The MASK-FEST Manifesto

Although I’ve attended every Horrorhound/MASK-FEST for the last eight years, this one had me nervous. Having outgrown their old Marriott hotel guests were treated to a significantly larger (and pricier) one last year that didn’t seem to make a lot of folks happy. This year they finally graduated to the Indianapolis Convention Center – a venue I’d last visited back in 2005 for STAR WARS CELEBRATION III. I had no doubt it was large enough but was primarily concerned with the logistics and parking situation. Thankfully, it couldn’t have gone better. The 2019 Horrorhound Weekend would prove itself not only a winner in terms of organization but a true fan-pleaser by offering THREE events for the price of one. In addition to Horrorhound Weekend and MASK-FEST, there’d be a third show called Fact or Fiction featuring notable personalities from the world of the unknown. So if you’re a horror fan who’s also into UFO’s AND Cryptozoology like I am, this was the event you’ve been waiting for! 

Things didn’t start off as I’d hoped. Somehow I’d forgotten about the time difference between Chicago and Indianapolis and quickly found myself behind schedule. My daughters (Leia and Jade) and I entered the city smack dab in the middle of rush hour which slowed travel to a crawl. As a suburbanite, this was the part of the weekend I had been dreading the most; navigating city streets while trying to find affordable parking as close to the convention center as we could get. It turns out, Horrorhound had me covered. As soon as we pulled off the expressway, I spotted a man holding a big sign that read “Horrorhound.” We pulled up and he directed us to a $15 lot (a.k.a. a helluva lot cheaper than what the Marriott charged last year) and a FREE shuttle bus that brought you straight to the convention center’s front door. The shuttle was free, though tipping was encouraged and these friendly drivers proved themselves well worth it. They ran nonstop the duration of the weekend, so if you wanted to hang out with friends till 3 AM at the event, someone would bring you safely back to the lot. It was the easiest and most convenient arrangement I’ve seen at any major event I’ve ever attended. Kudos to Horrorhound Weekend!

Horrorhound shuttle bus

Comfy Horrorhound shuttle bus sure beat walking!

We met up with Kellie Hamilton at the entrance of the main convention hall and she gave us our passes. All three of us were armed with our own SLR Canon cameras and ready to photograph as many masks as we could for next year’s “Countdown to MASK-FEST” series. After handing us our wristbands, she put on a mask of her own – the face of the father of MASK-FEST, Eric Austin. This signaled the approach of the man, himself, and it was great seeing him again. Eric’s a young guy who can coordinate a convention better than a seasoned pro. 

Eric Austin (RIGHT) – the charismatic father of MASK-FEST!

Like last year, MASK-FEST and Horrorhound shared one huge hall. The new “Fact or Fiction” show was directly across and in a separate room. We decided to start with the larger hall and the masks! 

Jade and Leia ready to shoot some masks!

One of the first familiar faces I saw were my friends from Pumpkin Pulp, Brian Blair and Vinny Landfert.

This year, in honor of “Fact or Fiction” they featured a special Bigfoot mask.“I just told him he should make a Bigfoot mask this past week,” said Landfert. “He literally created this thing within a couple days.” 

Brian Blair’s sensational Sasquatch!

Blair’s masterpiece was signed by a few of the more notable ‘Fact or Fiction’ guests including Bob Gimlin and Lyle Blackburn. Gimlin’s claim to fame is being present when Roger Patterson shot his infamous footage of an alleged Bigfoot (informally named “Patty” since the creature is believed to be female) back in 1967. I first saw that footage when I was seven years old on an old TV show called “In Search Of…” hosted by Leonard Nimoy. By that time, Patterson had already passed away leaving Gimlin the sole witness to the event a.k.a. the only man alive who knows what really happened that day. The Horrorhound website declared this to be the 87-year-old cowboy’s “final” convention appearance but Blair and Landfert told me they spoke with Bob and he told them he had at least a few more after this one. 

This year featured a new artist named Russ Turk. Among Turk’s memorable offerings was a severely injured Charlie Brown and raging alien from Roswell. Not all creative types are people-friendly but this New Jersey designer was eager to greet anyone passing his booth. The man brought a lot of energy and talent to MASK-FEST and I’m hoping he’ll return next year.

I also saw fellow Svengoolie fan, Jeff Carlson, the masterful artist behind Mani-Yack Monsters. He was very kind to us; giving my daughters and me free patches and magnets. 

Speaking of horror hosts, Indianapolis’ Sammy Terry had a booth here but I wasn’t able to see him. This is the son (Mark Carter) of the original Sammy Terry (Bob Carter) who took over the reins in 2011. I met him several years ago at a Days of the Dead event.

The former Ormon Grimsby was also present but as his alter ego, Craig Vance. Vance was selling his Dark Crystal Skeksis’ and dragon busts. I remember seeing the 1982 film at the theater when I was a kid but haven’t watched the new Netflix series yet. Since I have no shortage of things to see, I was hoping he could tell me if he thought this one was worth it or not but, unfortunately, he hadn’t seen it either.

The multi-talented Craig Vance

One series I have had the chance to watch and really enjoyed was Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy. I was happy to see masks worn by two of their characters Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige).

 

I know it’s strange, but one of the things I anticipate most about MASK-FEST is what handcrafted horror magnet I can add to my refrigerator. This year we stopped at Gabe LaPeer’s Homemade Horror booth and I let the girls decide.

They ended up choosing the Book of the Dead from the Evil Dead franchise and the comic from Creepshow (1982).

My daughter Leia purchased some cheap resin sculpts and with the help of some sculpy clay turned a generic skull into a Tarman magnet from Return of the Living Dead!

From this…

…to this!

Thanks to MASK-FEST my refrigerator is always ready for Halloween!

In addition to masks, there was another section devoted to life-sized models including the “Werecat” in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. These were posed and standing next to where the killer vehicles used in Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Christine (1983) were parked and available for fan photos. The photos were like $20 a shot and you weren’t allowed to photograph them alone with your camera either.

 

Here are some more great masks featured at the 2019 MASK-FEST. Please note that these are just a sampling of the ones we photographed. The 2020 “Countdown to MASK-FEST” will have much more!

 

Having completed our MASK-FEST journey, it was time to start the next phase of this show.

Coming up…Horrorhound Weekend!

~Dave

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