History

Group Shot of all us together!
Group shot of all of us together!

'08 Convention History!

FRIDAY: BUS TOUR
First, I do not think I can thank Brett, Jason and all the Eastern State Penitentiary staff enough for the professional manner and amazing time we had at their event. When we arrived, the red carpet had been set out, Brett gave us a wonderful introduction for all of the tour guests, and the Eastern State Penitentiary tour guides took over. What an amazing site to see!

If you have never taken their Museum tour, I highly recommended it, they are open during the days almost all year long!

Then, Brett and Jason had a special arrangement for us, the entire Wing of Al Capone's cell had been locked down and turned into a catering hall! We all had lunch in the wing and the actual jail cells.

The Eastern State staff were so helpful, and everything was so well laid out for us....the food was incredible. Michael and Brett had arranged a local Philly restaurant to supply staff and endless food. We could not believe the variety and 5 star quality of the food....from salmon, to salads, fresh rolls, and roast beef, portabello mushrooms, etc.

Then, the real fun began. Brett claimed that he only had a skeletal staff of actors, but it sure did not feel like that. Between the actors he had, and the famous BAD BOYS SCENIC DESIGN, there were plenty of scares and screams going on. It felt like it was a full running halloween night.

From Lock Down, to a very well done 3D attraction, touring such a massive stone building itself setup an atmosphere like no other.....I don't want to give away secrets, but this is surely a haunt you do not want to miss around Halloween. The quality of the scenes and props were just great.

Then, we got back onto the bus, and headed out to the Mutter Museum......
What a really neat place....
The best way to describe it would be if someone very scientific, was to start collecting all the old exhibits you used to see in Side Shows at Carnivals.

"Alive! Alive! Alive!"

There were some really disturbing sites to see, and anatomical anomolies. There were so many things I never knew existed with the actual skulls and body parts preserved to prove it. One example was people really having a disease that makes them grow large horns (cartilage). Everything from the Mysterious Soap Lady, to complete anatomies of conjoined twins. It is amazing that someone over a hundred years ago decided to gather all this knowledge into one medical location....entire walls of real human skulls, eyes, spines, and flesh. This was a unique attraction for sure!

Our next step took us the Fright Factory. I had seen their You Tube videos on line so I was really anxious to see how this attraction was, and I was not disappointed.

When we first arrived, Aven had his staff all prepared and ready for us. They had a large area that was completely setup for us complete with tables, chairs and a great theme. The entire area was dark....a huge evil tree (custom made by Aven and his staff) and broken statues littered this graveyard like atomosphere.

We learned about the history of Fright Factory, and as well as some of the design aspects while dinner was being prepared.....
- And speaking of Dinner!!!
The Food was incredible.....((I have to stop taking these trips, between Eastern State and Fright Factory I think I gained 5 pounds!!!)).

I had only learned this year, that The Famous John Burton's brother owned a B-B-Q company in New Jersey. It was only a short drive for him and his crew to have everything prepared for us at the Fright Factory.

The food was MELT IN YOUR MOUTH. I have honestly never tasted better BBQ in my life....the meat just melted off the bones and into your mouth. Hot buttered Jersey Corn, Fresh Bread, Chicken....I felt like I was at an incredible Gothic Picnic at Tara

Then, Aven unleased one of his specialties...the use of Video in a haunt. They had a beautiful huge backlit Video screen showing a 30+ minute video preshow of the haunt.

It really set the tone for the haunt. My hats off to the quality of the video....it gives you the feeling that you are watching your local news channel and that you are safe at home watching TV, looking at a horrific event. However, you are about to enter that horrific event!!!!

We toured all three of their events, and their staff were amazing....the attention to detail with their makeup department was superb (that girl with the cage head like the Jackel in 13 ghosts always got me!!!)

If you have never seen the Frightfactory, is a great and very long tour. They did amazing detail for such a large area......well worth the cost of admission.

Then, Aven gave us a lights on tour and you REALLY got to see the detail....I noticed so many more things I missed in the regular tour...I really loved that Pumpkin King foil type of statue in their cemetary....

Finally, we headed back to the Hotel for the meet and greet run by John Burton.


SATURDAY: CONVENTION
On Saturday morning, Michael got up early and did the full walk through to make sure everything was ready. I was busy preparing all the registration information and putting the last minute touches on my booths for the Museum of Mythology. For years I have wanted to display many of my items but there has never been a location or convention that made sense to do it. My market would be the four states near New Jersey (New York, PA, Delaware and Maryland) and I was really excited to get some feedback.

This was our first year so I really didn't know what to expect, and I'm sure many of the vendors felt the same way. I knew I was going overboard with my booths, but I was impressed by how many vendors were just as crazy as myself!!!

I salute Jeremy from the Creepy Collection for his booth......what a Crazy Setup! We had people talking about it all weekend long constantly!!!! The signs alone were enough to make you KNOW what a fun industry we have....Bloody Rabbits $15! ...as Don King would say --> "Only in America"

We were glad to see the bustle of activity with the vendors, and so many of the vendors had such a big hit that many of them signed up for next year right on the spot.

I thought there was going to be some fights at the Specter Studios booths with so many people rummaging through their bins fighting over what to purchase before it was gone.

We also got to learn about Halloween Scream, a great year round store selling Halloween product at incredible prices.....if you need large Foam Chain for example..this is the place to go. He was one of the nicest people I met the entire convention and it made my weekend.

So many vendors, and so many ideas swirling in my head from them all... Castle Blood debuted new statue lines that were incredible....Tatoo is already talking about driving down next year just to drive back with those!

Der Mord had some really interesting devices never before seen by the industry and the air cannons on display by Hollywood Controls were amazingly loud! Also, they had probably the best intense strobe light I had seen.

The Hot Wire Foam Factory was a big hit, and they even had to sell their display pieces due to the demand for product....they were a LOT of fun to talk to and I was so happy to show them many of the things I created for the museum out of foam.

One vendor I couldn't believe had so much product and variety was 'Rotten Jacks Creep Shack'. I heard quite a few people talk about hard to get items that they had in stock...the liquors shirt was a fan favorite....

Grendel's Den wowed me with their Cthulu style (and singing ability, as well as sense of humor - hehe..."Look, a Jedi!"), Safari Anomolous had a bee wall that would have made Disney jealous, and Mr Skeleton should have been Mr Order Talking Skeleton.

This was also the first chance I had to see F!@#!ed up stuff, if you get a chance to see them, really take notice of the quality of their work....even down to the detail of the eyes....I look forward to seeing more product of theirs in the future.

I also was able to pick up tons of contact lenses (I had not gotten a chance to see the Contact Lens company for many years)....always a great great product.....we even got a few cool shirts from Kim's Crypt and won their shotglass on the Der Mord Raffle.

I think the best line we heard of the day though came from John Denley of Boneyard productions. He was talking to John Burton and told him, "I looked at my watch and I had made back the entire cost of this trip in the first 42 minutes of the convention"



Seminars
The Seminars worked out very well....so well that it caused us a problem.

We had gotten a large room for the seminars, which held 75 seats.....we figured....no problem

Boy were we wrong....

So many of the seminars quickly became standing room only! Every time Tattoo opened his mouth, more people squeezed in......John Burton, Ricky Dick, and John Denley all had the same problem....so many of the original founders of the industry.

We had all the seats filled, all the standing spaces filled, and I had to turn away about 20 people for some of the seminars....we are going to have to get a much bigger room next year for that...we were floored by the response to the seminars.

I got a chance to listen to the entire Voice from Hell Seminar.....Dick Terhune is a really great guy with some really cool knowledge...I recommend him sometime if you get a chance...


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