Editors Note: This article is a guest contribution from Jason Delgado.
By Jason Delgado
The uninitiated may wonder what makes Monsterpalooza stand out amongst the myriad of pop culture conventions that one can attend these days. In a word: Halloween. Yet how is that different from the other Cons that feature cosplay?
When I was a child, I realized how awesome Halloween was. I got to wear a cool costume, AND get a bag full of candy. I was in! Yet before I knew it, I was too old to go trick-or-treating, a sad realization that we all come to at one time or another. I tried to fight it by covering my room with old Universal Monster movie posters and a seven foot tall cardboard coffin, while listening to bands that were goth/punk, such as AFI and the Misfits.
In my twenties, a couple of friends and I decided that it would be a good idea to dress up in costumes and go door-to-door like we were kids again. We were laughed at by many, but we actually got some candy and had a fun time! I didn’t dress up again until years later when I became the guy passing out candy at the door. I made the mistake of wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask, which needless to say, terrified some young children into tears.
Another reason why I love Halloween is because two of my uncles worked in the film industry in creature design, practical special effects and puppeteering, and I still have the giant monster feet from the movie Critters that they gave to me! I remember walking onto the set of Garbage Pail Kids when I was young, and thinking that it was the coolest thing ever, even though that movie turned out to be terrible.
All good things must come to an end, and so I thought my fondness for Halloween was winding down. Enter Monsterpalooza. I went for the first time last year, and it was like Igor saying, “it’s alive,” while electricity jolted my love of Halloween back to life! Monsterpalooza was held this year from April 12th through April 14th in Pasadena, California.
Yes, there is cosplay like at other Comic Cons, but unlike those, people at Monsterpalooza are dressed up mainly as monsters or horror icons, which gives off a Halloween vibe. Sadly, there is no candy passed out, but there are plenty of horror film actors and actresses with whom you can get photos and autographs (for a fee).
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Alex Winter (of Lost Boys and Bill & Ted fame), Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 & 5), Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs), and Danny Trejo (Machete), who did a funny birthday video message for a friend of mine!
This year, I was only able to get another photo with Danielle Harris. I’m a huge fan of the Halloween franchise, ever since I saw the original John Carpenter version when I was around 11 at a sleepover, when it scared all of the boys in the party into staying awake all night! I think that Danielle Harris (@halloweengal on Twitter) is the best actress in the Halloween franchise not named Jamie Lee.
I’ve watched the popularity of the San Diego Comic Con explode over the years (I remember the days when you could buy your badge the same day as the Con, and walk right into Hall H without waiting!), and it looks like Monsterpalooza is starting to grow in popularity in the same way. The lines this year for Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) and Paul Ruebens (Pee Wee Herman) were too long for me to brave. Linda Blair (The Exorcist) was there as well, but I’m trying to save money with my wife expecting a baby on the way this July!
There are a few panels every day of the 3-day convention, which all take place in the theatre room of the Pasadena Convention Center. It’s a good size theatre. Last year I had no trouble getting into panels, whereas this year I barely made it into the Universal Halloween Horror Nights panel. In preparation of the next panel I wanted to attend, for Bruce Campbell, I realized that I needed to approach it with the SDCC mindset of lining up early.
Ah, the relief of making it into the room, because there’s nothing quite as frustrating as having the line cut off just as you’re near the door, hoping to still get in, where you can only enviously hear the applause and laughter of the crowd inside! Now that’s scary!
Bruce Campbell delighted the audience with his sarcastic style humor. Most of the panel was a Q & A session with the crowd in a stand-up comedy fashion, where Campbell would roast audience members in between his boasting and tall tales. Fans of Bruce Campbell enjoy and expect those qualities from him, and he delivered.
The exhibit hall floor is similar to other cons, only Halloween style. There are amazing horror themed masks, sculptures, and artwork for sale, along with the requisite t-shirts, pins, and collectibles. Top makeup and special effects artists were in attendance, showing off their skills with examples of their work, or by doing full body paintings on those brave enough to try it.
While at Monsterpalooza, my friends purchased a cool piece of artwork from Derek Riggs, who is best known for creating the band Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie. Next to the show floor is the horror museum, with even more Hollywood style sculptures and artwork that should definitely be checked out.
For fans of horror and Halloween in general, attending Monsterpalooza is a no-brainer. This is Halloween! Monsterpalooza’s sister show, Son of Monsterpalooza, will return in the Fall in Burbank, CA.