September 2018~ A Tale of Two Damiens

It’s not something that is widely known about me but I am a big fan of stories with a religious plot. I don’t mind if its an action/thriller type story, like The Messiah Code (Formerly known as The Miracle Strain)  by Michael Cordy or a detective/murder mystery like Messiah by Boris Starling which subsequently became a TV series.

But my favourite of all-time has to be the horror series, The Omen.

Before I go any further I should make it known that I’m not a Satanist of any kind. I was, along with a couple of school-friends, accused of being one whilst at secondary school as we enjoyed talking about the story and the way that the author had cleverly woven information from The Bible to make it more real. In reality, I have a deep belief in God and am interested by many of the messages in The Bible, though I am very aware that in my opinion it is a very flawed document, written by men with their own agenda in mind. I also applied to be a priest at one point but after a couple of years changed my mind. I do have a problem with organised religion due to some of the people I have met, which is a shame as my childhood was spent in a very caring parish.

Anyway, the original story was written by David Seltzer and his book was turned into the successful film starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick amongst others. After the first book, Seltzer chose not to return to the franchise and the final four (Yes, there are 5 books in the series) were written by other people. Full list below:-

  • The Omen, written in 1976 by David Seltzer
  • Damien: Omen II, written in 1978 by Joseph Howard
  • Omen III: The Final Conflict, written in 1980 by Gordon McGill
  • Omen IV: Armageddon 2000, written in 1983 by Gordon McGill
  • Omen V: The Abomination, written in 1985 by Gordon McGill

I enjoy the battle of good versus evil. The fact that we, through The Bible, learned of Jesus’ time on earth (if you view The Bible as a historical document) but in this franchise we see the rise of the son of Satan- The Antichrist! I like the way that Judeo-Christian lore, mythology and ritual are deeply embedded in the story and that anyone could be a disciple of Satan!

The short-lived TV show was excellent but unfortunately ignored the goings on of every film after the original. This was a disappointment as I enjoy all three of the films; seeing Damien grow older, finding out who he is, his rise to power and eventual downfall. I don’t include the made for TV movie Omen IV as quite honestly it was awful, even if it did pick up after Omen III. The 2006 remake of The Omen was a waste of money in my opinion.

I’ve met a number of the cast over the years (see below) and, as the title of this post goes, have met two Damiens.

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I met Harvey Stephens at an Autographica event in London many years ago. It was his first event and he had no idea what to expect. He wasn’t particularly busy so I got to have a good long chat with him. He had lots of stories to tell about things like the kindness of his on-screen parents Lee Remick and Gregory Peck- they were both amazing and treated him well.

The one story that stuck in my mind was his audition story. The producer and director had seen many children and no one had managed to deliver what was needed for the part so Harvey was instructed by someone on the audition panel to attack the director who had knelt down in front of him. Harvey did this by running up to him and kicking him squarely in the nuts! The job was his!

Harvey also had the original bike which he had been given after filming end.

Harvey Stevens

I have yet to meet Jonathan Scott-Taylor who played teenage Damien in Damien: Omen II. I hope to one day!

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I’ve been a big fan of Sam Neill for years. His work in Jurassic Park is well known but I also thought he was great in The Hunt for Red October. Sam played adult Damien who has been appointed to his father’s old job as Ambassador to the Court of St James (UK) and is on his rise to power. Sam was announced as a last-minute guest for the London Film & Comic Con in July 2018. I quickly bought a photo shoot with him before they sold out!

When the event came I noticed a plethora of Dr Alan Grants from Jurassic Park and loads of inflatable dinosaurs of various types! I quickly decided to do something different so I grabbed some paper, wrote #DamienThorn4President on it and headed off for the shoot. When my turn came I walked up, showed him the sheet and asked if he would hold it. He looked at it, laughed and asked me if I was serious. I replied that he couldn’t be any worse than Trump. He laughed some more, we had the photo and I left.

I tried to get his autograph but, as I was helping on a charity stall, it proved difficult. When I went to his area near the end of the event they had closed the queue. I’ve been a bit cheeky and written to him to see if I can get an autograph that way!

Sam Neill

I’ve met a few other cast members as you can see below:-

The Omen

David Warner who played photographer Keith Jennings in The Omen

Lance Henriksen who played Sergeant Daniel Neff

Tina Simmons who was Lee Remick’s stand-in and body-double in The Omen

I really hope they never try to remake films II & III but would be happy if they converted the books of IV and V into film.

July 2018~ London Film & Comic Con 2018

This was my first Showmasters event since 2016 as at this time last year I was in Belfast at a close friends’ wedding.

Previous events had been extremely busy. In the past I have been quite critical of the events, the amount of space used and amount of tickets sold. There have also been some very unhelpful crew over the years. With the weather this year forecast to be record breaking due to the ongoing heatwave I was concerned. It was a concern that was unfounded. The whole venue had been used which allowed people to move around fairly easily in comparison to previous years. The main photo shoot area was mental but that’s fairly normal especially with some huge names announced. The crew in one photo area did their best to confuse people and didn’t like to be questioned but it all worked out in the end.

I will add that this is the first LFCC I have enjoyed for many years. You can never have a problem-free event, but this was very close from an attendee point-of-view. A lot of fun!

Yet again I was helping man the USS Iceni charity stall, hoping to raise funds for both Starlight Children’s’ Foundation and Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Our total prior to the event was £13506. We started with 300 prizes and by the close of day 2, Matthew and Lorna had to restock. At the end of the event only a handful of prizes were left and a grand total of £1026 raised, bringing the total to £14,532. A good effort by all!

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There were the usual dealers selling a wide range of merchandise. If you wanted something in particular you could probably have found it there.

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Amazon Prime were also there promoting their new series, Jack Ryan. I’ve been a huge Jack Ryan fan since the late 80s having read all of the books and seen the film adaptations of some. This is to be a prequel series set before the books and the trailer looks good. Amazon had gone all out and set up a mini CIA-type recruitment stand. You had to pass an interview (I had a bit of fun answering some of the questions in the little bit of Russian that I know), there was then a weapons proficiency test, aptitude exam and interrogation. It was all good fun and you ended up with an ID card and, if good enough, your name on the scoreboard!

There were over 80 guests this year, from film, TV, music and sports. Some were incredibly rare signers including Meatloaf and James Caan plus three top guests from The Dukes of Hazzard (4 if you count The General Lee). There was also a huge Doctor Who guest contingent including Peter Capaldi, David Tennant and Christopher Ecclestone. I chose to avoid those this time around and focus on guests I had been waiting a long time for. Namely David Duchovny, Zachary Levi and Sam Neill, with the latter two being announced last minute.

I also decided to focus on the cast of Wonder Woman, one of a favourite Superhero movies and get a poster I made signed. Unfortunately, Lucy Davis (of Shaun of the Dead fame) cancelled and therefore missed out on the pleasure of meeting me. One day Lucy, one day!

poster

The remaining cast (Eugene Brave Rock (Chief Napi), Said Taghmaoui (Sameer) and Emily Carey (Young Diana)) were all equally amazing!

I also met Sean Young (to add to my Blade Runner collection), William Hope and Lance Henriksen (for my Aliens collection) and Shauna MacDonald (for my Spooks collection). We need more Spooks guests!!

Finally I had a nice time meeting Nathalie Emmanuel who plays Missandei in Game of Thrones. We ended up chatting about my tee shirt!

Nathalie Emmanuel

Both David Duchovny, of The X-Files and Zachary Levi, of Chuck and the new Shazam movie were real gentlemen. A pleasure to meet!

However, the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting Sam Neill who had flown all the way from New Zealand. Apart from playing Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park films, Sam was in two other book/film series that I follow. He played Captain Vasiliy Borodin in the Jack Ryan (see above) film, The Hunt for Red October. He also played the adult Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, in Omen III: The Final Conflict. It was this film that inspired my photoshoot with him. Everyone else in the line was dressed as either Dr Alan Grant or a dinosaur. I on the other hand made a very rough, last-minute sign that read “#DamienThorn4President. I asked him if he would mind pointing at it. He took one look, let out a big laugh, looked at me and said “seriously?”. I replied “Can’t be any worse than the current one”.  He smiled, we had our photo and I left. Very enjoyable!

Sam Neill

As usual there were an amazing amount of awesome cosplayers. Photos below!

Roll on 2019. I’m hoping for Gal Gadot and of course, Lucy Davis (who needs Chris Pine right?)!

lucy

July 2016~ London Film & Comic Con 2016

LFCC has not been great the past few years (see previous posts) and I was wary about attending but nevertheless volunteered to help on the USS Iceni stand to raise money for charity.

It seems Showmasters have finally listened! The layout this year was so much better than in previous years. They had actually hired the whole of the venue it seemed and whilst it took a while to get from A to B sometimes, it actually helped a lot.

I wasn’t really going to see celebs this year. Normally I see around 20. I had initially had 8 to see over a weekend but this quickly became 9 when the announced a young actress from a great new show called Stranger Things. I won’t go into what the show is about on here but I suggest you check it out for yourself. If you like the 1980s, ET, The Goonies, Stand By Me and Stephen King then this show is for you. All the kid actors were great but Millie Bobby Brown, who played Eleven stole the show. I’ve worked with kids for nearly 30 years and don’t normally get phased by them but her performance freaked me out. There has to be an award somewhere in her future and I really hope the show gets a second season. As for how she handled the convention itself well all I can say is that Millie did a better job at the event than some big, A-List celebs I could mention. She took time to interact and was doing awesome poses in the photoshoot. A lot of big names and regular con guests could learn a lot from her. I must meet the rest of the cast now. Hope they get invited!

There was some awesome cosplay on display as usual (pics below) and a really good exhibition of costumes from Suicide Squad.

Overall it was a great event. I ended up meeting Jack Gleeson (Joffrey in GoT), Fay Marsay (The Waif in GoT), Kae Alexander (Leaf in GoT),  Michael Emerson (Ben in LOST), Laurie Holden (Andrea in TWD), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal and Galen Erso in Star Wars: Rogue One), Harold Perrineau (Michael in LOST), Millie of course and finally, the biggest let down of the weekend, Famke Jansen. I heard many conflicting reason as to why she seemed so grumpy but her photoshoot was a waste of money. As an actress surely you can act happy!

Anyway, photos below!

 

 

 

February 2016~ London Film and Comic Con Spring

After seemingly knocking their Milton Keynes show on the head, Showmasters have attempted to build on the “success” of their flagship summer event.

Although (for once) the event was quite quiet, and (downstairs at least) you could move around without wanting to punch people, there were still issues around seating etc. which did not help my back!

This was something that at previous week, Walker Stalker got right. They had manned seating areas for people with mobility issues and a dedicated quiet area. This meant that seating in cafes was freed up for others.

Also, busy guests placed near each other leading to bottlenecks!! This lead to lots of overcrowding at certain areas.

The guests I met were great. Billy Dee Williams, Denis Lawson, Greg Grunberg and Jessica Henwick, all from various Star Wars films (among other things).

SM get awesome guests. The best in the country to be honest, but if they don’t consider their client base a bit more they will eventually lose custom which will be a shame for fans.

July 2015- LFCC 2015

Well, where to begin! This looked to be a promising event with so many great names on offer including Sigourney Weaver, Michael J Fox, Bill Pullman, Hayley Atwell etc.

Whilst it was nice to meet them and see old friends, in all my 20+ years of attending cons I have never felt so unsafe in my whole life. It was way too crowded. Stairwells were blocked, lifts failed and it was too hot. At one point I was trapped for over an hour on the top floor due to lift failure and stairwells being blocked. This lead to inevitable delays in photoshoots etc. Crew did there best, although there are a few in need of a serious attitude adjustment. One in particular reminded me of a hobbit in need of a shave and a shower!

On the up side, the guests were amazing. Probably the only real reason to go to these particular events if I’m honest.

July 2014~ LFCC ’14

Showmasters hit the ground running earlier in the year by announcing a big guest….Stan Lee. Little did they realise the interest it would generate. Ticket sales shot up so much that different passes had to be created. Comic and regular. Leading up to the show itself, many more big names were added including Carrie Fisher and John Hurt. The final guest count was near 100 I think!

As always I went for the regular gold pass. It was helpful as always but not as helpful as it had been in the past due to the sheer number of people that turned up.

I attended the preview night on the Friday and collected my Gold Pass. This saves time on the Saturday. My plan was to get three or four of my autographs and photoshoots out of the way to save me rushing on the Saturday and Sunday. I did this with no problem and was able to meet Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica and Robert Hays who was in Airplane, one of my all time favourite films.

I left feeling that everything was fine for the next two days…..boy was I wrong!

I turned up at 8.40am as I do normally with a Gold Pass to find the biggest queues I had ever seen! They seemed to stretch on forever! It didn’t help that all the Gold Passes (comic and standard) were in one line with the Silver Passes. Made getting in a bit more difficult.

The day began ok. I managed to see some friends, meet my cousins (who are big Firefly fans) and get most of my autographs done. But the crowds grew and grew to a point where I had to leave for a while, because I was either going to pass out or flatten someone. It didn’t help that it was the hottest day of the year so far!

The crew were getting stressed, and I had a run in with one at a photoshoot which really made me mad. Looking back though, the guy was stressed so I don’t blame him. I spent the rest of the day chatting with friends or wandering around buying merchandise and looking at Cosplayers.

I was hoping that Sunday would be quiet as normal! Yeah, right!!

Although it was quieter than the previous day, Sunday seemed a lot busier than normal. I met the few guests I needed to meet that were only there on Sunday and managed to leave by mid-afternoon. There were a lot of stressed, unhappy people. Mainly because of the sheer number of people trying to meet Stan Lee. I’m glad I chose not to now!

Even though it was manic, I believe Showmasters have learned from the experience and I’m already looking forward to the next event!

Guests I met: Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Galactica, Robert Hays from Airplane, Summer Glau from Firefly and Kate Dickie, Sibel Kekilli, Ian Beattie, Finn Jones and Kristian Nairn (again) all from Game of Thrones.

October 2013~ Winter LFCC

This wasn’t really a new event, just an old event with a new name! In previous years it had been called The Entertainment Media Show but the name I think was a bit confusing.

It was a quiet event in comparison to the summer con. Nevertheless, it was a good event. It was also the first event that I properly helped out on the USS Iceni fundraising table.

Guest-wise I met the legend, Brian Blessed, Sam Jones (Flash Gordon), Garrett Wang, Joanna Cassidy and Nicole DeBoer (all from Star Trek), Hannah Spearitt (Primeval), Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) and Lexa Doig (Andromeda/SG1). Again, all wonderful people (I very rarely meet a horrible one!)

There were some amazing cosplays on show. She-Ra was in attendance, various Trek uniforms plus many others.

Hopefully it will become a regular event!