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.