Located in Burbank, Ca. is the oldest horror headquarters in California. A book store/gift shop that caters exclusively to the horror crowd. A place where you can notonly find paraphernalia from the greatest horror films of all time, but meet the minds behind them. You never know who you will meet when you step behind those doors, well sometimes you do, because they feature book and film signing events every month. The place is Dark Delicacies and the mind behind this horror haven is Del Howison. A long time friend, he was happy to sit down and discuss his 13 question marks of horror…
1. For guys like us, horror is usually something that takes hold early on. What was the event or film that first introduced you to horror?
The first two films that I remember picking me up and really throwing me against a wall were “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Exorcist”. But there was a scene from an early film I saw on Shock Theater or some other late night show that stayed with me wherein a person was tortured by placing a face-cage on them with a metal plate in the middle and a rat on the other side. When the divider was lifted the rat began to eat their face. In film it always seemed more like moments that stayed with me (i.e. Barbara Steele’s Iron Maiden face and such). I grew up as a reader and the complete printed stories were always so much richer in print and my own mind. But occasional films hit home.
2. Were you one of the cool kids growing up one of the weirdos lurking in the corner?
A little of both. In high school I was an anarchist and protestor. Remember this was the days of Woodstock.
3. We were shooting a scene from Clive Barker’s Lords of illusion at the Pantages Theatre, you won a raffle they gave you a walk-on role in the film. How did that and changed the course of your life?
Completely changed everything. Obviously I met Clive through that and we have been friends ever since. He was one of the first vocal supporters of Dark Delicacies and has held many, many signings here. We have had many interesting conversations and I’ve received some sage advice from him.
4. Dark delicacies as a very successful horror headquarters of sorts. We think are the key factors to its continued success in such a tough market?
Location, location, location for three things. This just wouldn’t work in Des Moines. Also we are the only all-horror book and gift store in the U.S.. It’s kind of like the clubhouse for all people and things horror. It’s better than being the only asparagus refinery or something.
5. You’ve acted in a few horror films now. How did those roles come about?
Because I’m goofy looking.
6. Being “Goofy looking”, as you put it, what kind of roles have you played?
Bums, Renfield, ghosts. You know anything that will save a low budget film a little something on make-up
7. You may hold the record for playing Renfield more times than any other actor. How did you approach the role?
I do hold that record – 3 times and a cameo in a fourth film. Video Watchdog mentioned it in an article they had on Dracula/Renfield. As far as approach goes there are two parts – What the director wants (which in most of these was humorous. What I’d like to get across as an actor. I know that Dwight Frye is the classic Renfield but he always seemed a little crazed in all of his scenes, even the early ones. I just think Dracula would have picked somebody a little more stable emotionally to handle business during the day.
8. Do you hope to direct horror films in the future?
I would love to direct dome horror films. I’ve directed live theater so film would be a treat.
9. Can you tell me more about your theater directing?
I’ve directed dinner theater a long time ago. I did “Two for the Seesaw” which was on two stages across the room from each other, each one representing an apartment bedroom. I’d love to direct some film.
10. You’ve also put out a series of dark delicacies anthologies. What’s the story behind that project?
I love short horror stories. What better way to represent the broad spectrum of writers who have graced our store than to show folks what these people write. All of the stories are original to our anthologies (there are 3 of them so far) and range from Bradbury to Lansdale to Barker. We have really been honored.
11. Do you have any stories featured in your anthology books?
I never publish any of my own stories in books I edit. There’s no gatekeeper to say fix it. I think everybody needs an editor. I have stories in other editors anthologies but not my own.
12. How has jumping into the book editor arena changed your view as a book collector?
It hasn’t, any more than eating peanuts makes me look at elephants differently. It’s really a different job to me.
13. What can fans look forward to from you in 2013 both as an an actor and from Dark Delicacies?
I am getting ready to shoot a Twilight Zone kind of story as a short for Tim Chizmar, I’m almost ready to turn in my Western novel and I’ve signed a contract to be one of the editors of a new anthology based on Cabal/Nightbreed. Plus there is my regular writing gig for FearNet.com. Add running Dark Delicacies with my wife to that list and I’ll be fairly busy. Ain’t it great. I could have worse problems. I thank the horror gods every day for allowing these opportunities to happen.
Other Horrific Musings: