Jason Takes Las Vegas at ‘Days of the Dead’

Frights and excitement collide this weekend at star-packed fan convention…


Update 5/10/21 -Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the film Richard Dreyfuss is currently working on is going longer than expected and has to cancel his Las Vegas appearance.

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Grab your hockey mask, bite down on some garlic and fill your bottle with holy water. The official Days of the Dead convention is coming to downtown’s Plaza Hotel May 14th through the 16th. And if you’re into horror films like I am, you’re sure to have a chilling, thrilling good time.

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The three day spook fest will be packed with stars, both big names and cult favorites. Perhaps the best-known celeb will be actor Richard Dreyfuss, who rose to fame in Steven Spielberg‘s JAWS. The two followed that blockbuster with their landmark sci-fi classic CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

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Dreyfuss will be on hand for photo ops and autographs, so bring your memorabilia and a whole lotta cash (star signatures aren’t cheap). Also from JAWS will be Susan Backlinie, who portrayed the ill-fated “Chrissie”. Backlinie’s character opened the film with one of the most famous scenes in movie history…a horrifying sequence that still makes people think twice about swimming in the ocean after dark.

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While we’re on the subject of Steven Spielberg, there will be a reunion of cast members from ET – The Extraterrestrial. Actors Dee Wallace, Robert Macnaughton and Henry Thomas are all slated to appear. Unfortunately, Drew Barrymore (“Gertie”) will not be among them. As for Dee Wallace, she also appeared in the cult horror classic The Howling, directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Eerie Indiana, Innerspace).

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Are you a fan of the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises? Then you’re in bloody-good luck, as actors from both series will be appearing next weekend. Singer/actors Alice Cooper (John Carpenter‘s PRINCE OF DARKNESS, JASON LIVES) and Slipknot‘s Corey Taylor (FEAR CLINIC, SHARKNADO 4) are on the roster as well.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors' Cast Reunites 30 Years Later

Another big reunion involves the unforgettable “Dream Warriors” team from A Nightmare on Elm Street Pt. 3. Six of the original cast will be sharing memories of the shoot, posing for photos and answering questions. Freddy Kreuger‘s arch-nemesis Heather Langenkamp, who appeared in three of the films, was scheduled but had to cancel. 

Class of 88: Listen to Lisa Wilcox Discuss A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM  MASTER on a New Episode of CORPSE CLUB - Daily Dead

Robert Englund and Lisa Wilcox in Elm St 4: The Dream Master

You may remember that Lisa Wilcox, the star of Elm Streets 4 and 5, resides in Las Vegas and is manager of The 35 Cinema. The retro movie house is currently closed while expanding into a larger location (see below). Ms. Wilcox will be meeting fans separately from Days of the Dead at Cineloggia, a unique museum for movie props. Be there between 5pm and 8pm on Saturday May 15th to chat with “Alice”, the only character to survive Freddy Kreuger twice.

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Lisa Wilcox isn’t the only Dream Master alumnus to have feet on both Las Vegas Boulevard and Elm Street. Cineloggia proprietor Nick Benson created the groundbreaking make-up and special effects for Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. And….he shares a birthday with “twinsie” Lisa Wilcox! Cineloggia is located at 900 Karen Ave. Suite D214 in the historic Commercial Center Plaza off Sahara Avenue. 

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Nick Benson’s filmography is vast and varied…

You might recognize Commercial Center as the home of  The Vegas Room Supper Club, The Nevada Room Piano Bar/Bistro, The Sci-Fi Center of Las Vegas. and Hellbound Horror Collectibles. It’s also the future location of a bigger, better The 35 Cinema…six times the space, three screens, free parking and all ages welcome to appropriate titles.

Classic and cult movies will be presented using pristine vintage film reels and true analog projectors, as they were originally meant to be seen. Look for The 35 Cinema to reopen in its new home sometime in early July.

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The visionaries of Commercial Center include (left to right) Bobby Watson and Tom Michel (The Vegas Room/The Nevada Room), Shane Bingham and John Lohmann (The 35 Cinema) Nick and Marla Benson (Cineloggia) and actress Lisa Wilcox (also of The 35 Cinema)

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Myself with Lisa Wilcox

Along with Cineloggia‘s meet-and-greet for Ms. Wilcox, there will be official Days of the Dead festivities at downtown’s The Nerd. The sci-fi/superhero bar hangout inside Neonopolis is set to host a nighttime launch party on Friday the 14th at 10pm. Click here for the latest events schedule from the official Days of the Dead site. 

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Days of the Dead host hotel The Plaza is rich with its own cinematic history. Casino‘s famous dinner scene between Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone took place in what is now Oscar’s Steakhouse. Sci-fi and fantasy films Cool World with Brad Pitt, Back to the Future II and Honey I Blew Up The Kid featured the casino resort. The 1994 version of Stephen King‘s THE STAND was set within its iconic tower, where devil’s spawn Randall Flagg took up residence in the penthouse. 

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It’s great to have conventions back in town, and Days of the Dead is sure to be a big success. VIP Packages are already sold out, as are discounted hotel rates for attendees, but you can still save money by ordering advance full-weekend passes. Members of the military are free with proper ID. 

If you’re a high-level enthusiast, why not consider becoming a volunteer? I’ve worked several fan conventions and been assigned to some incredible celebrities. Plus, your entry is free. You can do so by clicking here

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Days of the Dead will take place May 14-16 at Plaza Hotel at the corner of Main Street and Fremont in downtown Las Vegas. To make hotel reservations for The Plaza, click here. For tickets to Days of the Dead fan convention, click here. A COVID-19 protocol/safety page for the event is here

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Photos: Sam Novak, Days of the Dead/Cineloggia/Plaza Hotel/ via Facebook. Banner photo: Zach Zeller

 

October Horror-Fest at Las Vegas Drive-in Theater

Retro outdoor theater screens dozens of spooky comedies, bloody shockers and romantic chillers for safe Halloween fun…

The effort to successfully reopen indoor theaters has been such a struggle that eleven movie theaters in the Las Vegas valley closed once more this month. Some, like Eclipse Theaters in the downtown area and Tropicana Cinemas, a second-run bargain house, never unlocked their doors. Nevertheless, West Wind Drive-ins have been thriving!

West Wind Las Vegas is one of seven in California and Nevada operated by their parent company. I told you about this six-screen outdoor theater here. With budget-friendly prices on tickets and snacks, you can pack up the family (or a hot date) into your car and have a fun night out without breaking the bank. Even better, physical distancing is NEVER a concern at a drive-in, since you’re in control of your environment. You don’t have to interact with anyone if you choose not to (online ticketing is coming soon). 

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Modern conveniences like digital picture and stereo FM sound enhance the movie-going experience. Snacks and meals can be ordered from your smartphone for quick pick-up at the concession stand. You can smoke, bring your own food, turn up the volume as loud as you like on your car’s sound system and chat about the movie if you want to. It’s your own private universe under the stars.

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All of those advantages are why the drive-in theater has surged in popularity this year. Not only has the retro concept become a place to rediscover classics on the big screen, but locations around the country have been showing new concerts and hosted comedy and drag shows. Even Jennifer Romas and the cast of Westgate’s SEXXY revue performed drive-in shows this summer at a special location.

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COVID-19 is still affecting seasonal activities like sporting events and holiday parties. Depending on your neighborhood, even trick-or-treat might not happen. But nothing is tastier than freshly-buttered movie popcorn, and you can still dress the kids (or yourself) in costumes to see a great Halloween hit, double-feature, or even a trilogy….all for one low price.

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From now through October 31st, West Wind is lighting up their six massive screen with dozens of horror titles. From franchise hits of the 80’s to the latest spooky titles. there’s something for EVERYONE.

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Click here for the latest schedule, and check back often. 

Family-friendly Spookers – 

Romantic Vampire Films – 

Franchise Horror Films – 

Tim Burton Favorites – 

John Carpenter Classics –

Low-Budget Shockers –

Big-Budget Titles –

Groundbreaking Classics –

There are plenty more films to be added to the list, and the festival runs through Halloween night. Click here for updates, and check back often. 

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West Wind Las Vegas Drive-in Theater is open year-round, rain or shine. They’re located at 4150 West Carey Avenue, northwest of downtown. Call  (702) 646-3565 OR (702) 647-1379 for more information.

 

Hiding In Plain Sight: Gabe Ginsberg, The Invisible Man


Sin City’s own BMOC (Big Man of Cameras) is everywhere…but he doesn’t want you to see him…

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There are certain people that we tend to bump into a lot, no matter what we’re doing or where we are. Sometimes we don’t even know those folks, but after several run-ins, there comes a point of “Hey, how are ya?”. Then friendship quite often ensues.

Gabe Ginsberg is one of those guys. While covering events for VegasChatter (and that other site), I’d frequently see him on the media scaffolds, snapping red-carpet shots for Getty Images. Clad in black from head to toe and carrying large amounts of gear on his imposing frame, Gabe still managed to blend into the background. He is quiet, efficient, completely inconspicuous…and delightfully intriguing.

There seems to be a certain culture among show-business photographers. Simultaneously friends and competitors, these guys kid around, gossip about happenings in the city and sometimes talk shit about one another. But not Gabe Ginsberg…he loves everyone and they all love him.

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Hanging with The Man at the annual Mike Hammer Celeb Go-Kart fundraiser…              

After rubbing shoulders a time or two, Gabe and I started chatting online and in person. His self-deprecating humor was infectious. He’d also tease me for being a “celebrity” while calling himself a “poor working schmuck”. You see, I’ve been in the unique situation of standing next to him with my camera AND being a guest at events he was covering. Funny how my face never made it to People Magazine.

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Yes, Gabe Ginsberg’s photos make it to People. And Billboard, MSN, CBS All Access, Us Weekly, Forbes, USA Today, Men’s Health, Huffington Post and many other print and online outlets. His lenses have captured the likenesses of Miley Cyrus, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Drake, the Kardashian beasts (bills won’t pay themselves), Ben Affleck, John Cena, Ricky Martin, Floyd Mayweather and countless others.

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Gabe (left) in action at John Carpenter’s Halloween concert at Hard Rock Hotel…

Always respectful of celebrities and their space, Gabe is anything but an aggressive paparazzi type. This family man is an avid lover of nature, animals and glorious landscapes. His compassion for Las Vegas came through gorgeously in his coverage of the recent shooting tragedy. But let’s stick to things of beauty.

Gabe Ginsberg

Despite his worldwide coverage, Ginsberg is a favorite at local events and charity functions. He covers movie premieres, fundraisers, show openings, concerts and sporting events, too.

Gabe Ginsberg

Earlier this year, Gabe kept busy by shooting menu items for restaurants hopping aboard the UberEATS delivery service. And on the personal side, his skills guarantee you’ll get amazing portraits, family photos and Christmas Cards (now is the time to schedule your session, folks).

What I love most about Gabe, aside from his cuddly demeanor, is his twisted sense of humor. Scouring every corner of Las Vegas during a typical day, Ginsberg encounters a wide array of bizarre situations…and he writes about them regularly on his Facebook page.

His “Dumbass of the Day” series never fails to crack me up. It’s biting, hysterical and brutally honest – even when he points the finger towards himself:

Gabe Ginsberg

So wherever you may be in Las Vegas, keep on the lookout for the amazing Man In Black, Gabe Ginsberg. Despite his efforts to remain anonymous, he’ll be easy to spot. Just look for the crowd of celebrities clamoring to get their photos taken with HIM!

Gabe Ginsberg

Gabe Ginsberg is available for many types of freelance work. You can learn more or contact him by clicking here

Photos: Gabe Ginsberg via Facebook, Sammasseur