We arrived at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare just in time for Flashback Weekend’s Registration. My friend, Jason, flew in from Rhode Island the day before, and our friends, Don and Bunny, were already indulging in the perks of their VIP pass with early admittance to the dealer’s room. As soon as we saw them, Bunny gave me the full lay of the land so I could strategize. As a general rule of thumb, you want to meet the celebrity guests on your list first and foremost. This year my autograph goals were minimal – Quinn Lord and John Michael Graham. The latter was for the purpose of adding yet another signature to my Halloween (1978) poster which I discussed last year. Bunny informed me the closest guest, however, was Quinn Lord a.k.a. Trick r Treat Sam, making him my defacto first stop.
I’m pleased to welcome back Mark Spangler for another one of his insightful reviews…
In the days of yore, we quaked to Quasimodo, dreaded Dracula, and feared the Frankenstein monster. The wolfman had us howling while the mummy had us screaming for mommy. Soon came atomic monsters, horrors from Hammer, and later still, demon-possessed little girls, slashers, freaks, cannibals, and zombie hordes. There was and still is much to be afraid of when we venture out into the darkened theaters we love so well. The most terrifying element in the history of the horror film, however – or any genre for that matter – is the dreaded “s”’ word. Yes, we’re referring to the unmentionable, the taboo, the hideous… subtitles.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, I decided to read a fatherly-themed vintage, horror paperback. After a quick scan of my collection, I managed to find the perfect story – assuming, of course, you’re sick and twisted. The story begins with Carnes and his sixteen-year-old daughter, Deirdre, taking a road trip through the rural United States. After a dated discussion regarding Michael Jackson and MTV, they decide to stop for the night in the small town of Burton. When dad returns with the room keys, his jovial mood turns to terror when he discovers that Deirdre is missing. He immediately goes into a panic and for good reason, too, as his daughter is now in the clutches of a savage rapist/murderer! For this reason alone, Daniel Ransom’s 1985 horror paperback, “Daddy’s Little Girl,” should have more aptly been titled, “Daddy’s Worst Nightmare.”
If someone asked me what my favorite television series of all time is, I’d choose Buffy the Vampire Slayer hands-down. Whereas some of my other favorites such as The X-Files have seasons best left buried, even the weaker seasons of Buffy remain entertaining and rewatchable. Recently I binged through the entire series for the fifth time in honor of the show’s 25th anniversary. Despite some special FX issues, It continues to stand the test of time and appeal to new generations of viewers. Sadly, Evan Ross Katz’ 2022 Book, “Into Every Generation, a Slayer is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts” fails to give it the send-up it deserves.
Nick and Christine Marino move their young son, Joey, and the family dog to a remote Long Island community called Mill Harbor. Their new domicile is within driving distance of Nick’s job at his father’s Italian restaurant while offering a private beach and stables shared with their privileged neighbors. The moving crew barely leaves their driveway before a mysterious man on horseback, who can’t stop ogling Christine, invites them all over to meet the rest of their neighbors. These include a strange but handsome Professor of Anthropology (who also can’t stop staring at Christine) along with a burly, Norse-looking man named Karl Anderson. Not only can’t he stop looking at Christine, but proceeds to grab her crotch after she extends her hand in a greeting – the result of which earns him a much-deserved drink in his face. Things get even worse when the family returns home and finds their dog with its head completely “twisted” off. After just one chapter, it becomes painfully obvious that Robert C. Sloane’s “A Nice Place to Live” (published 1982) is anything but!
In terms of raw horror, Shudder’s latest offering, The Sadness (2021) directed by Canadian filmmaker, Rob Jabbaz, is the best I’ve seen in quite a while. At first, I dismissed this subtitled, Taiwanese flick as yet another Covid-inspired zombie/28 Days Later retread – similar to the last Shudder flick I discussed, Virus: 32 (2022). Not so! While it’s true this movie does fit into that subgenre, it ramps up the horror elements to levels I’ve not seen in any of its peers. Simply put, this film is brutal. And, at the risk of coming across as a Sadist, I absolutely loved it.