Nerd Culture

Here's Everything You Need to Know About Mad Monster Arizona 2017 This Weekend

Attendees of last year's Mad Monster Arizona.
Attendees of last year's Mad Monster Arizona. Benjamin Leatherman
Something strange, sinister, and more than a little scary will be lurking out in the far reaches of the Valley this weekend. And no, we’re not referring to the chupacabra or any similar creatures.

It’s Mad Monster Arizona, the weekend-long convention that’s aimed at fans of horror films and things that go bump in the dark, not to mention anyone who enjoys some frightening fun. The three-day event — which runs from Friday, May 19, through Sunday, May 21, at the We-Ko-Pa Resort in Scottsdale — features a multitude of special guests, programming, and events associated with horror.

Kevin Blanchfield, one of the organizers of Mad Monster Arizona, says that the con is meant for all sorts of horror aficionados, regardless of their fandom level.

“There are the guys that are die-hard horror fans that will come out in droves and the more casual fans who just know who Jason Vorhees is,” he says. “We cater to both crowds. There are some people who just love horror. They love every element of it, and it's not just about being scared."

Mad Monster Arizona has been taking place annualy since 2014 at local hotels and resorts around the Valley. Blanchfield says the event is designed to be less hectic and sprawling than other local geek events.

“We keep our show at a smaller level and try to create different experiences from those large comicons,” he says.

click to enlarge Cosplayers at last year's Mad Monster Arizona. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Cosplayers at last year's Mad Monster Arizona.
Benjamin Leatherman

Case in point: the “Pinhead Experience” at this year’s Mad Monster Arizona. The attraction will involve groups of up to four people interacting with Hellraiser actor Doug Bradley, who played the sinister Pinhead in two films from the franchise. He’ll be in full costume and makeup as the character, and those with the gumption (and $260) can interact with Bradley in a setting from the movies.

“It's going to be theme-based with music and everything,” Blanchfield says. “Just like you're walking into a scene from the movie with him. He's going to interact with you and your group.”

Bradley won’t be the only horror actor appearing at the event as their character, as CJ Graham from Friday the 13th Part VI will dress up as Jason Vorhees, complete with bloodied machete.

Other actors and celebrities from the horror world that are scheduled to appear at this year’s Mad Monster Arizona include The Exorcist's Linda Blair, Mark Steger from Stranger Things, Land of the Dead's Eugene Clark, Zach Galligan from Gremlins, The Greasy Stranger's Sky Elobar and Michael Saint Michaels, Sid Haig from House of 1,000 Corpses, and cast members from both The Night of the Living Dead and The Munsters.

What else awaits you at Mad Monster Arizona 2017? Check out the following guide for full details, if you dare.

Dates and Times: Mad Monster Arizona 2017 runs from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, May 19; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 20; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 21. After-hours events and late-night activities will take place on both Friday and Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. and will go long into the night.

Location: The We-Ko-Pa Resort and Conference Center, 10438 North Fort McDowell Road in Scottsdale, will host the event.

Prices: Advance tickets are $30 for Friday or Sunday only, and $40 for Saturday. A "shriekend" pass covering all three days is $70 at the door. There's also a “Really Intense Partier” (or R.I.P.) package available online for $199 that includes perks like early-bird entry, reserved seating at panels, and a T-shirt and other swag.

As we mentioned, the "Pinhead Experience" with Doug Bradley is available for $260 for up to four people. And CJ Graham will also be posing as Jason Vorhees for photo ops costing $60 per person. Prices for other celebrity photo sessions and autographs range from $30 to $80 per person.

Age Limits: The event’s open to all ages, and kids under 12 are free with a paid adult. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a horror con, and some stuff might be too intense or frighting for some tykes. It’s also worth noting that the late night and after-hours programming is only open to those and 18 and over.

Getting There: The We-Ko-Pa Resort is located in the northeast Valley near Fort McDowell. Take the Loop 202 freeway to Country Club Drive in Mesa and then head north on the Beeline Highway (Arizona State Route 87) for 15 miles. Turn left onto Fort McDowell Road and follow the signs to the resort. There's plenty of parking and it's all free.

click to enlarge Doug Bradley of Hellraiser fame with some fans at Mad Monster Arizona 2015. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Doug Bradley of Hellraiser fame with some fans at Mad Monster Arizona 2015.
Benjamin Leatherman
Special Guests: The list of actors, and actresses that will be at Mad Monster Arizona 2017 includes The Exorcist's Linda Blair, Mark Steger from Stranger Things, Land of the Dead's Eugene Clark, Zach Galligan from Gremlins, The Greasy Stranger's Sky Elobar and Michael Saint Michaels, Sid Haig from House of 1,000 Corpses, Butch Patrick and Pat Priest from The Munsters, and (of course) Hellraiser's Doug Bradley and CJ Graham from Friday the 13th Part VI. Judith O'Dea, Russ Streiner, and John Russo from Night of the Living Dead will also be there, as will P.J. Soles from Halloween and Carrie.

The con will also feature appearances by Lady Death creator Brian Pulido, special effects guru and From Dusk Til Dawn actor Tom Savini, Godzilla’s Tsutomu Kitagawa, and Ultraman’ Bin Furuya. A few rock stars will also be in attendance, like Deron Miller of CKY and Faster Pussycat's Ace Von Johnson.

What to Bring: A bag or backpack to hold whatever swag you pick up at the event, as well as a fully charged cellphone, some cash, a government-issued ID, comforable shoes, plenty of adrenaline, and maybe even some smelling salts (just in case you pass out from fright). You also might want to bring a costume to the event. Speaking of which ...

click to enlarge One, two, Freddy's comin' for you ... - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
One, two, Freddy's comin' for you ...
Benjamin Leatherman

Since Mad Monster Arizona is ultimately a geek event, any sort of costume (particularly those inspired by the horror genre) is welcomed. There’s a costume contest on Saturday night at 7 p.m. that will award prizes to the best-dressed attendees.

“The outfits people wear are amazing,” Blanchfield says. “It's exciting watching them walk around the show. Every year, I go, ‘Wow, these guys are going all out.’"

As much as costumes and cosplay is encouraged, however, there are a few rules, including the fact that no dangerous costumes or weaponry will be allowed. Ditto for nudity.

Vendors: The resort’s 15,000 square-foot ballroom will host more than 50 different vendors of a geeky and horror-minded bent from around the Valley and throughout the Southwest. The lineup includes Blood Bound Books, Cardiff Giant Tattoo, Pallbearer Press, Shirts 'n' Things, Creepy Collectibles, Scrooze Toys, The Severed Head Shoppe, Hollywood Joe's Memorabilia, and Nerd Dollz. “There's a lot of cool vendors at the show,” Blanchfield says. “And it’s more than just stuff you can get signed by the celebrity guests.”

Programming: Many of Mad Monster Arizona's special guests will participate in Q&As during the weekend. That includes Zach Galligan, Sid Haig, Felissa Rose, Tom Savini, Doug Bradley, and CJ Graham. Meanwhile, the actors and actresses from both The Munsters and Night of the Living Dead will each conduct group panels and screenings of such movies as My Uncle John is a Zombie will also take place. (A full rundown of Mad Monster Arizona events during the weekend can be found here.)

click to enlarge A member of the Agents of Lust. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A member of the Agents of Lust.
Benjamin Leatherman
Nightlife Events: Fittingly enough, there will be a variety of activities taking place after dark around the resort. The casino, for instance, will host celebrity zombie blacklight bingo featuring Eugene Clark from Night of the Living Dead on Friday and Saturday starting at midnight. "Scaraoke" sessions will also take place both nights at 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, Ace Von Johnson will host a pool party on Saturday that kicks off at 9:30 p.m. and includes entertainment by fetishistic performance art ensemble The Agents of Lust.

Keep in Mind:
Be sure to follow ‘con etiquette when dealing with special guests, including asking permission before taking photos of both special guests and fellow attendees. And like at any other geek gathering, please show respect and courtesy to anyone in costume and practice the “cosplay does not equal consent” mantra.

Blanchfield also says that people should refrain from approaching celebrities or asking for autographs when they aren’t at their respective tables. When they are on the clock, however, Mad Monster's special guests will be signing any sort of item (albeit for a fee) in addition to the photos and merch they'll have available for sale.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.