The Following highlights were “transcrammed” from the 2019 Flashback Weekend panel celebrating 40 years of Rich Koz’s Svengoolie. The event began with a video presentation narrated by the original Svengoolie – the late Jerry G. Bishop. The panel was moderated by WGN Radio’s Nick Digilio and proved an entertaining 90 minutes – with a few surprises!
I’m pleased to welcome back Mark Spangler who graciously submitted this spectacular retro-review of a film I haven’t seen since it hit theaters twenty years ago. It’s been a few years since his last piece on Once Upon a Time in the West and, if you read that brilliant bit of writing, you know why I was delighted when he reached out again!
At first glance, the raps on Roman Polanski’s 1999 devil-worshipping opus The Ninth Gate ring true… slow pacing, shopworn material, and most importantly, uninspired acting paired with an unsatisfying ending. This reviewer, at first glance, had to agree, but a chance encounter with a two-dollar DVD at a second-hand store provided an opportunity to replay the movie and allowed for some second thoughts on this Johnny Depp oddity. This film, upon further review, it would seem, has aged well and is a worthy successor to the embattled director’s 1968, near-classic Rosemary’s Baby.
5:30 PM, Friday, August 2, 2019: I walk outside the hotel just as the Svengoolie crew parks. Sven’s in the passenger seat with his producer and assistant, Jim Roche driving. In the back is his director, Chris Faulkner, and “hit the theme for us” Chas Ailing. As soon as they come out I hand them their passes. The last to exit is the host, himself, and I jokingly hold up his lanyard like a Hawaiian lei, prepared to put it over his head. “Well, if you’re gonna kiss him, make sure you do it on his cheek so you don’t mess up his makeup,” quips Jim. When it comes to comedy, these folks are “on” whether the camera’s rolling or not.
Welcome to my 4th Annual “Countdown to MASK-FEST!” It’s hard to believe that in less than a month, some of the most creative and ghoulish talents will descend upon Indianapolis and join Horrorhound Weekend for three days of thrills! MASK-FEST is one event that promises something new each year and I’m always astonished at how these artists manage to top themselves every time. There’s so much to see and do you could blow up your Instagram account during the first hour alone. Hats off to the show’s creator himself, Eric Austin from the former Halloween Mask Association (HMA) and his tireless dedication. Austin has taken mask collecting to new heights and nothing is better evidence of that than this phenomenal event. But don’t just take my word for it. In keeping with tradition, I’m going to use every Friday leading up to the big weekend on September 6th to showcase as many of last year’s masks/props as I can. Every year is different so if you want to see the new stuff, get your tickets TODAY!
So let’s get the Countdown started…
I can safely say this past Flashback Weekend horror convention was my best one yet. That’s in no short thanks to MeTV’s national horror host, Svengoolie, and his amazing crew for deputizing me as one of their own. Despite his having attended faithfully for over a decade, this year was exceptional in lieu of Rich Koz’s 40th Anniversary as Sven. Consequently, he’d have a busier schedule than usual with activities planned both Friday and Saturday. In exchange for my extra set of hands, the crew granted me a special guest pass, paid me to sell merchandise, and threw in a complimentary Svengoolie sweatshirt for good measure. The icing on the cake was getting to stay at the hotel overnight (in a room they provided) and keep an eye on their equipment so they wouldn’t have to lug it all back the next day. In other words, it was about as close to winning the lottery as I’ll likely ever get!
So let’s get started…
This past weekend I finally got to see the annual Chicago Oddities and Curiosities Expo at the Odeum in Villa Park. The event proudly proclaims itself geared for “lovers of the strange and unusual” and features taxidermy, specimens, artwork, and just about anything bizarre. My teen daughters, Leia and Jade, joined me and although the event took place both on Saturday and Sunday, our schedules only permitted Saturday a.k.a. one of the hottest days on record. The unholy mix of southwestern temps and midwestern humidity made for an uncomfortable journey but, in the end, we all agreed it was worth it.