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Monday, April 23, 2018

Southern California Vol. 20 - Monsterpalooza!

There’s a little warmth in the air.  Flowers are beginning to bloom.  Birds are chirping.  That can only mean one thing if you live in Southern California. 
It’s time for Monsterpalooza! 

Now, I know this blog has been focused on weird SoCal destinations and this is more of an event, but I would argue it doesn’t get much weirder than these three days in Pasadena.  I would also argue that you should make this a destination.  I attended Monsterpalooza for the first time about five years ago.  I instantly vowed I would not miss it again so long as I lived here.  For horror fans, this is like three consecutive days of Christmas morning.

The whole show started out as a trade show for mask makers and people in the makeup effects industry.  It was a place where new companies could show off their abilities and new technologies could be pitched directly to representatives from the big movie studios just a few miles away.  In fact, for years it was actually held in Burbank, so close to Warner Bros. and Universal that you could practically throw a rock and hit them.  An off season, smaller incarnation (Son of Monsterpalooza) still takes place there in the fall.  The spring version has grown much too big for that venue though. 

Over the years, the show has grown to include artists, authors, model makers, sculptors and toy vendors.  You’ll find actors from some of your favorite horror films signing autographs and posing for pictures.  You can attend panels on things like this year’s costume creations for Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and discussions with the team behind the Fish-Man suit from The Shape of Water.  That one was particularly fun as they got into a sidebar on how they had to give the character a shapely butt when Doug Jones (the actor in the suit) doesn't have one.  It's not all necessarily just about movies though.  A few years ago, I went to an excellent panel of writers discussing H. P. Lovecraft and why his creatures endure in literature but are so hard to capture believably on film. 

The real fun though, is that the makeup and mask people are still there, representing the best way possible.  They’re making people up right on the show floor.  Once they're finished, the monsters walk around and mingle with the crowd.  You can watch zombies come to life, see demonstrations from massive puppet creations and then there’s the museum!

Every year, the museum features the most outstanding creations from exhibitors at the show.  You’ll find themed exhibits like the one above of Larry Talbot and his cursed alter-ego.  

Some exhibitors make incredibly detailed life-sized models like this recreation of a scene from The Exorcist.   

This bust inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing was a highlight for me.

And while you’re there, you can swing by and say hello to the guys from Monster Party (one of the most fun and informative horror podcasts ever).   Special thanks to Lil for making us all look better.

So, while you’ve missed it this year you can at least mark it on your calendar and squeeze it in next year.  If you stay in the area, you can take time to visit Huntington Gardens (which we’ll talk about in a future post) and you’ll be close enough to easily visit Griffith Park and many of the other places I’ve written about here.  Seriously, I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t think it was an awesome way to spend a day.


Lisanne Harrington said...

I had such a great time at Monsterpalooza this year! It truly is an amazing event, and one that I will attend forevermore!

Cary said...

I wasn't kidding when I said it's like Christmas morning for horror fans. There's such a cool air of inclusiveness there. You can look around and tell you're among your "tribe", so to speak.

It's also great because it really brings home just how vast the horror genre is. There are almost 100 years worth of great movies and almost all of them are represented on t-shirts, posters, cosplay, etc. You're just as likely to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on a t-shirt there as you are to see an Alien, Saw or Friday the 13th shirt represented.

To me, it feels like horror fans understand the history behind the genre and respect it a lot more than fans of other genres.