Box of Dread
By Anthony J. Rapino
It’s Friday the 13th, and my day has been utter shit. I don’t blame it on any kind of superstitious hogwash; it’s just the way things go sometimes. You see, I had big plans for this 13th. I was supposed to go to Blairstown, NJ–where parts of Friday the 13th were filmed–to see that very movie in the historic Blairstown Theater. I was going to troll around town, taking pictures of all the relevant filming locations, grab some grub, and have a grand 13th by any standards.
That didn’t happen. I’d like to tell you some fantastic story about a wandering buffalo salesman and his family of drunken ducklings stopping me on the road and asking for assistance with an infirm elderly woman they found in a ditch. But I can’t. The ugly truth is simply this: plans fell through for personal reasons. Ugh, gag me with a tampon! What a lame turn of events.
As I sat in my thinkin’ chair, the day lay ahead of me like a dead possum: it was nothing I cared to scrape off the pavement. Before I dove too deep into the watery cavern of self-pity, the room grew dark. Storm clouds formed outside the nearby window and gusts of wind shook leaves from branches prematurely. It was a decidedly autumn feel, though I knew true autumn had not yet arrived.
A triptych of knocks on my front door played my spine like a xylophone. I stood and attempted to shake off the eerie feeling of Halloween come early. The knocks rang out again. I jittered to the door and swung it open, all caution discarded because I knew if someone wanted me dead on Friday the 13th, it would happen no matter what precautions were in place.
In my doorway stood a postal worker. That was my first thought. My second thought was, “Why is this postal worker silently staring at me?” A rivulet of drool cut through the dirt on his chin. His too-wide eyes continued peering through me, and he grunted, thrusting a package at my chest. He groaned, “Box of dread,” then stumbled off into the woods next to my house.
Okay, so maybe the box was really just waiting for me on the doorstep when I got home. But the previous fiction is exactly how I felt when finding the Box of Dread waiting for me on what would have been a disappointing Friday the 13th. Things, however, where looking up.
I stole away with my package and set up my camera for documentation.
Disclaimer: Before I go on, I feel it my solemn duty as a lover of all things mysterious to warn you, the unsuspecting reader. The Box of Dread is a new service provided by the good people at Dread Central. For $20 a month, or $57 for a three month subscription, you receive a mystery box of horror-themed goodies. Since the mystery is a large part of the fun, if you don’t want to know what was in September’s (the inaugural) box, please, do not read any further.
When I first picked up my box, I’ll admit, I was worried. The box was light. It didn’t bode well, but I shook off the unease and ripped into my waiting mystery. The first thing I pulled from the dark interior of this gaping hellhole was a DVD of 13 virtual jack-o-lanterns, meant for party atmosphere. I was happy with this. It’s like a Yule Log for Halloween! I immediately thought of at least three instances when I’d put the DVD to use.
Next came a package of Scarecrow Deluxe Vampire Fangs. These are reusable fangs of a fairly high quality. Not necessarily something I would have purchased, but having them on hand, I probably will integrate them into this year’s costume.
At this point I was thinking the box had not disappointed, but it also hadn’t blown me away. Of course, this was Friday the 13th, when all things are possible. I dug into the box and removed the crowning jewel of September’s Box of Dread: an official promo mask from the movie You’re Next, complete with the original tag! Oh, hell yeah! This item alone was worth the price of admission. I thought I had remembered reading a promise of some horror movie merch in the boxes, but this was way beyond anything I had expected. And honestly, it could have ended there. But it didn’t.
The next item was a CD called Vampyre: Symphonies from the Crypt. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I think it’ll be cool atmospheric music for when I write, or when I carve my jack-o-lantern.
The last few items were nice additions, but nothing to get too excited about. A Fallout Shelter sign, a Dread Central sticker, and a Friday the 13th promo sheet.
My main focus while writing this article was to answer one question for the readers: Is the Box of Dread worth it? There are two ways to answer the question, but the answer for both, no matter which way you slice it, is yes!
From an enjoyment level, the pure glee of receiving a mystery box filled with horror-related goodies is reason enough for me to continue subscribing to the service. It reminds me of a distant past when I’d send away box tops and enter contests, always finding some new surprise waiting in my mailbox. Beyond that nostalgia and Christmas morning feeling, the stuff you get in the box is pretty damn cool. It’s a good mix of collectible and useful items that I think any horror fan would be happy to receive.
Of course, there are those out there who base the worth of things solely on the monetary value. For those of you out there wondering if you can buy these items for less than Dread Central charges, the answer is hell no.
Here’s the breakdown, my penny pinching friends. The box costs $20, or $19 if you subscribe for three months (did I mention that is the actual price, shipping included?).
The You’re Next promo mask is easily going for $30 on Ebay, so right there, you’re already up $10. I’d never sell this mask of course; this is just for educational purposes. Next we have that jack-o-lantern DVD. The cheapest I could find it online was for $19.99. The Vampire fangs go for around $16-$20. So counting only the three best items in the box, it’d cost you around $70 before shipping. I’m officially calling the Box of Dread a killer deal.
I’m fairly certain all of the boxes come with different assortments of items, so what I received is not necessarily what you will receive, but based on my items, I’m comfortable recommending this service to any horror lover and child of Halloween who wants a bit of mystery in their lives.
Check out this official “Unboxing” video!