Chicago’s 2019 Days of the Dead took place at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont; a new venue for this convention but certainly not for me. After fifteen G-FESTS and a handful of Flashback Weekends, I was well acquainted with the place as well as its monolithic manager, Don Johnston. This event took place last November; not the most ideal time for me but workable. Several months earlier, my friend Jason Schoolcraft generously purchased VIP passes for us and arranged to fly in from New England to join me. As many of you know, the man loves film and I always enjoy our pre/post-convention movie marathons. We arrived at the hotel around 3 PM that Friday and were greeted by my friends, Ron and Angela Urban. I was just introducing them to Jason when Richard Dreyfuss breezed past us. The Academy Award-winning star of JAWS and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a bit shorter than I’d envisioned and had noticeably bad knees but there was no denying it was him.
Written by Jason Schoolcraft
A Brief History
In 2012, after two years of planning and preparation, Rhode Island was going to get its own comic convention – an East Coast taste of what San Diego enjoys each year. It got off to a rocky start due to safety codes and its venue unable to contain all the people it would attract but, if anything, it showed how underserved we New Englanders were in terms of our fandom. The Rhode Island Comic Con was an instant hit and has grown exponentially ever since.
Always like to start the new year with a horror paperback post. The movement started by Grady Hendrix’s “Paperback from Hell” back in 2017 has continued to gain momentum as more people seem to be interested in vintage (specifically ‘70s to mid-’90s) horror paperbacks than ever before. In fact, Valancourt Books has even begun reprinting some which I’d love to see usher in a new era of horror paperbacks with cover art comparable to the ones I grew up with. Can you imagine a whole new generation of killer kids, mutants, demons, and skeletons with eyeballs? Having just finished reading William W. Johnstone’s “Sweet Dreams,” I can honestly say these books are as outlandish as their covers. And speaking of which, I’ve been scanning mine as I go, hoping to use them for upcoming projects. I thought it might be nice to post them for your enjoyment as well. Today’s theme is “Skeletons,” which I suspect might end up with “Part 2” eventually. Although most horror PB publishers used skulls and skeletons in their cover art, none did so with the fervor of Zebra Books. In fact, their skeletons did just about everything. To quote Grady Hendrix, “Lazy bones? We think not. Zebra Books and other horror publishers showed us that if they put their minds to it, skeletons could do anything from lead a pep rally to earn an advanced degree.” See for yourself…
A deluge of rain wasn’t enough to deter fans from descending on the Museum of Broadcast Communications to celebrate Svengoolie’s 40th Anniversary. I met up with my fellow super fans, Ron and Angela Urban, who graciously allowed me to join them for the ride into the city – something a suburbanite like myself dreads even when it’s dry out. It was the same arrangement we had five years ago for his 35th. We stopped for a drink at Chicago’s famous Harry Carey’s – hoping the downpour would stop before our walk the museum. It didn’t. When we reached the building we were still too early and asked the young gentleman sitting inside the museum’s lobby if he’d let us have shelter inside. Thankfully, he agreed and we stood to wait next to ZZ Top’s famous car, The Eliminator. This was the official one seen in their humorous videos back in the ‘80s – usually featuring downtrodden individuals getting a much-needed boost from the band.
Last month, Prophecy (1979) finally made its way to Blu-ray thanks to the good people at SHOUT/Scream Factory in honor of the film’s 40th Anniversary. Despite my already owning a copy on DVD, I anxiously ordered a copy – mostly for the “extras.” I’ve talked about my love for this film before and, despite it being chided by critics (it currently sits at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes) I think it’s a solid monster movie with a great cast and an old school effects. During one of my vintage horror paperback hunts, I managed to find a copy of the film’s novelization. Since both the book and the screenplay were written by David Seltzer (author of “The Omen”) I didn’t expect there to be much deviation between the two stories. Considering how many times I’ve seen the movie, however, I was eager to learn any further insights the book may bring. But before I get things rolling, I do have to warn anyone who hasn’t seen the movie or book (or read my previous “Book vs Movie” post on The FOG) this blog is loaded with SPOILERS.
On Saturday, December 7th, I pulled into Saint John’s Church in Lyons, Illinois to see Sventa Claus. The holiday version of MeTV’s horror host, Svengoolie, has become a tradition here in Chicago and one aspect of our local-gone-national celebrity we can still claim for ourselves. I was looking forward to seeing him while also supporting my friend, Lozen Brownbear. Lozen’s an animal-lover like myself and I’d attended her “Mystic Market” fundraiser up in Elmhurst last year. It’s a great way to pick up some unique, hand-crafted gifts for the holidays while sending much-needed funds to her furry friends at the Sacred Space Animal Sanctuary and Rescue.
After his signing, Svengoolie took a little break while I headed to the main stage for the costume contest. At this point, things had gotten pretty rowdy outside with a fight erupting in front of the Port-o-Potties; some drunk guy yelling at a girl for taking too long. This eventually led to more people getting involved including the police. I met back up with my daughters who were huddled next to a building. It was a great way too “people watch” while staying dry from the light rain that began moments earlier.