Event Coverage: San Antonio Monster-Con 3

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Events
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Event Coverage: San Antonio Monster-Con 3

by: Pontifex Aureus

The Wonderland of the America’s Mall (formerly Crossroads Mall) is a funny place. Despite it’s new, loud-orange paint-job, the unmistakable vibe of the 80’s still haunts the place; you can see it in the odd bits of neon pink and turquoise that still remain here and there. It must have been a real beauty in its time, but like many older malls, Wonderland had had the symptoms of Dying Mall Syndrome for many years. The place was a ghost town—no people, empty shops; its decay was a sad thing for those who still remembered its glory days. The next step would have been to quietly go out of business, but astonishingly, that never happened. Somehow or other, the mall lingered on, refusing to die, and eventually a new kind of life seeped back into the place.

Rather than returning as a regular mall, Wonderland came back different; it has become like the public access version of a mall where everyday-people can go in there and open up shop. This has given rise to some truly unique and quirky stores that you’d never see in your average mall. It is also home to the Santikos Bijou, San Antonio’s only full-time art-house movie theater. You’ll find a different kind of crowd at Wonderland; you’ll find seekers of the odd and the hard-to-find. So it’s no wonder that out of this new atmosphere came the San Antonio Monster-Con.

The Monster-Con is a natural continuation of Wonderland’s spirit of indie oddity. Unlike most conventions, the Monster-Con is absolutely free to attend; there’s no bracelets, no passes, just show up and enjoy two days of horrific entertainment and shopping. It is very low key so you won’t find any huge prize-giveaways and you’re not likely to see Robert Englund there anytime soon, but that’s what I really love about it. It has a certain DIY rawness to it, like a horror-style flea market, that makes me feel truly close to the local horror scene. There’s no excessive gloss and flash standing between you and the people there.

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Monster-Con, now in its third year, is still a relatively new institution, but it has grown by leaps and bounds. There were easily twice as many vendors there this time as compared to the first Monster-Con and the variety of merchandise was wonderful. You could find collectible toys, books, comics, and original artwork. Among my favorites was a delightful Victorian hat shop called Caveat Emptor that made some really excellent hats, with the ladies hats being particularly stylish and elaborate.

And in addition to the visiting vendors, there’s also the aforementioned quirky shops native to the Wonderland Mall. For example, those of you who are really into dressing up for Halloween might consider heading over to Creeping Beauty, Inc. Creeping Beauty is a makeup and hair salon with a horror twist; in addition to the more traditional salon services they offer, the ladies there can also deliver top-quality horror makeup. They have done work for movies and professional photo shoots as well, so if you’re a filmmaker or a photographer, go check them out.

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Wonderland is also home to a true underground San Antonio legend: Creepy Classics. I initially discovered Creepy Classics some years ago at their old location on San Pedro avenue—a small, creepy shack of a building containing golden VHS treasures. Since then, they’ve gotten considerably bigger. In addition to movies, they also sell a variety of horror-themed memorabilia and collectibles. They regularly tour horror conventions and are, in fact, one of the major sponsors of Monster-Con itself.

There’s lots more to do at Monster-Con besides shopping of course. Like any good convention, Monster-Con has its share of panel presentations and celebrity guests. Among the guests this year was Billy Blair, who has been in movies such as Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Machete. Billy hosted a panel of his own where he discussed his recent work on the upcoming film Blood Sombrero. Extreme Horror author Tim Miller, whom we mentioned in our Horrific Film Fest article, was there as well and to give a presentation on writing horror fiction—invaluable information for those looking to get into horror writing themselves. Other panels touched upon topics as varied as ghost hunting, prop-making, and cyberpunk culture.

Monster-Con was also host to the 5 Minutes of Fear mini film festival, which I really got a kick out of. Held in its own viewing room, the mini film festival featured horror movies limited to a 5 minute running time, so you get an intense, rapid-fire horror experience within a very small amount of time. The films ran continuously back-to-back so you could pop in and out whenever you liked, which was good because there were lots of other things to see and do. For example, there was the zombie pin-up girl costume contest, where local ladies got the chance to get zombied-out and then gussied-up in their best retro pin-up attire. Monster-Con visitors were also treated to a musical performance by the young men of San Antonio’s School of Rock.

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All in all, the Monster-Con is a great destination for San Antonio-area horror-lovers. The only thing I can say against it is that there is perhaps just a little too much of a sci-fi element for what is primarily a horror convention. Admittedly, the sci-fi and horror genres have always been known to be frequent bedfellows, but in those cases, I think of the movie Alien or John Carpenter’s The Thing. I certainly do not think of Star Wars. I felt that the frequent lightsaber battle displays that occurred on-stage, though enjoyable, somewhat detracted from the horror vibe of the con. But don’t let that dissuade you from going, the Monster-Con is still a great example of underground, independent horror togetherness and you owe it yourself, San Antonio, to go out there next September and feel the horror love.

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