Monster Mania

CON REVIEW: Monster-Mania Con 39

Monster-Mania held its 39th show last week, this one in Cherry Hill, NJ. Their lineup, a dream list of who’s who in horror. Tim Curry, John Carpenter, Richard Dreyfuss, Sean Astin, and 6, yes count them 6 actors (Steve Dash, Ted White, Tom Morga, CJ Graham, Kane Hodder, and Ken Kirzinger) who have all played Jason Voorhees in some fashion were among the mega guest list for this show. Add in Kathleen Turner, Joe Pantoliano, Terry Kiser, Paul Reubens, and 5 of the new IT kids, and you are going to draw a crowd A notable absence was Randy Quaid, but we’ll get to that shortly.

Let’s address the hiccups first and there were a couple. When you bring in a lineup like the one described above, there are going to be a lot of people. If you have been to a convention, you know Friday night can be slow or at peak, steady with the crowds coming. That was not the case for Monster-Mania. The Friday night attendance rivaled a lot of shows’ Saturday crowds. Also, it can be tough and in some cases impossible to know what some guests will draw as far as fans.

A perfect example is the kids from the film IT (2017). In Atlanta for Days of the Dead, two of the young actors were there and had some eager fans wanting to meet them, but it was a good steady pace. In Cherry Hill when 3 more of their co-stars were added, young fans came in by the hundreds at a time.

Also, lets address kind of a big story from Friday night. I was there and heard at least 4 different versions of what happened, so let’s just clear the air on this. Kane Hodder and his co-star from Death House Steve Nappe were sitting next to each other. A fan gave Kane a machete to sign (as is normal with any Jason actor). Kane pretended to cut Steve’s arm. The blade was very real and very sharp and when Steve got distracted he moved, so he was cut in the forearm with it. He got stitches and was back later on. It was a freak accident and nothing more. Case closed.

Saturday, everyone knew the crowd would be massive. I do not believe anyone could have anticipated how massive. The Fire Marshall had to be brought in and did not allow anyone else in the hotel, fans in line for photo ops were lined up outside and ticket sales were cut off before Noon. That is what kind of numbers I am talking about here.

The photo op situation was its own monster. When there are a lot of photo ops all scheduled back to back in the same room and some of the guests have to get into costume, it will cause delays. Tim Curry was the only one (up until Saturday night) that had a specific area for just himself doing photo ops. Everyone else was in one area. The thinking behind this is that many fans buy several photo ops (I bought 4) and this gives them a chance to not miss any due to them being scheduled at the same time. Tim’s went all day because he was only doing photo ops, so you could go when you wanted.

Mix the delays with the fact the IT┬ákids photo ops may have been oversold and delays are inevitable. How do you fix this in the future? Some cons limit the number of photo ops for each guest. The downside to that is you may limit who attends the show. There is no perfect answer for that. Credit the staff when the photo ops were going, they were moving. I did hear some cars in the parking lot were broken into. I don’t have any insight or any facts on this, so I won’t address it further.

What do you do if you are a guest and your scheduled photo op is delayed? If you are Sean Astin, you talk to the group of fans waiting for the op. Astin came into the room where all of the fans were waiting and to his credit, hosted a 7-10 minute impromptu Q & A. He talked about a live show he would be performing in the following night and gave his thoughts on his favorite characters that he has portrayed. First class, Sean…first class all the way.

Let’s talk Randy Quaid. He was scheduled for Friday and Saturday. I have yet to attend a show where no guest has canceled and this is no exception to the rule. On Friday, Monster-Mania posted on their Facebook page, that they had spoken to Randy and he was stuck in New York. Randy then canceled altogether on Saturday. To his credit, he offered to call or send a picture to any fan who was disappointed. All they had to do was send his Twitter a direct message. I can’t speak for every fan that reached out, but he did deliver when I did.

I will not end on any negative marks and so far this show seems like it was a giant disappointment…it really wasn’t. Were the lines insanely long? Yes. Were there way too many people? Yes, I mean the Fire Marshall enforced the rules. Does Monster-Mania have a few things they need to figure out before their 40th show this summer? Of course, they said that themselves. But let’s focus now on a lot (and there was a lot) of good that came from the show.

The guests were friendly and a lot of fun to talk to. There were a LOT of vendors to visit and choose from. There were some very creative fans that took their cosplay seriously and came up with some memorable costumes. They also had TNP – Philly’s Own Rocky Horror Cast, put on a whole performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with prop bags for the viewers and the movie in the background and full partici……..pation from the audience. I will say here and now, that performance by that cast was nothing short of spectacular. It was truly an experience and if you live near Philadelphia, you should catch one of their show.

As a fan, I had no trouble meeting all of the people I wanted to meet and get the photo ops I wanted. I know it was very frustrating for a lot of fans. I know some people were angry, but I didn’t let some delays damper meeting some bucket list celebs. This was a very difficult show to put together, and was the space too small for a show of this magnitude? Probably. But the flip side is, “why don’t you guys get so and so as a guest?” So, let’s credit the organizers of Monster-Mania for bringing in guests that have never been to their show, are huge names and are people some of us will only meet once in a lifetime.

Conclusions. Was this show perfect? Of course not. Did they make people upset? Yes. Did they also gain some new fans? Probably. This was a swing for the fences. There are a lot of shows in New Jersey and 3 of them happen in a 6 week period of time. You have to try new things or the competition will eat you alive. It benefits the fans because we can take advantage of seeing a lot of our favorite horror stars and heroes. A great attempt will often result in speed bumps.

Overall Grade B-




Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint

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