This weekend I did something that I’ve done twice a year, almost every year, for the last dozen or so years. I went to the Monster-Mania Convention in Cherry Hill, NJ. This was the 39th semi-annual convention, and my first Monster-Mania show was Monster-Mania 2. I owe a lot to this particular con for turning my horror fandom into horror obsession. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet some of my all time favorite horror celebrities (like Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, and John Carpenter), as well as make lifetime friends. It was through Monster-Mania that I met Patrick Devaney and the folks from Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead, which led to me actually getting the chance to be filmed in an episode of the show. I have my own IMDB page, thanks to Monster-Mania. They have consistently put on shows that the fans want to see, and seldom disappoint.
If one were to peruse social media today regarding the convention, you would see a lot of complaints. The complaints aren’t completely unwarranted. With the amount of headliner caliber talent brought in by Monster-Mania (people like Tim Curry, John Carpenter, the kids from IT, and Elvira), it didn’t take a genius to realize this would be the busiest show to date. That was a bit of an understatement. I got there about an hour before the show was set to open up and I knew this would be different. The amount of people coming to the show was incredible. It eventually got to the point where it was literally hard to move. There were so many people inside the convention area (which spans multiple rooms and portions of the hotel, not a small space by any means) that the fire marshall put and end to people entering around 1:00. Crowds this size are definitely overwhelming, especially to an all volunteer staff that only does this twice a year.
These are obviously less than ideal circumstances, and it is a shame that so many people weren’t able to enjoy the convention they way they should have. That being said, I can’t entirely justify some of the hate being spewed toward the convention and its promoters on social media. I can almost guarantee the stress of the circumstances this weekend was greater for those running the show than those who tried to attend. These guys aren’t CEO’s of a giant corporation who don’t care about their fans. They’re every day guys who do this FOR the fans, a group they most definitely belong to. They have proved time and time again that they strive to put on shows the fans want to see, which is evidenced by the fact that attendance is through the roof. While my experience this past weekend was less than ideal, I simply can’t let this one weekend overshadow the countless other weekends where Monster-Mania has delivered, and then some. I have don’t think for a second that the promoters will look back on this weekend and be content with how it went. They will no doubt analyze the issues that popped up and begin figuring out ways to overcome them.
While my stay was pretty short on Saturday (I ended up leaving about 1:30) I was still able to grab a couple things on my list, and grab an autograph from CJ Graham (Jason in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives). The window shopping and hanging with friends was as fun as ever. Chatting with familiar vendors is always a pleasure. I don’t regret the two hour drive just because it was a short visit.
It’s quite disheartening to see the amount of vitriol on social media by many an armchair promoter. Everyone seems to think they know how to fix these issues. Everyone can do it better. I don’t know exactly what the answer is. A bigger venue? Couldn’t hurt. Changing the layout at the current venue? Maybe. Only having tickets available online and not at the door? I don’t know. What I do know is I’m not expecting Monster-Mania to start putting on shows that suck a little more to reduce the number of people coming in. I fully expect them to figure out how to work around the problems that arose this weekend and continue to put on the shows horror fans want to see. As for the fair weather fans who say they will never attend Monster-Mania again, I kind of hope they stick to that. More room for the rest of us. I’m already looking forward to August.
Here is an album of pictures I took at the convention yesterday: