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After a night of rock n’ roll, Days of the Dead put on one last hurrah before coming to a close for its final day. Remembering how many early bird fans flocked to Corey’s autograph signing, I walked straight to the panel room determined to claim a good seat for the metal singer’s Q&A. And, little did I know, I was about to get the best seat in the house!

Striking up a conversation with DotD panel moderator Harry Bean, I respectfully mentioned the problem behind my press pass bracelet ID and my intended three day convention coverage. Going above and beyond to address this issue, Harry set me up with a stage side seat to make panel photographs convenient. And for this, I’m very grateful.

L-R: Harry Bean and Corey Taylor

Q&A with Corey Taylor

Speaking to a large crowd, Corey opened his panel answering a question about guilty pleasure music.

“I have no guilty pleasures,” laughed Taylor. “I don’t give a f*ck. Your heart knows better than anyone what kind of music you like. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should listen to. Never let anyone make you feel bad about your music … even if an a**hole like me tells you it sucks.”

Proving this to be true, Corey showed off his back tattoo of Michael Jackson’s album Off the Wall – something unexpected from a hardcore metal singer. Moving on to questions regarding inspiration behind Slipknot lyrics and Jaws, a film that scarred him for life, it was incredible to see how grounded the singer remained after 20+ years of fame. After speaking about his experience penning two books and singing out “the best part of waking up!” Folgers jingle, Corey touched on Slipknot’s wild performances on stage.

“We used to get wild,” laughed Taylor. “Not as much these days. Clown sees me coming at him and starts chucking sticks at me as if to say ‘I’m over 50, f*cker!’”

Fans also learned about Corey’s love for Hunter S. Thompson’s book The Great Shark Hunt and what he does in his free time – a question the Slipknot frontman humorously redirected to his wife sitting in the crowd. However, the panel took a more serious turn when a fan expressed how much Corey’s music helped her through a very dark time involving self-harm. Many people often stigmatize metal music as nothing but loud and destructive noise. Rarely do they give credit for this genre’s way of helping those who feel they’re suffering alone. Having experienced something similar in his life, Corey connected with this fan. He told her that he is glad his music helped. He’s glad she is healthy, she is here and this terrible time for her is in the past.

Candidly answering every question with genuine sincerity and interest with well-placed humor, Corey’s fan interaction is far beyond anything I’ve seen from celebrities who’ve reach his level of fame. Growing up through humble beginnings in Des Moines, Iowa, this larger-than-life metal music icon has not forgotten where he came from. And for that, I give him my upmost respect.

Froggy’s Photos Tony Todd Pro Photo Op with Candyman fans Steve and Brittany Hile

Living Dead, Candyman & Halloween

Unfortunately, Danielle Harris’ schedule was canceled due to a change in the scream queen’s schedule. So, I made some final rounds through the convention halls to conclude my Days of the Dead experience. Stopping by a booth decked out with posters from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, I met author and publisher Gary Lee Vincent. Author of horror titles such as Darkened Hollows and Sheep Amongst Wolves, Gary entered the indie film arena by collaborating on My Uncle John is a Zombie! (2016) with Night of the Living Dead (1968) screenwriter John A. Russo – a horror legend joining Gary behind their zombie-fied booth. And both gentlemen were kind enough to grant me an interview! Click here to read what Gary had to say about horror books/film and click here to read my conversation with John regarding genre films and the living dead!

L-R: Gary Lee Vincent, Brandon Long, John A. Russo

Another horror icon I had the pleasure of meeting was The Candyman himself, Tony Todd! With 200+ titles credited to his name, some personal favorite roles include Ben in Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, Reverend Zombie in Adam Green’s Hatchet franchise and Dan in The Man from Earth (2007). I had the pleasure of interviewing this accomplished actor about his introduction to horror as well as Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s upcoming remake of Candyman. Click here to read everything Tony had to say!

Bringing Days of the Dead full circle, I made my way to Tony Moran. The man behind the mask who bought me a drink on day one had fun all weekend posing with fans for photos and autographing memorabilia. Agreeing to an interview, Tony took a quick trip down memory lane discussing last year’s quarantine and his involvement with John Carpenter’s classic ’78 slasher Halloween. Click here to read what he had to say!

Artist Patrick Hart’s creations at his DotD Booth

That’s a Wrap!

Aside from some hiccups, this year’s Days of the Dead Indianapolis was a memorable experience. It was a great time for fans of horror and pop culture to come together for great networking opportunities, autographs, photos and celebrity panels. Yes, the lines were long and time spent with names like Cooper, Dreyfuss and Taylor was brief. However, lines moved relatively quick. If lengthy conversations had taken place, all most convention attendees would have seen was a line and one favorite celebrity at best. A possible solution offering a win-win for everyone might be a larger venue or a tighter cap on limited ticket sales.

Amanda Gentry Pierce and Jeremy Raby hold up a freshly pressed t-shirt from their company Southern Sun Boutique

To quote Corey Talor from his Q&A panel, “Days of the Dead should be called Days of the Debt. Because there’s just so much cool sh*t on sale everywhere.” I can relate. Surrounded by vendors displaying t-shirts galore and unique items you’d never find anywhere else, I couldn’t resist picking up a few momentos, myself. And the memories of a fun-filled weekend will stick with me for years to come. For those lucky enough to attend, Days of the Dead’s next stop will be August 27-29 of this year in Atlanta.

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Brandon Long
Brandon Long
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