Highlights from Monster-Mania 24!

We dropped by the Monster-Mania horror convention in Cherry Hill last night. It’s still going on as I type this, so check out the official site if anything below piques your interest. And it just might.

Other responsibilities dictated that we could only spend a few hours there, which was fine, since I only go to these things to attack the vendors. I didn’t grab one autograph, nor did I even bother to find out which stars were attending. (I recall seeing The Misfits and the guy who played Chewbacca, but that’s it. Not a sentence I ever thought I’d have a reason to type.)

As mentioned in my last Monster-Mania review, I’m by no means a convention junkie. Actually, aside from this one, I don’t go anywhere near them. I have no clue about how other cons are run, but Monster-Mania has a nice, casual atmosphere that’s always worked for me. It’s not a lot of “work” to be there, if that makes sense.

I’m going to rattle off the highlights of our trip, but they pretty much all boil down to “cool shit I saw for sale.” Many would disagree, but I can’t be the only one who considers the vendors the real stars of these conventions.

The primary goal was to find things to write about later, and I accomplished that. Those things will remain unmentioned here, but man, I scored. Prices ranged from reasonable to ridiculous, but since we got there right at the start, I was able to pick off the best bargains. Stay tuned for future posts about stupid things that you do not care about!

There’s always something I regret leaving behind at a Monster-Mania convention. This time, it was the vintage Gremlins “Poseable Stripe” figure. The seller wanted $95, which is indeed reasonable, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fork over that kind of cash.

I made an incredibly weak attempt to haggle, which did more to insult the seller than get me closer to Stripe. Looking back, I should have just paid what he wanted. I’ve known about this figure for years, but this was the first time I’d ever seen it in person. Holy Giz, it’s GORGEOUS. Aside from the obvious merits of a very large and incredibly poseable Gremlins figure, Stripe had such haunting ruby eyes. The eyes alone were worth $95.

Somebody else will certainly buy him before the weekend’s over, and that somebody will never have a bad day again. $95 is not a lot for guaranteed perpetual happiness. Faaaack.

Of course, while I determined $95 to be too steep for Stripe, I had no trouble spending $45 on a goddamned Jaws pillow five minutes later. Away from all of the noise and smells, I can now see the issue with this.

That’s not to say that it isn’t a great Jaws pillow. It absolutely is. I mentioned the sellers in my previous review, and they were back with all sorts of new horror pillows. All were terrific, and yup, they still had the Harley versions on sale. I chose Jaws because it’s a bloody shark pillow, and no reasonable person could say no to that.

There I am, back home, visibly exhausted but still very excited. This pillow will make every nap so much sweeter.

And hey, please remember this Jaws pillow. It will be of utmost importance later in the review.

The “taxidermy vendor” was back again, and just like last time, I feel compelled to shield the “worst” of his wares from you. Taste is subjective, but I don’t want people thinking ill of me for showing them preserved rats and cow eyeballs.

Instead, let’s focus on this Monkey’s Paw. Nothing screams “family entertainment” like a portion of dead monkey.

Gotta assume that it’s the real deal. $100 is way too much for the paw of a phony monkey. If you’re unfamiliar with these, here’s a primer. Of course, if you’ve seen enough Simpsons episodes, you should already know of this paw’s dark power.

This isn’t Stripe-level pain, but I really regret passing on these pixel bead horror icons. They were only three bucks a piece! Adjusting that for convention inflation, the pixel bead art was practically free.

Mental note: See if this dealer sells them online. Then buy them all. Then use them as coasters, but don’t ever actually put drinks on them. Profit, spiritually.

I can’t do a Monster-Mania report and not mention this. In a quiet way, it may be my favorite aspect of the entire convention. All throughout the weekend, they run horror movies in huge rooms that act as makeshift theaters. Almost nobody goes in these rooms during peak hours, so when you need a break from the crowds and the noise and that one guy in the Pinhead costume who can never take a fucking hint, this is the best place to hide.

Do other cons do this? It’s such a brilliant, simple thing. I’ve never remained in these rooms for more than a few minutes, but they just make the whole convention feel more “complete.”

Old trading cards. Yay. I picked up several packs of Fright Flicks, so let’s have a giveaway. If you comment on this article, use a valid e-mail address. I’ll draw one of your names from a hat. I’m not being proverbial, here. I will print out a list of names and literally pull one from a hat. Winner gets a free pack of Fright Flicks. This only goes for comments posted before 10PM EST Saturday. Deal?

UPDATE: Contest is now closed. I decided to give away two packs. Our winners are DESandman and Chip. Congrats, guys!)

I will always cherish Fright Flicks, but it’s not for any normal reason. Those cards were the subject of Dinosaur Dracula’s very first article, or at least, one of the first three that I published together on launch day. This site has been very good to me, and the tingly reminder of its prehistory dictates that I will always feel a connection to these goddamned Freddy Krueger and “Girl from Fright Night” trading cards.

A boring confession for sure, but it helped fill space.

The bootleg DVDs were back in full force. I hate to use the term “bootleg,” because the main point is to sell films and specials that aren’t otherwise available on DVD. It’s a business for the sellers, but it isn’t as dirty as it sounds.

There is one problem, though. Over the past year, a lot of really rare horror movies were finally made available on DVD. Many of them are included on those cheapo “multi-packs” that I’m always writing about. So when you’re browsing these racks, you really gotta know your stuff. It made sense to pay $10 for a shitty copy of Chopping Mall a few years ago, but now? Nope.

On the brighter side is my renewed fascination with the artwork on these cases. It’s phenomenal! Many just replicate the old VHS covers, and that’s great, but the best ones don’t have such materials to draw from. Thus, you can buy DVDs in cases like this:

I want that as an 80×100. It’s a comp reel of Elm Street bloopers and outtakes, but I can almost guarantee that I will never watch it. I just wanted to own the cover art. A billion Freddy Kruegers! This was a must-buy and an always-cherish.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, I’ve learned that the artwork was stolen from Nathan Thomas Milliner. I should also clarify that this DVD was not purchased from the “guy with the red racks,” but another, smaller seller. The good news is that I’ve now been exposed to Nathan’s terrific work!

Nearing the end of our visit, we were stuck on a hideously long line at the hotel’s coffee shop. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted General Grievous and a guy portraying “Han Solo riding a Tauntaun” stumble through the doors, generating instant and massive fanfare.

I couldn’t get a decent photo, but the costumes were perfect. I don’t mean perfect as in “realistic.” Perfect as in, “I cannot believe that my eyes are the eyes that get to see these costumes.” They were bizarre, they were larger than life. They carried with them the power of spreadable joy. I think Grievous was named Mark or something.

It was at this point that I began to worry. I’d spent a lot of money at this convention, and for that to make sense, I had to get a story out of it. As you’ve probably noticed, there hasn’t been much of a “story” so far. A bit about Star Wars costumes and an awkward tribute to makeshift movie theaters, yes, but no real story.

I needed a miraculous Tie That Binds, and fast.

I soon found one.

In a smaller dealer room, the team from Dead Memories ran a great gimmick. They set up a cheap green screen, dressed pretty women up like awful zombies, and charged ten bucks for fully-effected photographs of you and the girls. (The guy running the camera also had a laptop, and worked feverishly to put you and the ladies over a more appropriate background. When everything was said and done, you got a photo disc to take home.)

So, I did exactly what you’d expect me to do.

I paid them to take a picture with my Jaws pillow.

(click here to see it full-sized!)

Bonus points: They only charged me five bucks instead of the usual ten. I guess I got a discount for removing any risk of a cheap feel.

Dead Memories had the most creative “booth” at the convention, for sure.

And now I have a picture of zombies with a Jaws pillow to treasure forever.

I promise you, I will.

136 Responses to Highlights from Monster-Mania 24!

  1. I love the selection of ‘bootleg’ dvds!

  2. Oh Jesus M.F. Christ, I shit my pants for things like the Nightmare of Elmstreet bloopers/outtakes DVD.

    I’m the sort of dude that collects old Beatles bootleg records (still looking for the Black Album). I gotta make it to one of these fests.

  3. Delightful stuff. One of the first articles I ever read on X-E was on a horror convention. Lovely stuff. Also, you missed a trick not getting that book o’ the dead pillow.

  4. i always bitch there are no conventions around here and then when there is one, I never go.

  5. I want to find that Stripe and send him to you. He’s too cool.
    This convention looked like fun. I got to New York ComicCon every year and kinda long for something smaller like this.

  6. Most excellent!

  7. I love this. These are the kind of conventions I just have to go to (granted, pretty much every convention I’ve been to is more or less the same, which is fine by me). The celebrities are cool, but I almost always pass them up to get to the good stuff (attacking the vendors, as you put it).

    Being fairly broke lately, I can’t afford to go to every convention (though I always make sure to have money for the annual Ghoulardifest, by far my favorite), but from what I’ve seen, you’re absolutely right about the bootleg DVDs, Matt. They’re always out in full force. I remember when I first started going to conventions back in the late-90′s that a BIG part of the appeal was the bootlegged VHS tapes. At the time, some stuff hadn’t been released and there was no idea if it ever would be (the Japanese versions of some Godzilla films, for example). So, the idea of obtaining something “rare” was endlessly appealing. It’s different nowadays; so much has been released, re-released, or easily obtainable on the internet that it takes some of the “specialness” out of convention copies. Though I agree that often the artwork alone is worth the price.

    I almost always have a “shoulda bought it!” moment, but I have one particular one from a Cinema Wasteland nearly a year ago: A promotional photo for Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-In, from back when it was called Nightmare Sinema. I forget how much it was, $10 or $20, but there was no one at the table, so I wandered off to other endeavors. Nevertheless, I regretted not buying very shortly after leaving, and I still regret it (even more so now since the show ended production recently). Oh well.

  8. I really need to get in on the pillow making business.

    I love going to cons, love dealer rooms. Always fun to see stuff even if I don’t buy anything big. My best friend and I spent junior high watching very horror movie we could find. We loved it when new Freddy movies hit, we were the two girls cheering him on in the theater. We are weird, but also knew he wasn’t going to win either. :)

  9. Man, I need to find me a nice small convention like that. The last one I went to was the Phoenix Comicon and, while it was fun, fighting the crowds was exhausting. I did find some neat booths that by rights SHOULD have been crowded and discovered some new indie comic artists that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Worth it but, in the end, too large for my tastes.

  10. I have never heard of this convention and that is a shame because I know it would be right up my alley. And that is strange since I prefer to hide in my house and never leave.

    I do remember the Fright Flicks, I owned a lot of them! I loved going to convenience store by my aunt’s house because they had them in plentiful supply, along with Garbage Pail Kids.

  11. Nice haul, especially the bloody Jaws pillow! Did the zombie girls stay in character for the pictures, or were they talking to people?
    I saw some of those cards on Etsy, was tempted to buy them but I didn’t pull the trigger. I did buy some barf bags from “Mark of the Devil” which are pretty cool.

  12. You’re not alone, the vendors are also why I like going to conventions.

  13. Years ago at a local comic convention, my dad go ahold of bootlegs of some obscure show he used to like called “Werewolf” and te infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special.” That special really is some of the worst tv ever made.

  14. I can’t get over the fact that in 2013…people are still making pixel bead art.

  15. I must admit that I have drunkenly fallen asleep in the theatre rooms more than once…

  16. I love those old horror and scifi type trading cards.

  17. No pixel bead art of Phantasm’s Tall Man? For shame. Although I do like the Candyman one. I had that Godzilla which shot the claw when I was a kid. The trigger was in his elbow and it was very sensitive. I remember playing with it, accidently touching it and WHAM…instant black eye. Was a lot of fun going into school with that and telling everyone Godzilla gave it to me. And the JAWS pillow, that is just so many levels of utter coolness.

  18. i had that Godzilla too, i loved that thing so much. his tail came off (not sure if it was meant to or if that just happened with mine) and so i used that as a magical warlock chalice which held various poisons and potions which i would drink. it was quite fun.

  19. Awesome stuff. I just got back from the con. Holy crap it was packed.
    I got me some Evil Dead buttons and an autograph from Laurie Holden.

  20. I don’t know that I could spend $45 for a Jaws pillow, so I’m glad you’re here to do that for me, Matt.

    I also like how, in your pixel bead art photo, the two best ones are hiding off on the right hand side – Blacula and Boo Berry! I’d have to walk off with one of each of those, myself.

  21. I want to covet those 8 bit horror thingies. I think the coaster idea is genious. If they do sell online please share!

  22. @ work eating leftover Panda Express but had to comment. My favorite episode of the Tales from the Cryptkeeper cartoon was titled Monkey’s Paw! Love those pixel art dudes

  23. Horror conventions really do have the greatest atmosphere. And this comes from a person who goes to just about every type of convention. Hell, I’ve been to a Linux convention. I’ll be hitting up Horrorhound later this month. My husband & I volunteered for part of the weekend. It was the best way to get a weekend pass since we’re poor. Even without money, it’ll be a blast though!

  24. That pixel pinhead is clearly the standout of the group

  25. Good stuff as always. I wonder how much everyone was charging for autographs & how long the lines were.

  26. I wish there were conventions like these in my area. Only ones I ever hear about are usually anime-based and I don’t really have an interest there. I went to one scifi/anime convention in my hometown a year ago. It was an interesting environment; not much to it, but still very endearing and a lot of fun.

  27. I adore the pixel bead art! I think you came out ahead with the awesome shark pillow, though.

  28. Free cards!!!!

  29. Ha! I love that photo! Good times Matt.

    I’m very please that I’ll be going to my very first convention a Comic Con in Niagara Falls Ont. It’s in the summer and I super stoked about it.

  30. Fantastic write up. I’m jelly.

  31. I hope the pack of Fright Flicks comes with the “Freddy for President” sticker.

  32. I am always confused by the army of “Captain Jacks” at conventions… they always show up at the Toronto Fan Expo.

  33. That sounds like an interesting convention. The only one I ever attend is the gaming convention PAX East. The only really interesting dealers are people selling old/foreign video games for insane prices.

  34. I totally just gave a shout-out to all of you and Matt specifically on my show just now…Then followed that up by playing “Obsession” off the Freddy’s Greatest Hits album. Such is my love for Dinosaur Dracula and The Trash Bag Bunch.

  35. I want in!

  36. Nice quiet evening listening to DJ D, watching really bad movies and sipping on a grownup Ghoul-Aid cocktail. Perfection.

  37. ^^^ Whew! Fewer than two minutes to spare! ^^^

  38. GODDAMN IT!!!! I missed the drawing cutoff by 2 minutes! I love these smallish cons. they have way more personality.

  39. “I guess we can just hope that some of the lamer releases get better ones later. I’m surprised that so many are ending up on multi-packs, which would indicate that the costs involved with licensing or whatever were fairly nomimal. Some of the films have big cult followings; you’d think that a smaller company would try to grab a few and make a big deal out of their releases.”Matt

    Yeah, some of these really do deserve more than the bare-bones, no extras, compressed video treatment they get in multi-packs. It’s certainly possible, as Carnival of Souls was kind of a staple for that sort of cheap thing as well as late-night TV broadcasts, and it got a fantastic two-disc Criterion release a few years back that loads of care clearly went into making, so I’m sure some of those other cult favorites will get picked up by someone that really cares about them eventually. Hell, the back stories on how some of these actually managed to get made is almost as entertaining as the films themselves sometimes, so I’d think they’d be the ideal sort of thing to tack some special features onto.

  40. Horror’s not my thing, so despite this being about 20 minutes from where I live, I probably wouldn’t do it. That said, I’d love to look around for a similar convention with less gore when work slows down a bit. I haven’t been to conventions since I used to check out trade shows and the rare convention in Wildwood.

  41. Fright Flicks update:

    I decided to give away two packs, and we have our winners: “DESandman” and “Chip” — congratulations and please check your e-mail!

    Thanks for playing, all. :)

  42. Thank you, DJ D!

    @Juge: And I don’t think most people would ask for much at all. The bonus features could be totally stupid and barebones. (Trailer, promo photos, whatever.) Hell even getting a crazier menu screen.

    Also, re: this convention: Reading plenty of nightmare posts about tremendously long lines and changing signing schedules and intense Saturday crowds. Looks like I was lucky to stick to Friday and to not really care about autographs. In the con’s defense, much of this had to do with the Walking Dead stars being an unusually high draw for them, and the stars involved not exactly adhering to normal con times due to various reasons, not many of which being their fault. Oh well. Another reason to prefer the Maryland shows. The NJ hotel, which is again great, just doesn’t work so well when overloaded.

  43. The show has definitely outgrown the hotel itself,I’ve been saying that since about 09. The Parking is a nightmare.

  44. One of those “bootlegs” is Big Man on Campus (1989). An apparently good flick about a hunchback, living in the bell tower of UCLA.


    That sounds like a perfect Sunday viewing.

  45. Horror Hound is coming to Cincinnati this year, and I will be attending. I have never been to any convention ever, so I’m pretty excited. I’m like you, way more interested then vendors then guests, but the guy who plays Candyman will be there. And John Carpenter. And even though I love (some) of Carpenter’s films, $50 seems pretty pricey for an autograph….

  46. D’oh! Missed the dang hat drawing. I never win anything anyway (not true, I won a bike once, and a phone that looks like a cheeseburger).

    I’m giving some thought to going to The Mad Monster Party convention in Charlotte in a couple of weeks, but it all depends on the funds. I went last year and had a blast. If I go this year, I’m going to probably be arrested for trying to kidnap Lea Thompson and convincing her to sit in a parked car with me. Someone is seriously going to have to pull me out and tell me to get my damn hands off her.

    Alex, that convention documentary actually looks pretty great. Keep us updated on how it comes along.

    “Years ago at a local comic convention, my dad go ahold of bootlegs of some obscure show he used to like called ‘Werewolf’ and te infamous ‘Star Wars Holiday Special.’”King JLA

    Werewolf was one of my favorite shows back then and had some fairly impressive effects for mid-80′s television. The suit was actually designed by Rick Baker. I’d sit in crazy anticipation every week waiting for the inevitable transformation scene. It was very Incredible Hulk-ish in that sense. Chiller was showing reruns of it about a year or so ago and I recorded a lot of them then, but I’d like to still own it all on DVD.


    Sorry…I had to get that out of my system.

    Damn, I missed the giveaway. Oh well, I probably wouldn’t have won anyway.

    I’ve never been to a con of any sort, but now I’d like to go, if for no other reason than to check out the vendors, but I imagine it would be hell to navigate something like that in a wheelchair. They don’t really have any cons down this way, anyway…except Dragon*Con, of course. My cousin used to go to that every year and he’d always try to get me to go. He’d always tell me, “Kevin Smith is going to be there,” because I’m a big Kevin Smith fan. Then I checked the website, saw that Kevin Smith WASN’T going to be there, and he’d say, “Peter Mayhew’s going to be there.” SEE, HE EVEN KNOWS HIS DAMN NAME! Of course, I had no interest in going to something to meet “the guy who played Chewbacca.” Hell, I would have rather seen the damn SUIT, haha. Of course, now that said cousin has moved away and I have no way to get there, I’d kind of like to go. I’ve read accounts of it from people on here and seen a documentary about it and it sounds pretty cool. Oh well…maybe one day.

    Damn, I rambled. Sorry ’bout that. TL;DR…Great job, Matt!

  48. oh matt! If you are familiar with Freddy in Space’s blog…he went too…he got a pic with a guy who dressed like Howie Mandel’s character in Little Monsters.

    so pissed you didn’t feel like meeting Billy Dee Williams… Teddy Ray I am pissed at Kevin Smith right now…The guys over at Secret Stash on Comic Book Men…they have a serious bias against Star Trek stuff…I mean, to each their own…but don’t mock it! I don’t make fun of them with Star Wars(partly because I am a big fan of the originals). Geeks have to stick together in this world. I have a mind to go to Red Bank and give them a piece of my mind…Also I want to buy the Kirk Kaybee toys exclusive limited to 5000 wrath of khan figure that is signed by Shat himself.

  49. That Nightmare on Elm dvd bootleg features my artwork used without permission. I am not sure why you think it was just filtered photos as I handraw all of my work. If Photoshop has a filter that inks drawings in my linework style let me know–I need a time saver…lol.

  50. @Nathan: Wow, that sucks. Mailing you in a bit. (Assumed it was lifted photo/filtered art because I recognized a few of the poses, and didn’t think a DVD cover maker would go through the trouble. Now it all makes sense, and I’m hoping you have some giant version I can buy from you.)

  51. Tht huge Spike is pretty cool, but what about that Godzira to his right. I use to have one of those when I was a kid. Looking back, the idea behind it was pretty crazy; a giant Godzilla with wheels on its feet, and a hand that it can shoot off. I think it had something to do with japanese fighting robots or something, so there was probably a lot lost in translation, but I was seven and who cared about mixing genres, a giant godzilla that could eat my Wheeled warriors toys and my brothers way better M.A.S.K toys was something worthy of legend.

  52. What is the blood color on the Jaws pillow made with? Has it rubbed off on your face yet?

  53. In this lifetime or any other lifetime I could never afford a 50 dollar pillow.

  54. Saw Nathan Milliner’s comment above and looked him up. Great stuff! Suggest anyone not familiar with him do the same.

  55. Amazing stuff, Nathan!

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