we always have a synthetic on board

the final day of texas frightmare weekend was a pretty low-key affair with one significant highlight.

albert pyun, director of the sword and the sorcerer (1982), among other things, was scheduled to lead a discussion in the afternoon but had to bow out due to illness. his absence opened up a spot in the schedule that had festival organizers scrambling to find someone to step in. who could they get on such short notice?

the mighty lance henriksen, that's who.

when i attended texas frightmare three years ago the greatest surprise was the panel they called "inside the B-actors studio". the guest for that event was clint howard and that hour flew by like it was ten minutes. he was self-effacing, down to earth, smart and funny. it was a joy to listen to him talk about his experiences. in an industry where the maxim "don't confuse the art with the artist" was never more true it's always refreshing to come across the ones who seem to be doing it the right way. after yesterday, those guys are two for two.

lance henriksen spoke for an hour or so and was forthright, affable and entertaining. i would like to think these (primarily) genre guys are like that. they know the work they are doing isn't always going to be taken so seriously so they maintain a decent sense of themselves. when it comes down to brass tacks, though, i know that's not going to be true for a lot of them. they are actors, after all. henriksen, though, seems to have found a healthy balance between making low budget films without doing any low budget acting and having fun in the process. all he says he needs are conspirators. if he can achieve an understanding with the people he is working with and they are all striving together then he can find value in any job. he told a handful of great anecdotes about everything from james cameron to steven seagal (apparently insane) to his relationship with his daughter to his need for labor resulting in his pottery hobby. he was particularly enthusiastic about interacting with the fans and hijacked the panel from the moderator and gave it to the audience instead. my favorite thing about it, though, was how simply honest the guy was. it seemed like he held nothing in reserve and answered every question as thoroughly as he could. at one point, he told the assembled, which included a number of (sort of) filmmakers, "i love everything about movies that you guys do but just because you've seen a lot of movies doesn't mean you can make them. it's a craft". i hope some of them took that to heart. after some of the things we had been through in the past couple of days it was all sara could do to not give him a one-person standing ovation right then and there. someone needed to say it and i am glad they heard it straight from bishop's mouth.

all in all, it was a good weekend. good, not great. loyd cryer and his staff are doing a good job with an event that may be growing a little faster than they can keep up with. in their favor, the guests they book are top notch and have only gotten better every year. that's their sunday punch. everything else is lagging slightly behind. once some of the technical and logistic aspects are fine tuned and the quality of the panels, workshops and screenings is brought up to match the quality of their guest bookings then they're really going to have something. i do think it is heading that way. at five years old, it is still a young event and they are making consistent progress. i would imagine by year ten it will be a proper monster. maybe then we can all have zombie lunchables and dick miller will meet tom atkins in the thunderdome. see you there.


  1. I think the lack of real quality genre actors is really hurting genre cinema today.

    Lance Henrikson ads so much to every movie he's in simply by the virtue that he's not half assing it. I mean take Pumpkinhead, when he turns on those kids after the accident, I was more then willing to believe that he was pissed enough to go sic a demonic Pumpkin Demon on them. It takes a special kind of actor to sell that.

  2. bryce, i think you would have really enjoyed that panel. it's always great when the guys whose work you admire turn out to be solid guys.