A weekend full of monsters and horrific creatures and people with dangerous and painful objects impaled in their bloody heads may not seem like a fun way to spend your hard-earned time off, but for some of us it’s better than lying on the beach for two days. And by ‘us’, I mean me.
A weekend full of monsters and horrific creatures and people with dangerous and painful objects impaled in their bloody heads may not seem like a fun way to spend your hard-earned time off, but for some of us it’s better than lying on the beach for two days. And by ‘us’, I mean me. And Eliot Brodsky who runs the whole thing.
This year is the SEVENTH Annual Monstarpalooza convention in Burbank, CA. Wow, seventh, and that’s not including the Son of Monsterpalooza they had last year as well. It was clear to me that the Burbank Airport Hotel has definitely out-grown this event, as there were parts of the main vendors room that would bottle neck to the point to people actually having to go back around the way they came. However, that was only in one or two spots, and the rest of the room, though really packed, was still somewhat navigatable. Still, they’re going to need a bigger convention center real soon.
For those fans of horror, monster and creature films, and practical special effects make-up, Monsterpalooza is the con for you. Especially the practical effects stuff. And seeing how busy it was, it should be clear to any nay-sayers that there is a resurgence of popularity in practical effects these days, at least with the smaller, more independent films.
There was a LOT to see this year at Monsterpalooza, and frankly, there was hardly a way to see everything among the schedule of shows, screenings, presentations, autograph signings and workshops. Well, I guess you could, but you’d have to spend the whole of each day in the presentation rooms and forego the vendor rooms. So I just picked a few things I wanted to see based on how much money I wanted to spend. It’s always like that, it seems. Never enough money for all the unnecessary necessities of these kind of cons.
There was a plethora of wonderful monster movie art, sculptures, creature bust maquettes, toys, and other sorts of horror paraphernalia and collectibles. I could have spent a fortune on any number of wonderful things, but I kept it to a modest king’s ransom. More like a Duke’s ransom. Ok, maybe closer to a squire’s ransom and 2 pigs. But I got some good stuff.
There was only one all Japanese kaiju vendor so I bought a couple cool small Godzilla maquettes. Both were about 3 nches tall but they have Godzilla from different eras in some sort of scene from a film. They’re really well crafted and make a nice addition to the decor. I really wanted on eothe large figures standing at abotu 2 or 3 feet tall, but I didn’t have $900 burning a hole in my pocker, so… Oh, for any of you new readers, I’m pretty much a big Godzilla dork, so, yeah. I also bought some Art! So many great artists there like William Stout, The Chiodo Brothers, Ted Haines, and others. AMong them was an acquaintance of mone, Bob Lizzaraga. He does excellent caricature illustrations and paintings of classic horror creatures and actors. http://boblizarraga.com is where you find him and his work. I bought a couple prints and will likely be getting one of his large prints – a wonderful painting of Gomez Addams kissing Morticia’s hand. Go check it out. He’s also a swell guy. Go say ‘hi’ and tell him Neil sent ya.
I am a fan of the great Lance Henricksen (you know, the android Bishop from Aliens?) and to my delight he was there signing all sorts of things, but most importantly, his new autobiography. I’ve heard a few things about his life and that was reason enough to pick that up. I was going to get it Saturday, but the hotel’s ATM was…not working. Unfortunately, he wasn’t taking cards (?!), so I had to return Sunday with more money. Oh darn. I had to go back for MORE Monsterpalooza fun! Thankfully, Lance Henricksen is a Hell of a nice guy, so I couldn’t exactly bitch about it.
I picked up some random cool things, like a candle bust of Edgar Allen Poe from Hyaena Gallery (http://hyaenagallery.com) in Burbank. They had a great one of Bruce Campbell, and a sleestak (anyone remember those?) and an amazing Joker. I wanted all of them but kept my cool and didn’t get them. Maybe some other time, right?
Oh, I also picked up some smaller prints of classic movie actors by artist Len Simon (http://lensimon.com/wp/). This guy is great and he used to work for Don Bluth’s company back in the day. Now he does his own thing, including great cell phone cases with various creepy images on them. They do custom stuff, too, which is very cool.
There were some great guests doing signings. Among the those there besides Lance: Nancy Allen, Russ Tamblyn, Rutger Hauer, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Tippi Hendren, Dee Snider, Bill Mumy, Richard Kiel (a convention staple), Anne Serling (Rod’s daughter), the Lugosi family, the Karloff family, the Chaney family, and MANY more. There were a few I’d love to have gotten autographs from, but again, I had to pick and choose where to spend my money. Sadly, I don’t have a secret cache of loot buried in the ground or hidden inside a crypt or anything. That would probably keep most people from trying to steal it. If I kept human heads in my freezer I could keep it in one of those, but my freezer isn’t very big. Yeah, because THAT’S why I don’t have any human heads in my freezer.
Another great thing about Monsterpalooza is that I bump into people that knew Forry Ackerman. I consider it an honor to have gotten to spend time with Forry while he was alive. Artist Casey Wong (http://www.trickortreatstudios.com/best_halloween_mask_sculptor_casey_wong.html) did an absolutely incredible life size figure of Forry and it was almost disturbingly life-like. It made me miss going to his house on Saturdays to check out all the sci-fi/horror film memorablia.
There was so much to see that I was more than happy to go both Saturday and Sunday. Glad I was able to make it – Matt Weinhold did our last column about it. I’m going to pencil it into my calender for next year, for sure. You can find out about the (dark) magic here: http://www.monsterpalooza.com/march2014/index.html.