I love the idea of doing little tribute articles throughout the month of October. Writing about horror is one of my favorite things to do. The list of potential topics like different movies, actors, etc is immense, but I felt that I’d be remiss to not include an article about Monster-Mania Con. This particular convention has done more to bolster my horror fandom than just about anything else.
I can still remember the day back in 2004 when my cousin Gregg stumbled across the Monster-Mania website advertising for Monster-Mania 2. A young lad of 14 years, I was beginning what would become an obsession with the horror genre. The event sounded incredible, and the best part was it was happening only 20 minutes from where we lived. We knew we had to go.
I remember vividly arriving at the con and being overwhelmed by all that was going on (so I can only imagine how those who are first timers feel when they go today, given that the show is about a hundred times bigger than it was back then!). We popped into the ballroom and watched the first Candyman movie. After that we attended a Q&A that included Betsy Palmer, who played Mrs. Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th film. After the session Gregg and I got to chat with her for a bit and got a photo. She was the first horror celebrity I got to meet, and that kicked off what has been pretty much 15 years straight of doing multiple Monster-Mania’s per year.
These days horror conventions are all over the place (and that’s a good thing). It is an incredible thing to be able to meet your favorite actors and filmmakers. Being in the middle of a crowded vendor room with nothing but wall to wall horror related merchandise is a quasi-religious experience for spooky film fanatics. I’ve been to a variety of different shows up and down the East Coast and have yet to have a bad time, although some shows are definitely better. I am of the opinion that Monster-Mania is the best around.
The reason why Monster-Mania stands out to me is the familial atmosphere that is seldom replicated. One criticism over the years that the show has simply grown too big. This has resulted in things like capping ticket sales. Over and over again we hear people clamoring for the show to be held at a convention center. The promoters have been reluctant to make that move because those cons at the big convention centers lose that intimate feeling. It is important for them to maintain that Monster-Mania atmosphere.
I will forever defend this particular convention. I have had the incredible opportunity to meet some of my absolute favorites in the industry. People like John Carpenter, Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, and Clive Barker. I have been able to cultivate some incredible friendships that have afforded me some pretty incredible opportunities (I got to be in the second season of the first episodic zombie TV show, Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead). I’ve been able to grow my fandom by networking and purchasing a slew of different types of horror merch. Before each show I still get those insane moments of anticipation. There’s always excitement as I catch my first glimpse of the Crowne Plaza in the distance. It’s hard to explain the feeling of walking through those doors again each year. Plainly, it feels like home.
And THAT is why with my first tribute post for October 2019, I honor the Monster-Mania horror convention in Cherry Hill, NJ.