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

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Zombies Strike in Bridgeport! Next Up? Vampires...

It has been my pleasure to welcome Bridgeport to the Vault of Horror, and I hope to be able to do so for some time to come. Coming fresh off my second monthly installment of BEDLAM AT THE BIJOU in the city's historic downtown district, I have to say it is just about the most fun I've ever had. Sharing my passion for horror with like-minded individuals, and opening the minds of intelligent folks giving it a chance for the first time? Count me in!

And speaking of "Count", that brings to mind my *next* BATB presentation, happening next month on Thursday, November 15. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Bedlam faithful take in the undead goodness.

The Captain in human guise prepares to bloody up some moviegoers.

Last Thursday night, I had the privilege of screening a zombie double feature made up of White Zombie and The Last Man on Earth (yes, I know it's technically not a zombie film, but anyone who's seen it knows why I included it.) Just like my first Godzilla/Them double feature last month, it was truly a blast bringing these flicks back to the big screen with fans old and new on hand. I cannot thank those who came out to support the event enough.

I am especially grateful to the Bijou's tireless Molly Ann Sabas, who put up with all my anal retentive crap and made sure everything ran smoothly from a technical standpoint. I was very excited to see my zombie-themed photo montage pre-show flash on the big screen prior to the movies. I must also thank the amazing Chad Anderson, who took more great pictures of the event, and Michael Barnes, who designed another fantastic poster for the event (I'm officially stealing a copy of every poster he creates for BATB!).

One of our adventurous patrons gets zombified by Cruella!

Dr. Paffenroth drops some zombie knowledge.

The lovely Captain Cruella was on-hand to zombify a few of our patrons right there in the Bijou's sumptuous lobby, and the Bram Stoker Award-winning author and good friend Dr. Kim Paffenroth made the trek all the way from Westchester to be my special Q&A guest. Just as it was last month, the Q&A was my favorite part of the evening, and I got a huge kick out of some of the very thought-provoking questions that were asked and answered.

And what can I say about seeing Bela and Lugosi and Vincent Price up on the big screen? These movies will never be as enjoyable as they are in an environment like this, and the Bijou is such a beautiful venue for it. I'm not sure what was more enjoyable--feeling the excitement of long-time fans as they witnessed these movies 20 feet high, or watching the rapt discovery of those who had never seen, or maybe even heard of them, before.

I was proud to discuss the unique cultural zombie phenomenon at length, and will be equally proud next month when BEDLAM AT THE BIJOU returns with my next double feature: "The Count Begins". I cleverly called it that because I'll be screening a double feature of the first two screen adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula: the original 1922 Nosferatu, and the classic 1931 Universal film Dracula. I'll be joined by another great horror non-fiction author, Paul Bibeau--whose book Sundays with Vlad proves what a Dracula aficionado he is. I'm also working on scoring some live musical accompaniment for Nosferatu, which should be enthralling. And of course, what would a Dracula double feature be without some wine specials? After all, he may never drink it, but that doesn't mean we can't.

The good Doctor and myself.

Sharing the stage with our newly minted zombies.

So I hope you'll join me for the next BEDLAM AT THE BIJOU, coming up Thursday, November 15 at 7pm. If you love these movies, or want to discover them for the first time, I encourage you to come down to the Bijou Theatre. For more info, check out the Bijou website!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nosferatu at 90: The Many Faces of Count Orlock!

Remember, kids! For more Nosferatu action, come to Bridgeport's Bijou Theatre on Thursday, November 15 and catch the original film as part of "The Count Begins", a BEDLAM AT THE BIJOU double feature also featuring the 1931 Universal Dracula...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bringing Bedlam to the Bijou!

It's no secret that I love movies. Especially horror movies. And like anyone who loves something, my greatest joy comes from sharing that love with others. As a horror movie buff, I've always wanted to host public screenings of classic fright flicks, and thanks to The Vault of Horror, that dream has been able to be realized.

Last month, I had the pleasure of taking to the stage for the very first time for special double feature at Bridgeport's historic Bijou Theatre. It was the kickoff for a little series I've entitled... Bedlam at the Bijou. If you've been following the Vault, you probably know a little bit about it. Maybe you were there. In any event, it's been serving for me as a sort of fifth anniversary celebration for the VoH (which officially blew out the candles last Sunday, by the way). And I can't think of a better way to celebrate such a milestone.

"Welcome to Bedlam at the Bijou!"
I had the pleasure, a few years ago, of hosting screenings at Stamford's Avon Theatre along with Captain Cruella--as part of the Avon's very cool Cult Classics series. However, that never afforded me the opportunity to do any kind of programming. This time, I'm running the show--picking the films, inviting guests, thinking up fun promotions. I'm grateful to all the fine folks at the Bijou for giving me carte blanche like this--and to the good Captain for brokering the deal with her wicked zombie influences!

Anyway, September 27 marked the start of Bedlam at the Bijou with "Nuclear Nightmares", a double feature of the original Gojira and the giant ant epic Them! It was a joy seeing both these gems on the big screen, and back-to-back, no less! I never realized how much they had in common until I picked them for this screening, and it was fun exploring those connections with a very eager audience. I was also blessed to be joined by none other than Hearst media film critic--and fellow uber movie geek--Joe Meyers, who was more than happy to expound on both films during a most engaging post-screening Q&A.

The Avon crew represents.
Big G does what he does best.
It made me proud to be able to stand there, before my friends, my parents, and my love, and blabber about classic horror. I consider myself privileged to have such an outlet, and I don't take it for granted! I sincerely hope that everyone who attended had a magnificent time being immersed in all the radioactive monster mayhem.

But it hardly ends there... Because next Thursday, October 25, the second installment of Bedlam at the Bijou will grip Bridgeport in its icy clutches. This time out, I'm hosting "The Undead Among Us", a double feature of White Zombie (the original zombie film) and The Last Man on Earth (the movie that inspired Night of the Living Dead). What better month than October to explore the origins of zombie cinema? Captain Cruella will be on hand to zombify our moviegoing guests, and there will even be a zombie costume contest. Plus, I'm joined by Stoker-award winning author Dr. Kim Paffenroth, who may be the world's only theologian/zombie expert.

Sharing the stage with the amazing Joe Meyer.
Once again, it will be a pleasure to celebrate the fifth anniversary of The Vault of Horror in such fashion, and share my love of the nightmares of the silver screen with a gaggle of like-minded enthusiasts. I hope you'll be among them. 

Whether you caught the first Bedlam at the Bijou or not, I encourage you to join me next Thursday night, October 25 at 7pm sharp! Check out the official website for more info, and read all about it at the Bijou blog!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


As promised some weeks ago, at long last I bring to you my ultimate endeavor to determine the greatest horror-themed television shows of all time. Long-time readers will remember that years back, The Vault presented a series of "Best Of" lists covering topics like "The Greatest Horror Films of All Time", "The Greatest Horror Literature of All Time", "The Greatest Foreign Horror of All Time", "The Horror Canon", and "The Greatest Contemporary Horror Films".

Yet, I specifically avoided covering horror television series. The reason for this was that I (naively) didn't really think there were enough truly high-quality shows to warrant an extensive list. However, in the past four years certain things have changed: For one thing, horror on television within the past few years has improved noticeably. Also, I admit that my awareness of great horror television has broadened thanks in large part to working on The Vault all these years. And so the time came to revisit the concept.

As before, I enlisted the help of some of the best and brightest online horror writers/bloggers out there, the group once (inflammatorially) referred to as "The Cyber Horror Elite". Elite or not, these excellent thinkers and superfans were asked to send me their personal top 10 horror TV shows of all time. Only ongoing, regular series were eligible, meaning made-for-TV movies and miniseries were excluded (For the record, they were actually eligible for inclusion in the Greatest Horror Films of All Time list--only Salem's Lot made the cut.)

Once I received everybody's lists, I ranked them on a points system--ten points for a number-one choice, nine points for a number-two choice, etc. Then I compiled a master list of the top 25 scoring shows, which I now present to you.

So here it is--the Top 25 Horror TV Series of All Time, as voted on by the horror blogosphere:

1.       The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) CBS
2.       The X-Files (1993-2002) FOX
3.       Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996) HBO
4.       Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975) ABC
5.       Twin Peaks (1990-1991) ABC
6.       Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) WB
7.       Dark Shadows (1966-1971) ABC
8.       The Walking Dead (2010-present) AMC
9.       The Outer Limits (1963-1965) ABC
10.   American Horror Story (2011-present) FX
11.   Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1970-1973) NBC
12.   Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1991-2000) YTV/Nickelodeon
13.   Tales from the Darkside (1983-1988) Syndicated
14.   Dexter (2006-present) Showtime
15.   Supernatural (2005-present) WB/CW
16.   Boris Karloff's Thriller (1960-1962) NBC
17.   Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990) Syndicated
18.   Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965) CBS/NBC
19.   Millennium (1996-1999) FOX
20.   Masters of Horror (2005-2007) Showtime
21.   True Blood (2008-present) HBO
22.   American Gothic (1995-1996) CBS
23.   Goosebumps (1995-1998) YTV/Fox Kids
24.   Monsters (1988-1991) Syndicated
25.   The Hitchhiker (1983-1991) HBO/First Choice/USA

Other vote-getters worth mentioning included: Being Human (UK), Angel, The Kingdom, Brimstone, The Addams Family, Werewolf, Fringe, Riget, The Munsters and Gareth Marenghi's Darkplace.

More than with any other list, this time out, the number one choice was quite literally a mandate. Not only was The Twilight Zone included on nearly every single list submitted to me, it was at or near the very top, every time. As a result, it scored a full 50% higher than the second-place show, The X-Files, and was head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. 

Speaking of X-Files, that show, along with the #3, Tales from the Crypt, and #4, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, received a general consensus as well, appearing on most of the lists submitted. After the top four, there was a noticeable drop-off as individuals' personal tastes came into play and a multitude of different series were selected. But it's worth noting that the group in general gave a very solid stamp of approval to those top four shows, which is not really all that surprising.

Decades Breakdown:

1990s: 9
1960s: 5
2000s: 5
1980s: 4
2010s: 4
1970s: 2
1950s: 1

In the event of shows airing in two different decades, I went with the one that contained the vast majority of the seasons (1990s for The X-Files, 1960s for Twilight Zone, etc.). Shows that were fairly evenly aired in two different decades were counted for both (Alfred Hitchcock Presents for both the 1950s and 1960s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for both the 1990s and 2000s, etc.) It's very interesting to note that the most heavily represented decade is the 1990s, which was by far the least represented decade for horror films. I guess most of the best horror that decade was confined to the small screen!

By Network:

ABC: 4
CBS: 3
HBO: 3
Syndication: 3
NBC: 3
FOX: 2
WB/CW: 2
YTV: 2
Showtime: 2
And one each for AMC, FX, Nickelodeon, Fox Kids, First Choice and USA

In addition to the three syndicated shows, 13 of the shows were aired on broadcast TV, and 9 were cable programs. Certain programs were run on more than one network during their run, and so were counted for both.

Other Interesting Facts:
  • All shows were American productions, with the exception of Goosebumps (Canadian), as well as Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Friday the 13th: The Series, which were American/Canadian co-productions.
  • Five of the 25 shows on the list, or a full 20%, are currently still running on television (Dexter, True Blood, Walking Dead, Supernatural and American Horror Story). I'd say that says a lot about the current state of horror on TV. Either that or the importance of short-term memory.
  • Despite that last stat, only one of the top seven shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was in production during the past decade. And five of the top ten shows aired more than 20 years ago, with the top five all airing at least a decade ago or more.
  • Six shows on the list ran for only two seasons or less. Some shows only get their due later...
  • Four of the top ten shows were aired on ABC.
  • The longest-running show on the list is the original Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which ran for 11 seasons.
As always, I'd be remiss if I didn't give credit to the many knowledgeable individuals who contributed their personal picks for this list. Thanks to you all!

BJ-C of Day of the Woman
Heidi Honeycutt of Planet Etheria and Planet Fury
John Morehead of Theofantastique
Unkle Lancifer of Kindertrauma
Dr. Gangrene, horror host and writer of Tales from the Lab
Dod March of The WGON Helicopter
John Kenneth Muir, literary/film critic and writer of Reflections on Cult Movies & Classic Television
Rondal Scott of Strange Kids Club
James Gracey of Behind the Couch, Fangoria contibutor, author of Dario Argento
Chris Hallock of All Things Horror
John Cozzoli of Zombos Closet of Terror, majordomo of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers
Christine Hadden of Fascination with Fear, Fangoria contributor
The Lightning Bug of The Lightning Bug's Lair
Bryan White of Cinema Suicide
Stu Conover of Buy Zombie
Nate Yapp, formerly of Classic-Horror.com
Nia Edwards-Behi of the Abertoir Horror Festival and Brutal as Hell
Jeff Allard of Dinner with Max Jenke
The Mike of From Midnight, With Love
Melissa Yearian, formerly of Chickapin Parish
Michelle Moricola of Fright Skool
Ryne Barber of The Moon Is a Dead World
Pax Romano, formerly of Billy Loves Stu
Jose Cruz of Grim Reader
The Divemistress of The Avod podcast
The Monster Scholar of Monster Land
Emily Intravia of The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Matt Suzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby
And yours truly, of course.

There you have it. Digest. Discuss. Debate. Distribute.

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