View Full Version : Official Natl Haunters Review Pt 1

Rich Hanf
04-14-2009, 09:19 AM
OK Ghoulagins…here is my official review of the Natl. Haunters Convention that was held in the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia Pa. It’s the official review only because I say it is and so by the power vested in me by Hauntworld…here goes.

Let me begin by saying that both Rob Kocher and Michael Bruner who put on the show are just real nice guys. Their attitude, and that of their staff was “how can we make this a better experience for you”?” It is empowering for all of us to understand that they began in their back yard and their success has come as a result of lots of hard work and devotion to both this industry and Halloween as well. The fact that they are such all around nice guys makes the fact that they were stabbed in the back that much more difficult to understand…but more on that later.

The show itself was intimate…middle size I suppose but much larger than last year from what I’ve been told. This is no Transworld show but then again, Rob and Michael are not trying to be nor compete with Transworld so saying that…I was happy to see so many vendors. There were plenty of recognizable faces on the floor. In fact, this was the first time I have ever had a booth at a show and I not only paid for my entire show…I had enough left over to buy gas AND coffee for the ride home…just kidding. I sold my DVDs, actor training handbooks, and flameproofing. Other vendors I remember include (but certainly not limited to) John “The Professor” Denley and Boneyard, Ed “Ready Eddy” Gannon and Something Wicked Productions, the newly formed HHA, the not so newly formed (but with a shiny new set of Haunt favoring bylaws) IAHA along with their newly elected President Pat K., Jerry D and his Creepy Collection had a big booth and his product line just keeps on getting bigger and better (I love the Betsy Buttons prop), GEP was there and I hear that they sold 4 Vortex Tunnels…which is unbelievable since their tunnel and the knockoffs have been around for so long. Froggy’s Fog made a nice showing doing demos in the booth next to theirs as those vendors failed to show. Rodney from NightScream not only had a great looking booth, but proved that a show like this is very much like a heavy weight fight. Having written very few orders on Friday and no orders on Saturday he refused to throw in the towel and with only hours left in the show ended up writing a monster order…maybe the largest written at the show. Congrats to Rodney who just a few weeks ago won the Transworld “Best New Product” award. Phil Miller was there with 13 haunts, Jonathan “The Extreme” kept the crowds entertained with stage magic as did Ron Fitzgerald…whom you can’t mention without a tip of the hat to Ricky and Karen Dick from Castle Blood and their crew who also had a booth….as did the guys from F****d Up Props. There were plenty more but I’ll move on.

The seminars were a big hit as well. John Denley’s was SRO with almost 100 people crammed into the room trying to learn Devilish Detailing Secrets from “The Professor”. As expected the foam carving seminar given by Bad Boy “Tattoo” was a blow out and the seminar I did lasted 2.5 hours as I was the last speaker and never know when to shut up. The seminars ran all day both Friday and Saturday so there was certainly something for everyone.

This was a good show to be at if you were interested in props, contact lenses, fog, how to DVD’s, educational seminars, make up demonstrations, and of course networking.

The show floor was reasonably busy much of the time with the only low points coming during some of the more popular seminars. I had hoped that the show would grind to a halt as I did my seminar but somehow it seemed to go on just fine without me…go figua.
The attendees included some really big names such as the people from Morey’s Pier from the Jersey Shore (Wildwood), to animatronics genius Eric Prinze (also from the Jersey Shore), to plenty of home Haunters, to local Pa Haunt owners like Diana Muffley who owns The Freak and Fun House (say it fast…I love the play on words). She is known as the “Way Cool Haunter Chick” and wears way cool Haunter Chick platform shoes to prove it.
Also in attendance was make up and special effects artists Shane McGowin and Steve “The Bloody”, both from Long Island NY. Shane was doing make up demonstrations at my booth…and speaking of Bloody…During the “Make Up Wars” Steve the Bloody earned his name as he got blood EVERYWHERE. He also had a bag of “puss” explode down his pants (please don’t ask). Also in the lobby was an “oddatorium”..A.K.A. Sideshow and I saw that he had some original Dr Evil posters for sale. That was the original Ghost Show that Phil Morris of Morris Costumes used to do 4 or 5 decades ago. Speaking of Phil Morris…way to go larry K. You kept the godfather of this industry out in the rain as he waited to get into The Darkness. He did however say it was worth it lol. Also in the lobby area were some Ghostbusters (I didn’t know they traveled around in a Toyota Rav 4) as well as Bob and Beth Turner who were more hands on as they judged things like photos, tee shirts, and short stories.

As far as the events went…The Bates Motel was killer and everyone was more than impressed at what Randy does…as well they should be. Randy Bates is one of the big big dogs in our industry and does the industry proud by the professional way he does things. His CHAOS seminar on safety is a must for Haunters of every stripe. The Saturday night costume ball was well attended with good food, sexy women, great costumes, and an open bar. Go ahead…find the down side there.

As far as negatives…there were a few. The big one for most of us was no connectivity anywhere in the convention hall which meant no computers and no cell phone. Rob and Michael have promised to work on that for next year. The other negative was the “other” convention being held there. NA…Narcotics Anonymous. Literally thousands of former drug addicts descended on the two hotels like a swarm of locust. It made getting around impossible, tied up the elevators forever, and for me just made for an uncomfortable time being constantly surrounded by so much “ghetto & hood”. I may not be politically correct (sorry Ed) but I am right as there were white folk whispering things everywhere. Some even used the “N” word…the only word you can’t say in America. I can say “Hey F*** You…but the “N” word is censored…but that is a discussion for another day.

04-14-2009, 11:03 AM
Who was that guy who chained his buckets to a chair????? :rolleyes:

04-14-2009, 12:22 PM
I had fun. I will be looking to throw hy hat into the ring next year and get a booth.
For the "other" crowd there I was ready to hear a bunch of lip poppin about being sick and evil, typical comments from outsiders that only enjoy us during the season. The attendees of that con were alright tho. Wacky if anyhting. Almost fit in. lol. I was stoped a couple times and asked to show off my purchases. Didn't care. It was cool stuff.

04-14-2009, 01:23 PM
Well Steve, you could always get a booth for MHC this year. I just looked at your masks and I can just say they WILL SELL! If you show at MHC we will make sure we visit your booth and will probably become a customer of yours.

04-14-2009, 02:13 PM
I had a blast this weekend. Many thanks to everyone who put the convention together.

I also have to say that I had no issues with the other convention at the hotel. In my experience, they were all very polite, pleasant and interested in what we were doing. I've found over the years that there is often another convention in attendance when we weirdos are doing our thing, and it's a good bet that they won't be compatible. I personally had no trouble with these folks.

As we were headed (in full costume) to the cadaver cotillion, the NA group was mostly headed back in the opposite direction, toward us. Several of them didn't quite know what to make of a zombie chick strolling down the hall, and their reactions were many and varied. I saw one lady who was quite wide-eyed as she backed away from me. I smiled at her and calmly said, "Boo"--upon which she hurled herself smartly into the wall.

I normally have to wait until October until I can get scares like that... :-D

04-14-2009, 02:56 PM
There is still time. I guess I will look into the booths there since I already intend on going. I feel like I am so far behind for this year's coming season. 200+ days and I'm in a panic yet.
Thanks for the compliments on my work. It's a weekend hobby for me.
I brought in a couple of masks for people to see and to give away. Reactions were pretty good.
Although MHC is bigger the compitition is serious. I've been playing with this for less than a year.