Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Camp Scarefest

Cody spent a few hours at the Camp Scarefest convention in Lexington, Kentucky on October 2nd.

Sunday, October 2nd was a whirlwind. A busy, crazy, hectic day that was dedicated to fandom and friendship.

After missing the Spring 2016 edition of Cinema Wasteland, the first time I had missed attending that convention in ten years, I was determined to go to the Fall 2016 show. I purchased my three day pass and booked my hotel room well in advance, even though there were rumblings that the Scarefest convention in Lexington, Kentucky was going to have several Friday the 13th guests on the same weekend. Gathering as many Friday the 13th signatures as possible for both myself and my Remake Comparison co-writer Priscilla is my primary convention quest, so if I have a chance to meet Friday the 13th alums I've never met before, I am strongly pulled in that direction. But I couldn't skip Wasteland.

As Scarefest's list of Friday the 13th guests grew, for a show they were calling Camp Scarefest, I became more and more conflicted. When B-Movie Cast co-host Nic Brown held a trivia contest for a free pass to Scarefest on the podcast Cinema Psyops, I made a decision: if I won the free pass, I would do something crazy and attend both Cinema Wasteland and Scarefest on the same weekend, even though they are five hours apart from each other.

I won the contest, and thanks to Nic Brown and Cinema Psyops I scored a whole bunch more Friday the 13th signatures for myself and Priscilla.

After spending Friday and Saturday at Cinema Wasteland, I departed Strongsville, Ohio at around 7am, taking the trip down to Lexington and arriving at the Lexington Convention Center a little after noon. Pulling up to the building, I knew it was the right location because I saw Ari Lehman, who played the child Jason Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th, walking outside. If Lehman's there, this is the place!

Tote bag carrying my copy of the Crystal Lake Memories book in hand, I headed into the convention center and went to the Will Call station, where Nic Brown had said a pass would be waiting for me. The pass was there, giving me entry to the massive convention space. A room so huge and so fully packed with vendors and celebrity guests that attendees were provided with a map to help them get around and locate the people and things they were looking for.

I followed the map to the Friday the 13th people, who were all in one area with a cool camp display out front. The F13 guests who were at the show were: Jason performers Lehman, Steve Dash, C.J. Graham, and Kane Hodder; director/producer Sean S. Cunningham; composer Harry Manfredini; FX artist Tom Savini; actor Steven Williams; and actresses Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Kimberly Beck, Darcy DeMoss, and Lar Park Lincoln. I had met several of those guests before, but I needed signatures from Cunningham, Manfredini, Williams, Beck, DeMoss, and Lincoln. Priscilla needed those six, plus Graham.

Getting thirteen signatures can be quite costly, so the first thing I did was walk a circle around this camp area to see what everyone was charging. Prices checked, it looked like this endeavor was going to be possible... But I saw something worrying. Everyone was at their table except for Darcy DeMoss. My one concern about this crazy convention weekend was that some of the F13 guests might leave Scarefest before I arrived, and it looked like I might have already missed one. I need to get these signatures quick before more people left.

I went to C.J. Graham first, looking over the pictures he had on his table and picking what I felt was the best image of him as Jason Voorhees in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI for him to sign for Pri. Whenever I ask people to sign something for her, I always ask for it to be signed "To Pri" for the sake of brevity, and that often leads people to question what sort of name "Pri" is. Graham is a very talkative, outgoing guy, and when he heard that I was getting a signature for a friend named Pri/Priscilla, he decided that the obtaining of his signature would make me a hero to her. Given the fact that she lives in Brazil and wouldn't be able to get signatures from people who were involved with her beloved Friday the 13th franchise otherwise... yeah, sure, I guess I'm sort of a hero.

In case Graham might wonder why I wasn't also getting his autograph for myself, I mentioned that he had signed my copy of Crystal Lake Memories at a Cinema Wasteland show ten years ago - the Spring 2006 show, the first Cinema Wasteland I ever went to. Hearing that it had been ten years since we last crossed paths, he replied that he doesn't do conventions a lot, you have to catch him.

When the signing was done, I walked away from his table and he went on to someone else. A minute later I realized that I had forgotten to pay him, so I went back and gave the money to the assistant at his table. I think everyone except Manfredini has an assistant there with them. Everyone else I went to did, anyway.

I saw a break in the line for Steven Williams, who played the badass bounty hunter Creighton Duke in Jason Goes to Hell, so he was the next person I went over to. He signed my Crystal Lake Memories, and signed a picture for Pri in a very unique way - he wasn't happy with his markers, the signatures weren't popping like he'd hoped, so he used multiple colors, mixing gold, silver, and black. He said it's like a 3-D effect. He was a fun guy.

I had intended to just make the circle, which would have meant that Harry Manfredini would have been my second stop after Graham, but he was busy signing several albums. After my interaction with Williams, Manfredini was still signing albums, so I went to the person beside him: Sean S. Cunningham. Fans have questioned some of the decisions Cunningham has made regarding the franchise, but he was an exceptionally kind person to meet, and he signed my Crystal Lake Memories with an inspirational quote about doing good and listening with your heart.

Cunningham was charging the most, and from him I stepped over to the person who was charging the least: Manfredini, who was finished signing those albums. Manfredini was a super friendly, happy guy who was great to be around for the few moments we had to interact. He didn't think the page I chose for him to sign in the CLM book was so good, so he went leafing through it to look for a different option, and found a page that really shows off his signature.

I hadn't planned it this way, but it turned out that I got the signatures from the men first, and then it was the ladies left. Darcy DeMoss still wasn't at her table and Kimberly Beck was just getting a drink, so I went to Lar Park Lincoln, who played the telekinetic heroine Tina in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. While another group of fans talked to her and gave her a gift, I chose the picture I wanted her to sign for Pri and got that all ready.

There was some confusion over the name Pri, and whether or not I spelled the name P-R-I or B-R-I, but when I said the name was Priscilla she got it and complimented the name.

As I was gathering my stuff after our interaction, other people stepped up and I overheard part of a behind-the-scenes story she was telling them, about the moment in which Tina uses her telekinesis to throw a TV across a room. Apparently the flying TV effect wasn't working right, it didn't look convincing when they tried to move it with wires,  so Kane Hodder (who made his debut as Jason in that film) got fed up and volunteered to throw the TV across the room himself. There is a very obvous wire effect still in the film, but the moment when the TV hits a wall could definitely have been a Hodder toss.

So then it was finally time for Kimberly Beck. Last but not least. She was talking to other people when I got to her table, and I heard her saying she doesn't do conventions often, that they're interesting because they attract a different type of person than she usually interacts with. In her regular life, the fact that she was the heroine in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter isn't treated like such a big deal.

Everyone to this point had been very nice, and the personable Kimberly Beck kept that streak going. She asked where I was from. I told her Ohio, and that I had been at another convention in Cleveland before coming down to Lexington. She appreciated that I made the trip.

At another convention, I had asked Jason Lives' Thom Mathews to sign a picture to Pri and he asked if that was a French name. When I asked Beck to sign a picture to Pri, she asked if my friend was from India, guessing that it was short for Priyanka. The shortened name "Pri" will really get people wondering more than you might expect.

Kimberly Beck's table was right next to Darcy DeMoss's table, so I stepped over to DeMoss's table right after my interaction with Beck. Darcy DeMoss played a victim in Jason Lives, and it was really looking like she was gone, because there was nothing on her table but advertisements for her website. Beck saw me looking at those and commented that some people were already leaving the convention. I asked if DeMoss was gone and she confirmed that she was, she had just left. Apparently just minutes before I arrived.

Beck then discussed the most draining aspects of doing conventions - travels, late flights, not being able to get much rest, having to adjust to time differences. As I said, she was very personable, and talked to me the most of anyone there. I'm not so great with conversations, so I sort of whiffed my response, but it was awesome to have a moment to talk with an F13 star after the whole signature interaction part was over.

I wanted to be absolutely sure that Darcy DeMoss had left the building before I gave up on getting her signature, so I went and asked staffers at the reception desk. They weren't sure if she had left, suggesting that she might be at a photo op session. So I went back inside the main room, and by the time I got back to the tables the Jasons and actresses had left for that some photo shoot.

I had acquired signatures from all of the F13 people that were at their tables when I arrived and needed to wait a while to see if DeMoss would be returning to her table, if she was indeed at that photo shoot, so I went over to Nic Brown's table to thank him for saving the pass for me. Unfortunately, he wasn't there at the time.

I walked around the place to kill some time, seeing the other guests who were there. Cast members from The People Under the Stairs, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, several actors from Rob Zombie films. While I was wandering, Manfredini and I passed each other and he acknowledged me, recognizing me.

I also spent a few moments at a table where a bunch of free items were spread out, including multiple bags of Barcel Takis chips, Zombie Nitro flavor. There were tons of these things there, and I'm sure most people who attended Camp Scarefest will at least remember seeing all those bags, even if they didn't actually taste the chips. I tasted those chips, which were coated in a green powder, and that's an experience that will stick with me. Especially since I didn't know that "Zombie Nitro" was actually habanero and cucumber when I started eating them.

Eventually I saw a staff member at DeMoss's table, and I figured he had been her assistant when she was there, so I checked with him. Is she gone? From him, I got the second confirmation that she had left, she had an early flight home.

So my Friday the 13th mission was complete... Or so I thought. As I exchanged emails with Priscilla about the convention, she brought up the idea that I could get an autograph for someone else from Manfredini, to give to them as a Christmas gift. So I returned to Manfredini's table and asked him to sign an item for this mystery person.

During my time at Manfredini's table this round, Cunningham came up to him to say his goodbyes, as he was, like DeMoss did, leaving to catch an earlier flight home. If I had arrived a couple hours later than I did, I would have missed both DeMoss and Cunningham.

Williams also came up to Manfredini's table, having just found out that Manfredini had provided the musical score for the movie House, which Williams had a small part in. Williams was so excited that they had both been involved with House that he had a woman take a picture of him and Manfredini together. I witnessed a historical moment, House collaborators united.

I really wanted to thank Nic Brown in person, but time was growing late and he hadn't returned from a panel. I sent a thank you message to him on Facebook and took advantage of a special deal he had going on at his table - his werewolf novels Blood Curse and Blood Sacrifice, as well as the short story collection Werewolves, Zombies & Leprechauns, for a special price. I didn't get to meet him at Camp Scarefest, but hopefully our paths will cross at another convention in the future.

With that, I had to get back on the road, because it was at least a 4 and a half hour ride back home, and I had to get there in time to start reviewing Fear the Walking Dead for Arrow in the Head at 9pm. As it turned out, the drive home ended up taking closer to 6 hours, and I made it just in time to start reviewing zombies.

I got my Wasteland weekend in, I made it to Scarefest, I got a bunch of Friday the 13th signatures for myself and Priscilla, and I made it home in time to do my job. It was exhausting, but (aside from missing Darcy DeMoss and Nic Brown) successful.

Once again, thanks to Nic Brown and Cinema Psyops for providing the pass and spurring me into action.

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