About a year ago, I first wrote about Wonderfest, a fun annual modeling, horror, and sci-fi convention in Louisville, Kentucky. (Home of Bourbon.) I do not chew my cabbage twice; if you do not already know about Wonderfest, you can read my previous column.
Wonderfest attendees get to Louisville using all manner of strange transportation. You should see the backup these knuckleheads caused on the interstate:
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have nothing personal to gain if you order this DVD; but I enjoyed the hell out of it and wanted to share with you that it can be purchased here. I saw it Friday night and then bought myself a copy. So there.
Saturday “early bird” admission to the dealer’s room again proved to be a good idea; crowds were much more manageable. (Although I admit that, given my hatred of large crowds, perhaps A CONVENTION may not be the smartest place for me to hang out.) I found it funny that three of the dealers – a guy I call “Toy John” (who puts on the bi-monthly triple and quadruple features at The Portage), Corey Glabberson (who owns the Reel Art store in Berwyn), and Jon Kitley (who writes the “Kitley’s Crypt” column in Horrorhound magazine) – are actually from the Chicago area. Why would I would travel three hundred miles to see stuff I could see around my own house for free?
Maybe it’s the clean Kentucky air that draws me here. Maybe I am on a secret quest for “My Old Kentucky Home.” Some questions are unanswerable.
Every year I make sure to take a slow walk around the model contest entry room and marvel at the skills of the sculptors and modelmakers that are Wonderfest’s biggest draw. Take a look:
Scary Monsters won best fan magazine for the first time. Editor Dennis Druktenis is another local boy from Highwood, IL, and I enjoy his magazine. My favorite column is the regular Johnny Scareshock round-up of monster news. Every month, it is a must-read for all “monster kids.”
J.D. Lees, editor of G Fan magazine, which hosts the annual G Fest convention in Rosemont, IL, won “Monster Kid of the Year,” and I was surprised to learn that he too is a teacher. The entire weekend I had to fight off an impulse to walk up to him, shout “Gojira! Gojira!” in a panic and then run away – the Godzilla version of “Ding Dong Ditch.” G Fest looks intriguing, and is only a stone’s throw from my house.
Patrick? Doug? Mike? Adam? Who’s up for G Fest in July?
I also learned at the Rondo awards that horror movie host Svengoolie is doing better. Last November, Rich Koz, who plays Svengoolie, suffered a major heart attack. He sent along a humble and funny acceptance video, and by all accounts he is on the mend. The old coffin that Koz inherited in the late sixties from the original Svengoolie, Jerry G. Bishop, was in horrible disrepair after 30 years of on-air use, so Koz finally commissioned a new one. The prototype of the new coffin was on display at Wonderfest:
Sunday afternoon I attended a Q & A session with Sara Karloff. She showed some funny and touching home movies of her and her famous dad and then answered audience questions. She obviously loved her Dad and the stories she told about him were priceless. For example, she related that when her father shaved his head to play the executioner in Tower of London, he thought it would be a good idea to shave two year-old Sara’s head as well. Her mother was not amused.
During Karloff’s presentation, I began to feel a little melancholy. She is one of our last living links to the history of the films we hold so dear. I mentioned last year that many Wonderfest attendees look exactly like me, overweight middle-aged men who never grew up. This year I noticed that more and more of us have started using canes.
Like Carla Laemmle in the Phantom documentary on Friday night; Donnie Dunagan, who appeared in Son of Frankenstein as a child; or Bela Lugosi, Jr., the literal Son of Dracula, Sarah Karloff should be celebrated and appreciated for how generous she is with fans. This special list gets smaller every year. I am sometimes afraid that one of my hobbies is going to die some day. Younger F This Movie! fans, like contributor Heath Holland, who keep rediscovering these films year after year, give me some measure of hope. The rerelease of the classic Universal Monster series on Blu-ray last year breathed new life into the films and hopefully garnered them some new “21st Century fans.” Unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, we do NOT belong dead.
On a lighter note – Why is it that whenever I am at Wonderfest, this little guy always follows me around everywhere? Believe it or not, he fit into my carryon. Honey, can we keep him?