Monday, May 2, 2011

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2011

Historically, I have been to only two horror conventions, both of them Horror Realm. Each time, I was a guest, vendor, and panelist.

In October I will add a fourth convention to the list: zomBcon! I'll be attending with guests like:
  • Jonathan Maberry
  • Tom Savini
  • Sid Haig
  • Bill Moseley
  • Rose McGowan
  • Sam Trammell
  • and loads of other cool stars!

"But wait," you might be thinking. "Snell just said he's only been to two conventions in his life. How can zomBcon possibly be his fourth?! Did he simply not proofread? Or could his two years at Horror Realm possibly be cool enough to count as three cons? And why am I paying that much attention to Snell's post???"

Before you offer to edit my blog for a steep, unrealistic price... look at the first word of this post. It's a qualifier. Because recently—in fact, just this weekend—I attended my third horror con (the red below is supposed to be blood; just imagine it in Chiller font):

 NOTE: These videos say "by dlsnell," but YouTube's lying

This time around, I was only an attendee, not a guest. But as usual I went with Jacob Kier from Permuted Press; he's kind of my sidekick. I arrived at the airport alone, and had to wait thirty minutes for the hotel's courtesy van—or, as we now call it, the "no courtesy" van. Jacob, who had also taken the shuttle earlier that night, told me it would be quicker just to walk. "It's only like 9 miles," he'd texted.

At about 1 a.m. I arrived at the hotel.

I didn't tip.

That whole weekend, Jacob and I just kind of wandered around the vendor rooms, dressed like two clean-cut college kids at a rave for furry Mogwai, Cenobites, and humanoid pigs (everyone was dressed up, mostly in their own bare skin, sometimes in Freddy Krueger's). We also ate at Denny's more than any self-respecting insomniac Goth; stayed up till 5 a.m. every night, watching episodes of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace; avoided the creepy Dieter Laser, and the greasy-paint Sid Haig; and once, we even gladly waited to use a restroom temporarily reserved for a VIP who shall remain nameless. Okay, okay, I'll give you a hint: this person is English and had polyps, not cancer, removed from his throat. I repeat, it was NOT cancer. Which was such a relief to hear.

Don Coscarelli
All right, you get one last hint: the VIP was not writer, director, producer Don Coscarelli. But Jacob and I did meet Don as well. This is the guy who brought us Phantasm and The Beastmaster. He's also the guy who's making a film out of John Dies at the End, an old Permuted title by David Wong. Jacob, of course, published the book. And I edited it. So we went to hassle Don at his vendor table. He's a nice guy! And... do you want to know how he really found John Dies at the End? No, he didn't smoke some of Wong's nasty, multidimensional hallucinogen, "soy sauce," which enables you to know every fact in the universe. Actually, as it turns out... he's a big fan of Permuted Press!

Keep up the good work, Don Coscarelli!

On Saturday, Jacob and I attended Robert "Freddy" Englund's Q&A, which was awesome—even if I had tinnitus afterward. Englund had lots of funny and interesting things to say at excruciating volume, but one thing in particular really rung in my ears. He was talking about Nicolas Cage in Peggy Sue Got Married. Englund says a lot of actors are very concerned about portraying the truth of their own character. But sometimes—and this is something Englund says Nick Cage got absolutely right in Peggy Sue—sometimes it's more important to portray your character through the eyes of another character. This same point is so important for a writer to understand. And any great writer gets it. But it's so important to be reminded, so I'll reiterate:

Sometimes it's not about portraying the truth of a character, but the truth of that character through the eyes of someone else. 

Thank you, Freddy Krueger, for reminding me how important perspective is.

"You're welcome."

Other than that, Jacob and I wined, dined (at a Mexican restaurant that let you bring your own beer), and partied with friends like author and Texan Rhiannaon Frater, Kody Boye, editor Felicia Tiller, Laura and Robert R. Best (who we're now calling "The Best"), Patrick "Unoshato" Rooney, The Vic, and so many more. I also got to meet a few new guys, like Tony Faville and Lyle Perez-Tinics. Great guys. And Tony even lives near me, so there might be some author events in our future.

Overall, we had a blast!

Oh... one last thing: snagged in the carpet of the room I shared with Jacob was someone's used safety pin. Everyone who's read Heart-Shaped Box or anyone who knows how long hepatitis can live outside the human body will understand why I'm a bit paranoid after stepping on that pin. But no matter what Jacob Kier tells you...

No, I don't now have AIDS.

If anyone else wishes to share their Texas Frightmare experience, please sound off in the comments below!

For more scoops
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D.L. Snell writes with Permuted Press. He edited Dr. Kim Paffenroth thrice, John Dies at the End once, and provided a constructive critique to Joe McKinney on his next major novel after Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead. You can shoot D.L. Snell in the head at

To reprint this article, please contact D.L. Snell.


Denise said...

Texas Frightmare weekend was my first horror con. It was very affordable, the stars were gracious and so nice to their fans.The attendees were like a big family that had fun together. The costumed actors that kept us from getting frustrated in long lines (for instance Jay the stilt demon) was wonderful. Robert Englund truly seemed to be having a great time, laughing and joking with his fans. Angus Scrimm was great! Malcolm McDowell was very British. Doug Bradley was so very, very impressive. Sid Haig was great to us. Cary Elwes is a very handsome man. The Boondock Saints were a huge fan draw period. Clive Barker, though tiring easily tried to give all to his fans.
Check it out next year, you won't regret it!
I have already started to plan to go next year.

D.L. Snell said...

Thanks for sharing, Denise! Did you have Malcolm McDowell quote lines from A Clockwork Orange? It's a real horror show.