Front yard Frankensteins lure Hoover Dam tourists to the Monster Museum.
Front yard Frankenstein monsters lure Hoover Dam tourists to the museum.

Tom Devlin's Monster Museum

Field review by the editors.

Boulder City, Nevada

Are screen monsters art? Tom Devlin says they are, and he's built a museum to prove it.

Tom is somewhere inside the head of Gingerdead Man.
Tom is somewhere inside the head of Gingerdead Man.

Tom made a name for himself as a Hollywood sci-fi, horror, and fantasy practical effects artist, working with everything from animatronic puppets to skin-crawling prosthetics and makeup. His credits include big-budget films and TV series, but his passion lay elsewhere. "My heart was in the B movies and independent stuff," he told us. "The punk rock version of filmmaking."

Tom, however, found that the stars of these productions -- the monsters -- were bashed online, criticized by those who couldn't separate the creatures from the surrounding films. "Nobody acknowledges the work that goes into them," Tom said. "If you take out the bad acting and poor scripts, it's really cool-looking art."

Tom and his wife considered creating a museum to celebrate screen monsters, but it wasn't until they moved their family to Boulder City, and saw an empty building on its main street, that the idea clicked. "I said to myself, 'That could be a monster museum,'" Tom recalled. On a whim he called the landlord, paid the rent, and only two months later opened the museum to the public.

A man and his many monsters.
A man and his many monsters.

This required a frenzy of productivity on Tom's part. "Visitors say, 'You have a wonderful collection," said Tom, "but every single item in the museum was custom-made by me." Some of the museum's displays are relics from Tom's many films, but the majority are his handcrafted recreations of his favorite creatures. "They're my version of Hollywood monsters -- not screen-accurate replicas, but as if they were real," Tom said. "They're one-of-a-kind works of art."

Scary clowns: are there any other kind?
Scary clowns: are there any other kind?

The Monster Museum -- a combination gallery, hall of fame, and a CGI-free zone -- offers a smorgasbord of notoriously malevolent creatures. There are classic-era horrors such as the Phantom of the Opera, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. Popular modern humanoid monsters include Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Pennywise. But the museum's strength, aside from Tom's artistic skill, is his encyclopedic knowledge and affection for less-famous screen monsters such as Toxic Avenger, Maniac Cop, Tar Man, and the lizard people from the original V miniseries -- all of them in Tom's museum.

Tom created
Tom created "Teddy Told Me To" for the reality series Face Off.

"I love big rubber monsters," Tom added, and enthusiastically described his plans to create a life-size Godzilla head poking into the building.

The museum's collection of Tom's own screen-featured creations include the puppets from the Puppet Master franchise ("Fans go bonkers when they see them," Tom said), as well as Poultrygeist (a zombie murderous chicken), and Gingerdead Man, described by Tom as "a cookie who's evil." The success of the 2013 film Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong -- a sentient bong that kills -- led to the 2018 sequel Evil Bong 777, which was filmed at the Monster Museum. "We're not trying to change the world," said Tom of his effects work, "but we bust our butts to make the best crap movies we can."

A possessed, bed-bound Linda Blair from The Exorcist is regarded by some visitors as the museum's most frightening display, but for Tom the terror is incidental. "Nine out of ten people who come in the door ask, 'Is it scary?' Tom said. "I tell them, 'It's not a horror museum. It's a monster museum.'" This distinction is not lost on discerning fans. Kids, for example, love the museum's sewer set with its four life-size Ninja Turtles, from the movie franchise which Tom said revolutionized the art of practical effects. Tom recalled one visitor who proposed to his future wife -- she said Yes -- on the steps of the museum's Michael Myers house from Halloween. "I thought, 'Wow, man, that's their favorite spot.' It was the most adorable thing."

Tom said that he grew up working in a video store, and that he pretty much knows every screen monster that predates 1997. So we asked him, as an expert, what advice he would give to a person unlucky enough to meet a monster in real life. "I try to help people get away from the monsters of real life," he said. "If it doesn't smell like rubber, run."

Also see: Some Real Life Monsters

Tom Devlin's Monster Museum

Address:
1310 Boulder City Pkwy, Boulder City, NV
Directions:
West side of town, on the north side of US-93/Boulder City Pkwy, just west of the McDonald's and DQ/Pizza Hut, and just east of the A&W.
Hours:
Daily 10-6 (Call to verify)
Phone:
702-294-1313
Admission:
Adults $13.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Toilet Paper Hero of Hoover DamToilet Paper Hero of Hoover Dam, Boulder City, NV - < 1 mi.
Area 52 - The Flying SaucerArea 52 - The Flying Saucer, Boulder City, NV - < 1 mi.
Wild Bighorn Sheep HerdWild Bighorn Sheep Herd, Boulder City, NV - 2 mi.
In the region:
Statue of Elvis, Las Vegas, NV - 20 mi.

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