Slimy Aliens Are NOT Indoor Pets.

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As an adult, imagine being outside at night. A slimy, screaming thing bleats at you and crashes around in the bushes. Does it seem like a good idea to bring this thing into your home?

Now I know, you’ve all seen E.T. and you know Elliott did the right thing by befriending a lost little alien.

This is the exception that proves the rule. Most of the time, bringing slimy beasties into your home results in, at very least, a series of painful, preventative shots. If the odds are not in your favor, something claws its way through your chest.

When I saw E.T., I was very young and I was in the theater. My parents were sympathetic to my fear and suffering, and tried to help me find ways of avoiding a meltdown. At one point, I faced away from the the screen but swore I could still see E.T.’s image reflected on the glass outside the projectionist’s booth (note: I couldn’t).

Somehow, I survived the film. When I figured out how magically wonderfully E.T. really was, I felt ashamed of my earlier fear. I tried to convince my entire family I actually loved E.T. Whenever I saw anything related to the film, and thanks to the power of Spielberg I was always seeing something related to E.T., I would pretend I loved the little bastard.

I didn’t. He’s creepy. And powerful. I’m still cautious.

I met Dee Wallace at a Crypticon and mentioned my fear of E.T. She confirmed other people had shared this fear with her, but she stated she never understood why.

I now suspect E.T. was waiting in her room, hiding in the towels, ready to jump out and bleat while kicking her if she violated the Code of Silence.

Be careful when allowing powerful, slimy things in your house. I stand by this.


Show Me the Creeps!

Tom Savini and I at Crypticon.

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I finally got to meet Tom Savini at Crypticon this year.  I immediately asked if he had brought “Fluffy”, which is the name he gave to the insatiable eating machine from the fourth segment of the film Creepshow. He laughed and politely told he he thought the Fluffy prop worked well because they were careful to avoid showing it too often. Fluffy remained mysterious.

I was star-struck around the man who defined the look of gory horror special effects from the 70s on. I mostly babbled and nodded and tried not to sound ridiculous.

I wanted to tell him to take that back, because I knew in my heart Fluffy was real and he lived in a crate under stairs and popped out to eat people.

34 may be too old to believe in monsters, but Fluffy is different

After I cancelled a trip to the local haunted house in the sixth grade, I decided to stay at home to watch Creepshow. I taped it off late night network TV. I was convinced I was finally old enough to handle scary movies. The “Father’s Day” and “Something to Tide You Over” segments disturbed me, especially when Cheers Ted Danson faced drowning in the tide while buried up to his neck in sand.

Then, I got to “The Crate.” All you need to know about “The Crate” is that a small, furry thing with big teeth waits in a crate until the audience forgets he’s in there. Then he pops out, opens his mouth about a mile wide, and shreds any flesh he’s near.

That night, I slept on a chair to keep myself breathing through what was probably another fall bronchitis attack. This chair was positioned in the corner of the room. If you picture it, you’ll soon realize that leaves a small space between the back of the chair and the corner of the room.

You guessed it. Perfect Fluffy hiding place. I spent the night working up the courage to look behind me, sure with each peek thumb-sized teeth would crack through my skull while taking a bite out of my face.

It was a long night.

Later, while hanging out with a junior high friend, I brought Creepshow to a friend’s house. I was terrified, and he just fell asleep. When the movie was over, we switched to It and within five minutes he was horrified and I felt vindicated. Sorry, Pennywise. Fluffy got to me first. I’m spoken for.

Fluffy, I know you’re still out there. I know you’re hiding under staircases, waiting in dark places. I know you’ll eat my face off someday, and I’ve learned to accept this. I’ll give you a high-five when you finally do pounce at me, but you’ll probably just eat my hand, too.


Crypticon’s Campfire Ashes.

Another Crypticon in the books. Now, the work begins.

I always come home from Crypticon loaded up with homework. Movies to watch, music to listen t0, and books to read. What lessons am I now learning? I’m studying the works of Joe Knetter and MP Johnson. Drink Blood Records gave me discs from They Live and The Funeral and the Twilight. I have In Harm’s Way and Potpourri (for the second time) to watch, from the dependable folks at Restraining Hollywood.

Add to this the fliers and memorized suggestions and you’ve got months worth of scary entertainment. This is a very good thing. Watch and listen to the Crypticon crowds and you know the Minnesotan winter is already on their mind. We have to load up to get through.

Crypticon is Minnesota’s last great bonfire before winter. Ask anyone who attends and they’ll comment on the warmth and familial nature of the convention. Whether you’re standing by a stranger or a friend, you’re only a short greeting away from a friendly conversation about the beloved creatures and mesmerizing maniacs they’re dying to discuss.

When the Crypticon campfire is reduced to ashes, waiting to be lit again in another year, we all head home with new stories to tell, and new stories to watch and learn. It’s the stories that bring us out in the first place, the scarier the better.

So I’ll catch up on my reading and survive the winter. Next year, I want to bring a few stories of my own the ‘con.

– Axel


Day One of Crypticon is in the books, and I can’t wait to start Day Two later today. Especially excited to see Mitch and Nicole of TriWar pictures. Their film After the Dawn is getting huge, and success couldn’t happen to two nicer people. Also had a great time catching up with the gang at Zombie Ammo, who always have the situation fully under control. And I finally picked up a copy of Potpourri from Restraining Hollywood, which has an underground Bill and Ted feel about it and is a whole lotta fun to watch.

It’s the easiest place in the world to get to know people, and it’s great to immerse myself in creepiness. It helps motivate me to stay on top of my writing projects, so I can be the one scaring the folks at the ‘con. A question I asked at the Friday the 13th panel, with Melanie Kinnaman and Richard Brooker, re-ignited an idea I’ve had for a horror novel/screenplay that would be The Maltese Falcon meets Chainsaw 2. May have to spend some time with that one.