New Jersey Horror Con, Iselin, NJ
September 23, 2017 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel
Dream Warriors Sleep More than I Do
As I make my way through this phase of my life, devoting energy to my passion for horror ain’t easy. Working 60 hours a week plus all the travel into NYC leaves me little extra verve for my love of all things creepy. So I wish I had attended the NJ Horror Con on regular rest, because for a small, quaint con it could have been a lot of fun. I still had a good time for the few hours I was there, highlighted by an interview with Ken Sagoes, and I definitely intend to go to their next show. If so, I’ll be sure to plan out more rest before next trip.
I was supposed to head out from my house in Queens by PATH train early that Saturday, but my brother generously offered me his Toyota Tacoma, so I ended up in Long Island for the night before. I had just finished an 8 day stretch at work that was long and brutal, and I was beyond exhausted. So getting an early start the next morning went right out the window. Which is too bad, because Jeremiah Kipp did his damnedest to set me up with an interview with the young lead actor from “Slapface.” As I drove off from my dad’s house, I also couldn’t get my cell phone to sync with the truck’s radio, so my Amazon Music selections, including my entire Slayer catalogue, went out the window. Fortunately, Metallica’s Ride the Lightning was in the CD player, and it was a solid second thrash option.
A smooth ride on a beautiful day, and less than two hours later, I was at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel. That’s a lofty name for a place that’s pretty standard inside and out. I entered with a tired smile, pulling up my scan code for my press pass as I headed to the ticket counter. As the women behind the table tried to find me on their list, we were accosted by a loud, bald staffer on a tirade about how the con can’t hand out the wrong passes without proof. I kindly showed him my scan code and he cooled down immediately. Shouting at me wasn’t necessary, especially because I had my stuff together, but this was the only bad interaction I had with staff, and the guy did pull me aside and explain why he was so upset.
Lanyard round my neck, I headed in. The layout was a simple setup, with most guests spread out among three areas: a huge hall which also served as the dealers room, the hallway running alongside it, and a small meeting room behind it. Sean Astin and his GOONIES co-star were in another part of the hotel, but I wasn’t meeting them, so I didn’t venture there. This was a cozy affair, and the bunched up layout worked well for it. I’ve been to plenty of larger cons where I’ve walked across the entire breadth of a large hotel and up and down floors to find stars. I much preferred this floor plan.
I’d come to this convention for one reason, to interview Ken Sagoes. Kincaid from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS is a horror hero of mine, and Ken and I had chatted recently to set this up. First and foremost, Ken is a great guy, who was generous enough to take a few minutes of his time to let me chat him up and I’m forever grateful. There’s only one problem with this interview, and that’s my exhaustion popping through. I had several more questions prepared that I let slip my mind (“How was it working with Heather Langenkamp?” and “So was every guy on the set really in love with Patricia Arquette?” obviously come to mind), and I didn’t do much to carry things along. I apologize to Ken, as he deserved better from me, but he was awesome. I bought a hat from his charity, GBC, and got a sweet 8×10 of a drawing of the Dream Warriors signed by the man himself. Thanks, Ken, for your kindness and jovial self during the interview.
And the interview train would have carried on, but I was gassed. I saw some guy and gal interviewing a score of celebs, and I’m sure everyone they chatted up would’ve let me chat them up too, but I had a 2-hour drive ahead of me, and no friend or friends enjoying the con alongside me. I really wanted to interview Miko Hughes, who also worked with Heather Langenkamp in an ELM STREET flick, and Scout Taylor Compton would’ve been a great chat. My friend Nicole Fiss’ dear friend Kevin Tenney was there also, but the director had a few people getting his autograph, and I was ready to fall asleep on my feet.
My lethargy had nothing to do with the con itself, as NJ Horror Con had a cool vibe. The guests and fans all looked happy, and though lightly attended for a Saturday at a con, that was a good thing, as I could actually move about and enjoy the con. This was an intimate show in a day where intimate shows are nearly extinct, and the pricing was fair from what I noticed looking at the celebs’ tables. It’s the kind of experience I love, and if more shows were like this, I’d be back on the con circuit.
The nicest thing I can say about the NJ Horror Con is that I want to attend their next show in March. They’ve only started to develop the guest list, but if it’s anything like the list for the September show, fans are in for a treat. I know I’m looking forward to it, and I haven’t said that about a show in years.
As I reached the truck and prepared myself for a long ride home with Metallica, I found a flyer announcing Tromeo’s Haunted Hayride, hosted by one of my favorite people, Troma legend Will Keenan. It was a nice reminder that the convention circuit can still be fun in all the right ways, and NJ Horror Con is doing things the fan friendly way things should be done. Getting proper rest and devoting energy to their next show should make it even more of a joy.