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My First Stab at Texas Frightmare Weekend Horror Con

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Hello, my name is Aaron Rainbolt and I love horror. Please don’t judge me. Some of you might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about… Why would I be judged? Lots of folks love horror.

You would think that, but the reality is that being a fan, not a casual watcher mind you, but a legit axe-wielding blood-drinking boomstick-toting fan will give people reason to pause. I still remember when my parents stupidly, in 1975, took their 7 and 9 year old kids to see Jaws. I was freaked out for years and to this day I hate the ocean because of it.

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As I grew older I found my genre of movies I loved. It was horror. From The Omen to A Nightmare on Elm Street growing up, my movie appetite could not be quenched with films like Smokey And The Bandit. It had to have some gore or a jump scare. I was hooked. I was addicted.

Now for the longest time I would see conventions sci-fi and horror here and there, but I never made the time to visit any of them. I watched my movies and lived my horror-filled life.

I moved to Texas 10 years ago. I heard about the Texas Frightmare Weekend about 4 years ago and still didn’t make the effort to drive 3 hours to what I was told was one of the best horror conventions in the U.S.

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Well this year I was a complete newbie to the horror convention scene. Let me just say, I wasn’t prepared in anyway for the Texas Frightmare Weekend adventure before me.

Where popular culture has accepted, embraced, and commercialized the nerd, being a horror hound is still the relative we don’t talk much about. My first night I met so many people that I had a hard time remembering names.

The thing that stood out the most was that even the hotel staff got involved by dressing up or even donning scary shirts of their favorite movies.

My roommates and a close group of friends knew that I was a horror con virgin so they took me all over the con to enjoy all of the events it had to offer. I visited booths, met iconic actors, authors and vendors, and I soon realized two things:

1. These stars and icons of popular culture are not only guests of this event, but they are fans of the genre and down right some of the best people I have ever met.

2. I can’t think of anything like this where I felt so at home.

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As one of the TFW staff informed me that the folks that work the convention (Red shirts) are all volunteers for this whole weekend and most are referrals from the previous year’s volunteers. In a way, they’re like a small family. It was so well organized that I never once felt lost or like I didn’t know what was going on.

So, a typical day for a fan might consist of waiting in lines for a celebrity guests in order to get signatures or fan photos. Here is how it’s broken down:

Wristbands are categorized by Press/day/weekend and VIP wristbands. Included with the VIP wristbands are what they call “line skips,” a valuable VIP perk. So if a VIP fan wants a signature and to maybe meet, take a picture with or get an autograph of say, Candyman’s Tony Todd, he has to wait in line. The more popular the celebrity the longer the line.

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With the VIP line skips, they get to zip to the front and jump in line all guided by the wonderful TFW volunteer staff. Simple really. VIP is worth it for that alone.

Some events they have are horror movie screenings and makeup workshops that may or may not have a small materials fee. But for the most part, its relatively inexpensive unless you stop at say, the Mondo Tees booth and buy some of the amazing art work they had this year. Of course I had to.

It really helped that the event was held in the same hotel I was bunking at. The con took place inside the Hyatt Regency DFW Hotel. Riding the elevator to my room in a timely manor was another thing. It just gave me more of an opportunity to meet new people.

On Saturday night I ended up at a Scaraoke Party where I watched some of my favorites like David Arquette and Rose McGowan singing their hearts out and being human. With my small army of friends that took me all over to meet more new and unique people, I swear I left with no less then 30 new friends this weekend.

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And honestly, that’s what this is all about. One whole weekend to hang out and meet like-minded people, get a few photos with some celebrities who may have entered your nightmares a time or two, and enjoy being the horror hound that you are. Till next year TFW.

A special thank you goes out to Jillian and James Swift, Shane and Tami Miner, Blake and Alizen Kirk, Loren Grey, Steven and Jennifer Piper, Steve Ackerman who took me by the hand, literally at times, and showed me the ropes and all the new folks I met, Dustin Sain, Chris Garofalo, Melissa Golden, Dennis Glidewell, Timothy Pittides, Brad Cunningham, Chrisita Wesley, and Stacey Rode.

Enjoy some more photos of the amazing event, and be assured, you will be seeing me there again next year!

Texas Frightmare Weekend (TFW), was founded in 2006 by Loyd and Sue Cryer and has grown from a small gathering of fans held in the tiny Grapevine Convention Center with only a handful of events and guests to what most consider to be the premiere horror convention in the United States. Now produced in association with Fangoria Magazine, and relocated to the much larger Hyatt Regency hotel, the team behind TFW has added movie screenings, panel discussions, and increased vendor space to make the experience even more special.

This growth has caught the attention of the entire horror community, celebrities that flocked to TFW to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans this year, and guests such as Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street, V, Hatchet), George A Romero (Night of the Living Dead Series, Creepshow), and Lance Henriksen (Alien, Millennium, Near Dark). In addition to cast reunions for Halloween 2 and Return of the Living Dead.

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I grew up on Kung Fu theater movie weekends, a lot of Top Ramen Noodles, G.I. Joe's, Evil Knivels Stunt Cycle and Stretch Armstrong. My Movie reviews and Artist Interviews have been a regular around Nerdlocker.com. Follow me on Twitter @arainbolt. or email me aaron@nerdlocker.com