For the first time in three years, Midsummer Scream made its long-awaited return to Long Beach, CA! After having to cancel the event in 2020 and move to a smaller venue in 2021, the Halloween and horror convention had its homecoming in 2022. If you don’t know, the event spans across a three-day weekend, featuring discussion panels, celebrity interviews, haunts, vendors and other activities geared toward the spooky community. I’ve been looking forward to it for months and am here to share details of my experience.
In the past, I’ve attended Midsummer Scream on a Sunday, but this year I bought tickets for Saturday, so I was curious to see if there were any noticeable differences. One major distinction is the lineup of discussion panels scheduled, but more on that later. Now, it’s always a busy affair, but this was the first time I had to wait in line for an hour to get in. I think its return to Long Beach brought out a bigger crowd, and, I should mention, it’s not just locals who attend. People come from all over the U.S. to check out the convention.
Since there’s so much going on during the event, Midsummer Scream came out with an app that makes it easy for guests to plan what activities they want to do and create a personalized calendar. That’s what I did, and it was quite beneficial. I missed the Winchester Mystery House presentation because I was still stuck in the long line to enter the convention center. Despite that, the wait was worth it and as soon as I got inside, I went straight to the next panel on my list—The Original Monster Kids.
The discussion took place in the Grand Ballroom and was moderated by Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist for Metallica, and featured Sara Karloff, the daughter of Boris Karloff (Frankenstein); Lynne Lugosi Sparks, Bela Lugosi’s granddaughter (Dracula); and Ron Chaney, the grandson and great grandson of Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolf Man) and Sr. (The Phantom of the Opera). To have the descendants of such great horror film icons in one room was incredible to witness.
They shared personal memories, photos and video clips. Karloff’s daughter Sara had a wonderful sense of humor and admitted to not being a fan of scary movies. Lynne explained that because Bela Lugosi didn’t wear fangs when he played Dracula, they are careful not to have his image portrayed today as having them. However, she did mention they made an exception for the graphic novel Dracula released by Legendary Comics in 2020. It was absolutely fascinating to hear each of their personal accounts and listen to them share intimate details about the individuals behind these monster characters.
As soon as the panel concluded, I raced to get to the Second Stage where the next presentation on my list was happening. It was Night of the Living Drag, but by the time I got there, the space had filled up entirely and they weren’t allowing anyone else in. It was hosted by Peaches Christ who’s an icon in the drag industry and has made appearances on The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula as a guest judge. I was disappointed to miss it, but it opened up time for me to head to the lower levels to peruse the more than 200 spooky vendors.
It was both exciting and overwhelming trying to explore the numerous booths. It’s a Halloween lover’s paradise taking in all the macabre merchandise, and I discovered many goodies. If you could think it, someone was probably selling it. Fabulous Frights had amazing home décor, and I particularly liked the “Pick Your Poison” cocktail bar. I’m definitely keeping them in mind when I redo the interior of my crypt. Krystale Noir, dancer with The Black Veils and founder of Cherry Noir Vintage, was kind enough to gift me an awesome tee that reads, “Horror Whore!” Cross Roads Escape Games had a fun photo up featuring a character who’ll be making an appearance in their new experience, The Weeping Witch. Other exhibitors included the Los Angeles Ghostbusters, Fangoria, Steeling Pompeii, Trick or Treat Studios and so many more. You could literally spend an entire day just browsing the vendors.
Before I knew it, it was time for the final interview of the day I wanted to see, A Curious Conversation With Christine McConnell! Who recalls her Netflix series titled The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell? Like many admirers, I was sad when the network canceled the show. However, since then, the multi-talented artist has launched her own YouTube series, From the Mind of Christine McConnell, and runs a successful Patreon account. If you don’t know who she is, McConnell is a master craftswoman who injects the macabre into all of her DIY projects. During the panel, she discussed her inspirations, spooky projects, why she prefers having cats to kids, and her haunted mansion. It was a delightful conversation and one that really motivated me to continue pursuing my creative endeavors.
I couldn’t leave without heading to the lower level once more to check out the Hall of Shadows. This is where haunters set up mini versions of their haunts to give attendees a sneak preview of what’s to come during the fall season. To enhance the creepy atmosphere in this area, it’s completely dark (except for glowing neon lights), fog permeates every corner and morbid music resounds from speakers. It’s the epitome of a Halloween village. Lines were lengthy for every attraction and my vampire energy was drained, so I didn’t walk through any of them, but I did survey the selection and captured images of the exteriors. They all looked quite promising.
I’m still pining over everything the event had to offer. Attending Midsummer Scream truly is a transformative experience for me. I enter through the doors of the Long Beach Convention Center and leave behind this world, entering a spooky realm that fills me with joy. For those few hours, I’m transported. The organizers also host an affair during the holidays called Seasons Screamings, so I hope to go if they hold it this year. I will say that I’ve already made the decision to attend the entire weekend in 2023. There’s just too much to see and do in a single day.
If you went or have attended Midsummer Scream in the past, tell me about your experience. Or maybe you’ve attended horror conventions in other locations. Let me know!