A Review of Spooky Empire's May-Hem Convention by Mauri Lazaro - @DarkDearieMauri
I know a lot of people were wondering why a fairy tale show like Once Upon a Time was featured at the horror convention Spooky Empire’s May-Hem. But if one looks at the original telling of fairy tales, both genres are grounded in common horror themes. They are cautionary tales with dire and sometimes gruesome consequences for the character who does not follow the rules set up in the story: don’t go down into the basement to investigate a strange noise, don’t go into a stranger’s house and be a glutton. . . you might become a witch’s dinner, don’t accept food from strangers . . . it could be poisoned. Most of these rules are based on the seven deadly sins in both story genres. Spooky gave fans an amazing opportunity to celebrate both the great characters that feature in these thoughtful tales and the creative people who bring them to life.
It was nice to see my Oncer friends again in person at May-Hem since we live all over and usually just keep in contact over the internet, and I loved meeting new friends, Oncers and horror fans alike. May-Hem was the best of both worlds for me as I’ve been a fan of horror since I was four years old when my mother and I used to watch the G-rated Hammer Horror films on Sunday afternoons. Dracula, played by Christopher Lee, is my favorite monster. We also watched The Blob because my mom liked Steve McQueen, and after seeing the movie I was wary of grape jelly in my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I also grew up with my mom reading fairy tales to me. My favorites were Cinderella and Snow White. My Mother was with me at May-Hem, and don’t let my seventy-five year old mother fool you when she says horror movies are just okay. Oh, please. She loves them! Her favorite horror movie is the original 1981 My Bloody Valentine. Is it no surprise that my Mom is an Evil Regal with all the hearts being ripped out? She enjoyed May-Hem as much as I did.
There were many highlights over the weekend. Meeting the cast of Once Upon a Time was just one of them. The first cast member I met was Rebecca Mader. She remembered my Wizard of Oz cupcakes that I made for my birthday and had posted on Twitter (squee!) Sean Maguire was a dream. He is such a gentleman, and, yes, he smells nice! Jason Burkart was also very friendly. I loved his curly hair. Freya Tingley is a sweetie pie. So glad to have met her! I’m looking forward to seeing her in Jersey Boys. It was also a pleasure to meet Lee Arenberg. I was impressed at how accessible he was to the fans, always around for us. Finally, there is the queen herself: Lana Parrilla. She is as absolutely stunning in person as she is on screen and well worth the wait. I had her sign an apple I bought. She wrote, “Mauri- Take a bite . . . if you dare!”
The other cast I wanted to meet was from A Nightmare on Elm Street, a movie I first saw when it first came out on video. I was twelve and Freddy’s Revenge was about to be released in theaters. I must have watched it eighty times over the weekend. I told that to Robert Englund and he commented, “It’s a dark fairy tale. You have a beast, and the women are the ones to triumph over Freddy.” I then got in line to meet Ronee Blakley. She was lovely. Her voice is so gentle. I wish I could listen to her all day. Heather Langenkamp is so cute and sweet. While talking to Amanda Wyss, I found out that she is a Oncer and a fan of Lana Parrilla. Then I met Mark Patton who played Jessie in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. He was really generous, signing all of my stuff and even posing for a picture with my mom. Next, Mom and I got in line to meet Pat Carroll, Ursula herself. She is such a treasure. Her sister, daughter, and granddaughter were working the table with her. It was nice to meet them too.
I also attended some of the Q&A’s. At the Halloween panel, John Carpenter cracked me up with his adorable crankiness. He reminded me of Ed Asner’s character in Up. I also went to the Nightmare on Elm Street panel, and of course the Once Upon a Time panel. I got some photo ops, and I have to credit Denna Beena and her crew. They kept everything organized and got everyone to where they were going, and the volunteers were great and helpful. Spooky did an excellent job. Then, when Froggy’s photos got swamped with the Lana photo ops, some of the Oncers, Laura, Aly, Sarah, and Jamie jumped in to help them. Another Oncer shout-out goes to Becky Stephens when she helped one of the Spooky fans who had a medical emergency at the VIP party. Becky, a trained nurse, was able to give medical assistance and saw to it that 911 was called. So, great job, Oncers!
My other favorite thing to see is the cosplayers. There were some awesome costumes. The Kissing Booth (of death), The Munsters, The Addams Family, all the Freddy Kruegers, the OUAT characters . . . and I had to get a picture of the killer from My Bloody Valentine for sentimental reasons. I think the most impressive were the people in costume on stilts. It just amazed me how they could walk around in the crowd of people without being knocked over.
Above: Jacky Brodhead and Josh Bredemeyer as The Evil Queen & Jefferson
There was so much to do and see at May-Hem. I really liked “The Christine Experience.” I love that movie, and the car is just beautiful. Christine’s caretaker, Bill Gibson, has done an excellent job of creating this interactive experience for the fans. You can also get a “signed” autograph picture from Christine. It’s a picture of the car with a tire tread at the bottom as her signature. How fun! All the donations go to OKHDSA Huntington’s Disease Foundation, Oklahoma chapter. You can visit their website at www.christinemoviecar.com Keep a lookout at the conventions you attend. Maybe Christine will run into you, *beep beep.*
A great time was had by all. Thank you Petey and Gina, and everyone else at Spooky Empire for putting on a great show!
Check out the full OUAT Panel from Spooky Empire here
After such a successful weekend for Spooky Empire, Amy Hood caught up with Gina Mongelli to find out what is next for the annual Horror Convention.
After a huge weekend at May-Hem what are your thoughts on this year's event? Did it meet your expectations?
We think it was a fantastic show, looks like everyone had a great time. The fans behaved themselves for the most part. It was actually one of our biggest May shows to date. Of course we always want it to be bigger, but we’re pretty happy with how it turned out.
Once Upon a Time was a new addition to the May-Hem line up and fans really seemed to be excited about the mix of guests they could meet. Do you feel that ONCE might continue to make an appearance at future May-Hem events?
It’s very possible, we’ll definitely try. It may even show up in October. I hope all of the OUAT fans enjoyed the show itself, and maybe think about coming out to our events anyway.
The staff of Spooky was SO helpful. Is it true that the majority are volunteers? And what did you dose them with to make them so nice?...lol. Ok- not that last part....
Thank you, we have a really great group of volunteers and, yes, the majority of them are volunteers. We do train them very well, and most of them have been with us for years. We consider them family just like the fans of the show, and we’re very proud of the hard work they put in. The volunteers really just love what they do, and love being a part of the event.
We heard a rumor that next year's May-Hem is May 15-17. Do you have any plans already in the works for that? Do you expect it will remain at the Double Tree?
Technically those are the dates, and, yes, at the DoubleTree. We haven’t signed the contract yet, so it’s not set in stone. We are bringing in Halloween Extreme as a partner once again for next May. So it could be set up a little differently.
Finally, we know you have another big event coming in October. Can you tell us a bit about it and where fans can go for more information?
Yes, we do have a fall show coming up on October 26-28, 2014 at the DoubleTree. It’s our Ultimate Horror Weekend, and its set at the perfect time of year for this type of event. There is more of everything... more costumes and cosplay, more events, more seminars and panels, film festival, car show, author programming/signing, zombie walk, plus everything you saw in May. We are updating our site as we speak, and you can visit it for more information - www.spookyempire.com. There is always more info on Facebook and Twitter as well.