This weekend at Saturday Nightmares, Ken and I were lucky enough to get to hang in the VIP room with cast and crew members of “The Return of the Living Dead”.
Now, I’m not a really a fanboy sort of guy. I don’t tend to ooze or geek out over meeting celebrities – sure these people may be talented or even gifted, but as they’re usually the first to say, they are just normal people like you and me. What’s cool/creepy about celebrity is that you reach a hell of a lot more people with your body of work than that bus driver that always makes excellent time or the postman that successfully manages to not creep our the neighbor kids might. Everyone who does their job well deserves praise, it’s just that movie people do their jobs for a much wider audience – and that praise probably seems a bit disconcerting to the average onlooker.
That’s why I always feel weird when I meet a person whose work I admire, but whom I don’t directly know. You hate to be that guy that can quote every line of theirs back at them (I’m not – my memory is too… ugh, what’s the word… not good?) and I honestly just don’t want to bother people who don’t want to be bothered. I can imagine how being celebrated for work you did years ago might be annoying if you are a jobbing actor – but that’s not the point, of course. You do your job, and you entertain. You are lucky and talented enough to have done your job, at least on a few occasions, so well that people like to take time out of their day to let you know that they are still impressed. If you were in another profession, you’d be floored that your hard work was recognized, but here, at least occasionally, you get the acknowledgment you deserve. Congratulations filmmaker, you just won the day! You deserve it.
So, basically, that’s how I see celebrity; a means to which we can thank a few people that have worked hard and well to provide us with entertainment we find worthy. With that in mind, I was thrilled by the way this VIP party for the “Return of the Living Dead” went down. The night began with a public Q&A from the fans, which worked the way most of these things tend to; some insightful questions to and reveals from the cast mixed liberally with some really bonker fans. The cast and crew were great – they made genuine attempts to answer even the most banal of questions in a way that kept the conversation going. Special thanks to Brian Peck (Scuz) whose own geekiness made it seems as if one of us was sitting right there alongside everyone else on the panel (I’m with you on that Doctor Zaius trade, bro). Thom Mathews (Freddy) advised the struggling actors. Linnea Quigley (Trash) schooled us on punk music. Jewel Shepard (Casie) was proposed to at least twice, by my reckoning. John Philbin (Chuck) revealed something that made even Jewel blush. Yeah, I’m as shocked as you.
After the Q&A, the VIP party began. Those lucky enough to afford the ticket got invited back to a quartered off section of the hotel’s restaurant/bar where cast and crew alike were relaxing after a long first day at the con. Beverly Randolph (Tina) who was the definitive cheerleader of the night, even organizing our high school group picture.
Ken schmoozed with the lovely ladies (and gents) on one side of the bar, while I spent most of the night sitting with Don Calfa (Ernie), William Stout (Production Design), and Allan Trautman (Tarman), talking about some of our favorite movies and movie-makers. These guys were absolutely amazing to talk to. I tell you, it’s a special treat hearing some of your favorite filmmakers talking about their favorite films – it’s a great perspective to get if you can get it. I just wish I could have called up that youtube video of the music from “Inception” so that Bill, Don, and Allan could have heard that awesome easter-egg in the soundtrack for themselves. Ah, maybe next time!
It was a memorable evening that ended up feeling more like a great night out with friends. My humblist thanks for everyone there that night – not only for the party, but for the years of entertainment thus far.
We have plenty more stories to share about the weekend in general, and we’ll be posting podcasts soon!
– Frank Hablawi