Being the only convention in Chicago dedicated to the horror film industry, Flashback Weekend is the highlight of the year for many of us. The entire event is intimately held in the Balmoral Room at the Crown Point Plaza in Rosemont near O’hare. Horror fans are guaranteed a bloody good time with vendors, cosplayers, and celebrity guests hanging out in the same space.
Upon entry we were greeted with quite the range of vendors. I was most interested in purchasing items that I can’t obtain anywhere else -especially for the home and apparel! It was great to see a big brand name like Terror Threads gracing (or slashing) us with their horror tees at our local event. Smaller businesses also lined up to sell one-of-a-kind handmade art and collectable figurines to spookify your home. Slimer and other familiar specters were found making trouble at the Windy City Ghostbusters table! The crew is ready for the call to our next planned event (more specifically my kids’ birthday party) with a simple donation to a few sponsored charities. More recognizable haunts were located at the HSPPA (Horror & Scifi Prop Preservation Association) display of horror props and costumes, including a Cerberus and Pyramid Head’s costume. Of course, I bought more stickers and toys than any (adult) child needs.
I think the most impressive part of Flashback Weekend is being so close to the celebrities without additional purchase of Meet and Greet passes. Unlike most comic book conventions, the guests weren’t in a separate area of the venue only a VIP badge can access. It was a shock to see Tony Todd (Candyman, Candyman) only feet away while I was exploring the vendors. My experience was only about to get better! I finally left his table after he noticed I was staring (and somewhat drooling) for 5 minutes and found myself witnessing a staged boiler room and Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm St) having a blast taking pictures and mock slashing fans while wearing his bladed glove. Also, along the wall of celebs were Heather Langenkamp (Nancy, Nightmare on Elm St) and the other “Ladies of Elm St”, Ted Raimi (Evil Dead, Candyman), and Lance Henriksen (Bishop, Aliens). What’s a notch above star struck? I was sun pulverized. I might have been completely down for the count if I also encountered confirmed special celeb guests for the weekend, Sam Raimi (Director, Evil Dead) and Bruce Campbell (Ash, Evil Dead).
One of the greatest advantages of going to Flashback Weekend on the very last day, during the very last hours are the chance meetings that can happen in the course of a convention wrap up. The last event of the weekend was a Q&A for Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell in a separate room reserved for VIP badge purchasers only. Before the doors were closed by security, I noticed the empty seating in the back as Ted Raimi came on stage to introduce Sam and Bruce. I quickly asked an exiting staff member if there was room and she replied, “$10”. SOLD! For an hour I indulged in the comedic replies of Campbell and Raimi, exposing secrets of the films that raised us and what we can expect from Ash in the future. It was very endearing and fun to witness the dynamic of this relationship between actor and director, one that has grown since the start of their careers.
This was the most fun and rewarding experience I have ever had at any convention. As I sat down at the hotel bar for a drink, I was delighted to find sitting across from me was Freddy Kreuger himself, Robert Englund having drinks with some of the “Ladies of Elm St”. Joe, the bartender, helped get a picture of us together and even walked me over to Lance Henriksen when he appeared! Complete nostalgia from being surrounded by my favorite horror icons to meeting them in the (burned and bloodied) flesh. Flashback Weekend is an event to come out of the cabin in the woods for.
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