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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #294  (Vol. 6, No. 45) This edition is for the week of November 7--13, 2005.

"Zathura: A Space Adventure"
 by Mike Smith
Chiller Thriller
 by Andy Lalino
"The Fog"...."Doom"
 by John Lewis
Cover Up....Eid Mubaruk....I Was Wrong....Speaking of Being Crazy and Out of Touch....Senseless....Coming Soon....Jaws: The Story, Part 41
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Chiller Thriller
For the past seven months or so, myself and compadres Tom Linkiewicz and Andrew Allan, of our new motion picture/TV production company Film State 51 (more on that in a future Oddservations), have been planning an excursion to East Rutherford, New Jersey, host town to the 2005 Chiller Theatre convention. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to promote some of Film State 51's exciting new feature films. For more information about Film State 51 and our upcoming projects, log on to our new website: www.filmstate51.com.

I arrived first, on the evening of Thursday the 27th, where I checked in and soon found a gaggle of Horror Channel staff members crowded in the lobby. They were an enthusiastic bunch, proud of the fact that the network was set to launch at midnight that same night on satellite TV. Some hours later, my friend and FS51 business partner Andrew Allan arrived. I had brought with me a DVD-R copy of the launch show, which Film State 51 produced, that was played in the sports bar amongst a chorus of triumphant cheers. George A. Romero, Joe Pilato of "Day of the Dead", and Angela Bettis of "May" and "The Toolbox Murders" were in attendance. Though there were some technical glitches (damned DVD-R's!), the launch show played well - even Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton got three minutes of face time in his Horror Channel "Web Minute" segments. We later learned the Horror Channel's launch show hadn't aired on satellite TV that night, which was somewhat of a bummer, but that grim news failed to dampen the spirits of the Horror Channel team.

The following day we set up our booth, which we discovered to our giddiness was in the same room with Tom Savini, Brinke Stevens, Bela Lugosi Jr., Sara Karloff, Cortlandt Hull, Basil Gogos, and Long Island's Ghoul-A-Go-Go guys. We set up shop: a large poster displaying pre-release artwork for our new feature film "Back in Blood" and DVD copies of my horror featurette "Filthy".

John Landis and Stuart GordonThat Friday the doors opened at 5pm (for premium ticket holders), and the crowds rushed in. We had a great time meeting horror fans from all around the world, telling them about our projects which prominently feature close collaborations with legendary horror filmmakers Herschell Gordon Lewis and Bill Grefe'. We handed them colorful postcards (featuring the same artwork as the poster) and had even produced a FS51 demo reel, edited by Tom Linkiewicz, with dazzling teaser trailers of our upcoming work. For "Filthy" fans, a special surprise was had that evening when Sheri Lawrence, who played the crazed family matriarch "Fermentia", made an appearance at our booth. She reunited with fellow actress and friend Brinke Stevens, and signed plenty of "Filthy" DVDs. Later that night, we were invited to a Horror Channel dinner where celebrities Kevin ("Hercules") Sorbo and Scott ("Dawn of the Dead") Reiniger were in attendance. Friday saw a large contingent of fans, but nothing like what was to come with the Saturday crowd!

Saturday saw an amazing 20,000 people cross the ticket counter - the show easily sold out. We began our day having breakfast with H.G. Lewis himself. At 10am, we proceeded to the booth to meet and greet the horror fans and let them know of upcoming projects. In the morning hours, another amazing "Filthy" actress arrived: Krista Grotte, who played "Pussey", the sexy but deadly daughter of Fermentia. Krista's stunning presence turned countless male eyes as she worked the crowd. To say Chiller was a complete madhouse the entire day would not be an exaggeration. In fact, in talking with Ed "Diceman" Bowkley, a member of the Horror Channel Staff and Manager of Vendor Relations, Chiller received national coverage on CNN when a New Jersey highway was temporarily shut down due to massive traffic jams for the event.

Andy Lalino and John LandisMid-day on Saturday, Herschell Gordon Lewis, David Friedman (producer of many of HGL's horror films), and the cast of HGL's famous film "Blood Feast" (the first "splatter movie") gave a seminar on the making of the horror cinema milestone, and what is to come. HGL is destined to be hot in 2006, with Tim Sullivan's "2001 Maniacs" (a sequel/remake of HGL's 1964 horror epic "Two-Thousand Maniacs!") finally seeing distribution through Lion's Gate Films and an all-new documentary on Herschell directed by Jimmy Maslon.

We continued to heavily promote our stuff, however Andrew and I took turns investigating the dealer's rooms and meeting people. When the day wrapped at about 6pm, we later geared up for a party-under-the-celebrity tent at 9pm. It was unbelievable to see so many great costumes (it was a few days before Halloween, after all) and people. At the other end of the stage was a band where several groups strutted their musical stuff, such as The Dead Elvi, The Pete Best Band (yes, the once-Beatle), and The Ubangis. Stealing the thunder from every act, however, was the Master of Horror himself, H. G. Lewis, doing a rousing rendition of "The South's Gonna Rise Again!" from "Two-Thousand Maniacs!". The sizable crowd cheered and sang along as HGL belted out the famous tune. HGL, David Friedman Mal Arnold (Fuad Ramses from "Blood Feast") and Connie Mason (Suzette Freemont from BF) also took the stage to receive Chiller lifetime achievement awards as unforgettable giants in the world of horror.

Sunday was another devilishly busy day, as Andrew, Krista and I continued to promote ourselves. The day's highlight, perhaps, was meeting legendary director John Landis, who promptly received a copy of "Filthy" with my compliments! Landis was on hand promoting Showtime's new series "Masters of Horror". In addition to Landis, famous horror host Zacherle entered our humble dealer's room, and he was quickly swamped by adoring fans.

Later on Sunday, we were off to another Horror Channel get-together, where we got to meet two stars from Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects", the excellent sequel to "House of 1,000 Corpses": Leslie Easterbrook (Mother Firefly) and Kate Norby (as Wendy Banjo).

Lynn Lowry and Andy LalinoBefore signing off, I wanted to describe the celebrity tent, which housed an astounding number of A-list guests. Perhaps the most popular was George A. Romero, whose signing line was longer than that of Chiller (blocks long). There were numerous stars from his various "Dead" films: Judith O' Dea, Kyra Schon, Lori Cardille, David Emge, Joe Pilato, Gaylen Ross, Pedro Miguel Arce (LOTD), Eugene Clark ("Big Daddy" from LOTD), and more. H.G. Lewis was there, along with the cast/crew of "Blood Feast", in promotion of Something Weird Video's "Blood Trilogy" boxed set. There were several reunions: "I Dream of Jeannie" (with Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman & Bill Daily) and "Dark Shadows", just to name a few. I was particularly excited to meet actress Lynn Lowry, the elfish beauty who starred in Cronenberg's "They Came from Within", the Lloyd Kaufman-produced "Sugar Cookies", Romero's "The Crazies", "I Drink Your Blood", and Schrader's "Cat People". She is a lovely woman and has a solid resume of being one of the finest actresses in the business.

There are too many stars to mention: Neal Adams, Ashley Laurence from the "Hellraiser" films, Tonya Harding(!), Seka(!!), Mark Goddard ("Lost in Space"), Eddie Deezen ("1941"), director Lucky McKee ("May"), Robert Quarry (Count Yorga), and many, many others.

Finally, on Halloween Day, both Andrew Allan and I headed back to Florida for a much-needed rest, content with the fact that we had an awesome time. A big thanks to the Chiller staff, especially Kevin Clement and Ed "Diceman" Bowkley, who treated us like gold.

Here's to next year's Chiller!

"Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.