Adam: Welcome to this special edition of Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Rob: Two words: Alison Lohman. For reasons I’m sure you’ll get into, she became the centerpiece of our day. Overall, I had a lot of fun. We spent most of our time at the bootleg tables, where I picked up copies of Zulawki’s Possession, Romero’s Martin, and Corman’s The Fantastic Four, none of which I’d seen before. Turns out Possession was the censored version, which was a bummer, but it was incentive enough to get me interested in checking out the longer cut. That movie is straight-up bonkers nightmare fuel. We saw some cool artwork and ended up outside for the Warner Bros. Pictures Presents: Stephen King’s It: The VR Experience™, which essentially consisted of sitting on a creepy bus and holding a Samsung Galaxy against your forehead for four and a half minutes. By far the best part, though, was your gradual invention of Connor, the overeager convention-going savant. We spent our time in lines riffing scenarios for a YouTube series in which he visits various celebrities and educates his audience on proper convention etiquette. You had me laughing my ass off the whole day.
The VR experience for It was neat. I’ve been sold on the movie ever since that four-minute trailer before Annabelle: Creation and this VR experience only got me more excited. I love VR experiences (this was my second one) and am amazed at how immersive they are with the level of detail and 360 POV. The It experience was you (basically as Georgie) on a street in Derry, being coaxed into the sewer by Pennywise and then trying to escape. It was cool. A little blurry, but cool all the same. Outside of one autograph (which I’ll get to in a sec), I bought a bunch of bootlegs. If anything, this con was a great resource for bootlegs. I got an Elvira mega disk with a bunch of appearances and interviews, a Freddy Krueger music video hour, a documentary JB has told me about for years called Fear in the Dark, a TV horror movie called I Saw What You Did with Wishmaster’s Tammy Lauren and Shawnee Smith of the Saw series; Paperhouse; Rock ‘N’ Roll High School Forever (which features a performance by Mary Woronov that scarred me as a kid); Stay Tuned with John Ritter, which I haven’t seen in years; Fright Night Part II, which I’ve never seen; and the universally loathed John Belushi biopic Wired, which I’ve always wanted to see regardless of its toxic reputation.
Rob: You described that Belushi movie to me, and it sounds absolutely incredible.
Adam: The convention was crowded (it had a real muggy, swamp ass feel to it) and the lines were LONG for just about every autograph except one: Alison Lohman. So I went to meet the woman we would later nickname “Short Line” (in honor of her short line and the fact that she was near Jonathan Ke Quan, aka Data from The Goonies and Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Also, “Short Line” sounds funny when said in Pacino voice. In real life, Alison Lohman looks exactly like Alison Lohman and acts exactly like you would expect Alison Lohman to act. It was pleasant but not super memorable, although you and I elevated her to icon status throughout the weekend. I will never associate the lead of Drag Me to Hell with anything other than Monster-Mania from now on. A few other observations about the con celebs:
• Daphne Zuniga is stunning
• Chris Kattan had a longer line than I would have expected
• Noah Schnapp made my blood boil because Stranger Things
• Ethan Embry was where the party was at
• Zach Galligan was talking to a little kid who probably called him Zach Galliganfanakis
• Sid Haig and Bill Mosely walked past us once to rapturous applause
• Rob asked me at the Troma booth if I liked Troma and I said “I’ll tell you in a minute,” which is code for “No.”
Anything else I’m missing or should we pivot to diner fires and the trash fire that was The Hitman’s Bodyguard?
Rob: I’m sorry to report that we didn’t hang around for Kate Beckinsale or Val Kilmer (or their $90+ autograph prices), but other than that, I couldn’t have summed it up any better. We left the con and headed to the Llanerch Diner, better known to most as the diner from Silver Linings Playbook. I was born a few miles from this spot, and I pass it almost every day on the way home from work during the school year. I was super excited to bring my SLP-loving friend in for a bowl of Raisin Bran. Guess what we learned when we got there? Adam, tell them.
Adam: It was closed due to a fire. I peeked in, but that was about the best we could do.
Rob: Apparently, it was just a small fire and the diner will be reopening in the next few weeks. Still, it was terrible timing. Let’s move on to the #1 film in America, The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Ryan Reynolds stars as Danny Ocean, a quick-witted private security contractor assigned to protect Samuel L. Jackson as Chev Chelios, a wise-talking, unkillable assassin whose testimony against Gary Oldman’s Generic Soviet Oligarch could put the terrorist in prison forever. It’s a movie that tries to be everything at once, shifting tones on a dime and careening headfirst into incoherence by minute five. It’s like if Shane Black and Steven Soderbergh made a stupid asshole movie starring screaming babies. Save for some great stunt work and Salma Hayek cursing at people, it’s a nightmare. Adam, I forced you to stay for all of The Hitman’s Bodyguard (#NoWalkouts). What did you think?
Rob: We were talking afterward about how Ryan Reynolds’ charm has a limit and really needs context if it’s going to work. I feel like this movie betrayed the strongest aspects of both its lead stars by kind of forcing them to work next to each other rather than developing a real dynamic. It’s a movie that people will probably enjoy in that “turn off your brain” way that I hate, but we couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Adam: The best part of the experience was my Coca Cola ICEE. Mark Off! On Sunday, I tried on that Rocky shirt I bought only to discover I had to return it. It went down to about my belly button and was kind of see through. Not my look. Oh well. Later that day we saw Wind River, which is a much better movie. It’s the directorial debut from Sicario and Hell or High Water screenwriter Taylor Sheridan and stars Jeremy Renner as a hunter living on a Native American reservation who stumbles upon a dead body and helps an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) solve the case. Wind River extends Sheridan’s winning streak. I love how his films have deeper meaning but never at the cost of just being good stories, told well. The performances by the leads (Renner, Olsen) and a welcome supporting performance by ‘90s character actor Graham Greene are strong and the mystery is involving and refreshingly pretty straightforward. I had a few minor gripes (e.g. the screenplay is a little showy, but that’s ok because Sheridan is just demonstrating his chops) but other than that I think Wind River is a Mark Ahn and definitely worth seeing. What did you think, Rob?
Adam: We wrapped up by having dinner at the Victor Cafe, which is the setting for “Adrian’s” in Rocky Balboa and Creed. It was cool. There was a Rocky Balboa-Apollo Creed painting in the main dining room that I wanted to steal and the draw of this restaurant (Rob and I learned) was that it was not only the setting for scenes in both of the aforementioned Rocky movies, but also a restaurant where all of the wait staff are professionally trained opera singers. It was neat, although I felt guilty eating while our waitress was singing. I just pictured how nervous it would have made Patrick when the first waitress did her “walking into the crowd” thing while she was singing. If you’re in the area, I recommend it highly. The food was good too!
Adam: I couldn’t tell ya. CineMug wasn’t real. I think a higher power created it so we had something to do for the ten minutes before Victor Cafe opened. Like, how does it make any money whatsoever? I sure hope the guy who runs CineMug isn’t reading this.
Rob: Sorry, Coffee Guy with Glasses. That root beer you sold me was mighty fine. So overall, would you recommend a trip to Philly to see me? *Crosses fingers*
Adam: I’ll be back! I got a…. PUNCH CARD! (one of the running jokes was that Al Pacino has a wallet full of punch cards for coffee shops etc.)
Rob: And that they’re constantly falling out of his jacket every time he reaches in. I’ll never look at Beverly D’Angelo the same way again. Thanks so much for coming out!
Rob: Affirmative. Until next time…
Adam: These seats are reserved.