May 11--Lois Lane was there, as was Elliott's mom from "E.T.," John Marston from "Red Dead Redemption," Taimak from "The Last Dragon" and a whole station wagon full of Ghostbusters.
Video game characters rubbed shoulders with Jedi knights in the aisles as fanboys and girls checked out indie comics, "Star Wars" and "Superman" figurines, masks of Michael Myers from "Halloween" and Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," costume jewelry and posters.
Or they could get their hair streaked or their palms read.
The lady at the admissions table had on a tight black bustier and vampire teeth.
Port City Pop Con, billed as "the Largest Comic, Gaming, Cosplay & Pop Culture convention to hit Southeast North Carolina," was formally in session Friday evening at the Wilmington Convention Center.
"I just like everyone coming together, being themselves, showing off their Inner Nerd," said Collin Kelly of Rose Hill, who was dressed and hooded as Connor Kenway from the video game "Assassin's Creed III." His brother, Ian, was dressed and armed as The Punisher.
Fans lined up to chat, buy memorabilia and get autographs from an array of actors and TV and video game celebrities. Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in four "Superman" movies opposite Christopher Reeve, posed with whole families beside a Superman suit (from the film "Superman III") owned by Andrew Tsingelis of Wilmington.
Kidder starred in a long string of films from such directors as Brian De Palma and Paul Mazursky, yet most moviegoers remember her today from "Superman" or "The Amityville Horror."
"It doesn't matter to me," she said with a grin. "I'm a 64-year-old grandmother with lots of dogs, two grandchildren and a house in the woods in Montana. That's my world now."
"I thought 'Amityville' was a dreadful movie," she added. "Let me put this diplomatically: The family in the house were not really intellectuals, and I think a lot of things got blown up by their imaginations. It was probably hogwash."
At the next booth, a big crowd was gathering to greet Ernie Hudson, best known as Winston from the two "Ghostbusters" movies. Hudson, who filmed "Weeds," "The Crow" and a seldom-seen Jay Leno movie titled "Collision Course" here, said he was back to be in Wilmington.
Con fans are something else, Hudson said. "People will come and they quote the whole movie to me until I have to ask them to stop," he said. "They remember my lines, and I don't know them any more. I like movies, but I'm not a movie buff."
Fans' most-asked question, Hudson added, was when there'll be another "Ghostbusters" movie. (He doesn't know.)
Around the corner from Hudson's booth was a near-perfect replica of the Ghostbusters' white station wagon, manned by a team from Charlotte-based Carolina Ghostbusters, all decked out in Ghostbuster uniforms, complete with proton packs.
The wagon is a 1968 Cadillac/Miller Meteor, explained team member Cher Lambeth, the same make as the one in the movie. (The original was a 1959 model.) A former ambulance/hearse found in a barn near Dayton, Ohio, it was restored under the supervision of team leader M. Doc Geressy.
When they're not appearing at celebrity events, the Carolina Ghostbusters are real paranormal investigators, Geressy said. Lambeth, who's written a book on North Carolina's haunted theaters, said one of the spookiest was the "Lost Colony" theater at Manteo. "We heard footsteps and saw a door that opened and closed on its own," she said.
Turn another corner, and you ran into more paranormal investigators. Britt Griffith from the SyFy channel's "Ghost Hunters" said he and Chip Coffey from A&E's "Paranormal State" planned to visit the Battleship North Carolina Memorial on Saturday.
"I've felt the imprint of disembodied footsteps on my hand," Griffith said. "I've seen chairs move 6 inches on their own, on command. I've experienced a lot of stuff I can't explain."
At another booth, Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teavee in 1971's "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," recalled how character actor Jack Alberson had taught him old vaudeville routines on the set between shooting. Dee Wallace, star of "E.T.," "Cujo" and "The Howling," said one of her favorite acting experiences had been "The Texas Cadet Murder," a TV movie filmed in Wilmington in 1996. "I did some of the best work I ever did in that one," she said.
"I really think this has great potential," said Michaeline "Mikki" Stith, who was costumed as Power Girl from the DC Comics universe. "It's rough that a lot of the students have already left town, but I think we'll have a big turnout Saturday. This is a great thing for the future, not just of the Nerd community but of the whole artistic community in Wilmington."
In another corner, Luigi, from Super Mario Bros., was waving his mighty hammer and posing for photos with children (and some older fans, too).
In the mundane world, he goes by the name Thomas Stevens, and has been playing Luigi for about three years. When he's not in character, he said, "I just try to think of weird stuff to make life more fun.
Ben Steelman: 343-2208
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