Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WONDERFEST Slide Show Pt. 1

There were many highlights of Wonderfest 2007 but, for me, the most important was finally meeting in the rapidly corrupting flesh David J. Schow -- OUTER LIMITS authority, Robert Bloch authority, the Godfather of Splatterpunk, BLACK LAGOON BUGLE publisher, and VW contributor extraordinaire.

Dave suffered a tragedy just before leaving for Wonderfest, the death of his 15 year-old pet iguana Mr. Hate, but, ever the professional, he proved a buoyant addition to the roster nevertheless. As you can tell from this photo, snapped on Monday morning just before our departure, we're now firm friends for life. VW readers will be glad to know that Dave has already turned in a full report on the second season of THE WILD WILD WEST.

I don't remember the precise issue but, somewhere along the way, I reviewed Dave's book THE OUTER LIMITS COMPANION in VW. When I handed my copy of the book over to him for signing on Saturday -- the day we met -- he embraced it because it was the copy that inspired my "review of love." I'm so glad Donna snapped this. What a character.

Here's the Heart and Soul of VIDEO WATCHDOG (right) posing with the Heart and Soul of Wonderfest, Mr. Bob Burns -- who presented a terrific slide show tribute to his late friends, '50s monster makers Paul and Jackie Blaisdell, on Saturday. It culminated in a rare screening of Blaisdell's home movie spfx extravaganza THE CLIFF MONSTER. We saw and spoke with Bob's lovely better half, Kathy Burns, too, but failed to get a picture with her.

Here's Vincent di Fate, the celebrated cover artist of FILMFAX and past cover artist for CINEFANTASTIQUE, in whose pages we sometimes appeared together longer ago than either of us want to remember. A gifted artist, great guy, and now the proud owner of the original prop that lent its name to the first sci-fi movie he ever saw: ROCKETSHIP X-M!

Here's our friend Paul Schiola of Ultratumba Productions, posing with his latest product sculpture, Beulah of IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. A talented and very personable man, with the biggest grin at Wonderfest.

Also on display at Paul's table was this tres-cool replica of the unforgettable Rat-Bat-Spider-Crab from THE ANGRY RED PLANET. If you've got the display space available, go over to his website and score one of these babies.

Here I am with another talented artist, William Stout. Donna and I enjoyed spending time with Bill up in Gary Prange's Old Dark Clubhouse, talking about the murals he is presently creating for a Natural History museum, his history as a cover artist for bootleg albums from Trademark of Quality, his devolopment of an amazing Oz theme park for Kansas City that never happened, and his current work on various Oz book projects. An amazing guy.

As long as I'm talking about cool people, I'll jump ahead to this Sunday shot of Donna and one of the show's Guests of Honor, Robert Picardo. We had a great time talking with Bob about the gallery of memorable characters he's played for Joe Dante: Eddie Quist in THE HOWLING, The Cowboy in INNERSPACE, and his Karl Rove-surrogate character in MASTERS OF HORROR's "Homecoming." Later in the day, Bob sprang to the stage at the Sunday night banquet to steal the show. More on that later.
But now we cut to late afternoon on Saturday -- the Fifth Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards presentation!

USA TODAY's David Colton -- the man behind the Rondos -- stands in proud control of the proceedings with the eight Rondo busts to be handed out at this year's ceremony.
David brought with him this nifty canvas handbag. When I asked his wife Eileen Colton (staff photographer for CHFB News) if these were now being sold at the website, she said, "No... I ironed it on myself!" I think they may be missing a merchandising opportunity here.

Before the festivities began, we snapped this close shot of the award that would soon be presented to me for Video WatchBlog -- an exclusive for you, the Video WatchBlog reader!

The show is now underway, with Kerry Gammill receiving his first-ever Rondo Award for this year's Best Book, THE FAMOUS MONSTER MOVIE ART OF BASIL GOGOS -- co-authored with J. David Spurlock.

Donna and I took the stage to receive our fifth consecutive Rondo for Best Magazine. After five years, it's still a humbling experience.

Bob Statzer then received his Rondo award for Best Article of the Year, his Karloff and Lugosi retrospective for SCARY MONSTERS. Way to go, Bob!

Here I am cradling the statuette I showed you earlier, as I thank everyone who supported me in my unprecedented win for Best Website, Video WatchBlog! I later received a third Rondo, my first as Writer of the Year. In my speech (viewable at YouTube here), I thanked fellow scribe Tom Weaver (hoarder of all the other Writer of the Year Rondos) for keeping a relatively low profile this past year.

The one and only John Zacherle -- aka Roland aka Zacherley aka The Cool Ghoul, the greatest of all horror hosts -- rose to the occasion to accept his Rondo award for best CD, INTERMENT FOR TWO. Do you want to see more? Go here.

Donna took this great shot of Zach at his table on Sunday, where his Rondo award held court in the manner of his past SHOCK THEATER associate, Gasport -- finally out of the bag. I had met Zach in passing at a Chiller Theater show back in October 1994 and I'm so very pleased that our paths were able to cross again. He visited the Old Dark Clubhouse on Friday night with his biographer Rich Scrivani (whose book I loved, and whom I somehow failed to invite to be photographed with me, which I very much regret) and it was a treat to speak with Zach at greater length.
Incidentally, my favorite Zacherley memory of the weekend: When Donna and I visited his table on Sunday, he asked us "Are you two committed to each other?" The question seemed at once full of Old World gravitas and contemporary correctness, and struck us both as very sweet and quintessentially Zach. We told him that we'd been married now for 32 years and he gave a low, delighted laugh and clapped his hands. I later told Donna that it had been one thing to be declared Man and Wife by our Justice of the Peace, but now I feel that our union has been blessed by Zacherley himself.

Filmmaker Paul Davids flew in from Los Angeles to accept his Rondo award for the year's Best Independent Film or Documentary, THE SCI FI BOYS. Paul got the room chuckling with his alternative universe explanation of Rondo's possible involvement in the writing of a classic Beach Boys song.

In one of the evening's most heartfelt acceptance speeches, Frank Dietz received his Rondo -- the first ever awarded in the new category of Artist of the Year. Eclipsing even Basil Gogos himself in the year when Gogos was the subject of the year's Best Book, Dietz accepted the award with warm tributes to his mentors Bob and Kathy Burns, Bill Stout, and Bernie Wrightson. Apologies for the dark shot, but Wonderfest needs to rethink the stage lighting for these events. You can view Frank's acceptance speech here.

Here's a brighter shot of Frank and his new best friend taken at his table on Sunday. It couldn't happen to a nicer or more talented fellow. Over the weekend, I seized the opportunity to purchase my first-ever Dietz original: "Lon After Midnight," a 5" x 7" glazed oil portrait of Lon Chaney Sr. in LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT garb, which became iconic in Frank's output when he used it as the key promotional image for his Rondo Best Fan Event-nominated oil painting exhibition of last year.

2005 Monster Kid of the Year Joe Busam passed the torch to this year's recipient, Raymond Castile. Ray not only masterminds the mind-blowing Universal Monster Army memorabilia display at Wonderfest, but was last year handpicked by José Mojica Marins himself to succeed him in the role of Coffin Joe! See it all -- Joe's induction speech and Ray's acceptance -- here on YouTube.

Bob Burns accepted a Rondo Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of his late friends Paul and Jackie Blaisdell, the monster makers for several AIP films of the 1950s, including DAY THE WORLD ENDED, INVASION OF THE SAUCER-MEN, THE SHE-CREATURE, and others. Bob concluded his bittersweet speech by announcing his intention to display the RHOF plaque in the Blaisdell room of his museum-quality memorabilia collection.

"The wheels are off the wagon!" Host David Colton thought the awards were at an end, but as his delightful co-presenter Nurse Moan-eek (from Dr. Gangrene's CREATURE FEATURE) affectionately restrained him, David J. Schow grabbed the mic to profer upon Colton the world's first -- and perhaps only-ever -- Nondo Award. After that, John Clymer claimed the mic to present him with yet another honor, a Thank You to David from his peers.
You Tube is hosting Jen Sorrels' camcorder footage of these presentations here. BTW, the voice you hear crying out "Oh, baby!" at the unveiling of the second award belongs to David's proud wife, Eileen.
Here's David posing with both trophies. Or shall we say, "spoils"?

With that, the photo opportunities began. Here's Donna and I, proudly posing with our unprecedented sweep of three Rondos, but even prouder to be standing in the winner's circle beside our hero John Zacherley ("My, what a lot of awards you have there!").

Here's the lot of us, posing for at least a dozen photographers on the scene. This photo was taken with our camera by our friendly subscriber Ted Haycraft, who seized the moment splendidly. Thanks, Ted!!! And thanks to Jennifer Sorrels for the YouTube clips!

So who has the most Rondo awards to date? Tom Weaver says it's me, but John Clymer and I think it's him. Actually, I did a count from the results from the website and it would appear we're locked in a dead heat with seven Rondos each. You just wait, Weaver!*

Also at Wonderfest this year were '50s sci-fi movie stars Lori Nelson and Kenny Miller and makeup artist Greg Nicotero. I had brief encounters with all of them, but unfortunately no pictures. Now keep scrolling down for more from Wonderfest!
* Postscript 5/30 - Tom Weaver writes to inform me that I'm wrong:
"Now you've got ME checking and I THINK I have eight -- four Best Writer, best book (MONSTER KID MEMORIES), best article (Donnie Dunagan), best article (Kay Linaker), best article (Bob Burns' New Zealand trip for KONG). So I've gotcha by ONE -- and am enjoying it while it lasts (which won't be long -- you'll take a commanding lead next year thanks to BAVA, I'm sure). PS - The world shall hear of me again!!

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