They say that you should never meet your heroes. After meeting one of mine this weekend, I can tell you that meeting one's heroes doesn't always end in tears of sadness.
This past weekend was Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend. When they announced Heather Langenkamp, I kept my eye on their website almost every day to make sure they hadn't already started selling, and thus sold out of, the VIP tickets. I don't think of myself as a VIP and I'm not a partier, but I did want to get into those Q&As faster to get the good seats because my good camera has a nice zoom, but not back-of-the-room nice.
I'm also not an autograph hound, but my mom said I should get something signed and suggested the Just the Ten of Us crew shirt that producer / creator Steve Marshall gave to me years ago. At the last second, I decided to also bring my favourite poster which is an original Fango freebie of Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund as Nancy and Freddy all dressed up. Judging by the Freddy make-up (yes, I can place a Freddy picture by make-up), I'd say it was taken around the time they made Nightmare 3.
I went up on Thursday, catching the Greyhound at 6:30 in the morning (it was late, though...go figure), and went to Universal to partake of yummy, yummy butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and to take photos of some of my favourite things in the park with my good camera.
I went back to my hotel around 6 so I could get my VIP badge and on the way to Walgreens, I saw my first actor: Robert Englund. Well, to be more precise, I heard him before I saw him, mostly because his back was to me. As I was walking past, his handler (Mrs. Englund? I dunno...) gave me the greatest death glare ever! I wasn't going to bother him anyway. At most, I would have nodded and said, "Hello Mr. Englund," but that death glare warned me off ! Woe be to he or she who fucks with Robert Englund while that woman's around!
I saw my second actor when I was heading back across the street after Walgreens: Heather Langenkamp! She was too far away to extend a civilized greeting to and she was in the middle of a conversation with her handler (or patient friend) and I'm not that kind of fan. I kept going, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't squee a little in excitement and, of course, call my mom and text anyone who would've remotely cared. I didn't fansplode and I didn't, as I became fond of saying over the weekend, get any fan on her.
Later on, I went to the pool-side pre-party and watched Jaws 3D. There were quite a few actors there, people I like and all, but I'm not that kind of fan. It's enough that I got to see them, you know? I didn't even ask Stephen King for his autograph the last time I saw him, I just waved like an idiot and kept walking. Anyway, during the party, I saw Amanda Wyss (she played Tina in A Nightmare on Elm Street.) I kept looking around for John Saxon so I could complete my pre-con ANoES sighting set, but alas, I didn't see him there. The night was still young when Jaws 3D ended, and so am I, but I was tired so I broke rule number 2 of con-going and went back to my room where I watched Wes Craven's New Nightmare on my iPad then went to bed.
Side-note: New Nightmare is my favourite of the sequels. I hate the fifth claw and there are things that don't make much sense, but it's a solid, ahead-of-the-curve film and everyone, Ms. Langenkamp in particular, was so brave to do it. I love it and she's spectacular in it.
By the way...the con-going rules are as follows:
1.) Once you get your badge, you never leave your room without it. Even if you're going to a restaurant at 5 in the morning, you never leave your badge behind. This is a rule I follow at film festivals, too.
2.) Whatever you do...don't fall asleep! I learned this one when I missed the late Kevin Smith (Ares from Xena) being awesome in the hotel bar with all the Xenites when I attended a Xena con back in 1998. However, the idea of staying awake to see if any actors are hanging out at the bar has always seemed creepy to me, not the least of which because I don't drink. Or smoke. Or do drugs.
3.) Attend all of the events you can. You never know when, or if, you'll see anything like this again.
The next day was Friday, the first official day of the convention. The zombie walk they had planned, hosted by the Deadite Empire, wasn't scheduled to start until around 4 or 5 so I got up and decided to get some breakfast and go for a bit of a walk. Who should I see as I headed toward Perkins? Heather Langenkamp! I didn't need to abide by con rule 2! I was lucky enough to see her twice pre-con! She was having breakfast at one of the hotel restaurants; I just giggled to myself as I passed and continued on my way to Perkins.
After breakfast, and my walk down to Wonderworks, I had to leave the zombie walk pre-party to attend to some Hallowscreen business back at the hotel. It was then that I realized that I didn't have any sunblock on. At least my rosacea wouldn't be as pronounced in the photo ops with Ms. Langenkamp! By the time I got back to Uno's Chicago Grill (leave it to a restaurant to be ground zero for the zompocalypse), quite a few really amazing zombies and survivours had shown up and I just started taking pictures of every one! There were TONS of ghouls including Mr. Bill Hinzman, who played the first modern ghoul in cinema for George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and Mr. Mike Christopher who played the Hare Krishna ghoul in Dawn of the Dead! They were both in costume and joining in on the festivities! How awesome is that?!
The zombie walk lead everyone who participated to the host hotel where the con was already going. I'd never been to a con like this before so I had no idea what the signing schedule would be like. It turns out that the poor actors are cooped up in a large room signing almost the entire time! Granted, they're making upwards of $200 or $300 an hour signing things over and over, but still...I'd want to get up and check out the rest of the event. I guess that's just not feasible for people like Ms. Langenkamp and definitely not for Mr. Englund.
Anyway, I (again) heard Mr. Englund before I saw him and wandered into the big autograph room and then saw Ms. Langenkamp signing away so I squeaked, went back to my room to get my memorabilia, added a fourth rule to the con-goers list (never leave what you want signed in your room during normal con hours!), and returned and took my place in her line. Then I looked around to see who all was around her: The Return of the Living Dead cast was in the middle of the room. Mr. Saxon and Ms. Wyss were to Ms. Langenkamp's right. In front of Mr. Englund were Kim Myers and Mark Patton from Nightmare 2 and next to them was Ken Sagoes from Nightmares 3 and 4. Beyond that, I honestly couldn't tell you who was where. I was there specifically to meet Heather Langenkamp and was trying to think about what I was going to say when I got to her table.
Apparently, the VIP passes were also supposed to get someone to the front of the autograph line, but I don't remember that as part of the perks for getting the passes. As far as the autograph lines are concerned, I'm glad the Spooky Empire crew didn't honour that if it was a perk because it wouldn't have made that much of a difference: I saw a lot more VIP passes than I saw general admission wristbands.
The thing about the lines at a con is that they're long. That's not the bad part, though. The bad part is the attitude of most of the people in the line especially concerning the length of the line they're in. I was willing to wait for however long I had to in order to meet Ms. Langenkamp. I'd been waiting since I was eight or so, what was another thirty or forty minutes? Besides, it gave me time to calm my nerves. ;D
Finally, I got up to her table and we shook hands and I showed her the memorabilia and started rambling: she loved seeing the original poster because not too many people still have that. The shirt, and the fact that I know Steve Marshall, made her do a double take, and she was gracious when I wanted to give her a copy of my movie. She may not ever watch it, but at least I got the courage up to give it to her! I was also able to tell her nearly everything I wanted to, about her being my hero and how she's the reason why I'm in the business and how much I admire her and everything. I may have sounded a bit weird, but I don't care.
When it came time for her to sign something on the photos and the shirt, though...I was stymied for quotes. My favourite Nancy bits aren't really quotable, they're moments, like when she steps between Rod and Glen when Rod takes out his switchblade or when she confronts her mother after the nightmare at the Katja Institute. I left the decision up her to and on the poster she told me not to fall asleep (hahaha!)
Then we had to think of something for the t-shirt. I haven't seen an episode of Ten of Us in so long because Warner hasn't released it on DVD. I've been watching the Gag Reels (also sent to me by Steve back in the day) and I only really know quotes from that! Thankfully, the guy next to her, one of the people behind the wonderful Elm Street documentary Never Sleep Again (get it...seriously) said that the only Marie quote he knew was the one used in the documentary where she says that it's "like A Nightmare on Elm Street up there!" (He got the quote wrong, it's actually "It's like something out of A Nightmare on Elm Street", but he can't be blamed because hell, I didn't get it right at the time either and she can't be blamed because Ten of Us was, what, 22 years ago?) I thought the quote was hilarious in my weird sense of humour way so she put that on the shirt. I thanked her and floated away so others could have their chance to talk to her, too. I went outside to call my mom and tell her that Heather Langenkamp is a sweetheart, then I posted the same to Facebook and Twitter.
I did have my point and shoot camera with me. No, I didn't ask her for a photo. She'd already given me so much of her time and the people behind me...well...I didn't want to get lynched. Besides, as a filmmaker who does her own cinematography, I wouldn't have been happy with what was taken. ;D I already planned on getting the photo ops so no need!
After I got off the phone, I bought my tickets for the photo ops the next day (one of myself with Ms. Langenkamp and Mr. Englund, then one with just Ms. Langenkamp and myself) roamed the con a bit, then watched the ending of A NIghtmare on Elm Street 3 and stuck around for Ken Sagoes' Q&A. He's so cute and a really funny guy as well! I think he'd make a great Coach if they ever make a Left4Dead movie. Not Louis...Louis is a little whiney.
During the Q&A, Ken (he admonished me later for calling him "Mr. Sagoes") mentioned that he had written a screenovel (that's my term for it, it's a mix of a screenplay and a novel) and hoped that everyone would come back and get it. He said his villain is scarier than Freddy and Jason and Michael so I had to pick it up! Besides, I like to see what some of my favourite people do on the side, you know?
Since I'm not a fan of Repo: The Genetic Opera or Kiss, I went back to my room at the end of the night instead of hanging around for the midnight parties, and went to bed. Saturday was another day, after all!