Last Christmas I talked about Grady Hendrix’s wonderful Paperbacks from Hell and how it reignited my passion for those horror “trash novels” I read faithfully back in the ‘80s. Since then, I’ve been avidly searching for them online and on foot and can now boast a solid collection of 150 books; a number I hope to double by 2020. I’m also reading them again at a steady rate of two books a week which has not only proven a great way to unwind after a busy day at work but improved my attention span for more serious reading as well. Now, I’m not here to make scientific claims on the importance of mindless reading, but rather share updates on my collection and what I’ve learned since that Christmas 2017 post.
With the kids and I settled in our new place I haven’t been this excited about the holidays in years. We’ve got a new pre-lit Christmas tree that offers both color and white lights, a freezer full of homemade cookies awaiting decoration, and a honey baked ham for the big day. In fact, I’ve been feeling so festive these days I don’t even mind the local 24/7 holiday music station that usually drives up a wall.
Yet, despite all the trappings, it wasn’t until last weekend at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center that I really felt the holiday spirit. This was thanks to their annual “mystic” fundraiser/adoption featuring adorable puppies, spooky artisans, and my favorite celebrity; national horror host, Svengoolie, in his seasonal “Sventa Claus” attire! And if there’s one holiday tradition to uphold, it’s seeing Sventa.
That Saturday at Horrorhound Weekend, Jason and I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant (ka-ching) before planning the long day ahead. It started with another walk-through of the main hall and getting a closer look at the masks of MASK-Fest, celebrating its 20th year. The larger venue promised more masks which must have been true since I recently sorted through them for next years “Countdown” and what normally amounts to 25 photos spread over four blogs ended up 30 shots in five.
With the recent remake of Suspiria, I’ve been rewatching many of my Italian Giallo films. Although this distinct film style originates in Germany, it was the Italians who really took it away, and in no short thanks to Maria Bava and his film The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) – a not so subtle nod to Hitchcock. The word “Giallo” translates as “yellow” and was inspired by popular paperbacks that were Italy’s version of American pulp. These murder/mystery novels often featured lurid covers with women being terrorized by a masked killer. Though the stylish influence of Giallo films can still be glimpsed today. e.g. The Neon Demon (2016), their finest examples were in Italy from the mid ’60s to mid-’80s. Rather than just go back and watch my favorites such as Deep Red (1975), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Tenebrae (1982), and New York Ripper (1982) I decided to track down ones I’d never seen before. Thanks to Arrow Video and their recently restored issue of Mario Bava’s colorful follow up to The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1964’s Blood and Black Lace.
I received a pretty cool song to share courtesy of John Paul Check from Fortune Frog Music. They’re an independent label based out of Minneapolis’s North loop. Since its founding in 2016 Fortune Frog has helped a variety of artists realize their musical goals. Through October they’ve proudly worked with The New Occupants bringing their music to lovers of the Halloween season.
In 2015, I was at a small costume store and saw a mother point out a Michael Myers mask to her young son and say, “Look! It’s Freddy from Friday the 13th!” I semi-subtly pointed it out to my dad about a minute later, saying, “Look! It’s Michael Myers from Halloween!” to clear up the confusion amongst the surrounding patrons.
Perhaps it was inevitable, given my name, that I would not only work toward “carving out” (pun intended) a career in film (and TV, and theatre, and… pretty much anything entertainment-related) as an actor (and writer, and director…), but also love horror movies. I first got into horror by watching Svengoolie on Saturday nights… which you can read about here!
Perhaps you’re wondering, as countless others have asked me during my lifetime, “Do you like Jamie Lee Curtis?” As a matter of fact… yes! I first saw her in Freaky Friday, so my first impression of the “scream queen” was actually via comedy. I was a little more inclined to pay attention to her work due to the similarities in our names, but I still respect her skills just as much as if my name were “Holly” or “Christy” (both of which almost were). I’ve heard every Activia joke under the sun. I roll my eyes at them… not because I’m embarrassed, but because there are much more interesting things about Jamie Lee Curtis that these people could reference. If you’re going to make a joke about someone’s name, remember that we’ve been hearing these our whole lives. So step up your game and make good humor choices.
By Jason Schoolcraft
A few weeks ago, I saw a list of someone’s “Top 31 HORROR/HALLOWEEN Films” (coinciding with the 31 days of October) and thought I’d make one of my own. It took some time but I decided to challenge myself and watch ALL 31 films during this hallowed month. I own most of the films on my list but, with the help of a few friends, was able to obtain the rest. The BIG question was – would they hold up? Some are new (2010 being the most recent) and some old (1931 the oldest ) and I didn’t watch them in any particular order. My list, as you’ll see, is pretty varied and comprised of eight zombie flicks, eight slashers, seven monster movies, three generalized horror films, three vampire features, and two films featuring the Devil, himself. So let’s dive in…