July 31, 2016

Photo Essay: Spooks and Kooks at Midsummer Scream

Halloween can never come soon enough for me.

Seriously, I'm ready to start preparing on New Year's Day, once the hubbub of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve is done and over with.

So I'm delighted to have participated in a Halloween convention for three years in a row: last year and the year before as a panelist at ScareLA, and this year as a moderator of my own panel at Midsummer Scream, for which I assembled some kindred spirits to talk about ghost towns.

After our discussion was over and the audience filtered out, I finally got to mingle with the ghouls, goblins, freaks, geeks, and monsters that had come out to play on the exhibit floor.

All the usual haunts and amusement parks were out in full force, having brought a cast of stilt-walkers and other creepsters to rev up some excitement in the crowd.

But conventions like this are the kind of place where regular people can come as they are—and leave as a mutant.

Others arrive fully prepared to work the floor...

...even if they've got nothing in particular to promote.

Unlike some other conferences that are really just trying to sell stuff to you, Halloween conventions like Midsummer Scream actually want to entertain you...

...and give you a taste of what's to come in the fall with mini versions of local haunts, as a kind of amuse-bouche.

Whoever they are, and whatever their purpose, they generally love having their photo taken—or, at least permit it with a slight nod as they pretend-attack you.

The life-like masks on display at some of the booths, however, don't really have a choice in the matter. They must comply.

Sometimes it seems like they're going to jump out and spook you, too.

These dolls might start talking or laughing or crying... they latch onto one of your limbs to try to hitch a ride home with you.

In the end, the dolls stay there, but who knows what spirits may have attached to you as you perused their cracked faces and frilly costumes?

And maybe Krampus might have spotted you being a naughty little boy or girl, and noted to himself to stuff you into his basket along with all the other naughty little kids when he returns in December!

Of course, there are things to buy at Midsummer Scream, though it doesn't feel overly commercialized.

Even the big, expensive props feel handcrafted.

There's a kind of artisanal aspect to everything that's been molded, sculpted, painted, illustrated, glued, and fabricated.

People working in special effects, set decoration, and makeup for sci-fi and horror movies are so darn talented here in Hollywood—so it's a delight to get to see what they work on in their own spare time, when they're bringing their own vision to life.

Photo from

I took home an enamel pin from my friend Drew's booth. This pumpkin is on fire, and he loves it.

I might start wearing it right away. It's already August, after all.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Getting Ready for Halloween (and the Hereafter) Early at the Spook Show
Photo Essay: Curiosity Crawl at Dapper Cadaver
A Kinder-Horror Christmas with Krampus
Photo Essay: Krampus, The Dark Side of Christmas
Photo Essay: Willkommen Krampus, the Christmas Devil

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