This past weekend, FGSG went to Monster Mania Con 21 in Cherry Hill, NJ. Created by Dave Hagan, Monster Mania has grown to become the biggest convention of its kind on the East Coast. Thanks to the hard work of Dave and his team, it continues to grow and bring in excellent vendors and guests twice a year. We spent so much time there, and have so much to say, that we’re dividing our review into four parts. Starting with the basics: what fun was had, what people were met, and THE LOOT!
Okay, let’s start with the basics – this place was PACKED! Robert Englund was the VIP guest and lines to meet him stretched around the building the entire weekend (word on the convention floor was a four-hour wait). And it wasn’t warm out there – those people were devoted. On Friday, the dealers room was crowded, but Saturday was near claustrophobic. Even Sunday, usually pretty calm, was well-attended. I’m thrilled for Mr. Hagan and hope MM continues to be a success.
Among many others, the guest list also featured Tuesday Knight (Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Kane Hodder (The Friday the 13th series), Kim Darby (Don’t be Afraid of the Dark), Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), and the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, David Prowse (Darth Vader)! Crowbait took a minute to sit down with Prowse and get some advice on the power of the Dark Side:
The most surprising guests of this con was the original cast of The Blair Witch Project – Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael C. Williams – in their first ever convention appearance together. More on them when we discuss panels.
Now, our general thoughts and THE LOOT!
Like every other time I’ve attended Monster Mania (which is numerous), I had an awesome time, made even better by getting to spend it with my FGSG cohorts. I found that this year there was more variety in the dealers room – more independent films, books and games were represented, and much more handmade items, especially jewelry. I guess the message that ladies like horror is starting to sink in. That message still hasn’t reached most of the clothing dealers though (looking at you, Fright Rags!), with one excellent exception this year (more on that shortly)! While I purchased a good amount of movies, I found the selection of films a little limited this year. Not that there wasn’t anything there; I think I’ve just gotten used to a huge variety of foreign, indie and just plain strange films at MM. It’s one of my favorite moments to find that wacky gem I’ve been looking for (or one I’ve never heard of), but I still put down plenty of money. So let’s get to the loot:
Movies – Most of my movies came from the boys at Diabolik DVD, and they certainly did not disappoint. Some favs were the blu-ray of Suspiria, Kill List (both Region B, because the US hates awesome things), Absentia (hooray!!!), and a four movie Argento set from Arrow Releasing. We also all learned that Arrow Releasing can put a naked ass on any DVD cover, even City of the Living Dead. Seriously, it’s kind of like a gift…sort of… Other fun finds included Four Flies on Grey Velvet blu-ray (apparently this was an Argento year), Martyrs blu-ray, The Hole, REC 1&2 blu-ray and The Dead blu-ray. So really, upon reflection, I bought tons of movies, just from one place. From various other movie vendors I got Whisperer in the Darkness (from the same people who brought you the silent Call of Cthulu) and the Corman/Price Lovecraft collaboration The Haunted Palace.
Other loot – my non-film favorites were a radio KAB Antonio Bay bumper sticker, 2 magnets – one of Silver Shamrock (putting the song immediately into my head) and one simply stating “Do You Read Sutter Cane?”, and a girl’s shirt featuring The Thing! I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for a shirt from that movie to make an appearance. I mean, one that actually fit me. In fact, as far as non-films go, it was almost entirely a Carpenter-filled weekend. And I’ve got no problem with that.
In short, I had a wonderful time. Now, to watch all those movies…
Before addressing the con itself, I want to talk a little about pre-event preparation. If you’re a lady genuinely into film who wants to attend a horror convention and look hot doing it, we strongly recommend what we call “The $5 DVD Test.” Put on your sassy dress, stockings, shoes, etc… and, with a trusted friend, perform the test. Imagine there is a huge stack of $5 DVDs on the floor under someone’s table. Bend down to rummage through them and find that hidden gem. This important test examines issues with shoes, ass-coverage and more. Please use accordingly and have fun.
At Monster Mania 21, I had a great time enjoying a delightful assortment of costumes. Well… except for the stilt-clowns. Sorry, stilt-clowns. I’m not into it… From silly to disturbing, every horror movie monster was there. And the Freddies. Oh the Freddies! To honor Englund’s presence, there was a Freddy in every size, shape and color. In addition to your standard-issue models, we witnessed a retro female Freddy complete with giant red beehive and sassy walk, cute girls in long striped sweater dresses, a chef Freddy, Freddy children and even an infant Freddy. Complete with tiny hat. Uhhhh… kiddy Freddies. That’s kind of awkward, right? Anyway, the worship wasn’t limited to full Krueger regalia. There were enough striped sweaters at this convention to clothe a nation. Other standout costumes included a Pyramid Head (Silent Hill), Sam from Trick ‘r Treat, members of S.T.A.R.S. and Umbrella (Resident Evil series), and a Jason complete with both mask and deformed face underneath. Amazing. I also heard rumors of a Jedi Jason, but I can neither confirm nor deny.
My Loot: Even though I’m a visual artist who has done her time vending at cons (including Monster Mania), I have to tell the truth. I’m there to get movies. Although I usually spend some time perusing the… shadier… film dealers, this con’s movie buys were purchased almost exclusively from Diabolik DVD. Always my first stop. After more than one (maybe many) trips to their busy booth, I left with copies of low-budget creepfest ABSENTIA, fascinating documentary RESURRECT DEAD: THE MYSTERY OF THE TOYNBEE TILES, bizarre THE REFLECTING SKIN, Joe Dante’s THE HOLE, and the Arrow edition of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. Elsewhere, I also scored SAUNA, an obscure Finnish horror film, for $5!
Otherwise, we found a vendor actually selling female apparel (Girls want horror shirts? Yeah right.) and I got myself a couple great tops picturing the posters from SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and THE THING. Yeah, Frosty and I are gonna be “twinsies.” We’re ok with that. Anything else? Ah. I also left with HALLOWEEN III magnets and yes, every time I see my fridge, I sing the previously mentioned song.
Overall: Since attendance was great, I must admit to more than a little crowd-phobia while wandering the con floor. So many sweaty horror fans packed into one space. So many humans. (Must. Escape.) However, fun panels, good friends, and great finds were worth it.
I was really pleased to finally get an autograph from David Prowse. I think that man is singlehandedly responsible for my love of science fiction. There was nothing more amazing to me than the imposing, black caped and helmeted figure sweeping through the door into the captured rebel ship.It’s always good to “check in” with the convention regulars and I feel over the past few years we’ve had increasingly friendly crowds and dealers and celebrity guests. Everything points toward a convention that is on the rise and I recommend that if you can attend the next gathering in August, you do it!
My Loot: An opportunity presented itself for me to own a copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. I did not miss this opportunity. I too got myself a copy of the HPLovecraft Society’s The Whisperer in Darkness, because I love supporting these truly independent, labor-of-love projects that they have put together.
Coming up next: Vendor spotlights, guests, panels and more!