Just because I still cover my eyes at scary movies doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. Though I was slow to enter the realm of horror fandom after a fateful accidental viewing of The Serpent and the Rainbow at age 9, I was already mesmerized by numerous Halloween specials and sneaking glances at Fangoria on the newsstand as a kid. So when I learned about a horror convention from October 7-9, 2016 in my local Atlanta, I just had to check it out.
I’ve been to numerous expos and cons, but at 36 years old, Monsterama would mark my very first time attending a horror convention. In this modern world of events like San Diego Comic Con with production budgets to match their Hollywood-centered appeal, it’s refreshing to find a good old-fashioned fan convention. This year’s theme was “The Golden Age of Mosterama,” which celebrated the “fantastic in film, literature, and art,” and was centered around marquee guest Caroline Munro who had roles in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Spy Who Loved Me, and others. Other celebrity guests included Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Trina Parks (Diamonds Are Forever), and a few others who unfortunately had to cancel due to Hurricane Matthew.
Although there were celebrity guests at the con, Monsterama is far from those dollar-driven celebrity conventions. No, the focus here was for the love of the genre, not just actors. I’ll be honest, when I walked into the event’s screening room and they were showing movies using actual 16mm film projectors instead of going digital, I knew these were some longtime, hardcore fans! Though the event and attendance were smaller than I had anticipated, it was obvious that those who came were passionate about horror and fantasy and quick to make friends with those similarly enthused (raises hand).
Programming tracks included literature, films, gaming, and music. In addition to the guests and the panel sessions, the largest area of the con was the two vendor halls. Unlike other conventions where the vendor halls are only filled with stuff to buy, Monsterama had several areas to display models, artwork, props, and more! I saw an incredible large scale model of the starship Enterprise, life sized mannequins of Nosferatu and Frankenstein’s Monster, and numerous rubber character masks cast from the original movie molds.
It wouldn’t be a con without costumes, and Monsterama was no exception. I saw some great cosplayers including The Shining twins, a ghostly pirate, and even a mermaid swimming around the heated indoor pool during a late night party. Don’t be fooled by the blood and gore you may see at Monsterama, this is a family-friendly event. There were sessions focused on kids costumes and prop making, and a session I hated to miss which featured live makeup applications.
Hurricane Matthew just so happened to make landfall on the coast the weekend of Monsterama, and the much larger Orlando-based Spooky Empire was forced to cancel. With a supremely generous gesture, Monsterama organizers offered to honor Spooky refugees free admittance since their party was cancelled. I know that some vendors took them up on their offer, but regardless, the offer was just one example of how down-home and unassuming this con was. Monsterama hasn’t reached the size and flash of larger conventions around Atlanta (yet), but the smaller fan-focused convention was a breath of fresh air for this geek.