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TLO Travelogues: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2017

5:14 AM EDT on May 11, 2017

Fans of the horror genre, such as myself, gathered in Dallas, Texas this past weekend for the 12th Annual Texas Frightmare Weekend convention, an all-day excuse to wear profane black t-shirts and confine ourselves in close quarters while not wearing deodorant, sweating off all that excess Monster Energy Drink bloat by standing in line to pay $70 to get the autograph of the guy who played a midget Nazi in the latest Rob Zombie flick.

In other words, it’s one of the few days of the year where I look forward to getting up, a feverish chance to get out of the house and out of the city and, best of all, actually mingle with people who know what I’m talking about, if only for a few scant hours. Any more than that is overkill, to be honest.

Located in the luxurious Hyatt Regency DFW, we arrived around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday to an absolutely packed house—but, thankfully, not an overrun madhouse like some conventions I’ve been to, mostly due to Frightmare’s absolutely polite staff and signage that gave clear and concise instructions—with lines already forming down the hall to see panels featuring the stars of The Hills Have Eyes and The Thing, while in the vendors’ rooms quivering fanboys prepared themselves to meet actors ranging from the legendary—Malcolm McDowell and Dario Argento—to the always omnipresent—Tom Savini and Ted Raimi.

While my con-partner was eager for the Bates Motel panel, as with every convention I attend, I was all about looking for rare and obscure flicks, hopefully finding that one table filled with copyright-skirting bootlegs recorded on DVD-R and usually on sale at 3 for $25. Sadly, much, like Fan Expo, it was a search in vain. Maybe the internet and torrents and all that have killed off the business?

I didn’t leave the floor empty-handed, however, as at the Arrow Films booth I found a Blu-ray release of the long-awaited (by me) Mexican film We Are the Flesh; they also threw in some label swag, so the trip wasn’t a complete disappointment for me. (Meanwhile, outside the doors, local radio station KEGL was giving away prizes for picking a certain number playing card, which I got right and, to the chagrin of the horror fans around me, claimed a Shakira album for my bounty.)

One of the things that I noticed in this outing is that it feels like horror fans are outgrowing the whole cosplay thing. Sure, there were plenty of people in amazing costumes—although for some, I think those might be their regular clothes—but unlike comic book or sci-fi cons where everyone and their mother is repping some sort of fandom via their wardrobe, here it was mostly just stinky jeans and t-shirts, which, if I may be honest, was quite refreshing.

Before heading to the aforementioned Bates Motel panel, however, I made sure to stop by the Full Moon Features table to meet one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, Charles Band, he of Trancers and Puppet Master fame. I told him how, growing up, my brother and I would routinely rent films like Eliminators or Zone Troopers from his then Empire Films company, to which he seemed genuinely moved and then told me how they were finally available on DVD and Blu-ray now. Sadly, I already owned them.

Finally, to cap the whole affair of the heart off, we sat in on a discussion of the acclaimed A&E series Bates Motel, which apparently has just finished its five-year run and thusly, was filled with spoilers. This kind of sucked for me as I just finished the first season, but that’s what I get for watching all 130 episodes of Mama’s Family: The Complete Series instead. Not that I'm complaining. I can't get enough of that Mama and her wisecracks. Sorry, Norma Bates!

While smaller in stature to cons like Horrorhound and Cinema Wasteland, Texas Frightmare Weekend is definitely big in heart, with an obvious love for not only the genre, but the fans as well, and, sadly, that’s something you don’t get at too many of these things. But, believe me, it makes all the difference in the world. My calendar is already marked off for next year’s, DVD bootlegs or not. ¡Cómpralo ya!

_

I’d like to take a moment to also mention the astounding amount of hot Latina single mom horror fans at this con, none of whom I had the ganas to talk to. Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.

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