WHO: Dave Hagan (founder of monstermania)
Dave Hagan Interview – 11.19.08
MJ: How did the MonsterMania Con start ?
DH : I’ve always been a fan of horror from childhood on. I was part of what they call the monster kids now, it’s early to mid-60’s when Famous
Monsters magazine was out. It was very popular. The movies were being re-released in the theatre and the model kits were out. I was the kid they were advertising to back then. My dad was always a big horror fan and he got me into going to see the horror movies with him and watching Dr. Shock on television. Now, I have two sons and my oldest particularly is interested as much as I am. We used to go around to different shows and events selling movie posters. When Sideshow Toys first came out, we were probably one of the only people who had the series one action figures. We were going all over the place to go to the different shows, and Philadelphia didn’t have a show at the time. We were coming back from Pittsburgh and it was like a seven hour drive and we were just kicking around if we had a show, what would we do, how would we present it, what things would we take away from it – that other people do. By the end of the seven hours, we had pretty much worked out what had become MonsterMania and then it was a matter
of if we actually want to go ahead and try to do it, invest the money, the time, and the risk or was it just going to be a seven hour car ride
MJ : Who has been your most popular guest?
DH : I would say Robert Englund. He’s done our show four times already and we’re doing a show in Hartford, CT and he’s going to be our headliner there. I think he’s most popular with the fans for a number of different reasons. Freddy Krueger is one of the only 80’s horror icons that was really only played by one person. Leatherface was different people. Jason is up to I don’t know how many people, like seven or more. But Freddy Krueger, up until this new Nightmare of Elm Street hat they’re talking about doing, it’s always been Robert Englund. And the thing with Freddy too, is Michael Myers don’t say anything, Jason doesn’t say anything, Freddy’s got a real personality in the films, and the sarcasm and the dark humor really comes across and the fans really like it. Robert Englund, the person, is such a super guy. There are some stars you go up to and hopefully they’re polite to you, and you move on. When you meet Robert Englund, you come away with a memory. He’s so outgoing and he’s so friendly, you know. It’s a real pleasure to meet him. He’ll get into a conversation with you, and you’re the one saying, “ah, I gotta go now”. I think that ads to this popularity as a guest. As a promoter, we always know what we’re getting with Robert Englund. He’s someone who’s very fan friendly and he’s going to
be down there from the minute he’s supposed to be down there until the very end.
MJ : Sid Haig and Bill Moseley have also become MonsterMania regulars. How are they to work with?
DH : They’re two other people that obviously care about the fans. Some stars come and it’s a money making venture and that’s the be all and end all of it for them. Then there are some people that really like going to a convention and meeting the fans, and when the show is over you’ll find the guests in the bar wit the fans. Sid & Bill are two of the people that truly enjoy hanging out with the fans and meeting them. Doug Bradley is another one. He was at the first show at the Clarion Hotel and a couple other one’s since then, and he’ll be at more in the future. For me, one of the most memorable things that we’ve done is when we had the Hellraiser Reunion and that was the first time all those guys had seen each other since the movie. They’ve since gone on and done other shows, but that was the first time and to see Doug Bradley, Pinhead, greet one of the other Cenobites that he hadn’t seen in 20 something years. It was special to be there!
MJ : Are there any stars you wouldn’t invite back to the convention?
DH : I won’t name names but one star we’ve had a couple times , his behavior was not good as far as actually getting into fights with fans at the bar. When you sign to come to these things, you have to behave yourself and act like an adult. This one person in particular needs more self control.
MJ : You’ve done several tributes on past shows. Tributes to Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, and Donald Pleasant. Do you have any plans on doing tributes to any other actors from that time period?
DH : I would like to, the problem we ran into was… it was hard to get people who worked with those stars. Personally, I’d like to do Boris Karoff and Bela Lugosi tributes. At lot of times a grandson or granddaughter was so young when the star passed away they hardly remember them. It’s hard to find people who worked with them or directed them, or anything like that.
MJ : Is there one person you’ve tried to get, but just can’t get?
DH : Without a doubt, Christopher Lee. I’ve gone after him so often. I’m a big Hammer Horror fan. If you said to me, you could have anyone you want at the show, who would it be? It would be him.
MJ : Who has been the hardest guest to get, so far?
DH : The Corey’s were tough to get. Corey Haim because he was having issues getting into the country. They both were scheduled and both cancelled in the past. I hate to put a name on the list and then have to take it down. All the stars have the option to bale out of the show if a movie comes along, because that’s what their real profession is. Haim and Feldman cancelled but I was determined to get them to a show in the future because I had put them up on the website and promised the fans. Even if it was three years later, or whatever, I wanted to make good on the promise and I did, but it wasn’t the easiest by far.
MJ : What happened with the Richard Dreyfuss appearance?
DH : We put him up as a tentative, because when we spoke to him agent he was scheduled to work on that George Bush movie, “W” with Oliver Stone. He said I could list him on the website but list it tentative in case some film reasons came up that he wouldn’t be able to make the show. Whenever I put tentative, it means the person has agreed to come but that there may be outside circumstances that could prevent them from coming. Jaws was one of my favorite movies, so if I can make it work down the road, I will definitely do that.
MJ: You started MonsterMania in Cherry Hill, NJ and now you are branching out and having a MonsterMania Con in Hartford, CT in June 2009. Any more plans on expanding?
DH : Yeah, our goal is to go into other cities across the country. Cherry Hill is always going to be home for me. What we do in another city won’t
have any kind of negative effect on what we’re doing in Cherry Hill. What happens a lot of times, we’ll have a certain guest or reunion on our show and the next thing you know our show is being duplicated by someone else in another city. It happens all the time. Corey Haim had never done a horror con ever, and since our show which was August, he’s been scheduled for like six more. We literally worked on getting him to our show for years and now people go over to our show and sign him up for their show. We figured what we’ll do is go to the cities ourselves and once we get our hands on a guest like a Corey Haim for the first time, we’ll book him for each one of our shows across the country. At least we’ll reap the benefits of, well in his case, years of trying to get him to come.
MJ : What does the future look like for MonsterMania?
DH : 2009 is going to be really interesting. We just got distribution of our MonsterMania magazine in the United States and Canada. We’re looking to have MonsterMania Issue # 2 out for our March 13 – 15 MonsterMania Con in Cherry Hill, MonsterMania Issue # 3 out for our June 12 -14 MonsterMania Con in Hartford, CT, and then MonsterMania Issue # 4 out for our August Cherry Hill MonsterMania Con. It will also be available on the website www.monstermania.net and in bookstores and newsstands. It’s come full circle for me, like I said my dad brought me home horror magazines when I was a kid and now someone’s father is going to be bringing the MonsterMania magazine home to their kids.
We’re also in negotiations right now with a film company and next year at some point we’re going to be releasing a film under the “MonsterMania presents” title, sort of like what Lionsgate would do with the SAW films. We’re not directly involved with the screenwriting or things like that but it’s kind of like a growth of what’s happened with MonsterMania where film directors have come to the shows and met with stars and writers. There is one film in the works right now being directed by David Madison and being shot in upstate Pennsylvania.