There are so many celebrities coming to Texas Frightmare, it’s downright scary.
Being held this weekend at the Hyatt Regency DFW, the creepiest convention in Texas will play host to such stars as Ron Perlman, Billy Zane, Adrienne Barbeau, Matthew Lillard and Tobin Bell, who has frightened a generation of filmgoers with his portrayal of the iconic villain Jigsaw in the “Saw” film series.
One of the biggest stars at the show will be English author and moviemaker Clive Barker, whose stories often reveal hidden fantastical worlds coexisting with our own. While he never became a household name on the same level as Stephen King, Barker is one of horror’s legendary storytellers, penning such harrowing novels as “The Damnation Game” (1985), “Weaveworld” (1987) and “Cabal” (1988), which was adapted for the silver screen in 1990 as “Nightbreed.”
“I’ve always wanted to meet Clive Barker,” says PopNerdTV’s Cierra Caballero, who hosts a YouTube horror show called “Jump Scare.” The University of North Texas graduate and Waco resident says she’s been collecting and reading Barker's books for years.
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“He has this way of revealing both the good and the atrocious sides of humanity,” she says. “Things are never what they seem. You might learn the character you thought would be the monster is actually the good one, and the monster actually looks just like one of us.”
Barker is perhaps best-known for his “Books of Blood” short story collections, and for creating the “Hellraiser” franchise featuring Pinhead. Doug Bradley, who played Pinhead in the movies, will be appearing at Texas Frightmare as part of the “Cenobite Celebration,” which also features Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince and Barbie Wilde. (Cenobites are extra-dimensional denizens of the “Hellraiser” world.)
Caballero says Texas Frightmare “brings something different to Texas.”
“All the other conventions cover all genres,” she says. “Sci-fi, horror, action, fantasy, comic books. Texas Frightmare is just horror. It’s the one time of year you get to surround yourself with people who you can talk to who have a true love of horror. Their eyes light up when they talk about a film or meeting a certain horror actor, or their first experience reading a certain magazine or reading a certain book. They get so excited. Just being around that is an amazing experience.”
Caballero, who began her love affair with horror when she saw “The Fly” (1986) as a young girl, enjoys the genre for its variety and social commentary, and for its pure entertainment value.
“The beauty of horror is that it can go from one extreme to another,” she says. “It can be bloody and violent, or just very quiet and suspenseful, like ‘A Quiet Place’ that came out recently. It’s very reflective of our culture and society. Sometimes horror deals with topics that you usually can’t talk about. Horror is also super fun.”
One potentially fun event at Texas Frightmare is “A Celebration of Chucky,” featuring Brad Dourif, the voice of the killer doll himself. Several actors from the “Chucky” or the “Child’s Play” films will be in attendance, including Catherine Hicks, who, in the original “Child’s Play” film, gave her son a doll for his birthday, unaware that it was possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Hicks is famous among mainstream audiences for a very different role, that of preacher’s wife Annie Camden on “7th Heaven,” the popular television series.
Caballero is looking forward to meeting Hicks, primarily for her role in “Child’s Play,” but also for her turn as cetacean biologist Dr. Gillian Taylor in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), where she starred opposite William Shatner.
Meeting Matthew Lillard, who played hungry hippie Shaggy in the live action “Scooby-Doo” (2002) and “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” (2004) movies, is also a priority for Caballero.
“He’s been in a ton of films,” she says. “‘13 Ghosts,’ ‘Scream,’ ‘Hackers,’ ‘She’s All That.’ He steals the scenes in almost every film he’s in. He usually plays the goofy character, but then he surprises me by being serious.”
You can meet the celebrities for free at Texas Frightmare (with paid admission), but you’ll have to pay extra for autographs and photo ops. You can also spend your money in the vendor’s room, where you’ll find action figures, books, trading cards, toys, horror movies (on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray), “Famous Monsters of Filmland” T-shirts, movie stills and posters, vintage Universal Monsters memorabilia, and much more.
Other free things to do at Texas Frightmare (again, with the price of admission) include panels, cosplay, and, most notably, celebrity Q&As. Typically, a host will speak with the celebrity onstage, and then field questions from the audience.
Of course, what would a horror convention be without a few movie screenings?
Several independent films are making their world premieres at Texas Frightmare, including “Ouija House” (featuring Tara Reid), “Death Kiss,” “The Toy Box” (featuring Denise Richards) and “As the Gods Will.”
“Sometimes it’s fun to just watch scary movies with people,” Caballero says. “It’s a completely different experience watching a movie with fellow horror fans. Texas Frightmare is the only time where I’m surrounded by people who also find the beauty in the darkness.”
Brett Weiss is the author of nine books, including The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 and Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films.