The face behind that of Freddy Krueger (along with Willie from 'V,' and a host of others: Robert Englund, in Q&A on the last day of FanExpo.
It's been 3 years since I was last at FanExpo in Toronto. And even since that visit in 2019, I had mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, there was some good; like the addition of sushi to the usual offering of pizza and snacks. Horror programming, such as a sneak peek at Mike Colter's 'Evil' and John Travolta's 'The Fanatic', and a Q&A with a renowned special make-up effects artist (and I forget the name). On the other hand, I didn't feel there was enough programming, whether it was Q&A sessions, sneak peeks of upcoming horror media, interactive attractions (e.g. one year had a coffin that you could bury yourself in and watch the mourners ...as well as the zombie flesh-eaters that followed, if memory serves).
I needed a holiday. Arguably, I still need one, but I've recently taken one. And with the urging of a number of people, most notably Mama telling me, 'you need a holiday,' I took one. Much needed downtime with friends I've not seen since 2019. In these times of the pandemic and the new normal, it was a relief to spend some quality time with them. Those friends are Canadian (and I'm the foreigner), but we all meet up in Toronto for a chance to hang out, get food and drink, hit FanExpo, etc. For my part, I wasn't really so fussed about FanExpo - not when I get hangtime with my friends, but it's something to do. As well as shop for Spider-Man t-shirts.
What is FanExpo? I'll let them explain it:
Part of the ambivalence toward FanExpo was down to the programming. Sure, there are the likes of Anthony Daniels - C3PO from the Star Wars franchise of films, or Robert Englund, from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Both of them are very engaging and have many a story to tell. That being said, very little of the programming was stuff I 'needed' to see - it was more stuff that was 'okay' to see. Again, not a whole lot of horror programming/variety - certainly not compared to previous years. Sessions with horror veterans such as John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, Bruce Campbell, and Tom Savini. Interactive props, from the aforementioned coffin to a confessional session (if memory serves) with The Nun; eponymous lead character of the horror film.
I have to give the nod to the likes of David Thirteen from the HWA's local (Ontario) chapter for trying to pull some of the HWA/horror programming together. Not an easy feat, and especially on an open stage in the midst of a crowd of some 140,000 people (which makes for a lot of background noise)...
Where the stage did come in handy was for magician Ryan Brown; who pulled some truly engaging sleight of hand; we're talking scarves, cards and doves. All while his sleeves were pushed up to his elbows. This was the first year I can remember seeing a magic act, and in the realm of horror (in terms of what sits beyond the boundaries of normalcy and natural), this was a welcome addition.
While it's good to catch up with peers, including Rodney V. Smith and Nancy Kilpatrick, it's a shame that there wasn't the 'after-hours' meet with the local chapter; a chance to talk shop over food and drink (and there's some damn good food in Toronto). Still, that part's not down to FanExpo.
From a pandemic point of view, I guess the organisers were cautious. Not only did ticket registration ask for name and email (which I'm pretty sure is new), but staff would also electronically sign you in/out of the event (and I'm sure that's new). Most of the attendees were mask-free and, certainly to accommodate queuing, the Expo staff would have you as close to your neighbour as you were comfortable with, since queue length was ridiculous.
For the record, this isn't me just letting a load off. I'm of the mind that if you don't ask, you don't get - so I've no qualms about speaking up. I have addressed concerns to FanExpo organisers previously (through the appropriate channels and all that), but this year didn't quite move me. Of course, I'm just one person out of how many thousands that attended. Maybe they got a better deal.
At least I got my Spider-Man t-shirts this year.