Guillermo Del Toro and horror fans rally around Dark Delicacies bookstore

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Photo Courtesy of T. Aleman

Susan and Del Howison, the owners of Dark Delicacies, have run the iconic bookstore for over twenty-five years, but the rising rents almost forced them out of Burbank.

In addition to managing Dark Delicacies with his wife Susan, Del Howison acted in Dahmer vs. Gacy, Evil Bong 420 and Blood Slaves of the Vampire Wolf. In 2010, he wrote, When Werewolves Attack: A Guide to Dispatching Ravenous Flesh-Eating Beasts.

The horror bookstore Dark Delicacies is a gem of a store, it sells hard-to-find books, posters, magazines, graphic novels, clothes, toys, candles and even soap, as well as hosting cool events and author signings for the community.

The front of the store houses collectible books and items from horror films, including a pumpkin signed by writer, Joe Hill, who is executive producing a ten episode vampire TV show NOS4A2 with AMC in 2019.

The store has a wonderful gothic feel to it, like you’re entering a secret chamber in a haunted house to buy merch. There’s a number of framed horror movie posters and a wicked Annabelle doll for sale in the back, but I avoided it because creepy dolls scare me. Which is why I write about them so much.

Photo by T. Aleman

Magnolia Park, affectionately known as Monster Crawl, is home to a number of horror-themed Mom and Pop shops such as The Crooked Path, The Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum, and the juggernaut Halloween Town, which has three storefronts on Magnolia.

Not to mention a number of charming boutiques, salons, antique shops, and thrift-stores such as Unique VintageClassic HardwareJunk for JoyIt’s A WrapThe Perky Nerd, and the always packed Porto’s.

But rent in Burbank is almost three times what it was ten years ago, which may threaten the future of independent stores on Magnolia.

Photo by T. Aleman

A “Save Mag Park” movement started online to keep Burbank weird. Burbank is growing and the corporations have moved in — Krispy Kreme, Chick-fil-A, Whole Foods, AT&T — pushing out the stores that brought character to Magnolia Blvd. Burbank lost Creature Features and Pin Up Girl last year, a sad blow for Magnolia Park.

James Wan, the director of Saw and Insidious, personally donated $3000 to keep the store open. Del Toro, Wan, Patton Oswalt, and hundreds of others have donated and tweeted support for Dark Delicacies, to preserve a welcoming place that has served the horror community for decades in Burbank.

The Save Magnolia Park movement has chosen to focus on three agenda points, listed on their website:

  • Recognize businesses as cultural landmarks
  • Zone for a local business environment
  • Reduce the power imbalance in landlord-tenant negotiations

I asked co-owner Susan if she thinks that horror has changed over the years, because I’m curious about the ebb and flow of movements, like improv comedy or rollerskating in the ’70s.

But she said that horror has always been popular, it has moments when gothic horror, vampires or zombies are in vogue, but the genre will always be relevant.

Like comedy, I think. Enjoying being scared and liking to laugh are universal human needs, it seems.