Splatterfest: The Weekend Report
What greater love hath this?
Photo by Travis Hensley
Terrifying things happen outside the 610 Loop. When the zombie apocalypse comes, the first people to go will be actors Michael Biehn and Bruce Campbell, and ground zero will be The Alamo Drafthouse White Oaks.
It's not that they're unfit to survive or that White Oaks Mall is a god-forsaken place. It's just that you realize -- in the moments when you sneak away from the almost week-long Splatterfest to go to the bathroom -- just how few people actually wash their hands after doing their business.
And after the autographs, photos and Q&As, these same unclean people are sure to become the Typhoid Mary of 21st Century who will spread a super-virus certain to cause the dead to rise hungry for more face time with their favorite actors.
Bruce Campbell, a legend in his own horror-filled time
Photo by Courtney Riedmann
From Tuesday to Saturday, billing itself as "The Ultimate Horror Film Festival," Splatterfest took place. While the movies were not the scariest, and there were only a handful of people dressed in costumes, the event did offer something rare: the ability to meet actors in a relaxed but controlled setting. There was never a feeling that people were being rushed through the lines, and the best part of the entire event was seeing the smiles on the faces of people who just met either Biehn or Campbell, both folk heroes to their respective fan bases.
Friday night, the first actor to the chopping block was Biehn. When you see his name without "Terminator" or "Aliens" in parenthesis after it, you probably ask yourself "Who the hell is Michael Biehn, and why do I want to pay him to take a photo with me?"
To those of you whose memories need a little brushing up, he was the go-to guy in the '80s and early '90s if you needed someone to pretend to be a Navy SEAL and his most iconic role was as Kyle Reese's baby daddy to John Conner (humanity's only hope when Skynet eventually takes over) in the first Terminator.
While his glory days of killing a Cyborg with an Austrian accent and starring in movies with budgets that make America's defense-spending look like walking-around money are gone, Biehn is hardly a shell of his former self. At 56, he still looks to be a believable albeit retired Navy SEAL. And when you walk past him, you get the feeling that he might turn to you and say, "Come with me if you want to live."
In taking advice from Robert Rodriguez who directed him in "Planet Terror," the actor has made his own movie "The Victim." Also starring in the movie and present at the event were Biehn's wife, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, and other members of "The Victim"'s cast.
The presence of Biehn's wife raises an interesting side question: If a celebrity is still listed as only separated from his former wife on Wikipedia, and he is claiming another woman to be his wife, is he bigamist (unlikely) or are we foolish for trusting Wikipedia and should we have never trusted it in the first place (probably right).
The story centers around Annie (Jennifer Blanc-Biehn) who, by chance, meets Kyle (Michael Behin) when she knocks on the door to hide from two sheriff's deputies who she just witnessed commit a horrible act.
If you watched this movie excepting it to be on par with most wide-release movies, you might walk away wanting your money back. But if you were to rent this movie and watch it expecting to see a low-budget horror movie while you got a nice mid-day drunk on, you might be pleasantly surprised.
"The Victim" was not the only movie to play, however. The last movie of the night was the world premier of "Jacob" by Houston-based filmmaker/actor Larry Wade Carrell. And Michael Biehn had a small but pivotal role in this movie.
The movie theater was filled with people who acted in the movie, and with the friends and family of those actors. The screening was filled with cheering and laughter.
Saturday, however, was Bruce Campbell Day. At the start of the day, Campbell sat by the projector screen, playing trailers for old horror movies at the front of the theater while Frank Sinatra sang to everyone from the speakers above their heads.
Campbell signed autographs and made small talk with each person in the line and, after the autograph signing, everyone were kindly escorted about by a giant demon (or perhaps it was just a man with makeup and stilts on) after Campbell would shout "Tall man, help these people out!"
"He was really cool" was the singular response of about 15 people who were asked about their experience meeting the horror movie legend and current star of television's "Burn Notice."
The best thing that happened during the autograph session was when Campbell signed Travis Lander's back just above a tattoo Lander's has of Bruce Campbell that resembles the cover art for "Evil Dead: Army Of Darkness."
Lander, whose tweets as @TheChinOfaGod, thanked Campbell via Twitter.
"Thanks for signing my back it means a lot you're the best!" to which Campbell replied "no prob!" and then posted the photo of the tattoo.
The only confusion during the whole event came after people got to take their photo with Campbell and had to get back into the movie theater, crowding in all at once.
As polite and self-effacing as Campbell was during the autograph signing, he was even better during the Q&A session. He was quick-witted and joked around in a way that any normal person would, except it was coming from a guy who is the king of low-budget horror movies.
His favorite reoccurring joke, Campbell said, was an idea that the actor felt Rick Perry could use as his campaign slogan.
"Small town guy with big ideas."
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