Demons in the Desert: Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum

October 15, 2019 — If you’re in Boulder City, Nevada, it probably means that you’re on your way to the Hoover Dam. And that probably means you’re taking a break from the madness of nearby Las Vegas. Which happens to be the setting for Leprechaun 3. And its diminutive and demented namesake is standing right now in Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum in Boulder City, Nevada. Now we’re there.

Tom Devlin is a special effects and makeup artist with some 100 films on his Imdubuh resume. The flicks that he works on are mostly of the defiantly trashy, low-budget type, like those from Troma Entertainment. Full Moon Studios. Asylum’s mockbusters. Porn parodies.

But the movies don’t matter, because he’s all about the monsters.

And like every monster fan, he wants to be surrounded by them. For most of us, that just means action figures and posters. For a guy like that with the talent and the connections and staff from his 1313FX production company, he gets to create and fill a whole museum of monsters.

And you know I’m a sucker for monster museums. Like Count Orlok’s in Salem. Or MoPOP’s The Thrill of Horror Film exhibition in Seattle. I mean, both of those museums go all out with the quality of their props and displays, but all you really need to do is shove a mask on a mannequin head, and I’m there.

Located at 1310 Boulder City Parkway, Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum is full of props and costumes both from movies he’s personally worked on and those he’s just a fan of. He also has a series of full-sized monster made especially for the museum that cover the whole family and phylum of monsters, from the silents to the slashers, Gill-man to Tarman, Linda Blair to the Leprechaun.

You pay your entrance fee at the gift shop, and then you wander at your own pace through the collection of decaying foam and latex. Many of the classic movie monster reproductions have a wet, melty handmade style to their face that was interesting, especially since I probably don’t need to see my millionth film-accurate Frankenstein in my life (just kidding, I’m go for another million of those).

Highlights for me were the Poultrygeist costume from the 2006 Troma movie Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, but only because I once drove eight hours to Buffalo to see the site of the fast food restaurant that was the setting for the film just because I got overly completist with The New York Grimpendium. The spot’s now a firehouse. I was also happy to see the Blade, Pinhead, and Six-Shooter puppets from one of Full Moon Studio’s Puppetmaster movies. Those guys remind me of summer nights of my unspent youth in my attic bedroom watching VHS tapes. Also the sudden set of life-sized, rotting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes shoved randomly between a pair of Killer Klowns and the Toxic Avenger.

The best thing in the museum, though isn’t a Tom Devlin creation. But that’s not his fault. He just happens to own the actual Spider Gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Honestly, if that’s the only thing he owned, and he stuck it atop a car hood in a Sinclair parking lot with a cardboard sign that charged $30 to touch on of the legs, I’d still skip the Hoover Dam to see it. The thing is giant, with about a six-foot leg span and satisfying detailed, almost more statue than prop deserving of a marble pedestal, but just as powerful in the chickenwire cage they displayed it in.

Anyway, this place was a lot of fun. Way worth checking out if you’re eyes are tired of the flashing lights of slot machines and the desert glare of the Nevada sun. Because here you can rest your eyes on something darker…and cooler.