In Haunt

By Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Following on from the enormously successful For the Love of Horror event at the end of October this year (see here for my extended review on it), Monopoly Events and Andy Kleek presented the 5th convention For the Love of Sci-Fi on 3 – 4th December 2022 at Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Trafford. It was an extraordinary weekend, packed with superb cos-play, fantastic traders’ stalls with every conceivable collectable on display, and special guests from the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. As I have come to expect from Monopoly’s superb horror events, there were open Q&A interviews with Hollywood stars (Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren) and fan favourites (Will Poulter and Anthony Daniels proved to be particularly popular!), all of whom were open to fan questions and discussion. Other opportunities were clearly aimed at autograph hunters and those seeking coveted photo opportunities, including rare meet-and-greet events. The tempo and staging of this event seemed more intimate than the For the Love of Horror convention; but fans’ love of the sci-fi and fantasy genres was still on display for all to see, particularly visible in the many glammed-up attendees! 

For the Love of Horror event

The convention guests were, of course, the main attraction: the Q&As all featured informative live discussions, and the occasional star who wandered through the audience for a distinctly more intimate and engaging Q&A session (take a bow, Anthony Daniels!). Jean Claude Van Damme advised the crowd on how to stay flexible and fit, showing his daily technique of stretching his legs to keep his limber physique. Lundgren discussed his latest projects including the next Aquaman film and his return to the Expendables franchise with Sylvester Stallone, due out in autumn 2023. Van Damme is also busy filming action films over the next few months, with projects in Los Angeles and Hong Kong keeping him working well into the new year. 

For the Love of Horror event

I am always astounded at the creative artistry on display for cos-playing at these events, perhaps because I am not an avid cos-player; that said, judging by the spectacular displays from all ages in the cos-play competition, it seems like so much fun. I was chased by some menacing Daleks from Doctor Who, who made for a suitably intimidating group while playfully stalking fans across the venue. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO from Star Wars) invited his fellow Star Wars and robotic cos-players to the stage in acknowledgement of their hard work and evident devotion to mechanised screen characters. Other fandoms were equally in evidence: to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Universal Soldier, several pairs of ‘UniSols’ were on patrol all weekend and eventually got to meet their screen counterparts in a public photo shoot.  

Displays of props from classic sci-fi cinema and series were stunning to see on display. I encountered Eddie and Argyle from season 4 of Stranger Things, jamming to the sounds of Metallica while warding off evil in the Upside Down. Visible ruptures into the Upside Down were clearly in evidence (alongside a dreaded Demogorgon), and Will’s beloved Castle Byers set made up a great area that attracted fans young and old across the two days. Kudos to the set builders who put a great amount of effort and detail into the work.  The centrepiece installation was a screen-accurate DeLorean from Back to the Future, replete with a pulsating Flux Capacitor and Time-Travel circuits. I also ran into several members of the cast at the installation; Mayor Goldie Wilson [Don Fullilove] and Marvin Berry [Harry Waters Jr.] shared memories of making the film alongside Claudia Wells (who played Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer) both onstage and off. The Back to the Future panel ended with a great rendition of the song ‘Earth Angel’, with couples dancing to the climactic song on the convention centre floor.  

For the Love of Horror event

As with other Monopoly/Kleek events, the traders’ hall always promises to be an apt place to get those necessary pop culture gems and stocking fillers for Christmas! Consisting of a superb array of collectors’ items ranging from t-shirts, costumes, pop vinyls and posters to craft works, sculptures, paintings, original artistry and collectable, rare posters, it’s a perfect place to find that rare or surprising artefact. This year, I was able to hunt down some rare pop vinyls thanks to Stuart and Jenny at Clecktibles to complete my horror collection. Those lovely artists at Chroma Crystal created new props and ephemera from beloved 1980s classic films and produced some great VHS cover art. A1 Toys had a fine stall with numerous toys, comics, and games on display, and tons of rare graphic novels to offer, while Silver and Goth jewellery had bespoke jewellery and pins on display, some with a distinctly beautiful Gothic flair, as did Mythgik (whose online shop you can find on Facebook). There was definitely something for everyone, and from nearly every major franchise and collectible culture.  

We cannot wait to see the 2023 convention get underway next year and to meet some of its prestigious guests (check out Monopoly’s website for regular guest updates). Tickets are already on-sale for 2023 and can be purchased directly from the site here – we’ll see you there!  

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