Monster-Mania-37_Featured_1200x630 / Fair use doctrine.

Event: Monster Mania 37
Location: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Date: Saturday, August, 19, 2017

It’s 10:15 am, and I have arrived for what will become my fourth time to Monster Mania horror convention. The guest list was actually pretty decent this time around, and I always look forward to seeing my horror family and friends who attend regularly. As I pull in front of the hotel, I’m automatically routed through the parking lot, past what was a free parking lot of a closed on the weekend business plaza but is now a $15.00 pay to park ripoff. Well, that shit ain’t going to fly with me, so I ended up about three blocks away. My choice, but honestly, I think having to pay to park now is a pretty shitty deal. Onward to the CON!!
Aside from honestly wanting to see the faces of old friends, I had an agenda. You see, House of Tortured Souls – after much waiting and pulling of hair – finally has merchandise. T-SHIRTS!!! I had one on (looking awfully dapper, I must add), and the three that I brought with me were spoken for. Two were for the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia. How could I present a shirt to only one of them? The final shirt was slotted for ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian. I was on a mission from God!
Monster Mania, I am here! The lobby held the usual handful of stragglers and lines already formed for certain celebrities. I made my way through the lobby to the ticket table to pay. Now I understand conventions and also understand a large percentage of the staff is comprised of volunteers. I could only hope the two not so pleasant ladies I encountered were volunteers and not representatives of the convention itself. No eye contact, no verbal greeting of any kind, didn’t even ask how many. As a matter of fact, I actually had to get their attention, not that they were busy, but they just didn’t care. It was as if I was placing a food order – although at least at a fast food joint, the employees would have acknowledged me. After I got my wrist band from Ms. Happy, off I went.
The layout is always the same, and in my opinion, is done quite nicely. Having to go from one end of the building and through the always crowded lobby to get to the main celebrity room can be a pain if you’re in a hurry – and especially so if the hallway leading to the celebrity rooms is packed with people waiting in lines that have been formed to keep the main room operable. So it works, no one to blame, it’s a busy place. And when it’s busy, and in the middle of August, it tends to get a bit warm and the air conditioners just can’t seem to handle the demand. Again, no one’s fault.
After getting my wrist band, I headed over to the main celebrity room to find where the lovely Soska sisters were. To my surprise, they hadn’t even shown up yet, and there were only about 10 people in line for them. So I became number 11. They didn’t show up for about 45 minutes, but I really didn’t mind because I waiting next to Ms. PJ Soles, who was already hard at it, working alone. An autograph and picture combination was only $20.00! I wish more were like that. She had a good, constant line going, and everyone – including her – seemed to be having a good time! For those of you who know me, I’ve always said that PJ Soles is the nicest lady you would ever want to meet.
At last the Soskas came out and were cheery and loving to everyone there! Of all the celebrities I have been fortunate enough to meet, I’ve got to say that the Soska sisters are by far the most energetic and appreciative of the people who come to see them. When it was my turn at bat, before I could even say hello, they were literally on the table giving me a hug. Everyone got a hug. I told them of the website and presented EACH of them (lol) with a t-shirt, sticker, and business card for House of Tortured Souls. Jen read off my phone number to me and said, “Halloween will be here and I will be pretty busy, as you can imagine, but don’t be surprised if I do call”. She gave me her email address and told me to reach out to her for the interview I had mentioned earlier. The two of them offered to do a video promo with the shirts I gave them, hugged me again, and I was gone. It was a pleasure and honor to have had the opportunity to meet them. So that’s one – or two! – down.
I made my way back through the now heavily crowded ticket area and lobby to get to one of other celebrity rooms on my way to meet Scott Ian!! I have been a big fan of Anthrax since….8th grade? I’ve seen them numerous times in concert but have never actually met any of them, so this was a really big deal to me – especially since Scott is a horror fan himself. I walked straight through the room and right up to his table where, to my surprise, there is not one person there to see him. I smiled, introduced myself, and explained the website and how he was part of my mission. I inquired about trying to set up an interview, and without even looking at me, he said simply, “Contact my label”. Nevertheless, I presented him with his shirt, also with card and sticker, and he quickly handed it to the person that was with him and it was out of sight. I had to think quickly as his attention wasn’t on me and he didn’t seem to even want to be there. I asked if I could grab a picture of him just holding up the t-shirt. Sadly, he gave me this look and said simply, “Yeah, I really don’t like to do that”. Before I could feel like any more of a loser (since I now felt completely destroyed), I shook his hand and thanked him for his time, turned, and casually walked away. Maybe he had a bad morning, maybe there was no hot water in his shower, or maybe his breakfast was cold. Who knows? There could have been a million different things that might have been wrong with Mr. Ian that morning. After talking to others about him later, they all said how much fun he was the night before. Well, he is a rock star, and they usually don’t do mornings. What was I thinking? What I was thinking was that he was there for his fans, and despite what issues may or may not have been, he was supposed to be there for his fans. I am still a fan, but I do wish things had been different. He was just very unreceptive. Oh well…
I then made my way through the now pretty damn crowded venue and skimmed through all the vendors. Sooooo many vendors… I truly wish I had a lot more money to spend on because I wanted it all – from t-shirts to action figures to DVDs and custom, handmade crafts! And yes, although you will find a lot of the same items at some vendor tables, there are still many unique items that you just don’t find anywhere other than at cons.
I especially loved these awesome shadowboxes from Curious Goods.Halloween and Trick 'r Treat shadowboxes
I did have the pleasure of running into a good handful of friends, and it was, as always, great to geek out with all of them. Then, I looked past them to see a dark figure in the distance, a man with a certain presence about him. It was the one and only Father Evil. Father is a good friend of mine personally and I always look forward to seeing him at the show. It’s a thrill to see just how far he has come and to know how far he’s headed! Lou, to you and Sarah, all our love and support!
Now, from the moment I stepped foot in the lobby, there was something not right…something was amiss. It actually took me a while to put my finger on it, but I suddenly realized what it was. There was next to no cosplay. There were, of course, fans dressed as their favorite horror characters, but there was really no cosplay to be found. This was something that always welcomed me to the con as clowns would at the entrance to the circus big top. And that’s what had been missing all day – the circus! If you’ve ever attended a con, you know that attendees take tons and TONS of pictures with those cosplaying. It really kind of warms you up and gets you in the festive spirit of the convention. Through trusting friends, I found out later that day that the promoters of the Monster Mania wanted all cosplay people to pay even if they were just hanging out in the lobby. Many cosplay people attended and staked out in the lobby, just to add to the party, free entertainment if you will. Were they causing issues? Not that I could tell. Now, for whatever reason is was – be it money alone or what, I really don’t know, sadly many have since sworn off returning. This was not just a shame; it was a damn shame. It really seemed to have taken away from the spirit of what I knew to be Monster Mania.
As 2:00 pm neared, I had done just about all there was to do. I hadn’t planned on staying late, or even till dark, but to be ready to go at 2:00 pm was just wrong. Something was seriously amiss. I made one last round through the building to say my goodbyes. I stopped and thanked the Soskas again and, while doing so, got to shake hands with Sid Haigas he was passing through. So there’s that.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t have a bad time at Monster Mania, and I’m not bashing it. I’ve seen tons of pictures from others who were there, and they all had a good time. I love horror conventions, and yes, I’m a big boy and understand that things are what you make of them. But there was a different feeling this time around. Here’s hoping next year it’s back to abnormal.Trick 'r Treat shadowbox
Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland

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