5 Ways to Monster Mania Part 1
By George Rose
April 16, 2019
Much like the horror movies it honors, the following Monster Mania recap is Rated-R and is not suitable for children. You have been warned.
Going to a pop culture convention is a lot like having sex. There’s a bunch of buildup and pre-planning leading up to the big date. What do you wear? Where are we going? You want to look your best and nerves increasingly tensen up as the big day approaches. Then, before you know it, you’re face to face with the person of your dreams. They go from being a blur in the distance, to a clear face beyond the crowd, to a star caught in your grasp. You hug, you word vomit all over the place because you’re nervous and shaking, you pray to God this moment lasts forever, then you gush all over and it’s done. Then comes the slumber, when you’re so exhausted from all the excitement and the climax that followed that you need a break.
The thing is, this is how it feels for every celebrity. Just a bunch of great dates with satisfying endings and the joy that comes with the occasional one night stand. Now take this scenario and multiply it ten-fold. This is what happens when the person of your dreams, the brightest star in your sky, one of the all time Top 10 game-changing, life-altering celebrities comes to a Con near you. I almost met a Top 10 star a few years ago but missed out on Carrie Fisher mere months before her death. I also almost met Stan Lee at a convention but then he cancelled, only to die a few months later. Two of my Top 10 died before I could go on the date of a lifetime with what I could compare to a childhood crush. The kind of people that define you, the ones you spend your lifetime trying to replace but never come close because now you’re a bitter adult that doesn’t trust anyone. Well, one of my remaining Top 10’s finally made their way to the East Coast to a nerdy pop culture convention in a nearby town. That person was Neve Campbell.
Let me take you back in time, for a moment, to explain the importance of Neve in my life. I was born in 1985, which means the media that was presented to me in the 90’s is what most likely had the biggest impact on defining who I would grow up to become. Though I hate discussing the matter, I was also an insecure, awkward, portly little gay boy in an era when you had to pray nobody knew you were watching the “controversial” Will & Grace because nobody had called us equals yet or given us “coming out parties” or the legal right to marry someone we love. We didn’t get parties and we didn’t get married. We got beat up and occasionally got spit on.
Then we became tortured introverts, people that unfortunately hate themselves as much as they hate their bullies. Strange little gay boys that turn to horror movies so they can safely and legally live out their fantasies of watching straight, white teens get ripped to shreds by a masked killer that was exacting their own revenge. And if you were especially weird, the kind of little gay victim that believed in magical things like superheroes that might save you from your suffering, you may even turn to a horror sub-genre that showcases black magic. You know, really stack the deck with ideas on how to make the bullies of the world pay for their injustices.
Well, with hindsight being 20/20 and all, it only now makes sense that such a tortured soul born in 1985 would turn to such films as Scream and The Craft in 1996, and then all the Scream sequels thereafter. And it makes sense that in this pre-Google age of the internet, when dial-up connection and AOL email were still a thing, that this boy’s first screen name would be NeveLover7, that this boy would get a TV for his bedroom on his 13th birthday and would immediately go out and get himself a VHS player, that this boys first three self-purchased movies would be Scream 1, Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer. And it makes sense that cruel kids would use this information against him.
A girl two grades ahead of me, pretending to be a fellow witchcraft fad friend, would claim her older brother was an assistant on The Craft set and knew Neve and told her about me, and then a few weeks later brought me a letter written and signed by Neve that would fill my heart with joy, just so that another few weeks later they could laugh at me and expose me as a gullible fag when they revealed it was all a joke. So, yeah, it’s funny now in retrospect but it’s also not surprising when I hear about suicidal teens or school shootings. People can be horrible and some victims respond in horrible ways. Lucky for me, movies saved my life and gave me an outlet, and now I get to write about them and go to Comic Cons to meet my lifelong legends.
Super embarrassing gay teen meltdown aside, we are now in 2019 and that depressed victim is now a “gender neutral, sexually fluid, equal to all colors and genders and blah blah blah.” Just kidding, I’m still a portly gay guy but times have changed. Unless you’re one of the few straight, white Nazi’s left there’s a good chance you’re part of a society of equals where the world is your oyster and you can chose to be whatever and whoever you want to be. Everyone is awesome and everyone is also online. Even if you have hate in your heart, you can’t say it out loud which is at least comforting on some level. Unless you’re an internet troll, which makes you a coward and nobody cares what you say. But in my head, the world is different now and it’s more accepting and full of equals. Except for celebrities, who are still the best but now actually come around to conventions so they can meet their fans, and we can finally meet our idols.
Which finally brings me to March 10, 2019, when I was able to attend the Monster Mania convention in Cherry Hill, NJ. Before the big date I knew who was attending and not a scheduling conflict in the world was going to stop me from going. After almost 10 years of going to conventions, this was the very first one in my area that had Neve Campbell appearing. And, if that wasn’t incentive enough, this was also the first convention IN HISTORY that all four women of The Craft would be appearing at together. I have spent years mastering the ways of attending several Cons a season on a budget, but this would not be one of those times. This time, I would blow my whole load of cash all over the convention. I would purchase every possible offer that included Neve Campbell and I would make it my mission to become the fifth member of the Craft coven. Let’s see how it all played out.
#1) PRE-CON PLANNING
Anything can happen between the time the first guest announcements are made for a convention months in advance and what your plan ends up as on the day of the event. You can check out what my original intention for Monster Mania was in the recent 5 Cons to Come article if interested and see who else was on the guest list but, for now, we’ll just discuss my finalized game plan that was set in stone the evening before the big show.
By deciding to create my own Neve Campbell superfan mega package, I had to cut back everywhere else. Also, most of the guests didn’t have a Funko Pop and that’s all I’ll ever really get autographed. That meant the following would be my sole goals for the day: autographs from Neve Campbell (Scream 1-4), Monica Keena (Freddy vs Jason) and James Jude Courtney (2018’s Halloween); a professional photo-op with Neve Campbell; and a professional group photo-op with the women of the Craft (Campbell, Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk and Rachel True).
To accomplish these goals I would need a few Funko Pops, a costume and a custom shirt. The Funko Pops I needed were for Ghostface ($70 on eBay), Freddy vs Jason 2-pack ($30 from a convention a few years ago) and Michael Myers ($15 from FYE last year). The Ghostface costume, which I wanted for my photo-op with Neve, cost me $35 on Amazon. That left me with The Craft photo-op; without a recognizable costume from the movie, I decided a custom shirt featuring the four women with “Squad Goals” would make a nice touch. A coworker of mine has her own side business doing custom work (www.etsy.com/shop/ThatsCrafttasticNJ) so I had her give my vision life for $25. And speaking of visions, it doesn’t hurt to know in advance what color autograph you want and bringing your own paint pens to get the best signature. Since there was a horror convention, I wanted red for all three Funko Pops to give the box a sort-of blood splatter effect. These pens only cost a few bucks and I get mine at Michaels. With prep work now complete, all you can do is wait for the big day.