The quintessential horror convention returns for an encore in 2013
Article and Photos by: Scott Feinblatt
Head for the Hills! No, Wait...the Valley, It's Monsterpalooza!
To see many more photos from Son of Monsterpalooza, visit the Horror Works Facebook page.
When Perry Farrell started the
Lollapalooza festival, in 1991, the goal
was to create a venue that would bring
a variety of alternative music and
performance acts together –
generating an “Alternative Nation” of
performers and fans. And while one
can still waste time arguing with young
people that Lollapalooza is not so
much an event wherein free spirits
celebrate their independence from
The Establishment as it is a jolly good
marketing idea, Eliot Brodsky's
Monsterpalooza conventions provide a
bit more culture for your buck.
Horror fans don't have a large menu
when it comes to conventions. Sure
there are plenty of horror film festivals,
and most comicons are horror and sci-fi
friendly; however, most larger gatherings
meant exclusively for horror fans are
centered on the promotion of a particular
brand name (there was, briefly, a
Monsterpalooza Magazine, but it was not
affiliated with this event). On the one
hand, there's nothing wrong with that –
just as there's nothing wrong with Perry
Farrell's being a marketing genius – it
just seems as though the spirit one feels
at a Monsterpalooza show is something
akin to a genuine “Monsternative Nation”.
This is ironic as the event is principally an
exhibition hall for vendors of various
horror-related goods and services.
Perhaps by merit of its being an honest marketplace, the pretension of it being anything but is dropped; consequently,
the spirit that manifests therein is cultivated more by the fans than by the promoters.
This sculpture of a character from Blade II was created by Miyo Nakamura.
Then again, a glance at Brodsky's website reveals that he is
a member of the old guard horror community (a la “Uncle
Forry” Ackerman). This provides strong support for the idea
that Monsterpalooza is organized for love of all things
monstrous. Furthermore, the exhibitors at Monsterpalooza
are principally artists and people who run specialty shops –
as opposed to marketeers who see horror specifically as a
niche market and could honestly not care less about the
genre. Again, I don't point out the distinction because I'm
interested in judging people who have dollar signs instead of
pupils in their eyes, but I do notice a contrast between the
Monsterpalooza vibe and those of other horror conventions.
Specifically, some of the vendors at Monsterpalooza who
were not doing that much business still seemed thrilled to be
part of the event. A cross section of the exhibitors included:
sculptors, painters, puppeteers, publishers, an eyeball
creator, plush doll designers, horror photographers, a
taxidermist / dried insect designer, a doll hair designer,
historians and archivists, illustrators and performance artists.
While many of these eclectic vendors were local, the
convention's impressive reputation has spread around the
world, and there were quite a few exhibitors who flew in to be
a part of Monsterpalooza.
The programming at Monsterpalooza included appearances
by cult celebrities such as: actors Akira Takarada (Godzilla
(1954), Godzilla: Final Wars), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator,
The Frighteners); effects artists/puppeteers the Chiodo Bros.
(Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Team
America: World Police) and writer/
producer/ director John A. Russo
(Night of the Living Dead (1968),
Return of the Living Dead). Events
also included film screenings and
discussions – both event types
focused on celebrating special make-
up effects artistry and the heritage of
classic genre films. Finally, there were
two make-up / costume competitions
which facilitated the creation of many
elaborate designs, and the fact that
most of the competitors were patrons
of the convention suggested even less
of a distinction between fans and
exhibitors – further cementing the idea
that the whole event was more akin to
a community than a market.
John A. Russo's contribution to the genre has been monumental -- both behind the
scenes (Night of the Living Dead (1968), Return of the Living Dead) and as a writer of
horror novels and influential filmmaking books. Check out his site!
Something else to take into
account when considering
reputation is the fact that it is not
so much horror-centric as it is
“monster” is a family-friendly word
which effectively increases the
festival's potential audience,
“horror” apparently carries
negative connotations. Although
many people, nowadays especially,
blend the distinctions of slasher
films with subtle psychological
thrillers, old school icons like Boris
Karloff shied away from the epithet
as they thought that it suggested
carnage and viscera instead of
cobwebs and long shadows. Even
some of the artisans at Son of Monsterpalooza said that they don't consider themselves horror artists; they explained
that some of their art simply contains scary images.
rationale exists for the
global appeal of
Monsterpalooza – the
catchy name, the
creators' love for the
game or the focus on
rubber instead of red
food coloring – the
steady crowds and the
Brodsky's baby is worthy
of a pilgrimage.
Furthermore, the very
price certainly can not
hurt. Monsterpalooza will
return to Burbank, CA,
March 28th – 30th, 2014.
We hope to see you
The work of the Chiodo Brothers (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Team America: World Police) is well
known and widely celebrated by genre fans. Here, Charles and Stephen Chiodo pose with some of
their designs. Pay them a visit and check out more of their awe-inspiring work.
Makeup artist Trista Metz models her own hauntingly beautiful design.