Sunday, May 29, 2011


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...Captain Jack Sparrow is BACK!!! Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth installment in Disney's "Pirates" film franchise. Although 2007's "At World's End" was supposed to be the end of what would have been a perfect trilogy, Disney couldn't help but bring Jack Sparrow back for even more outrageous adventures. It seemed impossible that this film could EVER top the swashbuckling action and final battle with Davy Jones and Beckett, but they tried...and failed! I'm going to say this now and get it out of the way: I LOVE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN! It has been one of my favorite Disney rides (next to "Haunted Mansion") since I was a kid. When the first movie ("Curse of the Black Pearl") came out in 2003, both me and millions of others were hooked, ready and willing to follow the adventures of the eccentric Capt. Jack Sparrow. The first movie is the greatest and still my favorite. "Dead Man's Chest (2006) and "At World's End" (2007) are equally great, made more so because of the tentacle-faced Davy Jones! The new "prize" in On Stranger Tides is in fact the fabled "Fountain of Youth"! We knew it was only a matter of time before they included the fountain as hinted in the epilogue in the last movie but we had no idea the extent to which they would take it...
With On Stranger Tides, we find Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) without a ship and crew (as usual). Now in London, England, helping Gibbs (Kevin McNally) escape imprisonment only to fall back into custody and be reunited with none other than Capt. Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Barbosa just happens to now be a respected Imperial Naval Captain; however peg-legged, having lost his leg when the Black Pearl sank! (What?) Soon Jack escapes (again!) and finds Angelica Malon ( Penélope Cruz), a former love-interest. Jack finds himself aboard the infamous Queen Anne's Revenge, under the command of the most feared pirate of the seas: "Blackbeard", a.k.a. Edward Teach (Ian McShane), who apparently possess some sort of supernatural power?!  We soon find out that not only is it going to be difficult to find the fountain but, in order to take advantage of it's youth granting gifts they need to embark on a seemingly pointless quest to recover two silver chalices from the original ship of Ponce de Leon and also the tear of a mermaid!? As we realize this is a Disney movie after all and as Blackbeard's crew try to find a mermaid, we half expect Ariel from Disney's animated The Little Mermaid (1989) to pop out of the water at anytime, but instead we get beautiful, exotic, golden-tailed mermaids...that turn into ravenous, fanged, monsters! Now the race has begun as three different groups set sail in search for the "Fountain of Youth": Blackbeard, Barbossa, AND The Spanish? However, the Spanish do not seem to present much of a threat to our heroes for most of the movie.
This movie is surprisingly very different from the other "Pirates" movies. Possibly the biggest change is the choice of director, that being Rob Marshall (Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Chicago (2002)) and NOT Gore Verbinski, who directed the last three "Pirates" movies. While the other Pirates movies had very original stories and characters; this movie has by far the weakest of all! The most bizarre aspect of this story is that it is not entirely "Disney", as the movie gives credit to the 1987 novel On Stranger Tides written by Tim Powers, for which it is "loosely" based.  The original novel is about John "Jack Shandy" Chandagnac, the son of a puppeteer who travels to the New World only to be attacked by pirates and ends up joining a pirate crew to save a damsel. The novel and movie have many differences in plot and characters, the only similarities are Blackbeard and The Fountain of Youth! You would think Disney had tons of writers at their disposal to come up with an original story but NO, instead they have to "borrow" from a novel from 25 years ago to which they now own the rights!
Despite the weak story, On Stranger Tides has some interesting elements such as the "Fountain of Youth", mermaids and zombies, but if the film's producers where expecting Blackbeard to be a worthy successor to Davy Jones (they even went so far as to include him in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at DisneyLand and DisneyWorld!), but he remains a very unimposing and non-threatening villain, even boring at sometimes. When we first see Blackbeard, he appears very menacing with his trademark glowing wicks in his beard but later, he comes off as just being...grumpy? McShane's very lazy approach to one of the most "evil" men is embodied in his admitting very casually to being a "a bad man". Even Capt. Barbossa had enough creepy, bad-ass qualities to be a successful villain in the first film and later to become part of the ensemble cast. In Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, Davy Jones, made an even more impressive and frightening villain with his face full of tentacles and his half-human/half-fish crew. Even this movie's "love-interest (Cruz) seems very mediocre, although trying to add a little Latin spice to the movie, she becomes simply annoying, almost like a female Ricky Ricardo (I Love Lucy) as she curses at Jack in Spanish in one scene! We get more drama and emotion from the interaction between the young mermaid, Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisby) and her would-be protector Philip (Sam Claflin), which is still only a sub-plot. Although at times On Stranger Tides has all the "piratey" trappings we have come to love in the "Pirates" movies: such as the over-the-top swashbuckling action, daring escapes, beloved characters and supernatural elements; this movie just seems to be trying too hard! We all love Jack Sparrow, but how many times can we watch him find new and more outlandish ways to escape from a situation. The movie tries to present the audience with new and exciting stories, characters and villains but after four films, it gets (dare I say it) OLD? Overall, the movie has a very Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) feel to it, even with the ending.
I'm a fan of the "Pirates" movies and some part of me awaited the release of this movie with joy, while another part would have been more than happy to have settled with the original trilogy. Like many film franchises, when will enough be enough. Rumors are already stirring about two more Pirates movies after this one...when will it end? Until movie audiences are finally fed up with seeing the same old thing or the franchise becomes unprofitable...when will the billion-dollar Pirates ship sink and who's career will go down with the ship? Bloom and Knightly are already out of the picture and before Depp is at risk of being type-cast as the effeminate pirate for life!
"Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirates' life for me...?"

Friday, May 27, 2011


This weekend I went to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for their annual STAR WARS WEEKENDS at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park! Since 1997 Disney World's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) has sponsored a Star Wars fan event featuring celebrities and exclusive merchandise for Star Wars fans. This year will be my second year to attend, the first being in 2008 when I met Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok), coincidentally on my birthday! Unfortunately, I missed the last two years but I was determined to go this year mostly because it featured Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) as a special guest. Disney holds this event in the Hollywood Studios Park due to the fact that the park features the Star Wars ride known as Star Tours, which has been open since 1987. This weekend also marks a special occasion with the opening weekend of the newly refurbished Star Tours Ride, featuring 3D technology and over 50 new destinations!
This years celebrity hosts are the voice actors from the Cartoon Network series Star Wars: Clone Wars: James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano). This was the first of four Star Wars Weekends and every weekend features different guests. This weekend's guests included Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett) and Dave Filoni (Supervising Director on Star Wars: Clone Wars). All later this month and next include other special guests such as Ray Park (Darth Maul) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)!
Jedi Mickey & R2-MK
We arrived in Orlando on Friday morning on a 6am flight from DFW Airport and traveled to our hotel on Disney's Magical Express bus at the new Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Unfortunately our bus was driven by a inexperienced trainee and took longer than expected. My family are members of Disney Vacation Club so we enjoy Disney World and it's other resorts and attractions including Disney Cruise Line very frequently. We soon made our way to the Hollywood Studios to see what we could get and hopefully ride Star Tours once...or twice! (For those who followed my Twitter and/or Facebook got updates on the days events over the weekend.) When we first arrived at Hollywood Studios it's apparent that Star Wars weekends was already in full swing: There were Stormtroopers guarding the gates, Star Wars merchandise and paraphernalia all over the park, Star Wars characters in costume at various photo- opportunity locations and even some Disney characters in Star Wars costumes (i.e. Mickey Mouse as a Jedi and Minnie Mouse as Princess Leia) thousands of attendees walking around in all manner of costumes and Star Wars T-Shirts, kids wielding toy lightsabers and weapons and of course...Star Wars music blaring all over the park!
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
Our first event was "Inside the Saga" with Anthony Daniels at the Premiere Theater where Daniels told the story of his part in the Star Wars phenomenon, how he got the part and how he almost didn't get the part, also a few insights to his appearances over the years including commercials (one being an anti-smoking ad in the 1980's). Daniels has always been considered very outspoken with his role in Star Wars and even with his celebrity status so much that he insisted (very strongly) to those in the audience to put away cameras! At the beginning of the show following a video presentation he came on stage in a blinding gold-tuxedo jacket (with purple inside) followed by a procession of costumed Ewoks and two girls donning gold shorts and waving gold banners! And as the Ewoks bowed in praise of their golden god, so did we! Daniels was so entertaining and flamboyant it was a joy to see him live, although we had seen him twice over the years, especially at Star Wars in Concert! During the 30-minute show Daniels revealed some interesting facts about his part in the Star Wars Universe, being the only character who has appeared in all 6 films. Towards the end of the show he was joined by an actor wearing the C-3PO costume and was basically talking to himself, he thanked 3PO, shook his hand and hugged him.
Next came "Obi-Wan and Beyond" Starring James Arnold Taylor, a one-man show about his prolific voice-acting career. James has voiced over 150 voices on movies, TV shows, cartoons, video games and commercials including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Johnny Test, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Spectacular Spider-Man, Drawn Together, Ratchet & Clank, Scooby Doo, and of course Star Wars: The Clone Wars where he voices Obi-Wan, Plo Koon and many other droids and aliens!  was astounding how he has done so  many voices and is able to imitate many other celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Al Pacino...the list goes on! He was amazing, I don;t know how he able to do so many voices, very impressive! 

Later that day I visited "Jabba's Hut", a massive white tent which contained event exclusive merchandise for Star Wars Weekends including limited edition pins, T-Shirts, hats, watches, books, toys... everything! After the lines had finally subsided, I got in line to ride the new and improved Star Tours - "The Adventures Continue!" I have enjoyed the ride since I was a kid when it first opened in 1987 and now as an adult I can appreciate the fun and nostalgia. As you enter the cue underneath a mock-up of the Ewok Village and an AT-AT Walker you enter the Star Tours lobby and see C-3PO and R2-D2 repairing a shuttle while a huge video screen overhead shows possible destinations. The ride itself is still fundamentally the same, you and about 20 other sit in a large flight simulator while you watch your journey on a huge screen combined with music, sound-effects, lights and Disney's signature animatronics it becomes an exciting and interactive experience! For the last 24 years, Star Tours has been "driven" by the droid Captain RX-24 (a.k.a. Rex) whose apparent inexperience and incompetence have taken attendees all over the galaxy! The rides original destination is supposed to be Endor but due to a mishap Rex sends the riders into a deadly shower of comets and an ultimate confrontation with the empire and the battle of the Death Star! Now, as travellers board Star Tours, they are met by C-3PO (voiced by Anthony Daniels) who was apparently performing maintenance on the shuttle becomes the accidental captain (no thanks to R2-D2). As we are about to take off we are confronted by Darth Vader and a army of stormtroopers who are looking for "Rebel Spies" (featuring the picture of a random park attendee) and attempts to stop the shuttle. We escape and are taken to our first destination, Kashyyyk, (a.k.a. the Wookie Planet), and move on to a variety of different random locations, which makes this new improvement different from the older Star Tours ride where it was always the same. Now you can go anywhere from Tatooine, Hoth, Naboo, Endor featuring both prequel and original trilogy locations and characters with many different combinations.
Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka)
The next day I tried to get in line to get Fastpasses for Anthony Daniels' autograph but they were already out, I was disappointed but I was able to get one for James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein and that wasn't bad. Later we watched "Behind the Force" a look behind the scenes on Star Wars: The Clone Wars with host Ashley Eckstein and featuring director Dave Filoni. After that we saw the "Stars of the Saga"- Star Wars Celebrity Talk Show hosted by James Arnold Taylor and featuring Anthony Daniels and Daniel Logan. The Q&A session was entertaining although Daniels' seemed to delight in tormenting Daniel Logan. Later that afternoon was the "Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade" a parade featuring all the special guests accompanied by costumed characters and even members of The 501st Florida Garrison and the Rebel Legion. The next morning we got up around 5:30am to get in line for Anthony Daniels' Fastpass, there were already at least 50 people in line and a dozen who had camped out all night in front of the entrance to Hollywood Studios. Finally my perseverance paid off and I was able to get a Fastpass for Daniels' autograph for later that afternoon. After a few photo opportunities with Boba Fett and Darth Vader and another ride on Star Tours I was satisfied that Star Wars Weekend was a complete success. Although hot and tired (and sweaty) we left the next day for the airport but would soon find out that we were in store for two days of airline delays and problems...but that's another story! "May the Force Be With You" and see you next year!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Marvel Studios is taking over Summer with the release of THOR, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER! For the last decade, movies based on Marvel Comics have dominated the Summer blockbuster, along with a few less successful off season movies...Although Marvel had tried to break into movies in the late 1980's with flops such as Captain America (1990) and The Punisher (1989) starring Dolph Lundgren. As the new millennium dawned came the release of X-Men in 2000 and Spider-Man in 2002 the new age of Marvel movies began! Not to mention the start of Marvel's very own studios and the release of Iron-Man and Incredible Hulk, Marvel shows no signs of stopping bringing their heroes to life! Over the years there have been hits (i.e. X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002)), and some misses (i.e. Hulk (2003), Elektra (2005).
So, to get ready for Marvel Summer 2011 as CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents: The TOP 10: MARVEL MOVIES!

 #10 Daredevil (2003) A comic book fan favorite, Director Mark Steven Johnson's somewhat disappointing adaptation of the blind superhero starring Ben Afflek as Daredevil/Matt Murdock and Jennifer Garner as Elektra, and don't forget Colin Farrel as Bullseye and Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin had some merit. The scenes of Daredevil's "radar" vision was impressive as well as the faithful treatment of his origin. Although the film tried to entice fans with cameos from Kevin Smith and even Frank Miller the movie seemed successful enough to spawn a spin-off, namely Elektra in 2005 which failed miserably no thanks to Jennifer Garner (and really bad fight choreography)!

#9 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) Although The Fantastic Four (2005) presented us with a slightly campy version of the super foursome (at least it was better than the unwatchable/unreleased Roger Corman version) starring Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic), Jessica Alba (Sue Storm,/Invisible Woman), Chris Evans (Johnny Storm/Human Torch) and Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm/The Thing). With the sequel, the film's producers introduced fan favorite The Silver Surfer (played by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne), bringing a more cosmic element to the sorely mediocre story of Reed Richard and Sue Storm's wedding (yawn), they also brought Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) back for some reason...? Although fans waited to see Galactus in all his gigantic glory he appeared ijn this a cloud? WTF?

#8 Ghost Rider (2007) Although not well received by fans and critics, Nicholas Cage's depiction of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider offered hellish visuals but failed in bringing any real seriousness to the dark/occult laden story. Also an odd casting choice was Peter Fonda (Easy Rider) as Mephistopheles but Eva Mendes made it all better...vroom vroom!

#7 The Punisher (2004) Thomas Jane plays an impressive and sympathetic Frank Castle as he dons the white-skull symbol in Marvel's second attempt to bring the gun-toting vigilante to life. Although John Travolta as the villain Howard Saint left much to be desired. Although they did throw in Rebbecca Romijn and a young Ben Foster as sidekicks...?

#6 X-Men 2: X-Men United (2003) Director Bryan Singer returned with the enitre cast plus the addition of Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) brought new depth and possibilites to the X-Men Trilogy which saddly fell short with X-Men 3: The Last Stand, no thanks to director Brett Ratner!

#5 Blade (1998) Wesley Snipes and writer David Goyer brought one of Marvel's most obscure characters from the 1970's into the 21st century with two successful movies including Blade II directed by Guillermo Del Toro, although the third movie Blade: Trinity severely dwindled despite Ryan Reynolds' comic relief.

#4 The Incredible Hulk (2008) Lest we forget director Ang Lee's monstrous bomb Hulk in 2003 starring Eric Bana (how we've tried!), Marvel's Hulk reboot directed by Louis Leterrier and starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner brought new depth to the story of the green-skinned Goliath, even incorporating elements from the popular 1970's TV version.

#3 Iron Man (2008) Robert Downey Jr. is IRON MAN! Bringing the Vietnam-era story into the modern deserts of the Middle East brought new life to one of Marvel's second stringers and became one of the most popular Marvel movies next to X-Men and Spider-man! Downey's chemistry with co-star Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts makes the characters all the more believable and entertaining!

#2 Spider-Man (2002) Director Sam Raimi and actor Tobey Macguire brought the web-slinger to life in a successful trilogy! (Spider-Man 3, not so much...) Even Willem Dafoe's over-the-top performance as Norman Osborne/Green Goblin made it a quirky yet dark Sam Raimi masterpiece!

#1 X-Men (2000) With director Bryan Singer and an all star cast including Patrick Stewart as Proffesor X, Ian McKellan as Magneto and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, the Marvel Movie Age began bringing new possibilities (and profitable Marvel properties!) to the big screen for the 21st Century!

Monday, May 9, 2011


This weekend marks the beginning of the Summer Blockbusters. In particular this season is the summer of the superhero with the release of three of the biggest movies from Marvel Studios which include: X-Men: First Class (Opens June 6) Captain America: The First Avenger (Opens July 22) and to start it all off: THOR! Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Hamlet), endeavors to bring Marvel's hammer-wielding hero to the big screen with a production of god-like proportions!
Chris Hemsworth stars as Thor, who along with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been groomed since childhood to take the throne of Asgard by their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). When a conflict arises between their age-old enemies: The Frost Giants, led by King Laufey (Colm Feore), Thor goes against his father's wishes and leads an attack against them. Enraged by his son's actions, Odin takes his powers and banishes him to Earth, along with his fabled hammer Mjölnir, which settles in a crater in the New Mexico desert. Powerless and confused Thor "literally" runs into astrophysicists Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). While Thor adjusts to his now mortal life with the help of Jane, and no thanks to S.H.I.E.L.D., he must find a way back home to Asgard and stop his brother Loki from taking over the throne! Thor brings to the big screen all that we have come to expect from Marvel Studios, with the success of Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010), this summer is going to be super-powered!
Whereas most Marvel movies seem to focus on more technological (Iron Man) or scientific (The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man) themed heroes, Thor is based within more of a fantasy world; the scenes depicting Asgard and the realms of are some of the most beautiful settings ever seen. With huge, fantastic golden buildings, a crystalline rainbow bridge and colorful god-like characters like Heimdall (Idris Elba), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Fandral (Josh Dallas). For those who are fans of the over-the-top, old-English spouting thunder god, you may be somewhat disappointed. While Hemsworth brings to the part a very "human" Thor, he comes across as much more arrogant and annoying than usual, especially in the beginning of the film, but manages to pull off a much more experienced and wiser god by the climax of the movie; yet without saying a single "thee" or "thou" through the whole movie! This version of Thor also comes from less of the old-school Thor Marvel character (who first appeared  in "Journey Into Mystery" #83, Aug. 1962) and more from the recent "Ultimates" (2002) story-line. Although this (bearded) depiction of Thor is less like the classic Thor and more closely related to the 1990's Eric Masterson a.k.a. "Thunderstrike" version. While the main antagonists of the movie are the Frost Giants, the story of Loki is somewhat lessened, most likely due to his role as the major villain in the upcoming Avengers movie in 2012.

The movie's prologue is very fast but it quickly pulls you into the world of the gods and Asgard in an almost epic-Lord of the Rings-like battle, which sets up the whole conflict with the Frost Giants. Then we briefly see a young Thor and Loki being lectured by Odin only to quickly move forward to the (now adult) Thor's coronation ceremony which is unfortunately interrupted by...guess who? The Frost Giants! Upon Thor's banishment to Earth, he becomes this almost comedic-anachronistic character as he deals with modern day Earth. Soon it becomes clear why the story chose to set everything in New Mexico of all places, giving a clever nod to the original Marvel Comic with this billboard: "New Mexico...Land of Enchantment, Journey Into Mystery!" The most uninspiring aspect of the plot in Thor surprisingly comes from now Oscar-winner Natalie Portman and her involvement as the at-best mediocre love interest between her and Thor. Although Skarsgård's character becomes a surrogate father figure for Natalie's character, he remains an extraneous character along with Portman's atrocious teenage sidekick Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). I found myself really liking Thor's hilarious band of friends/minor gods, especially Volstagg, played by Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone). There's also a delightful cameo from comic creator Stan "The Man" Lee plus an appearance of fan-favorite Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton, played by Jeremy Renner (uncredited?)!
The climax of the movie is an impressive battle with The Destroyer, a giant magic-fueled, armored robot (gotta love that)! The signature surprise epilogue following the credits is worth the wait as it features Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury character (of course), who first entered into the new Marvel continuity in Iron Man (2008)! Overall, Thor is an amazing and worthy installment into the Marvel movies as Marvel Studios whets our appetites with Thor and X-Men: First Class until the release of this summers' main course with Captain America: The First Avenger!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


TEXAS FRIGHTMARE WEEKEND is the southwest's premiere horror convention for the last six years! I have been an attendee of TFW since 2007. This year's TFW was held again at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Irving, TX and this year's show is the biggest yet! Although I was somewhat disappointed with last years convention since I didn't get to meet the main guest: John Carpenter, I did however meet and get autographs from Lance Henriksen and Meg Foster! This year's special guests included: Clive Barker, Robert Englund, Malcom McDowell, Doug Bradley, Roger Corman, Angus Scrimm, and the cast of Human Centipede and Saw! Like most conventions the big draw is to get autographs from celebrities which has grown into somewhat of a hobby for me as I have collected many signatures over the years. Unfortunately these kind of conventions can be very expensive, not only is there the price of admission, but also the guests often charge anywhere from $20 to $50 just for an autograph and/or photo, then there's the dealers room where you can buy all kinds of merchandise and collectibles. My main objective this year was to obtain an autograph (and/or photo) from Clive Barker and possibly Robert Englund or Malcom McDowell. I found the cost of the entire weekend to be too much ($75) so I only purchased a Saturday ticket online at $30.
Killer Costumes!
TFW 2011 started off Friday night with screenings of Offspring and The Woman. On Saturday morning, Moxley Manor sponsored the annual Zombie Walk which I caught the last of. I arrived at the Sheraton Grand Hotel around 10:30 am and picked up my pre-registered Saturday ticket by the pool. I quickly made my way through the lobby and got in line for Clive Barker's signing. Although I waited in line for almost 2 and 1/2 hours I ran into a few people I knew and saw Norman Reedus and Malcolm McDowell pass by! Finally, I was taken into another room where Clive Barker was seated. They provided many photos, posters, books and DVDs ready to sign and charged $30 - $75, the most expensive being a personalized sketch from him. I had planned on getting my 1st ed. hardback copy of "Cabal" and my 20th Anniversary DVD of Hellraiser signed. I noticed several people brought models of the Hellraiser puzzle box and even the new Blu-ray boxed to get signed. I knew Clive had recently been suffering from throat polyps (although apparently not cancerous, he recently gave up cigars) and found out he had recently recovered from surgery. I must admit it is very disturbing to see him in the condition he was as his health has been declining over several years. Particularly because of his throat problems his once angelic/boyish voice has now been reduced to a gravelly whisper but he seemed in good spirits and was very talkative despite his health. I was very impressed when Doug Bradley (Pinhead) came in the room with a young boy in a homemade Pinhead costume and got autographs and photographed with both Barker and Bradley despite TFW's notice that there was no photography allowed for Barker.
Malcolm McDowell
After Barker, I made my way through the very crowded dealer's room and main lobby where there where several celebrities signing including Sid Haig (The Devil's Rejects), Dieter Laser (Human Centipede), cast of The Boondock Saints, even Japanese horror celebrities Eihi Shiina (Audition) and Yoshihiro Nishimura (Mutant Girls Squad) and of course Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)! Later I was also very pleased to get autographs from Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser, also NO photographs allowed!?) and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) who was extremely nice and approachable. Unfortunately I was unable to get Robert Englund's autograph as TFW has instated a new for of organization. As last years convention was overly crowded the lines being  extremely long TFW instated a new ticket policy, giving out free tickets to signings earlier in the day but for several celebrity signing, ran out of tickets VERY quicly (i.e. Englund and Roger Corman) Other TFW events during the day Q&A sessions with Angus Scrimm (Phantasm), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Roger Corman (Sharktopus). Although due to Englund's Q&A running long and Corman's scheduled signing, Corman's session was disappointingly cut short. Later that night TFW sponsored screenings of Mutant Girls Squad, Doll Boy and Human Centipede at midnight, with live commentary from Director Tom Six and Dr. Heiter himself: Dieter Laser, which is quite possibly the sickest, most disturbing horror movie ever!
Despite a few minor disappointments and an incredibly crowded (and very hot!) venue, Texas Frightmare Weekend 2011 was a great success and very fun! Although I did not attend Friday or Sunday's events (I missed the Q&A w/ Malvcolm McDowell), Saturday is usually the best and biggest day to go (although the busiest!). I look forward to next year's TFW and as the convention has grown so much, next year's TFW will be held at Hyatt Regency Hotel inside the DFW Airport,m which is a significantly larger venue. I can't wait to hear what special guests will be there next year! I'm hoping for maybe Wes Craven? See ya'll next year!