Halloween in February: ‘CreepIEcon 2022’ comes to SoCal’s Inland Empire…

“Welcome To My Nightmare…”

This past weekend, during a sunny but windy Southern California February, my favorite holiday of Halloween briefly returned to the month of Valentine’s Day. Long delayed due to the COVID pandemic, CreepIEcon 2022 (the “i” and “e” emphasized for “Inland Empire”) finally reached the Ontario Convention Center in the San Bernardino County City of Ontario, California on February 5th and 6th, 2022. General admission tickets for the weekend event were $40, with VIP tickets running somewhat higher (not sure how much–I’m cheap, so I only bought a general admission ticket).

Despite the fact that the gleaming convention center (opened in 1997) showed no signs of the horrors within, there were some creepy cars in the parking lot and a few freaky fellow fans waiting in the long queue to get inside…

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Top: A perfectly apropos purple hearse!
Bottom: A supply van for the Nightmare Toys booth.
There were quite a few vehicles like these scattered about here and there.
On Saturday, the wait to get inside the convention was about 45 minutes long with one large line for all attendees.
Though masks and proof of negative COVID-test results & vaccination status cards were required for entry, quite a few of the guests outside were NOT wearing masks (and were standing well within 6 ft. from each other).

Yes, I expect some fright at a horror convention, but not from my fellow attendees…

Chamber of Horrors…

Most of the activities of the event were confined to the main dealer hall, including Autograph Alley (where most of the celebrities assembled). There were toys, t-shirts, collectibles, fan-made items, makeup kits, wigs, buttons, pins, Halloween decorations, DVDs/BluRays, and even VHS tapes. There was also on-site tattooing, and for the hungry horror hounds, there were also snacks to be had as well (hot dogs, pizzas, nachos, etc).

A one-stop place to drop dead–er, shop.

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A panoramic shot of the Ontario Convention Center Dealer Hall; a large, well-spaced venue for all the frightful frivolities.
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Top: Kreepsville 666: The Original “Scare Wear” t-shirts, hoodies, costumes, etc. The t-shirts featured some luminaries as Elvira, Vampira, Vincent Price and the Cryptkeeper from “Tales From the Crypt.” Bottom: The Strange Toys booth, featuring the carnivorous “Critters” replicas from the same-titled movie franchise.


Hell On Wheels…

There were even a couple of famous movie vehicles replicas on site as well. Usually the vehicles at sunny SoCal conventions are parked outside, but with only two vehicles and a well-spaced Dealer Hall, there was plenty of parking inside for a couple of famous frightmobiles…

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Top: The “Ecto-1” hearse emergency vehicle from 1984’s “Ghostbusters”, with a replica of ‘Slimer’ the Ghost at the wheel.
Bottom: One of the gas-powered jeeps from 1993’s “Jurassic Park” was there as well, with a skeleton in the passenger seat and a severed hand…guess the T-rex got hungry?

Making Fiendish Friends Or Devilish Dalliances…

One of the rare events outside of the Dealer Hall was the “Super Sonic Speed Dating” going on across the corridor, near the Celebrity Photo Ops area. It was a place where horror fans of all kinds could meet to make friends or perhaps something more. Of course, being a married old geezer, I had no real use for this particular venue, but I very much appreciated that it was open to just making friends, as well as hetero and LGBTQ+ dating.

Great place to meet a potential ‘boo‘...

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Super Sonic Speed Dating was an unexpectedly romantic idea for a horror convention.

Terror Troupers.

In the Autograph Alley area of the Dealer Hall, there was a lineup of actors from various horror movies and series, including actors from “Halloween”, “Friday the 13th,” “Pet Sematary,” “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” “The Thing,” and even Eric Roberts from 2008’s “The Dark Knight” (who had his own booth at the other end of the Dealer Hall). It was a solid lineup for a relatively small local convention.

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Actress Danielle Harris.
Harris played young “Jamie Lloyd” from “Halloween 4,” and “Halloween 5“; she also played teenaged “Annie” in the 2007 “Halloween” reboot. Harris also costarred in 1991’s “The Last Boy Scout.” We chatted briefly about how much she reminded me of my own niece in those films. After taking the pic, I realized I’d unwittingly captured her costar from 2007’s “Halloween,” Scout Taylor-Compton (in white) behind her, on the far left. In the reboot, Taylor-Compton played Laurie Strode, the role originated by Jamie Lee Curtis. There was a lot of “Halloween” presence at this little horror convention…
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Actor/screenwriter Nick Castle.
Castle famously played masked murderer Michael Myers in the original 1978 “Halloween,” and wrote/cowrote and many films, including 1981’s “Escape From New York,” 1984’s “The Last Starfighter” (which he also directed) and 1991’s “Hook” (an under appreciated gem). Castle had the single longest autograph queue at the convention. Everyone appreciated Castle’s place in horror history as the blank-faced serial killer of “Halloween”, referred to in Carpenter’s original script as “the Shape.”
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Actor Keith David.
David’s long list of credits include 1982’s “The Thing,” 1988’s “They Live” (both directed by “Halloween” director John Carpenter), and 1986’s Oliver Stone-directed Best Picture, “Platoon.” He’s also a much sought-after voice actor, who played “Dr. Facilier” in Disney’s 2009 animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” (another under-appreciated film) as well as the Cat in 2009’s “Coraline”. The actor even tried his hand in comedy, playing Cameron Diaz’s stepfather in 1998’s “There’s Something About Mary.” Been a fan of Keith David’s for a long time, and it was great to finally meet him in person.
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Actor Miko Hughes.
Hughes was very memorable as the young toddler “Gage” in 1989’s “Pet Sematary” and as “Jeffrey Lovell,” the real-life youngest son of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) in 1995’s “Apollo 13” –one of my all-time favorite movies. We had a quick chat about his playing opposite Tom Hanks, and how he scared the hell out me playing the murderous knife-wielding toddler, Gage. Miko Hughes looks so different today. Why did I still half-expect him to look baby-faced?
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Actor Eric Roberts and his wife, Eliza.
Roberts was perhaps the biggest surprise of the convention for me. Perhaps it was his years of playing villains that led to half-expect him to be like one of his characters, but Roberts turned out to be an affable, self-deprecating jokester. We shared a few thoughts on 2008’s “The Dark Knight” (a project he’s understandably proud of) and on the “Doctor Who: The TV Movie” (1996), where he played paramedic Bruce, whose body is taken over by “The Master.” He smiled broadly when we talked about it (“Yes, the Asian child…” ). I enjoyed the 1996 Doctor Who movie, and certainly appreciated Roberts’ larger-than-life performance. Eliza played his girlfriend in the movie too, and kindly helped her husband with the correct spelling of my name. Wonderful couple, and I enjoyed chatting with both of them.
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Top: Makeup artist Eric Fox from Season 4 of the competition TV series “Face Off” puts sprays skin tone onto a two-faced creation of his. Fox now runs his own makeup studio Fox FX Lab in Riverside, California. Bottom: Some of Eric Fox’s creations from Fox FX Lab in Riverside. My wife and I were huge fans of “Face Off,” and Fox was one of the more talented contestants on the SyFy channel special effects makeup competition series.

Creepy Cosplay!

My favorite part of any sci-fi/fantasy or horror convention is, of course, the amazing creativity of the cosplayers. While most of CreepIEcon’s cosplay was not as elaborate as the fantasy costuming of say, WonderCon or San Diego Comic Con, there were still some starkly effective, dramatic and deeply clever cosplays to be found…

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“Halloween” and the Many Faces of Michael Myers.
Clockwise From Upper Left: Jason Voorhees (“Friday the 13th”) meets Michael Myers in the movie mashup that’s sadly never happened…yet. Two Faces of Michael Myers: A father/son cosplay combination sees 6-year old Michael Myers and his 21 year old self. Arguably the single best Michael Myers of the entire convention. Michael Myers takes a break from killing to do some chilling.
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Left: One of the “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” (1988).
Right: A stylized Jason Voorhees (in purple & blue duds) from “Friday the 13th,” poses with the TV-headed “Prince Robot the IV.”
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Left: the Demon Nun, an incarnation of Valak, from “The Conjuring” movies, poses with “Sam Hain” from 2009’s anthology horror film, “Trick R Treat.” Right: Lily Munster from TV’s “The Munsters”; I didn’t notice at first, but her friend on the far right was dressed as a female Chucky from the “Child’s Play” movies.
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Camp Crystal Lake Counselors Reporting for Carnage!
Three cosplayers pose as camp counselors of the Jason Voorhees-infested Camp Crystal Lake, from the “Friday the 13th” film series. They asked me if I was a fan of the “Friday the 13th” movies, and I told them about the time I got to see the 1980 film with the original “Jason” (Ari Lehman) and composer Harry Manfredini (ki-ki-ki-ha-ha-ha) in attendance three years ago.

Summing It Up.

All in all, the tickets for standard admission were reasonable, but it’s not exactly San Diego Comic Con in scope. CreepIEcon is a smaller convention, with most activities, autographs, retailers and other wares confined to the main dealer hall. Nevertheless, with some wicked wares, colorful cosplayers, and scary signees in the autograph area, there was enough going on to make this Little Shop of Horrors well worth the trouble. I’ll definitely return in 2023 if the talent lineup is as good as it was this year.

All 55 of my event photos can be found here: CreepIEcon 2022: Ontario, California Feb. 5th-6th, 2022. Enjoy!

Scary Times.

To my readers, I once again wish you and all of your loved ones good health and strength during the current coronavirus pandemic.  The current number of COVID-19 related deaths in the United States is over 900,000 (and around 5.7 million worldwide) as of this writing, so please wear masks and get vaccinated (with booster shots) as soon as possible to prevent infections and protect your loved ones through the holidays. Please continue to wear masks in public venues; the N95/KN95 masks are proven more effective. With a bit of Star Trek optimism and medical science, we can persevere through this pandemic. 

Like Michael and Jason, wear a mask and let’s all do our best to stay alive and well…

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All images: Author.

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