By Jason Delgado
The first Monsterpalooza since 2019 was held on June 3-5 at the Pasadena Convention Center, and it was jam-packed with a star-studded lineup of celebrities, and more attendees than seemingly ever. People have been eager to get out and make up for lost time during the pandemic, as I’ve witnessed firsthand with the insane Disneyland crowds this year, and Monsterpalooza was no different.
I’m sure that the guest lineup had something to do with the humongous turnout, with the legendary actor Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clue, Stephen King’s It), the original cast of Scream (Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, and Jamie Kennedy), Heather Langenkamp (Nightmare on Elm Street), and David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London) among many others.
What sets Monsterpalooza apart from other conventions, besides the horror theme, is the level of access to the stars. You can get professional photos, selfies, autographs, and have conversations with them while doing so. This is all without the need to win a lottery for it, but of course for a price, as well as time spent in line. It was nice taking my photos without a plexiglass partition between myself and the celebrities this time, because I’ve had the barrier at the other conventions I’ve attended since the pandemic, and that always felt impersonal to me.
It’s fun to have a polite conversation with the gentlemanly Tim Curry, or to watch Neve Campbell have a motherly concern for a fan who did not want to take off their Ghostface mask during a Scream group photo with her. “Don’t you want people to see you?! Nobody will know it’s you!” It’s funny to me because it’s such a stark contrast from the last time when I saw her in-person, back in the late nineties at a KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas concert, where she was introduced to the crowd because she was a hip, young star. Now we’re both quickly approaching middle age as parents of young children, and it all seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
The exhibit hall featured many familiar vendors from past Monsterpaloozas, with so many great masks, awesome horror-themed merchandise, and top of the line make-up artists working on the spot to check out. The horror museum was back as well, which reminded me of the days of my youth, when I loved going to the now demolished Movieland Wax Museum. The figures are so impressively sculpted and realistic, that it’s a real treat to behold.
While the event was a blast, there were a few challenges with inconsistent messaging regarding wristbands and line-up times, from what was posted online in advance of the Con. There was also a missed opportunity to have some amazing panels considering the talent that they had lined up.
I love the location of downtown Pasadena. It’s a vibrant city, much like San Diego, with so many people walking around the streets (a rarity in LA and the OC), and a plethora of cool spots to check out. With the growing number of attendees, I hope that the Con can figure out a way to stay there, because it really adds to the experience.
Overall, Monsterpalooza was a real scream! Look out for the upcoming sister convention Son of Monsterpalooza in the fall, and I can’t wait to be back next year!