Nerd Culture

5 Must-See Mad Monster Party 2015 Guests

According to our calculations, at least 176 days remain until Halloween rolls around, which might seem like an absolute eternity to some folks. Then again, if you're the organizers of the the Mad Monster Party -- the annual convention focused on horror flicks and slasher films -- every day is probably Halloween.

Ditto for any of the horror fans, gothy types, groovy ghoulies, and creepy-looking cosplayers that will flock to the three-day event, which will haunt the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort from Friday, May 8, until Sunday, May 10.

See also: Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff Is Coming to Phoenix Comicon 2015

And a bloody good time will await them, especially if they're interested in meeting the actors and actresses that starred in some landmark films from the horror genre, either as a dastardly or demonic villain or one of their many victims.

There will be plenty of monsters afoot at the Phoenix edition of the Mad Monster Party (or at least the actors that portrayed them on the silver and small screen), including Pinhead from Hellraiser, Friday the 13th's Jason Vorhees, Captain Spaulding from both House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, and even he Crypt Keeper from HBO's Tales from the Crypt.

The lineup of special guests isn't limited strictly to horror, as the stars of a few sci-fi favorites, action movies, and cult classics (as well as a few professional wrestling heroes) are also scheduled to be at the Mad Monster Party.

Most of the big-name guests appearing at the weekend-long event to sign autographs and pose for photos while several will also sit in for special Q&A sessions or panels dedicated to some of their most renowned projects and roles. (For instance, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, and other from the 1985 flick Fright Night will participate in a special 30th anniversary reunion panel).

We've looked over the rogue's gallery of special guests that will be at the Mad Monster Party this year and have selected five of those that we're most excited to see. And like the event itself, our picks include more than just scream queens and death-dispensing bad guys.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts

Although he's never starred in any slasher flicks or cinematic thrillers, pro wrestling legend Jake "The Snake" Roberts spent the last couple of decades living in something akin to a horror story. Or, at the very least, his own personal hell. After becoming one of biggest superstars of the '80s in the WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation), Roberts descended into a morass of drug addiction, broken relationships, and career failures, ultimately becoming a wrestling has-been who seemed destined for a tragic end. (And depending on whom you ask, he might've been a partial inspiration for Mickey Rourke's character in The Wrestler.)

Unlike many veterans of the squared circle who died at an all-to-early age, however, Jake the Snake was able to eventually conquer his personal demons, thanks to the assistance of his friend and fellow retired wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page. It makes for a great comeback story (and has even been covered on an episode of HBO's Real Sports) and we're certain that Roberts will discuss it during his signing appearance at the Mad Monster Party.

Steve Railsback

This veteran character actor has a history of providing accurate and eerie portrayals of some rather deranged individuals, including his critically acclaimed turns as both Charles Manson in the 1976 miniseries Helter Skelter and sinister serial killer Ed Gein in 2000's In the Light of the Moon. Longtime fans of The X-Files, however, will undoubtedly remember Railsback as mentally unbalanced alien abductee Duane Barry, who kicked off one the show's most important story arcs when he kidnapped Agent Dana Scully and facilitated her own abduction by little green men in the second season. We're definitely interested in getting a chance to interact with Railsback, if for no other reason than to hear what his acting process is like when becoming such disturbed people.

Charles Fleischer

If Charles Fleischer's name and face don't seem all that familiar to you, his voice might ring a bell -- particularly if he's performing as Roger Rabbit. Throughout his 37-year career in Hollywood, the stand-up comedian and actor has certainly played a lot of animated characters -- including roles in The Polar Express, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, and Rango -- the most famous one being the titular star of 1988's groundbreaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

Fleischer's also got horror credentials out the yang, as he's appeared in such Wes Craven projects as Deadly Friend and the original Nightmare on Elm Street, as well as Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight, Bad Dreams, and the kiddie-friendly TV show Bone Chillers. He'll be the focus of his own panel during the final day of the convention on Sunday, the title of which references the original mystery novel (a.k.a. Who Censored Roger Rabbit?) that the well-known Disney cartoon was based on. Here's hoping that means that Fleischer will get into how the House of Mouse sorta neutered the book when transforming it into more kid-friendly fare.

Henry Winkler

It's totally understandable if your first reaction to hearing the name "Henry Winkler" involves giving a thumbs up gesture, popping the collar of an invisible motorcycle jacket, or simply saying saying "Ayyyyyyy!" After all, the actor is familiar to countless millions for his iconic role as Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, the greaser-like motorcycle hood with a heart of gold on TV's Happy Days. Another major claim to fame: he helped inspire the oft-remembered phrase "jump the shark" via a stunt of the same name that took place on the show.

If you're way too young to have grown up with the '70s and '80s sitcom classic, you might remember him from some memorable cameos on both Arrested Development or Parks and Recreation and a couple of recurring characters on Adult Swim's nutty Children's Hosptial. And if you're wondering why Winkler is making an appearance at a horror film convention, that's quite understandable as well, considering he's renowned for his more genial roles over the years. That said, Winkler has a couple of slashers and thrillers on his resume, such as the high school principal in the first Scream and a bit part in the TV movie Nightmare. And while he'll likely autograph your Fonzie photo, don't ask him to jump over any sharks. Been there, done that.

Doug Bradley

Without a doubt, the sadistic extradimensional being known as Pinhead -- the insidious antagonist of the Hellraiser film franchise -- is one of the most iconic villains in the pantheon of horror cinema. We're even willing to bet that he's starred in a few of your nightmares.

And the man who brought the pasty-faced Lead Cenobyte to life in eight of the nine Hellraiser films (other than the character's creator, Clive Barker) is English-born actor Doug Bradley who gave the character a certain evil elegance as he dispensed gruesome torture upon those unfortunate enough to get their hands on a certain puzzle box. It's not his only experience in the horror genre, as Bradley also appeared in Barker's 1990 film Nightbreed, as well as such B-movies as Exorcismus, The 4th Reich, Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines. Heck, he's also provided some spooky narration for several songs put out by English death metal band Cradle of Filth.

Mad Monster Party 2015 takes place from Friday, May 8, to Sunday, May 10, at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.