The Horror Honeys: Monsterpalooza and the Art of Darkness

Monsterpalooza and the Art of Darkness

A Guest Monster Honey Excursion by Jennica

It has always been my firm belief that, despite there being thousands of different types of pop culture freaks and fanatics, the horror fan is the most complex and possibly the most dedicated. There are young horror fans and old horror fans, fans of zombies and fans of vampires, fans of Asian horror and fans of Italian horror, and even more recently discovered fans of "monster erotica," just to name a a few categories of horror fandom. Some fans work in the film industry but others are, by day, parents, children, the socially awkward store clerk, that guy you cut off in traffic, your therapist, and probably your accountant. But by night, we are stripping away our clockwork orange exteriors to reveal our true selves-- and our horror tees-- at the nearest horror event.

Living in Los Angeles, I've been fortunate enough to experience a different horror event every week; however, like any horror fan, the highlight of each year is still the Holy Grail of horror events: the conventions. 

Horror conventions are perfectly designed to act as reminders that other people share my interests and, dammit, it's not weird! These special times of the year allow me to express my excitement for my favorite movie genre, reunite with old friends and make new ones, spend a little (or a lot) of money on rare collectibles, support little-known artists, and shake hands with the icons who ignited my interest in the macabre in the first place.

I'd shake their hands if they had hands.

Of all the conventions that I've attended over the years, Monsterpalooza in Burbank, CA has remained one of my absolute favorites. And as it is one of my favorite conventions, one could easily imagine my grave disappointment when I found out how stingy Monsterpalooza's organizer is with dealing out press passes. So, I pinched all the pennies I could to make an appearance at the convention for one day anyway.

Unfortunately, not only did I fail to score a press pass, but I also forgot to order a ticket online in advance for the first time ever, leaving me to arise at an ungodly hour to stand in line and buy a ticket at the door. And that's when I witnessed a random act of kindness that I'll never forget. 

Hannan's Horrors
If only Michael Myers had discovered his
love of poetry sooner
I was standing in line with my nose buried in a Monsterpalooza program, plotting out the rest of my day. A vendor walked by me and slipped an unused wristband into my program. When I looked up, he just put his finger to his lips and "Shh," and he kept walking. I put on the wristband, left the lengthy line, and entered the convention center. My first order of business was finding the generous stranger and expressing my undying gratitude. 

As I wasn't quite alert just yet due to my early morning start, I decided to begin my day in a dark room with back-to-back panels. Overall, I have to applaud Sunday's event schedule for it's diversity. Between the American Horror Story - Beauty and the Freaks! panel on prosthetic makeup design, a sneak peak at the upcoming Kickstarter-funded film Thallium's Box, and Hannan's Horrors morning poetry reading by my frightening friend Chris Hannan, there seemed to be a slice of dark art for everyone. 

Aside from spending time with some of my favorite horror freaks and geeks, what also makes Monsterpalooza feel like home are the returning vendors to whom I've become a loyal customer over the past few years. Unlike my usual in-store shopping sprees, at Monsterpalooza, I'm always scanning the aisles for items unique to the convention floor or items that I might otherwise have to special order. Like every year, I found myself spending much of my time (and some of my money) hovering over some of the same tables.

Donald England's notorious "lunchtime sketches"
For the zombie girl at heart (or brain)
Of course, I'm also intrigued by the not-yet-discovered vendors, such as this happy horror couple at The Evil Ted Channel, a YouTube channel dedicated to tutorials on creating foam-based costumes and cosplay props. And how can these two not win at horror with a clever name like Evil Ted?!

Evil Ted and his warrior princess wife.
Beyond the wide array of tables dedicated to collectibles, it is always mesmerizing to stop by the movie makeup booths for Premiere Products Inc. and Los Angeles's very own Cinema Makeup School students. It's quite a treat to walk by those booths multiple times throughout the day to observe the progression of the monsters in the making. It never ceases to amaze me the level of wicked sorcery those guys and girls can accomplish in just a matter of hours.

PPI Makeup Demo: And I thought I didn't get enough sunshine.
Cinema Makeup School: Looks like someone lost their head today...
Or at least their scalp.
Once I had listened to enough chatter at the panels, circled the vendors like a vulture a few times, gazed at the magic of makeup effects, and had a nice, long sit, I was finally able to bypass the eternal lines of Hell and experience my most anticipated moments at this year's Monsterpalooza: meeting the stars. 

As a woman and a horror fan, I was completely delighted to see so many iconic scream queens in attendance at this year's convention. From Linda Blair to Julie Adams, it was empowering to see so many women who have heavily influenced my love for the horror genre stand up, shake my hand, and take pride in the work they've done.

Linda Blair and Monster Honey Jennica
Margot Kidder and Monster Honey Jennica
After paying my mad Monster Honey respects to the women who have haunted my nightmares, I had to pay an extra special visit to this year's man of the hour, the "Godfather of the Modern Horror Film" himself, George A. Romero. If you're reading this, George, thanks again for the scares!

OMG - Oh My George! 
While panels, horror collectibles, and horror icons can be found at any convention around the globe, Monsterpalooza has one thing that I have yet to find anywhere else. Each year, Monserpalooza has an entire museum dedicated to the artists throughout cinema history who have brought the horror genre to life. And this year's tributes went to the talented Dick Smith and Rick Baker.

Harry and the Hendersons - Tribute to Rick Baker

The Hunger: Head casts by Dick Smith

Prosthetics worn by Max von Sydow as Father Merrin in The Exorcist (1973)

As the day came to a close and I passed by the increasingly bare tables, I felt myself slowly coming down from that natural convention high. The weekend couldn't possibly over yet. I wasn't finished frolicking through the halls of fandom. And so begins the countdown to Monsterpalooza's evil spawn, Son of Monsterpalooza. September isn't too far away... right?