It’s October, which means it’s also time for fans or horror and science fiction entertainment to gather at the Marriott in Burbank, costumed or not, to check out the latest in memorabilia, collectibles, pins and jewelry, T-shirts and masks, along with stunning artwork and sculptures, and for movie fans, a chance to meet a few stars.
This event is called Son of Monsterpalooza, and as its name implies, it is not as big an affair as its parent, Monsterpalooza, which is held in the spring. The fall gathering is contained within the convention hall, while the spring program spills over into a neighboring building, usually where the actors are stationed.
Still, the roster of guests at Son of Monsterpalooza was more than adequate for the movie macabre fans. Two movies this year — “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” (25 years) and “Night of the Living Dead” (45 years) — are celebrating anniversaries of their releases. On hand for the “Killer Klowns” festivities were the Chiodo Brothers, Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, Mike Martinez and Harrod Blank. Meanwhile, Russ Streiner, who played Johnny and served as a producer, and John Russo, screenplay co-writer, were on hand to represent “Night of the Living Dead.”
Steiner, 73, may not be as agile as he was when he took on the cemetery zombie in the opening minutes of “Night,” but he remains active as an independent film director, producer and instructor. He echoed what Judith O’Dea (Barbara) said when she appeared at Monsterpalooza in April — that as grim and horrifying as “Night” was, the George Romero-directed low-budget film that was destined to become a classic actually was fun to make. O’Dea had noted that crickets were so prevalent during the shooting, they could be heard loudly even during the indoor scenes. “Yeah,” Streiner confirmed, “There were crickets everywhere. It was summer in Pittsburgh (where the movie was shot).”
Wings Hauser was making his first-ever appearance at a convention of this type. His most recent role in a horror film was in “Rubber” in 2010, a strange movie about a tire — yes, a tire — that has destructive telepathic powers. “I didn’t know what was going on in that movie,” said Hauser, who played the role of Man in the Wheelchair in “Rubber,” adding that he was told by writer-director Quentin Dupieux that it was best he didn’t know.
Hauser, who has an extensive list of guest roles in television series over the years, is probably best known for his portrayal of the brutal pimp Ramrod in “Vice Squad” (1982), a movie that sparked some backlash regarding his violent treatment of women. Among his victims was a character played by Season Hubley, who was married to Kurt Russell at the time. Hauser sat on a panel about grindhouse movies on opening night of Son of Monsterpalooza, and was asked if Russell talked to him about the vicious on-screen treatment of Hubley’s character, Princess. Hauser replied that indeed Russell did, noting that the physical demands of the role left Hubley bruised. Hauser, who incidentally was childhood friends with Russell, in response unbuttoned his shirt and revealed a bite mark Hubley had inflicted upon him.
For Hauser, this debut appearance at a convention was a revelation. He considered a lot of his films he starred in as insignificant and forgotten. So he was surprised at how many fans dropped by to say they loved his work. One man stopped by to have him sign a poster of one of his movies, planning on sending the autographed poster to a friend in Afghanistan.
Hauser, father of actor Cole Hauser, is married to actress and singer-songwriter Cali Lili Hauser, a distant relative of Edward G. Robinson. The couple are working on a movie, “Eve n’ God” they hope to release soon. Hauser, also a musician, has an album coming out soon too.
Steve Railsback was so compelling and creepy as Charles Manson in the television movie “Helter Skelter in 1976, but also is known for his roles in “The Stunt Man” in 1980 and “Lifeforce” in 1985; and endeared himself to “X-Files” fans for his appearance as Duane Barry in two 1994 episodes. He also served as executive producer and had the title role in “Ed Gein” in 2000 about one of the most famous serial killers ever — Gein has served as the basis for Leatherface in the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movies and Jame Gumb in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Talking about his work in “Ed Gein,” Railsback said he did not want the movie to be a slasher film. Instead he wanted to focus on the factors that led to Gein’s horrendous urges to kill and skin his victims. Railsback also reflected on working with Peter O’Toole, with whom he starred in “The Stunt Man.”
“He’s a genius,” Railsback said of O’Toole, who received one of his eight Academy Award nominations for his role as the eccentric, controlling movie director willing to sacrifice anyone to get the perfect shot. “He was very giving,” Railsback said. “But that’s what acting is — giving. I give to you; you give back.”
Other actors present to chat with fans at Son of Monsterpalooza included Dee Wallace (“E.T.”, “The Howling” and “The Lords of Salem”), Ed O’Ross (“The Hidden,” “Full Metal Jacket”), Camille Keaton (“I Spit on Your Grave”), Nastassja Kinski (“Cat People”), Lisa Loring (“The Addams Family” television series), Al Leung, who was featured in a tribute on opening night to his long career in movies (he had a recent stroke and has not been able to work), Tony Todd (“Candyman,” and “Final Destination” movies) and Jeffrey COmbs of “Re-Animator.”
And, of course, the legends of horror movies were represented by offspring. Bela Lugosi Jr., a regular guest at Monsterpaloozas, was on hand, and Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria, who has written a rich and extensive biography of her father, made an informative slide show presentation on opening night, not only focusing on Vincent Price’s career as a horror movie icon, but also his dedication to the arts.
Monsterpalooza continues its run of the fun, the creepy and the howling, with its next convention March 28-30, 2014, at the Marriott in Burbank.