Los Angeles, USA

Monsterpalooza, Don-Con & Phantom

Next weekend is Monsterpalooza. It is a convention for fans of monster movies, of which I am one. I used to get very frightened watching monster movies because it was all real to me. Over time I have had a few friends who have been in scary movies, so I watched them, and was converted. Now I am a fan.

One of the most fun parts of Monsterpalooza is seeing all the costumes. There is an amazing amount of creativity. There is everything from very talented amateurs to people who have competed on Face Off.

So last year, I went with my friend Marsha and my husband Geoff. We did a lot of shopping and chatting with all sorts of monster maniacs. The best part of the convention for me was the costume contest. People did an amazing job putting together realistic and occasionally disturbing outfits. The highlight of the entire event for me was Dead Elvis – the Elvis Impersonator who hosts the costume contest. He kept things rolling, did some great numbers, and was creepy/funny in the very best way.

I took a lot of fun photos, but the kid who won the costume contest as a Martian from Mars Attacks and me and this Wookie carrying a droid head really stand out.

What was great about the Wookie is that he had switches built-in to his fingertips so when he touched a certain finger, C-3PO might say something like, “help me R2.” It made a great Wookie sound too.

I loved the color and detail of the Mars Attacks Martian. It seemed so true to the movie. At the costume contest we found out that the person inside the outfit made it all himself and was all of 17. So impressive. The whole audience at the costume contest went, “Ak, ak, ak” ala the movie when he came on stage. I think it kind of startled him, but really what could be a better compliment?

Anyway, afterwards it was off to a private party. One of the things I love about L.A. is its diversity and all the amazingly interesting people you encounter. It is certainly one of the best places to meet people from the world of entertainment. At this party there were actors, directors, make-up people and creature designers. Best of all, they all loved monsters. I moved around the different groups trying to catch as much conversation as I could and wishing I could be everywhere at once.

Don Post Jr. was at the party. He is an extremely pleasant gentleman, especially considering all the horror he has brought us. His father was known as the Godfather of Halloween, having founded a company in 1938 that produced the best Halloween masks for decades. Don Post Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps. Did you know that the mask that the Michael Myers character wore in the original Halloween film was a modified Don Post mask of William Shatner?

Earlier in the year I helped out with a convention dedicated to fans of Don Post, called Don-Con. So fun! You can catch me talking about Don Post’s eyes on this Monster Party Video they took of the event.

My husband, Geoffrey made an appearance as the mad scientist onstage at the opening of the convention, but you would never know it was him, thanks to the great Don Post mask he is wearing.

Geoff as the Mad Scientist and me

Anyway, back to the party. Also in attendance was Ron Chaney. His grandfather Lon Chaney, and father, Lon Chaney Jr., were pretty famous in the horror business. We have run into Ron a couple of other times in the past year. He is also extremely pleasant and full of interesting stories. In fact, monster people in general are some of the nicest people you will encounter. We first ran into him when we wound up sitting next to him at a screening of a restored presentation of Phantom of the Opera at the amazing car museum, the Nethercutt Collection. Ron ended up at Don-Con too. Small world.

The story behind Phantom of the Opera is very interesting. Shot in 1924, starring Lon Chaney, the test showing was not favorably reviewed. It was then reshot with a different director to be more comedic. The test audience booed it off the screen. It was up to famed director and editor Lois Weber to cut together the various footage into what has become a classic.

The screening we got to see at the Nethercutt Musuem was hand cranked with exceptional improvised organ music on a giant 5,000 pipe Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ. I believe it’s the second largest set of pipes in the world, and it took me away to another world.

By the way, when you’re in Southern California make arrangements to go to the free Nethercutt Museum. Even if you just see the car display, you’ll be very impressed. They have other collections that you have to make reservations to see. This includes an incredible collection of automated mechanical instruments. Insider tip: check out their calendar for special events. You have to call at very specific times to get tickets but it is worth it.


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