It’s been almost exactly two years since Mark Spangler contributed to this site with his illuminating expose of The Ninth Gate. Today, he’s putting the spotlight on an old physical media release worth revisiting. Welcome back, Mark! – Dave
“Vault of Horror”
Brentwood Home Video 2001
SCREAM OF THE WOLF, WOLF MAN, MOON OF THE WOLF, SNOWBEAST, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT, JACK THE RIPPER, SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
Back in 2001, Brentwood Home Video released a ten-film set of genre films entitled “Vault of Horror”. You may have seen this collection lying in wait, like the proverbial evil monkey’s paw, amidst other compilation releases of questionable origin. Brentwood is noted for its bootleg DVD and Blu Ray releases, but don’t let that stop you from picking up this nifty little package if you get the chance. As is to be expected, the transfers on these discs aren’t the best… audio is uneven at times and the “extras” are laughable, but the stories, acting, and directing in some of these movies more than makes up for these deficiencies, provided one can overlook the fade-to-black annoyances that scream “movie of the week” on some of the selections. The early-to-mid ’70s saw the production of some notable TV movie horror (“Night Stalker”, “Trilogy of Terror”) and while the TV fare in this set isn’t that good, there is stuff here you may have overlooked that’s worth seeing.
(Continued from the last post) The next morning, I headed downstairs to pick up breakfast from the hotel. Due to Covid, the Crowne Plaza restaurant was closed for dining. Instead, you’d pay for breakfast at the check-in desk (or have it charged to your room) and bring the ticket to the cooks. The food would be given in a to-go box and actually wasn’t bad. Jason naturally opted to take my car to his beloved McDonald’s but made it back in time for the Days of the Dead convention doors to open. I was armed and ready with my Friday 13th poster from Scream Factory’s Rondo Award-winning box set. Despite physical media sales “in decline,” 2020 was a banner year for boutique labels such as Scream Factory, providing some of the most amazing releases to date; with this one arguably the best. Most bonus Scream Factory posters take up a corner of my bedroom closet while this 24×36 gem gets a frame. Aside from the gorgeous artwork (the same featured on the box), it provides plenty of negative space for autographs. In other words, it’s practically begging to be signed and displayed!
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.
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…
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.
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!