I'd always wanted to attend this con -- which has a solid reputation for booking bad-ass celebrities -- but I could never justify driving five hours and spending $30 in turnpike tolls when I already lived in The Zombie Capital of the World.
And then I saw this:
Since the age of 7, I've been obsessed with director George A. Romero. My dad -- who delighted in scaring the bejesus out of me -- popped Night of the Living Dead into the VCR that fateful All Hallow's Eve and invited me to join him on the couch.
We sat there eating fun-size Snickers out of a pumpkin pail while the onscreen ghouls devoured the residents of Evans City, which just so happened to be the neighboring town. (Cue ominous music)
I was repulsed and captivated, frightened and thrilled. I wanted to bury my face in a pillow, but was unable to look away. Dad did manage to scare me that night, but he also created a monster. Today, I'm a 34-year-old housewife with a drinking problem and a basement filled with corpses ... plastic corpses, but corpses nonetheless.
Last Friday, my friend Amy and I made the trek east. As VIPs (read: geeks who paid a ridicuous amount of money for a metallic-green wristband), we were given early entry into the con, a guaranteed photo-and-autograph opportunity with George and access to a bizarre, late-night ice cream social with the stars, including Jeremy London, Malcolm McDowell, the Guy Who Played the Stiff in Weekend at Bernie's and Batshit Crazy Gary Busey.
Spending $200 to eat George Romero's face is a bargain in my book!
Even with our lofty, VIP convention-goer status, we still had to stand in line for two hours to meet George. It was an agonizing wait, mostly because I was semi-drunk and surrounded by obnoxious dudes with killer B.O. (Note to Monster Mania organizers: pass out deodorant at the door next year!)
These days, Patrick Swayze probably looks better than Lori Petty. "Tank Girl" was never what you would call a "classic beauty," but she had cool hair and chutzpah. Now she looks like the zombie love-child of Truman Capote and Susan Powter.
Anyway, Romero. I don't really remember what I said to him as he signed an 8X10 picture of himself, but I'm sure it was a high-pitched, incoherent verbal avalanche. No beefy security guards were called in to diffuse the situation, so I guess I didn't get too Annie Wilkes on him. Or maybe George's panic button was malfunctioning. I dunno.
No, I didn't hit the mall (this is my DREAM, people, not my nightmare.) Monster-Mania was a veritable cornucopia of over-priced randomness.
Before the con, I pawned a gold ring to get some "mad money" in my pocket. I should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to handle legal tender. The plight of starving, AIDS-afflicted orphans in Africa did not stop me from buying three Cryptkeeper dolls, a Simpsons Burger King toy (Zombie Otto!), a toddler-size "Camp Crystal Lake" T-shirt, and a skeleton lounge singer statue. I nearly purchased a talking ALF doll for $125, but restrained myself.*
You're probably wondering, "Who the fuck is Timothy Balme?"
Well, asshole, he's the star of Dead Alive, the greatest movie of all time. IMDB-it, bitch! Or, better yet, watch this:
The folks who did manage to find him said he was a certifiable whack-job who charged $50 for a photo op and then wouldn't look at the damn camera.
Other than catching a glimpse of him as he sprinted onto an elevator, THIS is the closest I got: an empty chair behind a table full of promotional glossies.
*I totally bought an ALF doll on eBay while typing this blog entry.