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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Staying Alive…at Days of the Dead!

When I submitted my 2020 vacation requests back in December, I had all kinds of fun activities in the works. In addition to taking a week off in March for a Spring road trip that would never happen, I also took a chunk of July off for fan conventions. The idea was to attend G-FEST with my sons, Days of the Dead Indianapolis with my friend Jason, and see Svengoolie at Flashback Weekend here in Chicago. Unfortunately, this would not be the year for any of us to travel or partake in large gatherings. When the world shut down in March, I still hung on to the naive hope things would be back to normal by the summer but it was not to be the case. By the time July rolled around, the only event standing was Days of the Dead. Prior to all this, my friend, Jason had purchased his plane tickets from New England while generously getting us both VIP passes. Exactly a week before the event, and with their guests dropping like flies, I persuaded him to postpone his visit for Chicago in November (assuming things are better by then). Jason successfully switched his airfare and DOTD had no problem swapping tickets. They also offered folks who did make this show “half off” on their next one. This amiability, however, would not prevent them from getting roasted on social media by many who found them irresponsible for not just postponing this show in the first place. Undeterred, DOTD would remain steadfast as long as it was legal for them to do so. In a related story, the city of Atlanta shut down there next show in August just days before this one. I’m not sure why they went through with Indianapolis amidst all the controversy but I’m guessing it had something to do with whatever arrangement they had with the Marriott. Regardless, there was no question that this would be a crippled convention; hemorrhaging vendors and guests right up until their doors opened last Friday. For my part, I decided to honor my hotel reservation, follow all safety guidelines, purchase a regular weekend pass, and go by myself. I had the luxury of self-quarantining afterward since my kids would be with their mother and I was not due back to the office until August. Furthermore, I looked forward to pampering myself in a nice hotel while taking a little break from single parenthood and having worked my ass off throughout the shutdown. I make no apologies for my attendance and, at the risk of being judged, will now share that experience. 

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