Saturday I drove to Dallas, Texas to attend the annual Texas Frightmare Weekend at the Hyatt hotel at the DFW airport. The trip was a reward for two of my children who are rabid Walking Dead fans, who were there not to see Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), but to get Scott Wilson’s (Hershel Green’s) autograph.
We arrived at about 10:30 am after a 3 hour drive from Oklahoma, and after parking on the 5th level of the parking garage, made our way past many people wearing black and also wearing weird costumes to a large conference hall on the first floor of the hotel. After checking in, we stood in line to enter the conference room where all the celebrities were signing autographs and then stood in line for Scott Wilson who was not in the room yet because he was out taking personal photos with guests who threw down the $50 for the opportunity.
I brought my copy of In Cold Blood, the 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel by the same name, in which Wilson gave some of the best performances of his career (in my opinion) as the murdering psychopath Dick Hickock. However, as Mr. Wilson is now a not-so-spry 72 years of age, I think he probably was growing weary of the convention scene, and even though he was extremely nice and considerate of my children and myself, he seemed tired and wanted to move us along. I am not faulting him at all for this, for the crowd was extremely large, many people waiting in line for over three hours just to get an autograph. My mother is in his ballpark for age and I know how tired she becomes after being on her feet for a while, and I think it was starting to get to him.
I asked Mr. Wilson about Truman Capote, and he said that the writer was only on set for a day and that their pictures were taken for Life Magazine. I also asked about his pivotal scene in the interrogation room, and he simply stated “That was a good scene.” We took the picture with him, and then we were ushered on through. But what do we expect? The man is super busy and there was a massive line, but we felt like he was genuinely appreciative of his fans. He was especially courteous to my kids, smiling and shaking their hand, asking their names, and asking about school.
We then went on to try to see George A. Romero, but realized that standing in line for Scott Wilson pretty much put us at the back of the miles long line for the godfather of zombie films, and we decided to simply peruse the dealer room where he was located. We got close to him, but then Conner (my son) saw Tom Savini, and there were only a few people around his table.
Savini is best known for his work on most every horror movie in history before everything went digital. He has a long list of credits going all the way back to the early ’70’s. His work can be found in such films as Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow 1 & 2, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Planet Terror. He also created some of the creature effects for Tales from the Darkside, and therefore is the source for some of my nightmares as a preteen. The man was very pleasant, and when Conner showed him a picture of one of his
makeup designs (pictured left) he said that it was “pretty good stuff” and remarked that when he began working with fake blood it looked more like melted crayons and that it is very difficult to get the mixture right to look good on film. He then told Conner about his makeup effects college which he founded, Savini School, and encouraged Conner to check them out once he graduated from high school.
The best part of this trip was not the stars or the crazy costumes, but seeing the wonder in my children’s eyes as they saw celebrities, learned about creating makeup effects, and ate at a fine Chinese buffet later that night before staying in a hotel. It is extremely important for me to build fun memories with my children, and hopefully those memories will live long in their minds. I think that is well worth not working on a novel outline for a weekend so my children can remember when Tom Savini took an interest in something my son loves and so that my daughter Leigha can meet Scott Wilson (aka. Herschel Green) and ask him why they didn’t have a Walking Dead Christmas special. In her words “Every other show has one. Why can’t Herschel be Santa and, like, a little kid zombie be an elf?”