Delicious Horror: Nicholas Diak and Corey Niles

It’s happy hour on Delicious Horror! I’ve been having so much fun with these posts, and I hope you have been, too! Today, I am delighted to welcome Nicholas Diak and Corey Niles. They have two delicious cocktails for us, along with some wonderful recommended horror readings!

Nicholas Diak

Nicholas Diak is an academic writer who focuses on the margins of pop culture: sword and sandal films, industrial and synthwave music, Italian Eurospy films, H. P. Lovecraft studies, and exploitation cinema. He loves crafting cocktails and especially diving into the realm of tiki culture. He is the editor of The New Peplum: Essays on Sword and Sandal Films and Television Programs Since the 1990s. Along with Michele Brittany, he is a co-host of the H. P. Lovecast Podcast, a co-creator and the co-chair of the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, and co-editor of the Horror Writer Association’s first academic book, Horror Literature from Gothic to Post-Modern: Critical Essays. He can be found at

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

Mikel Koven’s La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film is probably one of the most important texts I’ve ever read; it has had a huge impact on my writing and my scholarship. 

The book proper looks at the Italian giallo phenomenon, a niche genre (or, better yet, a filone) of low budget films made in Italy in the 60s and 70s. Oftentimes thought of as the precursor of the slasher genre, the gialli were films that combined detective fiction with horror, and featured iconic tropes such as assailants in featureless masks, clad in black, with gloves and wide-brimmed hats, dispatching nubile young women (and men!) by slashing or choking them. Many of the films were beautifully shot with gorgeous prismatic colours contrasted against stark dark shadows. Many famous Italian genre directors, such as Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Antonio Margheriti, and others, all contributed to the giallo canon.

Koven’s book dives deep into the world of the gialli, creating the most authoritative text on the subject. While I do appreciate the giallo genre, it is Koven’s second chapter in the book where he lays out his theory of vernacular cinema as a way to appreciate and understood these films at their level that is the most important to me. It provided a stark contrast to auteur theory and instead proffered an alternative and constructive way to talk about populist cinema. It was eye opening, and it had a profound impact on me: 1) it opened my eyes to appreciate a wider range of films and 2) my first forays into academic writing was taking Koven’s framework and applying it to the Italian Eurospy genre of films. The outcome of that become my first published essay in an academic book: “Permission to Kill: Exploring Italy’s 1960s Eurospy Phenomenon, Impact and Legacy” in James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy edited by Michele Brittany.

I cannot recommend the book enough, especially in regard to what it sets out to accomplish. For horrors fans, the book is a must have as it opens a whole new world of a different type of horror film that many folks may not be privy to. For film scholars or aficionados, it provides the tools to appreciate and talk about movies, especially genre films, in a different way. 

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

As a book that focuses on a distinct, yet niche, style of Italian films, it seemed fitting to pair it with an Italian cocktail, but one that is probably not as well known as a Negroni or an Americano. The Buona Vita is a perfect sibling to these cocktails, Italian in origin, but a little under the radar. The cocktail combines gin, Campari, and grapefruit. Depending on your grapefruit, the outcome of this drink after preparing it can be quite (blood) red!

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe? 

Buona Vita

1 oz gin

0.5 oz Campari

2 oz grapefruit juice

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a lowball glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange peel. 

The original recipe calls for Moletto Gin, which is a tomato-based gin and also uses .5 oz of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. However, a London dry gin will work perfectly and is much more accessible. 

Corey Niles

Corey Niles was born and raised in the Rust Belt, where he garnered his love of horror. His recent and forthcoming publications include “Demon Stump” in The Oddville Press, “The Crows Belonged to Me” in HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VII, and “What Lurks in These Woods” in Pink Triangle Rhapsody: Volume 1. When he isn’t nursing his caffeine addiction or tending to his graveyard of houseplants, he enjoys jogging on creepy, isolated hiking trails.

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley has been noted as the first true work of science fiction, the first novel to legitimize the horror genre, and a work that blends elements of the Romantic movement and the Gothic novel with anxieties concerning scientific advancements of the time. For me, it was a novel that I had to read over the course of one night during my junior year of high school because I had a test the following morning. A fever dream about a bizarre scientific experiment and the subsequent fallout, which had little to do with a green creature with bolts in its neck, was all I thought of the novel upon my first reading.

Years later, once I was writing about my own monsters and trying to find out why people like me are so fascinated with them, I revisited the work. I noted the way that Frankenstein’s monster, similar to many of my favorite creatures, is little more than a mirror that reflects the ugliest fears, anxieties, and realities of humanity. I wondered if the true antagonist of the story was this creature, who is seeking belonging, or if it was the man, Frankenstein, who is fueled by blind ambition and incapable of taking ownership of his actions. While very little of this book is definitive, the questions it raises about what it means to be human, how evil is created, and if we have control over anything in this world–much less what we create–are still relevant over 200 years later. I can scarcely watch a creature feature or write about a monster without thinking about what the beast is saying about humanity, and I have Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to thank for it.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

When the monster is first brought to life, I was struck by the description of its yellow eyes opening and its matching skin that barely covers Frankenstein’s work beneath it. Only then does Frankenstein realize that his blind ambition and obsession with creating life has resulted in something truly monstrous, foreshadowing the bitter end of this tale. Consequently, a stiff drink seemed like a perfect pairing, especially one that captures the monster’s visage and the sour taste that that dark tale can leave in a reader’s mouth. Thus, I present a new twist on an old favorite: The Lemon Eye Drop cocktail.

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?


3 oz. of vodka

1.8 oz. of lemon juice

0.5 oz. of triple sec


  1. Freeze 0.8 oz. of lemon juice in an Eyes Silicone Candy Mold (for two frozen eyes)
  2. Combine 3 oz. of vodka, 1 oz. of lemon juice, and 0.5 oz. of triple sec in a shaker with ice
  3. Shake
  4.  Strain into chilled glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon slice or a sugar rim

One thought on “Delicious Horror: Nicholas Diak and Corey Niles

  1. Pingback: News Roundup W/E 2020-10-11 – Nicholas Diak's Homepage

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