Category Archives: Horrific Hobbies

UPDATED: Andrew Divoff debuts new beer, raises funds for MFTAC

Andrew shows off his certificate of appreciation at the 8th Annual Lake Arrowhead Brewfest.

Once again, Wishmaster star Andrew Divoff poured his Djinn’s Hellabrew (read about last year’s pour here), and debuted a new beer, MYSTIC, which is a stout subtly flavored with Caribbean spices.

In the video below, Andrew and other brewers receive awards and special recognition for their participation in the Brewfest. Andrew also talks about his charity fundraiser, the Mountain Film and Theater Arts Committee, which provides scholarships to individuals who wish to pursue a career in the performing arts. Andrew’s work for charity over the years has been inspiring, with 100% of the proceeds from his beer and event merchandise supporting non-profits such as Smile Train and Operation Provider. We are happy to announce that Andrew met his fundraising goal for MFTAC this year!

Join the Horror Amino community!

I have a quick announcement and endorsement! For the past several months, I have been a member of Horror Amino. And I’m proud to announce that I have recently been added as a verified member representing My Horrific Life.

What is Horror Amino, you ask?

Horror Amino is a social media platform connecting over 100,000 horror fans from across the globe. If you want to connect with people who love horror, or read posts about horror without having to sift through a ton of unrelated material (as you would on Facebook, for instance), this is the place for you. Best yet, the admins do a great job at keeping the community troll free and DRAMA FREE.

What Horror Amino is not: It is no longer a place for roleplay and posts about Creepypasta. If you dig Creepypasta, there are other Amino communities for that. In fact, there seem to be Amino communities for everything under the sun.

It is not a dating app. It is definitely not a sexting app. I am beyond happy to say that there is a strict “no creep” policy in which people who send or request nude selfies , dick pics, etc. will have screenshots of their creepy messages posted for the whole community to see. After 24 hours of public shaming, they will be banned entirely from the community. Even though some idiot tried to argue with me about this policy (which I did not create), saying that it was a conspiracy on the part of the MAN HATERS and THE GAYS to keep straight people from finding “love,” Horror Amino members who want to engage in sexting can move that action to Snapchat. 

In short, the community is set up to limit discussions ONLY to horror. No B.S. attention-seeking. No selfie’s (except for FX work). No weed memes. No posts about depression or suicide. No illegal or just gross “dark web” images. And best yet, no political arguments. It’s like an oasis for horror lovers.

You can download the Horror Amino app on iTunes or Google Play.

Crypticon Kansas City 2017: Now in St. Joe, Missouri

Todd, Colleen, and I at Crypticon’s new venue.

Crypticon KC 2014 was the first convention I ever attended. This year, I  went on a road trip with my podcast cohost Todd and his wife Colleen. Oddly, Crypticon Kansas City was actually held in St. Joe, which is roughly an hour away from Kansas City itself. I assumed that the move from the Howard Johnson Plaza in KC to the St. Joe Civic Center was merely for economic reasons. I found out later that it was because of a very real-life horror story.

More on this later.

Andrew Divoff sweetly agreeing to have a phone chat with my mom.

For those of you who prefer your horror in film and culture, Crypticon did not disappoint. It was great seeing my friend Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster, Lost, Toy Soldiers), who sweetly agreed to chat with my mom on the phone before things got too busy. 

With Jeffrey Combs, who should be in every movie.

 

I also enjoyed seeing Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, Star Trek) again. He kicked off the convention Q&A session with several fascinating stories and a great sense of humor.

William B. David and Mitch Pileggi talk UFO’s

Another fun session was the panel with X-Files stars Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis. The most interesting aspect of this panel was their discussion about paranormal activity and the existence of extraterrestrial life. Pileggi is a believer and Davis is not.

Dirk Benedict trumped us during a political discussion at his table!

Battlestar Galactica and A-Team star Dirk Benedict gave a lively talk about his personal life, past romantic relationships, political views, and love for his children. I didn’t always agree with his opinions (for example, he had many positive things to say about Donald Trump), but it was refreshing to listen to someone who was unafraid to share his unfiltered views.

We met a lot of new people too, a few of whom will be future podcast guests. African-American horror-fantasy author Crystal Connor shared a bracing story about a collision with a swastica-tattooed skinhead, only to be surprised that he was more concerned for her well-being. Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) and Mark Patton (A Nightmare on Elm St. 2) have passionate opinions on depictions of gender and sexual orientation in horror films, and I can’t wait to talk to them further. Later, über-sweetheart David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London) chatted with us about his upcoming projects, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming and The Hatred.

Chatting with Andrew Divoff at the hotel.

On the final day, Andrew Divoff shared information about his upcoming charity pour and new hand-sculpted Djinn rings. We talked about the new convention venue, and he asked how it compared to the old one. I explained that I stayed in the Howard Johnson Plaza in Kansas City during Crypticon 2014, and while my room was clean, there were definite problems with the facility. One elevator bounced sickeningly before stopping at the correct floor, and another was broken entirely. I opted to take the stairs instead, and found the dismal concrete stairwell to be littered with broken glass and used needles. The convention hall itself looked decent, but occasionally I would notice a foul stench waft through, as though a particularly flatulent convention-goer had walked by and cropdusted the aisle. It turns out that the old plumbing system perpetually leaked sewer gas during the summer months. As unsavory as that was, I speculated that Crypticon simply moved because they found a cleaner, bigger, or cheaper venue.

But then, Andrew said, “No, it was closed down because of the bodies in the elevator shaft.”

The now defunct Howard Johnson Plaza/former Ramada Inn

Note the overgrown weed problem.

It was like American Horror Story: Hotel, minus the glamor. Maybe more like Bentley Little’s novel The Resort. This took me down a rabbit hole of research of the Howard Johnson Plaza/Ramada Inn, beginning with reviews from hotel guests who had far worse experiences than I did. (See select photos above from TripAdvisor.) There were tales of  mildewed coffee pots, filthy bedding, broken windows, televisions “ghetto-wired” directly into the electrical outlet, cockroach and rat infestations, bedbugs, and entire sections left abandoned, with unmade rooms potentially occupied by homeless people. It seems that the Howard Johnson Plaza was like a ghost town by September 2016 and abandoned entirely by December.

As for dead bodies, I found evidence of only one in the elevator shaft.  According to Fox 4 News and the Kansas City Star, a homeless man who frequently sheltered in the hotel reported to police that he had found  a body in one of the elevator shafts, and that it had been there for quite awhile. So long that it was not immediately obvious whether the body was male or female. While I have not found much follow-up information about this, it seems that the death was accidental. The victim was apparently stealing copper pipes and fell to his death.

Stay classy, KC.

 

Hanging out with suspension artists at the KC Villain Arts Tattoo Convention

The Enigma pulls off a blindfolded stunt with a live chainsaw. (Photo from www.theenigmalive.com).

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I normally would not have considered going to a tattoo convention. Although I enjoy well-executed tattoos on other people, I have zero tattoos and have no intention of getting any. Likewise, I am minimally pierced with no plans to get additional piercings. That said, I’m glad I went to the 3rd Annual Kansas City Tattoo Convention by Villain Arts.

A victim of the volcanic eruption at Pompeii: The Exhibit.

What made this trip great for me was the quality of live performances, along with local sightseeing. Because I seek out morbid attractions, I attended Pompeii: The Exhibition at the Union Station. Of course the fate of the the ancient city was gruesome, but the glimpse into the daily lives of Pompeii’s inhabitants was fascinating and more technologically advanced than one would expect. Although the exhibit is no longer in Kansas City, I highly recommend seeing it at its next location.

At the tattoo convention itself, it was very cool to meet The Enigma, whom I immediately recognized from a popular episode of The X-Files. The Enigma’s live performance combined stand-up comedy with gross-out stunts, along with sideshow staples such as sword-swallowing. He best describes his own act by observing that stage magicians make the audience ask “how?,” whereas sideshow artists like himself make audiences ask “why?'”. I should also mention that he is an utter sweetheart in person.

Burlesque artist Marlo Marquise. Photo by Gary Heller.

But the most shocking things happened during the late night performances, starting with burlesque artist Marlo Marquise, who combined a striptease act with stunts similar to those performed by The Enigma earlier in the day. But then she went a few steps beyond his performance by balancing on machetes and piercing her own skin with metal skewers. Her other acts include fire-eating,  a “burlesque on hooks” suspension act, and balancing on a staircase of machetes. You can watch clips of her performances at her website (NSFW).

After Marlo’s performance, there was a series of “suspension acts,” by three different women, one of whom had never tried it before. Although I had seen videos of suspension on TV, it was entirely different seeing such performances live. I’m not ordinarily a squeamish person. After all, I’ve assisted in dozens of autopsies, served victims of violent crime in emergency rooms, and once worked for a funeral home. But for some reason, I initially found seeing these women hanging from hooks in their skin to be disturbing. I feared their skin would rip, causing them to fall from a significant height. It also looked incredibly painful. Yet, the performers appeared to be having fun.

Marlo balances on a staircase of machetes, from her Youtube page.

The following day, I talked to some of the performers about what it is like to be suspended, and their answers made me more comfortable with the idea of trying it someday myself. But don’t take my word for it. I’m happy to announce that our next podcast guest will be Marlo Marquise herself! She will be discussing her unique stage performance and clearing up misconceptions about suspension art. In the meantime, read this article from The Atlantic to learn more about the 5,000-year-old art.

 

El Paso Comic Con with Camille Keaton, and horrific sight-seeing

I’m back from my weekend with Camille Keaton of I Spit On Your Grave at El Paso Comic Con, and what a fun trip it was! Camille is a true friend, and it was great to see her again after a three years.

I’m also pleased to announce that Camille will be our special guest on the next My Horrific Life Podcast, where she will discuss her early film career in Italy, behind-the-scenes info about I Spit on Your Grave, and everything she’s allowed to tell us about the official direct sequel, called I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (now in post-production). Just the fact that an official sequel has been made, not to mention the existence of a remake and its franchise, is proof that the Law of Attraction and vision boards really work. Because I’ve been trying to manifest these movies through sheer mental energy for at least the last 15 years.

With Camille at her El Paso Comic Con booth

This was actually my first Comic Con. The comic book world is not exactly my forte, but I was pleased to see other horror genre guests, including Kevin Grevioux (Underworld) and Nicholas Brendon (Buffy), and some cool vendors such as a reptile rescue/mobile petting zoo called Island of Misfit Morphs.

The Island of Misfit Morphs offers “reptile parties.”

Of course, there’s no point in traveling if you can’t see local points of interest. On some level, I wanted to visit Juarez, Mexico, as I had studied the hundreds of femicides that had occurred there since the 1990s, but due to the explosion of violence in Juarez within the last decade, it simply wasn’t safe to go. I asked several El Paso locals what they thought of Trump’s proposed border wall, given that they share the border with Juarez. They all said that the wall simply isn’t necessary for El Paso due to the strong military presence nearby and the fact that virtually everyone has a concealed carry permit. Apparently the drug dealers and violent criminals from Juarez avoid causing trouble in El Paso, because they know that the people of El Paso won’t put up with their shit. In fact, El Paso was rated the safest city in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row.

The text on the mountain advises the residents of Juarez, “The Bible is the truth. Read it.”

The downtown area has a number of interesting art galleries and museum, including the El Paso Holocaust Museum, which ended up being my first stop. This museum is excellent, with interactive exhibits and mini-documentaries in each room. As expected it is also emotionally grueling, especially the death camp exhibits. The tour ends on an uplifting note, with a series of resistance and survivor stories. Visit their website for more images from their exhibits, as well as information about the museum founder, Henry Kellen, who was himself a Holocaust survivor.

Anti-Semitic propaganda published by the Nazi Party.

A Tree of Life sculpture in the Survivor Stories room

Other museums had moments of gruesomeness in otherwise benign exhibits. One example being the death mask of Pancho Villa on display at the El Paso History Museum.

The death mask of Pancho Villa

Special thanks to J’sin and Eva for their hospitality and for showing us around the town. I recommend visiting Deadbeach Brewery and shopping at Dreadful Things, a horror boutique, tattoo parlor, art gallery, and reading room.

A 1920s sideshow banner hand painted by Fred J. Johnson

One of several original art pieces on display at Dreadful Things

Dreadful Things has an element of visual overload

A few of the goodies available for purchase. I picked the Cheshire Cat purse.

That’s all for now! Be sure to come back soon for our podcast interview with Camille Keaton, and a special focus on Hammer films for the month of May.

 

 

 

 

Love is Dead, and so is 2016

After a mild illness and a whole lot of work, I’m back! We will be bringing you reviews of Christmas-themed horror films and novels (be sure to check out our recent podcast) as the holidays draw near. But also, since 2016 is almost dead, it seems fitting to feature discussion of all things related to necrophilia. OK, it’s a bit self-serving as the book to which I contributed, Understanding Necrophilia: A Global Multidisciplinary Approach, is now in print.

Come back tomorrow for a review of that book, but in the meantime, do you remember that time Alice Cooper and Ann Landers had an argument about his song “Cold Ethyl,” with Landers titling her column with the rebuke, “Necrophilia not funny, Alice”?

…Let’s agree to disagree, Ann.

Landers issues her complaint a few years after “Cold Ethyl” appeared on Cooper’s solo debut Welcome To My Nightmare. And it was not the first time Cooper recorded a song about necrophilia. “I Love the Dead” (performed live in the video below) was featured in the band’s 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies.

These American Horror Story-Themed Dresses Completed Me

img_4897

Meeting Piper Laurie at Horrorhound

For a long time, I sensed a void in my life. Everything thing seemed meaningless and without purpose. Just as I had given up hope, a ray of sunlight struck the window of the local Hot Topic and what I saw gave me a reason to live. There was a hole in my soul shaped like an American Horror Story-inspired party dress covered in surgical tool print.

As it turns out, Midnight Hour created five dresses for Hot Topic, each dress inspired by each season of American Horror Story. I nabbed the Asylum Doctor dress (above) and the Freak Show dress (below).

freakshow-dress

Freak Show dress as shown on the Hot Topic website.

Other clothes in the series include a Murder House maid dress, a Hotel bellhop dress, and a Coven dress coat. All of these are still currently available on the Hot Topic website.

Review: The Beauty of Horror Coloring Book

Adult coloring books have been all the rage for some time now, with adherents claiming that coloring helps with stress relief, creativity, or reminds them of the simple nostalgia for childhood coloring activities. I’ve tried a few coloring books and found them more stress-inducing, because the tiny, intricate patterns are maddening, or because I’m not sure which colors to use.

But finally, I’ve found a coloring book that satisfies my aesthetic preferences AND takes the guesswork out of my color palette, because one only needs various hues of red, brown, and gray. Alan Robert’s The Beauty of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book is definitely an adult coloring book given its intricate illustrations of decomposing corpses, sea monsters, homicidal clowns, torture, and labyrinths of entrails.

One of my colored pages is pictured below. There is something truly soothing about coloring in blood stains!

img_4960

Horrorhound Indianapolis 2016

This was my first year attending a Horrorhound show, and it ranks as one of my top conventions along with Crypticon KC and Rock and Shock. There are bigger shows with more guests, but in my experience, bigger shows are less pleasant for the simple reason that one may end up waiting in line two hours to speak to a guest for all of 30 seconds, and paying $80 (or more) for a single autograph. Then, if you want a photo with a guest, the only option is paying another $100-250 for a professional photo op, in which one is herded through something resembling an assembly line process. Brutally efficient, but basically, one is paying more for less. Perhaps I’m being a bit of a curmudgeon here, because the fans I met at the bigger conventions felt that this was money well spent. If autograph collecting is your thing, and you have the cash, I won’t further besmirch your enjoyment of such venues.

My priorities are a bit different regarding what I look for in a convention experience. Perhaps I was spoiled by my first convention experiences, because I got to spend a significant amount of time with some of the guests, whom I now consider my friends due to our ongoing communication. While I do have a modest collection of autographs, I’m more interested in the various guests as people, and not just for their respective work products. What are autographs compared to getting advice from Andrew Divoff on learning foreign languages (he speaks eight), insight into Ted Raimi’s daily routines for maximal productivity, not to mention guests’ personal stories that are never discussed in interviews? Horrorhound Indianapolis was one of those rare conventions that was big enough to never become dull, but small enough that there were ample opportunities to have extended conversations with guests, several of whom interacted with fans at the hotel bar.

img_4911

With Ted Raimi

Aside from my friend Andrew Divoff’s appearance, an added bonus was the Wishmaster reunion, which included the film’s director and special effects artist Robert Kurtzman, lead actress Tammy Lauren (her first convention appearance), and supporting actors Tony Todd (best known for his role in Candyman), and Ted Raimi (also of Xena: Warrior Princess  and the second season of  Ash vs the Evil Dead ). This was my first time meeting Ted Raimi, who was one of the nicest guests I’ve met, but also quite intellectual and a fascinating conversationalist. Other personal highlights included meeting Bernard Rose, the director of Candyman and the criminally underrated Snuff Movie, a smart meta-critique of reality television and digital surveillance; and meeting Piper Laurie (Carrie and many other films), who now has her memoir Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir in print and audiobook edition.  While most conventions concentrate heavily on films and filmmakers, I was pleased to see many book vendors and authors at the event, including John Everson, author of the outstanding horror novel Nightwhere.

img_4900

Meeting Tammy Lauren of Wishmaster

As with all good conventions, there were ample activities aside from celebrity signings. I only attended two panels, both of which were outstanding. The Candyman panel featured some of the most thoughtful discussions of racism, classism, and other social divides. The Wishmaster panel not only had great behind-the-scenes story about that film, but also an odd and hilarious backstory about the casting of actual prostitutes as extras in Ted Raimi’s 1993 film Skinner [VHS]. There was also an ongoing film festival, most of which I missed. However, I made a point of seeing the new Kevin Smith film Yoga Hosers, which is a loose follow-up to his film Tusk. Yoga Hosers follows the two Colleens, who worked as clerks in Tusk. But as the film’ s effects artist Robert Kurtzman stated, despite a few horrific effects and monsters, Yoga Hosers isn’t a horror film at all, but rather more of a teen movie with a lot of smart one-liners. I think fans will enjoy Yoga Hosers if they keep that in mind; it wasn’t at all scary, but I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a screening.

And, of course, there was also the convention-within-the-convention, Maskfest, which showcased an astounding array of masks and other costume accessories. I nearly went home with a set of Maleficent or Black Phillip-style horns, until I considered I have so few opportunities to wear such things.

Even though four days of sleep deprivation from these activities left me broken and beaten upon my return home, Horrorhound Indianapolis is a show I want to attend again!

Djinn’s Hellabrew at the 7th Annual Lake Arrowhead Brewfest

Andrew Divoff returned with his Djinn’s Hellabrew to the Lake Arrowhead Brewfest earlier this August. This batch of Hellabrew amped up the heat factor with the habernero pepper notes at the forefront, but still refreshing enough to win over those with an aversion to spiciness. This was the last collaboration between Andrew and Wicks Brewing Co. to produce the Hellabrew, due to Wicks entering a contract to produce another client’s beer for large-scale distribution.

Andrew Divoff and Ryan Wicks of Wicks Brewing Co.

Andrew Divoff and Ryan Wicks of Wicks Brewing Co.

As with last year, it was a special experience for me to assist Andrew at the Brewfest. Andrew is one of the nicest people I know, and he has a genuine care for his community.

Andrew and I before the start of Brewfest chaos.

This year was special, because Andrew raised money at the pour and on his website for a new scholarship benefitting two Rim High School students who wish to pursue a career in the arts. By the end of the Brewfest, Andrew raised more than double his  original fundraising goal, which will allow each student to receive $1,000. As a pleasant surprise, Andrew was recognized by California state senator Mike Morrell for his work benefitting the surrounding mountain communities.

Andrew with Senator Mike Morrell

For updates about the Djinn’s Hellabrew and upcoming pours, visit his Three Marm Brewing page on Facebook.