Monsterpalooza 2017: More Monster Than Ever

This last weekend was another year of Monsterpalooza, one of the largest horror/fx makeup conventions in Southern California. In its second year at the Pasadena Convention Center after moving from its original home in Burbank, the convention was bigger than it has ever been.

The show was so large this year, that many—let me repeat that—many people did not get in after waiting several hours outside the convention hall. Hotels were almost fully booked within a ten-mile radius, and both mornings on the weekend had a daily ticket line that wrapped around the block (which is a very big block).

Every year, Monsterpalooza draws larger crowds which in turn, has evolved the convention to bring bigger and better things every year. Not only were there hundreds of vendors, nonstop makeup demos, and monsters galore, but the talent for signings was bigger than it has ever been, the main attraction being horror legend Robert Englund obviously known for his role as Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. His autograph line was a consistent three hour wait which clogged a portion of the outer convention hall each day.

Other huge names included Cassandra Peterson who is well known as Mistress of the Dark, Elvira, and Hollywood makeup legend (promoting his new book) Michael Westmore. More highlights included Robert Picardo, Tony Todd, Dick Miller, George Wendt, and Piper Laurie.

Yet, the main attraction of Monsterpalooza has always been the live makeup demos in which artists spend hours bringing monsters to life right before our eyes. The focus has always been bringing these nightmare makers together to network, check out the newest products in the industry, and showcasing the incredibly talented artists in attendance.

Here are some of the highlights of the show floor:

Forgotten Times

Russ Gurly and Ari Flagle have a joint effort in creating museum-quality skulls, art, and other oddities from Oceanic tribes. I was drawn to their work, not only because I’m a little familiar with Oceanic art, but their skulls were unlike anything I had seen before. Of course, horror conventions are home to a huge variety of skull art, but the work featured was not only bright an exciting, the quality of the replicas, adorned with décor that comes from the source, were realistic enough to set anyone on edge.

The majority of the skulls on display were from tribes in New Guinea or Borneo, either carved, laid with shells, painted, or feathered. Either a replica of a trophy, burial, or other tribal skull art, they were all haunting. The pieces were remarkable, and for those who like these types of curiosities, they were pieces that you would definitely want to put in your collection. And, if you’re looking for something that pushes the boundaries, real specimens were also available for your curio cabinets at home.

You can find Russ and Ari’s pieces on Facebook if you’d like to pick up one of their pieces, but they will also be at Son of Monsterpalooza in September if you want to check out their work in person.

Mike Hill’s Monsters

Every year, Mike Hill has an exhibit of his work on the show floor. Last year there were several full-size pieces, but this year, it was a stunning collection of classic monsters with what felt like an intimate boudoir moment with the Bride of Frankenstein. In my opinion, Mike Hill’s work is flawless, right down to the smallest detail. He really knows how to bring these replicas to life, to capture not only the essence of the characters, but the actors that brought these characters to life. (My personal favorite is Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.)

The Museum

The museum, which is another highlight of the show every year, had fantastic displays (some familiar and many new) that drew a consistent line out the door every day. Some of these pieces were enormous, and some of them small, but all of them were incredible. One of my favorites was Rick Baker’s paper mache Nosferatu. I had great respect for this exhibit since I’ve worked in the medium myself, and to see so much detail created with a material that is not known for eliciting such, was truly a sight to see, and a testament to Baker’s mastery of monster making.

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser 30th Anniversary Makeup Demo

No question, watching one of the most iconic demons in horror coming to life was breathtaking. Working with Clive Barker for the inception of the piece, the makeup talents of Cris Alex and Stephen Imhoff created a version of the Hell Priest that honored the classic character. For hours at the Premiere Products, Inc booth, they carefully laid the delicate applications on a patient model who exuded Pinhead’s demonic aura. After completion, the Clive Barker booth was graced with several cenobites and the successful makeup that fans went nuts for.


There was so much more to see at the show, and art and collectibles that bled horror fan wallets dry. However, if this year’s crowd and lines were any indication, the show will soon outgrow its new venue and might need to find and even better, bigger house for its growing collection of monsters.

Monsterpalooza will return to Pasadena for their 10th anniversary next year, so get your tickets early so you’re not one of the few who waited for hours, and did not get to join in the monster mayhem.

Check out the rest of these photos and let us know what was your favorite part of Monsterpalooza this year on Twitter @socialhorrornet.

One Comment

  1. Monsterpalooza always is telling people to get their tickets in advance. I guess for that reason since if you wait until the day of you risk maybe not getting in… Even though most of the people I know who didn’t get their ticket ahead of time got in, it just took a while… Sort of like when they were in Burbank the same thing happened if you waited until the day of.

    GET YOUR TIX IN ADVANCE PEOPLE! THEY SAY IT FOR A REASON! And also, maybe people will learn to leave the strollers at home. Am I the only person who thinks strollers are the worst at conventions?

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