Hooray for Horror: Success for Stop The Stigma at TFW 2017

Frightmare, we hardly knew ye.

No, don’t panic—the festival isn’t going anywhere. But it is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the day I’m writing this as exactly one month to the day Texas Frightmare Weekend—in my humble opinion, the best horror con in the United States—wrapped up its’ 2017 show, not to return until 2018. A part of me—most of me—has put off writing about it because to do so would be to acknowledge that it’s over. After all, following a relatively somber 2016—marred by the tragic passing of longtime TFW fixture Michael “Coop” Cooper—this year’s event rallied bigtime to make it one of—if not the—best in the convention’s history. The ambiance that had always made Frightmare more an event than a simple con was back, and from guests to panels to screenings (the best? The late-night screening of the 2005 Japanese dread-fest Noroi) to the annual dance—themed around The Thing and the most enjoyable since the legendary horror prom in ’12—this was indeed a Frightmare to remember, and one against which all future iterations will be judged.

TFW ’17 is memorable for another reason beyond the success of the event. As I mentioned earlier this year, following Cooper’s death, Sue Cryer—wife of Frightmare impresario Loyd Cryer—helped put together Stop the Stigma, a non-profit dedicated to helping individuals receive free or discounted mental health services. (You can read more about that HERE). While last year’s Frightmare had a small table in the lobby where guests could make donations, this year STS had a full-fledged booth, where people could purchase donated merchandise as well as bid in a silent auction for autographed horror memorabilia. (The holy grails? A signed machete from Kane Hodder and a life-sized Jane Doe dummy used to promote The Autopsy of Jane Doe). For the organization’s second year, the booth was a resounding success—between money raised from the auction, purchases, and donations, STS received $7,000 over the course of Frightmare.

“It was an incredible weekend,” says Kade Anderson of Stop the Stigma. “We were so humbled by the generosity and openness we received, and we are hoping we were able to make a difference for the people we spoke with. Also, be checking our Facebook page for some celebrity promotional videos we put together over the weekend—Malcolm McDowell, Freddie Highmore, and more.”

Though Frightmare may be gone for another year, STS is a year-round effort dedicated to bringing help to those who need it. Visit them on Facebook and on the web, and see if you can—and are willing—to pitch in. Frightmare is always a source of great joy to those who attend it; lets spread that joy, improve some lives, and make sure that everyone we had fun with at this year’s event is there to enjoy it with us next year.

Preston Fassel