While sharing the books I read in 2021, I admitted failing my Goodreads goal of twenty-five books. Rather than lowering the bar, I decided to reaffirm that target for 2022 and, this time by golly, I’m confident I’m going to reach it. In January alone, I finished eleven books – just four less than I did in my entire 2021. In contrast to last year’s selections, I’ve been enjoying more modern novels with just a few old “Paperbacks from Hell” thrown in. Instead of dropping one big recap at the end of the year which was, quite frankly, a pain in the butt, I’m going to review some throughout the year. Hopefully, it’ll prevent a lengthy post while also keeping me accountable for my goal. That being said, I couldn’t be happier with my first read of 2022, “Near the Bone” (Berkley/2021) by Chicago author, Christina Henry.
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
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.
Although I’ve attended every Horrorhound/MASK-FEST for the last eight years, this one had me nervous. Having outgrown their old Marriott hotel guests were treated to a significantly larger (and pricier) one last year that didn’t seem to make a lot of folks happy. This year they finally graduated to the Indianapolis Convention Center – a venue I’d last visited back in 2005 for STAR WARS CELEBRATION III. I had no doubt it was large enough but was primarily concerned with the logistics and parking situation. Thankfully, it couldn’t have gone better. The 2019 Horrorhound Weekend would prove itself not only a winner in terms of organization but a true fan-pleaser by offering THREE events for the price of one. In addition to Horrorhound Weekend and MASK-FEST, there’d be a third show called Fact or Fiction featuring notable personalities from the world of the unknown. So if you’re a horror fan who’s also into UFO’s AND Cryptozoology like I am, this was the event you’ve been waiting for!
Imagine if you spent the the last twenty years meeting annually with a group of like-minded friends for a weekend of fun. Sure, these gatherings were comparitively small, but that was the beauty of it. The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone had an opportunity to participate in the numerous activities provided. Each year you’d see the same faces and even if you didn’t know their names, they somehow felt like family.
Now imagine your intimate group suddenly becomes four times larger. The comfortable venue you’ve always used swiftly becomes claustrophobic and overheated. Navigating the dealer’s becomes a frustrating fight for survival and finding an empty seat at a popular panel a luxury. Where once you’d stay the entire weekend and feel sad when it ended, now you’re anxious to leave. Such is the plight of my beloved G-FEST (Godzilla Festival); an event that appears to have fallen victim to the Legendary Godzilla, himself.
I recently hunkered down with my new Blu-ray copy of Night of the Demon (1957) from Indicator (Powerhouse) Films and held my breath while pressing “Play.” As it was a British import, it cost more and I’ve had my fair share of disappointments with so-called “upgrades” of Black & White classics. 96 minutes later, I was grinning from ear to ear.
In many ways, attending the latest Horrorhound Weekend/MASK-FEST in Indianapolis was like a visit to an alternative Universe. For one thing, the huge gathering of horror buffs was taking place at an all-new venue; one that promised better parking and a larger layout to accommodate vendors and fans. For another, I was attending with a friend from Rhode Island who’d never done a Horrorhound Weekend before. Jason Schoolcraft joined me last year in Indy for Days of the Dead and assists me every so often with his “Killer Reviews.” We had a great time at “Days” and Jason loved having an opportunity to meet independent filmmakers which he hoped to continue to do at Horrorhound. For me, it was all about the masks.