Everyone’s bucket list is different. Some people want to run a marathon, others want to visit Greece. Me, well… my bucket list isn’t so fantastical. Or I should say, it is to me but likely not to others. I’ve knocked a few things off in my short life, such as catching a foul ball at a baseball game (minor league, but I’ll take it), seeing Michael Jordan play basketball (even though I was a Larry Bird fan) and more recently standing 20 feet in front of Sammy Hagar playing a show at the Cabo Wabo during his birthday celebration last year. That was amazing, by the way. I could write a whole other blog on that one.
This past weekend, in downtown Indy, I was able to check another one off my quickly shrinking list. The Indianapolis Marriott East hotel was hosting HorrorHound Weekend, a traveling show (of sorts) that gives paying fans a chance to meet actors, directors, special affects artists and many others from the world of horror. I’ve never really been to a convention before, though I always told myself I would if properly motivated. When they announced this year’s HorrorHound would feature none other than Robert Englund, I became INSTANTLY motivated. Freddy Krueger is easily one of the most polarizing characters in the world of horror. Jason and Michael had been quietly hacking their way through teenagers since the late 70’s/early 80’s; and while I enjoyed these movies, it wasn’t until I was introduced to Freddy that I realized how a movie monster could be so dynamically creepy using both fear and humor. He was a character, plain and simple… and he was coming to Indianapolis. So I called Chewie, told him the good news and he booked his travel plans to Indy about 4 minutes later. Good friend (and future contributing author) Corey came along as well (pictured on the left below).
We arrived approximately 30 minutes prior to the opening of Saturday’s festivities, and that turned out to be a serendipitous decision. Being the big draw of the convention, Robert Englund was the only celebrity to have what they called a “virtual queue”. The idea was to give people a numbered ticket, and they would call groups of numbers (one after another) so people wouldn’t have to stand in his line all day. Conceptually, the idea had it’s merits. Had it not been for that, after all, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the convention. The problem is, while they did announce the virtual queue, they didn’t really provide all the details. What we didn’t know until the end of the day is that we were (quite literally) about 1 minute away from never getting to meet Robert. Unfortunately, many fans endured that fate.
After getting our ticket, we explored the convention grounds seeing the various vendors and celebrities. Chewie’s first stop was to see Barry Bostwick, who some may know from Spin City and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Chewie, however, knew him as Ace Hunter from 80’s cult classic, Megaforce. Mr. Bostwick was more than cordial, taking a picture and engaging in conversation with Chewie that seemed nothing but genuine. Chewie posted a pic of himself and Barry on Instagram, and his smile looked very similar to the one he had at his wedding. After that, Corey went over to get a signature from former (teenage crush and) Twin Peaks starlet Sherilyn Fenn (pictured right). She also seemed nice, and was happy to pose for a photo and sign a publicity still for Corey. For me, there was only one person I was there to see, but it was not yet time. We walked around the rest of the convention and snuck peaks at some of the others that were in attendance including the uber adorable Danielle Harris (Halloween 4/5, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1/2, Roseanne), Jamie Kennedy (Scream 1-3) and Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day, Kill Bill series). There were quite a few actors from Freddy Vs. Jason including Monica Keena, Ken Kerzinger (Jason), Chris Marquette, Brendan Fletcher, Katharine Isabelle, Kyle Labine and Zack Ward (also known as Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story). This proved especially entertaining for a panel that would be held later in the day for all the cast (which was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the film). Other notable faces included Mark Patton (pictured left) and Robert Rusler, both from Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Both of these guys were not only friendly with the fans, but had a great chemistry with each other during their NOES2 panel. They comedically dove right into the often talked about homoerotic overtones of the film and the impact it had on the franchise.
The day went on, and Robert’s line moved very slowly. They made repeated apologies, but ensured people this was because Robert was taking time to talk with his fans (which by the end of the day I would certainly believe). Chewie and I looked at each other with shared concern, hearing throughout the day that there were many people from the night before that didn’t get autographs. In order to make sure we got something out of this weekend, we each purchased Photo Ops; which were professional pics you could have taken with most of the attendees. We figured this was the best way to guarantee some face time with the Springwood Slasher. At approximately 3:45pm (yes, we’d been there from 9:30am – 3:45pm without having met the man himself) we got in a long line of people who had the same idea. The great thing about this is that they shuffled people through FAST. This was not a meet & greet, this was a smile & get the hell out. That’s not to imply that everyone wasn’t friendly, but they were adamant about rushing people through so Robert could get back to signing. The line got shorter, and I got closer. Before I knew it, I was standing right beside the man I’d been watching hack kids apart for years… and I couldn’t have been happier. The camera snapped quickly, and before I knew it I was out of there. I was told, after the fact, that I was supposed to look scared… but no chance of that. Even Freddy himself couldn’t cut that grin off my face.
Immediately proceeding the photo ops, Robert was quickly ushered to one of the ballrooms where he participated in a panel with the other attendees from Freddy Vs. Jason. While this cast is no “Dream Warriors”, it was clear that the audience and cast members both really enjoyed the Q/A session. Robert answered most of the questions, as a lot of them were issued directly to him. All the actors were engaged and seemed genuinely happy to be a part of that particular experience. Monica Keena, who had made recent tabloid headlines being photographed looking a bit “rough”, seemed a little erratic on stage. It wasn’t like watching Courntey Love at the Pamela Anderson Comedy Central Roast, but she seemed very distracted. Both Chewie and I noticed that she, in particular, appeared as if she had recently fallen on hard times.
After the panel, the three of us made our way towards Robert’s room in hopes they would call the next group. The next group was already sitting, and we were psyched to see that we finally made the cut. After we got in and had a seat (in yet another line), we quickly realized they had closed the doors behind us for the last time. We were the last group to be let in for autographs that night. Even having been there 30 minutes prior to the start of the convention, we almost missed getting to see him. In fact, we were so close that the last two digits on the ticket that were called were 50. Chewie had ticket 48, which means we were two people short of missing this amazing opportunity. We sat patiently in the room while Robert was signing for all his fans. On occasion, someone would ask him to speak in his Freddy voice for either a voicemail or phone video, to which he happily obliged. After almost an hour, it was finally my time. After all these years and all the waiting that day, I was finally in front of Robert Englund. Because of the way things worked out, I was able to get my print of the Photo Op with Robert prior to our numbers being called, so I was able to have him sign that. I also had him sign a teaser poster for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, which he would tell me he actually designed. He was incredibly nice, and infinitely patient with everyone there. I eventually shook his hand, thanked him for coming to town and his contribution to my childhood trauma, then made my way out in the most respectable way I could. I didn’t have any preconceived notions, I didn’t want be his new best friend… I simply wanted to thank him for all the entertainment he’s provided me for so many years.
So with that, I get to check off another item on my bucket list. I can’t honestly think of any other actors that I would’ve liked to meet as much as Robert. And honestly, if I never meet another then I’d be great. I’d rather not sullen that experience by meeting former stars who turned out to be a bunch of pretentious, washed up assholes. Robert was not that, far from it. He was actually the nicest tormentor of children I’ve ever met. The day turned out to be so much fun, it was… scary.