was meeting Joel Robinson, perhaps the best horror artist (if you will) since Ed Repka (who was also there, story coming shortly) or Bernie Wrightson. Joel may be young but his talent is undeniable and astounding. A line of comics featuring Vincent Price covers done by Joel will be released come October, and there will be a FanGirl interview with him around that time. I got to hang out and drink with Joel during the con and he’s an absolute sweetheart who’s incredibly fun and kind. Yet another new friend made that reminds me the world isn’t such a shitty place. Visit Joel’s site at www.artpusher.net and you’ll see for yourself how amazing his work is.

 

And speaking of the legendary Ed Repka…ooh baby. He is the man behind all those kick ass Megadeth album covers and artwork and is just an unbelievably talented artist. He is also incredibly handsome and sweet. He was selling magnets that he hand-sculpted and hand-painted and Jess and I couldn’t believe they were made that way. They were too perfect to have been done by hand! We each grabbed a couple of them. I’ve got them proudly displayed on my fridge. Ed is yet another very cool guy who is also quite humble, which makes what Jess and I did to him all the worse! We didn’t really do anything to him as much as force our somewhat tactless and overly exuberant ways on him. It was a blast but I think poor Ed was glad to see us go. Let's just say that a conversation about whether or not his magnets would stick to nipple rings led to an interesting photo of Ed and I. Mom would be so proud!

 

Now, as fun as the con was, some of the best times I had were in the hotel bar late at night. Jess and I closed the bar down (after I don't remember how many shouts of 'last call!') both Friday and Saturday nights. I had maybe a total of 4 or 5 hours of sleep the entire weekend. Now I'm 37, and that's old by a lot of people's standards, and I haven't drank or partied like that in years. I mostly just stay in watching DVDs and geeking out. It's what I love to do. But all the partying I did at the con was such a nice change of pace. I couldn't do it all the time by any means, but I don't regret one second of it. I had promised Greg years ago that I'd buy him a drink if we ever got to meet. Well, as it is, I don't recall buying him one drink. He bought them all! Oh wait, I did buy him a beer while he was working the con, but that's nothing compared to all the drinks he bought everyone at the bar. To say he's generous is an understatement. Actually, I think between him and a few others I didn't buy myself a single drink the whole weekend. And I also discovered that I'm a complete pussy when it comes to booze now! I used to have a fairly high tolerance for it, but now apparently I get a massive buzz from just two Jack & Cokes. Later I switched to gin & tonics. Sheesh! You know you had a good night when the next day Greg Nicotero tells you, "You were really funny last night. You were spinning around going, 'Ohhhh!'" Everyone was at the bar each night and it was just unbelievably cool to look around and see things like Danielle Harris chatting with William Forsythe. I mean, how often do you get to see something like that?

 

The weekend went by incredibly fast as I knew it would, but I experienced a lifetime's worth of precious moments in that short time. That's what makes life great, those little moments that maybe aren't earth-shattering, but they'll live forever in your memory and always bring a smile to your face. Finally meeting Jess and was so amazing. And I don't know how many times in the course of those three days the two of us managed to say the exact same thing at the same time. It was a little spooky and incredibly cool. I guess we share a brain!

 

Here are some more very special little moments...

 

Bill Moseley offered Jess and I cookies that he had stashed behind his table. We were chatting with him and it was clear how incredibly sweet he is. I said, "How does someone so sweet play someone so scary?" referring to Otis in House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. He simply swiped his hand down in front of his face and said, "It's all a facade." He had a bit of a wicked grin when he said it, too. Fantastic!

 

Joel Robinson pulled me aside at the bar one night just to tell me that I'd been a highlight of the con for him. I still can't believe he felt that way and I'll forever be grateful to him for that kindness. We don't tell each other enough in life how much we mean to each other. It was really lovely to hear that from him.

 

The first night at the bar a Metallica song came on (and I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was!) and Greg Nicotero was headbanging and playing air guitar to it. He’s a bit of a metalhead who actually plays guitar, and damn did he look cool!

 

At one point John Amplas offered me a cinnamon Altoid, which I happily accepted. I still can’t believe I can say that! (Yes, I’m a geek. I know this. I’m proud of it!) 



There may be no magic, but there are Altoids.  John Amplas of Martin fame.

 

Jess had bought a wee pillow of some sort that had a vampire on it (I didn’t get a good look at it). Anyway, she showed it to Greg and he said, “Look, it’s Pillow Lugosi!” and proceeded to laugh hard at his own pun. He was the only one laughing. It kind of irritated him. It was hilarious! He repeated the pun for Tom Savini and he came back with something about ‘Peter Cushion’. Great stuff!

 

I met two very cool guys named Kevin and Brian. Unfortunately I do not know their last names, but I do know that I hope like hell I get to hang out with them again some day. No one can tell a story like Kevin! The two of them had met Greg at a special Jaws screening years before, and they told us about how generous Greg was with them and how much fun they’d had with him. 

 

Another great moment involving Greg, Kevin and Brian…Greg gave Brian shit at the bar for having a Velcro wallet! He said something along the lines of, “The ‘80s are long gone.” So Brian turned it around and gave Greg the wallet Sunday afternoon. I have to say, that wallet fairly screamed, “I was made in the early ‘80s!” It even had a griffin on it! 



Kevin and Brian, Fanboys along with Slick.
Check out Brian's site www.brianhatcher.com

 

I discovered that watching other fans interact with people like John Amplas, Tom Savini, John Landis, Greg Nicotero, etc, is one of life's greatest joys. To see how they are with their fans and to see the joy on my fellow fans' faces is brilliant. I even got to take some photos for some of them. I love doing that! To know I helped them create a priceless memory is just so wonderful.

 

I could go on and on with these little moments. This weekend changed me a bit. I've had one hell of a shit year and that con turned it around for me. My home had been robbed a month before and now I can think about that and I'm okay with it. I'm quite often a pretty sullen, moody, misanthropic bitch, but I'm now trying to constantly remind myself that there are a lot of good people in the world. It's amazing what some random acts of kindness and goodwill can do for your mindset. I'll be eternally grateful to all the wonderful people I met at the con.

 

As I wrap this up, I want to take a moment to say very special thank yous to the two people who absolutely made this weekend perfect for me, Jess Dwyer and Greg Nicotero. Thanks for your friendship guys. I'll never know what I did in life to deserve it, but I'm eternally thankful for it!

 

Right, I guess that's me done. Now where's the next con? (And the bar?!) 


Slick Matecheck, FanGirl



 

 

 



 

 

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
nctibby
Jul. 14th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear you had such a great time! Loved reading your stories and seeing your photos.

So now you're ready to move up to the varsity league, right? Dragon*Con 2009, bay-bee! :)
brianjhatcher
Jul. 16th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
Fear the wallet
I have a nice leather one now. But if I had only realized how much Greg coveted it, I'd have kept it.

And what's wrong with the 80's? ;)

---------------
http://www.brianjhatcher.com
jessicadwyer
Jul. 16th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC)
Re: Fear the wallet
Oh the 80's rule all. There is nothing wrong with the 80's.

I used to have a really rad velcro Batman wallet that might have actually had the ability to kick your Griffin wallets butt. But now we'll never know, and lo I was sad.
brianjhatcher
Jul. 16th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Fear the wallet
Greg's Griffin wallet now. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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