When driving down Burbank Blvd. in the city of Burbank, Ca, one might find themselves thinking “Great… Another anytown street in Anytown USA.” That is, until you get closer to the 4000 block. Standing outside of a regular looking building, looking very out of place, is a huge Frankenstein looking creature. Most people stare as they drive by…Not me. I must find out why Frankie is outside waving at all the cars. I am about to go to my happy place.
Let me explain; I am a horror fanatic. Anything horror is my forte. Well… maybe obsession is a better word. So when I heard about a place, in my state, within driving distance, which specializes in all things horror, you know I had to check it out. Located at 4213 W. Burbank Blvd., Dark Delicacies is the store for anyone interested in the horror genre. The store is owned and operated by Del Howison and his lovely wife Sue. “We started Dark Delicacies in December of 1994 with $5,000 and our own collection of stuff (mostly books). The two of us have always run the store.” States Del.” Twice we have hired part time help. Once in the very beginning and then later, somebody else went and made duplicates of the store keys. So at this point we are once bitten twice shy about hiring again.” When I asked Del about being married to his business partner, I got a very unique response. “It is tough living and working together, but one of the things we did was split responsibilities so that we were not sticking our fingers into what the other person was doing. That helps a lot. Being open about our areas but not meddling in the other person’s area is the key along with trust. We were business partners before we were married and once I realized it was tougher to get out of the business relationship than it was the marriage I went ahead and dove in.”
So what made Del so into horror in the first place? I’ll give you three guesses. “I grew up in a very religious family, Sunday school on Sunday mornings as well as church every Sunday night, Wednesday night prayer meeting along with Friday night young people’s group. Add to that, becoming a journalist and you think “Who wouldn’t be interested in horror!” So what movie is this horror aficionado’s favorite? “That’s a bad question. That is almost like saying ‘what is your favorite movie?’ There are way too many variables. How can one compare “Slither” and “The Exorcist” and “Tremors”? I like them all and many others but they are so different you can’t really pick one over the other.”
This is not your average Joe speaking here either. Del Howison is also the only actor to portray the character of Renfield (Dracula’s servant) a total of 4 times on film. That is more than anyone else has. Not only is he an actor but an accomplished author as well. In 2008 his short story The Lost Herd (originally published in the erotic horror anthology Hot Blood 12: Strange Bedfellows 2004) was purchased for the television series Fear Itself. The title was changed to The Sacrifice and the episode became the series premiere episode airing on June 5, 2008. His short story The Necrosis Factor was chosen for the anthology Traps which was released in December 2008. Add all that to the fact he has published and co-published many anthologies including Dark Delicacies: Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre which included stories by Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, F. Paul Wilson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, David J. Schow, Steve Niles, Roberta Lannes, Gahan Wilson, and more. The book went on to win the 2005 Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology. In 2007 he published Dark Delicacies II: Fear and Howison also co-edited The Book of Lists: Horror with Amy Wallace and Scott Bradley which was released in September 2008. So like I said Del has a plethora of horror knowledge.
One thing Dark Delicacies is also well known for is the signings. That is actually how I discovered them. I got a dvd signed by almost all the actors who played Jason Voorhees as well as many others involved in the franchise. The signings take place on a regular basis and you don’t have to be there to get your item signed. You can order it online through their website (www.darkdel.com) and it will be shipped right to your door. When I asked Del what signing has been his favorite so far he says “The signing that sticks in my mind as my favorite is when William Peter Blatty signed for us – twice.” (For those who don’t know, William Peter Blatty wrote what some people consider the scariest novel/movie of all time The Exorcist.) So that leads to, who hasn’t Dark Delicacies had there to sign that Del would love to have? “We haven’t had (Stephen) King yet so that would be cool. I would also like to meet (Ennio) Morricone for a soundtrack signing.”
I asked Del for some parting words of wisdom from what I consider a “Scholar of Horror” and he left me this: “I hope I never lose my love and excitement for the (horror) genre. It doesn’t get the respect it deserves as far as I’m concerned. It is the baseline (for movies) like the blues is for music but people look down on it. If you were to flip that feeling around you would know how I feel about religion. They shed a lot more blood in the name of religion (in real life) than horror writers ever have in fiction. How is that justified?”
4213 W. Burbank
Burbank, CA 91505 U.S.A.
Tues.-Fri. 10am-7pm Sat.-Sun. 11am-6pm Closed Mondays
(for local calls)
By Dave Minyard