Creature feature: Monsterama opens Friday in Atlanta

Sybil Danning, center, appears in “Howling II.” Danning is among the cult film celebrities that will be appearing at Atlanta’s Monsterama convention this weekend. (Photo: Shout Factory)

Depending on what era of horror and science fiction movies you consider to be “classic,” you might find the world of fan conventions a little confusing, and possibly even disappointing. As the popularity of genre films and merchandising skyrockets, going to those events is no longer seen as something reserved exclusively for the geekiest of geeks, but the focus still tends to be on what’s new and popular in the current culture.

 

Now in its fourth year, Atlanta’s Monsterama is the only show of its kind in Georgia dedicated to “celebrating the fantastic in film, literature, and art.” Unlike other conventions that mix horror movies and television with other forms of entertainment that their patrons are interested in as well (rock music and professional wrestling), Monsterama is a smaller, quieter experience where you’ll find life-size statues of creatures like Count Orlok from the silent classic “Nosferatu” or the original design for Godzilla. In 2015, I watched a makeup demonstration in which golden age Hollywood special effects materials and techniques were used to turn an audience member into the iconic Lon Chaney version of “Phantom of the Opera” in a matter of minutes.

But while the lecture panels, vendor tables and 16mm film screenings can easily fill a day’s itinerary, Monstrama’s roster of celebrity guests always manages to surprise and impress. Attendees to this weekend’s show will have the opportunity to meet and greet some of the most iconic faces in the history of cult and B-movies as well as behind-the-scenes figures who have made significant contributions to some of cinema’s best-loved hits:

• Dick Miller spent several decades appearing in nearly all of legendary producer Roger Corman’s films from the 1956 atomic age creature feature “It Conquered the World” and the original “Little Shop of Horrors” to “Rock N’ Roll High School” and “Gremlins.” A new feature-length documentary about Miller’s career will also be screened at the show.

• Sybil Danning stayed busy during the ‘70s and ‘80s carving out a unique niche for herself by playing powerful, larger-than-life characters with a sexy bombshell edge. After appearing in the “Star Wars”-inspired 1980 space flick “Battle Beyond the Stars,” Danning’s eclectic resume includes such highlights as an unforgettable blonde werewolf in “The Howling II” and a ruthless warden in “Reform School Girls.”

• Barbara Luna’s extensive background in television includes everything from such ‘60s classics as “The Outer Limits” and the original run of “Star Trek” to “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and a recurring role as the feather-headed Koori in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”

• Gene Warren Jr. is the owner of Fantasy II Film Effects and won an Oscar for his groundbreaking work on “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” Warren’s extensive list of credits include ‘80s fan favorites “Return of the Living Dead” and “Critters” and as recently as three of the “Underworld” films and Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”

• Lynn Lowry (George Romero’s “The Crazies”) and Daniel Roebuck (“The River’s Edge”) also join a host of authors, artists, actors, and filmmakers who will be in attendance at the convention, which starts on Friday at the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta and runs through Sunday. Visit www.monsteramacon.com for updated schedule and programming details.

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