Reflections on a Conversation with Danny Kelly




Today is March 19, and that means it’s my dad’s birthday.  Even though I had a day off, I didn’t get to spend any time with him, because he was in the hospital in NYC.  I’m happy to say that, because that means the double throat surgeries he had to remove the cancer that had crept in there were successful.


So what exactly does that have to do with Daniel Hugh Kelly, or Monster-Mania?  It goes like this:


Dom Mancini asked me to sit with Danny until about 6 o’clock.  I was supposed to go in at 4 pm, but Danny and the rest of Dom’s CUJO crew had just filmed interviews for the doc on the upcoming CUJO Blu-Ray, so they opted for lunch first.  Danny showed up at his table just after 5 pm.  After my last experience sitting with some of Dom’s guests at Chiller, I was just a little bit leery about doing so again, but Dom’s a solid guy, and I know he always could use at least a little help.


Much to my welcome surprise, Danny Kelly was awesome.  He’s a regular, down-to-earth Jersey guy who just happened to star in a Stephen King based horror flick, and on a famous 1980s TV series.  He kept wondering if he really belonged at a horror con, as CUJO was really the only horror piece in his catalogue.  I talked him through the scene, giving him all I could of my extensive knowledge of cons.  He absorbed it up, and we had a great time sitting together, meeting his fans.


Though I was only supposed to be engaged with him through 6 pm, Dom was busy running around, and my replacement was having some sort of car trouble.  But I assured Dom it was cool, and that I was having a ball.  I stayed the whole night, right up until the end of the show.  That left me and Dan a lot of time to converse, about filmmaking, Hardcastle and McCormick, and the Heidi Bowl between his NY Jets and my Oakland Raiders.


The most important conversation we had came unexpectedly, and almost out of nowhere.  Danny told me he had planned to visit family in South Jersey, but that a few of his relatives had just found out they had cancer.  This kept him away from them, but it brought his life experience a little closer to mine.  I expressed to him that I had lost my uncle the same day my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and that she died less than a year later;  that my aunt, who had been married to that uncle recently underwent chemo for lung cancer;  and that, most stunningly, my father had recently been diagnosed with throat cancer.  I assured Danny that my dad had a team of doctors who were ready to remove the cancer, and that there was a great chance he would be fine after the operations.  A moment of silence followed, and then we were both thankful for my dad.  I wished Danny’s family the best with their own fights against the oppressive demon.





I understand that Death Ensemble is a horror site.  Those loyal few of you who come here expect to find horror related stuff.  You may not care about my dad’s health so much as you’d like to have a review of some throwaway new horror movie such as SCORNED.  But I take an intellectual approach to DE, as I do with so much of life.  Daniel Hugh Kelly and I bonded over our recent family histories, and we made a connection that went well beyond getting an autograph or “You were great in CUJO.  What was it like working with Dee Wallace?”  That bond is more important than any interview he could’ve given me, or for that matter any interview George Romero could have offered.


So tonight, as my dad convalesces and his throat heals in a hospital in NYC, I’m thankful he’s alive.  I’m also thankful to Danny Kelly for a glimpse of humanity that really helped me believe that my dad could make it through cancer ok and come out clean on the other side of it.  Dad’s a good man, and so is Danny.


Life is good sometimes, and a convention is more than just a collection of signed 8×10’s.  It’s nice to keep that in perspective.


-Phil Fasso

Facebook Twitter Digg Stumbleupon

Leave a Reply