Monster Mania 17: Convention Report

Posted: April 20, 2011 by StayFrosty in About Us, Events, Film, Shopping

This might be a little late in coming, but our crew traveled to Cherry Hill, NJ for the Monster Mania 17 convention in mid March and we had a great time. We perused the vendors for good deals and rare finds, enjoyed the company of some close friends and family and we attended interesting panel discussions featuring some classic horror film talent. Let’s start with the panels.

The Panels:

While FGSG didn’t have the time to attend all of the panels going on at Monster Mania, we decided it would be fun to check out two in particular – the “Femme Fatales” panel (all girls) and the “Meet the Monsters” panel (all guys).  We wondered if there would be a difference in how people treated an all girl panel vs. an all boy panel – and while we did find some differences, we’re sad to say the ladies panel came up sorely lacking.

Femme Fatales

This panel featured Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers, the Saw series), Jenny Wright (Near Dark, Pink Floyd’s The Wall), Melinda Clarke (Return of the Living Dead 3, The Vampire Diaries), and Jill Schoelen (Popcorn, The Stepfather, Phantom of the Opera 1989).  Sadly, this was probably the least interesting panel I’ve ever attended at these conventions.  It seemed pretty clear, with the exception of Meyer, that all these ladies were working actors who had no real attachment to these films that the fans loved so much.  I feel that if you know you are going to be on a panel at a horror convention, you might want to think about some stories from your films – I mean, many of the questions are predictable, so you can at least prepare some basic answers.  These ladies seemed not only unprepared, but even surprised that they were being asked questions at all.   Meyer, on the other hand, was fun and witty and told good stories – it was a shame that she was stuck on this panel without any support.  Jenny Wright was particularly disappointing – she seemed really out of it, barely speaking even when asked direct questions.  On the whole, it was a pretty awkward panel, for both the audience and the guests.

Note from JD: Questions for the ladies, as we suspected, were a little odd too. Mostly variations on “What was it like to work with (insert man here)?” and “Were you scared? Was it gross to do that gory scene or was it… exciting?” Dina Meyer’s fantastic retort “You guys DO know this is all fake, right?” was the panel’s best moment.

Dina Meyer as Dizzy Flores

Meet the Monsters

The panel featured Kane Hodder (Jason in Friday the 13th parts 7-10, Hatchet), Doug Bradley (Pinhead from the Hellraiser series), R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface fromTexas Chainsaw Massacre III), John Amplas (Martin, Day of the Dead, Creepshow), with the last minute addition of Alan Hyde (True Blood).  The crowd grew noticeably – it was standing room only for this one.  Right from the start, you could tell this panel was going to have a different vibe – they started off all talking about their porn names (Kane Hodder’s should be Kane Prodder, according to Bradley), so that should give you a pretty clear idea of the tone.  These guys knew how to run a panel – they kept things moving well, they interacted not just with the fans but with each other, which made things feel more comfortable and also gave us some moments of hilarity (Bradley and Hodder argued about who killed more people, Pinhead or Jason, which lead to a lively set of insults).  Also, I appreciated that when they were asked a serious question, they really gave it thought and took time to answer.  When asked about getting into the movie business, all of them gave sensible, helpful and detailed advice.  You could tell they weren’t only actors who happened to work in the genre, but horror lovers and fans themselves.  The one exception might have been Hyde, but he might have just been a bit scared since everyone else at the panel was approximately double his size in muscle mass.  But while pleasant, he seemed a bit out of place on this panel.  FGSG all wished that we could have moved Dina Meyer over to this panel, where I think she would have had much more fun.

Does Doug Bradley look like someone who cares what God thinks?

We love the panels, but we must admit the main attraction for us is acquiring new films. We got a pretty impressive haul this time. Here’s the rundown of what we thought was worth buying at the con:

The Loot!
StayFrosty:

I picked up most of my best loot from the guys at Exhumed Films (http://www.exhumedfilms.com).  They always have the best stuff.  So I’ll start with what I consider my A-list purchases:

Rick Meltons artwork for "Deep Red"

British remasters of “Deep Red” (Argento), “Inferno” (Argento), “City of the Living Dead” (Fulci), “The Beyond” (Fulci) and “A Bay of Blood” (aka “Twitch of the Death Nerve” – Bava), all distributed by Arrow Films:  I’ve seen all of these films before, with the exception of “A Bay of Blood”.  And those first four are incredible movies, made even better by these new transfers.  I may have said this before, but Argento films are made for Blu-ray.  Inferno is absolutely gorgeous – not just in the intensity of the colors, but of the depth.  Some of the scenes near the end are just unreal.  Bay of Blood isn’t my favorite Bava film, but it’s worth a watch, especially if you want to see where Friday the 13th got some of its ideas.  These imports have new cover art drawn by resident Arrow artist Rick Melton, as well as the original poster art on the reverse side.  The films are chock-full of extras and various goodies.  Can’t go wrong with these.

Also grabbed from Exhumed Films – the Criterion blu-ray of Hausu.  Like going mad, but in a film, now with EVEN MORE clarity!!!  Haven’t watched this yet, but I suspect that it will be as weird as I remember, but one hell of a ride.  Messiah of Evil – no idea if this is any good, but the Exhumed guys said it was interesting if a bit slow moving, so I went with it.  I typically trust their opinion (and part of the fun of the convention for me is taking a few cinematic leaps of faith).

Other finds:  Solomon Kane (fun for what it is), I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (didn’t watch this yet, but the title alone was worth it), Burke & Hare (funnier than “I Sell the Dead”).  Yay for imports!

 JennyDreadful:

I agree that Exhumed Films is the best, but I found treasures from all over the con. I wish we’d had time to publish this when it was recent and more relevant, but I feel pretty good about having a chance to view a bunch of these before posting. Here’s what I got:

Jenny Dreadful is shocked and terrified.

Birdemic: Shock and TerrorIf you haven’t heard of this Hitchcock-inspired romantic thriller, then I’m doing you a great service. Best bad movie ever. Or at least a contender with Troll 2 for the title. You can expect attacks from animated GIFs of birds flapping in place, wooden and expressionless actors with pronunciation issues, clumsy editing, flailing coat hangers and a haunting tune about “Just Hanging Out.”  You might laugh until you cry and then explode. Or die of embarrassment on the director’s behalf. Recommended! Also available with Rifftrax if you’re a MST3K fan.

Serbian Film– Oh boy. A month later, and we still haven’t watched this. It’s like a grenade, stacked neatly in a pile of DVDs in my living room, waiting to go off. Still considered the most controversial horror film in circulation today. Despite the warnings about disturbing content and the certainty of a rough watch, StayFrosty and I just can’t ignore a minefield like this. When the time is right, we’ll sit down with this severe flick and you’ll hear all about it. Not recommended to anyone unless you’re hardcore and you’ve done a little research first.

Chaw (aka Chawz)– I’m not ashamed. The only reason I bought this giant rampaging pig film from Korea is the tagline. “THIS TIME MANKIND IS PORK” That is delightful… as is the film’s unapologetic aping of Jaws. Anyway, Chaw had lots of the comedic charm and unexpected weirdness we adore about Korean genre cinema, but we were disappointed in this film overall. Great at times, with some surprisingly solid CGI pig action, it was also overlong and too sad to be considered a fun rampage movie. It hurt my feelings! Maybe this will be a feature to some? Just didn’t line up with my expectations.

Alien from the Deep– A silly Italian Aliens rip-off. I was happy to sit through it, but I’d recommend skipping most of the film and just watching the last half-hour. The climactic battle with the giant-clawed monster is cheesily fantastic.

What else? Was lucky enough to score Rogue (solid angry Croc movie) and Eden Lake (Heard good things. Haven’t seen it) in the $5 bin. And I found copies of Christopher Smith’s Black Death (a wonderful addition to any horror fan’s collection, review coming) and the reality-TV zombie series from Britain, Dead Set.  I’m pretty satisfied.

Final Thoughts:

JD:  A wonderful time. Can’t wait to go again. My only additional thoughts are: Come on, people! Make horror shirts for girls! What is the deal? Looking around at the cons, it’s tough to buy the whole “There aren’t enough female horror fans” argument. If you know of a company with sweet horror apparel for ladies, let us know and we’ll do what we can to spread the word. Let’s prove that our business is worth the investment. Thanks!

SF:  I felt that my loot this time around was a quality haul – sometimes it can be a bit of a mixed bag.  And I’m totally with Jenny D – the horror ladies need apparel!  By this point it is just foolish to ignore such a large part of the horror loving population.  We like cool shirts that reference zombie vs. shark too! (looking at you, Fright Rags!)   But on the whole, I think the purchases I made were worthwhile, at least the ones I’ve seen so far.   Looking forward to the next one!

See some of you there next time?

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Comments
  1. pseudo says:

    Good times!

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