ann hale talks about her experience at the virginia beach-based horror con…
When I was five, my sister left me alone in a strange house, watching A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 while she hung out with her boyfriend. I was scared to death but she brought that VHS home and we watched it again and again and again. After that, I loved horror movies. Every now and then, I’d be too scared to finish the movie. I mean, Dr. Giggles is terrifying when you’re little; especially when your brothers hide in your room at night and mock his scary ass laugh.
As I grew up, I watched every scary movie I could get my hands on. City Video here in NC was $2 to rent and my mother didn’t put any age restrictions on the account. My best friend and I would ride our bikes out there to rent anything and everything scary we could find and on more than one occasion, came home with the Halloween films. I grew up a Danielle Harris fan, thanks to Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead, so, obviously, Halloween 4 and 5 were my favorites.
For years, I have been looking at convention line-ups, seeing Danielle Harris in attendance and wanting to go so badly, but the conventions were always so far away. Finally, this year, I saw that she was going to be at Texas Frightmare and told my, now wife, that all I wanted for my birthday were passes to the convention. My best friend, Krystal, lives in Texas so I could kill two birds with one stone.
Now, we aren’t well off in any way. Just like most of America, we have to save up for things like that. The plane ticket alone was going to be insane expensive, so I kept my eyes open for other conventions coming closer where Harris might be. Just like that, I stumbled upon Blood on the Beach. There she was, on the front page of the convention website: Danielle Harris. To make things better, this convention was going to be in Virginia Beach, only three and a half hours away! The tickets were cheap, the hotel room was cheap and the guest list was amazing! This was a first time convention, run by horror fans who apparently also felt that other conventions were just too far away.
I immediately contacted Al, who was in charge of the whole shebang. He put me on a press list and that was that. I was going to meet my idol. I got ahold of my cousin, Andrew, wife, Jenny, and my friends Nick and Gina and we got all of our tickets ready to go.
We got into Virginia Beach around 2pm on Friday the 20th. Standing right inside the door when we walked in was Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten of Sleepaway Camp, just hanging out with everyone. The man working behind the counter at the hotel was rude and wouldn’t let us have adjoining rooms. When we called down to the desk for the WiFi password, the woman who answered was also rude. This would be my second largest complaint of the convention.
Friday night, we walked around the convention room where I met: Jonathan Tiersten and Felissa Rose, Edward Herrmann and Billy Wirth of The Lost Boys, William Forsythe of The Devils Rejects, Addy Miller of The Walking Dead and David Della Rocco of The Boondock Saints. There was no sign of Danielle Harris.
That night, there was a VIP party with an Alice Cooper cover band called Alice Creeper. He may not have looked a whole like like Cooper, but he really did sound like him. In attendance at the party were several celebrity guests, mixed right in with the crowd, rocking out. We had a blast!
The room was hot and loud so we grabbed a few drinks and went outside for some fresh air. As we were talking, we noticed David Della Rocco sitting behind us on his cell phone, obviously having partied quite a bit. When he finished his phone call, he joined our group and chatted it up with us. At one point he mentioned that he wanted to relax and listen to music, so we hopped in the elevator and took him up to Nick and Gina’s room. We drank, listened to the Easy Rider soundtrack, and listened to the crazy stories Rocco could make up on the spot, including how Nick was once a roadie for Duran Duran in the 80’s and has been screwing up Rocco’s life ever since. Sure, Nick would’ve been a toddler at the time, but Rocco was hilarious. 3:00 am rolled around and we took Rocco to his room. What an amazing night!
Saturday, I was up bright and early. We grabbed some breakfast down the street and headed to the convention room to seek out the celebs we missed the day before. When we got there, there was a line stretching down the hall, out the door and around the pool to meet Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery of The Boondock Saints. I had brought my Daryl Dixon action figure to get signed, so I had to wait. It was two and a half hours in the 80 degree heat and pounding sun before we finally got in the door to wait in another line inside. Three hours later, we met Norman Reedus, who was as genuinely nice as anyone could expect. Andrew got his picture taken with him only to have Normans publicist give the middle finger in the background, ruining the photo.
As the crowd cleared a bit, I saw Danielle and immediately hauled my ass over there. I had just been standing in the heat for three hours and looked like hell. I stammered my way through an introduction and got her autograph on my Halloween 5 poster. I asked her for an interview, which she didn’t hesitate to agree to. She told me to meet her in the afternoon on Sunday when things would be quieter. Absolutely nothing could ruin my day from there. I met Tony Todd of Candyman, Ernie Hudson who plays Winston in The Ghostbusters, Noah Hathaway of The Neverending Story and Chad Lindberg of Supernatural.
Saturday night was another party. The first band, Bella Morte was not my kind of rock. I in no way mean to insult them, and apologize if I do, but they sounded like a horror movie soundtrack band. I prefer heavier. While everyone else seemed to enjoy the music, Gina and I made a drinking game out of it. Every time the singer made a strange face, we drank. Every time this skull he had on a string attached to his jacket hit him in the face, we drank. Every time he stopped to do something to the beat, we drank. After two songs, we were TRASHED and went outside. After awhile, Jonathan Tiersten took the stage. I enjoyed him, actually. Paul Phillips, the guitarist from Puddle of Mudd, got on stage with him and they covered one of Puddle of Mudd’s songs. I’m not a P.O.M. fan at all, actually, but this was my favorite song of the whole night. When he was finished, G. Tom Mac came on stage. You might remember him from his song ‘Cry Little Sister’ from The Lost Boys. While I had a good time, I was confused by his mix of rock, techno, dub step and a little Jack Johnson sounding songs. I guess I’m saying that I have no idea of what musical genre to place him in. He was great nonetheless and put on a great performance.
Sunday morning, the room looked busy so we went and grabbed breakfast to get energized for my interviews. When I got back to the hotel, I immediately went to find Danielle, who was no longer in the same room. They had moved Danielle, Norman, Sean, Rocco and Nathan Baesel into a different room. She was being interviewed by someone else, so I talked with Baesel who played Leslie Vernon in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. (If you haven’t seen this movie, go on Netflix and watch it!) During the interview, Danielle’s publicist pulled her away from her table so I went to talk with Jonathan Tiersten of Sleepaway Camp. When that was over, she still wasn’t back so we talked with James Duval from May, my favorite horror movie. When that was over, she was finally back. When I approached her, she said that she thought her flight was at seven but it turned out they had booked her flight for 5pm, so she had to go. She gave me her email address and a dozen heartfelt apologizes before rushing out. I stood disappointed because the convention wasn’t supposed to END until 5pm. My cousin saw his opportunity to get his photo with Reedus redone since it had been ruined. When he approached the table, Norman’s publicist just said NO and rushed Reedus out the door. Another big celebrity gone before the con was supposed to end.
Disappointed, I walked back into the main convention room and approached Camille Keaton of the original I Spit on Your Grave. The whole weekend I had been walking by her table and having minor anxiety attacks because that movie had messed me up so badly. She was entertained when I told her this and we talked for a bit. After speaking with her, I felt better and re-energized so I walked over to Michael Rooker. We weren’t able to talk about The Walking Dead and had a limited amount of time since his line was still long but he was a great guy and we had a fun talk.
After talking to Michael, my cousin and I walked around a bit more to soak up what was left of the convention. I hadn’t gotten to interview my idol but I did get to meet her a few times and I now have her autograph to add to my collection.
The staff at the convention was great. Everyone was very helpful and friendly. The celebrity guests were all so friendly and happy to meet their fans. A big thank you to Al Keisel for putting the convention together and for allowing me to cover the event. I want to give an extra thank you to Michael Rooker, Nathan Baesel, James Duval, Camille Keaton and Jonathan Tiersten for taking the time to talk with me. You guys were all so amazing and it was a real honor to meet you! A special thank you to Jack Tillery, for being such an awesome guy and introducing me around. You, sir, are just amazing.
I strongly recommend Blood on the Beach for any convention and/or horror lover. I had one of the best times of my life and I don’t doubt it will be one of the best for you as well. Keep your eyes open on bloodonthebeach.net for the next con announcement.