Mad Monster Party 2014 in Charlotte, NC was a terrific convention. Prior to this convention, I had attended some smaller events and a one larger convention in Virginia Beach, which sadly doesn’t show promise of rising from the dead. However, there is the Scares That Care Weekend coming up in June in Williamsburg, Virginia.
With the turnout on Friday, I was surprised the event was being held at the Hilton. The numbers seemed more befitting of a convention center. However, I heard various reports about how the convention wasn’t an attractive idea to the convention center in Charlotte. I don’t understand why the convention would be such a bad thing. I sometimes think cities have this negative idea about what a horror convention is all about.
Nevertheless, after weaving through the crowd, valeting the car, and getting our room – I made my way down to check in and get my wristband for the weekend. This happened with minimal effort and off I was to explore the layout of the convention. This is something I really recommend to any novice going to their first convention. I know your excited but see how the layout is. It makes for less hassles, constant wandering around looking lost, and it cuts down bumping and dodging people.
Down the escalator, past some info tables, and a large ghoulish skeleton, I passed by a human-sized version of Operation. People were timidly venturing forth and squealing with delight as they tried to excise body parts from the corpse only to be met with large buzzers if they didn’t do it cleanly. Walking past a few vendors, I saw the photo area and discovered that the celebrities were divided between two huge rooms. The celebrities were chiefly along the perimeter and only mixed with the vendors if necessary. The hotel had plenty of ATMs, drink stations, and a snack bar.
The first person I worked up the nerve to talk to was no other than Thrill Me! Tom Atkins. Tom is a well known face from movies such as Night of the Creeps, Halloween III, and Creepshow. Tom once talked to Daily Dead (2013) and had this to say about Night of the Creeps:
When that came out, no one saw it. It ran for a week in LA and New York, but it just kept hanging in there. People were buying bootleg copies and it got a big cult following. Sony decided they could start making money and released a Blu-ray and DVD 22 years after it first came out. We all went down to Austin: Freddy Decker, the kids, and me. We did the commentary there and they had a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse. It was a wonderful weekend and it was so much fun.
Tom was incredibly warm and a very nostalgic fellow. He has definitely enjoyed his career, and he seems to love going to conventions. He was in great spirits. I chatted with him briefly and ended up picking up a picture of him starring on Xena. I had forgotten that he was on the show. It brought up some nice memories for him because he got to take his family to New Zealand to film for three weeks. His son hung out with Lucy Lawless’s daughter during their stay. From his big grin, he seemed to have a great time acting with Lucy and being in New Zealand.
After leaving Tom, I wondered around and decided get over my fear of meeting Tom Savini. Savini has a reputation of being a not-so-pleasant fellow. However, while not chatty, he was very cordial and friendly. I was too choked up to really talk to him. I was worried about saying something that would bring out the Evil Savini. I wonder if he is very aware of his reputation?
I respect Savini. He could charge a lot for an autograph but it was merely $20 or $25 and a picture with him was free. Corey Feldman were charging a total of $60 to get an autograph and photo with him. Honestly, it was a price that I thought absurd but not knowing if I would meet Corey again – I bought into it. Honestly, he was very quiet and meek. Not much of an experience other than sign and sit for the photo. However, I heard stories of how he was not so nice and full of himself. I don’t know him nor had an experience with him where he was being unsavory. I just would categorize the meeting as not much of a highlight as I thought it would be.
Over the span of Friday through Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting many celebrities – Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bill Moseley, Anne Serling, John Schneider, Michael Pollard, Barry Bostwick, John Russo, and more.
Rowdy Roddy Piper is what brought me to Mad Monster Party initially. He was as warm and gentle as I have heard him to be. Takes his time with you, and you really feel that he is as interested in you as you are him.
Bill Moseley didn’t have a handler. He was all about working the crowd. Great personality and warmth especially from a guy that can make your hair stand on edge, like he did in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects.
I met Anne after she participated in a Twilight Zone panel which featured both Richard Keil and William Shatner. Her father really left an inedible mark on world, and I made sure to stop by and tell her how profoundly his work touched me. I also snagged a copy of her book about her life with her father.
John Schneider was a very warm and happy fellow. He probably was really happy because he premiered his movie Smothered at Mad Monster Party. He made a great impression upon everyone. I enjoyed telling him about a childhood story revolving The Dukes of Hazard. He had a good laugh from it. While I was waiting on a picture with him, I noticed that his handler looked really familiar. Not there to sign autographs or anything was none other than John Vernon’s (Animal House) daughter – Kate. She is a terrific actress in her own right – just watch Battlestar Galactica. I think she was slightly amused I recognized her. I don’t know if she was there to support John as a friend or if they are dating. Whatever the case, she’s really sweet to take her time to be there.
Barry Bostwick was nutty and charming as always. I talked to him about my Horror Host friend Mr. Lobo of Cinemia Insomnia and how I saw a video of hanging out with Peaches Christ and doing a little performance from Rocky Horror Picture – in drag. Barry is such a good sport. Being there later in the evening and watching Rocky Horror Picture Show with him and several other cast members from the movie was a real treat!!
Two things that also made Saturday very special were having my picture taken with Elvira and William Shatner. I had to contain my urge to be fangirlish. I was less than inch from William Shatner. While I could not afford an autograph in addition to my photo op, I got to listen to William talk about his career and his memories of the Twilight Zone. At the end of the panel, we got to sing Happy Birthday to Bill. It was his 83rd birthday!
The show wasn’t all about celebrities, I bought some fantastic goodies from vendors – jewelry, art, some Godzilla figures, t-shirts, etc. I also saw several vendor friends and ran into some convention buddies. Convention buddies – I recommend having a few. It’s a great little community of like minded people. My husband came with me but this isn’t his scene. Most of the time, I was alone. I didn’t have a constant buddy this time around. Having another person to hang with at a convention really makes it a lot of fun!
The convention did have a few issues, but you just have to keep working out the kinks. The organizers of Mad Monster Party worked hard to fix issues that arose and really liked having constructive feedback. I appreciated their passion for the event, and I honestly really look forward to going again in 2015.
Looking back on the event, I think my favorite celebrity experience was with Heather Langenkamp of A Nightmare Elm Street fame. Heather is who she is. There is no pretense. She’s just a sweet and kind person who took her time with every fan. She chatted with you and really listened. She simply adorable, beautiful, and warm. I really liked her a lot! I have much respect for her.