Monster Mash-Up a frighteningly good time
by Janelle Walker for The Courier-News June 24, 2012 8:08PM
Shawn Wurtz and Michelle Fowler exit the stage during the Monster Mash Costume Contest in downtown Elgin, Ill., on Friday, June 22, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:11AM
ELGIN — A lot of people say they don’t like being scared, said Mitchell Wells, one of the co-founders of the first ever Monster Mash-Up.
“But they really do,” said Wells. They like the adrenaline rush that comes from riding a roller coaster, or watching a scary movie, or even listening to music that ignites a certain feeling, he said.
For those who really do love being scared — and even live their life around the themes of some of those movies — there was Monster Mash-Up.
Held Friday and Saturday at the Haight Building at Douglas and Kimball avenues here, Monster Mash-Up was a combination “B” film festival, convention and bazaar. Those “B” movies included both locally-shot shorts and a full-length horror film, and the convention vendors all had one common theme — horror.
“You get to see different people’s take on horror. There are so many sub-genres,” of what is considered horror, Wells said — from slasher films to monster movies to psychological thrillers to the “torture porn” of the “Saw” movie franchise.
“Someone might say he doesn’t like horror films, but professes to love “Jaws,” Wells said.
“That is a monster horror movie.”
The idea for Monster Mash-Up started last fall, when Mitchell, along with Dave Metzger and John LaFleur, met as volunteers for downtown Elgin’s “Nightmare on Chicago Street.”
Held the weekend before Halloween and set for Oct. 27 this year, the downtown festival celebrated all things zombie. An estimated 3,500 people attended.
“We were talking one day about how to do something to get people talking about horror,” and draw more people into Elgin for the event, said Wells, a Chicago resident. He got involved with “Nightmare on Chicago Street” because he runs a website, www.horrorsociety.com.
Metzger, one of the other cofounders, is an artist who does “gothic” themes, many that evoke Tim Burton’s films and style.
“I started watching monster movies as a kid, and it stuck with me,” said Metzger, of Elgin. He’s always been drawn to that genre of art, said Metzger. He’s also had booths at Elgin’s Art & Soul on the Fox art festival, and finds that even people who aren’t into horror appreciate the artwork, he said.
The third partner in the Monster Mash-Up, John LaFleur, moved from Boston to Elgin with his family three years ago, and met Metzger at Elgin’s Modern Age Comics. He likes all things gothic, LaFleur said.
Many of those attending the mini-convention were dressed for the occasion — some in costume, and some showing off their piercings and tattoos. There were plenty of regular folk there too, who just enjoy the genre.
That is one of the cool things about those who live in the horror film subculture, Wells said. They tend to be a pretty accepting group.
“I think we are the most sane people, maybe because that thing we love is so disturbing,” Wells said.
Jeni Wilcox of Elgin, a makeup artist, came out with her daughter, also in makeup, for the movies.
“I want to support local business functions,” said Wilcox. “I am also into special effects makeup. I also like good movies that happen to be horror movies.”
She also remembers watching her first scary movie — the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” — with a babysitter.
Monster Mash-Up will be back, and bigger, in October. In conjunction with the second “Nightmare on Chicago Street,” they are planning a second event on Oct. 26 and 27.