Texas Frightmare Weekend is a wrap, fiends, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. I have a few stories to tell and pictures to share, and then we will get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
I took my Suspiria group photo on Friday night. While I was waiting in line to take the photo, Wilford Brimley — decked out in a cowboy hat and suspenders (and other clothes too, this isn’t that kind of con) — passed by me in his scooter. One of the people working the photo sessions asked him, “Are you here for Danny Lloyd?” I traded “Oh shit” looks with some other people in line and waited for Wilford’s response. Bless his cranky self, he did not disappoint. He said in the gruffest voice imaginable, “I don’t know what I’m here for. I’m here for ten minutes,” and then scooted off, as we told the employee who he was.
When I got into the room for the Suspiria picture, Udo Kier was dancing to “Enter Sandman.” He danced up to me, touched my arm, and pointed at Stefania Casini, who appeared with him in Blood for Dracula. He said, “Can you imagine? Forty years ago, I was biting her. I was the vampire and she was the victim.” Then he danced back to his seat so we could take the photo. I don’t have kids, so I won’t have any grandchildren to tell stories to; instead, I will tell that story to random people on the street for the rest of my life.
The Suspiria panel was fantastic. The full video is on TFW’s Facebook page — I highly recommend that you watch it. At one point, Argento mentions meeting real witches, but I need to watch the video because I didn’t catch everything he said on that subject. These were a few of my favorite insights:
- Barbara Magnolfi told a story about Dario Argento’s process of working with his actors. After the makeup artist had done her makeup for a scene, Argento came into Barbara’s dressing room and was obviously not pleased with how she looked. He told her to do her makeup like Olga. She was at a loss, because she didn’t want to mess up the makeup artist’s work and she wasn’t quite sure what Argento meant. He simply told her again to do her makeup like Olga. She sat down to do what he said, and in the process of doing her makeup like Olga, she got into character in a deeper and more organic way than she had with any other director. I find anecdotes like that fascinating; it seems like such a simple thing, but it reveals so much depth, artistry, and vision on Argento’s part.
- Claudio Simonetti said that Goblin wrote and recorded the entire score for Deep Red in 10 days, but it took 2 months to do the same for Suspiria. He said they were far more experimental with that score and wanted to suggest the presence of witches even there were no witches or evidence of witchcraft onscreen. They were certainly successful, because the incredible score for Suspiria truly is another character in the movie. (Side note: one of my favorite things to do is play that score when I’m driving alone at night through a thunderstorm. Try it sometime. It’s absolutely terrifying.)
- An audience member asked Argento why he chose ballet as the backdrop for Suspiria. Argento said that unlike film or music, ballet is magic. If you view it that way, it makes perfect sense that witches would run a ballet academy. Argento clearly loves artists — his films are filled with opera singers, novelists, dancers, and poets — but it was really interesting to hear him single out ballet as the most magical of art forms. I feel like it gives me a deeper understanding and love for the film.
The TFW guy taking pictures for the Soskas is my new best friend, because in addition to the posed photo he took, he also got some photos of us while we were talking.
I talk with my hands a lot, especially when I’m excited, so I look like an air traffic controller in all of these pictures.
I also got photo-bombed when I took a picture with Rick Hearst, and it’s one of my favorite pictures.
Now for the loot. I wanted to go full-on Super Toy Run on pretty much all of the vendor tables, but I managed to restrain myself somewhat. Half of the stuff I bought is related to either Suspiria or Halloween III, which is pretty much my standard M.O.
Not pictured: two glow-in-the-dark Halloween III posters, because I am an adult.
I had the time of my life, and I fully intend to go to every Texas Frightmare Weekend from here on out. If you’re considering going to TFW for the first time, I have a few tips listed below. This will also serve as a reminder to myself for next year, because I will probably forget a lot of these by then.
- Go. It is amazing. Save up your vacation days at work; tell your friends and family not to have weddings or throw birthday parties or give birth that weekend; do whatever you have to do to make sure your calendar is open for TFW.
- Carry cash. A lot of vendors and guests only take cash, and it’s so much easier to deal with than plastic. On that note:
- Start saving money now, and set a budget. If you’re like me, you’ll go over budget, which is why the saving part is so important. You’re probably going to want to get signatures and photos from a lot of different people, and those costs add up fast.
- Bring a poster tube. I got the gorgeous Black Christmas poster pictured above from the Mondo table and then promptly realized that I had no idea how I was going to carry it through the con without ruining it. (The poster made it safely home with me, but it would have been a much easier task with a poster tube.)
- Participate in as much as you can, but know your limits. There were a lot of parties and screenings and other activities I wanted to do, but I had some medical issues limiting how much I could get done in one day. I’m going to try to do more next year, but I’m still going to keep my schedule reasonable.
- Be courteous and have the backs of the people in line with you. When I was waiting for hours for Dario Argento (totally worth it), people had to duck out briefly for food or restroom breaks, and the other people in line protected their spots while they were gone.
- Be flexible and don’t come to see just one celebrity. There were quite a few cancellations, because these people have jobs and sometimes schedules change, but it was still an amazing show with so many incredible guests. They’re always adding guests, too. I bought my ticket before I knew that Dario Argento or the Soskas or Tom Savini were going to be there. Words can’t describe the joy and excitement I felt when I saw the Argento announcement on TFW’s Facebook page. “Oh, by the way, we’re also going to have one of the greatest film directors of all time. Surprise!”
How was your TFW experience? Any tips or fun stories you want to tell? Let me know in the comments!