When I left the Chiller Theatre convention in October of 2019, I was planning on taking a break from it for a while. However, when they started announcing guests for the April 2020 Chiller, a Chiller Theatre that was to mark the convention’s 30th anniversary, in the early Winter of that year, I changed my mind and made a withdrawal from certain personal funds to attend the show. Chiller Theatre had announced some amazing guests, and I was looking forward to coming back sooner than anticipated.
However, world events had other plans in mind. In March of 2020, a new illness called coronavirus was spreading. There was lots of confusion about it and how to deal with it. For example, as you can see in the photo after this paragraph, I got rid of all my facial hair, as well as the hair on top of my head, after being told that coronavirus could be carried by hair. The world started shutting down in multiple ways. Traveling abroad was deemed a bad idea, and traveling in-country wasn’t much better. We were dealing with shortages of all kinds. Many events and celebrations were canceled. Unfortunately, Chiller Theatre was among those many events that were canceled.
Time went on, and a return for Chiller Theatre was announced multiple times, but coronavirus, a pandemic beyond our control, impacted the ability for the convention to come back. Dates were announced for Summer and October of 2020, but things were still very bad. However, in the Spring of 2021, a light started to shine on the horizon. We were now learning to live with the pandemic, and slowly but surely, events which had been canceled in 2020 were finally coming back. Chiller Theatre announced that the show would be celebrating a belated 30th anniversary in October of 2021.
We were all nervous as the world was still in flux. We were reading reports about rules being lifted or reinforced. It was a nail-biter, and we had doubts that Chiller Theatre would come back, but then, like a phoenix from the ashes, Chiller Theatre came back on October 29th, 2021. I had booked my hotel room months before, and purchased tickets all the way back in the early months of 2020. It all came together magnificently, and I want to now share with you the many highs (and one low) of the grand and glorious return of Chiller Theatre.
The first talent I had the pleasure of meeting was Ginger Lynn, the first of quite a few former interview subjects of mine I got to meet at this Chiller. She was incredibly friendly to meet, and I spoke to her several times throughout the weekend. She was kind enough to give me a free autograph and picture together on Friday because of the friendship we developed as a result of our two interviews. When I interviewed Ginger for the second time in 2019, we talked about her returning to Chiller Theatre. That return was everything I was hoping it would be, and it gave me a good feeling about the weekend ahead.
The next talent I met was Julie McCullough, whom I’d interviewed twice on the red carpet of the Hoboken International Film Festival. She remembered me from those interviews, and she was very friendly to me. She’s agreed to accept my Facebook friend request soon, so I’m looking forward to that.
Julie talked about me with the next guest I’ll be discussing, and she was kind in her words about me. Julie was everything you could want in a Chiller Theatre guest. She was kind to the fans, patient, considerate, and always ready with a kind word. We got several pictures throughout the weekend, and the Sunday pictures were cool because they were taken with a mannequin wearing the costume she wore in her guest work on the cult classic TV series Black Scorpion.
Seated next to Julie McCullough was Jill Terashita, who played Frannie in Night Of The Demons, the first of several cast members from that movie I would meet at this Chiller. I told Jill about how she had a fantastic death scene in that movie, and I complimented both her and Julie on their age-defying beauty. Like Julie, Jill also posed for Playboy, and had many intriguing shots from the magazine for sale at her table. I knew I had to get one of those pictures signed. I asked her if the address on her IMDBPro page was accurate as I recently reached out about an interview, but she said she hadn’t used that address in a long time. That being said, I gave her a card with my contact information, and with any luck, she might reach out about an interview in the future.
Following Jill, I met my third former interview subject and current Facebook friend at this Chiller, Tiffany Helm, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing earlier this month, and with whom a picture of is this article’s cover photo. She recognized my voice, and we had a good conversation about the show, as well as our interview. We took several pictures together, and I got a second Friday The 13th, Part V autograph from her. That wasn’t the only time I would see Tiffany that weekend, as we spoke on Saturday during the yet-to-be-detailed one bad part of the weekend. Tiffany is wonderful when it comes to meeting her fans.
Alongside Tiffany Helm and several other clients of C And V Promotions was another Facebook friend of mine, Michele Michaels. Michele memorably starred in the 1982 cult classic The Slumber Party Massacre, and she had many fantastic pictures from that movie. Hearing Michele talking excitedly about the Chiller Theatre convention and meeting fans was energizing. When one has a positive feeling, they tend to spread that feeling to others, and I was feeling very positive as a result of meeting her. We also talked a bit on Sunday as well as the show was wrapping up and both of us were waiting for our rides. Michele is very friendly, and I plan on reaching out to her soon about an interview.
With 2021 marking the 35th anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, one of the guests in attendance at Chiller was comedian and writer Jonathan Schmock, who so memorably played the maitre’d of Chez Quis in FBDO. Jonathan was a very quick wit, and very friendly to meet. He’s also a talented artist in addition to his acting and writing skills. I had him sign an 8X10 of a drawing he did of the Chez Quis maitre’d with his line “I weep for the future”, and my own personalization, “Johnny, if he only knew”. Jonathan was a fantastic guest. He’s very friendly and very funny.
In the same room as Jonathan was John Ashton, who memorably played Taggart in the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies. John was a rather quiet man, but a friendly man nevertheless. We got a picture together while I got his autograph on a Beverly Hills Cop picture. I told him about my own efforts to write stories for Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley in my younger years after having seen Beverly Hills Cop when I was 15, but we both agreed that no one could do it as cool as Eddie did. John was the first Beverly Hills Cop cast member I had the pleasure of meeting at this Chiller, but I’ll get to the second one in due time.
I returned to the Copper Room, where Julie and Jill were, to meet actress, dancer and Facebook friend Amelia Kinkade, who played Angela in Night Of The Demons. Contrary to the character of Angela, Amelia was soft-spoken and kind. I told her about how I loved her work in Night Of The Demons, and how I admired her dancing work as well, particularly her dancing in the music video for The Stray Cats’ She’s Sexy + 17. Amelia also complimented me on my eyes, which many have said are my best feature. That made me feel really good. We interacted a few more times throughout the weekend. Apparently, we were on the same floor at the Parsippany Hilton, where Chiller is currently being held, so as we go off on the same floor on Saturday, I gave her a card with my contact info. I look forward to the possibility of interviewing her.
I next met Mackenzie Phillips for the second time at Chiller Theatre. We first met at Chiller five years ago, and she’s just as friendly now as she was then. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to meet Mackenzie again was because I wanted to get a new picture with her, this time wearing the Mickey Mouse hoodie I purchased for this Chiller. In 2016, I wore a Rolling Stones hoodie to Chiller, having forgotten what Mackenzie Phillips wrote about Mick Jagger in her autobiography. Five years after our first meeting, I apologized for wearing the Stones hoodie in our picture, and Mackenzie was very kind about it. I also gave her my contact information on Sunday of the show, and will be reaching out to her press representative about an interview soon.
I then went out to the lobby where Ronny Cox, the second Beverly Hills Cop cast member and fourth former interview subject at this Chiller, was one of the guests who was signing autographs. I’m a Facebook friend of Ronny’s, and I did an e-mail interview with him in 2010 for my previous writing base, RetroJunk. I was looking forward to meeting Ronny, and he was very friendly. We didn’t have much time to talk as this Chiller was a rather rare convention appearance for him, but in our brief interactions, he was kind and polite. As we’re friends on Facebook, I plan on sending Ronny another interview request in the future. However, I’ll need to purchase his books beforehand as research.
My friend and talent booker Calvin Spiker brought some pretty cool guest to Chiller Theatre, includng a Mr. Belvedere cast reunion, but the talent I was most interested in meeting was J.J Cohen, whom I had the great pleasure of doing an epic interview with for Pop Geeks back in 2014. He was fantastic to meet, and whenever we crossed paths, he told the people around him about how much he enjoyed our interview. While I paid for a photo op with him, J.J was kind enough to give me a free T-shirt because of the friendship we developed as a result of our interview. If J.J Cohen makes an appearance near you, say hello to him, and tell him Johnny Caps sent you.
After meeting JJ, I went to bed in my hotel room and got rested up for Saturday of the convention. The first star I met that day was Sybil Danning, the sixth former interview subject of mine at this Chiller. Like Ronny Cox, I’d done an e-mail interview with Sybil Danning for RetroJunk about a decade or so back, and this was my second time meeting Sybil at Chiller after her last time there in October of 2015. Sybil is a sweetheart who still looks stunning to this day. I had two nude photos for her to sign, and she came up with some sexy personalizations that I didn’t even have to ask for. Sybil is fantastic when it comes to meeting her fans.
A few tables down from Sybil was actor Ed Gale, the actor inside the costume for characters ranging from Howard The Duck to Chucky in the Child’s Play movies. This was announced as Ed Gale’s last signing appearance, so I got his autograph for both myself and my friend, fellow Pop Geeks writer Adam Pope. I got a Howard The Duck 8X10 signed while I got Ed’s autograph on Adam’s Howard The Duck VHS cover. As this was both Ed’s last signing appearance and the first Chiller Theatre in two years, we didn’t have much time to chat, but Ed was very friendly to speak to in our brief interactions.
The next star I met was Marta Kristen, who played Judy on Lost In Space. However, that wasn’t what I discussed with her. I complimented her on her work in the movie Battle Beyond The Stars. I told Marta the same thing I told Sybil that weekend: I prefer Battle Beyond The Stars to the Star Wars movies because I find the former to be more fun and less pretentious than the latter. Marta talked fondly of Battle Beyond The Stars, and that was nice to hear. Although she didn’t have any pictures from the movie available, she did have a great bikini photo that I knew I wanted signed. Marta, as with all the stars that weekend, was very friendly.
Seated next to Marta was Vernon Wells. Although he played rough characters in movies as diverse as The Road Warrior, Commando and Innerspace, he’s actually very soft-spoken in person. We talked about how Commando is a fun action movie, and the picture I chose for Vernon to sign was of his death scene in Commando. I had him personalize it, “Johnny, I’m letting off steam”, a play on Schwarzenegger’s post-mortem one-liner in that movie. Vernon was very cool to meet, but then again, that could be said of all the stars that weekend.
Across from Marta and Vernon was my seventh former interview subject at this convention, Kristine DeBell. I interviewed her for Pop Geeks back in 2016, and when I reminded her of that, she told me of how the interview is still getting feedback years after we spoke. Kristine and JJ both gave me compliments along those lines this past Chiller, and that gave me a wonderful feeling. I had an argument with my brother after the October 2015 Chiller where he said that my writing doesn’t matter, but hearing from former interview subjects about the impact of our conversations proves my brother wrong, although to be fair, my brother did later apologize for that insult.
Returning to the October 2021 Chiller, I next got to meet Richard Edson. I complimented him on his comic timing in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam, from which I got a picture signed. I asked him how close he came to going to Vietnam as he was born in the mid-50s, and he told me it was pretty close, but he was attending college. His handler did seem a little irritated around the time I asked that question, but I can’t tell if it was because of that question or something else. Either way, it was great to meet Richard.
Allison Barron, the third Night Of The Demons cast member at this Chiller, was there only for Saturday of the show, but she was a great add. As with Jill and Amelia, I complimented Allison on her work in Night Of The Demons, and she brought along some cool Polaroids of behind-the-scenes shots from that movie. These shots showed both downtime on the set and the great effects work of Steve Johnson. Allison was another one of the many sweethearts at Chiller this past weekend, and I hope she’ll come back in the future.
Next in Chiller’s grand parade was Keith Coogan, an actor who started as a child in the 1970s and isn’t showing any signs of stopping any time soon. I got his autograph on an Adventures In Babysitting picture, and I talked about how I thought 80s cinema was underrated, leading to an interesting conversation with Keith about the differences between 70s cinema and 80s cinema. Keith’s wife took pictures of us in several different poses (throwing the shocker, making funny faces, and recreating the Adventures In Babysitting poster), and we had a lot of fun.
Heading back to the lobby, I got an autograph of, and picture with, David Seltzer. The name may not be immediately recognizable, but if you were watching movies in the 70s and 80s, you saw his work as both a director and a screenwriter. His rewrites of the screenplay for Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory made the movie the classic it became. In a complete 180, he wrote the screenplay for the horror classic The Omen. I mentioned those to him, and I also discussed Punchline, which he wrote and directed, and which featured two former interview subjects of mine, the much-missed Taylor Negron and the still-active George McGrath. David Seltzer is very friendly to meet as well
Another Facebook friend and talent booker, Tom Unger, brings in some pretty cool guests for Friday and Saturday of every Chiller Theatre convention. The guests he brought in this year were Kid N’ Play, Jodie Sweetin and Donna D’Errico, the last of whom I got an autograph and picture with. I got her autograph on a bikini photo, and she personalized it the way I always try to get celebrity bikini photos personalized, “Johnny, let’s go for a swim”. She was very friendly. I did mention that I follow her on OnlyFans, but I was quiet about that because I didn’t know who was around. Either way, Donna D’Errico was a fantastic guest.
Moving along, this was Rex Smith’s first East Coast convention. I’m glad that it was Chiller Theatre, because he was another talent who was fantastic to meet. He had a story for every picture he had available for autographing. For myself, I got a picture of him looking handsome in a suit, and he told the story of how he wore it in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Sunset Blvd. The way he talked about how the suit was presented to him was suitably theatrical. I also got his autograph for my Facebook friend Gretchen, and I look forward to mailing it out to her.
I was on my way to the line for another talent when, all of a sudden, we heard sirens going off and police officers on duty telling us to evacuate the Hilton. For the third October Chiller in four years, some asshole called in a bomb threat. Needless to say, we were all exasperated by the scenario. The only upside of it was that the situation was dealt with quicker than it was in 2019, and 2019 was already more quickly dealt with than the first one in 2018. If the person who called in that threat is reading this, I hope you serve jail time, motherfucker.
Once the situation was settled and we got back inside, I got on line for Morgan Fairchild. I’d gotten her autograph for my friend Erin’s restaurant the previous evening, but I wanted to get a picture with her to follow up on our photo together from April of 2019. I also had another reason for wanting to speak to her. I’d been told in 2019 by a talent booker that Ms. Fairchild charges several thousand dollars for an interview. I had the chance to ask Morgan if it was true, and she said that although she doesn’t do many interviews, when she has something to promote, she doesn’t charge for them. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Morgan’s future projects so I may have the chance to interview her in the future.
After an exhausting, but for the most part fun, day, I retired to my hotel room for some sleep. Sunday was a quiet day, but I did have the chance to speak to Ginger, Mackenzie and Julie again, and as always, they were friendly. I also talked to Scott Schwartz, the eighth former interview subject of mine at this show as I also interviewed him on the red carpet of the Hoboken International Film Festival in 2019. Although I didn’t get a picture and autograph with him, I did spend a friendly few minutes talking to him about a variety of things. I especially thanked him for helping to set up private signings with retro porn icons Shanna McCullough and Jeanna Fine, both of which I’ve brought into, and both of which I’m looking forward to seeing what filth they come up with for personalizations. Scott also told me that Keli Richards, another retro porn icon and a Facebook friend of mine, was apparently wandering around Chiller on Saturday. I missed her, but hopefully I’ll see her next year.
This final picture is a selfie I took in the last hours of the convention on Sunday. I have a big smile on my face because i was happy to be back at the Chiller Theatre convention. Two years without having the chance to meet old friends and make new ones, as well as meet a slew of stars, was very sad, but finally, at long last, happy days were here again, and Chiller Theatre was back. I’m already planning ahead for the 2022 Chillers. I won’t always be attending all three days from 2022 onward, but I’ll definitely be doing at least Friday and Saturday. I made great new memories at Chiller Theatre this past October, and I’m eagerly looking forward to future memories at my favorite convention.
In closing, Chiller Theatre is now the destination I most look forward to traveling to as an adult. For many years, the destination I looked forward to was Walt Disney World, spurred on by my parents buying into the Disney Vacation Club all the way at the start. However, from my late teens through my mid-30s, the trips gradually started becoming less fun. The last two times I went to Walt Disney World were February of 2014 and September of 2016. In between those two Disney trips, I attended Chiller for the first and second times, and found myself really having fun.
By the time I went to Chiller in October of 2016, I started to get the feeling that I found something that could replace Disney trips as an enjoyable and fun experience. As the years have progressed, and as Walt Disney World has made a lot of changes that don’t appeal to me, I’ve now decided that Chiller Theatre is where the fun is at for me. It’s less expensive than a trip to Walt Disney World, there are always new stars to meet at Chiller, and best of all, the show is only 45 minutes or so away from where I live, so I don’t have to worry about traveling a long distance. I look forward to the Chiller Theatres to come.
Happy 30th anniversary, Chiller Theatre!