MILWAUKEE — It's possibly one of the most terrifying conventions in the country. The Midwest Haunters Convention runs this weekend from June 25 - 26.
It features hyper-realistic severed heads, bodies and limbs. There are tons of scary and highly detailed masks. Plus, tons of other items you'd find in the best of haunted houses.
This convention marks a turn as things begin to open up around the U.S. The Wisconsin Center used to be a vaccine clinic to fight the coronavirus. Now, the Midwest Haunters Convention is one of the first to return to the convention center.
The day before the convention started, I spoke with Chad Smith, who owns Unsub Masks. He is a first-time exhibitor at a convention and was setting up his booth. The masks he makes are for actors who work at haunted houses or theme parks. Some of the masks he has are Krampus themed, wolfs, demons, zombies and other scary creatures.
“You know, each one of them, a lot of people don’t look at it as art, but it is art. It's an expression of who I am," said Smith.
Smith, a police officer, got his start in the Halloween industry with a charity haunted house he runs in the Champaign, Illinois area.
"We raise money to put towards our Shop with a Cop program, which provides Christmas for children who are needy or less fortunate. And out of that necessity, we needed masks. So I started to learn how to make masks, and now we use original characters in our haunt as opposed to pulling from movies," said Smith.
It can take him days to put one together, but it's all worth it, he says.
“As creepy as it sounds, nothing warms your heart more than getting that scream inside that haunted house, and then you hear that laugh immediately afterwards.”
His masks range from $30 to $150. That might be on the cheaper end of items at the convention; other props were listed anywhere from $250 to $1,000.
The higher price tag is for the ultra-realistic, life-sized props.
So if you can’t wait for Halloween, love a good fright, or just want something different to do, the Wisconsin Center is the place to be this weekend.