Cosplayers out in the main hall,

                                                              strangers with a shared love for all things spooky

Every year at the Hyatt off of the Dallas airport, there’s a gathering of horror enthusiasts that can be best described as, well, indescribable. There are hundreds of people that pour into the convention center, some dressed as their favorite horror icons, others tagging along with significant others or close friends just to appease their strange interests. When walking through those doors, there’s a sense of relief for the lovers of the macabre as they realize that they aren’t the only ones with a passion for gore and ghosts. People from all over, some even flying in from different states, gather together to share an interest that is as niche as it gets. While the real world may view these folks as deranged and otherworldly, the horror community gets a chance to escape from that reality for three days out of the year to a place where they all belong.

                                                                       A very cute and sleepy Freddie,

                                                     hopefully not experiencing the nightmares he haunts

Texas Frightmare has been a solace for these fans since 2006, and every year they continue to improve on the vendors, celebrity guests, panels, parties, and so much more. This year was by far the biggest turn out, and also the most interactive crowd to date. Walking through the halls and halls of booths supporting some of the most talented artists and retailers in the horror world, one can hear anything from a beautifully horrendous film synopsis from one of the many independent filmmakers that debut their features every year, to people quoting their favorite horror movies back and forth with someone who was previously a complete stranger. There’s a warmth to the horror community that is very unexpected, with most fans of the genre being pigeonholed as bizarre and even psychopathic, when they’re really the kindest and most welcoming people you’ll meet. Getting to experience this first hand for the last 5 years, I can safely say that this convention has become like a second home.

     While Dametria Green (founder and artist behind the Curiositeer jewellery) explores the fest, her very loyal                                                          friend mans their booth with a warm smile and personality

                          Kitty Korvette, Elvira impersonator and perfume vendor, returns every year to share her

                                                                           delicious scents and gorgeous style

The vast amount of expression from the vendors, celebrities, staff and attendees is very refreshing, and varies to a great extent. The convention also supports multiple panels throughout the weekend, allowing celebrities and businesses in the horror world to shares hilarious behind the scenes stories, facts on what the filmmaking and art world is really like, and throwing crowds back to the classics. Companies like Blumhouse, IFC Midnight, Shudder, and Fangoria (just to name a few) come out every year to encourage horror enthusiasts to keep exploring every platform they have available to them in order to build their interests into passions. Among the big businesses are also a ton of local ones, who bring everything from jewelry made from taxidermied animals and bugs, to perfumes, to horror art, to home video, and even lifelike werewolf baby dolls.

                           Shaun of the Dead cosplayers that curiously enough are also named Shaun and Ed

 

Each year normally supports some sort of theme, and this year there was a heavy emphasis on Friday the 13th. Many of us remember the first time we saw Jason (or rather Mrs Voorhees, sorry for the spoiler but c’mon it’s almost a 40 year old film) slowly stomp his way across Camp Crystal Lake, killing teenagers left and right. There’s a certain charm to the slasher genre, a somewhat guilty pleasure for most horror fans that allows us to enjoy a bit of cheesy gore without having to take the films too seriously. The fest supported every actor that’s played Jason to date, including Steve Dash who just returned from a hospital visit he was told he wouldn’t come back from. A lot of these actors from the classic horror films haven’t seen each other in years, and watching them reunite is truly heartwarming. Not to mention getting to meet some of the most worshipped icons in horror almost seems unreal. The fest has brought such names as Clive Barker, Dario Argento, George Romero, Matthew Lillard, Tom Savini, and countless other filmmakers and actors in the mainstream and independent horror world.

                           Matthew Lillard signing a knife, which is only one of the many weapons this fan has brought                                                                               for his horror heroes to put a sharpie to

 

When all is said and done, and the convention center and hotel return to their normal state, there’s a certain lingering sadness with the fans that have to face the fact that the real world isn’t quite as accepting of their strange interests.

                                                                 Cosplayers bringing a dark side to Disney

 

However, there’s also the vast amount of memories they’ve created, friends they’ve made, and heroes they’ve met that will at least make real life a bit more bearable. There’s truly something for everyone at Texas Frightmare, and the family that has developed amongst the attendees is a strong and interesting one. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out the fest, let this be your siren call. Don’t let the stigma of what you’ve been conditioned to believe horror fans are like drive you away from the true nature of their community, which is incredibly accepting and not nearly as Buffalo Bill as you’d think. These snap judgments have led to countless amounts of bullying inflicted on people that the general public refuses to try to understand. This horrible truth has inspired the founders of Stop the Stigma, a non profit that reaches out to those in a vulnerable mental state, and reminds them that there’s always a reason to survive the worst of it. Whether it be blatant harassment that leads to a dip in self esteem, or mental illness, the wonderfully kind volunteers for Stop the Stigma have created a safe haven for those who feel like they have nowhere to turn to. Companies such as these are so very important to the creative community, and their involvement in Texas Frightmare has been a bright beacon of light. Between the fans, companies who support it, and artists that take part in the fest every year, Frightmare has become a beautifully strange world that reminds its attendees that it’s okay to be a little bit offset, and to enjoy things that may not be generally accepted. Go ahead, let your freak flag fly, no matter your race gender or occupation. In those convention halls, everyone is family, and even when it’s all said and done, that family will continue to thrive on the promise of next year’s gathering of horror enthusiasts.

                                    A terrifyingly realistic Chuckie puppet, fully equipped with sound and lights

I want to take a moment to thank the volunteers that help put this event together every year. I was able to be on that side of the fest last year, and while the volunteers don’t always share the love for horror that the attendees have, they still have a great time supporting the fans and creating this world for them. Without these lovely folks, us weirdos wouldn’t be able to wander the halls of strange that are created in the convention center every year. 

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