|Masks by artist Casey Love, spotted at Son of Monsterpalooza.|
At Son of Monsterpalooza, things got creepy in the best way possible. The convention, which took place in Burbank, California, last weekend, is dedicated to horror films. Tom Savini was there, so were Chiodo Bros, the folks behind the cult classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Booths spilled out from the exhibit hall and into the area that would normally be a lobby, almost all of them filled with spooky stuff, from horror flick memorabilia to Day of the Dead-inspired art to fantastic, handmade creatures.
I’m a sucker for anything creepy and found it difficult to get away from the booths. Numerous attempts to venture outside of the vending area failed when my head cocked to the side. OMG, look at that Bride of Frankenstein! Holy crap, that’s the coolest alien I’ve seen! Dude, it’s Annabelle! Spooky artists make my day and, hopefully, some of the finds will make yours too.
1. Cinemaquette’s Creature From the Black Lagoon
Creature From the Black Lagoon is, hands down, my number one favorite monster of all time,” says special effects artist-turned-collectible toy maker Steve Wang. “This is sort of my love letter to the Creature.”
Wang spent months sculpting the one-third scale figure for Cinemaquette. It is a highly detailed figure, down to the wrinkles on the face and scales covering the body. The 27″ gill-man stands on a base that serves as the lagoon, as the tide gently rolls over the Creature’s feet, nearly reaching the sculpted rocks. A lizard watches the monster from on top of a log. It is gorgeous. Wang points to “a little easter egg” that he stuck in the base for fellow fans: look into the lagoon and you’ll see a fossilized hand sticking out from under the log. It could make an unsuspecting collector jump, maybe more out of glee than fear.
This limited edition, licensed piece is still available and can be purchased for $1899 through Cinemaquette.
2. Elite Creature Collectibles’ Underworld Figures
Steve Wang, who made the Creature from the Black Lagoon figure in the previous post, also has his own line of figures. Elite Creature Collectibles makes high-end pieces based on properties like Blade and Men in Black. Recently, they have been working on a series of busts and figures based on Underworld characters and they are spectacular. The highlight of the collection is a 1:3 scale maquette of Marcus Corvinus. Wang actually did the make-up for the on-screen character and that kind of familiarity with Marcus is apparent in this stunning piece. He collaborated on the figure with his girlfriend, Miyo Nakamura, and it is caught poised for a battle. “What we’re trying to do with these figures is we’re trying to capture the character in a moment in time,” says Wang.
At $2,200, this is something for serious collectors. Moreover, it is actually part of what is intended to be a set. They are currently working on a Lycan figure, whose base will connect to the one that holds up Marcus.
3. Ivonne Escoto’s Colorful, Furry Beasts.
Ugh, not that kind of furry. Ivonne Escoto makes creatures that prove that you don’t have to brood to be creepy. These brightly colored beasts are as cuddly as they are menacing.
Escoto, who was a contestant in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, makes her characters by hand, stitching their bodies together and casting faces from resin. She says these pieces are based on how she wanted to draw animals, but that others may see them as different sorts of beings. “They’re just creatures,” she says. “They can be whatever you want them to be.”
4. Tim Martin’s Giant Alien.
Tim Martin is a 15-year veteran of the special effects industry whose favorite movie is Aliens. It makes sense, then, that he would build a massive homage to the famed, and frightening, xenomorph.
Of course, recreating one of film’s best known horror/sci-fi menaces is not an easy task. Martin cast the body for the Alien and sculpted over the figure. He also had some molds from the film that he used. “There’s no real sculpted suit for the second film,” says Martin. “It’s just applied to pieces of spandex, so I basically went by what I think the Alien looks like.” He completed the installation with a replicas of a helmet and rifle used in the movie. It was a mad rush to the finish for Martin; he completed the piece on the Friday morning of the convention weekend.
5. Sideshow Collectibles’ Court of the Dead.
You know Sideshow Collectibles for their gorgeous statues of beloved pop-culture characters. (My personal favorite is the Brock Samson figure that turned up at San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago.) Did you know, though, that Sideshow Collectibles also has their own line of characters? It is called Court of the Dead and the figures were on display at Son of Monsterpalooza last weekend. There is a back story, told comic-book style, and a large cast of characters who are slowly hitting the market. Right now, there are pre-orders going on for Gethsemoni, the Queen of the Dead, who wears a skeleton-hand bra top and lots of big jewelry. “She was the first character in the Court of the Dead,” says David Igo of Sideshow Collectibles, explaining that Death himself bestowed great powers upon her. “He might have given her too much power. She’s kind of a wild card.” Also up for pre-sale is Gallevarbe, otherwise known as Death’s Siren. She is a mermaid and an assassin. A Grim Reaper figure has already sold out and Sideshow Collectibles plans to release a new piece every two months.
6. The Scary Closet’s Scary Puppets.
I love puppets. They are beautiful, representative of a long history of entertainment and fun to watch on stage. There is also something a little sinister about them, as though the puppets could come to life horror-movie style and kill you.
The Scary Closet plays on the idea of spooky puppets with replicas of horror movie characters. At Son of Monsterpalooza, they brought out some of the big guns, like Pennywise and The Conjuring version of purported haunted doll Annabelle. According to The Scary Closet’s owner, Mark Anthony, Annabelle was the big hit of the convention. They brought out an animatronic version of the puppet, housed in a display case. Nearby, someone with a remote control would make her turn her head to look at the passers-by. Super creepy!
My favorite piece at the booth, though, was the life-size Bathsheba Witch replica that sits in a rocking chair. From a distance, I thought I was looking at a cosplayer rocking back and forth in a corner of the room. The likeness is uncanny. Anthony says that even Joseph Bishara, who played the character in The Conjuring, got a kick out of it.
This relatively new company is looking to break into the haunted house market. The puppets at Son of Monsterpalooza were prototypes, handmade by a group of freelance artists. Anthony himself isn’t an artist. He is a collector who was inspired after buying a prop puppet from Saw II and says that he just wants to produce cool items for other collectors.
7. Universal Monsters That Can Hang From Your Wall.
Mike Reagan is a hobbyist who has been building models for decades. He started out with monsters, moved on to airplanes and then returned to monsters years later. He’s also incredibly good with an airbrush. At Son of Monsterpalooza, I met Reagan while he was painting the Bride of Frankenstein as part of a booth set up by modeling kit company Black Heart and Badger Air-Brush Co. Some of Reagan’s completed pieces were on display, including the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Werewolf of London and another Bride of Frankenstein. Black Hearts resin kits include busts and wall-hanging recreations of the classic Universal Monsters. They are exquisitely sculpted pieces, made all the more dramatic by Reagan’s work painting them. The wall kits are the stand out idea here, especially for people who like to collect, but live in small quarters. “You can hang a picture, you can hang one of these,” says Reagan. “To me, it’s a perfect combination.”
8. Real Pumpkins Turned Into Sculpture.
Jon Neill has been sculpting since he was a child and by day, he works as an illustrator and prop maker for TV and film. A few years ago, a friend suggested that he try sculpting a cake for the Food Network competition show, Halloween Wars. “I don’t sculpt cakes,” says Neill, “But I thought I would have a good chance of sculpting a pumpkin.”
In three years, Neill’s intricately carved pumpkins have become really popular. He shows them off at events like Son of Monsterpalooza and Halloween festivals. He will carve pumpkins for private clients, but if you want something a little more permanent, check out the glow-in-the-dark pumpkin figures available on his website.
9. Disturbingly Beautiful Statues Based on an H.P. Lovecraft Story.
Casey Love is a creature designer by trade, but he makes monsters even when he is not on the job. At Son of Monsterpalooza, Love had a large booth filled with his pieces, but the showstoppers were life-size sculptures of fish-human hybrid creatures who appear to be running. The woman is carrying a baby in her arms. The works are based off of characters from H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
Love doesn’t normally work this big. In order to make the pieces, he had to start by crafting a small sculpture. Then he built the structure of the life-size pieces with aluminum wire, foam and wet clay. Parts of the creatures, like the tentacles, are made with silicone. His wife, Melissa, punched the hair into the sculpted beings. “It’s a huge process and it’s a lot more work than I think people realize,” says Love. It’s also an imaginative process, as Love’s design went off of his own interpretation of the descriptions in Lovecraft’s text. “I’m hoping one day, they’ll do a film on this,” says Love. I’ve never read The Shadow Over Innsmouth, but, after seeing these, I would like to see that film made as well.
10. An Animatronic Imp to Freak out Your Pals.
Out in Redlands, California, there is a group of artists known as Figment Foundry. Every Friday night, they get together and work on their own art projects, whether that involves animatronics or costumes or props. The group had a booth set up at Son of Monsterpalooza and their projects were exquisite, less horror movie-style gore and more fairy tale-style ghoulishness.
Ben Schwenk is one of the artists involved in Figment Foundry. He describes his animatronics project as either an imp or a demon, something he made for fun and occasionally takes on haunted house excursions. It is emaciated with sparse hair, pointy ears and bulging eyes. What makes this character freaky is its life-like skin. I’m just going to slowly back away before this thing can play a trick on me.
Previously by Liz Ohanesian