Today I attended my fourth Monsterpalooza in Burbank, CA.
If you'd never gone to a horror convention previously and this was your first, or even if you were a half-decently regular con-goer, but had never attended a Monsterpalooza con before, you'd think, "Gee, this is pretty cool."
If you were a seasoned con vet and had been to all three previous Monsterpaloozas, you might be a little disappointed.
My friends, I am sad to say that today, I was a little disappointed.
This is not to say the con was bad in any way, just...average. For its first two years, Monsterpalooza hummed with this wonderful independent vibe. You could feel the tangible energy of something new in the air and it was as electric and exciting as when Colin Clive threw the switch in Frankenstein, shocking his monster into consciousness. The panels were wonderful (and most importantly, plentiful), the vendors were new, and the con's size was Goldilocksian - not too big, not too small, just right.
Word to the wise: get your tickets in advance. My advance ticket "Will Call" line took all of five seconds whilst these poor people were waiting hours for same-day tickets.
As I mentioned in my report from last year, Monsterpalooza had already outgrown the rather smallish Burbank Marriott back then. Somehow, the organizers doggedly stayed in this same venue for a show they must have at least suspected would be even larger this time around. The growing pains that were whispering around the edges last year were echoing banshee shrieks down the overcrowded hallways this year.
The main ballroom/dealers' room now feels more like a "schmoozefest room," possessing a less "fannish" vibe and more of an industry tone.
No longer is the convention confined to the large ballroom and smaller building off the main hotel. It now spills far into several sections of the hotel, thrown into random rooms, which made navigating the convention itself a nightmare. Some panels and vendors were shoved into tiny, out-of-the-way alcoves that unless you knew about them, you may well have missed.
In comparison to previous years, the panel schedule this year seemed rather flimsy. Tucked away in a near impossible-to-find ballroom, many of the panels were more Q&A sessions than the previously informative and fascinating "talks" given at earlier shows. Unlike previous years, this year, the panels almost felt like an afterthought to the schmooze of the "dealers' room" and the draw of the celeb area.
Main celeb area
Unpleasant smells and sauna-like temps plagued the "lesser" celeb room
"Lesser" celebs were squashed into an overheated shoebox of a room, whilst others were strewn across the main check-in lobby of the hotel. Having them situated away from the main dealers' room and the main "hub" of the con itself felt odd and unnatural.
The whole layout this year had a very "mish-mashy" feel to it, which brings me back to my earlier point about Monsterpalooza's severe growing pains. Were it at a larger venue this time around, where they could organize and spread out more cleanly, it would have been a whole lot more enjoyable.
I must reiterate that these are all not bad things per se, they're just what I had feared would inevitably happen - Monsterpalooza has gone from being a magical, little, secret, happy gathering to a regular, run-of-the mill, medium-sized, vanilla convention.
Part of me is really disappointed about this. Another part is just happy Los Angeles has a solid, up-and-coming con that hasn't been overtaken by those corporate Creation bastards...yet.
Enough of my rambling, how about some photo highlights?
Here's cutie William Ragsdale, best known to horror fans for his turn in the original (and best!) Fright Night.
It's the wolfman himself, David Naughton!
Did Chris Sarandon and Amanda Bearse talk this morning before getting dressed?
Here's Julie Adams, whom I met at the last Monsterpalooza, signing autographs for her faithful fans.
A Meeting with "The Goddess"
One of my main reasons for going to this con was the opportunity to meet Jessica Harper. I've been a huge fan of hers since I first saw her in Richard O'Brien's campy yet awesome Shock Treatment, the sequel to his cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Since then, I've sought out her other work and absolutely loved her in Woody Allen's brilliant Stardust Memories. Oh yeah, she also did this little film by some guy named Argento called Suspiria or something? ;) Besides being a wonderful actress, Jessica possesses the pipes of an angel. That woman's voice is richer than Marie Callendar honey butter. Being a fellow singer, I always hear how beautifully and delicately she phrases her lines and really utilizes her voice as an instrument. Jessica should really be on Broadway somewhere.
All this being said, it's no surprise I went a tiny bit "fangirl" on poor Ms. Harper, gushing about how wonderful her voice was and carrying on about how much I'd love to see her record more CDs besides her adorable children's albums. She was incredibly kind and sweet, thanking me for my praise. It's unfortunate that the ambient noise level in the "celeb area" was so high, rendering coherent communication relatively pointless. Still, it was an absolute thrill to meet her and I literally tripped away from her table in excitement. Once a fangirl, always a fangirl, I guess.
Disappointingly, my other meetings were not as sweet. The one celeb (besides dear Jessica!) I wanted to meet turned out to be a bit of a standoffish douche and many other celebs were charging for unposed photos just like the Hollywood Show celebs do now. *sighs*
Scenes from the Floor
Check out these neat "Writers Blocks" by artist Pete Von Sholly. Pete also created a very cool mural depicting every beast, butcher, and baddie throughout the horror genre in his "History of Monsters," which I somehow can't find a pic of online or I'd share it!
No words are needed. I'll just let the hilarious awesomesauce seep in.
These adorable pins are by artist Neil Winn who also creates three-dimensional clay figures and artwork in a horror vein. He was one of my favorite artists there today.
Even the prop museum felt a little lacking this year. The stuff was cool, but not quite as cool as previous years. I usually get loads of photos in there, but this year, this hairy fellow and a few others were all I could muster interest in.
That being said, I loved this little "haunted host," who introduced attendees to the museum and politely reminded them not to touch anything.
As this is primarily a con for makeup arts and props, there were numerous special effects demos at various points around the con, which were incredibly cool to see.
The props in the main ballroom were no less impressive:
How cute is this guy, eh?
Conventions can be so exhausting!
The most hilarious part of the con for me today was that not only did people love my homemade shirt, they recognized it! Even the con's organizer, Eliot Brodsky stopped me and introduced himself after noticing my now-infamous "I Heart Mad Scientists" shirt.
My now-infamous shirt!
Down a narrow hallway, I heard my name being called and turned to find an older man and his daughter smiling back at me. The man told me he recognized me from my blog post and queried as to whether I had ever gotten my Cinema Makeup School bag I had been whining about not getting at the last show, mentioning he had an extra had I not already gotten my prize. With a kind, "Keep up the good work!" we parted company. Gotta love the internet!
After a day of some enjoyment and some disappointment, I left earlier than usual and headed for home. The intangible, magic something earlier Monsterpaloozas possessed was sadly missing this year. I am ever hopeful that with a larger, more organized venue, better and more plentiful panels, and the continuing of awesome guest appearances, the magic of the first few Monsterpaloozas will be "re-animated."
*For anyone who missed this month's Monsterpalooza, they have just announced Son of Monsterpalooza, which will be held in October.
Check out Monsterpalooza's Facebook page for further details and info.
And you can check out all my photos from today's Monsterpalooza here: