Meet Monsterpalooza’s Eliot Brodsky

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The man behind next month’s L.A. convention

Year after year, the West Coast horror convention scene was becoming the same old song. As if caught in a drought, genre fans struggled to find a reprieve from the monotony of the same ol’ guests, panels and dealers. They needed a thriving oasis where they could mingle with like-minded horror lovers, drop some bucks on monstrous merchandise and meet those that shed the red in the fright industry. Then spring of 2009 rolled around bringing with it Monsterpalooza, a three-day expo that recalled the old days of the Chiller Theatre show on the East Coast (I’m talking about the early-’90s).

It might be safe to say that everyone was taken surprise and didn’t see this one coming. Those who curiously ventured to Friday night’s debut spread the word and come Saturday afternoon, the Marriott Burbank Convention Center – where Monsterpalooza was housed – was swarming with attendees. By Sunday night, as FX vets began to strike their tables and dealers packed away their collectibles, Monsterpalooza was an unexpected hit; a delight to those who attended and, sadly, a missed opportunity for those hesitant to attend for fear of being disappointed.

What had people talking was the angle: Monsterpalooza lived up to its name. It attracted a myriad of FX vets, model kit and mask makers, thus turning the unsuspecting Marriott Burbank into a haven for resin and silicone creatures big and small. Certainly, one could find rare DVDs, posters and shirts, too, but Monsterpalooza’s focus was a refreshing change.

The event sprung from the mind of Eliot Brodsky, an East Coast native returning to Burbank next month to unleash a second year of Monsterpalooza. The show will run April 9 – 11 once again at the Marriott Burbank.

“Being a New Yorker, Chiller was my first exposure to conventions,” Brodsky tells Shock Till You Drop. “I didn’t start going until the late-’90s. I was really impressed with what was brought to the show in terms of celebrities and dealers. Ebay wasn’t as strong then and I was walking home with an arm-full of hard to find collectibles. Over the years, though, you start to get jaded. You see the same thing at the shows and dealers are bringing the same things over and over.”

Brodsky felt it was time for change. If no one else was going to deliver a new convention, then he was. A life-long make-up FX nut, who still marvels at the work in An American Werewolf in London and Planet of the Apes (honestly, who can blame ‘im?), Brodsky began looking into putting together a show that highlights the blood, sweat and tears of the industry’s FX artists. “I just felt the only way it could be successful is if it was dropped right into California, in the backyards of all the major FX shops. I’d give the FX shops some time to shine in the light a bit and show what they do, what goes behind creating these monsters. You have obviously the main FX shops then you have the group of artists who go from shop to shop based on productions. I wanted those guys to be in the spotlight as much as the FX shops. We gained support from the artists because they’ve never been allowed to show off what they can do. And there was no way they could come to the East Coast. So, I just bit the bullet and pulled it together from across the country.”

Monsterpalooza 2009’s increasing popularity over its three-day period demonstrated to Brodsky that a show with “no track record” could succeed and that word of mouth was key. It also was all about location, naturally. “I looked into the different facilities out there and attended a couple of shows out there,” he says, “like the L.A. Convention Center, but the Marriott Burbank is self-contained. A perfect size for this show. If you’re at the L.A. Convention Center, you’re a needle in a haystack and if other shows are happening at the same time, you get lost. I like the self-contained feel of the show. It allows for an energy level, it’s just the right size.”

The San Fernando Valley-based convention center also makes it easier for FX shops – like KNB EFX and Amalgamated Design – to put their creations on display in the Monsterpalooza walk-through museum, a highlight of the show that pits visitors face-to-face with some of their favorite killers and beasts. This year, the show will welcome new flesh and blood guests. “We’re going to have almost 200 tables set up and people from Universal’s classic monster days coming in signing autographs. We also have a Return of the Living Dead 25th Anniversary panel going this year. We have the actors, conceptual artist and make-up artists on hand. All weekend long, we’ll have presentations that deal with the genre and are hosted by Academy Award-winning FX artists who explain how they get into the industry. Last year, we had KNB, they’ll be back. We also have Mike Westmore who is from a long history of make-up artists. He’ll be on the stage for a presentation and he’ll be talking about his family and the Burmans are coming, too.”

For more details on Monsterpalooza, visit RubberRoom101.com. A full photo gallery from last year’s event can be found here. And stay tuned as we’ll have some free tickets to give away to our L.A. readers!

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor

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