Days Of The Dead And Why It Means The World To Me

My favorite weekend of the year is almost upon us.  Anyone who is my friend on Facebook has probably noticed I’ve been flooding out messages about a convention called Days of the Dead.  It’s coming up June 27th – 29th and I for one couldn’t be more excited.  In just a few years it’s become my absolute favorite con to attend.  You’ll see why in a few weeks when I do an article for it after the show, but I wanted to take the time and explain a few things about Days of the Dead and why if it’s in your area you should definitely attend.

Now, I love other horror cons for a litany of reasons.  HorrorHound Weekend, Rock and Shock, Texas Frightmare all have great things going for them.  This isn’t a slight to any other convention in the scene.  There are some things though that make Days of the Dead far more special to me personally.  I’ll do my best to describe it.

 

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Hanging out with Gunnar Hansen in 2012

The People Behind Days of the Dead

One of the things that really hits home to me just how Days of the Dead is special are the people that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it a once in a lifetime experience.  Days of the Dead is THE horror con for horror fans, by horror fans.  All of the people behind the show have day jobs.  It’s not some big corporation putting out a con by the numbers.  No, these guys and gals work extra hard to give the fans what they want, tirelessly aiming on making each con the best in the world.  I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work.

They could easily work to make a lot more money from their shows, but they put fan experience first.  Need an example?  How about this.  At the Indianapolis show in a few weeks, the legendary Dario Argento is going to be appearing.  And a quick aside, he actually sought THEM out.  That right there says a lot.  Naturally, they pre-sold tickets so people would have the chance to meet the man.  They could have charged whatever they wanted for them and people would have eaten that shit up.  Fifty, sixty, hell people would even pay eighty bucks to meet the man behind some of the seventies greatest horror flicks.  How much did Days of the Dead charge? $40 per ticket.  They wanted to keep it as cheap as possible for the fans.  That has earned a lot of respect from me.  And it’s only one example.  There are many, many more.

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Yep.  Kane Hodder is really choking me.

The Events Of Days Of The Dead

Whether you have a lot of money saved up or not, you will have quite the experience at Days of the Dead.  At a lot of conventions, your enjoyment will really depend on how much money you have.  Days of the Dead takes the punk rock attitude approach and says fuck all that!  Now yes, they do have an incredible selection of vendors to choose from and many celebrities to meet and buy autographs from.  But if that’s the only reason you come to the show, then you are truly missing out.

Days of the Dead has brought such things as the largest collection of A Nightmare on Elm St. movie props, the largest collection of the Thing props, to seeing Rowdy Roddy Piper give his first ever stand up comedy performance and more to their shows.  That’s just to start.  Each and every one of their panels is 100% free(though VIPs get preferred seating).  Getting the chance to listen to their guests talk about and answer questions fans want to know is just incredible.  And that STILL isn’t all!

Jabb Pictures puts together a 48 hour independent film fest for the event.  And it’s 100% free with your ticket.  Getting the chance to see true indie horror is a treat and Days of the Dead celebrates that.  Hell, the first time I ever saw Tucker and Dale vs. Evil was at Days of the Dead.  I cannot stress just how cool their screenings are.

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Days of the Dead even brought out the great Dick Miller!

The Parties Of Days Of The Dead

Now this is where the REAL fun begins!  Days of the Dead’s tagline is “Where Horror Comes To Party!” and they damn well mean it.  Even without the VIP party, there are a ton of other parties going on all weekend long.  They have That Damn Tattoo Contest, The Monster’s Ball, Costume Contest, Jabb Pictures likes to throw a party, and even just the fans, guests, and the promoters themselves partying after hours!  It gets absolutely insane once the sun goes down!  Imagine the best New Year’s Eve Party you’ve ever been to.  Multiply the insanity, the fun, the booze and the shenanigans by ten.  Now you have an idea for how we throw down at Days of the Dead!

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Heather Langenkamp, right after buying copies of I Am Nancy from her.

The Guests Of Days Of The Dead

I’ve been to a lot of horror conventions, but none of them have the wide range of guests that Days of the Dead gets.  They get big names in horror, like Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Dario Argento, Danny Trejo and more, but they also get names that you won’t see at many cons.  This year, for example, they are having the closest I’ve ever seen to complete reunions for Night of the Demons and Nightbreed!  And while the con is predominately horror, they get other guests that just rock and kick ass.  Literally.

They love to get musical guests at their events.  Ace Frehley, Dee Snyder, Dave Brockie(Oderus Urungus), Lita Ford, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, even Twiztid have appeared at Days of the Dead.  And they love to bring in wrestlers.  Roddy Piper, Mick Foley, DDP, even Ron Simmons has appeared at Days of the Dead!  If that isn’t an eclectic guest list, I don’t know what is.

To top that all off, Days of the Dead has a “Fuck That Shit” policy for celebrity photo ops.  They can’t stand them.  Every guest you meet will take pictures right there at their table with you, most of the time for no extra cost than an autograph.  That’s what I like to call fan service.  And it helps your wallet too.

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Just hanging out with Adam Green and Dave Brockie(Oderus Urungus)

The Memories Of Days Of The Dead

This is where my feelings truly are about this show.  Each and every show has had stand out memories that I will treasure forever.  I have seen Roddy Piper crack up the audience at the first ever Days of the Dead show.  His stories were just incredible.  He had the packed room in the palm of his hand for his entire performance.

I have made many friends at Days of the Dead over the past few years.  Each Indy show, we always meet up and have a blast.  Whether it’s drinking at one of the parties, hanging out in the vendors hall checking out all the amazing stuff, or just shooting the shit with them it’s like a big, fun family reunion.

Last year, two of the most amazing things happened to me at the show.  First was getting the chance to meet Adam Green and Dave Brockie.  What made this special was, firstly, neither of them charged a dime for an autograph.  Not one cent.  That blew my mind to be honest.  I also got to hang out with them quite a bit and listen to their stories.  Neither had a big line on Friday night, so they welcomed me to hang for a bit.  It was one of the most surreal and funniest moments of my life.  Let me tell you, the world misses Dave Brockie.  That man was just the funniest guy you’d ever meet.  Rest in peace, Dave.

The other thing that happened reduced me to tears.  In a good way.  You see, my father had passed away early last year so I was in a pretty dark place.  However, one man changed that forever.  Rowdy Roddy Piper.  I met him for the second time with the full intention of getting his autograph for my mother.  She was having a hard time with everything and Piper is her all time favorite wrestler so I thought what better way to cheer her up than that.  Piper had other plans.  He asked me to call her and give him the phone.  I did and he chatted with her for a good five minutes or so.  It blew her mind!  To this day, my mom still says that’s the best thing to happen to her all year and my youngest niece happened to be born that very same morning!  Here is the kicker.  It was all filmed by a director of a documentary!  I was even interviewed for it!  After that, I was understandably on an emotional overload.  So I went outside and just let it all sink in.  And my friends all gave me hugs and really, really made the day one that I will never forget.

So there you have it.  Why Days of the Dead is so special to me.  I am proud to spread the dead every chance I get.  I will love this con for the rest of my life.  Even if it was to go away after this next con, I’d look back with nothing but love for this convention and the people behind it.  That’s why for the first time ever I decided to go for the full VIP package this year.  They hold shows in Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles every year.  If you are anywhere close, you owe it to yourself to attend.  Even if it’s a road trip, I can promise you it will be worth it.

Thank you Adolfo, Carrie, Rick, Bill, and everyone else that has made Days of the Dead the greatest convention I have ever been to.

SPREAD THE DEAD!

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