Some of the killers wore masks, while others simply wore concert T-shirts with a hockey mask imprinted on their baseball caps. Some carried long machetes, and others simply dragged a long, bloody hatchet behind. But they came by the dozens. Zombies and demons, familiar monsters from old horror movies, all fans wearing costumes as if they were celebrating Halloween early this year.
But the 10th annual Texas Frightmare Weekend was more than just a celebration for horror fans. It was an ode to some of the horror industry's biggest stars, such as Malcom McDowell from a Clockwork Orange, Halloween (the 2007 remake); Alexandra Breckenridge, American Horror Story, Walking Dead; and Kim Coates, Sons of Anarchy, Resident Evil.
The three-day horror convention kicked off Friday evening and lasted until Sunday afternoon. Celebrity appearances, horror film screenings and vendors selling all manner of horror-related items drew a crowd of several thousand people to the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport.
Fans dressed up as a variety of different movie monsters and homemade creations. There were the usual suspects -- Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. A few vampires and a killer clown or two lingered among the fans as well as a host of demons. One a demon, a rather bloated fellow with skin problems, played an accordion and sang a country song with a band of demons who stopped to join in.
"This is my second year," said one demon. "I came as a fan three or four years ago and started volunteering last year. The festival just keeps growing, but it's a little more low key, kind of homey. These celebrities are actually willing to talk to people. It's real nice."
Texas Frightmare Weekend was conceived as an idea to celebrate the horror genre by offering fans a rare opportunity to experience all aspects of horror films. Not only would they be able to screen new horror films, they would be also able to visit with the stars and creators of cult classics like Clive Barker's Nighbreed or George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
In 2005, Loyd and Sue Cryer hosted the first three-day horror convention at the Grapevine Convention Center, a small venue, with celebrity appearances, exclusive parties and, of course, horror memorabilia. Fangoria Magazine and Frightpix soon sponsored the Cryers' idea, and the convention grew into a festival, arguably the largest one in the nation.
Danny Trejo, George A. Romero, Clive Barker, John Carpenter and Mr. Freddy Kruger himself, Robert Englund, all made an appearance at Texas Frightmare Weekend. In 2014, Texas Frightmare Weekend was awarded the best horror convention by iHorror.com.
Over the weekend, Texas Frightmare proved why its successful. It offers fans the opportunity to meet with stars like Tara Reid from Sharknado, Sharknado 2 and the Big Lebowski; Angus Scrimm, Wishmaster, Masters of Horror and The Phanstasm saga; and Robert Rusler, Weird Science, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Vamp.
Wes Craven's Scream was hailed by many critics as film that brought a frightening new aspect to the horror genre: a pretty boy serial killer in a Wal-Mart mask. Skeet Ulrich and Neve Campbell played both victim and killer, and they were on hand over the weekend, answering fans' questions, signing autographs and posing for photographs.
There was no real system to how much stars charged for autographs. Campbell charged $75. Ulrich was about $15 cheaper. McDowell, a legend, and C. Thomas Howell - Ponyboy from the Outsiders - were charging $40.
Captain Spaulding, who's real name is Sid Haig, drew tons of people to his booth on Sunday. The breakout star of Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, Haig is also known for his involvement in cult classics like Star Trek, Mission Impossible and Batman (the 1950s version).
Like many other movie stars at the convention, Captain Spaulding wasn't wearing his clown makeup, but a few fans dressed as killer clowns posed with him for a couple of snap shots. He never said his catch phrases: "Y'all think us folk from the country's real funny-like, dontcha?" or "You know, I like 'em with a little more meat. The bigger the cushin', the sweeter the pushin'." But he did manage to flip off the camera a couple of times.
Zombies were the hot commodity at this year's festival. They lingered among the crowd, lunging at inappropriate times. Authors who wrote about zombies held a special row among the vendors, spinning stories about zombies to anyone who stopped to look at their books. Most of their stories took place during a post apocalyptic zombie future. In one story, zombies fight superheroes, and in another, a sociopath longs for the zombie apocalypse to begin only to be later disappointed when it arrives.
Vendors from across the country sold handcrafted artwork, T-shirt and other horror-related memorabilia. Barry Crawford, better known as "the clay guy," drove down from Steamwood, Illinois, to sell his hand-crafted monster creations. He's crafted monsters from Freddy Kruger preparing to slash to Madman Marz holding a bloody ax. Damien, the son of the devil, also graced the shelf of hand-crafted monsters, dressed in a school boy outfit, looking rather pissed off.
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Other artists such as Tony Herrera of Rockin' Attitude offered monster-inspired glow-in-the-dark artwork. He's painted everything from the Frankenstein monster to the Wolfman. He spends about three hours applying one layer of paint, and then he flips on the black light and spends a few more hours apply a few more layers.
This is Herrera's first year to sale art at the horror festival.
"It's a totally different vibe than comic con," Herrera said. "I think it's because it's all adults. It's like a party atmosphere."
Of course, no horror festival would be complete without the Mistress of the Night -- Elvira making an appearance. She wasn't wearing her signature low-cut black dress. Her hair was red instead of black, and she had more color in her skin than her photos led to believe. She looked older but still beautiful. A line of fans waited to meet her, and she greeted each one with her signature smile.