From the ConNewRecaps, Reports & Reviews

Con Report: Monsterpalooza 2023

By Jason Delgado 

Monsterpalooza, held June 2-4, 2023 at the Pasadena Convention Center, was back and out for blood! The popular, horror themed Con faced some adversity with celebrity guest cancellations (Bruce Campbell due to a scheduling conflict, and Robert Englund due to being ill with COVID) but it slashed those troubles away with an otherwise stellar lineup of guests, panels, merchandise, and the always jam-packed horror museum.

My favorite thing about Monsterpalooza is its easy access to interact with celebrities. Fans can talk a bit with them while getting selfies, autographs, or professional photographs, all for a price of their choosing and a wait in line (wait times and pricing depend upon the person’s popularity). Where else can you have a friendly chat with Melinda Clarke (from The OC) about seeing so many young kids at the horror con for the first time? Or have a comical moment with the legendary Clash of the Titans actor Harry Hamlin? Or Scream star Skeet Ulrich shaking my hand and calling me buddy after a conversation about filmmaking team Radio Silence. These small, yet meaningful, interactions are priceless, and difficult to come by at larger Cons.

I was delighted by the panels that I attended this year, which have been hit or miss in terms of personal excitement level at Monsterpalooza in years past due to being few in number. The highly anticipated Freddy Vs. Jason panel was sure to have been packed, before Robert Englund had to cancel. That left only actor/stunt coordinator Ken Kirzinger (Jason) and moderator Trevor Shand (Kroq DJ). Fortunately, they were great, making the most of the bad situation. 

Shand told a story about how his wife, a fellow Kroq DJ, is deathly afraid of Freddy Krueger, so Robert Englund snuck up behind her and scared her to death with his claws and a Freddy line. Ken talked about his favorite scenes and stunts in Freddy Vs. Jason, and what the audition process was like after producers decided that they wanted to go in a different direction from longtime Jason actor Kane Hodder. Interestingly, Kirzinger said that the much-discussed fan favorite Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash movie was all set to be the sequel. He heard through the grapevine that Evil Dead director Sam Raimi was the reason that the movie never happened, because he was protective of his Ash character. I’d love to ask Raimi about this someday to get his take on it (maybe he didn’t like the script?).

The next panel that I attended was for a live version of the Truest Blood podcast, which features former True Blood actors and actresses humorously recapping the show and dishing the “inside baseball” tales of behind-the-scenes stories. Until this panel, I had forgotten just how much I loved this show when it was at its peak. The podcast brought the insane plots, humor, and uniqueness of the hit show back to life, right in front of me. The podcast featured actors Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby), Kristin Bauer (Pam Swynford de Beaufort), Janina Gavankar (Luna Garza), and Todd Lowe (Terry Bellefleur), who are all lively and interesting storytellers. Lowe, a special guest for this episode only, told a revenge tale about how a restaurant manager who had wrongly fired him was an extra on the first episode of the second season, and the manager mistakenly thought that Lowe was an extra as well. Lowe took a bite out of the craft services food, and the manager freaked out saying that it was reserved for cast members to eat first. Todd kept playing little pranks like this on him throughout the day, until it was time for their scene. The scene called for the character of Terry to set a bowl of soup down for the extra, so he plopped it down without any care, causing it to spill all over the guy and his nice suit. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Bauer tends to get emotional when discussing her memories and love for the cast and crew, and Woll jokingly keeps a running tally of every time this happens. The chemistry between all three actresses is amazing, which is unique because I believe that Gavankar has only been a guest on one other episode of Truest Blood. I had never listened to the podcast before, but I am now subscribed and can’t wait for more.

The final panel of Monsterpalooza was for a new book titled, “It’s Alive.” Author Julian David Stone was on hand to discuss the subject, which was one of Hollywood’s most influential, yet forgotten, film producers, Carl Laemmle, Jr. At the age of only twenty-one, Laemmle was put in charge of Universal Studios (his tenure lasting from 1929 to 1936), and is responsible for greenlighting the incredible run of horror movies there such as Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, and The Bride of Frankenstein. Junior lost his mother at the tender age of eleven due to the Spanish Flu pandemic, and Stone believes that is why he was so fascinated with death and horror. No one else at the studio (including his own father) believed that it was wise for Junior to make those movies because horror wasn’t even a defined genre at that time, but horror fans around the world are glad that he did.

Monsterpalooza’s sister convention, the Son of Monsterpalooza, will be back in the Fall! Until next time, ghouls, ghosts, and goblins!

Jason Delgado

Jason is a CSULB film school alum and movie guy for Friends of Comic Con. He loves movies, TV, writing, comics, going to Cons, basketball (Lakers), music (all forms of rock + 90's hip hop), football (Chargers), his dog, and most importantly wife and newborn son. He's written a comedy/sci-fi script, and wants to write more in between raising a son. He doesn't often cosplay, but when he does, it's as Iron Fist. Follow him on Twitter @JasonDelgado78