And this report is only two and 1/2 months late! Well, a drunken severed head moves slow, as the old saying goes. Late or not, I have to report on this event held each June-- it's a GREAT classic horror film con and it's where Jane and I announced our engagement in 2005. And so, onward mit der recollections.
The Voodoo Queen and I had rented a room at the hotel, even though we're local; it's much more convenient that way. On Thursday, the day before the con, we were shown a very nice room, and the manager on duty said it was reserved for us. Then we visited with friends Robert Taylor and Sara Waugh (the nation's foremost collectors of Vincent Price memorabilia and artifacts) ; afterwards I met up with the crew of the Universal Monster Army to help set up the Universal Monster Army Toy Tour display, a museum quality exhibit of monster toys and other items from the '50s, '60s, and '70s.
_________________Max, Robert Taylor, and "Cousin Sara" Waugh
_____________The crew: Ray Castile, Terry Ingram, ____Inebriated Noggin, and Howard Harris. Not pictured: Elizabeth Haney (behind camera)
__The display contents being rolled in. (The Drunken Severed Head has been rolled before.)
__UMA Commander-In-Chief Terry Ingram seems trapped in a display during set-up.
_________________Photos of the display after being finished:
The first official night-- Friday-- was both the zenith and the nadir of the whole experience. The Voodoo Queen and I had booked a "parlor suite" (no bed, extra chairs) so that we could throw a dinner from friends in horror fandom from around the country.We'd invited 20 to 25 people, expecting roughly half that number to show up. Well, they all showed up, and some brought friends! (And, in hindsight, there were people I didn't think to invite and now wish I had.) That was fine; we'd brought tons of food and I love to meet new people. But it almost didn't come off.
That afternoon, bringing in all the food we'd labored to assemble (must have been an odd sight to see food being brought out of our 1973 Cadillac hearse), we were amazed to see a passkey with our room number in another conventioneer's paw! Seems the hotel staff hadn't properly entered the info in the computer, and so our parlor suite was now the meeting room for the Lugosiphiles, a fine passel of Bela Lugosi freaks. (Count Jane and I in that number.) We couldn't ask for that room back. But we had to have a room in a few hours, and everyone was invited to that particular suite. So I asked for a suite nearby. No problem-- why, we could have the room across the hall!
However, the hotel, waiting until the very last minute to make the room a parlor suite, did so the easy way: they just took the king-size bed apart and set all its components against the walls! (Gee, I could never have done that myself.) Somehow, too, they forgot to remove the bedside end tables as they'd promised. But, to make up for the fact that they'd screwed up, they brought in a very large round dining room table with tablecloth and chairs. It looked nice, but took up most of the room!
In the end, the dinner was a success. My special recipe meatloaf and Jane's Coca-Cola cake were among the fare, and those two items were the most popular. (White trash cooking at its finest.) Friends who are regular fans mixed with horror film notables like producer Richard Gordon. (Horror film historian Tom Weaver called to ask if he could please bring Invasion Of The Body Snatchers star Kevin McCarthy-- I replied that I'd have paid him to do so!) But, to put it euphemistically, it was cozy. People were jammed into every spare inch of space. It resembled the stateroom scene in the Marx Bros. movie A Night At The Opera. In frustrated amusement, people actually began shouting out lines from the film: "Is my Aunt Minnie in here?" "Are those my hard boiled eggs?".
Some face time with new friends and old made the whole time at the convention definitely dazzling. I was able to meet phone pals like Karloff biographer Gord Shriver and horror film reviewer and blogger John Cozzoli. (Both were warm, fun people.) Later in the weekend, both came to my apartment to visit:
-----John Cozzoli, Raymond Castile of "The Gallery Of Monster Toys", and Gord Shriver
--------------------John Cozzoli and the unbalanced Drunken Severed Head
The Universal Monster Army classic toy display was a big success. Major collectors Howard Harris and Bobby Beeman helped with the construction and contributed to the contents on display; both were wonderful, fun people to hang around with. (I mean that literally-- they tied me to the ceiling light fixture!) I was pleased to have a few items on display too, but was especially glad to have contributed an audio portion where people could listen to samples of the best monster novelty songs and classic Halloween records, along with a commentary.
Above: Raymond Castile (as Coffin Joe) poses with display visitor Richard Sheffield, a friend of Bela Lugosi's. Sheffield is wearing German Robles' cape from the film El Vampiro.
________________A large assortment of folks came to see the display.
Scarlet Street publisher Richard Valley, having fun, enjoys playing hand model to the display.
I spent some time each day helping Terry Ingram and Raymond Castile greet people and guard the displays, and offered our guestbook for signing for those who seemed enthusiastic about what was on view.
The display of vintage collectables attracted its own collectables: Richard Sheffield came in with the cape from El Vampiro, and a fan brought in a garment from classic horror films: the pants worn by Bela Lugosi in The Raven!
The above photo shows Jim, a fan who had bought the pants Bela wore in The Raven and, I'm told, in other pictures . I'd introduced myself Friday night in the UMA display room. He seemed to me a little bit shy and glad to be welcomed. We chatted awhile, and he told me he had something he'd like to show-- Bela Lugosi's pants. This intrigued and amused me. He asked for help bringing them in from his car, saying he had a bum shoulder that made it difficult for him to carry them, as they were framed. So, donning my prosthetic robot body, we left to get them. The hotel was at the bottom of a hill, and as parking spaces there were less than ample, he'd had to park at the top. So off we trudged. I introduced Jim to some other UMA members and gave Jim the chance to talk about the pants. He'd bought them from uber-collector Forrest J. Ackerman who had bought them from Richard Sheffield, a friend of Bela Lugosi's. (A handwritten letter of authentication from FJA is in the frame.) I asked to take a picture of the pants with the display, since they certainly were a classic horror movie collectable, and he posed with this item he was proud to own. I told him I'd want to get a more detailed picture of these "trousers of terror" in the daylight. No problem! Then I helped him return the pants to his car.
The next day I see Jim again, and he tells me he's going to show them to Richard Sheffield. We go to Richard Sheffield's table, and he confirms that they are indeed Bela's old pants. He said he'd gotten them from Bela as a gift in consideration for some work or favor Richard had done Lugosi. Richard added that he'd been married in the pants, and that he was certain they had once been his, as they still showed the alterations done to them for the wedding. Richard had married a woman from Mexico (later he moved there), and Jim told him he'd found an old Mexican coin in the pocket when he bought them from Forry Ackerman.
Jim then tells Sheffield he's gonna charge ten dollars to anyone who wants to take a picture of the pants and he'll split the charge with Sheffield-- is that okay? Sheffield look quizzical but agreed to take $5.00. (And why not? I'd take free moolah anytime!) Jim then tells ME I can take another picture for ten bucks! I muttered something about having to get to an event on the schedule and I'd have to get to it another time. (A lie, but I was trying to be diplomatic.) I left, and though not exactly in a huff, not pleased. (Two fins to snap a photo of a pair of slacks being shown in a public place? Hah! It'd hafta be able to tell Lugosi anecdotes first!)
Here's the payoff to this long anecdote: the next day I run into Jim again, and he stops me to tell me if I want that second photo he was only going to be able to so for a short while as the convention was winding down. I hafta tell him I don't want another, and in response to a question I hafta tell him why! So then he offers to forgo his $5, but he'd promised Richard Sheffield $5 a shot, so......Then Sheffield comes walking along, and Jim stops him. I hand Sheffield a fiver, and he again looks quizzical, but is happy to be handed the free dough. (Sheffield was friendly and conversational at all times with me, but I wonder if he thought I was a little nuts.) I help Jim carry out the pants again and got this photo:
That's right. I PAID A MAN MONEY SO I COULD TAKE A PHOTO OF SOME PANTS THAT USED TO BELONG TO HIM.
You'd think I was some senseless, drunken, severed head!
Final report "Monster Bash Pt. 3" coming soon.
The first part, "Monster Bash 2007 Pt. 1", can be read here.
Many of the photos in my reports on Monster Bash 2007 are here through the courtesy of Raymond Castile, Howard Harris, Bobby Beeman, and Elizabeth Haney, with special assistance from Richard Olson, John Cozzoli and Ted Newsom.