I first published this on Murder Motels. Check them out. I dig their website. -A
On the weekend of April 12 – 14, horror fans descended en masse to Burbank, California, to take part in Monsterpalooza.
Monsterpalooza, the convention celebrating all things horror, is the brainchild of –
Stop the fucking presses; I met Big Bird.
Monsterpalooza was started in 2008 by Eliot Brodsky. It was originally called Maskapalooza, and was put together as a celebration of the art of mask making.
Seven months later, Mr. Brodsky brought his vision to the Burbank Marriott Hotel and called it “Monsterpalooza”. The fans have been coming out every since.
Now in it’s fifth year, the line stretches around the block to get in. Once in, you are bombarded with the freaks who are lucky enough to earn their living constructing masks, prosthetics, props, and more for the world of gore, horror, and the wicked. On display was everything from $10 Do-It-Yourself latex masks, to fine art priced in the thousands of dollars.
It was my first time there, and it was nuts.
Halloween, and the world of horror, is a multi-billion dollar industry, and this becomes very apparent at Monsterpalooza. The detail found in the props and costumes on display were so high that sometimes it was hard to tell where the monster ended and the person began.
Off the convention floor, there were panel talks covering various aspects of the world of monsters.
The first panel I attended was hosted by the two non-HAL 9000 actors from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kier Dullea and Gary Lockwood.
These old men laughed and bantered back and fourth. They had nothing but positive things to say about Stanley Kubrick, and looked back at their time on that groundbreaking film with the same awe and wonder that the rest of us have.
Following the 2001 panel was a talk by Jon Murdy, lead creative, and Chris Williams, lead designer, for Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights.
The two men scrolled through various slides of illustrations, final mazes, and pictures of inspiration from both movies and real life that have made their way into Murdy and William’s insanely detailed Horror Night’s mazes. Like the 2001 actors before them, the pair have the great chemistry that comes from a successful creative collaboration, and they worked hard to give the audience a peak into their creative process.
The seats were filled with fans of the Universal Studios haunted houses. We laughed at all the in-jokes, applauded at the detail put into the mazes, and in the end, Murdy announced a contest that will culminate with a fan getting to design a 2013 monster for the park. Details can be found on Murdy’s Twitter account.
Beyond the panels, there was an autograph area, where celebrities with connections to the horror industry sold their pictures and autographs for cash. Among the crowd I spotted Danny Glover, Martin Landau, and Virginia Madsen.
The biggest draw by far was Linda Blair, who played the possessed Regan in The Exorcist. Her line was so long it was sectioned off from the other actors.
Wandering through the convention area, I was bombarded with monsters, demons, and makeup demonstrations from schools offering to teach you the craft of monster making. I repeat, THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, PEOPLE.
There was some cosplay, but mostly it consisted of people showing off their original designs rather than wearing the masks of familiar horror characters.
The monster museum featured insanely detailed creatures such as a gorgeous velociraptor, a giant King Kong, the aliens from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and an eerily accurate recreation of the trio of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw from Jaws.
I wandered back to the convention area to marvel at the booths and then HOLY FUCKING SHIT — IT’S BIG BIRD.
Okay, okay, not actually Big Bird, but Caroll Spinney, who puppets and voices both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
Now that was an autograph I wanted.
I approached with the wide-eyed wonder of a child meeting…well…Big Bird. Spinney was sweet and gentle, and happily jumped between the voices of his two Sesame Street Muppets.
The couple in front of me had brought Spinney and his wife flowers. Another couple brought their baby, as if to be blessed by the Pope.
The moment was so special that afterwards I had to sit down, overcome with childhood emotions.
Everything after that moment was icing on the cake. Really, truly, a wonderful convention and I cannot wait until it comes around again. It was a great day spent among some bizarre creatures, some very creative people, and the fans who love them. I left with a smile on my face and a skip in my step.
Sunny day, sweepin’ the clouds away.