Monsterpalooza returns in time for Halloween

To no surprise, zombies were out in force — after all they do like to roam in packs — the weekend before Halloween at the Marriott Burbank Hotel & Convention Center for Son of Monsterpalooza.

For fans of horror movies, Son of Monsterpalooza is one big rush. Nearly 180 exhibits offer the gamut of the genre, from masks to makeup, comics, DVDs, books, artwork, sculptures, life-size eerily realistic wax figures, puppets, jewelry and T-shirts, buttons and action figures; and for those who like to dress up, a costume contest.

For the movie buff, there is always a nice roster of stars from horror movies.

Accompanied by friend and colleague Michelle Mills (blog: Mickie’s Zoo), we arrived well in time Saturday for day two of the convention.

Once inside the hall, you can be overwhelmed by how far-reaching the horror genre industry has become. Just a leisurely stroll up and down the aisles for a quick perusal of the exhibits can take an hour — and naturally those exhibits that particularly grab your interest will force you to pause.

While I liked to stop at the tables that featured action figures, books and magazines and DVDs, Michelle loved the exhibits that featured pins — she was wearing two “Frankenweenie” pins — jewelry and T-shirts. We both were amazed at the detail that goes into the various sculptures and clay and wax figures.

Sculptor Ross Tallent was working on a clay zombie head and the little progress he was making as we cruised by several times was indicative of how much time these figures take to be formed into scary perfection.

Per usual I was scoping for the movie stars. I especially was eager to see Veronica Cartwright, who played Lambert in “Alien.” There is a scene in the extended director’s cut of “Alien” wherein Lambert viciously slaps Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), incensed that Ripley had refused to allow Lambert, Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and Cain (John Hurt) back into the Nostromo after the facehugger had attached itself to Cain. There had been an anecdote that the scene required several takes because Weaver kept flinching in anticipation of the slap, so director Ridley Scott told Cartwright just to do it without warning. Cartwright confirmed that story was true.

Bela Lugosi Jr. was in attendance again, as he had been at Monsterpalooza in April, and unfortunately was the only person there representing the old Universal monster icons Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. At the April event, Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff, and Ron Chaney, grandson of Lon Chaney Jr., had been on hand.

Other actors in attendance who had made their mark in horror movies included Clu Gulager (“Return of the Living Dead), Stephen Lack (“Scanners), David Hedison (“The Fly” and the television series “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”), Joe Turkel, (the ghost bartender Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrence  vents to in “The Shining”), George “The Animal” Steele and Lisa Marie from “Ed Wood,” Lance Henriksen (“Aliens,” “Pumpkinhead”), who also was signing his autobiography, “Not Bad for a Human,” Sybil Danning, star of numerous action and horror films, Kelli Maroney, Jewel Shepherd, and some of the newer stars of the horror genre: Natalie Victoria (“Dead Heads”), Gaylen Baker (“Whicked Lake”) and Brooke Lewis (“Hallow Pointe”).

I also stopped by to speak with Catherine Mary Stewart, from “Night of the Comet” and “The Last Starfighter.” I brought up her brief appearance early in her career in “Nighthawks.”  In this 1981 film she plays a sales clerk in a London store where the terrorist Wolfgar (Rutger Hauer), while pretending to make a purchase discreetly with his foot stashes a time bomb under the counter. Asking the clerk to wrap the purchase and that he will return in a minute to pick it up, he leans forward and says, “You’re really very pretty.” He exits the store just seconds before the bomb detonates.

Stewart nodded in acknowledgment of that role and said, “I was so young and innocent. But I got tough in my later roles.” Such as her Regina in “Night of the Comet.”

Also drawing people were the makeup exhibits where actual application of makeup can be viewed. These can be long and tedious processes. The people who were being made up had to sit still in a few for well over and hour, and longer. But the results were incredible. One young lady emerged from her makeup session a prom queen turned zombie, complete with her throat torn open.

Of the special events offerings, we attended the “MastersFX — Making Monsters and Mayhem”, featuring Todd Masters, who was celebrating 25 years of his MASTERFX  doing special effects for movies. The presentation was a disappointment because of technical difficulties. A CD presentation that was supposed to be projected onto a big screen was not functioning, so those of us in attendance had to close in and hover around a laptop computer screen. Masters and his guests, independent directors and writers, and twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska — founders of Twisted Twins Productions — and actress Tristan Risk, tried to compensate for the problem, but could not overcome the disadvantage of not having good visual aids. Nevertheless, interest was piqued on the Soskas’ latest film “American Mary,” a little horror film that delves into the world of underground surgeries — voluntary body alterations. It is scheduled for release in early 2013.

Monsterpalooza will return to haunt Burbank on April 12-14, 2013.

Prom queen emerged from makeup session as a zombie

Various masks offer all kinds of ghoulish possibilities for Halloween.

Life-like wax figures depict Dr. Henry Frankenstein and his creations, the monster and his possible bride.

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