March 11, 2014

Recap: Monster Mania 27

A few years ago I was introduced to the wonderful world of horror conventions. A friend was looking to get the autograph of Doug Bradley (aka Pinhead) and it turned out that he was making an appearance at a convention that was within driving distance. We went, met Bradley and a number of other amazing celebrities and we were hooked. Shortly thereafter I discovered Monster Mania and a love affair was born. Held in Cherry Hill, NJ, twice a year (with a third show in Maryland), they are weekend long celebrations of horror and the community that flocks to it. Run by Dave Hagan and his sons as a tribute to his father, Monster Mania is a family friendly convention that continuously draws huge crowds. This weekend was no different.

This past weekend was Monster Mania 27, a show filled to the brim with stars new and old from a wide variety of films. There was a little bit for everybody. From fans of old school horror television like Dark Shadows to those of newer fare like The Walking Dead, from fans of classic slashers like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th to more gothic tastes like The Crow, even modern classics like Scream and Candyman were represented. Not to mention many more.

What follows below is a series of photos from the show that will help tell the story of my experience at the show.

This first photo was taken in the hotel lobby while I was waiting to be taken up to meet Robert Englund (for whom I shelled out for the VIP ticket, you see, the first time I met him I waited 4 hours and I did not want to repeat that)! It is a couple of the first costumed guests I saw, Bonjo the Clown and Freddy Krueger. They are a couple of con regulars and always great to see spreading their brand of joy.

This next picture is the one I was not able to get the first time I saw Robert Englund. By the time I saw him the first time they had stopped posed pictures in order to get as many people through to see him as they could. I understand but still wanted that posed picture. Now I got it! I think it came out pretty good. It also needs to be said that he is a lively and gregarious person, always ready with a story or a joke, can snap into Freddy mode at the drop of a hat and loves seeing some of the different posters and things people have. He was quite taken with the French Dream Warriors poster I had as well as my Galaxy of Terror.

Making their first ever convention appearance are Lisa and Louise Burns, the twins only ever appeared in one movie, and then only briefly, but the impact they left is felt to this day. They were the Grady twins in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. I swear, I do not think they have grown an inch since making the movie, they are so tiny! They are also very sweet and kind. It was a pleasure to meet them, plus they loved my shirt!

Next up is Rusty Schwimmer, a veteran of dozens of films including Candyman and Jason Goes to Hell. She was warm and friendly and genuinely interested in the fans. She loved the Friday the 13th poster I asked her to sign, took her a minute to remember her character's name.

Next up is Brendan Fletcher one of the victims in Freddy vs. Jason. He also starred in films like Rampage and Ginger Snaps II. The guy has a ton of credits and is really cool. He was supposed to be at the last convention but filming commitments forced him to cancel, it was nice that he was able to reschedule.

Chris Marquette co-starred with Fletcher in Freddy vs. Jason and also starred in Fanboys. It was great talking about seeing Fanboys in a theater as well as his work in the TV show Joan of Arcadia. Very genuine fellow.

Before getting to the next picture, I did meet Ernie Hudson and Tony Todd. I had each of them sign my original theatrical poster for The Crow. No pictures as they were charging extra for them and I have previously met them and have had my picture taken with them. Still, they are really nice guys and it was nice to gush a little about my love for The Crow.

Sofia Shinas made her first ever convention appearance this weekend as well. She played Shelly, the fiance of Eric Draven in The Crow. It was very nice to meet her and, again, gush a little on The Crow.

Rounding out The Crow contingent is Michael Massee, he was a last minute addition when Jon Polito canceled. I am very happy that he was invited back as he was at the first Monster Mania convention I was at (coincidentally, it was his first as well), but I made the mistake of not going to meet him. One of the biggest regrets I have had. It was great getting to speak with him about what the movie means to me and his talk about the experience he had on set, including the accident. He even told me it was very important and special to him when he spoke about it the last time he was here.

Here we have Chad Coleman, better known as Tyrese on The Walking Dead. No picture with him, did not want to spend the money, but this is a cool shot of him signing my poster. He is a nice guy, always smiling and laughing.

Next is another Walking Dead cast member, Emily Kinney, aka Beth. She is a nice girl and it is nice to see her getting some lines and character development.

Quick aside to my sister meeting Scott Wilson, the popular Hershel (RIP). She told me she was going to hug him and she did! He is really nice and certainly worth meeting if you get the chance.

Monster Mania had a bit of a Cujo reunion and that included director Lewis Teague. Although, when I met him I went for a poster from one of his other movies, Alligator! If you have not seen that, it is a a great Jaws rip with an alligator (duh) in the sewers. He even told me anyone who likes Alligator is a friend of his.

This gets us to Friday night and time for the VIP party, featuring a couple of themed cakes.

Here is one of the things that makes this party fun, hanging with stars and getting photo opportunities you can't get during the day. Here is ¾'s of the Cujo reunion with Dee Wallace, Lewis Teague, and Danny Pintauro.

Here is Dee Wallace dancing.

Robert Englund joined the party and proceeded to hold court as the swarm of folks, myself included, followed his every move. Here he is with a Pinhead.

My sister got another shot at a picture with him and I think it is better than than the first.

I got another as well, I like this one a lot.

Me between two mountains, RA Mihailoff and Bill Johnson.

My sister also got in between the two giants (Bill told her: “Mmmm, dessert!”)

Here I am with Danny Pintauro from Cujo and you may remember him as Alyssa Milano's little brother on Who's the Boss? He is a fun guy who was enjoying his first Monster Mania and his first convention.

Bill Johnson serving some of the Leatheface cake.

I learned that Leatherfaces travel in packs, here are two more, making me feel very small (not an easy feat). I feel a little bad as Gunnar Hansen kept looking at my shirt and I think he thought it was of him (it is actually Kurt Russell).

My sister being attacked by Leatherfaces!

Day two begins....

The lot filled up QUICK!

Here I am with the great Dee Wallace. She signed my Rob Zombie's Halloween poster (up to ten autographs now). She is such a nice person. She lit up when I mentioned liking the recent Hansel and Gretel movie, as well as Lords of Salem. I would gladly meet her again.

This is Dan Yeager, Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw 3D. He told me they are trying to get another one going. We also had a nice discussion about the nasty and sympathetic sides of Leatherface, like Jaws mixed with Frankenstein's Monster.

Here come the clowns!

The crowds were insane. Easily the busiest I have ever seen it.

Here I am with CJ Graham. He was Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. He is one solidly built guy, loves the fans, too. I had met him once before, but this is a much better picture.

Bill Johnson, seen earlier serving cake, was Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. Real nice guy, who does not do that many shows, I have been told.

RA Mihailoff looks like he belongs on Sons of Anarchy, doesn't he? He is an absolute mountain of a man. He has a very friendly and outgoing personality, doesn't take things too seriously and likes my hair and beard style. We even talked about frequency of shaving out heads.

Cool Sam costume from Trick 'r Treat.

A little Texas Chainsaw Part 2?

Went to a panel with Victoria Price talking about her father, Vincent Price! This was fantastic, she is a great speaker and we got to see a lot of old Vincent Price photos. Very glad she was invited to speak.

Crowded hallway to the vendor room...

Lines were outside for a number of stars in an effort to keep some ability to move around the autograph room. The crowds were absolutely insane and the staff did a great job of keeping it as organized as they could. Fortunately, it was a gorgeous day.

The Batmobile makes another appearance...

Here I am with Charles Band, the found of Full Moon Pictures and the guy behind such movies as Puppet Master and Demonic Toys. He is really fan friendly and a lot of fun.

This happened:

Whenever Ernie Hudson is around, the Ghostbusters show up in force.

An original Vincent Price wig, although I did not catch what movie it was from.

This is me with Vincent Price's daughter, Victoria Price, and his grandson, Jody Price.

At the Crow reunion panel. It was fun listening to them reminisce on how they came onto the project, working with Brandon Lee and each other on favorite scenes and on their preparation for their roles.

After the Crow panel we went for a walk for dinner, this is a nice shot I snagged of the lit up hotel as we went to a nearby pizza place.

Gene Simmons and Mushroomhead!

Caught the end of the Burns twins panel.

Robert Englund's panels are always great. He has so many great stories about his experiences as an actor and as a fan. He needs no moderator, he does it himself. I could listen to him for hours.

As they were getting ready for the Charles Band Road Show somebody decided to pull the fire alarm, spilling us into the parking lot for a half hour.

Charles Band gave a great talk about his company and showed some fun clips before ending it by directing some fans on stage in a quick scene featuring the sure to become infamous booby shirt.

Can you spot the mistake?

We are now into Sunday. Here is Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, at his table.

The Saturday crowd has spilled over, never seen it like this so early on a Sunday.

Daniel Hugh Kelly from Cujo and Star Trek: Insurrection.

Chandler Riggs, Carl on The Walking Dead, signing my sister's poster. He is a nice kid. Quite different than seeing him onscreen.

Sunday crowds lined up the hall. Nuts.

Artoo brought a friend!

Here I am with Kristy Jett from Fright Rags, a familiar and friendly face from coming to these conventions. Always nice getting to see her.

Blade! I learned a little later that there was also a Leech Woman walking around, wish I had gotten a picture of her..

Sam on the left is a statue, on the right is a little boy in an awesome Marvel Zombie's Spider-Man costume. Very nicely done.

Here I am with Drea de Matteo. I won her autograph at the Yorkie Auction and went down to see her and get it personalized. She is pretty cool.

Virginia Madsen looking distracted..

Ilan Mitchell Smith from Weird Science.

Me and my sister getting a thumbs up from Scott Wilson!

And it's all over.....

Can't wait for the August show!


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Kari said...

Great recap, I really enjoyed it. This was my first con ever and my hubby and I are now completely hooked. :)

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