April means it’s time for Chiller Expo to once again set up shop for a three-day celebration of entertainment, horror and science fiction, and fantasy. The semi-annual show will take place at the Hilton Parsippany Hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey from April 21 to 23.
The impressive guest list features a reunion of the cast of the 1985 horror classic, Fright Night. Written and directed by Tom Holland, the film follows young Charley Brewster, who discovers that his next-door neighbor, Jerry Dandrige, is a vampire. When no one believes him, Charley decides to get Peter Vincent, a TV show host who acted in films as a vampire hunter, to stop Jerry’s killing spree. The film received good reviews, earned close to $25 million at the box office, and has become a cult classic.
Present at Chiller will be Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige), William Ragsdale, (Charley Brewster), Jonathan Stark (Billy Cole, Dandrige’s protector). Stephen Geoffreys (Evil Ed, a character inspired by Renfield in “Dracula”); and Amanda Bearse (Charley’s girlfriend, Amy). Roddy McDowall, who played TV horror host Peter Vincent, passed away in 1998.
Other guests include Barbara Hershey (Beaches, The Right Stuff), George Hamilton (Where the Boys Are, The Godfather, Part III), Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, From Dusk Till Dawn), Peter Reigert (The Sopranos, The Good Wife), Antonio Fargas (Starsky and Hutch, Foxy Brown), Mark Lester (Oliver), Jan-Michael Vincent (Airwolf, World’s Greatest Athlete), Veronica Carlson (Horror of Frankenstein), Kenny Johnson (Bates Motel, Secrets and Lies), Dee Wallace (E.T., The Howling), Carol Lynley (The Poseidon Adventure, Bunny Lake Is Missing), Jon “Bowzer” Bauman (Sha Na Na), and four-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Olga Korbut.
Visitors to Chiller Expo can meet their favorite entertainers, get an autographed photo, or have a picture taken with them. Lines can be long, but fans are patient and great camaraderie develops among strangers drawn together by their interest and enjoyment of these shows.
Rarely do so many celebrities gather under one roof in New Jersey. Chiller Expo has grown steadily since its modest debut as Horrorthon in Rutherford in 1990, moving to larger and larger venues through the years as its scope and number of attendees have expanded. The brainchild of horror/fantasy aficionado Kevin Clement, the Expo is a smoothly run enterprise that attracts people from across the country.
Celebrities may draw the crowds to Chiller Expo, but there are other neat features, including the dealers area, where a collection of vendors occupies huge ballrooms and more intimate spaces. Among the vendors, it’s possible to locate one-of-a-kind masks and monster sculptures, hard-to-find DVD’s, collectible toys, rare books and magazines, movie stills, autographs, fantasy jewelry, and assorted movie memorabilia.
A model contest is a regular feature as well. Those who have the skill and patience to create models of fantasy and horror creatures can enter their works in a competition with prizes awarded in several categories, including Professional, Scratchbuilt, Youth, Judge’s Best of Show, and People’s Best of Show.
Chiller Expo will be held on April 21 from 6 to 11 P.M., April 22, 10 A.M to 7 P.M., and April 23, 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tickets are $30 per day. Children age 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. For directions to the Hilton Parsippany Hotel, check the Chiller website at chillertheatre.com or call (973) 267-7373.