Central Florida’s Spooky Empire thrilled and chilled

Photo: Spooky Empire / Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl.. Image Courtesy Carla Davis
Photo: Spooky Empire / Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl.. Image Courtesy Carla Davis /

Horror-loving Central Floridians are very familiar with our very own home-grown horror convention, Spooky Empire. Held twice a year in Orlando, Spooky made a bit of a change to their October convention this year.

Spooky Empire co-founder Peter Mongelli, In a move that set social media ablaze, made the decision to move the convention to Tampa for the first time in its history. During its first three years, Spooky was set up in South Florida, then spent the next 13 years in Orlando.

Mongelli was unable to secure a large enough space for the specified dates, making it necessary to move outside of Orlando. Spooky Empire ran from Halloween through November 3 this year to take advantage of prime horror season, and was held at the Tampa Convention Center.

Celebrity guests this year included Bruce Campbell, Elvira, Ted Raimi, Sam Raimi, Joe Bob Briggs, Ken Foree, Danielle Harris and James Hong. Mia Farrow was slated to appear as well, but had to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances.

My first trip to Spooky Empire was in March during their spring event (which was held in Orlando), and my sister Kim and I had such a great time that we decided to make a return visit. With both of us being somewhat directionally challenged, we were a little nervous about making the drive to Tampa, but it all worked out fine.

Spooky Empire
Photo: Spooky Empire / Kim Saporito .. Image Courtesy Carla Davis /

It was definitely a larger venue (and crowd), as compared to the spring event, but there was good signage to make sure everyone knew where to be. We were early, so we sat at a table in the lobby and people-watched.

My sister was delighted to spot two guys dressed as King Arthur and Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. These guys were great, they even had coconuts to clap together as they “trotted” along. I don’t know if they won any of the costume awards, but they should have!

The most common costume we saw was Ash Williams from The Evil Dead, with David S. Pumpkin’s jack o’ lantern print suit a close second. There were some little girls dressed as the sisters from The Shining (“Come play with us, Danny”…), and they were getting a lot of attention.

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Kim and I purchased a photo op with Joe Bob Briggs (Shudder’s The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs), because I am a huge fan.  My geek side was giddy at the surprise appearance of Darcy the Mail Girl (A/K/A Diana Prince), and I gave her the thumbs-up to pose with us. At $40, I call that a pretty good deal, and a later autograph op was only $20. Plus, they were both really nice, and Joe Bob was familiar with 1428 Elm.

We also got a photo with Bruce Campbell, which cost $50 – still a good deal, in my opinion. The line was super-long and a bit confusing, but we still made it through in the allotted time. This one was much more rushed, so we didn’t get much beyond a hand shake from Bruce, but we knew they had a large number of fans to get through.

Spooky Empire
Photo: Spooky Empire / Denna Beena -Image Courtesy Carla Davis /

The volunteers were doing their best to keep people moving along, and Volunteer Coordinator Denna Beena even held bags for people while they were being photographed.

In the autograph room, we chatted with Ken Foree (The Devil’s Rejects, Dawn of the Dead) and Marilyn Eastman, who appeared as Helen Cooper in the original Night of the Living Dead. Both were charming and friendly, and Ms. Eastman was just delightful.

We walked the aisles of the vendor room, where I purchased a small hand-made clay jack o’ lantern and perused the many t-shirts, artwork and movies that were displayed. After that, we were ready to call it a day.

Spooky Empire
Photo: Spooky Empire.. Image Courtesy Carla Davis /

Next. Bruce Campbell: 5 most unusual onscreen deaths of his career. dark

Overall, it was a great experience, and despite the larger venue, everything was easy to find. I am hoping we will be able to make it to the spring convention next year!

Have you been to Spooky Empire? Let us know in the comments.