Days of the Dead Chicago 2021 – Time to Leave the Bunker

Jason and I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont around 2 PM that Friday afternoon. He’d flown in from Rhode Island the day before and my local friends, Ron and Angie, were already waiting in the lobby. Everyone had their vaccines (this blog brought to you by the good people at Pfizer!) and were looking forward to a gathering. I did have some trepidation about doing this show but it was less about catching the virus than it was my being inside too long. My job became a permanent ‘work from home’ position last June and, with respect to one brutal Chicago winter, there’d literally be entire weeks I’d spend inside my apartment. Apparently, the longer you stay in, the harder it is to rejoin society. Seeing the happy, albeit masked, faces of my friends immediately signaled I’d made the right choice. The only person missing today was the hotel’s gregarious Don Johnston. His palpable absence made the entire weekend seem “off” as the once familiar Crowne Plaza suddenly didn’t seem itself anymore. Likewise, Days of the Dead didn’t seem like Days of the Dead either with so many of its missing familiar faces.

10 Reasons Svengoolie Should Be Rondo’s “Monster Kid of the Year!”

Image courtesy of Nicholas Cara

Award season is upon us and while most folks think of the Golden Globes or Academy Awards, our eyes are firmly placed on the Rondo Hatton‘s a.k.a. the Oscars for Monsters. Not only do they celebrate the genre we love but also allow for active participation in choosing its winners. It was 10 years ago when my former co-blogger, David Albaugh, and I won the statue ourselves for this site. I’ll never forget the excitement of waking up the morning after the winners were announced and seeing my Facebook feed full of congratulatory messages. Now that I work full-time at home, I’m happy to see that statue sitting prominently at my workstation where I can gaze at its bald-headed beauty amidst my daily grind. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing many of my friends bring home the honors, too; including MeTV’s national horror host, Rich Koz’s Svengoolie numerous times. In fact, it’s safe to say he’s earned himself a Lifetime Achievement Award which, in the Rondo-verse, we refer to as the “Monster Kid of the Year.” And today, I’m urging everyone to consider voting for him in this category. I feel it’s not only well-deserved but long overdue. And here are ten reasons to support my case…

“In Search of Darkness” and Finding the 1980s

I was scrolling social media and noticed a post from Creator VC looking for reviewers to discuss their latest documentary, In Search of Darkness Part Two. This four-hour and twenty-three-minute opus, delves even deeper into ‘80s horror films, running only slightly longer than its predecessor. You’d think nearly nine hours of retrospective would be overkill but, then again, this is the big ‘80s we’re talking about. It was a magical time for a young horror fan, like myself, thanks to the proliferation of VHS tapes, video stores, and a gang of creative filmmakers influenced by the classic monsters they’d grown up with. In addition to that, the success of the low-budget phenomenon Halloween (1978) all but ensured the new decade become a golden age of slashers. Once those floodgates were opened, my world would be dominated by iconic killers who used just about every holiday on the calendar as an excuse to hack up groups of lascivious teenagers. I’d just watched both documentaries and that aforementioned social media request inspired me to come out of hibernation. Part Two had arrived in my mailbox the previous Saturday afternoon which was ironic since I’d just spent that morning visiting our local video store for the last time, taking advantage of their “Going out of Business Sale.” In truth, it’s a testament of stamina that our Family Video – which has stood for over thirty years in my hometown – had lasted even this long. They’d fought the good fight; merging with the pizza place next door (patrons could have their movies and pizza delivered together) and later becoming the local Mecca of CBD oil. In the end, streaming services would drive the last nail into their coffin as it had done so many others before.

Jason’s 31 Days of Horror Movies – 2020 Edition!

Submitted by Jason Schoolcraft.

It’s 2020 and in mid-March, our world was turned upside down. Wear a mask. Social distancing. School canceled. Many working from home, if they still had a job. It seemed the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

Then it got worse, as horror conventions were canceled all over the country along with movie theaters closing. All big-budget theatrical releases were off the release calendar for the foreseeable future. The new normal was well, anything but normal. Things started to settle in and, if you were patient, you were rewarded with new horror and thriller films (if you were lucky, they were good). I felt what we needed was some of the old “normal” back, as it was last year before COVID-19 sacked the entire world.

Last year I wrote a piece called 31 Horror films in October I’d never seen before – the second in my series. As before, the challenge was to watch 31 films I’d never seen before in 31 nights and write my opinion on each. They could be new or old films, so long as they were new to me. It is always nice to find good “new” horror films, but a little sweeter finding a true gem. I decided to bring some normalcy back to the Terror Dave site, so I give you 31 DAYS OF HORROR PART THREE! After skipping the usual classics I found some new movies and a few I missed (or at the time didn’t care to watch). I hope this list inspires you to watch these horror films, after all, you just might be surprised!

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C.J. Graham and the Jason Voorhees/Frankenstein Connection

So far as personality traits are concerned, there’s little doubt that C.J. Graham’s an Alpha. With a level of confidence that could give Gene Simmons a run for the money, he’d prove his formidability at the 2020 Days of the Dead convention in Indianapolis. It was there Graham, like Alex Vincent from Child’s Play, would find himself the lone participant in a would-be reunion. Covid-19 would turn the event’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives panel into a one-man show. But despite portraying the mute character of Jason Voorhees on-screen, ‘the man behind the mask’ had plenty to talk about with his audience.

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Rob Zombie “Halloween” Panel at 2020 Days of the Dead!

Prior to the event, the 2020 Days of the Dead Indianapolis convention offered some great horror reunions including Friday the 13th Part VI, Child’s Play, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween. While concern for Covid-19 would slowly whittle the first two films down to a single cast member, Halloween’s top two stars would make it to this show. Taking the stage that Saturday morning was Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie Strode) and Tyler Mane (adult Michael Myers). Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Zombie’s Halloween nor Halloween II when I saw them in theaters, both have grown on me over the years. At the same time, I wasn’t sure how practical attending a panel would be in lieu of social distancing. Once I walked in and saw all the audience chairs carefully placed apart from one another, I realized it wouldn’t be an issue. Note to the squeamish – there was a fair share of F-bombs dropped during this panel. I audio-recorded and transcribed everything into this blog, as is. I figure if you’ve sat through a Rob Zombie movie, then what can I possibly shock you with here? So let’s get to it…

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