Most of these words are true.
On September 13, 2014, I attended ScareFest, a horror & paranormal convention held in Lexington, KY. This is the 7th year of its existence. I happen to live in Lexington, KY, and I have no excuses for missing the previous 6. Before my Wizard World experience, I had never been to a convention. I attribute my attendance to ScareFest this year to the great time I had at Wizard World. Still, it’s ridiculous that this convention takes place in my town and I had never been. I have brought shame upon my family.
Unlike Wizard World, I would be flying solo. So I got up, threw on my Zombie Fights Shark t-shirt(seemed festive), and made the 10 minute drive to Rupp Arena. Home to the Cats, and, on this weekend, home to the ghouls.
I parked a few blocks away and walked. On my way through the parking lot, I passed many cars with bumper stickers. The Misfits. Necronomicon. Michael Myers. Jason Voorhees. Zombies. I looked around and smiled, knowing I was about to be among my people. By the end of the day, I would be adding a new bumper sticker to my car, signaling to the others that I belonged.
It wasn’t hard to find the entrance: all I had to do was follow the screams. I found myself traveling in a group of people dressed as various characters from The Walking Dead. “Those screams aren’t real, right?” I wondered aloud. None of them looked up at me. They just put their heads down and shuffled forwards. If I were to die, I would do it with characters from a show I sorta-kinda like sometimes.
Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line were playing a concert at Rupp Arena later that evening, which gave the crowd a bit of a weird mix. I saw people dressed as monsters, bloody clowns and zombies walking among people wearing cowboy hats, boots and tight jeans. The Grim Reaper made small talk with John Wayne while waiting in line for food. It was strange and beautiful.
I never did discover the source of the screams, but I found the ticket window, grabbed my wristband and headed through the doors. A skeleton stared at me from above as I walked underneath. I thought it kind of looked like me, though that could have just been my brain playing tricks.
I stepped inside the doors to find a young child being attacked by Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, while Billy the Puppet sat on his tricycle grinning like an idiot. I thought about stepping in, but I’m only one man. That kid lived enough of his life to enjoy it, but not long enough to be cynical. I hope you find comfort in the next life, young man.
As it turns out, I could probably find him in the next life, as the next thing I saw was a sign for the Ghost Hunter Shop. Books. Vests. Smudge sticks. If you’re looking for ghost hunting supplies, they had it there. The Ghost Hunter shop is owned by Patti Starr, who puts on ScareFest every year. They have a website as well as a physical location here in Lexington.
I poked around in the shop a little, but I had no haunting in my own home and had neither the time nor energy to hunt for them elsewhere, so I shoved off to the main floor.
Ah, the main floor. What joys would I find there? Would I find something to love immediately, or would I have to wait a while?
I would find something immediately. Just Betelgeuse and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man hanging out together. I tried to get up close enough to hear what they were talking about, but I’m not good at sneaking. I also couldn’t stop singing, “Tale as old as tiiiiiiiime.”
I thought ol’ Puffy would be taller, but I had only seen him on TV. All celebrities are shorter in person. Apparently Stay Puft and Keifer Sutherland are the same size.
I found out early that security would not back down from anyone.
I happened upon Michael Myers. I don’t even think it was someone dressed as Myers: I believe that this was the real Michael Myers. I followed him around for a while, observing his movements. He never spoke a word. He walked around the floor, looking around him. I can only assume he was looking for a gaggle of babysitters. While he was stalking them, I was stalking him. Eventually I walked up to him.
Me: Can I get a picture with you?
MM: [Nods head]
Me: So, you just don’t talk then?
MM: [Shakes head]
Me: Halloween: Resurrection was really terrible, huh?
MM: [Nods head violently]
Me: You…uh…you going to kill anyone here?
MM: [Dead silence]
Me: Alright man. I’ll catch up with you later.
I saw him after that from time to time. Still walking the floor. Still not talking. Occasionally he would stop for pictures with people, but he never spoke a word. I saw a woman walk up to him and ask, “Can I get a picture with you, sweet pea?” It killed me that someone referred to Michael Myers as “sweet pea”.
My encounter with Michael Myers spooked me a little, but it didn’t last long. I looked to my left and saw the table for the Western Kentucky Ghostbusters. I tried to calmly walk over, but I’m pretty sure I ended up awkwardly jogging.
“Hey. Are those proton packs?”
“Yes. For $1 you can wear one and stand next to Vigo the Carpathian.”
“You mean Vigo the Butch?”
I giggled and threw some money in the pot, and was then armed with my very own proton pack. As I waited for the people in front of me to finish with their pictures, I kept repeating to myself, “Bite your head off, man. Bite your head off, man.”
It was finally my turn. I walked up, powered on my proton pack and said, “Only a Carpathian would come back to life now and choose Lexington, KY,” then muttered a few lines about Carpathian Kitten Loss.
I tried to look tough, but instead just came off as looking vaguely indifferent, and quite possibly like I’m a little sick. I think I looked quite dashing in that proton pack.
I walked off and came across two very pale people pushing a stroller. “Oh, lemme see the cute little baby. Who’s the cute baby? Is it you?”
While I was still trying to rub the evil out of my eyes, I felt someone push me in the back. Before I could execute a super-sweet roundhouse kick, he was past me.
It was Sean Astin, traveling with a security guard. “Gotta get back to my table. Mr. Frodo needs me,” I heard him say softly to himself.
“I kind of thought you’d be talking about D-Bob.”
“Nothing, Mr. Austin. Go tell them about how you hope they won’t be able to get their balls out. Give ‘em hell, sir. Goonies never say ah he’s gone.”
A voice came over the speakers. “Cary Elwes is back at his booth, so if you want his autograph, it’s as you wish.” I cackled loudly. I looked around for anyone to share my laugh with, but all I could find was this guy.
He didn’t find it funny, but I doubt he really found anything funny. The blood of the innocent, maybe?
I saw Dick Warlock – legendary stunt man, and Michael Myers in the stellar Halloween II – wandering around his booth while wearing a terrific jacket.
I thought about trying to steal it, but I figured he would snap my arm in 6 places without breaking a sweat. I backed away slowly.
I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to pay money to meet any of the celebrities today. Sure, there were people I loved, but I didn’t feel like waiting in line and spending a bunch of money just to have an awkward interaction with someone I’d never see again.
But then, as I was walking along the back, I spotted Caroline Williams, most famous for playing Vanita “Stretch” Brock from Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. There she was, standing in her booth all alone. I had no choice, really. I had to say hi.
I walked up and chatted with her for a while. She struck me as a genuinely sweet and caring woman. I got my picture taken with her and walked off. I’ve always been a fan of her work, and I’m an even bigger fan of her now. I now have an autographed picture of Caroline hanging out with Tobe Hooper, Tom Savini and Nubbins hanging up in my home office. It makes me smile every time I look at it.
I made new friends (who would gladly kill me at a moment’s notice).
I found Salvatore blood.
How much do you think Salvatore blood goes for these days? More than I thought it would. Sure, it promises immortality, but there’s a decent change you’ll turn into some version of The Ripper. Or, at the very least, have someone screaming, “FLIP YOUR HUMANITY SWITCH,” at you when you’re trying to go to sleep. It’s my switch, buddy. I’ll flip it when I want to.
I found the disembodied head of Bughuul.
I saw someone getting a picture with Nick King, the guy who played Bughuul. “Do you want me to hold the mask?” he asked the person? No. I just want to take a picture with the guy who played Bughuul but have the mask nowhere in sight. I’ll look back in a few months and think, “Who was this guy?”
I saw Universal Monsters rising from the ground…
…and others trying to end their miserable existence.
It’s not your fault you have an abnormal brain, buddy. I’m sure you still have something to live for. What about that girl you’ve been talking about? The one with the cool hair? Maybe try giving her a call. I think you can build a life together.
I stopped to take a picture of an odd spectacle, only to have a fella in a Jayne hat come up afterwards and basically demand money for taking the picture.
Jayne don’t mess with mudders.
I spotted a stormtrooper and Sam, just hanging out
I wanted to get in closer to hear what they were talking about, but Sam tightened his grip on his lollipop. I quickly turned and walked in the opposite direction. I put a Jack-o’-lantern outside my house on Halloween. I have no quarrel with you.
When I turned the corner, I ran into this:
“Hey Scoob! SCOOB! Here’s a mystery for ya. Why did 6 hate 7? Huh? Hahahahahahahaha! Try running around robbing banks all wacked off of…hey…I was having a conversation here, officer. About what? Well, that’s between me and my friend here. Where are you taking me? What is…is that a chloroform rag? You’re not a real cop, are you? AIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!”
The rest of the day was a haze. I’m pretty sure I saw Corey Feldman walking around with a scantily clad angel, but I could be mistaken.
For all I know, I’m still there, somewhere in the halls of ScareFest. Maybe I’ll be there forever. I don’t mind. There are worse ways to spend eternity. I’ll see you all there next year.