Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Johnny Deadline: DARK DELICACIES

 by JB

Though I have only visited a handful of times, I can make my way around with my eyes closed.

You enter from the street and are greeted with dark red walls and treasures. Right in front of you is a table containing the latest horror and sci-fi book releases... usually books to be featured in upcoming author’s signings. To your right are children’s books and horror t-shirts; to your left are horror-themed dresses, purses and bags. Further in, there is a glass case of rare books, glass cases full of cloisonne pins and other collectables. Then, the front register and the signing table. Beyond that are toys on your left and a treasure trove of genre books on your right.

The store is an embarrassment of riches.
Dark Delicacies has been keeping horror fans happy for three decades; this year marks the store’s 30th anniversary. The store has had four locations over the years, but owner Del Howison says the current spot is his favorite. By this point, Dark Delicacies has been so well established as a destination that horror fans make the pilgrimage there on their own. There is no need for obvious signage or department store window displays.

This place is dark, baby. It is run by a denizen of Dracula himself: no less an authority than Video Watchdog founder Tim Lucas noticed that Howison has played Dracula’s minion Renfield onscreen more than any other actor—at least four times. Howison's favorite Renfield? In our recent phone interview, Del told me that, while Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood (2004) holds a place in his heart because he made it while still new and fresh in the industry, Blood Scarab (2008) was his favorite Renfield performance because by then, four years later, he was well-versed in the world of low-budget filmmaking and beginning to get properly cynical. Although advised by no less an authority than special effects master Howard Berger not to, Howison still refers to these horror gems as “Grade C Productions.” As a former high-school English teacher, I remind Del that “C” is still a passing grade.
In his 30 years as Dark Delicacies' storekeeper/dungeon-master, Howison has noticed a slight difference between older fans and younger fans. I suggested that older fans wanted “a piece of the thing” that was so special to them (physical media, autographs, action figures), but Howison has a different take. "I think collecting helps to solidify a relationship,” he said; that the collectable in whatever form “helps [fans] prove an allegiance to what they love.”

Collecting was “much more tactile” in the days before streaming and the internet, Howison added. His remark reminded me of all the sticky floors in all those theaters I had to actually go to—ACTUALLY HAVING TO TRAVERSE LIMINAL SPACES TO GET TO-- in order to see horror movies in the 1970s and 1980s.
I told Del that, as a horror film lover and collector myself, I appreciate the fact that his store does not charge outrageous prices (like a certain competitor of his down the street often does). This over-priced competitor does not sell books, one of Dark Delicacies' most popular items; I suggested that maybe fans of the OTHER store cannot, in fact, read. Howison chuckled, and acknowledged that book sales are a big part of his bottom line. "And I've noticed that there is always a tight crossover,” he said, between recent books of quality and what sells in great quantity.

Case in point: on my most recent visit to Dark Delicacies, author Max Evry was there signing his new Dune book, A Masterpiece in Disarray. I picked it up as an impulse buy, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it—but a happy accident like that simply doesn’t happen when you’re scrolling around Amazon. It's a truth that Howison acknowledges as being great for his business. In preparing to write this column, I discovered that Howison is a published author himself. I purchased his novel The Survival of Margaret Thomas and am currently enjoying the hell out of that too.

Hell... bad! Books... good!
Now... (ahem)... speaking of great books and Dark Delicacies, our own Patrick Bromley and Heather Wixson recently published the very beautiful In Search of Darkness companion coffee table book. It is something to behold! And something to hold—it's a massive, gorgeous book. Patrick and Heather will be hosting a signing at Dark Delicacies this Saturday, April 27, at 3pm. Plus they've got a KILLER lineup of guests (LITERALLY): Joe Dante, Tom Holland, Kelli Maroney, Steve Johnson, and the Chiodo brothers will also be in attendance, ready to sign books and kick ass. F This Movie fans in Southern California—assemble! You won't want to miss it.

POST SCRIPT: If you, dear reader, are sitting on your toadstool and reading this and saying to yourself, “Well, I would love to attend, but unfortunately I live in Nebraska!” I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR LIFE CHOICES. But you can order the Wixson/Bromley book on the interwebs.

Dark Delicacies also does a thriving mail order business. Consider ordering something from this special witch’s coven; you won’t be sorry*. https://www.darkdel.com

*Humble columnist cannot guarantee lack of regret.


  1. Thanks for the reminder JB. Just ordered Heather and Patrick's book. Bummed to not be there for the signing, but super grateful for all the hard work and great content everyone at F this movie provides.

    1. castrodrano...great move...the book is FABULOUS!!

      Thanks JB! Have a blast this weekend at the signing!!!! ( Im hoping someone, several someones, videos what they can if they can and shares it)

    2. You’re very welcome. If I think of it, I’ll take some l’il vids of the event with my phone and post them to the Twitter machine or the Instagram machine. (I make no claims as to their clarity or comprehensibility)