Things to Do

Your Guide to Mad Monster Party Arizona 2020: Guests, Safety, and More

If Ghostface from Scream can wear a mask, so can you.
If Ghostface from Scream can wear a mask, so can you. Benjamin Leatherman

Looks like the Valley’s geek scene won’t be a complete wasteland when it comes to events this year, thanks to Mad Monster Party Arizona. Organizers of the annual convention celebrating horror fandom, slasher flicks, and other spooky subject matter is going forward with its 2020 edition this weekend, albeit with safety restrictions.

The three-day event, which runs from Friday, October 9, to Sunday, October 11, at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel, will feature special guests like Carl Weathers and Jake Busey, dozens of vendors, photo ops with Jason Voorhees, and all the usual COVID-19 rules (including masks).

Mad Monster Party Arizona was originally scheduled to take place in April before being moved to October after the pandemic hit. While numerous other local geek events (including Phoenix Fan Fusion, Game On Expo, and Saboten Con) decided to skip 2020 entirely, Mad Monster didn’t give up the ghost.

According to Mad Monster’s Facebook page, organizers said they worked with local officials and felt that current safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health Services were sufficient to hold this year’s event.

“Safety is paramount but one must also FEEL safe. You'll find our safety precautions are about as extensive (and often more) than most places open to the public,” organizers said. “That is in no small part due to the help of the city, venue, and both medical and social distancing-trained security personnel on our staff. That said, anyone that is unable or uncomfortable attending is welcome to the next show in 2021.”

If you’re planning to attend this year’s Mad Monster Party Arizona, here’s everything you’ll need to know before attending, including what to wear, who to see, and how to stay safe.

When and Where Is Mad Monster Party Arizona 2020?

The event runs from Friday, October 9, to Sunday, October 11, at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel, 9495 West Coyotes Boulevard in Glendale. Hours are from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

How Much Does It Cost?

Single-day general admission is $35 at the door on Friday and Sunday, $45 at the door on Saturday, and a three-day "shriekend" pass is $90 at the door. Kids 12 and under can get in free if they're accompanied by a paid adult. According to the Mad Monster website, tickets can only be purchased with cash.

If you're interested in getting a picture with one of the special guests in attendance at the event, photo ops range from $60 to $200 and depend on the celebrity involved.

Are There Age Limits?

No, Mad Monster Arizona has always been an all-ages event. That said, it is a horror event and will feature plenty of scary subject matter that might be too much for younger attendees. The after-hours programming is only open to those and 18 and over. You’ll want to make sure your kiddos are wearing masks, though.

Where Can I Park?

Westgate Entertainment District next door features thousands of spaces. It will be free to park there during the event, but you’ll want to get there early to nab a good spot (those tend to go quickly).

Jason Voorhees cosplayers at a previous Mad Monster Party Arizona. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Jason Voorhees cosplayers at a previous Mad Monster Party Arizona.
Benjamin Leatherman

Are Masks Required?

Yes, except when in designated areas where eating and drinking is allowed. Also, you'll be required to have your mask covering your nose and mouth at all times. Seriously.

Do I Have to Wear a Mask During a Photo Op?

No, but there will be a plexiglass divider between you and the celebrity guest, which will be wiped down between each patron. Photos will be taken against a green screen and the barrier will be edited out.

What Other Safety Measures Will Be Used at the Event?

Patrons are required to have their temperatures taken at the door. Aisles in the vendor hall will be extra wide and one-way only with booths spaced out a significant distance. There will also be hand sanitizing stations throughout the event.

click to enlarge Carl Weathers as Greef Karga from The Mandalorian. - MELINDA SUE GORDON/LUCASFILM
Carl Weathers as Greef Karga from The Mandalorian.
Melinda Sue Gordon/Lucasfilm

Which Celebrities Will Be at Mad Monster Arizona 2020?

While a number of actors and actresses have nixed their appearance at this year’s Mad Monster Arizona – such as Neve Campbell, Jamie Kennedy, and PJ Soles – several celebrities will be in attendance. The lineup includes Carl Weathers from the Rocky film series and The Mandalorian, Jason Voorhees actor Kane Hodder, X-Men’s Tyler Mane, Jake Busey from Starship Troopers, and cult horror film actors Bill Moseley and Dan Yager.

Other guests include WWE Hall of Famer Charles Wright (who played Papa Shango and The Godfather), rock legend Dave Ellefson, B-movie scream queen Linnea Quigley, Ed Neal (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), and Amelia Kinkade (Night of the Demons).

Will There Be Vendors?

Yes. According to the Mad Monster website, more than 25 local vendors and companies will be in attendance at this year’s event, each offering a variety of geeky and horror-themed items and services. The lineup will range from the local retailer Shirts ‘n’ Things and artists like Dead Man Designs to such publishers as Oddball Books. As we noted above, each booth will be socially distanced.

Will There Be Programming?

Yes. Panels featuring Mad Monster Arizona’s celebrity guests will happen throughout the weekend, such as panels by Carl Weathers, Kane Hodder, and Dan Yeager. There will also be discussions dedicated to Sleepaway Camp, Night of the Demons, and the role of spirituality in science fiction and horror. Other activities include the “Scares That Care” charity auction and the costume contest on Saturday night. Speaking of which …

click to enlarge A female Jigsaw and one of her victims. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A female Jigsaw and one of her victims.
Benjamin Leatherman

Are Costumes Allowed?

Absolutely. Organizers encourage attendees to wear any sort of getup inspired by horror films, slasher flicks, or television shows like The Walking Dead or Stranger Things. If you’re feeling clever, you can try to include your safety mask into your getup. A costume contest is scheduled to take place on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and will offer $500 in cash prizes.

Keep in mind, however, that Mad Monster is considered to be a family-friendly event and no dangerous-looking costumes, gear, or weaponry will be allowed. The same goes for anything that involves nudity. Consider yourself warned, mortals.

What Will the Schedule Be Like?

Here’s a full rundown of what’s happening all three days at the event

Friday, October 9

7 p.m. – Dave Ellefson photo op
7:15 p.m. – Amelia/Linnea photo ops
7:30 p.m. – Kane Jason X photo op
8:30 p.m. – Tyler Mane photo op
8:45 p.m. – Deron Miller photo op, and Sleepaway Camp panel
9 p.m. – Carl Weathers photo op
9:30 p.m. – Felissa Rose photo op
9:45 p.m. – Papa Shango photo op, and “Spirituality in Sci-Fi & Horror” panel
10 p.m. – Jake Busey photo op
10:15 p.m. – Bill Moseley, Ed Neal, and Dan Yeager photo ops

Saturday, October 10

Noon – Carl Weathers Q&A
1 p.m. – Carl Weathers photo op
1:15 p.m. – Tyler Mane Q&A
2 p.m. – Felissa Rose/Sleepaway Camp photo op
2:15 p.m. – “Top Secret” Kane Hodder project panel
2:45 p.m. – Tyler Mane photo op
3:15 p.m. – Dan Yeager photo op, and Bill Moseley and Ed Neal Q&A
3:30 p.m. – David Ellefson photo op
3:45 p.m. – Kane Hodder photo op
4 p.m. – Night of the Demons panel
4:15 p.m. – Deron Miller photo op
4:30 p.m. – Jake Busey photo op
4:45 p.m. – Bill Moseley and Ed Neal photo ops
5 p.m. – Jake Busey Q&A
5:15 p.m. – Amelia Kinkade/Linnea Quigley photo ops
5:45 p.m. – Papa Shango photo op
6 p.m. – Scares that Care charity auction
7 p.m. – Costume contest

Sunday, October 11

Noon – Tyler Mane photo op, and The Godfather Q&A
12:30 p.m. – The Godfather photo op
1 p.m. – Kane Hodder Q&A, and Amelia Kinkade/Linnea Quigley photo ops
1:30 p.m. – Deron Miller photo op
1:45 p.m. – Bill Moseley & Ed Neal photo op
2 p.m. – Dan Yeager Q&A
2 p.m. – Felissa Rose photo op
2:30 p.m. – Kane Hodder photo op
2:45 p.m. – Dan Yeager photo op
3 p.m. – Carl Weathers photo op
3:30 p.m. – Mad Monster panel, and Dave Ellefson photo op
3:45 p.m. – Jake Busey photo op
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.