The More Things Change… (the more the Cliché Stays the Same)
Chiller Theatre, Parsippany, NJ
October 26-28 at the Parsippany Sheraton
When I’d heard months before the October Chiller that the show was changing venues, I was jazzed. As I’d noted in a You Suck! edition last April, the pit at the Parsippany Hilton was an endless atrocity, a swirling mass of bodies forming criss-crossing lines that may or may not have ended in front of the person whose autograph a fan sought. Thoughts of order and structure danced through my head, and a smile came to my face. This was clearly Chiller taking my advice, correcting a problem that had plagued it for years in its last locale. Good thing, right?
Let me tell you, folks, though I hate clichés, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In fact, I’m in the mood for some change myself, so instead of doing the linear timeline thing, please indulge me as I display the show in a highlights reel. In fact, allow me to break things down into two areas…
“The more things change…”
Borrowing Sarah’s car- Sarah drives a Kia Soul that’s a few years old. My beloved Rav-4 has passed on, and I now drive a ’95 Ford Escort. Not the safest ride for a trip, even a jaunt from Long Island to Parsippany. Sarah was gracious enough to lend me her car, once again proving she’s the coolest sister ever. Don’t even try to argue me on that.
The new hotel- Pulling into the lot, I was impressed. The Sheraton looks like an old fashioned castle, and attending a convention there seemed pretty cool. At least it did walking up to the front.
Meeting Deborah Foreman- She mugs in all her movies. She mugs in person. That rules. She didn’t have any great WAXWORK pics, but I was happy to get her as Buffy/Muffy in APRIL FOOL’S DAY. And she’s extremely nice, and was appreciative of the Deborah Foreman Double Shot.
Collecting money for Kate Hodge and Donna Wilkes- I have to thank Dominic Mancini once again for coming through for me. Not only did he set me up to interview Kate Hodge, but he got me a free weekend pass for the con. The only favor he asked in return was that I watch the ladies for a while so he could grab some autographs. I got to see things from the other side of the table for the first time. I can only imagine it’s got to make for a long weekend, sitting there for 20+ hours over three days. Fortunately, both Donna and Kate were really cool, and kept me entertained (and yes, Kate’s very easy on the eyes).
Joe Zazo’s DAMIEN: OMEN II shirt- Joe Zazo is a friend of Mike Cucinotta’s, and an interesting one at that. Mike and I have sat together many times and laughed at his Cafe Himbo cooking shows, especially since they don’t actually feature a kitchen, any food, or a stitch of cooking (watching Catherine Mary Stuart pantomime cutting celery is a sight to behold). Joe was sporting that OMEN II shirt, and I love to cook. Meeting him was a given, and a hilarious time. Sadly, he explained he’d worked out some deal with a printer and ordered the shirts in bulk, so they weren’t available. Because I would’ve loved to be sporting one in my next Chiller report.
The Never-Ending (Martin Casella) Story- I rarely see Nicole, so when I do, it’s always sweet. Though she says her highlight this Chiller was me, I know it was meeting POLTERGEIST star Martin Casella. Martin is an extremely nice guy… who insisted on telling every single story from every single day of filming. If I didn’t have a Social Distortion concert to attend that night, I have a feeling Martin and I might still be in Parsippany.
A few other new autographs- I met Philip Friedman, the ghost lady from INSIDIOUS. We had a nice chat about how ghost flicks don’t usually scare me, but his did.
I also met Julia Adams from CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. There’s a story behind this autograph I would love to share, but can’t. She signed a pic I’d had Gill Man Ben Chapman sign a few months before his death, and her quote balanced his. Sadly, she was charging for pics, so I don’t have one with her.
“…the more they stay the same”
The new pit- I couldn’t believe when I walked into the hotel, started to check out the new digs, and within five minutes found a pit. Jesus Christ, why can’t Chiller get away from these infernal holes in the floor? Again let me remind you, as a Mortal Kombat player, that pits are never advantageous. Unless you’re killing your enemy with one, but that’s a different story. I swear I heard Roger Daltrey crooning to me, “Meet the new pit/ Same as the old pit.”
Oh, but this hotel went one better.
Catacombs- When I found a hotel layout from a Chiller flyer in the lobby, I was absolutely confounded. Why did it look as if there were rooms hidden within rooms that were hidden within rooms?
Because there were. I felt like Indiana Jones heading through one set of guests, past another set to reach the guest I sought in the third chamber. But hey, Martin Casella was Spielberg’s personal assistant on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, so maybe I should’ve handed him a bull whip and had him lead the way. That is, if I’d have been able to find him easily.
Adrienne Barbeau loves George Romero– When I met Adrienne years ago, I got an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK pic and a terrible photo blanched out by light coming through the tent in the original Chiller hotel. This time I waited on a small line to fix an error and get the Romero alum in a CREEPSHOW shot. Adrienne had fond memories of George (as does everybody who’s ever worked with him), and said she’d drop everything and fly anywhere to work for Romero again. She’s a class act, and I got a better photo this time.
Charging for pictures, too many mainstream stars, an interesting mix of new and old guests, a bland feeling about Chiller, oh and X is awesome- The same stuff I say about every Chiller held true this time as well, both good and bad. Down to Virginia Madsen going all Lance Henriksen on me and only having one CANDYMAN pic, and not even a good one. The fire’s kind of gone out on Chiller for me of late, especially since I had such a ball down in NC last March at Mad Monster Party.
I say “I wonder if it’s time to move on,” or “Chiller’s a show-by-show decision based on guest list,” but I keep coming back, and will again this April. It’d be nice just for once if there was a bit more surprise upon entering the hotel, and I don’t mean a new pit. Chiller’s become cliché, as the old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”