Monday, November 24, 2008
30 Years of Memories
I'm addicted to Halloween-- the holiday and the movie, a seminal horror classic that spawned seven sequels and a remake (and sparked my love affair with Jamie Lee Curtis). So it should come as no surprise that when I heard about a 30 Years of Terror convention marking the three decades since the original film's release, I was determined to go and experience it for myself. My best friend Ashley gamely accompanied me to this geek-fest, which took place primarily in Pasadena, CA. (This area stood in for Michael Myers' slashing grounds of Haddonfield, IL in the first two films and in last year's remake.) On Friday the 31st (Halloween) we took a 6 hour (!) bus tour covering locations from various "Halloween" films and other horror classics; on Saturday we went to the convention center to meet cast and crew from all 9 films. While Friday's tour was something of a debacle (originally they weren't going to break for "lunch" until 6pm, and was it really a good idea to schlepp out to Hollywood at day's end-- perilously close to rush hour?), Saturday was a pure delight.
The stops on Friday included...
The Myers House (from Halloween, henceforth "H1," and Halloween II, henceforth "H2"; you get the idea). It's been repainted blue (really quite nice looking) and moved up the street from the original location. Our tour guide thought we could take pictures on the porch, but apparently she'd been misinformed as an angry employee came out and started yelling at us. Some things are more scary than Michael Myers! Nearby was Nichol's Hardware Store from H1, which is a Pasadena landmark.
The alley and Mrs. Ellrod's house from H2. I'm glad I'm tall as I was able to see over the fence and look at the window where Michael peered in at Mrs. Ellrod.
The street where Laurie and Tommy took their walk-- and where the ill-fated Ben Tramer (mistaken for Myers and hit by a car) burned to death. In typical fashion, Ashley announced that she was going to "reenact" the burning and started waving her hands around and going "Woosh!" I don't think I'll ever watch that scene the same way again.
Michael's elementary school and Haddonfield High from the remake, which are actually right across the street from each other. Pasadena in general is a beautiful town. Ashley kept talking about how she wanted to live there someday.
Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis)'s house. It still looks the same and the owners even provided us with pumpkins for photo ops. I loved sitting in the same spot as Jamie Lee.
The Strode and Myers houses from the remake. The new Myers house was also Angela's house on My So Called Life.
The cemetery from H1. I heard some fan reciting the groundskeeper's lines word for word, which was funny.
Sierra Madre, where scenes from H2 and H3 were filmed. We saw the Buccaneer bar from III as well as the storefront where the annoying Silver Shamrock mask commercials played in the movie. (It's now a Domino's.) The highlight of this spot by far was watching Dick Warlock and his son Lance reenact the "Boom Box Boy" scene in H2. (In the film, Warlock's Michael Myers bumps into a boy carrying a boom box, played by his son in an in-joke cameo.) Everyone laughed as Dick walked forward in that very purposeful Myers way. Lance kept bumping into cars on his way over to Dick and joked, "It was the 70s, there were no cars back then!" It was also funny to watch confused locals wondering why a crowd was filming an old man bumping into someone and walking.
The Doyle and Wallace houses from H1 and 2. The Wallace house looks totally different, but the Doyle house is instantly recognizable for its front landing. Ashley got me to say "The keys, oh, the keys!" and dig in my jeans while she took pictures. (She's heard me imitate Jamie Lee's frantic squealing in H1 for years.)
On Saturday was the convention itself, where we met...
Dee Wallace from the remake, "ET," "The Howling" etc. She was very nice. You had to buy one thing to get a photo with her and when I told her I was getting the Frighteners trading cards ($5) she said, "Good choice, a low cost item and you still get what you want!" She joked to Ashley that she should marry me and Ashley replied, "He doesn't like girls." "I like girls," I protested. "I can, um, go both ways." "Aww, a switch hitter!" Dee laughed. It's not every day that Dee Wallace comments on your sexual orientation, but there you have it.
Scout Taylor Compton, the new Laurie. Ashley had just bought the hoodie she wears in the movie, so she complimented her on that. She was so unbelievably nice and took pictures with us and signed my soundtrack, all for free. Just a really great girl. Her Gothy looking boyfriend was there with her, which was cute.
The security guard from Halloween II. He wasn't very talkative, and unfortunately he hasn't gotten any thinner! But everyone else from that film was super nice. Gloria Gifford, Mrs. Alves, was really sweet. We joked with her about how Haddonfield Memorial is America's worst hopsital. Ashley and I explained our feelings about the "forgotten children" when we watched the movie a couple nights earlier. "It was an abandoned hospital offscreen," she said, and I cracked, "It was an abandoned hopsital onscreen." Good point," Gloria said. She also signed a "Haddonfield Memorial Hospital prescription" for me and wrote "Time's up" (one of her lines in the film) on it. Tawny Moyer, Nurse Jill, was nice, and explained how they did the famous "knife raising" scene, in which Michael stabs her in the back and lifts her up and off her feet. There were wires attached to her and crew working a pulley to lift her up just offscreen. Finally, Leo Rossi, Bud, was a very nice guy, and his wife was sweet, too. I know I shouldn't be surprised when people are different from the characters they play, but it still struck me how the guy who played the horndog douche bag in H2 was such a standup guy in reality! (Funnily enough, at one point on the bus tour they played Bud's dirty rendition of "Amazing Grace" from the movie: "Amazing Grace, come sit on my face / Don't make me cry, I need your pie.")
Lew Temple from "Halloween" 2007 and "The Devil's Rejects." One of the things I loved about this convention was how people I wasn't necessarily dying to see turned out to be some of the greatest and most fun. Earlier we met Tom Towles, the sherrif from "House of 1000 Corpses" and one of the cops in "Halloween" '07, who was also quite pleasant. Lew had a cowboy hat on and chatted us up about random stuff. Ashley's friend actually directed a short film that Lew had seen, because he's friends with its star Brian Austin Green. He also talked to us about the "Banjo and Sullivan" CD that came out for "Rejects" and how Fatboy Slim remixed a song for European clubs(!) He signed my "Halloween" soundtrack with his asshole character's line "I wouldn't want to bum the freak out." (Ironically, Temple appeared in a rape scene that was cut from the theatrical version of the movie. When I got the "unrated" DVD, I found the sequence so disturbing and repulsive that I traded it in for the original cut.)
Jenny Greg Stewart, the new Lindsay. She was so cute and, not surprisingly, so little! She told us her mom only let her watch the scenes that she was in. When Tyler Mane first did a scene with her and Tommy, they didn't recognize him, but he took off the mask and then they did. I asked her if it was true that she was genuinely scared in the first scene with Michael, and she said yes, but in later scenes when crew checked to see if she was "okay," she told them, in a very adult voice, "Guys, I'm just acting." (This is why I love kids.)
We sort of tried to talk to Daeg Faerch (young Michael in the remake), but he was really quiet and barely looked up from the phone he was playing with. We ended up just talking to his (vaguely creepy) stage mom. We did see him later talking to Kristina Klebe (new Linda). She said, "You've gotten so big!" It was cute.
I only met Danielle Harris (from H4, H5, and the remake) for a second, on her way out. I didn't actually think she seemed all that friendly, but then again I sort of caught her at a bad time. In any case, Scout was by far my favorite of the "new" Halloween girls.
John Graham (Bob in H1), who's actually gay. I told him I knew one of his friends back in NYC, who was amused when I said, "You know John Michael Graham??" "Well, that's how you knew my name," John laughed. He had the original glasses from Halloween with him and let me put them on for a photo, which was great. I told him how, when I saw the Halloween re-release a couple years ago, some queeny guy shouted, "Take the glasses off!" He thought that was funny.
Alan Howarth (who collaborated with John Carpenter on scores for the first three Halloweens and did his own for parts 4 and 5) was fun to talk to, and was sitting with his gorgeous model/actress daughter. Howarth told me that they were instructed to set the Halloween III jingle to "London Bridge" because it was copyright free. He also said that the music for H2 was all laid over an original tape of the Halloween score, which made sense to me as that soundtrack plays like an 80s remix of the first one. We later saw Howarth perform some Halloween music live, which was kinda neat-- he had a keyboard, synthesizer, and a Mac onstage with him. Tommy Wallace (who worked on the first two films and directed the third) was very nice, and seemed pleased when I told him H3 is actually my friend Roman's favorite film in the series, and that I rather like it, too! Ashley told him that his TV movie It scared her so much she had to sleep in her parents' bed-- at age 13!
We also talked with Nancy Loomis, who I'd met a couple years before at a convention in Worcester. We'd talked about teaching, so I asked her about that again. She's now interested in studying to direct theater professionally, and continues to sculpt.
William Forsythe was a cool guy; Ashley actually thought he was flirting with her a bit and got that vibe from some of the other actors, who were probably happy to see a cute blonde girl at the convention! I told Forsythe he was great in Devil's Rejects and asked him if it was true he got hurt just before filming the Halloween remake. He said it was already in the script that he'd have a cast on his arm, but he broke his leg and had to ask for a leg cast to wear, too. "I think it worked for the character," he explained, "because then he was really like a cockroach." "The ultimate mooch," I agreed.
The very last person we met was Leslie Easterbrook, who played one of the cops in Halloween '07, Mother Firefly in The Devil's Rejects, and starred in the Police Academy movies. She looked good; she seems to have slimmed down a lot since Rejects. I caught her by the elevators and introduced myself; she was very warm. She asked me where I was from and asked how the bus tour was. "Honestly, it was kind of a debacle," I said (it really was, I just left out the boring details and concentrated on the locations for you guys). Ashley was next to me and agreed. "They weren't even planning to give us a lunch break originally," she said. "You two are the first ones to be honest about that," she said. "Must be 'cause you're from New York!" As we left the convention center, I saw her sitting with fans smoking a cigarette. It was such a funny image I wish I'd snapped a picture. Overall, the convention was a very cool chance to see the sites of Halloween and meet the people involved-- almost all of whom were extremely personable.