As the world returns from the dead, horror icons and rock & metal legends were announced for this year’s Days of the Dead in Indianapolis. Alice Cooper, Richard Dreyfuss, Corey Taylor, Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Tony Moran and Butch Patrick? All in one weekend!? It was a no brainer! I had to attend! Bags packed and memorabilia procured, I hit the road to join three to four thousand fans for what would be one hell of a three day event.
Arriving on Friday just in time for check-in at the beautiful Marriott Indianapolis East Hotel Convention Center, I threw my luggage into my room and went exploring. Being late in the afternoon with some time to kill until the convention officially opened, it wasn’t long before I found myself next to Tony Moran at the hotel bar. Having met the man from Carpenter’s ’78 horror classic Halloween a couple years earlier, I recognized him immediately. Knowing he would be bombarded by fans all weekend, I intended to give him some space. However, he initiated a conversation. After introductions, I mentioned that he made an appearance near my hometown in 2019. Excited to make a connection, he remembered the event and offered to buy me a drink after hearing about my long five hour drive. I couldn’t believe it. Michael Myers just bought me a drink! This weekend was off to a very memorable start.
As the time came near for doors to open, I eagerly jumped in line. Bag full of vinyl, DVDs and blu-rays awaiting signatures, I picked up my weekend bracelet that would serve as a press pass and I was off to the races.
Alice & The Panty Mission
Knowing headliners Richard Dreyfuss and Alice Cooper would soon have lines a mile long, it wasn’t surprising to already find the accomplished actor with a line stretching from out of the convention ballroom and down the hall. However, I noticed Cooper’s line was surprisingly short! And I was on a mission. I had, in my possession, an original vinyl pressing of the rock legend’s album School’s Out complete with the women’s panties the record was sold with in the ’70s. This is not some knockoff reissue. It is an authentic relic from the past and highly coveted by collectors, especially when signed. So, I set my sights on the day’s first goal: get the School’s Out panties autographed! Snapping back to reality, security notified me of the gap for foot traffic in Cooper’s line. Looking behind me, I immediately felt like Ralphie from A Christmas Story.
Roughly thirty minutes after being sent to the end of Cooper’s line, which progressed much faster than anticipated, I finally saw the iconic rock n’ roll legend only a few feet away. However, my gaze also met a sign displaying three dreaded words: “Cash Only Please.” Distraught, but not yet defeated, I left the line and ran straight for the hotel ATM only to find three more horrible words: “Out of Order.” With a face palm, I pulled myself together to find another ATM. Asking a hotel employee, I discovered the location of the nearest place to make a cash withdrawal was at a gas station down the street.
Racing off in the pouring rain, I spotted the gas station with the letters “ATM” glowing in the window like a beacon, a sign of hope. Making my withdrawal, I hurried back to Cooper’s line discovering it to be much shorter than before. And this time I wasn’t mistaken! Handing over the cash, I soon came face to face with the Godfather of shock rock. Placing the School’s Out album in front of Cooper, his eyes lit up. I could read his face as if he were asking …”Do you have the panties?” I opened the cover to reveal that I did, in fact, have the panties. There was a loud commotion from both Cooper and his representation as they all knew exactly what was laid in front of them. It was in that moment that Alice told me “this is very collectable! I’ll autograph both the panties and the cover,” seemingly amazed that I even possessed such an item. I had just “awed” one of the most recognizable artists in the music industry while getting his autographed on one amazing piece of rock n’ roll history: Mission Accomplished.
Another Legend in DotD Waters
With the panty mission successfully completed, I jumped in line for a meet and greet with Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss, star of Spielberg’s timeless classic Jaws. And, ironically, I still looked like I had just taken a dip in foreboding waters from my previous sprint through the rain. But a little dampness wasn’t going to stop me from meeting such an iconic actor whose name knows no genre limitations.
Although countless fans lined up for autographs and photos, Dreyfuss did his best to keep the line moving while still offering a smile and greeting as he placed his John Hancock on toys, blu-rays, DVDs and countless collectables. I, myself, had my blu-ray copy of Universal’s 100th Anniversary Jaws edition that features a booklet with cast bios including an entire page on Dreyfuss. And, as a late gift to my father, I had the legendary actor sign a VHS copy of American Graffiti that I secretly took from my parent’s home. Happy Belated Father’s Day, Dad!
The Scream Queen
Making my way further into the convention ballroom, I came across one of my all-time favorite Scream Queens, Danielle Harris! Being a record collector and a horror connoisseur, I picked up a vinyl copy of the soundtrack to Halloween 4 prior to DotD. This album cover features beautiful artwork, which looks that much more amazing with Danielle’s signature including “Happy Halloween” & “Jamie” written in gorgeous elegant handwriting. I was also unable to resist picking up a stunning modeling photo, which I had the loveable actress personalize. Danielle is fantastic with her fans and meeting her did not disappoint!
Indie Horror & Clownin’ Around
Anyone familiar with my love for horror knows that I have a soft spot for indie filmmakers in the genre. They are some of the most passionate fans who take their fandom to the next level with their own creations. So, of course I’m familiar with Scream Team Releasing, an indie distribution company known for titles such as the collaborative anthology 10/31 featuring indie actress Jennifer Nangle and Justin M. Seaman’s award-winning film The Barn. So, stopping by this booth was a must. Representing Scream Team were Eric Huskisson and P.J. Starks, owners of Blood Moon Pictures and filmmakers of titles such as Volumes of Blood and 13 Slays Till X-Mas. I had a blast talking with this menacing duo about all things horror and sci-fi, especially the craziness of the indie scene!
Indie networking didn’t stop at the Scream Team booth. Next up was the talent behind the indie horror hit Terrifier! Created by Damien Leone, this gore-drenched indie flick found massive success with its 2016 release and David Howard Thornton (read our interview here) became an indie horror icon as Art the slasher clown. When he’s not drenched in blood on screen, David is a fun-loving goof who had fun signing autographs and taking photos with fans such as yours truly!
Another passionate horror fan and filmmaker representing the indie community was Drew Marvick, creator of the 2017 comedic indie horror Pool Party Massacre. With the help of his mannequin named Burnadette, Drew was busy talking horror while selling blu-rays of his film, t-shirts, koozies, buttons and hilarious retro hats. If you ever see this man at a convention, stop by his booth and say hi! You won’t be disappointed!
Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the Jaws and Butch Patrick panels. However, I did make it to the Terrifier panel featuring Damien and David. Although I was late, I did catch a very inspiring part of this Q&A. Before Terrifier found a solid following, these two men were met with far more failure than success. However, they learned from their mistakes and embraced their failures. Through hard work, dedication and perseverance, they found that one moment of success that suddenly made their names known. The key, according to this duo, is to throw away any backup plans, know exactly what you want and relentlessly chase after it.
As day one of DotD came to a close, I found it difficult to sleep with all the excitement. But when I did, I dreamt of freaks, geeks and ghouls decked out in crazy costumes, The Munsters‘ Dragula and insane pool party antics. And this dream was not far off from what was to come the very next day!
a[su_note radius=”5″]This is part one of a three part series on Days of the Dead by Brandon Long. [/su_note]