This past weekend marked my fourth year attending Texas Frightmare Weekend, and just like the three previous years, this weekend was a blast. Lloyd Cryler & co. always manage to bring guests I really want to meet, and this did not disappoint this year. Because last year’s lineup (George A. Romero, Robert Englund, Tom Savini, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, and more) was so darn incredible (likely due to the death of the great Wes Craven), I was unsure how they would top 2016’s weekend. I can’t say they did, but because they manage to bring a plethora of guests and vendors to please all fashions of horror, they once again gave fans more than their money’s worth.
I knew from the moment I left my first TFW in 2014 that I would be returning every year regardless of their lineup. Being surrounded by like-minded folks who are passionate about your passions is an incredible feeling. Meeting your heroes makes this even better, and the panels they partake in give us insight that is privileged to being there. They began making guest announcements for this year back in the fall of 2016, and while the cast of Bates Motel and the inclusion of Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein had me beyond stoked (99% for Doyle), I felt they were still missing that heavy-hitter. Then, they announced Dario Argento would be attending. This was the monumental headline I was waiting for, and to compliment this there was a 40th anniversary panel for Suspiria featuring Dario, Claudio Simonetti of
Goblin, actresses Stefania Casini and Barbara Magnolfi, and actor Udo Kier. This alone was worth the 8 hour drive from my South Texas town to Dallas, TX, yet Frightmare still had so much more to offer.
The guest list is quite expansive, and included cast members of John Carpenter’s The Thing, including Keith David (also of They Live), cast and director for Fright Night (very cool to see Tom Holland and Chris Sarandon), wresters Sting and Rick Flair, the entire cast for Rob Zombie’s 31, Shannon Elizabeth, director Robert / FX maestro Hall (Lightning Bug, Laid to Rest), Freddie Highmore / Nestor Carbonell / Max Thieriot of Bates Motel, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Savini (a TFW regular), Ted Raimi, Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman), Ken Kirzinger (Freddy vs. Jason), Frank Henenlotter, Jenn and Sylvia Soska, and many other filmmakers, writers, and genre notables. Most of these guests participated in panels, which typically consumes my Saturday at this convention. There are also screenings taking place once the festivities are over for the day, but this year marked the first year I did not attend a screening and provide a review.
While guests and screenings are fun, the trio of fun is not complete without merchandise. There are dozens of vendors with tables full of DVDs, t-shirts, posters, comic books, NECA toys, Funko Pop figures, and numerous forms of memorabilia. Some of these vendors are there for promotional purposes, which was the case with Shudder. With them, if you signed up for their $5 a month streaming service at the convention you would get a free pair of Shudder socks. When they asked if I was interested I informed them I have been a member for almost a year now. Sadly, they would not give me any socks for that. Blumhouse also had a table there, where Elric Kane and Ryan Turek of the Shockwaves podcast were hanging out with fans (also, Elric narrated the Suspiria panel). I enjoyed many of the vendors, but the ones I was most excited for were Mondo tees/posters and Arrow Video. Mondo tees brought artist Gary Paulin with them. If you are unaware of Gary’s work, he has designed amazing posters for classic horror films. He is a recent add to Monto & co., after doing freelance work, and I was glad they brought him along. Arrow Video, a UK company, made their first appearance in the United States at Texas Frightmare Weekend and they ultimately stole the show for me. I was glad that they brought the majority of their US region releases, and they were more than hospitable. Not only did their discount their prices for the convention (we pay to get in, so that helps), but they also help a panel and provided screenings of their restorations of Dario Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, and a lesser-known Nightmare On Elm Street-esque slasher film, The Slayer. There was another first-timer that impressed me, and that was Forgotten Boneyard. They make sculptures out of the bones they find from roadkill, and they delivered some genius designs that I wish I took home with me.
For those planning to attend, I highly recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which is where the convention is held. I had to stay off site my first year because I only heard about the convention a month prior, but since then I have booked my room the moment reservations become available. Why? Well, aside from the convenience of not having to drive anywhere, you can drink and be merry without worry. Whether you drink in your room, take your alcohol with you to the convention, or buy what the hotel serves, this is what I enjoy most about staying on sight. Also, since the guests are staying at the same hotel there is the chance you’ll share an elevator ride with them, which has happened to me on several occasions.
Simply put, I highly recommend making it out to Texas Frightmare Weekend. The convention being located at a hotel at one of the nation’s largest airports means you will not just run into unique guests, but also unique fans with interests that align with yours. From Europe to South America to Boston, this South Texan takes great joy in associating with citizens from across the globe who share my love for horror films. With their twelfth year wrapped up, I anticipate year thirteen for Texas Frightmare Weekend will be an experience you won’t want to miss.
…Additional Photos I Took…