Thursday , 29 September 2022

NJ’s Chiller Theatre a monster smash!


This October’s Chiller Theatre Toy, Model and Film Expo at the Sheraton Hotel in Parsippany, NJ was one of the best and biggest yet. Kevin Clement’s “Spooktacular” has been going on for over twenty years, and in addition to the rooms of dealers selling everything unimaginable, the convention brings together an ecletic variety of film, television, music, literary stars and more like no other convention of its kind. And this one had a plethora of extremely ghoul and noteworthy guests.

Perhaps the highlight of this season’s event was a reunion of some of the principle people behind one of the greatest films of all time, Jaws. Carl Gottlieb, who wrote the script, Joe Alves, the production designer behind “Bruce” the shark, stars Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks) and Susan Backlinie (1st victim Chrissie), plus Roger Kastel, who did the iconic movie poster, were all on hand to meet fans. They also (minus Kastel) took part in a wonderful panel to discuss some classic behind the scenes stories of what went on with this very difficult shoot. Gottlieb, who also wrote what may be the best making of a film book ever, “The Jaws Log,” had some especially interesting tales regarding the riveting “The Indianapolis Story” in the film.


Basically, this unusually long speech for a film went through a number of rewrites (not a word by John Milius to make it into the film, contrary to his claims), lastly by Robert Shaw himself. When it came time to film it, Shaw was noticeably hung over from the night before, and they weren’t able to get it done. Steven Spielberg assured a contrite Shaw they still had one more day to work on it, and Shaw gave his word he’d be ready. Sure enough, Shaw nailed it the next day. However, the magician that editor Verna Fields was, she was able to seemlessly use some takes from both days. However, Gottlieb said that with the recent pristine presentation on blu-ray, you can see that if Shaw’s eyes were watery, it was from the first day of shooting the scene, if they were clear, it was from the second. Classic.

On display in the room where all the Jaws’ guests were signing pictures and taking photos were a number of props from the movie, from the infamous barrels used to weigh down the shark to Ben Gardner’s head found by Hooper in the hull of the fisherman’s boat. Joe Alves also had original ‘sharkwork’ he was selling. All the guests were very friendly and more than happy to reminisce about this classic film.


But the Jaws crew only scratched the surface of the incredibly wide range of guests. Peter Fonda, Lou Ferrigno, Weird Al Yankovic, Ralph Macchio, Tahnee Welch, in her 1st ever convention appearance, 2001’s Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, Star Trek alumni Marina Sirtis and Terry Ferrell, Son’s of Anarchy’s Kim Coates, plus musicians Ace Frehley, Keith Emerson, Robin Zander and NJ’s own Smithereens were just a fraction of those appearing. Nastassja Kinski made a rare appearance and said she recorded a new interview for the upcoming blu-ray release of her 1982 film, Cat People.

One of the most welcome guests was Scott Wilson, aka, Herschel from The Walking Dead. When told by The Gore 4 that they only hoped he was taking a short break from filming the show and that they worried about him, Scott replied, “I worry about me too.” As any fan of the show knows, the characters’ lives are precarious to say the least, but we hope Herschel is around for a long time. And maybe the Emmys will recognize his amazing work next time too.


As Saturday night approached, it was time for the costume contest. As always, Chillerians don some amazing and creatively designed costumes. This 9-year old girl dressed as Medusa was one of the best.


Next up was the evening’s musical performances. The Smithereens headlined the night with their power-pop, including their first hit, Blood and Roses. The all-female Japanese rock trio The 5, 6, 7, 8’s, from Kill Bill, Vol. 1 played their rockabilly surf music. And the one and only Zacherle, the Cool Ghoul, at an incredible 95 years young, took the stage to sing as he’s been doing for many years. Certainly, Chiller would not be the same without him. Zach was joined by The Dead Elvi, Chiller’s mainstay surf-punk, horror-billy rock band, who did their monster-mash-up of The Munsters/Peter Gunn theme and some of their great original tunes. Led by guitar virtuoso Chris Palmerini, singer Jason Fresta and Chiller’s own Kevin Clement on rhythm guitar, the band was even joined by original members Skullhead and drummer De Blurrr for a song or two.


Over the years, The Dead Elvi have shared the stage with a number of incredible musicians-The Doors’ Ray Manzarek, 3/4 of The Monkees, Wings’ Denny Laine, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie of The Runaways, The Dictators’ Handsome Dick Manitoba to name a few. They were joined this time by keyboardist Keith Emerson of ELP. Hearing Keith and The Dead Elvi play the theme from Jaws into ELP’s Fanfare For the Common Man was truly a Chiller highlight and one of the coolest things you could ever imagine hearing.


The music went on late into the night. And Sunday, mostly everyone was back once more to accommodate those who couldn’t make the previous two days. Chiller Theatre will be back again in the Spring and we can’t wait to see who Kevin has lined up next time!

For info on upcoming Chiller conventions, check out their site here:


  1. I, myself, went to the Chiller Con in October of 2013 and it was GREAT! As usual. Thanks for the great review of the con! I couldn’t have said anything better! What I was wondering was… WHY DIDN’T THE GORE 4 HAVE IT’S OWN TABLE?!? You guys are great and it would have been a marvelous way of getting your faces out there! Fantastic exposure! That reminds me… I saw a guy wearing a GORE 4 t-shirt at the con. I wanted to go up to him and ask where he got it from and maybe talk some GORE 4 with him, but he disappeared into the crowd and I couldn’t find him again! Was he a member of the Gore 4? Was he a contributor? Was he a fan? He HAD to be one or all of these. That was the first time I saw the GORE 4 logo anywhere else. And ya know… I want to see MORE of it!!! Keep at it guys! I can’t wait to see the site expand! And see more of YOU guys! I hope to one day be considered an honorary member of the GORE 4! GORE 4 EVER!

    • The Gore 4 is just getting started, We hope to have a presence at future Chiller Theatres, Comic Cons, etc. once we have more going on. And yeah, there were a couple of the Gore 4 wandering around the convention. Thanks for the support – you’ll be seeing a lot more of the Gore 4 in the future!

  2. Hey! I was just going through the pics on your site again and lo and behold… was that a GORE 4 t-shirt I see on that guy standing with Scott Wilson and another fan?!? He looks an awful lot like the guy I saw walking around at the convention, but I can’t be sure. If he is or isn’t the guy, it’s great to see the logo on the t-shirt again!!! Love the little Medusa too!

  3. Me again! I was just further going through the site and saw the pic of the The GORE 4 Themselves and… lo and behold, AGAIN…
    There’s the guy with Scott Wilson!!! The guy wearing the t-shirt with Scott is ONE OF THE GORE 4!!! Which one is it – Brian de Castro, “Movie Dave” Mele, Dean “Badalatala” Schaefer or “Walking Ed” Turner??? Now I REALLY wish I found that guy at the convention! I would have gotten to talk to one of… The GORE 4!!!

    • That would be “Walking Ed” Turner with his girl and Scott Wilson of The Walking Dead. Ed’s a cool guy – you’d probably get along.

  4. Hey! Another one of the GORE 4 with Joe Alves from JAWS fame, is in the pic above! C’mon! let’s see more of the GORE 4!!!

  5. That little Medusa belongs to me 🙂 Her name is Brighid Macchia and she wants to be a horror film actress.

    • That is awesome. I’d say she is off to a great start. Her ‘portrayal’ of Medusa was amazing, especially at such a young age. It was definitely one of the most striking and creative costumes at this or any other Chiller. Hope to see her again.

      • Aw, thanks 🙂 I love to make her costumes every year, and she acts the part perfectly every time. She makes a killer Samara Morgan!
        Friend me on FB if you’d like… Stacey Madden Macchia