Son of CreepIECon…
Debuting in February of 2022 and returning in February of this year, the Inland Empire’s current biggest and steadiest horror convention gains more notice and attendees with each outing. I’ve covered the previous two CreepIECons for this site, and I was more than happy to do so again for an unexpected second time this year when I read the announcement for “CreepIE Aftermath.” Aftermath is a ‘Son of CreepIECon’ (in horror sequel parlance) that is being held a bit closer to Halloween this time around, but not too close to cause a scheduling conflict with my personal favorite holiday. Whew! Very considerate of the organizers to think of me and my fellow Halloween-heads.
Based at the convention center in Ontario, California (not too far from Ontario International Airport), CreepIE Aftermath returned with a bang this September, with a lineup that included no less than the legendary Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” 1990’s “It”), two of the “Halliwell Sisters” from the original “Charmed” (Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan), Tony Todd (“Candyman” 1990’s “Night of the Living Dead”) and the star of Netflix’s “Daredevil” TV series, Charlie Cox. Also on hand were Noah Hathaway (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Alan Oppenheimer (“The Six Million Dollar Man”), two stars of the 1984 cult classic, “The NeverEnding Story,” which had a significant presence at the event.
While I regret not meeting Tim Curry (the actor suffered a stroke in recent years, and was only appearing for Photo Op ticket holders), there were plenty of other haunted goings-on in the colorful Dealer Hall and elsewhere—including all-day movie screenings upstairs (on actual 16mm film; served with popcorn, no less) as well as 1980s arcade games and horror Photo Ops.
The Deadly Dealer Hall
Though not quite as packed with people as the prior CreepIECon this past February, CreepIE Aftermath’s Dealer Hall still had a healthy share of vendors and photo ops for the brave of heart. Among my personal favorites items seen on the floor were the “Elvira” silicon gel mouse pads (for ‘hands-on’ computing), a custom-made Pinhead/Baby Yoda doll, lots of rare soundtracks and movies, as well as photo ops inspired by the Universal Monster Movies, 2017’s “It,” 2018’s indie-flick “Death Toilet” (don’t ask), and a disturbing setup inspired by the mutant toys of ‘Sid’ from Pixar-Disney 1995 classic “Toy Story.” Kids and adults alike were eating it up.
An unexpected (though thematically appropriate) surprise came on Saturday afternoon when a brief blackout plunged the convention center into near-total darkness! Luckily, power was quickly restored and the convention creeping continued…
Across from the Dealer Hall in the conference rooms there was “CreepIE Arcade”; a gaming room themed in 1980s/1990s nostalgia, which included authentic arcade machines and photo ops from “The NeverEnding Story,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Scream.” There was also a magazine stand filled with vintage 1980s/1990s VHS tapes, and yes, I overheard more than one conversation from people much younger than myself who waxed nostalgic for the (gratefully) dead video format. As a former laserdisc aficionado in those days, I miss clunky unreliable VHS tapes about as much as humanity misses smallpox. Though arcade gaming machines were a lot of fun.
Next to the gaming room was also another conference room filled with horror-themed photo ops, including mock porch fronts from 1978’s “Halloween” and 2017’s “It.” More of these photo ops are available on my Flickr page (link at the bottom of the column).
The good folks from The Frida Cinema (a local nonprofit arthouse theater) provided actual 16mm print screenings of movies all weekend for “CreepIE Cinema”; which took place in a large meeting room in the upper deck of the convention center. Screenings of everything from 1996’s “Scream” to the 1984 children’s fantasy “NeverEnding Story” were being shown on actual film, complete with manual reel changes! Outside the ad-hoc ‘theater,’ there was free popcorn and even a one-sheet program listing for the Frida Cinema that included a poster for “The Exorcist” on its flip-side.
I was only able to watch about an half hour of “The NeverEnding Story” (a movie I’ve never seen in its entirety to this day), but there was something warm and wonderful about hearing the steady purr of an old film-based movie projector once again. Even in my childhood, most of the films I watched in school were projected in the dark from 8mm and 16mm films, before home video exploded during my high school years. Seeing and hearing the familiar scratches and occasional pops of film was almost like listening to music on a warm, vinyl LP as opposed to a digital download.
My Terror Treasures
While I only took home a bag of Ethiopian coffee from last February’s event, I managed to come away with a few more items this year, including some Halloween decorations and a few BluRay/DVDs, including one that’s very hard to find. Best of all was a free poster of “The Exorcist” (my all-time favorite horror film) which came on the flip side of a one-sheet movie program list from the good folks at The Frida Cinema.
My total expense for the three used DVD/BluRays, Halloween decorations and single poster sleeve came to about $30. At my age, I’m a lot less about collecting than I used to be (from even a decade ago) but there are still those occasional little items for Halloween I just can’t live without…
As I mentioned earlier, CreepIE Aftermath managed to book Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” “Legend” 1990’s “It”), as well as a reunion of the 1998-2006 TV series “Charmed” (Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan), the inimitable Tony Todd (“Candyman” 1990’s “Night of the Living Dead”) and the star of Netflix’s “Daredevil” TV series, Charlie Cox. Also on hand were Noah Hathaway (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Alan Oppenheimer (“The Six Million Dollar Man,” 1973’s “Westworld”), two stars of the 1984 cult classic, “The NeverEnding Story,” which had a surprisingly significant presence at the event. I managed to spend a bit of quality time with the latter two as well, though I regret not being able to meet Tim Curry.
Now, onto my favorite part of sci-fi/fantasy or horror conventions; the cosplayers. Cosplayers are the heart and soul of any sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention, and while there weren’t as many cosplayers visible at Aftermath, there were still a good number of them. This event gives local and out-of-town horror fan attendees the chance to wear their creepy-best. I try to catch as many cosplaying attendees as I can, and I hope readers will enjoy the ones I present to you here.
My wife and I didn’t cosplay, but we did wear his-and-her “JAWS” t-shirts and I did carry my “JAWS” swag bag as well. I know I’ve said repeatedly on this site and on other platforms that “JAWS” isn’t a horror film, but it does have some horror elements to it, and it’s one of our mutual favorite movies, so close enough.
All 85 of my photos from the weekend are on my Flickr account here: Son of CreepIECon: CreepIECon Aftermath, Sept. 23-24th, 2023.
Summing It Up
I honestly don’t know if CreepIECon will morph into a permanent bi-annual event, or shift its normal February slot to September/October, but I’m up for either. I’m a big believer in supporting local conventions whenever I can, because their success ensures bigger and better conventions down the road, as I’ve seen both with this convention and Comic Con Revolution, which takes place at the same venue. They’ve both grown in leaps and bounds.
My wife and I both attended CreepIE Aftermath on Saturday, though I returned solo on Sunday (my non-horror fan wife had other plans). Tickets for a standard weekend package (Saturday and Sunday) were $55 each, which is quite a bargain for most conventions these days. Even if you don’t buy a lot of merchandise or collect celebrity autographs, the people-watching (cosplay) at these events is simply extraordinary, and worth the price of admission alone.
There’s also the big CreepIECon after party on Saturday night, though my wife and I don’t usually stay for that (we’re a couple of old homebodies, I’m afraid). For grabbing a bite (to eat, not drink blood), there’s a fleet of food trucks parked outside, as well as an indoor snack bar (with food for picky vegetarians, like myself). There was even a live rock band performing outside, too. Perhaps the only nit for some is the $15 all-day parking, which was in a dirt lot, and which would seem a bit steep if you stay less than a few hours. However, the longer you stay at the event, the parking fee becomes trifling.
Taking everything into account? CreepIE Aftermath was a true conventioneering bargain. I also appreciated that this CreepIECon event was held a bit closer to Halloween, which just feels right; a horror homecoming. Like a monster from an old Bert I. Gordon flick, I look forward to seeing this convention grow…