Being a huge Horror hound, not to mention Texas Frightmare Weekend veteran, my general advice would be to see and do everything! But obviously you only have limited time and one body (which hopefully stays unsevered throughout the three days) so allow me to help curate your TXFMW experience for you by picking out a few key things you won't want to skip out on.
The screenings! A big part of what makes TXFMW special is you are privy to some of the latest films from some up and coming names in the genre along with a few retrospective screenings. This year gives us not only one but two epic battle royales: Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, from The Asylum - that infamous production company that is famous for two things: pitting megathings against thingasauruses for SyFy and ripping off big Hollywood movies with considerably lower budget, direct to Redbox versions to confuse unassuming victims. While we won't get our chance to see the 16th President free the world from the slavery of vampires until later this summer, we can watch him go all beardy on some zombies this weekend. But that's not the showdown...we've seen Zombie Strippers (starring Freddy himself, Robert Englund) but we haven't seen Strippers VS Werewolves (also starring, you guessed it, Robert Englund). Hey, I can't make this stuff up!
Other flicks you'll want to check out are the retro-stylistic Father's Day from iconic grindhouse purveyors Troma Entertainment, 1986's Nail Gun Massacre (which Joe Bob Briggs called, "The best movie ever made in Seagoville, TX!"), the '80s influenced Nailbiter, the secret screening on Friday, not to mention the Shorts programming (make sure to check out Other, which looks particularly face melting). I probably shouldn't have to remind you but I will: these are not for the faint of heart or the faint of any body part for that matter.
The retrospectives! You may encounter lots of unexpected frights and sights at TXFMW, but what people really come for is the chance to see some of their favorite Horror heroes take the stage and relive their nightmares. This year brings no shortage of iconic actors for intimate discussions on their iconic roles/films. A double creature feature of 70s/80s awesomeness featuring a Q&A with the cast of Carrie (including Piper Laurie, Nancy Allen, P.J. Soles and Betty Buckley) and a Q&A with the cast of They Live (including Rowdy Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster). And a Q&A with Ernest Borgnine!
But it's also about the instant classics as well. And this is the one I'm most excited for (which has nothing to do with the fact I'm hosting it and everything to do with the fact that it's my favorite show on TV right now, something I don't think I'm alone on). It's a Q&A with the cast of AMC's "The Walking Dead" (featuring Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Irone Singleton, Michael Rooker and Madison Lintz)!
The panels! Maybe you happen to not only be a fan but a filmmaker yourself. Well, then this is the part of TXFMW that you're really going to love. Over the course of the weekend, there are all kinds of great panels and discussions for filmmakers by some of the filmmakers in attendance, including FRIGHTMAKERS 101 panels for scoring your film, special f/x, and tips & tricks for a successful movie shoot.
You also get a sneak peak at films still in production, like the sequel to one of my favorite recent Horror films Behind the Mask - the psuedo mockumentary/found footage from 2006 for which a follow-up is due this year. But we only have to wait a few more days to get our first glimpses at the film, with the cast & crew in attendance! The parties! It wouldn't be a celebration of Carrie without a prom and it wouldn't be a party without a party! Prizes for best Carrie look-a-like costume! Prom pics with Anthony Michael Hall! Music and dancing! It is BYOPB though. Bring your own pig's blood.
The vendors! You can't attend a Horror con and not walk away with some delectable collectibles. You'll want to bring lots of funds because there's all kinds of finds on the vendor floor, from t-shirts to toys to art and posters to original items your won't believe with your own eyes. Hey, you can even get a tattoo there! Just be sure your 100% sure if you're going to finally commit to that giant portrait of Leatherface on your back.
What else? I didn't have a category for this one but I thought it was too cool to leave out. It's called Monstro Bizarro and it's going down Sunday at 2:00. Rue Morgue columnist/author Lyle Blackburn discusses local legends and frightening real-life encounters with Bigfoot creatures in Texas and the surrounding areas. Nerdy! And awesome!
See the full schedule of panels & screenings and line-up of special guests here.