As we all know, the holidays are right around the corner, breathing down our collective neck much like Leatherface after he chased sweet little Sally through that field with his chainsaw. (Wait, does that even work? Oooh,score! If it does work, then I think it works as both a simile and a metaphor. Let’s see—hmmm, yes, Leatherface would be breathing heavily after chasing Sally while swinging that chainsaw around, and yes, the pressure of the holidays does feel a bit like being threatened by a chainsaw-wielding maniac wearing a mask of human skin. So I think we’re good. Welcome to my head.)
I know we don’t know each other all that well (although after the parenthetical digression in the previous paragraph, I fear you know me too well), but if I may be so bold, I have a few holiday gift ideas for the horror lover in your life. Normally, I would suggest DVDs of several great new horror releases but, truthfully, I can’t think of any great new horror releases. Oh wait, here are a couple of things that might fit the bill.
In Thirst, Korean director Park Chan-wook presents a vampire story with a few new twists: science gone awry, philosophical leanings, blood-sucking priests with questionable morals—well, that last one is nothing new I suppose. I haven’t seen this, but it won the 2009 Jury Prize at Cannes and Park’s Old Boy kicked enough ass that I feel comfortable recommending Thirst. I mean, at the very worst, even if the giftee doesn’t like the film, I promise he or she will be impressed that you picked up a rad Korean vampire flick instead of Twilight—you come out looking good no matter what. And isn’t that what gift giving is all about?
I can promise that your horror fan will get some entertainment from The William Castle Film Collection. Included are eight of Castle’s flicks (13 Frightened Girls / 13 Ghosts / Homicidal / Strait-Jacket / The Old Dark House / Mr. Sardonicus / The Tingler / Zotz!), as well as a huge amount of cool extras, of which the best is Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, the wonderful 2007 documentary covering Castle’s life and career. Granted, not all these movies are gems but, if nothing else, the giftee will love having new copies of The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, Mr. Sardonicus and Strait-Jacket. I’ll make you a deal: If the person you give this to doesn’t like it, you can send it to me—no questions asked.
All right, that’s all the DVDs I can think of, but let’s move on to the medium of print. I have a couple of goodies here that I absolutely feel good about recommending because I own them myself. Although I shelled out my hard-earned cash for these tomes, I would’ve loved to have received them as gifts. And if I had, I would’ve thought the gifter was an extraordinarily hip person ‘cuz these are very cool books.
One of the best things I’ve bought recently is Scott Stine’s Trashfiend: Disposable Horror Culture of the 1960s & 1970s. This book is a detailed, scholarly look at the things I loved most as a child: low-budget horror flicks, TV horror hosts, monster mags and model kits, trading cards, 8mm films and oh so much more. When I ordered it, I didn’t expect it to be as smart and exhaustive as it is. Color me pleasantly surprised.
If you know anyone that loves horror but doesn’t love Creepy—that wonderfully subversive horror comics mag from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, hosted by the pun-loving Uncle Creepy—I would love to meet them. Scratch that. I do not want to meet them. No, hold on. Actually, I do want to meet them so that I can introduce them to it, because if they don’t love Creepy, it’s only because they’ve never heard of it. Luckily, Dark Horse has started reprinting the magazine, as the Creepy Archives, in a deluxe hardcover format, making it easily available for the first time in years. Four volumes have been released so far, each containing five issues of the best illustrated horror anthology to ever see print, with artwork from masters such as Frank Frazetta, Alex Toth, Angelo Torres, Neal Adams and Steve Ditko. Volume one features the first five issues of the mag and, in my humble opinion, it’s a must-have for any self-respecting fan of horror, comics, art or pop culture in general.
Okay, that’s all I have to recommend at the moment. I hope you find something here for the horror lover in your life. As Uncle Creepy might say, any one of these gifts should guarantee a very scary Christmas and a terror-iffic new year. Ghoul tidings to you…