Texas Frightmare Weekend 2019 may have been almost two months ago now, but for folks that attended, the memories feel like just yesterday. There’s an energy and atmosphere about the event that sticks with horror fans year-round, with it being one of the best annual conventions in the USA, and more than likely, the world. It’s consistently and professionally run, with incredible guests and an unbeatable community that always takes care of its own.
Attendance was up this year, with Saturday being one of the busiest days the convention has ever seen. This was surprising since the huge Dallas Fan Expo decided to land their own event downtown on the same weekend as Frightmare. Initial concerns were that the two cons would clash, but it appears to have been a boon for Frightmare, as folks who were in town for Fan Expo poured into the Hyatt Regency to see what all the fuss was about.
The vendors, as always, were high quality, with more than enough variety to blow any self-respecting horror fan’s hair back. From shirts branded with obscure horror flicks to exquisitely detailed macabre artwork, this con had everything you need as far as horror is concerned. In the center of the main floor, boutique video labels Arrow (who are partial sponsors of TFW), Vinegar Syndrome and Severin duked it out for collector’s cash, with the only clear winners being the fans who walk away with all sorts of crazy flicks to put on their shelves.
The crowds behaved, and the cosplays were spectacular. TFW always prides itself on its welcoming, safe atmosphere, and this time my wife and I brought our then-five-month-old daughter along for the ride. This was our fourth year in a row, traveling from Australia, and everyone was incredibly accommodating, making the time spent at the convention pleasant despite the extra stress and jetlag. I’ll never forget Bruce Campbell randomly walking down an empty hallway where I was sitting with my daughter, him stopping to do a double-take, pulling down his sunglasses and stating, “Now that’s a cute baby!” I’ll be telling her about that for the rest of her life. It’s moments like that which make TFW so magical.
The schedule was packed with great panels and programming, which managed to run consistently on-time throughout the weekend, which is a testament to the staff and organizers who perform nothing short of miracles year after year. The RE-ANIMATOR reunion panel with Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott and Barbara Crampton was a highlight, despite the mood being slightly dampened by director Stuart Gordon’s cancellation only a couple of weeks prior. Lance Henriksen’s Q&A was predictably very entertaining, especially when he randomly prompted everyone in the crowd to hug each other with most attendees happy to oblige. The most energetic panel of the weekend belonged to Felissa Rose, with her funny stories of life post-SLEEPAWAY CAMP, told with an infectious enthusiasm capturing the audience completely.
In an event focused on fictional horror, an unfortunate real-life moment of shock saw singer Meat Loaf fall off the stage during his own Q&A. An ambulance quickly arrived and carried him off to the hospital, cutting his stay at the convention short. The 71-year-old’s injuries were thankfully confined to a broken collarbone, and at this point, he’s made a full recovery. He’s promised a valiant return for next year’s TFW, so, one guest is already confirmed for 2020, yay!
While everything else about the event exceeded expectations, the centerpiece was the EVIL DEAD panel, which closed out the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Ted Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and legendary director Sam Raimi were all on stage to field the audience’s questions. While Campbell and Raimi were their usual brilliant wiseass-showman selves, Sam gave thoughtful answers to questions about filmmaking and came across as a first-class gentleman while still eliciting just as many laughs from the audience as his comrades.
As the event wound down, and the 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale from ASH VS EVIL DEAD was towed mournfully out of the venue, fans were left satisfied but looking forward to 2020. Luckily, TFW’s official channels have already indicated that guest announcements for next year’s show will start trickling out in August, so mark your calendars folks!