Monday, July 22, 2013

Monster Bash 2013

On the weekend of July 19-21, I attended Monster Bash 2013 in Mars, Pennsylvania (not to far away from Pittsburgh). It was my first time at a Monster Bash, and I had a great experience. If you are someone who is a huge fan of classic horror films, I highly recommend going to a future Monster Bash if you are able to.

There was a ton of movie memorabilia on sale (which I tried to avoid, considering all the money I spent on a hotel room, gas, tolls, etc.). The main reason I went was to meet the impressive lineup of autograph guests. I think it's pretty cool to encounter people you've watched on TV or the movies since you were a kid.

One of the most interesting guests I met was Donnie Dunagan. He was a child star in the 1930s. His most famous on-screen appearance was in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, as the young child of Basil Rathbone's Baron Frankenstein (which means Donnie was the REAL Son of Frankenstein). Mr. Dunagan was also in TOWER OF LONDON....and he was the voice of Bambi! After his acting career he became a U. S. Marine.

I also met John Saxon, who was in dozens of films and TV shows. He co-starred with Clint Eastwood in JOE KIDD, and he was in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but probably his most remembered role was fighting alongside Bruce Lee in ENTER THE DRAGON.

I also met several writers and film historians, including Greg Mank, Tom Weaver, Leonard J. Kohl, "Scary Monsters" publisher Dennis Druktenis, and "Monsters From The Vault" publisher Jim Clatterbaugh.

I also had a chance to talk to Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. If you've read some of my blogs on recent Hammer Blu-rays, you'll know that it's Ballyhoo which is responsible for the fine extras and featurettes that are on those discs. Griffith presented three new documentaries from his company at Monster Bash: one on the making of THIS ISLAND EARTH, one on the Universal career of director Jack Arnold, and one of the making of THE MOLE PEOPLE. All three were very well done and hopefully they will be available for everyone to see soon.

Geri & Jill Howard, the daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Shemp Howard, were at the Bash and I got to meet them and tell them that I've been watching their relatives my entire life. They also did a Q & A session where they told some very interesting stories about Shemp and the Howard family.

Frank Dello Stritto held a forum in which he gave out to the crowd mimeographed copies of 1940 census information concerning such horror stars as Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney Jr., Atwill, etc. It was a fascinating talk....looking at those sheets made you realize that these were real people with real lives...but I had to wonder about whether the people listed on these sheets would have really wanted this info being discussed at a monster movie convention years later.

There was also an Abbott & Costello tribute act. For those wondering what Abbott & Costello impersonators would be doing at a monster movie convention, just remember that A & C met Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde...Bud & Lou fought more monsters than Peter Cushing! The guys were great (I wish I knew their real names to give them proper credit), and of course they performed "Who's On First". They were dead perfect...these guys had the routines down cold.

There were so many other things I did (and a number of things I didn't get to do), but I think you get the idea about how much stuff goes on at a Monster Bash. There was one other special person I met at the Bash...but that will be the subject of an entirely different blog post.

John Saxon and I
The pre-eminent classic horror film historian, Greg Mank
Bud & Lou!!
Cortlandt Hull's Witch's Dungeon exhibit at Monster Bash
Wax figure of Hammer's version of the Phantom of the Opera
Donnie Dunagan autograph
John Saxon autograph



  1. Dan,

    Looks like you had a great time! I would love to attend a Monster Bash sometime but I don't know how or when. Thanks for sharing your pics and stories.


  2. Hello Dan,
    By any chance, did you happen to see Frank Dello Stritto there? He is a Horror buff/Historian/Author also. Thanks for posting the pics.

    1. In this post I mention Frank Stritto's forum on the information he got on various horror film stars from the 1940 U.S. Census.

    2. DAN

      By the way, it is "Dello Stritto."

      Thanks for mentioning my 1940 census talk in your Bash summary. You wonder how the famous people would feel about their census information made public. I go back & forth on that whenever I research anybody. Not a big issue on the census. Certainly, compared to the straigthforward facts in the census, more intimate and private details about some of them were discussed in other Bash presentations,

      The price of fame, I guess. If you go into a profession that depends on being noticed--well guess what, you get noticed!!!

      But I prefer talking about the lives of movie characters, who don't exist, than the lives of the rich and famous, who have descendants that might feel violated by having family secrets revealed.

      By the way--my census presentation is your tax dollars at work. The information exists only because the government collected, archived, scanned, indexed, and family posted it online. Anybody can see it.

      Good luck on the blog.


    3. Frank...I hope you don't think I was being critical of your talk. I found it very comment was based on how I myself would have felt if someone had discussed my information (not that I am presumptious enough to compare myself to Karloff and Lugosi). Thanks for following the blog.