"QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST HORROR-THEMED BLOG ON THE NET." -- Joe Maddrey, Nightmares in Red White & Blue

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**Check out my other blogs, Standard of the Day, Proof of a Benevolent God and Lots of Pulp!**

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Congrats to the Winners of the 9th Annual Rondos!

Over the course of the past decade, the Rondo Hatton Awards have really become something special online. There's a reason they've been endorsed by the likes of Harry Knowles and Benicio Del Toro--they represent the coming together of fans of classic horror (and let's be honest, of all horror) in an online forum. Fans and media alike, casting their votes for their favorites in virtually every category of art and entertainment. I'm proud to vote each and every year, and also excited that this year's winners have officially been announced!

First of all, I'd be remiss if I didn't state how thrilled I am that Frankensteinia, the blog I endorsed for the Best Blog award, actually took home the Hatton bust in that category! Way to go, Pierre, and I hope this accolade brings even more visitors to your amazing corner of the horror blogosphere.

Best Film and Best TV Presentation went to Black Swan and the pilot of The Walking Dead, respectively, and I most certainly agree with both of those. I'd have to say the same for Best Classic DVD and Best Restoration, both of which went to the amazing Complete Metropolis set that just came out, featuring legendary footage that hadn't been seen in decades.

Book of the Year went to the outstanding new coffee table book, The Art of Hammer--a collection of tons of gorgeous movie posters covering the entire span of that British studio's iconic run. This is a book I happen to own, and am looking very much forward to reviewing here in The Vault in the coming weeks, so it was gratifying to see it getting this kind of recognition. A truly impressive tome, if I do say so myself (and I do.)

Rue Morgue very rightfully took home Best Magazine, but I was a little disappointed to see that their Psycho 50th anniversary cover did not win Best Cover. Still, you really can't go wrong with Basil Gogos, so I'm not going to complain too loudly about the Bela Lugosi Famous Monsters of Filmland cover that did win.

My all-time favorite con, Chiller Theatre, much to my chagrin came up short once again for Best Convention, losing to Horror Hound Weekend. The Captain and I are most certainly going to have to get out there next time and see what all the hubbub is about. I will say I was quite stoked to see that Best Fan Event went to Women in Horror Month--the brainchild of Ax Wound Magazine's Hannah Neurotica that has really taken on a life of its own. Hannah, you should be very proud of your creation!

And finally--will someone get the hint already and release Island of Lost Souls to DVD?? Every single year, it seems to win "Film Most in Need of DVD Release or Restoration". I know I vote for it each and every time. Still cannot believe this film is unavailable--and now that I think about it, The Uninvited (1944) falls into that category as well.

Anyway, enough ranting and opinionizing! If you want to check out the complete roster of winners, as well as the official Rondo press release, go here. Congratulations to all the winners, and a major thank you to the folks at the Classic Horror Film Board, for putting these awards together every year! Good show, people!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Visceral Visionaries: Joshua Aden

A rare and unique, upcoming talent in the horror art world, Joshua Aden has taken the acrylic medium and turned it into something with which to express the stuff of his personal nightmares. And yet, as his most recent portrait of Captain Cruella in sugar skull getup will indicate, he is also more than capable of branching out beyond the gruesome and grotesque. It was that portrait that recently brought him to my attention, and I was honored that this promising young painter would consent to discuss his work and inspiration with me...

Tell me a little about how you got interested in art in the first place.
I believe that I was born into it. My father was a brilliant artist who completely wasted away his talent to alcoholism. Damn shame. If I learned anything at all, it was to never let it go to waste.

Who are some of your influences?
Ninety percent of all my influence comes from film. Masters like Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Rick Baker. Seeing what these people can accomplish on screen always makes me push myself to new levels in art. I still keep my fingers crossed that I can break into special effects one day.

Why this subject matter?
People always say "do what you love" and that’s what I'm doing. I love this genre! I live and breathe horror.

What attracts you to it?
I grew up to horror-loving parents, and never had those barriers that most kids had. Most kids had He-Man and Thundercats. I had C.H.U.D., Aliens and Phantasm. My parents never had a “rating” system, and for that, I thank them.

A lot of your work is specifically zombie related. Why is that?
Some of the first drawings/paintings I had ever done as a child were of nightmares of mine that were brought on by staying up way too late watching Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. Rather than terrifying me, I was enthralled by it.

What is it about zombies?
It’s just a hell of a lot of fun. Best I can imagine is that zombie movies in general immerse you into a role of kill or be killed, fight to survive or become one of the horde. Have to ask, what type are you? Something’s very appealing about both sides, ultimately who wants to be the last man on earth? Personally, I’d rather eat the flesh of the living.

What work are you the most proud of?
Without a doubt, the portrait of George A. Romero. The man himself called me a Rembrandt, and that he admires my work. I still have a smile on my face to this day from his unbelievably kind words. That painting has found a great home, but that will continue to be the highlight of my painting career.

How has the reaction of the public generally been to your work?
It has been overwhelmingly positive. The general concensus is that most would love to display one of my paintings right in the middle of their living room. However, they are afraid of offending friends, family, or children. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. Just the really awesome ones!

What do you find to be the most effective ways to promote what you do?
So far, social networking has yielded some success. My girlfriend, Jenn, handles most of the promoting, using Etsy, Twitter, Facebook and whatever other sites she feels appropriate. But I never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

How has it been trying to make a living of it?
Difficult, to say the least. But I must say, every time a painting sells, it revives me and it assures me that there's still someone out there that understands, and that we still have people that love this stuff as much as I do.

What's the secret to success in that department?
I assume it will be hard work and persistence. You have to show your clients that you are 100% passionate about every aspect of what you do and let it show in every brush stroke.

Tell me about the Captain Cruella portrait you recently did.
One hell of a fun project! Unbelievable support was given to me from everyone. I cant begin to express how much it means to me. You couldn’t ask for better subject matter.

Why did you choose her, and why that photo?
I have always been very attracted to the "day of the dead" imagery. I came across the image on Facebook, and was immediately blown away by the brilliant use of color, the "out of focus" nature of the flowers and most of all, Cruella is simply stunning in the makeup. It was a nice change of pace from the gore and zombies to do something beautiful.

What does the future hold for you?
Time will tell. I hope to hone my craft as much as humanly possible. My ultimate goal is to continue to do what I love, do awesome work and make people happy through the joy of gore!

Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/ReverendMacabre
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Akrylic-Macabre/204613729551052
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AkrylicMacabre

Sunday, March 27, 2011

VAULT VLOG: Zombelina & Skeleton Jack at the Monster Truck Rally of DOOM

Never let it be said that my progeny are not exposed to the finest in culture--popular culture, that is. And this time, they were treated to an epic monster truck battle which left them flabbergasted, awestruck, and most importantly, ready to vlog. Why vlog, you ask? Well, because these were monster trucks of course, and that certainly makes the whole experience most relevant to The Vault of Horror, wouldn't you say? (Just go with it, trust me.)

And so, without further ado, I give you the return of Zombelina and Skeleton Jack, recounting their experience earlier this month at the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam in Bridgeport, CT...

BEHOLD THE GRAVEDIGGER! (the miniature foam version, anyway...)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Announcing the 3rd Annual Cyber Horror Awards!

Finally! Yes, good ol' B-Sol has been dragging his feet just a bit on this, but at long last, the votes are all in and tallied, the winners have been identified, and the awards are officially posted. Head over to the official Cyber Horror Awards website to check it all out.

A plethora of powerhouse participants from across the horror blogosphere--including the likes of former TV Guide columnist Maitland McDonagh, Cinematical's Scott Weinberg, Rondo-winner Max Cheney, and Horror-Movie-a-Day's Brian Collins--sent in their two cents on the best that horror cinema had to offer in 2010. Its the only horror film awards voted on exclusively by the online horror journalism community, and I'm proud to present it for the third year running!

The big story this year was, of course, Black Swan, which landed a total of eight of the 13 CHAs. Not too hard to predict, especially in the case of Natalie Portman--who can now add the coveted CHA right next to that Oscar on her mantle. The Wolfman and Shutter Island also walked away with a couple each, and even the sci-fi horror flick Splice snagged one for the fascinating performance of Delphine Chaneac. For the complete list of winners, head over to the official Cyber Horror Awards website now!

And thanks to all the esteemed writers who voted this year:

Matt-Suzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby
Scoob of The Horror Blog of a Dead Dreamer
Ms. Harker of Musings Across a Continuum
Nia Edwards-Behi of Cannibal Hollywood and the Abertoir Horror Festival
Dod March of The WGON Helicopter
Brandon Sites of Big Daddy Horror Reviews
Unkle Lancifer of the Rondo-nominated Kindertrauma
Joe O'Connor of Oductionproductions' Midnight Time Warp
Maitland McDonagh of TVGuide.com, AMCtv.com and FlickChick
Bryan White of the Rondo-nominated Cinema-Suicide
John W. Morehead of Theofantastique
Stu Conover of BuyZombie
BJ-C of Day of the Woman, The Blood Sprayer & FanGirlTastic
Bobby Blessed of Movie Cynics
Kreepylady Kristin of FanGirlTastic
BC of Horror-Movie-a-Day
Corey Lafferty of Evil on Two Legs
Jeff Atencio of The Jaded Viewer
Max Cheney of the Rondo-winning Drunken Severed Head
Keri O'Shea of Brutal as Hell
Alison Nastasi of Cinematical & Horror Squad
Scott Weinberg of Cinematical, Horror Squad & FEARNet
John Cozzoli of the Rondo-nominated Zombos' Closet of Horror
FromHell13 of Son of Celluloid

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Many Faces of Jeffrey Combs

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And The Vault of Horror's Rondo Endorsement Goes To...

It's that time of year again, when the horror community and its fans get together to vote for the best of the best, in a wide variety of categories covering virtually every form of media there is. It's the 9th Annual Rondo Hatton Awards, presented by the venerable Classic Horror Film Board--an accolade that has grown, since 2003, to be one of the most respected and coveted of all horror-related achievements.

And this year, for the third year running, there is a "Best Horror Blog" category. Now, I've been proud to have taken home an Honorable Mention nod both in 2009 and 2010, and yes, dear Vault dwellers, I can hear your groans of disappointment over the fact that the VoH was not nominated this year. That said, the disappointment should dissipate utterly at the sight of the more-than-worthy collection of blogs that have been nominated. And although it is a mighty impressive list, many have called upon me to go public with an official endorsement, and I've decided to do just that.

So, as you head to your online polls sometime between now and Saturday night, I encourage you to do what I'll be doing--and that is, cast a vote for Pierre Fournier's Frankensteinia. I mean this as no slight to the other fine blogs, but this blogger is of the opinion that the standard set by Frankensteinia is something to which we should all be aspiring. In fact, when I first was getting this whole operation off the ground a few years ago, Pierre's amazing site was one of those I looked to for inspiration, and marveled at in awe, hoping I could one day do anywhere near as good a job.

Pierre decided to focus on one specific area, and a very rich one at that--Mary Shelley's unique creation and the myriad of spin-offs and creative endeavors it has spawned in the past two centuries. It's definitely fertile ground, and he mines it with deft skill, providing nearly daily posts that always offer something fascinating and unique. It's well-written, well-researched, and put together with great care. In short, Frankensteinia is a scholarly endeavor that crosses the boundaries between film criticism, cultural commentary, academic pursuit and plain old fun entertainment. It's the horror blogger's horror blog.

So, by all means, check out the many impressive sites nominated this year--such as Final Girl, Cinema Suicide, Zombos' Closet of Terror and The Horrors of It All. They're all amazing--but given the difficult choice, I'm going with Pierre's passionate pursuit of all thinks Frankie. And I have a feeling even some of the other nominees would agree!

Monday, March 21, 2011

TRAILER TRASH! American International Pictures Edition!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kevin Geeks Out Returns (Kind of) with a Dreamy Night of Dream Sequences!

For some time now, I've supported the work of a man truly doing great things in the realm of geek culture. That man is Kevin Maher, and his long-running series was known as Kevin Geeks Out, chronicled at length here in the Vault. Now, KGO may be history (for now), but I'm excited by the fact that the brilliant mind of Maher is still thriving, and the spirit of KGO lives on. Captain Cruella and I plan to be a part of it next Friday night, and we hope you will, too.

In the past, the KGO installments each took a specific aspect of geekery (robots, aliens, sharks, etc.) and built an entire show around it. This concept lives on in Tom Blunt's video variety show, Meet the Lady. Specifically, Blunt's next show is all about that tried-and-true tope of genre cinema, the dream sequence. And lucky for us, Tom will be partnering with Kevin to put together this sure-to-be-mesmerizing show. It all goes down Friday night at 92Y Tribeca in New York City, 8pm starting time (tickets only $12, so please go right here and snatch some up before they're all gone!)

Joining Tom and Kevin in this most worthwhile endeavor will be none other than my blogging comrade-in-arms, Ms. Tenebrous Kate of the Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire, who will be talking all about dream sequences in Italian gialli (worth the price of admission, in my opinion.) I'm also proud of the fact that the influence of the Captain and I has caused the creators of the event to include my personal favorite movie dream sequence of all time, the Labyrinth ballroom scene. Now, if David Bowie in a codpiece isn't enough to get you down there, I don't know what is.

In addition to presentations by Tom, Kevin and Kate, the two-hour show will also include a burlesque performance, a classical harpist, free snacks and more. I ask you, where else can you get entertainment like this, for just a smidge more than the price of a movie ticket? It's pop culture at it's finest, and I assure you, I will be there with bells on. Kevin Geeks Out has long been one of the highlights of my life as a professional nerd, and I'm thrilled to see that the tradition continues to live on. In fact, I can almost feel my own dream sequence coming on right about now....

[cue squiggly lines and harp crescendos....]

Monday, March 14, 2011

Random Ramblings from the Vault...

  • I'm intrigued by this Little Red Riding Hood movie that's opening this weekend. Hoping to get an opportunity to see it, but I'd love to hear from you if you already have. I'm always game for a dark, grown-up treatment of a classic fairy tale.
  • In the "you can't make this stuff up" department, it turns out that the company I'm currently working for was founded by the brother of Nathan Juran--director of The Deadly Mantis, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Unfortunately, Mr. Juran is no longer with us--but don't be surprised to see a retrospective of his work right here in the Vault very soon...
  • The fourth season of True Blood looms as the summer approaches, and once again, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've vacillated on this show more times than I can possibly count, and right now I'm in one of my "blah" phases. Maybe it has something to do with it being eclipsed in my mind by The Walking Dead--which also is starting up again around the same time?
  • Speaking of The Walking Dead, I'm intrigued by the news that Edgar Wright was offered a spot directing some Season 2 episodes. We've seen what the guy can do with a zombie comedy--namely, give us the absolute best zombie film of the past decade--and I'd love to see what he was capable of when taking the sub-genre completely seriously.
  • I still miss MonstersHD. Intensely. That just needed to be said.
  • Am I the only one hoping that the newly re-formed Hammer Films will renounce its seemingly purposeful avoidance of period flicks, and go back to the grand Hammer tradition of glorious Victorian-era blood- and boobfests? Don't get me wrong, it certainly was no mistake to back the English-language remake of Let the Right One In, but come on--it's time for Hammer to be Hammer. Get to it, lads.
  • My recent piece on the General Mills monster cereals, part of a recent League of Tana Tea Drinkers roundtable, has been met with a lot of positive interest, which I find very gratifying. In fact, it's very possible (thanks to the connections of one Captain of the Carnivorous Cadavers) that I may be scoring an interview with one of the General Mills big shots, in which I can pick their brains on the genesis of Frankenberry, Count Chocula and the gang. Stay tuned...
  • It's not quite horror, but bear with me. I recently had the distinct pleasure of finally catching Robert Rodriguez' Machete, and I must say, I got a huge popcorn-flick kick out of it. So much fun, and although I understand the complaints some had with it, I really didn't go in expecting much more than a lowbrow thrill--and that's exactly what I got. For my money, this was more successfully "grindhouse" than even Grindhouse. My only beef? CGI squibs. Really? In a supposed '70s exploitation cinema tribute? Bad show, people. And the irony of Tom Savini's guest cameo was particularly bittersweet.
  • In Vault-related activities, I'm pleased to announce that the next in the Avon Theatre's excellent Cult Classics series will be the abysmally delicious Night Train to Terror. Captain Cruella and I will be introducing the film, plus giving away some pre-show goodies, so do your best to get down to Stamford, Connecticut this Thursday night at 9pm, won't you?
  • And finally, my upcoming Lovecraft poetry reading, Visions from the Vault, will be coming to the Sugartown Vintage Boutique in Saugerties, New York on Saturday, April 9 at 2pm. I'm excited to be sharing some the master's rarely heard verses, so once again I invite you to join me--this time in one of the coolest towns on the planet.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Special Teaser for Visions from the Vault: The Dark Poetry of H.P. Lovecraft!

I'm quite passionate about H.P. Lovecraft, and have recently also become quite passionate about public reading. So when Ashley Drewes of the amazing Sugartown Vintage Boutique in Saugerties, New York offered me the opportunity to combine the two, it was kind of a no-brainer. And so was born, Visions from the Vault: The Dark Poetry of H.P. Lovecraft!

Lovecraft is known first and foremost as a prose writer, so I figured it might be interesting to spotlight some of his verse--not to mention more digestible for the attention-span challenged and HPL newbies. I've got an eclectic lineup of Lovecraft poems I'm looking to read come Saturday, April 9 at Sugartown, and the Captain and I are anxious for any opportunity to return to the lovely land of Saugerties, anyway.

In the meantime, as you await the event with bated breath, take a listen to this little promo Ashley and I put together. You might say I was channeling my inner Vincent Price just a bit...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Hitchcockian Symphony of Death...

Something really unique and tre cool to share with all of you this fine morning, courtesy of my equally pop-culture obsessed colleague Kevin Maher of Kevin Geeks Out fame. So sit back and marvel at this video concoction, combining death scenes from 36 different Alfred Hitchcock films--all synchronized to climax at the same moment. Beautiful, chilling and utterly jaw-dropping...

Friday, March 4, 2011

How I Ate My Heart Out for Valentine's Day.

Horror fans have a unique way of celebrating Valentine's Day. For a classic example, look no further than the series of Zombie Love Songs that recently were shared here in the Vault. We just have to inject a bit of gallow's humor to make it palatable, and that's more than okay with me.

Another case in point would be the recent event held at the Sugartown Vintage Boutique in idyllic Saugerties, New York, which I was honored to be a part of a couple weeks ago. I got to parade around in some outlandish Mr. Ferley-esque and Henry Hill-ish duds, which was certainly a blast. But at the center of the festivities was the ghastly and gorgeous Captain Cruella, who graced the store with her presence for the purpose of a zombified makeup demonstration. The event was called, appropriately enough, "Eat Your Heart Out".

"I was looking for away I could pool my talents and the talents of Captain Cruella to bring attention to the store, to bring people into the store," said Ashley Drewes, owner and proprietor of Sugartown. "She's a fantastic makeup artist, so I thought it would be really great to have a glamorous event where she demonstrated her makeup, and also an opportunity for people to try on vintage clothing, and have a professional photographer come in and take photos. I thought that was a perfect way to introduce people to the store."

The photographer of whom Ashley speaks is none other than the enormously talented J.D. Fielding, who was on hand to chronicle the festivities for posterity, and of course capture me looking like a 1970s street-level gangster. J.D.'s keen eye certainly brought out the life in what was going on, which might be ironic considering it was a member of the undead who was the center of attention.

Using makeup samples kindly donated by the edgy cosmetics company RockABetty Beauty, Cruella got her claws on an assortment of mortals, treating each to her own unique sense of style in the form of a makeup makeover. In honor of the event, the Captain was less... zombie-like...choosing instead to appear more human than most have ever seen her. It's enough to make some speculate that the good Captain might be toning down her ghoulish ways in favor of a more glam look. But Ashley assures us this is not the case.

"I think she's always had a little bit of pin-up in her, or busting out of her," she says. "So I don't necessarily think that I'm moving her away from that. She did come out today wearing one of her zombie contact lenses [Ed. note: It's a contact lens??], so she's still a little creepy. She's still dressed in black, and she still brings the dark and gothic, but she's also sexy and beautiful, which is part of her persona. And I don't think that's going to change."

As all this went on, patrons of the store got to sample some the amazing vintage items on hand. I will say I certainly got carried away in the proceedings, busting out some seriously groovy threads. It was a lot of fun, and a testament both to what a cool establishment Sugartown is, and also what a fascinating town Saugerties is.

"I want people to know that this is a really fun place, where no matter who you are, you can find something really unique and gorgeous to wear any day of the week, or at special occasions," said Ashley. "It can also be a really thoughtful gift for someone else."

"Eat Your Heart Out" was a smashing success thanks to the efforts of Ashley and Cruella, and Sugartown is fast becoming one of the highlights of downtown Saugerties. In fact, I'm proud to announce that I will actually be returning there in just a few weeks to do a public reading. It's called Visions from the Vault: The Dark Poetry of H.P. Lovecraft, and it all happens on Saturday, April 9. Check back right here in the Vault for more information as the date approaches...

* All photos courtesy of J.D. Fielding Photography
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