Video Visions: I, Robot Lover

I grew up obsessed with robots. How I haven’t run off with a replicant is a mystery to me.

When I was a wee lad, there was a particular show I watched with my mother every single day that sparked my infatuation with, as the show’s evil/comedic doctor would call them, “ferrous Frankenstein fiends in tin clothing.” That show was Lost In Space — the original from the ’60s, not the okay reboot on Netflix. Continue Reading

Video Visions: There’s Spaghetti Sauce in My VCR—Why I Don’t Love Italian Horror

I’m going to be brutally honest here and you may try to take my horror club card away, but here goes.

I’m not a fan of Italian horror. I mean, at all. I am a fan of Italian women, so much so that I married one. But I digress. I know that people wax poetic over the artistry of Argento and the trippy avant garde mastery of Fulci, but at best, their movies leave me scratching my head. Or dead asleep. I tend to sleep a lot when I watch Italian horror. And this from a guy who can stay awake through The Haunting of Whaley House (as bland and uneventful as the actual Whaley House tour) and The Darkness (even Kevin Bacon can’t win them all). Continue Reading

Video Visions: I Killed the Video Store

As an early adopter of Netflix, I take full responsibility for my part in the demise of the neighborhood video store. Little did I know that my yearning to get a new DVD each week for a low monthly fee (my first Netflix rental being 1978’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers) would seal their doom. To be honest, I thought they would complement one another. There were just so many titles the little shop near me could handle. Netflix would simply fill in the gaps. And let’s not forget the biggest draw of Netflix back then—no late fees!

Ah, hindsight is always 20/20. Continue Reading

Michael Myers Death Mask

I was ten years old when Halloween hit theaters. My friends and I trudged the three blocks to the Kent Theater on an October Saturday afternoon and had our tiny minds blown. The good thing about 1978 was no one cared who went in to see a movie, even if it was four ten-year old boys. Continue Reading

George Romero Can Never Die

Ever since I heard of the late, great George Romero’s passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much he influenced my life. Thanks to Dawn of the Dead, my first foray into Romero’s visionary work, I went from a normal kid who collected baseball cards to one who studied every mall, shop and house, figuring out how to fortify it against zombie hordes. Instead of daydreaming about Karen Marone letting me hold her hand after school, I fantasized about commandeering the sporting goods store, blowing zombie heads into tomato juice and eating Spam every night (because…well, it’s got its own key).Continue Reading

Where Have all the Freak Shows Gone?

Growing up, humid days and warm nights meant the Westchester County Fair was rolling into town. The fair took over Yonkers Raceway for a couple of weeks, a real hoedown for us city folk. Along with shaky, suspect rides, there were carnival games, artery clogging fried foods, livestock shows, performing monkeys, a demolition derby and my favorite, the freak show. Continue Reading

Witchboard of the Dead

Tawny Kitaen is completely to blame for my messing with dead people.

In lieu of today’s penchant to never take personal responsibility, I’m quite comfortable laying all of this at Tawny’s lovely feet. Mind you, I’ve never met the woman. However, I feel as if she’s an old friend with wild and wonderful scarlet hair thanks to Bachelor Party, writhing on the hood of a car in Whitesnake’s video for “Here I Go Again,” and last but not least, 1986’s Ouija horror film, Witchboard.Continue Reading

Cutting Class for a Higher Education

Here’s a little public service announcement that you’ll never get on TV.

Nothing helped foster my career as a horror writer more than cutting entire days of class when I was in college. Not only that, it also provided the foundation of my marriage.

Now there’s a one-two punch I never would have gotten from another psych or communications class. Continue Reading

Why Jason Loves the ’80s More Than You

People ask me all the time who the next Jason, Michael or Freddy will be. I tell them there’s a better chance of a Glenn Miller-hip hop genre emerging on pop radio than ever seeing the likes of our favorite killing machines from the ’80s. They were a product of a very special time in horror cinema. The best we’ve been able to come up with since then is Saw. A puppet and dying old dude really don’t shiver me timbers. Continue Reading

Those Crazy Swedes

John Carpenter’s The Thing was one of the very first VHS tapes I ever bought because it was, and still is, my hands-down favorite horror movie. Coming in at #2 is Alien. I’m a sucker for flicks with isolated, well-defined characters getting picked off by terrifying creatures. That also explains my infatuation with The Descent.  

The Thing tape had a shelf all by its lonesome, a place of special importance, flanked by posters of Loni Anderson and Samantha Fox. Aside from being creepy, gory and this side of awesome, The Thing was also associated with a very special memory.

It’s the movie that made my father throw up. Continue Reading

Welcome to the Videodrome!

There was no way of knowing how much that top loading Fisher VCR with wired remote control would change all of our lives. We were a family of movie addicts. We had a theater called The Kent two blocks away that showed double features and had a balcony where all sorts of shenanigans ensued, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. There was also the drive-in just ten miles away in Elmsford, a mecca for families and horny teens all throughout lower Westchester County.

But this VCR contraption, which my father brought home with a buzzing glee, was about to take us to a whole new level. Continue Reading