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Monster-Con horror convention scares up fiendish fun

September 25, 2018

Loretta Lynn Gonzales never waits for Halloween to express her love for all things horror.

It’s why she runs her own little shop of horror collectibles called Creepy Classics at Wonderland of the Americas mall. And why she goes the extra macabre mile with Monster-Con, billed as the best lil’ horror convention in San Antonio.

Monster-Con takes over Wonderland mall Saturday and Sunday for the sixth consecutive year, once again hosting a colorful array of frightful yet delightful artists and vendors, celebrity guests and costumed horror fans of all ages. Highlights for the free, family-friendly event include a Scream Queen costume beauty pageant, free photos with iconic movie killers and an appearance by Felissa Rose from the 1983 slasher film “Sleepaway Camp.”

So why host a horror con a whole month before the biggest horror holiday of the year? The way Gonzales sees it, anytime is a good time to get your ghoul on.

“Horror is not a season,” Gonzales said. “It’s just the same as somebody (in love) with ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek.’ It just becomes a passion. It’s in their life every single day.”

Gonzales’ own passion for horror goes back to when she was 5, hiding behind her mom during the sci-fi screamer “The Crawling Eye.” At age 8, the Louisiana native moved to San Antonio, where she fell in love with “Project Terror,” a late-night ’70s show on KENS TV that showcased scary movies of “the scientific and the terrifying.”

Gonzales still remembers her mom grabbing a big box from behind a grocery store and sticking paper plates on it for wheels, just so they could have their own fright night drive-in experience in front of the television.

These days, Gonzales indulges her creative side with “Carrie” and Freddy Krueger table lamps, jewelry boxes featuring the Bride of Frankenstein and other demented home decor she makes for sale at Creepy Classics. Her shop also sells other monstrous merchandise, such as “Evil Dead” mugs, Godzilla figures and obscure horror flicks even the darkest Blockbuster aisles wouldn’t carry.

Gonzales and a San Antonio fan group now called Nerds for a Cause came up with Monster-Con as a pre-Halloween celebration for families, especially those on a budget. According to Gonzales, Wonderland estimates the free weekend event draws between 4,000 and 6,000 attendees every year.

“Honest to God, we had no idea it was going to blow up as big as it did,” she said.

Monster-Con tends to go big on ghoulish and geeky arts and crafts. Gonzales expects this year’s event will feature more than 100 vendors and artists, including the fantasy and horror work of San Antonio illustrator Alfredo “Freddy” Lopez Jr. and Austin sculptor Carla Yeatts.

In addition to Felissa Rose, Monster-Con special guests include model and Purr-fume creator Kitty Korvette and actor Osvaldo Fernandez, who appeared on ABC’s “American Crime” and played a vampire on the TV series “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Monster-Con attendees also can get into character for several costume contests, or just cosplay among the shoppers.

The aforementioned scream queen pageant will make noise Saturday at 5 p.m. with a female-only costume contest, which follows a Terror Tots kids costume contest at 3 p.m. Saturday sure to elicit its own share of shrieks. Then at 3 p.m. Sunday, everyone can cosplay for gory, er, glory at an open costume contest.

Other Monster-Con activities include monster bingo (“You’d be surprised how many kids can name how many Chucky movies there are,” Gonzales said) and free photo ops with cosplayers dressed as Michael Myers from “Halloween” and other famous baddies. There also will be a “psychic faire,” as well as an art walk in front of the Santikos Bijou Cinema Bistro.

Gonzales considers Monster-Con “the little dog” compared to San Antonio’s other homegrown geek-fest, Alamo City Comic Con. But she also said Monster-Con is technically the second-largest horror con in Texas, just after Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas.

Wherever Monster-Con ends up in its body count, Gonzales is just happy to see so many fresh and familiar faces, in or out of Pennywise makeup and Leatherface masks.

“When it hits we’re overjoyed,” she said. “And then the day after, we’re all dead.”

Of course, that love for horror never dies.

René A. Guzman is a features writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | rguzman@express-news.net | Twitter: @reneguz

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