Entering through the doors of the Long Island Monster Gallery, Halloween fans are hit with a wave of special effects — spooky music, dark lighting and the sound of thunder cracking in the distance. It might give visitors the impression of a haunted house, full of actors waiting to jump out and give visitors the scare of a lifetime.
But there’s more to the gallery than first impressions. In fact, tucked inside its dark hallways, illuminated by colorful strobe lights, are more than 30 life-size sculptures of some of the world of horror’s most recognizable characters — and villains — including Frankenstein, Pennywise and Michael Meyers, to name just a few.
“I think as a horror fan, you know, it’s a little spooky, a little scary, based on the nature of the genre,” gallery owner Jason Kloos said, “but we’re not intentionally here to frighten you at all. That’s not the goal. It’s really, truly, at its core, an art gallery.”
The Long Island Monster Gallery opened last year, the first of its kind in the area. It is dedicated to all things horror and Halloween cinema. It features a collection of sculptures from artists around the world, and there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Kloos, 28, of Merrick, is a self-described diehard horror fan. He’s a graduate of the On Tour specialty theater program in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, housed at Sanford H. Calhoun High School. Outside the gallery, he’s a special education music teacher for Western Suffolk BOCES.
With his theatrical and stage background, the gallery is something Kloos always envisioned operating, and he started collecting pieces about six years ago, he said. That collection grew, and he found a location to house it in February 2021 — an old office building on Roselle Street in Mineola. The gallery opened last October for its first season, and is back again this year, doubling in size, with a slew of new, special effects to enhance guests’ experience.
Walking through the gallery is like walking through Halloween history, Kloos explained. In the two-story building, the downstairs is dedicated to classic characters like the Mummy, Dracula and Frankenstein. Upstairs, however, you’ll find more modern faces that blend scary and spooky, like Freddie Krueger or Betelgeuse, among countless others.
“We try to keep all the classics downstairs,” Kloos said. “And then, as you go upstairs, we kind of slip you into that ’80s, ’90s retro horror feel. We’ve really put a huge focus on that — you can come here and learn the history of horror.”
Each sculpture is accompanied by a plaque, providing details about the character, the movie it’s from, and the artist who created it. Kloos said that people hang around the gallery, reading up on some of their favorites, to get the full, informative and immersive experience the gallery seeks to provide. Photography is welcomed, and encouraged.
What differs this season from last, Kloos noted, is the emphasis on lighting and sounds to draw Halloween lovers in. “I don’t make the figures,” he said. “I just collect them. But once it lands here, my job is to kind of create the set and the lighting and the sound. I just try to display the monster in the coolest way I can.
“It’s not a haunted house,” he added. “We don’t want to scare you, but we do want it to feel like you stepped on the set of a horror film.”
Being that it is an art gallery, Kloos said, technically, all the pieces on display are for sale. “They really range in price,” he said. “It’s a deep-pocket situation. Most of them — if not all of them or a good majority — are completely handmade from head to toe, and artists profit off of it.”
Those interested in inquiring about a piece can contact the gallery directly, on Instagram @MonsterGalleryLongIsland or its Facebook page, Long Island Monster Gallery.
The gallery opened for the season on Oct. 1. For the rest of the month and through the first weekend of November, it will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 9 p.m., and Halloween night. In December, the gallery will reopen for a few weekends with a seasonal theme — the floor will be covered in “snow,” and characters like the Grinch, Krampus and Jack Skellington will be on hand.
The first weekend last year was slow, Kloos said, but as Halloween approached, the crowds picked up.
Reviews, especially on Yelp, have been consistently positive. “I came to see their holiday display and wow,” one reviewer from Staten Island wrote. “This is a must visit for any and all horror fans.”
Turning on the lights and the music, seeing the spooky displays come together and meeting patrons and fans is what Kloos looks forward to every weekend. “We all respect and appreciate the genre and the artists and the amount of work that goes into the sculptures and figures,” he said. “This gallery was created for horror fans, by horror fans.”
For more information and tickets, visit LongIslandMonsterGallery.com.