Two days of the year that always used to excite me were when Chiller released its opening salvo of guests for their April and October shows. Suddenly, the “Ygor is working on October’s guest list” would be replaced by a whole bunch of photos of movie stars with their most famous movies listed underneath. I loved that first look I’d get at it, which would answer so many questions: Would there be five or six guest I wanted to meet from that initial group? Would I have to wait a few days, or even weeks, for that elusive celeb I’d always wanted to sign an 8×10 for me? Who would I want to interview? As I’ve abandoned the convention scene in general, and Chiller specifically, I don’t get quite that warm, fuzzy feeling anymore. But I do still check their guest list out of habit, and this past weekend was no different. Sadly but not surprisingly, I am not impressed.
I knew things were not good from the start. The first block on the webpage is a group from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Chiller has always gone the sitcom route (at my very first one back in 2004, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams of Laverne and Shirley were there), but to top the page with this group shows just how the con has gotten away from its horror roots as it exploits more of the pop culture crowd. That trend continued directly below, with the boys from Leave It to Beaver. I’ve seen Jerry Mathers at Chiller before, so again, no surprise, but that’s five pop cult guests to zero horror guests straight out the gate. By the time I scrolled down below them and saw the kid who played little Ricky on I Love Lucy, I’d lost interest. If ever I needed proof that my favorite con had shapeshifted into the Hollywood Collectors Show, this was it.
Then a transition comes below that, with some Land of the Lost guests. Sure, it was a kiddie show, but it had dinosaurs, so it’s kitschy but it suits a much needed monster vibe. Still, nothing I haven’t seen before at Chiller. The way this was adding up, it left me far from jazzed.
After that, there are some horror guests. One of the thugs from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III, Mark Torgl from THE TOXIC AVENGER, and most interesting to me, Dennis Christopher from FADE TO BLACK. Nobody really stirring me to buy a ticket, but these guys satisfy the badly needed horror itch. There are also reunions for CREEPSHOW 2 and THE BURNING. And here’s where Chiller really could have jazzed me, but fell flat. I’ve seen Michael Gornick and Rick Catizone at a dozen shows easy, and the rest of the guests from these two reunions played minor characters in those movies. These aren’t even as quality as the MADMAN reunion Chiller held at a recent show, and that reunion didn’t get me to the show.
As if to remind me that this is Chiller Pop Cult Theatre, below the BURNING reunion, they’ve added the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. This is not my horror con.
I’ll keep an eye on Chiller as we inch toward the end of October, but I don’t foresee me asking off time from work to hit it. The thrill is long gone, and all I really need is one more JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR reunion to confirm that.