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The Colossus of New York meets Joey Vento.
"The Colossus of New York" meets Joey Vento.

Haunted Barn Movie Museum (Closed)

Field review by the editors.

Monroe, New York

Joey Vento's link to classic monster movies was forged before he was born -- much like an ancestral curse -- when his father briefly appeared in the 1953 film Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. "My father was a longshoreman," said Joey. Someone on the New York film crew handed him a broom and told him to sweep while the cameras rolled. "He was 'the sweeping guy'," said Joey of his father's uncredited role. "He was paid with a bottle of scotch."

Masks from
Masks from "The Fly" (1958), "First Men in the Moon" (1964), and "The Outer Limits" (1963).

Fast forward 60 years and Joey is mysteriously compelled to own and curate the Haunted Barn Movie Museum, his personal shrine to horror, science fiction, and fantasy films.

The large, weathered shed sits next to his family's home, much like any other house in the woods until you spot a Victorian hearse and fake cemetery. Duck your head under the shed's decorative cobwebs at the door and enter a space filled with monsters (along with twinkly Christmas lights and eerie music played over hidden speakers). Giant spiders hang from the ceiling; props from films and TV series fill the walls, pack the shelves, and crowd the floor.

Living Dead miniature.
Living Dead miniature.

Astronaut survival kit from
Astronaut survival kit from "Planet of the Apes" (1968).

Many of the mutants trigger dim memories; you know you've seen that rubbery horror head before, but was it from The Colossus of New York or I Married a Monster From Outer Space? If you guess wrong, don't worry; Joey has the other one too.

Joey showed us a glow-in-the-dark diorama scene from Night of the Living Dead, made by his daughter, Jess. With pride, Joey said that she was watching Nosferatu when she was only four years old and is now friends with Kyra Schon, who played the little girl in Night of the Living Dead who killed her mother with a trowel. Joey shows us a similar trowel; it's signed "I hurt" by Kyra, her only line in the film.

(We should note here that the Vento family unit -- Joey, his wife Diane, and daughter Jessica -- appear to have an uncanny telepathic harmony. They are fun and gracious hosts.)

Joey walked us around, telling us the background on each relic that we pointed to. "Most of the things we've collected came from a time when it was all considered trash," said Joey. "It wasn't important."

Fan-made Tingler atop the TV set.
Fan-made Tingler atop the TV set.

His favorite, he said, is an unspectacular brownish lump -- a piece of the stop-motion brontosaurus from the 1933 version of King Kong, sealed in plexiglass. "It smells like burnt sugar," said Joey. There's a fan-made Tingler atop a TV set, the vest worn by Kerwin Matthews when he was attacked by a giant squirrel in The Three Worlds of Gulliver ("It still has the damage," said Joey), and an autograph of Haruo Nakajima, who wore the rubber monster suit in all of the original Godzilla movies. "When you meet him," said Joey, "he makes a little origami house and stamps on it."

Joey, Diane, Jess.
Joey, Diane, Jess.

Joey is definitely a classicist when it comes to screen monsters. There's no room for CGI creatures or slasher films in the Haunted Barn Movie Museum even if Joey had the space, which he doesn't. We asked, "Slow or fast zombies?" and he immediately answered, "Raccoon-eyed and slow." But even modern fans can appreciate Joey's love of sci-fi regalia: his baggie of original Soylent Green wafers, his lineup of test mutant heads from Beneath the Planet of the Apes that includes a model the producers rejected as too disturbing.

Joey's museum is open to anyone who calls ahead for an appointment. He'll do his best to be on hand as an enthusiastic guide and host. And once a month the old theater seats in the museum double as a screening room for the films themselves, a unique venue where you can watch The Fly or This Island Earth or The Outer Limits while, in the dark, their famous goggle-eyed mutants watch you from only a few feet away.

Haunted Barn Movie Museum


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