MonsterMania XXI has come and gone. It was my second MM and only my third horror movie convention. Going into this one I finally knew what to expect from a dealer room, celebreties and the kind of crowds that an event like this might draw. That doesn't mean that its any less awe inspiring when you get in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ among the sweaty, scary rabble that is our beloved horror community. We form lines that the folks at Disney World can barely dream of. We spend money fast and furious; the same way that heroin addicts fill up their veins. Instead we fill napsacks, empty our wallets and collect memories. It's not quite our Super Bowl really. It's not even the play offs to use a metaphor that I may have misued in the past. Horror conventions are the bars of from which we watch the big game. It's our melting pot. Where we come together to talk trash and share moments.
Here's a little recap of some of the moments that I shared (or didn't get to share) with some of the finest people I feel ever so honor to have met, some more famous or infamous than others. There's the whole god damn thing.
The night before MM21 I decided I would prepare. IT'S WAR afterall. I charged the cameras, bought some sharpies (just in case). I picked up my traditional beverage of choice, Rockstar Energy Drink. Sugar Free. White Can. Then I found my bag of pins from the last couple conventions I attended and attached them to my new "convention sack". I even put on a few Halloween trinkets. It would be like my armor and I would make sure that I was ready to actually get a few autographs, a few pictures and have a place to store all my purchases. I planned on going DVD crazy this time around. My collection had been twindling in recent years with a wedding, new house and newborn baby at home. I have a wishlist a mile long.
Woke up feeling good after a night of rather limited sleep. Before big days like this I tend to feel socially anxious. I don't sleep as well as I should. I have nightmares. Anxiety dreams. I wake up too early expecting to have missed my alarm. Not this time though. I hopped into my car and listened to the Liberal Dead podcasts, DEAD AIR. I was working on writing up. After a few hearty laughs I called a buddy of mine to tell him that I was dorking out proper. He was hardly surprised. Horror nerds don't hide well. I finally pulled up in front of the hotel, found my parking at Lockheed Martin which always feel just a little bit hypocritical given my anti military industrial complex stance (at least I was abusing their parking spot).
Walking in I saw the red Plymouth Fury, Christine, covered up, not ready to look pretty for the cameras. I love that damn car. When I was a kid I used to read the book while my dad and I would take road trips or trips to visit my dad in the hospital. I would ask him about the song lyrics in the book and we'd discuss some of the more obscure language that a child might not know. It was a heartening moment. Me and the bitch. I loved it even though she still had all her clothes on. I'd catch up with her later for a brief photo op. I'm not paying to take a picture with a fucking car. It's bad enough I have to drop coin to stand next to my heroes.
I waited online for the bathroom only to discover it was not a bathroom line. I think it was the line to get in, but seeing as I already had my wristband I made my way past some familiar faces after some pleasant conversations. You know those Rockstar energy drinks are famous for filling your bladder fast. It had been a long drive. I was amazed that the same groups of performers were around each convention. I really should take more pictures of them or with them even though I'm sure you can find the pics anywhere on the net or on the convention site. The guy with the white creature make up on the stilts, he just creeps me out. He's the reason I can't bring my stepdaughter to these kinds of these. The Killer Klown would have probably sent her out the door screaming. It was nice to see Freddy Krueger and the Predator. I even saw a guy who looked like Rob Zombie which was unexpected but delightful. I always think that walking around a swanky hotel should always feel this homey. Costumes aren't just for Halloween.
The table layout was relatively the same as last MonsterMania. Toy vendors up front alongside the photographs of featured celebs for sale for signing at a handsome price. Right around the corner was Kristy Jett and the Fright Rags gang. Tim and Ben Scrivens were right there. I had actually seen them before and it was an absolute pleasure to meet them again. I'm a huge fan of the t-shirt company, but I'm more a fan of them as people. Genuinely good natured They're the horrors fans who have helped make many a dream possible by first making their own dream possible. They're the best of the best of the best of the horror community. You support these folks because they make the best damn quality shirt out there, but they make the best damn friends out there as well. The Fright Rags crew was promoting a special line of Nightmare on Elm Street related shirts. They sold well, and while I didn't purchase mine at MM, I bought it online later once it was made available. Phantom Prowler #1, here I come!
Beyond that were a few vendor tables who were selling some comics and mags. Couldn't find the Gorezone with maskless Jason Voorhees on the cover. I want to stumble upon it rather than buy it on Amazon or Ebay, but I'm still luckless. It's only a matter of time, but just not this time. I'm a magazine hound. I'd collect them all if I could. After meandering through the cardboard boxes I quickly enamored myself in the task of DVD purchases.
DiabolikDVD is the place to go for your obscure horror/exploitation finds. There's some seriously amazing things to discover. The owners are intelligent and friendly. They'll make sure you get your education while browsing through the media. I didn't pick up quite as many obscure finds as I thought I would. I was actually more concerned with supporting them by filling in some serious gaps in my collection. My Bloody Valentine, A Paul Naschy Double Feature, Night of the Werewolf and Vengence of the Zombies, Monster Squad and HG Lewis's Blood Trilogy on Blu Ray. Night of the Scarecrow (that I've never fucking seen) and Martyrs (so the family can watch) on DVD. There were a number of special editions I was looking at buying and I'll get to them in time, but for right now... the essentials.
After DiabolikDVD I took a run at VHSPS, the VHS Preservation Society. These people are truly doing the Devil's work and I mean that as the sincerest form of a compliment. These are the guys I want to grow old with, sitting on the front porch of a house with walls lined in cardboard boxes filled with magnetic tape. I picked a bundle of films from them. I'll be starting a new feature over at The Liberal Dead called It Came From Nineteen Eighty X. This will be a VHS and 80's related column for the most part. Think retro everything. Quite a few of the features will come directly out of this haul. See the pictured releases. Can't believe I own a copy of Mortuary after all these years. Also just read a short feature on The Brain... clearly a must see flick. More soon. These guys have great specials. If they're at the your con, you buy from them ok? Sure there are others like them, but none they have a bad ass logo and know their shit.
I ran the gamut of the vender room. This meant picking up my Friday the 13th mask of the year. This time around I went part 3's mask. It's the first one and it looks pristine. Can't wait to keep collecting them. I hope to display them on mannequin heads some day. Also met up with the genius behind WarFear. Metals finest. Look for a new album and coming tour. They're Return of the Living Dead themed metal album is a thing of beauty.
I'll be doing a feature some time soon on a little film called Mary Horror. This film first came to my attention in a local newspaper article brought to me by a coworker. She said that it immediately made her think of me. That made me happy. These are som local Jersey boys who have filmed a movie right in my neck of the woods and then proceeded to screen it locally. I purchased the DVD, they gave me a signed poster and were just generally nice folks. Review and more to follow. Can't wait to catch it on the big screen.
Purchased my bunch of nicknacks... pins and what not. I'm a flyer hound and collected a few of those as well. Made my way over to the Troma table where I picked up a copy of The Children and got Lloyd Kaufman's autograph and picture taken with him and Mike of the Slashercast podcast. Lloyd is just the nicest fella you'd want to meet, and I got the feeling he was more than interested in the his lady fans. Wouldn't you be? Me too.
I'm very intimidated by the celebrities. Even though that's half the draw I still find it difficult to talk to them. This time I made some headway. I didn't meet Anthony Michael Hall, but I stood right next to him. What a trip. Kane Hodder almost knocked me down (and if he had I would have screamed). Lisa Marie was absolutely stunning and pretty much made my knees shake. I saw a few faces that looked vaguely familiar although somewhat altered by age. Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Alex Winters, the Walking Dead folks and the Blair Witch Gang. Cropsey was sick... boo. Don Shanks (that's Michael Myers from part 5 to you)... you can pretty much catch a glimpse of everyone you'd like to see from a distance. I find it near impossible to be able to afford all the autographs I'd love to get esepcially after the dealer room purchases I made.
The two celebs I met that absolutely had me struck were Stacey Nelkin of Halloween III fame and Gunnar Hansen... LEATHERFACE. Stacey was as gorgeous as ever and quite a lot of fun. She recanted a few tales from Halloween III although nothing that I could remember with my heart rumbling so fast in my chest. She signed my VHS of Halloween III and I told her these things were all the rage for collectors. She couldn't believe it. Gunnar Hansen was very reserved, but genuinly funny. Would have loved to have gotten a picture with him, but that didn't seem to be in the cards by the time I made it by. He's got a new book coming out so I'll keep an eye out for that. I love the print that he signed for me. Soon to be framed. It's the thing that I can show to my father and prove that the Hansen really does exist. My dad used to love to tell me that Leatherface was played by Gunnar Hansen, most likely because he loved the man's name. If nothing else this helped free up my nerves. I may get over this star struck thing yet. Maybe. I'm convinced that Rober Englund wasn't at this thing. You have to be a VIP to get through his line and you need to wait forever. I'd love to say I met him, but not this day.
Next con up would be Chiller Theater for me in April, but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it to that. After that there was talk of me making it to the Hudson Horror Show V which seemed to have been compromised, but now may be on. I am firmly excited to see if I'll make it out for that. Hope to see you there. Also, if you haven't purchase dyour eXfest tickets for the end of April from the Exhumed Films guys make sure to get your asses in gear. I can't make it due to impending Disney vacation, but you can let me know what I missed and make fun of me, okay?