We can all agree that the world, especially at the moment, feels like a very scary place. From heartless dictators to deranged mass shooters to toxic domestic partners, the daily news cycle is filled with monsters. It’s no wonder that so many of us gravitate towards the make-believe kind – inhuman, fantastical creatures and creepy but cool figures that might have haunted our nightmares as kids, but more significantly provided an escape from reality, taking us into exciting new realms of mythic misadventure. Monster love is about nostalgia and feeling the fear and fascination of childhood, but it’s also about creativity and imagination. And there’s no place quite as faithful to these ideas as Monsterpalooza, which takes over the Pasadena Convention Center this weekend.

According to creator Eliot Brodsky, Monsterpalooza is the most focused festival for fiendish creations out there, delving into the art of monster-making with an emphasis on movie magic. The New York-based event promoter brought his idea for gathering special effects creators and artists to Los Angeles in 2009 after doing a trial event in New York called Maskapalooza in 2008. It has grown ever since, even though COVID-19 stunted things in 2020 and 2021.

Works by Illusion Industries

(Courtesy Illusion Industries/Monsterpalooza)

Anticipation for this year’s event is high, as the world has come to live with the virus and vaccinations have made con events, in general, a bit safer. The internationally-renowned event is sure to once again attract fans and professionals in film, makeup, special effects, collectible toys, and art, with award-winning creature creators displaying and educating about their work.

“Monsterpalooza has provided us with countless opportunities to network with the world’s leading monster makers as well as recruit many of them to teach video courses for us,” says Matt Winston of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts – named after his Academy Award-winning father, best known for his work in Terminator, Aliens, The Thing, Iron Man, and Edward Scissorhands.Since [the school] is 100% online, Monsterpalooza has also given us a chance to meet prospective students and connect in person with our current students and alumni from all around the globe. There’s simply no other convention that gathers such a huge variety of monster makers and fans in one place, to share their love of all things that go bump in the night.”

Sculpture by artist J Anthony Kosar at Monsterpalooza Photo by Franklin Madriz

(Courtesy J Anthony Kosar/ Monsterpalooza)

Before he was an event producer, Brodsky noticed the fervor for fiendish art as a creator himself – he made and sold collectable busts featuring classic horror and 1970’s film characters. “I sort of had a following, because I did very-limited busts for collectors,” he shares. “That forged relationships due to the internet, with the artists who were actually working in film giving me little pointers if I’d had questions. Then there was about four or five years of revisiting and investigating things I was interested in as a kid. It inspired me to do a show.”

What began as a niche event at the Burbank Marriott grew quickly into an extravaganza that ultimately moved to the Pasadena Convention Center and spawned a smaller Fall event called Son of Monsterpalooza. “I guess it was probably my eighth year that I moved the bigger event to Pasadena,” recalls Brodsky. “We went from a 40,000 square foot venue, up to 85,000 square foot venue, doubled our exhibitors,  and tripled the size of the museum.”

6861915 4 23 16 monsterpalooza 97

(Star Foreman)

The Monsterpalooza museum features full-sized hyper-realistic sculptures as seen on the big screen, plus props and animatronics. “People walk through, there’s music, and a real ambiance to it,” Brodsky explains. “People even line up to get in there and it’s sort of like one of the staple attractions.”

There’s also a theater where panels and presentations are held celebrating actors, directors, and artists, alongside celebrity guests from the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, slashers and more. Of course, for non-industry folk who simply love monster aesthetics, there’s also plenty of vendors selling unique merch, from clothing to decor.

0 2

(Courtesy Micheline Pitt )

“Monsterpalooza is such a love letter to monster kids,” says Micheline Pitt of the clothing brand Vixen, who will be selling licensed fashion from iconic films such as IT, Ghostbusters, Sleepy Hallow and Alien to name a few. “It truly celebrates the generations of artists and fans with such authenticity. I have been an attendee since it came to California over 10 years ago and now being an exhibitor selling product has been an incredible experience.”

“It’s my favorite monster convention,” concurs Eric “Unkle” Pigors, from TOXICTOONS, best known for punk-ish, hyper-stylized takes on Frankenstein and Vampira. “So many talented amazing artists and sculptors work to see! I don’t miss a show.”

Pigors says his art reflects his youth, which was inspired by “weird, humorous counterculture of the 1970s and Halloween.” He’s not alone. Many people have an affinity for the spooky holiday, and many tend to also love “goth” aesthetics, dark genre music and fashion, too. Those of us who identify with the dark side of life feel a special kinship with each other and that’s on full display at conventions of this sort. With October only four months away, fans of the macabre come to connect with likeminded at gatherings like Monsterpalooza and MidSummer Scream coming in July, though the latter event is less special effects based.

285487244 148244954387637 2052786453152369295 n

(Courtesy Eric “UNKLE” Pigors)

“There’s a lot of sculpting, horror related themes and gothic themes,” Brodsky says of Monsterpalooza, which kicks off with an evening preview Friday. “We have a lot of special effects makeup suppliers from the industry.  Yes, it’s a fan show but the professionals also meet up to catch up with each other and buy their supplies. Those people think of it as a trade show. It’s both.”

Like many, Patrick Magee of Magee Fx Inc, known for character and creature design,  prosthetic application, animatronics, and movie quality props, appreciates both elements. “Monsterpalooza has introduced me to a handful of collectors, producers, manufacturers, fans, and even a few artists I’ve hired over the years,” he says. “There isn’t anything quite like it around. It’s got such a wide variety of artists, vendors and events. From amazing life-size fine art pieces to t-shirts and toys to obscure horror film memorabilia. Even as a vendor, I look forward to seeing who brings what each year. ”

Monsterpalooza at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E Green Street, Pasadena; Fri.-Sun., June 3-5. Fri. (6-11 p.m.), Sat.-Sun. (11 a.m.- 6 p.m.). Tickets and info monsterpalooza.com





































































































































































Editor’s note: The disclaimer below refers to advertising posts and does not apply to this or any other editorial stories. LA Weekly editorial does not and will not sell content.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.