Monster Mania once again delivers the goods and does not dissapoint. Due to my consumption of alcohol this past weekend and general lack of a good memory for placing specific details, I will once again do a general categorized recap rather than a day by day one. Headed over to Cherry Hill, New Jersey on Friday morning with Jen and the parents (they love these things too, god bless 'em) and left Sunday afternoon and here's to the best of my recollection all of the fun that ensued in that three day span. Rather than cluttering up the post with pictures, i'm just gonna link to them, so click any of the links to be taken to the picture of what i'm describing. Right click and open them in a new tab or window so you don't leave the site.
In the past couple years i've kinda lost interest in the paying 20 bucks to get an autographed 8x10 from the dude who was in that horror movie, so I really don't do that so much anymore. If I have something like a figure, mask, or poster that I want to get signed by someone, i'll pay the money no problem but what I mostly do is just go over and say hi to people or ask to take a picture with them, which they're usually (but not always - more on that in a minute!) nice enough to not charge for. Beats an over-priced 8x10 that'll just sit in my drawer, I figure. Since Jen has started coming to these things with me, I usually now just snap a picture of her with whoever we want to meet and that allows me to say hi and mingle for a bit with them. I'm sure you guys would rather look at pictures of her with these guys and gals than pictures of me with them anyway, am I right? So here's the celebs we met/had encounters with this past weekend....
Derek Mears - I first met Derek at the last Monster Mania con and as everyone has pointed out already, he's probably the nicest guy on the planet. I don't know if he remembered Jen and I from the last one but he acted like he did so he either truly did or he's just so nice that he wants people to feel like he does - either option being incredibly cool. Jen took another picture with him and then later in the night at the bar, where you can usually always find Derek, I made eye contact with him and he smiled and waved hello, which was really cool. Maybe he did remember us after all. I told Jen to go up to him and ask if he wanted to do a round of shots with us - Jen was buzzed enough to ask and Derek was once again awesome enough to oblige. Jager shots with Derek Mears - the highlight of our weekend, to say the least. He then bought us the next round of drinks and we chatted for a bit before he went off to mingle with other fans. When Jen and I headed up to the room and off to bed, he was still hanging in the bar and talking to whoever wanted to talk to him and I wouldn't doubt that he remained up all night chatting with his fans. I truly believe that the man is not capable of being anything but incredibly nice and gracious. Funny that he ended up playing Jason Voorhees, eh?
Danny Steinmann - You may not recognize the name, but Steinmann directed Friday The 13th Part 5. He was one of the more miserable looking people at the convention, which is not to say he wasn't nice - he just didn't seem like he wanted to be there. We ended up sitting at the bar right next to him and I initially offered to buy him a shot but he told me he didn't like the taste of alcohol and thus, refused. A couple minutes later I noticed he wanted another mixed drink and seemed to be having a lot of trouble getting the bartender's attention so I called her over and told her to take his order and i'd pay for whatever he got. He didn't seem to want me to buy the drink for him but he was incredibly gracious and although we didn't say another word to each other until he left, he did tap me on the shoulder and thank me again before he departed. Saw him Sunday morning in the autograph room and waved but he either didn't recognize me or was just too tired and miserable because he didn't wave back. I'm just happy to say I bought the director of Friday Part 5 a drink!
James Duval - Another name you may not recognize but he played Frank The Bunny in Donnie Darko and was also in May - as the shirtless dude with dreads who ended up getting a pair of scissors lodged in his skull. Jen had picked up the Frank The Bunny Cult Classics figure at the last Monster Mania so we got that signed and she snapped a picture with him. Really cool guy who we saw later in the bar and Jen was about to go up and say hello but he vanished before she got the chance.
Travis Van Winkle - He may have played an incredible douche (Trent) in the Friday remake, but this guy is really cool and nice in real life. He snapped two photos with Jen free of charge - one happy and one serious - per his request. I really thought this guy would be a dick in real life but I guess it just goes to show how good of an actor he is!
Sid Haig - Maybe he was just tired because it was nearing the end of the day or maybe he was just unhappy about the fact that we didn't want to buy anything from him, but Haig seemed kinda grumpy. He's usually very nice so i'm sure he was just tired. Jen got another picture with him and we left with a bit of a sour taste in our mouths.
The Iron Sheik - I'm a big wrestling fan and huge Howard Stern fan so I wanted to get a picture with Sheik but as it turned out he was kind of a dickhead. Or rather, his handler was. As I mentioned earlier, i've never had a problem asking for a simple picture with somebody - they always do it free of charge. Sheik was the first and only exception to the rule. Funny that the least horror related guy there was the biggest dick, eh? He didn't even look at me or say hello to me and his handler tried to charge me $20 to take a picture with him. Quite honestly I was just amusing myself and throwing him a bone by asking to take a picture with him so I wasn't dare gonnna spend a penny to meet him. A guy behind his table offered to give me half the money if I paid the other half (I guess because he desperately wanted Sheik to feel good by having someone actually pay to meet him), but the handler quickly shot that idea down for some reason. Not that I would've done it but this guy was a real prick. I've been to a few wrestling conventions before and they're always poorly run and poorly organized and this encounter once again proved that wrestlers just don't know how to do conventions. Why was this has-been there in the first place? I also tried to get a picture with George 'The Animal' Steele later on in the day but he turned me down too because "people were waiting for him". Granted he was heading out and I can't say I really blame him but I can't imagine these guys made much money or won over any fans at this convention.
The Blue Meanie - The Blue Meanie is an old school ECW/WWF wrestler that i've always liked who is usually at these conventions - not as a celebrity, but rather just visiting as a fan. Always cool to see a guy who is a known name come to these things as just another fan. Jen didn't know who he was but she got a picture with him and I think she may be the newest member of the Meanie bandwagon.
The Toxic Avenger - Ok, so he's not the real Toxie, but that's neither here nor there. At these cons when Troma slaps a Toxie mask on a fan and hands a mop over to him, he becomes the one and only Toxie for the weekend. Jen, Gizmo in hand, took a picture with the monster hero.
Don and Murph (aka Shawn & MJ) - I guess they're stars at this point, at least in my eyes. I know some of you guys are also fans of these YouTuber's, who go under the name Coolduder, and it was honestly one of the highlights of my weekend to meet and say hello to them. Despite MJ seeming kind of like a dick in some of the videos, he's incredibly nice in person and same goes for Shawn. These guys are both very large fellas, as can be seen in the picture I took with them (i'm 6 feet tall and I look like a child!), and it was a real pleasure to finally meet them in person after all these years of watching them on YouTube. Even got MJ's signature! Check out their channel if you haven't yet and check out their video at Monster Mania to see some footage from around the hotel.
- I went a little crazy on DVD's this weekend, but they're always one of my main convention buys. Here's all the titles I picked up : Zombie Strippers Blu-ray ($5!), The Blair Witch Project, Child's Play 2, Cutting Class, Clownhouse, Parents, Coraline, Dead Snow, Monster's Inc, Don't Open Till Christmas, No Holds Barred, Weekend of Horrors 86, Hunter's Blood, Death Proof, Thriller : They Call Her One Eye, and even Puff The Magic Dragon on VHS (which we were given for free). Glad I stocked up on lots of awesome movies to keep me occupied for a while.
- Picked up a signed art print of the Fright Rags Creepshow 'The Crate' design, Hancocked by the artist - Zornow. Really nice guy.
- Boo Berry lip balm! Boo Berry is my favorite cereal of all time and since it can't be found in NY, I guess this is the next best thing. Thanks Jen!
- Silent Night, Deadly Night t-shirt. Badass!
- Got my dad Neca's Dread Pirate Roberts figure. Princess Bride is one of our favorite movies of all time. Don't care what ya say, Zac!
- My brother bought me an awesome 12" Hostel figure for Christmas a couple years back and some guy was selling a smaller version of the same figure for only 5 bucks, so I couldn't resist.
- One of my favorite purchases was this Freddy Krueger make-up kit from 1988, still sealed. I have no intentions of actually opening it and i'm sure the make-up in there is all dried up by now anyway, but it'll be a nice display piece in my room. Who knows, maybe someday i'll bust it open and turn Jen into Freddy!
- Jen picked up a glow in the dark Monster Mania 13 shirt, a very unique Freddy keychain, a few Freddy pens, a mini Frankenstein figure (which she fell in love with), a Gizmo figure, and perhaps coolest of all, an original Gremlins lunchbox complete with thermos. She collects vintage lunchboxes so that was a really cool find, and for only 10 bucks.
- While there are always tons of film screenings and discussion panels going on at Monster Mania, I rarely seem to ever actually attend any. My opinion on seeing movies i've already seen at conventions is that it's kind of a waste of time, although sometimes they have cool introductions by the stars. As for panels, I like them, i'm just usually doing something else - like drinking up in the room, eating philly cheesesteaks, people watching, or snatching up cool merchandise. I did catch the tail end of the Addams Family reunion, which was pretty interesting. Here's a picture of what John Astin, the original Gomez, looks like nowadays. 80 years old and and still kickin!
- Ate lunch next to Adam West and later in the night dinner next to Dick Miller (Gremlins/Howling)!
- Saw the Batmobile up close and personal.
- Rode in the elevators with David Naughton (American Werewolf) and PJ Soles (Halloween).
- Dread Central always has a table at Monster Mania where they give away tons of free posters and swag. Got a bunch of stuff (including a few El Superbeasto masks and Saw 6/Final Destination posters) and I handed the rest of my Grace baby bottles, postcards, and posters over to Paul/Nomad who gave them away at the table throughout the weekend. In exchange for the goods, he gave me an Inglorious Basterds bottle opener keychain and some sort of squishy anime (?) character, both which were not available at the table for free. Thanks Paul and I hope everyone that got some Grace swag enjoyed it!
- Wanna give a shoutout to Dallas and Curtis from DC World. I met these guys at a convention years back and it's always nice to see them at Monster Mania. This weekend we finally got the opporunity to hang out a bunch in the lobby, so that was cool. Looking forward to seeing ya guys next time!
- Philly Cheesesteak count : 5. Jen and I love the cheesesteaks at the hotel restaurant and it's pretty much all we eat when we're there.
- Another shoutout to Chip Jones, who I would link to but his website is down at the moment. Chip was a vendor at Monster Mania two cons ago and my parents loved and bought one of his abandoned insane asylum photos. They made a personal vow to pick up a new one each time they came to the con, but he's been absent the past two times. Jen and I ended up seeing him in the bar on Saturday night and recognizing him and we got the lowdown on where he's been and did a few shots with him. Get a dealer table in March, guy!
- The hotel is really starting to embrace Monster Mania and that's awesome to see. Specially designed menus and speciality drinks and food items are available exclusively for the convention. Makes it all feel that much more important and fun.
- Speaking of the hotel - I found out through our room service lady, who I hung out with for a bit, that the staff isn't allowed to go downstairs during the weekend of conventions, even after work hours. How much does that suck! This woman was really nice and wanted to snap a picture of the Batmobile for her son, but wasn't allowed to. She also wanted to meet Miguel Nunez (Return of the Living Dead/Friday Part 5), who she knew from some show, so I offered to go get his autograph for her if she gave me the money. Would've been cool since I would've gotten to meet him for free, not to mention it would've been nice to help her out, but she never came back to the room to give me the money so it just wasn't meant to be. I'm sure she came up later in the day and was looking for me but I wasn't gonna sit up there all day waiting. Sorry!
- Checked out a bit of the Rocky Horror event, which Monster Mania does every Saturday night. I've never actually seen that movie, believe it or not, so we didn't stay for long, although Jen loved it as she's way into the flick. They basically have a cast on stage re-enact the whole movie as it's playing and the audience shouts out lines to the screen. Here's a shot of that.
- Creepy manly Alice in Wonderland vs Michael Myers. Who will survive and what will be left of them?
- Terry Cruikshank was in the house as always with his awesome creations, which you can see on his website. I always love looking at these things but I think that's precisely the problem - people love to look and take pictures but don't want to shell out the money (upwards of $250) for them. Not saying they're not worth that price, it's just a little too much to drop in one place. Here's a couple pictures I took of some of my favorites ; Victor Crowley, American Werewolf, Tarman, and Return of the Living Dead half-chick. He also had a giant werewolf on display, which Jen got a picture with.
And that about does it. There are rumblings about some kind of Monster Mania party this Halloween hosted by Robert Englund but I haven't heard any real details on that yet. If it's a whole weekend thing i'll try to make it out there but if not i'll have to wait till next March to grace the hallowed halls of Monster Mania once more. For now, it's unfortunately back to boring monotonous life where I can't eat side by side with Batman and will be doing shots alone, without the accompaniment of Jason Voorhees. The feeling I get after Monster Mania comes to a close is akin to the feeling I used to get as a child when Christmas was over - except with a couple less tears. Big thanks to the man who makes it all happen and pulls off the best horror con i've ever been to year after year, Dave Hagan. Without you, my world would be a little bit less exciting.