The Witches (1990)

Aside from eating enough dressing to put me into a coma, there are few things I’m more thankful for this time of year than the fact that even when I basically flake out on Halloween, there are three of you that still show up when I decide to spit out 1,000 words on something spooky. So since that’s exactly what’s happening right now, THANK YOU. Alright, down to it then.

I’ve made it a point lately of tracking down some of my childhood/horror blind spots, and I did just that a few weeks ago when the ground started to get a good dusting of crunchy leaves, and orange and black hadn’t yet been eclipsed by red and green.

This time around, it was 1990’s The Witches, adapted from the book by Ronald Dahl, directed by Nicolas Roeg, and produced by Jim Henson Productions. I actually only became aware of this film just a couple of years ago, and knew nothing about it at all until I decided to brew a pot of coffee and settle into it. What a fun ride! I intentionally stayed away from reading anything about the plot or the cast, so here’s my totally blind, blow-by-blow reaction as I went along.

First of all, if there was any doubt that it did in fact take place in 1990, look no further than nine-year-old Luke’s acid wash jeans. For the few of you who still haven’t seen it (spoilers ahead, by the way), the basic gist is that he and his grandmother Helga go to Norway for a vacation and end up at a hotel, where they run afoul of some…WITCHES.

It’s pretty straightforward stuff for an early ’90 kids fantasy movie, but the hybrid of a British/American cast and crew give it a different ambiance than comparable films of its time, and there are some unexpected turns along the way.

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Straight out of the gate though, shit gets dark when we see that Helga’s past in the old country took some weird, tragic turns. We are to assume that either witches are responsible, or Grandma fucked around with Quitters, Inc. and it didn’t work out.

There’s also a subplot involving Helga’s childhood friend who is locked inside a painting like something out of Night Gallery. Speaking of which, the banner at the top of this very site may look familiar to some of you.

Julia witch

We get one of our first glimpses at an actual witch when Luke is in his tree house and “Julia” from Hellraiser strolls up. I’ll admit, I was disappointed that the scene didn’t end with her bashing his head in with a hammer before he gets a chance to “empty the old bladder…”

Mouse setup

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Luke’s pet mice get to hang out in essentially a homemade version of Mouse Trap, only much more Halloween. And it was here that I spotted something else – the book in this shot. It’s Lady by Thomas Tryon.

Too many years in film school have encouraged me to believe that this isn’t an accident, and a little bit of research may prove my theory correct. Lady tells the story of Woody, a boy Luke’s age, who spends his boyhood enamored with Lady Harleigh, a grieving widow who is haunted by a mysterious past.

An alluring, older woman…a woman with a mysterious, tragic past…Nice touch.

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Speaking of alluring, older women, enter Eva Ernst, played by Angelica Houston. She’s going full Houston here, and looking like icy sex on feet. Ernst heads up the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which of course is just a front for an underground conspiracy of witches who plan on turning all the world’s children into mice. I love this exchange between her and one of her biggest fans:

“I’ve been so looking forward to meeting you. You look marvelous.”
“Hmm. I wish I could say the same for you”

Houston delivers the line perfectly and then just cold keeps on walking. It’s enough to make your broom elevate, if you know what I mean.

Mr. Bean

Wait, Mr. Bean’s in this!? Didn’t expect that!

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Wait, Barbara Jane Horrocks (Bubble!) is in this!?

…And Deej just outed himself as an Absolutely Fabulous fan. I’m ashamed of nothing.

Now we come to the money shot – that face reveal! I think it’s easy to forget how impressive Jim Henson’s projects were in the special effects department back then. It wasn’t all puppetry and cute swamp monsters. This is some seriously shocking and intricate prosthetic work, and I can understand how big of a deal this would have been to 12 year olds seeing it for the first time. It holds up well, and I certainly didn’t expect it. I so miss the era when kids movies didn’t shy away from going for the scares.

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I love the animatronics of Mouse Luke. All the sequences in which he and his friend Bruno (also a mouse at this point) are running around in the hotel seamlessly alternate between live, trained mice and puppetry. I can’t tell you how much I miss all the innovative effects work during that era. Today’s flashy CGI would have made all these sequences so predictable and devoid of any of the charm displayed here.

Mr. Lucton's Freedom

While I’m on a roll here, we also get this shot of a book that Luke’s grandmother is reading – Mr. Lucton’s Freedom, by Francis Brett Young. It tells the story of a man on the lam who assumes another identity after he’s presumed dead, a theme that also shows up periodically in the film. Bruno eventually accepts his fate as being a mouse for the rest of his life, and the idea of duality is played out in the witches posing as normal humans while hiding their true, hideous faces.

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Also, they straight up tried to kill a baby by pushing it off a cliff. That happened.

In the end, Eva Ernst is defeated and Bubble (I’m sorry, I refuse to call her anything else), who was posing as Ernst’s assistant, turns out to be on the side of good and turns Luke back into a kid again and oh my god he’s totally naked. They just showed that little boy’s “Mr. Bean” in this movie.

It was a different time, folks.

I highly recommend giving this one a watch if you don’t feel I spoiled too much here. From what I understand, the book has a considerably different ending and is also worth a read. I may get to it at some point.

Expect more of me finally checking out more missed “classics” on RG in the days to come. I guess now is a good a time as any to confess that I’ve never seen Blade Runner. So yeah, stay tuned…

Days of the Dead Part 2!

Alright kids, I’m back for Part 2 of this. I hope you guys have enjoyed your extra long Memorial Day weekend. I spent it catching Solo, doing my radio show, and catching up on some reading. I would have gotten more done that involved being online, but I had a huge thunder storm here today and my power knocked out for most of the afternoon. It only just came back on about an hour ago. Time to read on and check out some pictures of me getting even more dwarfed by tall celebrities.

After awkwardly flirting with Taryn from A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3, it was time to make the most of what I left of the afternoon. As I’ve said in just about every account of every convention I’ve ever been to, time flies by when you’re spending a paycheck on autographs. At this point in the day, I just had a couple of hours left before everyone packed up and made their way to the bar or some screening or just back to their hotel rooms to get some peace and quiet.

One of my biggest priorities this time around was Tony Todd. Of course, we all know him as The Candyman, but he’s had an incredibly versatile career and has earned his horror icon status. Also, if you haven’t caught 1990’s Night of the Living Dead remake, directed by Tom Savini and starting Tony Todd, you haven’t lived. Made long before the current trend of rebooting/remaking/re-imagining/re-whatevering every single genre classic, it actually is one of the rare examples of a remake that not only does the original justice, but was made by people who had a genuine passion for the material. With that horror pedigree involved, it didn’t disappoint. And neither did Tony!

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First off, dude is incredibly nice. He was kind enough to talk to me a little bit about my show, some of his hobbies, and some of the films he has coming up. He even hosted a college radio show back in the day.

Notice, he wrote “Goth Radio” just above his name in the autograph. Dark Entries has officially been blessed by The Candyman.

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Nearby was also Dee Snyder and Linda Blair, who I’d met before. But was more interested in the guy around the corner – Derek Mears. But Deej, you’ve met him before too, right? Yes, but I’m an idiot and the first time around, I totally forgot to get a picture with him. I told him that, and also warned him against the overpriced drinks at the bar, because I was still nursing my $12 whisky and coke from before (Sorry about nearly spilling it on some of your pictures, Derek!). We chatted a bit about L.A. and projects he’s been involved in, and he was cool enough to give me a pic for free. It’s something he does because he’s just that cool. Despite all the monsters this guy has portrayed over the years, he is hands down, the coolest, nicest guy in horror, and a true fan. I can’t say enough good things about him.

By this point, the lines were dwindling down, and so was the con. The next thing on my agenda was a screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was smart enough to get into the front of the line early because the turnout for it was much bigger than expected (so big, that we had to wait an extra 45 minutes while the room was expanded to house everyone). It’s always cool to see one of your favorites on the big screen, especially when it’s something that I’ve only seen on the big screen once before, during a special Halloween event. Sat near me was a nice lady and her daughter, who I chatted with a little bit. The daughter had never seen the film before, and it was fun to see her reaction, even if she was confused by the ending. It was the 1980’s, hon. Just go with it.

I topped it off by popping in to catch a couple of songs during a performance by Elzig, who can best be described as an Elvis Presley / Misfits / Danzig tribute act, who predominantly plays songs by everyone mentioned above. All of that blends about as well as you can imagine it would.

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Making my way to my car, which was parked on the roof of a nearby parking garage, I looked back at the hotel and this particular bit of Charlotte, taking in the moment. Another convention down, a ridiculous amount of money spent, and a few more memories in the bank. Can’t wait for the next one.

Here’s your requisite CONVENTION MONSTER PHOTO DUMP

Days of the Dead Part 1!

Tonight’s a special night. Not just because I’m going to write about a seriously cool thing I did last weekend, but because I’m actually going to write about a seriously cool thing I did last weekend, and not 3 months ago. Retro Ghouls is actually up to date…for once!

Last weekend was the Days of the Dead horror convention in Charlotte and ol’ Deej made the scene. Days of the Dead is well established, but this is their first time setting up camp in Charlotte. The first pleasant thing I found was that it was at the Sheraton, which is the former home of the Mad Monster Party, so it’s an old familiar stomping ground of mine. I’ve spent many a weekend walking that long hallway, surrounded by monsters and fans. The name of the con may not be the same, but it was nice to see some familiar faces (both famous and not), and even some of the same staff. From what I hear, The Sheraton will no longer house the Mad Monster Party, but will be the home of Days of the Dead for the next few years, so it’s a win for the fans either way. Personally, I don’t care what you call it. Fill the place with cast members from my favorite slasher flicks, make the vibe fun, and just take my damn money already. This just means I get TWO horror cons in Charlotte every year. Double win!

Let’s get down to business. I arrived around noon and was starving, so instead of making my usual straight shot to my favorite celebs’s table, I went to the bar to inhale a fantastic burger. Just look at this thing.

Burger

Unfortunately, while the food was totally worth the money, the drinks weren’t. Later in the day, I was treated to a $12 “whisky and ginger ale”, which basically amounted to a $11.00 cup of ginger ale with maybe $1.00 worth of a tiny splash of whisky. I paid almost as much for that as I did for the burger. So, lesson learned: Find alternative ways to booze it up unless you want all your autograph money to go down the drain at the bar.

Back to positives. Time for Heather Langenkamp! This isn’t the first time I’ve met her, but she still remains my all-time favorite scream queen, so she’s worth a second autograph. And I’m not a multiple autograph kind of guy. At this point, she and almost the entire cast of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 were at a panel that was letting out in a few minutes, so I just hung out in the newly formed line at her table, waiting for her to show up. She must have gotten held up though, because that wait lasted for nearly an hour.

It did provide a little entertainment though. I chatted it up with some other horror nerds that were around me, as well as Linnea Quigley, who I love to death, and who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting before. I told her about how I play stuff from the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack on my show all the time, and we talked about Trash and some other projects she’s been part of. She’s another one who is incredibly gracious to her fans. Can’t say enough good things about her.

Also, Thom Matthews (Tommy Jarvis from Friday the 13th Part VI) was signing nearby, and that’s when I spotted this bit of trouble brewing. Ummm…

Tommy and Jason (1)

Finally, Heather showed up, we chatted for a bit, and I congratulated her on the Days of the Dead Hall of Fame award that she’d received on Friday night. Here she is with Tommy Faircloth, the other recipient of the award.

Heather and Tommy

Tommy and I run in the same circles and he’s a solid guy. He’s a Columbia, SC based filmmaker and also organizes the Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest, which is happening this weekend in Charleston. This festival is absolutely cursed though, I’m convinced of it. I’ve missed it every single year it’s been on and it looks like I’ll have to miss it again this weekend. But, I’ve got SO MANY THINGS happening this summer that it nearly makes up for it. I’ll barely have a free weekend from now till September. I’ve mentioned him before on RG as being the director of Family Possessions, which features Felissa Rose. He recently cast her again in his new film, A Nun’s Curse, for which he’s launched an Indiegogo. So go check that out and maybe throw him a few bucks if you can.

Heather Langenkamp

Heather and I did the whole autograph/picture thing and also talked about Hellraiser: Judgment (she has a cameo!), which I’ll be reviewing soon. I’ve seen it and believe me, I’ve got things to say. Best off, I finally scored this copy of her documentary, I Am Nancy, which I’ve been dying to see forever:

I Am Nancy

All the rest of the Dream Warriors were set up nearby (except for Patricia Arquette), so I went down the line and met EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

First up was Penelope “Welcome to primetime, bitch!” Sudrow, aka “Jennifer”. She’s actually the only one I didn’t get a picture with, only because after talking to her for a while, I honestly just forgot. Got the autograph though, as you’ll see in a bit…

Ira Heiden

Next up is one of my favorites, Ira “The Wizard Master” Heiden, aka “Will”. He was just as cool to talk to as you would imagine, and luckily no one else was at his table at the time, so we talked for quite a bit. Pretend that I Photoshopped Emperor Palpatine lightning coming out of our hands. It’s getting late.

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Next up was Bradley “The Human Puppet” Gregg, aka “Phillip”. We didn’t have long to talk, but he was kind enough to record a promo for my show. Cool guy! Luckily, they didn’t seat him near any windows.

Joey

Rodney “The Quiet One” Eastman, aka “Joey” was next. He was wearing the raddest scarf in the building. Is it just me, or did Joey have the easiest gig in this movie? Dude said like two lines of dialogue and then got into some bondage play with a hot, topless poster girl. I mean, as far as ways to go out, it beats getting turned into a roach.

Kincaid

Next up was Ken “It’s time to stop guessin’ and start messin’” Sagoes, aka “Kincaid”. Speaking of dialogue, if you don’t think Kincaid got the best lines in this movie (maybe even better than Freddy himself), you haven’t paid attention.

Taryn

And finally, that brings us to Jennifer “Beautiful and BAD” Rubin, aka “Taryn”. She’s still lovely after all these years, and was incredibly sweet. And TALL. Granted, being taller than me isn’t exactly that hard to pull off… This is one of my favorite pics of the day. Needle glove! And best of all, Rodney Eastman was the photographer.

What about the autographs, Deej? This is now the most expensive piece of glossy photo paper I own. Trust me, it was not an easy decision, choosing between getting all of these or getting the professional group photo with the cast (yes, that was a thing), but I’m happy with which way I went. It was costing a pretty penny either way. WORTH IT.

Dream Warriors Autographs

That’s it for now. Check out Part 2 coming soon, where I meet two of the nicest guys in horror (one for the second time), and add more to the radio show promo collection. There’s no bigger thrill as a fan than awkwardly shoving your phone in a famous monster’s face and convincing them to read for you. See you soon!

Saying goodbye to Pic-A-Flick Video

Today we’re here to pay our respects to my last local Pic-A-Flick Video. At the risk of showing my age (as if all the Jem and the Holograms nostalgia didn’t do that already), I worked at a few video stores in high school. Those experiences alone could fill up a post here, but we’ll focus on the Pic-A-Flick Video. Pick-A-Flick is (was?) a chain in the southeast that kind of ruled the game where I grew up. In the hey-day of video stores, there were plenty little mom and pop places to choose from the P-A-F was the most common sight. They even gave Blockbuster a run for their money. I can think of no less than 5 locations in a pretty small radius from my house, one of which employed me for a bit. But that’s a post for another day.

Back when I was researching the possibilities of video stores that were still kicking around me, I found out about this one. So a couple of months ago, I gave them a call and found out that they were not long for this world. You know what that means: VIDEO STORE CLOSING SALE!

Let’s go on a trip!

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Am I the only one who apprecaites that those two businesses are next to each other?

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Right away, I was greeted with the first of several sad signs advertising the store’s demise. I went somewhere around the second week of March, and the place was closing on March 31st. Of course, the prices got cheaper as the month went on.

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This sign breaks down the price drops as the month went on. Of course, there is that temptation to hold out and just snatch up a bunch of Blu-rays for pennies at the end of the month, but I didn’t feel like making another trip out to that side of town, and there was the possibility that all the good stuff would be picked through by that point anyway. Already, the general public had the same thought I did: “Raid the video games!“. All of the PS4 and X-Box One games were gone, but there were still some choice PS3 ones left. I don’t have a PS4 (yet), but I do dust off the PS3 from time to time and try to catch up on all the games I’ve missed out on in the past few years. So, I snagged a few. More on that later.

While there, I spoke for quite a while with Jim and Jan, the couple who ran the place. I found out that they were actually the owners of all of the Pic-A-Flicks in this area going back for decades. We swapped stories about the one I worked at briefly in high school. They had an incredible memory and remembered almost all of the former employees from that store (I guess I wasn’t there long enough to hit their radar). They also remembered my 5th grade teacher who worked there for a while when I was a kid. It was always a trip to go by there and see Mr. Brazille out in captivity at his second job. I won’t bring down this post by commenting on the fact that one of my favorite teachers even had to get a second job to make ends meet. I also won’t discuss the exclusive field trip to Charlotte that he and another teacher took me on one Saturday afternoon. True story…but, that, like so many things, is yet another post for another day.

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Back to business. As fun as the nostalgia trip was, it was kind of sad to see a few other eager shoppers picking the bones of a dying piece of American pop culture, especially when it’s one that’s so near and dear to my black little heart (and so many of yours). Also, watching the owners sit by and watch as strangers picked apart the last remaining pieces of what is likely the last Pic-A-Flick I’ll ever see, hit me a little bit. There were still two more weeks left in the month, and while I didn’t go back after this one trip, I wonder what it was like for Jim and Jan to sit there day after day, reminiscing as they went down with the ship.

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Oh of course I hit up the horror section. The selection was actually pretty impressive, and while I rarely buy DVD’s anymore, I didn’t show up that night just to see the sights. Let’s go shopping!

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Here’s my haul. Some of you may notice that there is a bit of a Clive Barker theme going on. Three of the four of the movies shown here are either based on a Clive Barker story or are Barker-adjacent (ahem, Hellraiser: Judgement). Contracted is the one exception, but I’m equally as excited about seeing that one. One of the stars is Caroline Williams, who I’ve met a couple of times at The Mad Monster Party, and she is one of the nicest genre stars around. She’s incredibly cool to her fans and will talk your ear off if you let her. Trust me, that’s not a complaint.

I’ve still not watched any of them, but that’s coming. I did pop in Resident Evil 5 for a bit though. A “bit” was all I needed. The 4th game is one of my favorite games of all time, but this mess was just a giant pile of digital wank. I don’t know who’s idea it was to make the entire damn game an escort mission, but they should be punished by…being forced to play Resident Evil 5. Ugh.

But Deej, what about that new Hellraiser? Oh, THAT SHIT WILL BE REVIEWED, SON. Stay tuned…

Thanks for the memories, Pic-A-Flick. I’m genuinely sorry for all the times I didn’t rewind.

Pic A Flick closing

The 2018 Mad Monster Party!

Hey look, this site’s still alive! Guys, I’m going to skip the usual rambling apology as to why it’s been so long since I last posted, because let’s be honest, no one cares. You know what you’re here for. It’s halfway to Halloween, convention season is upon us, and I’ve come back into your lives like an absentee father to write about spooky stuff and pretend like we actually do this on a regular basis.

Guess what, I went to the Mad Monster Party a few months ago!

This one was a little bit of a roller coaster ride. First, some background info. If you’ve read any of my previous accounts of going to the Mad Monster Party, you’ll know I come away with a lot of autographs and pictures. In fact, I put aside a good chunk of money every year for an autograph budget because that shit ain’t cheap. But, a few months ago, my laptop finally gave up the ghost, so there went the budge. Consequently, this one was short, sweet, and cheap. Just like your mom.

For starters, as if the laptop thing wasn’t bad enough, the morning of the con, I got held up doing family stuff, so I couldn’t leave as early as I would have liked. I always try to get there about 10:00 AM to get the jump on the autograph crowd, but I didn’t leave until mid-afternoon, which is a death sentence if you’re looking to get the prime autographs and go to all the panels.

And boy did it hurt. If you’ve read any of my previous accounts, you’ll know that every year, I have a white whale. It’s that one person who I would make the hour and a half drive to meet even if they were the only person set up there. In previous years, it’s been Doug Bradley, Stephen Geoffreys, Felissa Rose, and a bunch of other personal faves. This year it was ROBERT ENGLUND. Major bucket list material for me! So when I was finally free, I hauled ass up to Charlotte and made a bee-line straight for his table. Or rather, I should say, I made a bee-line straight for the incredibly long line that was snaking its way, away from his table and down some back hallways.

I got to the back of the line and was informed by staff that you had to have a small yellow ticket to see him. They were apparently given out to everyone in line earlier. Ok, fine. How do I get a ticket? Guess what, no more tickets. They were cut off sometime before I got there. I begged and pleaded my case, but no dice. So, despite all my checking back and trying to weasel my way into the back of the line, my Englund mission was a total failure. I did get to see him though, from across the room, signing autographs for everyone else. So…there’s that.

But, all was not lost. I had a couple more hours to work with and I was going to make the most out of it. On that same side of the room, was a bunch of other A Nightmare on Elm Street series alums — Danny Hassel, Ronee Blakely, Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox, and Amanda Wyss. I spoke to all of them and they were all delightful. The lack of budget prohibited me from getting pictures or autographs from nearly all of them, but Danny Hassel was cool enough to autograph a picture for free. According to him, this was actually taken in his backyard. Thanks, Danny!

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I had some other great conversations too! Again…budget, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I chatted a bit with Nick Castle, and of course we talked about the new Halloween film that had just wrapped shooting in Charleston. As someone who tries to get PA work when he can on features, it kind of killed me to know that it was shooting just three hours from where I am right now, and I couldn’t find time to get down there to get work on it. Oh, and they never responded to the resume I sent them, but that’s neither here nor there. I also spoke to Felissa Rose again, who you guys know is a big favorite of mine. I love that I’ve reached this weird point in in my life in which Felissa and I kind of have some friends in common and almost know each other a little. I can’t wait to see DEATH HOUSE.

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OH, AND I MET THE SOSKA SISTERS! Kids, if you ever get the chance to meet one or both of them, get on that. They are hilarious, sweet, and a ton of fun (not to mention, every bit as easy on the eyes as you can imagine). They recorded probably the greatest promo for my radio show that I’ve gotten from anyone. Listen sometime and maybe you’ll hear it. I think I’m just going to fill my entire two hours one night playing it on repeat.

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Oh, and I met some upcoming actor named LANCE FUCKING HENRIKSEN. You may have heard of him. He’s every bit as cool and nice as you can imagine. He was sat near Jenette Goldstein (more on her later) and Michael Biehn as part of an Aliens reunion of sorts. Of course, I talked to them too. What a lineup!

So yeah, I might have missed out on Freddy, but I think I salvaged the day.

But wait, there’s more. If you’re a regular con goer, you know there’s the con, and then there’s the bar after the con. That’s where, if you’re lucky, things get a little less formal, and you can buy a drink for (or maybe even share a few drinks with) some of your favorite horror celebrities. And cousin, that’s exactly what happened.

So after the con was winding down for the day, I made my way to said bar, only to immediately lock in on Lance Henriksen sitting at a table with Jenette Golstein and Tuesday Knight. He spotted me and gave me a wave as I made my way to the main bar. I didn’t really speak to him for the rest of the night, but it was cool to just know that for a few hours, we were just two guys who love the industry, having a good time in a room full of like-minded weirdos. There is a sort of kinship there, even among us and them.

While at the bar, I befriended a couple who were there from out of town, and eventually found myself at a table with Jenette Goldstein, her husband, and a drag queen dressed like Pinhead. Jenette and her husband are lovely people and we talked quite a bit about their business in California, selling bras. Vasquez went from killing xenomorphs to pushing unmentionables.

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As the night went on, I found myself buying drinks for Alex Vincent and spent an hour or so sharing a few drinks with R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 3). Dude is cool is hell and we spent almost our entire time talkng about Johnny Cash and a bunch other things that I can’t remember because that was two months and a lot of drinks ago. Yes, that’s him up there with Drag Queen Pinhead.

Which brings us to the end of the night. There’s no way to say what happened other than just say it. I spent a couple of hours getting toasted and swapping stories with Drag Queen Pinhead and Christine Elise. The fact that I can say that sentence out loud in complete honesty means that I may not have failed as a human being after all. You’ll know Christine as “Kyle” from Child’s Play 2. She’s an incredibly cool chick and knows a dirty joke or three. The three of us shut the bar down after everyone else had cleared out. It was a solid way to end a day that didn’t start out all that well.

And that, kids, is how you do a horror con. I can’t wait for the next one in just a few weeks! Days of the Dead and the Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest are coming up next month, so stay tuned. Here are a few more pics. Enjoy!

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The Mad Monster Party 2017! Part 2

Alright, we’re back with the second part of this year’s Mad Monster Party coverage. Because if there’s on thing I’m good for, it’s trying to drum up excitement about things that happened at a convention from six months ago.

You’ll remember in Part 1 that I met a few famous folks. Let’s meet a few more. I don’t have pictures to back up the first two, so you’ll have to just take my word on it. First off, I had a lovely conversation with Pat Priest, who’s most known for playing Marilyn Munster. She was incredibly gracious and entertained all my annoying questions that I’m sure she’d already politely answered 38,000 times before I got to her.

I also had a great, fairly involved conversation with Mark Steger, who plays the monster in Stranger Things. I had to confess to him that at the time, I had actually not seen Stranger Things yet, but I’ve since remedied that. And brother, WHAT THE HELL TOOK ME SO LONG? It’s fantastic. But, we did chat quite a bit about special effects and makeup in general. Nice guy.

Speaking of special effects, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was there! Or at least the guy in the suit, Bill Bryan. I was surprised to learn he’d done quite a bit other puppetry work, including being one of the guys who helped to build and puppet Chucky. Sometimes when you choose the form of the destroyer, you end up with a laid back horror movie veteran who kind of looks like Santa.

Other notable mentions would be Mark Torgl (The Toxic Avenger himself) and a female friend of his, who claimed to be an actual exorcist. I kind of regret taking them up on their offer of going out and getting a drink with them after it was all over that night. To be honest, I’d reserved that spot on my dance card for Felissa Rose. On second thought, that was a worthy trade. I do hope to catch them next time though, if there is one. Oh, and Billy Dee Williams was there too. I walked by his table about the time his people were packing everything up and getting him ready to leave. He looked bored.

Alright, that’s it for the celebrites. Bumblebee and Blaster were also there (ok, maybe we’re not done with the celebrites).

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There was also all manner of amusements and other sights to see.

“But Deej, where are the hot girls in costumes?” GOT YOU COVERED:

I’ve never had such conflicting emotions about a Nazi before.

Arterial

I also had couple of these guys. The vendor had several varieties, but the Arterial jumped out at me. If you hear something next year about a short, bald man getting thrown out of a horror convention in Charlotte for getting inappropriate with Adrienne Barbeau, you’ll know The Arterial is to blame. Im not much of a beer drinker, but this thing was DELICIOUS. It was a delightful way to get a nice buzz going right before going into a panel where Mark Patton told stories about sleeping in the same bed with Cher at Gene Simmons’s house.

Speaking of snacks, I’m not too much of a shopper at cons. I always go in with a limited budget, and would much rather blow almost all of it on autographs and pictures than on overpriced Gremlins figures. But this time, I did snag something I’d had my eye on for the last few years — THE MONSTA BAR! They had several different types – Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Almonds, Dark Chocolate Ghost Pepper, and Milk Chocolate Ghost Pepper. I’d love to review all of them, but at $10 a pop, I didn’t want them that badly, so I settled on my go-to variety – Dark Chocolate with Almonds.

Back of Bar

The first thing that jumped out at me was how huge the almonds are. I was honestly expecting something more along the lines of a Mr. Goodbar, but they went all out with some kind of genetically engineered full-on super almonds. Also, they were salty as all hell. I mean, this thing was just as much salt as it was chocolate, but it totally works. It’s definitely one of the better novelty candies I’ve ever tried, even though I winced at the price tag. But, I guess the fact that they only made 100 of them added an extra thrill that made it worth it. This was LIMITED EDITION chocolate from the grave.

Rivals

My other take-home prize was this short documentary on VHS about Charles Manson and Vincent Bugliosi. I haven’t watched it yet, but I certainly plan to, with a possible review later right here. Anyone who’s ever listened to my radio show knows that I’m kind of a student of the Manson case. Being that this clocks in at only 46 minutes, I doubt there’s any new ground covered here that I’m not already well aware of, but I couldn’t pass it up. There were actually more tapes I was interested in from this same vendor, Little Shop of Horror. I have to wonder if they’re an actual store in NC. If so, they win the Best Vendor Name award that I just made up just now. The lady I spoke to was really helpful, but again, they suffered from Convention Price Syndrome. I understand the spot they’re in, because travel and table fees aren’t cheap, but at the same time, when you’re weighing how you’re going to spend your last $20, a Tom Savini photo op is probably going to win out over an old VHS copy of Halloween III…and I love me some Halloween III.

Alright kids, that’s it. I’m leaving you with The Creature from the Black Lagoon playing bagpipes in front of a clown who’s clearly had enough of this . We’re going out on top!

 

 

Let’s go rent a movie!

You ever have a thing that you know you should be doing, but you’re just waiting for the right moment? Like that movie you’re dying to see, but you want to make sure you have the right company for it, or that…other example that would fit perfectly right here that I can’t think of?

Well, this post is a tribute to that. Kids, for the past 10 years, when I’ve visited my home town, I’ve driven past a video store. An honest to goodness video store, and I never went in. I don’t know why. I think I just assumed it couldn’t be that good. Surely not. So, I was just teasing myself, driving past that outside wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall; looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger me off…

Well, last week, the moment was picked and death came to my little town!

Outside

Family Video is a chain I knew nothing about until I decided to finally do this. Some of you may have some of the lingering branches of this chain in your town, so you may have beaten me to the punch on this one, but I’m glad I finally got down to it.

Last week, with Summer slowly starting its retreat, I went in, got myself a membership, and rented a gosh darn horror movie! Just in time to ease into the Halloween season. And it was glorious. Oh, and apologies up front for the blurriness of all these pictures. I don’t know why, but I still get weird about taking pictures in businesses, and try to do a quick “click and move”. There is some ridiculous paranoia there that I’m just one candid shot of Three Men and a Baby away from being kicked out.

As soon as I walked in the joint, a flood of memories hit me. It brought back all those Friday nights of my youth, perusing the shelves, selecting something you knew next to nothing about, based solely on how cool the box art was. Then later on, I’d spend some time in high school and college working at a series of video stores. I’ve done my time on both sides of that counter, Jack. But, this particular Family Video has a bonus feature. They’ve gone in kahoots with the Marco’s Pizza next door.

window

Yes, you can order a pizza and have it delivered in that window while you shop! And they have a promotion. If you order at least $10 worth of pizza, you get a free rental. And you better believe I did, brother!

pizza

But, it doesn’t stop there. Just for getting a membership, they pretty much throw the whole store at you. I’ve got several coupons for future free rentals and popcorn, and half off everything for like the first 30 days or something. Factor in the super cheap costs of rentals in the first place, and I can only assume they’re staying afloat on the nostalgia appeal alone. They’re doing pretty well though. While I was there, they had a pretty steady stream of customers coming and going, and it wasn’t even a weekend night. Of course, being the only game in town helps. I got everything in the picture above (pizza, 2 things of popcorn, the movie, and a load of coupons for later) for just $15.

The selection was pretty impressive, and while it didn’t completely live up to the volume of a Blockbuster or the oddball charm of your average mom-and-pop joint from back in the day, it had a dash of both. The New Release wall was nearly Blockbuster-esque in terms of the number of “big titles”, even if their definition of “New Release” was nearly anything released in the last two years. The rest of the store was pretty well organized, but not really broken down into too many genres. One section was just called “Prequels and Sequels” and was exactly that, with genres all mixed in.

boxes

But Deej, WHAT DID YOU RENT? I actually went there with this one specifically in mind — Blair Witch, the 2016 sequel to the original. It was one of those horror releases from the last few years that I just missed for one reason or another. My LIST has way more additions than subtractions these days, but I’m slowly working my way through it.

REVIEW TIME!

Blair Witch essentially is a retread of the The Blair Witch Project, but is handled in a competent manner, so it made for some good pizza eating, video renting fun. It centers around the story of James, the little brother of Heather from the original film, who leads a group of his friends into the woods in search of Heather, in the hopes that she may still be out there alive after all these years. And well…that’s pretty much all you need to know.

I think you know how things go from here. People start turning on each other, start getting offed one at a time, yadda, yadda, yadda. I know I may not be exactly selling it, but I promise it was absolutely worth the rental and captures the tone of the original fairly well. Oh, and as you can imagine, it pretends Book of Shadows: The Blair Witch 2 never happened. I know a lot of fans also wish that were the case, but I’m not one of them. I thought that one was good, stupid fun and I know Jay of The Sexy Armpit agrees with me. So yeah, it’s worth a rental…if you ever get the chance again to actually do such a thing.

Oh, and guess what. I just got a line on another video store a fairly short drive from here…The quest continues.