One of the things I miss most during this time of quarantine is just aimlessly wandering around stores. Obviously, there are so many other more important things going on, but it’s one of the little things about the old days I look back on fondly, especially when it comes to book stores. I haven’t been in a Barnes & Noble in months and it really bums me out! I’d love to go to a used or independent book store too, but there aren’t any around where I live, much to my chagrin.
To at least partially fill that void, I’ve signed up for a few ebook mailing lists to bring cool new books and some hot new deals into my life (see what I did there?). If you’re interested, you can sign up for one through Amazon, but there’s also a site called BookBub that I’m a big fan of. You just go in, add the genres you like and they’ll hit you up with daily sales on digital books that run between one and three bucks. That’s how I first came upon Craig Davidson’s The Saturday Night Ghost Club!
Back in the day, I used to do recurring posts here on UM called The Box wherein I would grab some random comics from a huge box my inlaws gave me and give them a read. I thought it would be fun to do something similar, but with a somewhat narrower focus on horror comics from those same boxes (though now they have a special place on my comic shelves). As it turned out, I had a bunch of 70s Marvel horror comics, so I jumped right in with those! Horror had a nice resurgence at this time because the Comics Code loosened some of its restrictions. In these five comics I’ve got Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Son of Satan and all sorts of anthology tales!
I’ve been having a great time watching connected films and a variety of horror books this season, but it’s very possible that re-visiting the Batman run by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones has been one of my favorite experiences so far. As I mentioned in the first part, these post-KnightFall books were bedrock-forming for my knowledge of not just the Dark Knight, but also the imagery of horror as put through Jones’ incredibly capable lens. As good as the Batman developments are in these issues as he regains his life after the Bane and Azrael incidents, it’s equally exciting to see these two creators work their magic on a variety of villains and co-stars.
When I started digging into Vincent Price’s films for It’s All Connected, I wondered if I’d get burned out. I mean, I fully expected to watch more Brian De Palma flicks earlier in this process, but they were all hitting a lot of the same buttons. With Price’s movies, though, I’m having a great time watching one of the best actors of all time plying his craft in a variety of roles ranging from the very serious to the delightfully silly! And with 1962’s Tales Of Terror, you get all of that in one package!
I feel like, by this point, my love of all things Paperbacks From Hell and Valancourt Books is well-established. If you follow that first link you’ll see my review for the book that started me down this path as well as the first installment in Valancourt’s PFH series, The Nest. I’ve also written about the imprint’s Stage Fright as well Manhattan Ghost Story, which I first found out about through the original book. Now I’m getting back to the original series with the second installment in Valancourt’s Paperbacks From Hell line, When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom. Wow, it was good.
In the wake of all those very intense (and weird and problematic) Brian De Palma movies, I wanted something very different for my next entry in It’s All Connected 2020. I also really enjoyed seeing vintage John Travolta in Blow Out, so his was the first page I began going through on IMDb. There I found a real doozy of a picture called The Devil’s Rain that is a star-studded Satanic romp featuring Ernest Borgnine as a cult leader and brothers Mark and Tom — played by William Shatner and Tom Skerritt — opposing him! This film also marked the first film appearance by John Travolta (though I don’t think you can actually see him), the first appearance of an iconic horror mask AND the first time Ernest Borgnine threw up the devil horns. And it’s streaming on Amazon Video right now!
To say that this Halloween season will be unlike any other is like saying that Leatherface has a unique take on cosmetics. My wife and I are still taking the pandemic seriously (it’s incredibly stupid that anyone has to say that, wear a damn mask) so trick or treating for the kids is all but cancelled. We’re trying to figure out a new way to celebrate, but we’ll see how that goes. Personally, this year will be very different for me because I’ve got a house full of people who want nothing to do with horror movies (or are too young to see them). So, I’m doing my best to squeeze them in where and when I can, but am also focusing on a lot of comics and books. But, I also decided to decorate the shelf in my office with a small army of fiends in action figure form that date all the way back to my childhood!
How do you go through a particular artist’s work when you want to absorb it all? I take a variety of paths, sometimes trying to go through the efforts chronologically, other times by theme or subject. With Stephen King’s books, I’m a bit more willy nilly! I’ve read a good number so far and have purchased even more, so I often find myself staring into my horror To-Read box wondering which King to tackle next. Though I still have his latest, If It Bleeds, to devour, I decided to dip into the box and chose 2001’s Dreamcatcher for two reasons: one, it’s long and two, I heard it wasn’t very good. Luckily, I was wrong about one of those things!
I was pretty excited when I realized that my previous It’s All Connected 2020 selection, Phantom Of The Paradise, was directed by Brian De Palma. As I mentioned in that post, I’ve seen a few of his movies, but none of his horror pictures, aside from Carrie. As it happened, I was able to find many of his films from the 70s and 80s streaming, so I went through parts of his filmography in chronological order for a bit, moving into 1978’s The Fury after Paradise.
In addition to reading horror novels like Stage Fright (and many more to come) and falling down the It’s All Connected 2020 rabbit hole, I’m also doing my best to read through some of the spookier comics I have access to. I feel very lucky to have my entire comic collection all in one place, but also some nice shelves my dad and I built in thee garage so I can actually get to them! With that in mind and in the spirit of not going out because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I’ve gone through my existing comics, my trade shelf and even my To Read boxes and pulled out a huge pile of comics I want to read! Let’s see how that goes!