Friday, September 28, 2007
Reptilian shades of Hugh Lofting's Pushmi-pullyu!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Karl Hardman, star of the original Night Of The Living Dead, (he was "Harry Cooper") has passed away at the age of 80. He was the real life father to Kyra Schon, who played his daughter in the classic Romero film.
He was also part of classic AM radio in Pittsburgh in the 1960s. For more on the Cordic & C0. radio show he worked in as a writer and performer, go here and then here. (The latter is a newspaper article from 1970.)
He will be missed.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Right now, I need to re-watch the great clowns of silent films and watch performances of Mummenschanz.
Several of my favorite actors are performers who did fine work in the horror and fantasy film genres. Marceau, of course, was not a horror icon (although the only film he ever starred in, William Castle's 1974 film SHANKS, is a horror movie). But Monsieur Marceau was a notable figure in imaginative storytelling; what were his mime performances if not finely crafted pieces of fantasy?
He was a popular performer with much of the late Baby Boom generation. As a child, I saw his appearances on Red Skelton's TV show in the 1960s. Later, I enjoyed him in BARBARELLA, loved his hilarious cameo in Mel Brook's 1976 SILENT MOVIE, and thrilled to see him perform live at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN in the 1980s. I was lucky enough to meet and chat with him afterwards, and was relieved that he was delighted to speak to fans.
He spoke of how mime could instruct and delight across language barriers. He praised Stan Laurel. (I think in response to a question of mine.) He told us-- the small crowd of fans gathered to meet him after the show-- how glad he was that we enjoyed his performance. (I also remember that he was very angry that some of the blue-hair crowd that comprised much of the audience left during his bows. The fact that they couldn't respectfully wait to go to their cars until after the applause had finished annoyed him mightily.)
In 1973 he appeared on the BBC playing most of the characters in A Christmas Carol.
He was one of the 20th Century's best entertainers. May he rest in peace.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Universal Horror Sounds
What a great Halloween season treat! Soundtracks not offered on the web before, and some great video clips. Man, this is aurally awesome!
Friday, September 21, 2007
I'd been saving this for October, but was inspired to share this now because of the latest cool entry at the Frankensteinia blog! T. S. Kuebler, the discoverer of the Monster's skull, has a great website (which is listed in my links, as well as links for the Classic Horror Film Board and Frankensteinia.); check 'em all out. But not before you see this x-ray of the Monster's skull (done before Frankenstein's creation was completed), which I found at a medical website:
I wonder if dadabigelow has ever sent off for these:
Amazingly, I found some X-rated x-rays at a website ! No kidding-- really! If you're over 18 (and you take all responsibility for your own actions by clicking), here's a link to the URL:
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Voodoo Queen and I recently attended the above event, and we both had a stupendously fun, retro-ridiculous good time!
Hell, any event where I can watch HORROR EXPRESS (for the half-dozenth time) and still get a big kick out of it is a terrific (terror-ific?) event! Nothing like a huge screen to make a movie a marvel. The Bert Gordon movies FOOD OF THE GODS and EMPIRE OF THE ANTS were a bigger thrill than I thought they'd be. I'd expected the tedium of something like FROGS, or TROG, movie dross from the '70s. But noooooo, they were very entertaining. And all in gorgeous color.
The event was at a theater where we had seen the original "The Blob" last summer, the Riverside Drive-In, about 45 minutes away. The ride itself was nice, taking us through some scenic parts of rural Pennsylvania. We got there early enough to meet people, and got to talk to several interesting fans of classic cheeseball horror/exploitation flicks. Friendly people like Art Ettinger and Jamie Summers, editors of Ultra Violent magazine. (They gave me issue 8, which has just come out, and I enjoyed quite a bit.) I also met Derek Anderson of the horror surf-rock band Forbidden 5. (The band will be playing locally in October with one of my favorite players of graveyard surf-rock, The Ghastly Ones.)
Over 150 people were there, which, for an event without any history or sizeable ad campaign, was pretty good. At least I thought so. George Reis, the man who dreamed up and organized the event, had hoped for more, and I can sympathize. But people came from Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, so the event seems to have begun with a solid start.
I was very happy to meet George; he was a friendly guy and enthusiastic about 1970s drive-in horror fare. (Even so, he seemed a little bit anxious at the start about the success of the event, understandably.) His selections were all very good. The audience both nights seemed to have a blast. (Jane and I certainly did!) No one stayed in the snack bar. People hooted after each film, and nearly all stayed through the program of four films (plus trailers) each night. (Perhaps the most defections came when Grave Of The Vampire began and during its screening, as it was somewhat slow, and a fairly faded print. And Grave was also the seventh of eight features screened.)
But Grave Of The Vampire was fun, having plenty of lurid elements (like a rape by the vampire in an open grave!) and a good performance by Michael Pataki (The Onion Field, Dracula's Dog) as the evil bloodsucker. And seeing it on the theater's large 35 by 50 foot screen made it a sight.
The faded quality of the print was unavoidable, as I doubt the original camera negative or even a fine-grain master still exists for this low-budget indie vampire film. We were lucky to see any print of it! The studios that made and/or own the rights to exploitation and schlock films aren't keen to strike rental prints when they do have elements to work with, since theater demand is practically non-existent. Often, they have to rent prints from other sources to supply the occasional revival screening.
The prints for DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTERMANIA were from the collection of Harry Guerro , one of the partners of New Jersey company Exhumed Films. Harry, a guy young enough to have grown up with small-screen multiplexes, cable TV and video stores, surprisingly loves old-fashioned 35mm FILM, projected on a really big screen with some showmanship, bless him. As the website for Exhumed Films says, "Sadly, in a time of video/DVD, cable television and satellite dishes, the theatrical experience of watching horror movies has all but disappeared. The only fright flicks a film buff has any chance of seeing in the theaters are the slick, homogenized “teen” movies released by the major studios....Exhumed Films has worked diligently to re-capture the aura and atmosphere of the bygone horror double-feature."
If this event was any indication, they have thoroughly succeeded.
Another key person to the success of this event was Riverside Drive-In Theatre owner and projectionist Todd Ament. A cheerful, gracious guy to talk to, he was the first theater owner to say "yes" to George Reis's idea for the festival. Sadly, the drive-in isn't going to make Todd rich anytime soon, and the during most the autumn and winter he works elsewhere. If I had my way, he and every other drive-in operator would make a boatload o' money! (And he'd get even richer just for hosting DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTERMANIA!)
Of course, none of these guys had the nicknames I put on their photos, but somehow it just seemed the schlockily-right thing to do. (Beats nicknaming someone "Pooty Put" or "Turd Blossom" as our Chief Executive has done.) I'm truly grateful to these three men for staging an event that made me feel sixteen and at the drive-in again. Except this time I actually watched the movies!
Looking forward to SON OF DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTERMANIA in 2008!
Here are some more photos I took at this super cinematic celebration:
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Regarding the subject of the news item: gotta respect his appreciation of old school methods.
Also have to feel very sad for any one left grieving for him.
Friday, September 14, 2007
One of the most interesting people I know is Verne Langdon. A born entertainer, he has been a musician all of his life. But, multi-talented as he is, he has also been a makeup artist, mask-maker, circus clown, and professional wrestler. All of this is covered in an in-depth interview with Verne I just stumbled across here.
Boomer Monster Kids know his classic records Phantom Of The Organ, Vampyre At The Harpsichord, Music For Magicians, Poe With Pipes, and many others. He also conceived and produced the classic LP An Evening With Boris Karloff And His Friends.
He's also one of the most knowledge mixologists I know! So I asked him about the two drink recipes (a "Frankenstein" and a "Bride of Frankenstein") I posted on August 28. He had this to say:
"Nice drinks, but remove the booze and all you got is orange juice, grenadine, and a pinch of lime. Ridiculous.
"I'll take a Navy Grog anytime, and if you never heard me sing "Sippin' A Navy Grog", go to iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon.com. or your favorite Internet music source and download it. Perfect to listen to whilst you're sippin' one yourself!
- "Trader Verne" Langdon
"P.S. If it's vodka for which you're thirsting, quaff Absolut, and then only in the stiffest of stiff Bloody Mary (Manhattan glass frosted, three cubes of ice, 1/2 vodka, 1/2 V-8 Juice, 1 shot Lea and Perrins' Worcestershire sauce, three dashes of Tabasco, and a teaspoon of pepper. Agitate gingerly, then toss in 7 or 8 pimento-stuffed green olives for "garnish", eating the olives one at a time as you down the carmine concoction. Great with breakfast, at lunch or cocktail hour, and always with a New York extra-thick & juicy steak, slathered in butter and garlic and hand-rubbed with Cajun spices, with wine-besotted (braised) mushrooms dumped atop the steak at the last minute while it's still sizzling. YESSSSSSS!"
Verne has a website I recommend ("Trader Verne" in my links section.) On the page titled "Uncorked Communications" he has some funny "Idiot Sightings" listed. While you're visiting, check out his drink recipe pages (accessed by clicking on the reddish-brown tiki god.) Verne urges you to drink responsibly, but that is soooo boring. Go for the gusto and wind up a drunken severed head like me!
I've had the pleasure of chatting with Verne on the phone on several occasions, and he has always had something interesting to say. He was always funny, and alternately warm and curmudgeonly. A thoroughly independent and energetic guy with many interests and enthusiasms and strong opinions. He could perhaps even be called a "lovable cuss".
I also urge you to check out his various CDs. Of his non-spooky releases, I recommend "Out Of Love" and "Love Is All"; some of the tracks in these show him at his most vulnerable and emotionally open. They are both to be found here.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Voodoo Queen and I had rented a room at the hotel, even though we're local; it's much more convenient that way. On Thursday, the day before the con, we were shown a very nice room, and the manager on duty said it was reserved for us. Then we visited with friends Robert Taylor and Sara Waugh (the nation's foremost collectors of Vincent Price memorabilia and artifacts) ; afterwards I met up with the crew of the Universal Monster Army to help set up the Universal Monster Army Toy Tour display, a museum quality exhibit of monster toys and other items from the '50s, '60s, and '70s.
_________________Max, Robert Taylor, and "Cousin Sara" Waugh
_____________The crew: Ray Castile, Terry Ingram, ____Inebriated Noggin, and Howard Harris. Not pictured: Elizabeth Haney (behind camera)
__The display contents being rolled in. (The Drunken Severed Head has been rolled before.)
__UMA Commander-In-Chief Terry Ingram seems trapped in a display during set-up.
_________________Photos of the display after being finished:
The first official night-- Friday-- was both the zenith and the nadir of the whole experience. The Voodoo Queen and I had booked a "parlor suite" (no bed, extra chairs) so that we could throw a dinner from friends in horror fandom from around the country.We'd invited 20 to 25 people, expecting roughly half that number to show up. Well, they all showed up, and some brought friends! (And, in hindsight, there were people I didn't think to invite and now wish I had.) That was fine; we'd brought tons of food and I love to meet new people. But it almost didn't come off.
That afternoon, bringing in all the food we'd labored to assemble (must have been an odd sight to see food being brought out of our 1973 Cadillac hearse), we were amazed to see a passkey with our room number in another conventioneer's paw! Seems the hotel staff hadn't properly entered the info in the computer, and so our parlor suite was now the meeting room for the Lugosiphiles, a fine passel of Bela Lugosi freaks. (Count Jane and I in that number.) We couldn't ask for that room back. But we had to have a room in a few hours, and everyone was invited to that particular suite. So I asked for a suite nearby. No problem-- why, we could have the room across the hall!
However, the hotel, waiting until the very last minute to make the room a parlor suite, did so the easy way: they just took the king-size bed apart and set all its components against the walls! (Gee, I could never have done that myself.) Somehow, too, they forgot to remove the bedside end tables as they'd promised. But, to make up for the fact that they'd screwed up, they brought in a very large round dining room table with tablecloth and chairs. It looked nice, but took up most of the room!
In the end, the dinner was a success. My special recipe meatloaf and Jane's Coca-Cola cake were among the fare, and those two items were the most popular. (White trash cooking at its finest.) Friends who are regular fans mixed with horror film notables like producer Richard Gordon. (Horror film historian Tom Weaver called to ask if he could please bring Invasion Of The Body Snatchers star Kevin McCarthy-- I replied that I'd have paid him to do so!) But, to put it euphemistically, it was cozy. People were jammed into every spare inch of space. It resembled the stateroom scene in the Marx Bros. movie A Night At The Opera. In frustrated amusement, people actually began shouting out lines from the film: "Is my Aunt Minnie in here?" "Are those my hard boiled eggs?".
Some face time with new friends and old made the whole time at the convention definitely dazzling. I was able to meet phone pals like Karloff biographer Gord Shriver and horror film reviewer and blogger John Cozzoli. (Both were warm, fun people.) Later in the weekend, both came to my apartment to visit:
-----John Cozzoli, Raymond Castile of "The Gallery Of Monster Toys", and Gord Shriver
--------------------John Cozzoli and the unbalanced Drunken Severed Head
The Universal Monster Army classic toy display was a big success. Major collectors Howard Harris and Bobby Beeman helped with the construction and contributed to the contents on display; both were wonderful, fun people to hang around with. (I mean that literally-- they tied me to the ceiling light fixture!) I was pleased to have a few items on display too, but was especially glad to have contributed an audio portion where people could listen to samples of the best monster novelty songs and classic Halloween records, along with a commentary.
Above: Raymond Castile (as Coffin Joe) poses with display visitor Richard Sheffield, a friend of Bela Lugosi's. Sheffield is wearing German Robles' cape from the film El Vampiro.
________________A large assortment of folks came to see the display.
Scarlet Street publisher Richard Valley, having fun, enjoys playing hand model to the display.
I spent some time each day helping Terry Ingram and Raymond Castile greet people and guard the displays, and offered our guestbook for signing for those who seemed enthusiastic about what was on view.
The display of vintage collectables attracted its own collectables: Richard Sheffield came in with the cape from El Vampiro, and a fan brought in a garment from classic horror films: the pants worn by Bela Lugosi in The Raven!
The above photo shows Jim, a fan who had bought the pants Bela wore in The Raven and, I'm told, in other pictures . I'd introduced myself Friday night in the UMA display room. He seemed to me a little bit shy and glad to be welcomed. We chatted awhile, and he told me he had something he'd like to show-- Bela Lugosi's pants. This intrigued and amused me. He asked for help bringing them in from his car, saying he had a bum shoulder that made it difficult for him to carry them, as they were framed. So, donning my prosthetic robot body, we left to get them. The hotel was at the bottom of a hill, and as parking spaces there were less than ample, he'd had to park at the top. So off we trudged. I introduced Jim to some other UMA members and gave Jim the chance to talk about the pants. He'd bought them from uber-collector Forrest J. Ackerman who had bought them from Richard Sheffield, a friend of Bela Lugosi's. (A handwritten letter of authentication from FJA is in the frame.) I asked to take a picture of the pants with the display, since they certainly were a classic horror movie collectable, and he posed with this item he was proud to own. I told him I'd want to get a more detailed picture of these "trousers of terror" in the daylight. No problem! Then I helped him return the pants to his car.
The next day I see Jim again, and he tells me he's going to show them to Richard Sheffield. We go to Richard Sheffield's table, and he confirms that they are indeed Bela's old pants. He said he'd gotten them from Bela as a gift in consideration for some work or favor Richard had done Lugosi. Richard added that he'd been married in the pants, and that he was certain they had once been his, as they still showed the alterations done to them for the wedding. Richard had married a woman from Mexico (later he moved there), and Jim told him he'd found an old Mexican coin in the pocket when he bought them from Forry Ackerman.
Jim then tells Sheffield he's gonna charge ten dollars to anyone who wants to take a picture of the pants and he'll split the charge with Sheffield-- is that okay? Sheffield look quizzical but agreed to take $5.00. (And why not? I'd take free moolah anytime!) Jim then tells ME I can take another picture for ten bucks! I muttered something about having to get to an event on the schedule and I'd have to get to it another time. (A lie, but I was trying to be diplomatic.) I left, and though not exactly in a huff, not pleased. (Two fins to snap a photo of a pair of slacks being shown in a public place? Hah! It'd hafta be able to tell Lugosi anecdotes first!)
Here's the payoff to this long anecdote: the next day I run into Jim again, and he stops me to tell me if I want that second photo he was only going to be able to so for a short while as the convention was winding down. I hafta tell him I don't want another, and in response to a question I hafta tell him why! So then he offers to forgo his $5, but he'd promised Richard Sheffield $5 a shot, so......Then Sheffield comes walking along, and Jim stops him. I hand Sheffield a fiver, and he again looks quizzical, but is happy to be handed the free dough. (Sheffield was friendly and conversational at all times with me, but I wonder if he thought I was a little nuts.) I help Jim carry out the pants again and got this photo:
That's right. I PAID A MAN MONEY SO I COULD TAKE A PHOTO OF SOME PANTS THAT USED TO BELONG TO HIM.
You'd think I was some senseless, drunken, severed head!
Final report "Monster Bash Pt. 3" coming soon.
The first part, "Monster Bash 2007 Pt. 1", can be read here.
Many of the photos in my reports on Monster Bash 2007 are here through the courtesy of Raymond Castile, Howard Harris, Bobby Beeman, and Elizabeth Haney, with special assistance from Richard Olson, John Cozzoli and Ted Newsom.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Scott Essman of Universal Studios shares this video of makeup whiz Kevin Haney recreating a famous Monster of filmland! As Essman wrote, "Kevin Haney created this Glenn Strange Frankenstein Monster prosthetic likeness makeup in 1999 for the original Jack Pierce tribute which was never staged. As such, this makeup was only applied one time, with assistance by Kenny Myers and Bill Corso. Eventually, Haney created a Boris Karloff Monster makeup that was used several times for tributes to Pierce and Frankenstein (1931)."
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Whatever this animal was (mangy deformed coyote or unknown canine breed), it looks weirder than the photos of the severed head alone indicate. From the pics of the head, I'd entertained the notion of a hoax-- a shaved, decapitated dog's head was being classified as some cryptozoological beast. Now, with the photos of the whole carcass, I'm thinking, "Yep, it's a mangy deformed coyote." But if turns out to be something else, something previously unclassified, then perhaps it is the basis for the legendary tales of the "chupacabra".
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Coincidentally, The Drunken Severed Head, when he was a kid, had a relative called Aunt Bee, as well as an Uncle Monk and a great-grandmother called "Cooney". Colorful names ran in my family.
At the Classic Horror Film Board, Porfle, a/k/a Blackbiped, posts this funny foto:
Porfle's MySpace journal has been added to the links section here. He earned it.
Monday, September 3, 2007
My FAVORITE Halloween item, spousal unit Jane the Voodoo Queen, appears in the last photo holding a life-size resin skull. It was a Halloween item offered for sale at a gas station!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Has a mythical beast turned up in Texas?
By ELIZABETH WHITE, Associated Press Writer
Sat Sep 1, 5:25 PM ET
CUERO, Texas - Phylis Canion lived in Africa for four years. She's been a hunter all her life and has the mounted heads of a zebra and other exotic animals in her house to prove it. But the roadkill she found last month outside her ranch was a new one even for her, worth putting in a freezer hidden from curious onlookers: Canion believes she may have the head of the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra. "It is one ugly creature," Canion said, holding the head of the mammal, which has big ears, large fanged teeth and grayish-blue, mostly hairless skin.
Canion and some of her neighbors discovered the 40-pound bodies of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in, 80 miles southeast of . Canion said she saved the head of the one she found so she can get to get to the bottom of its ancestry through DNA testing and then mount it for posterity.
She suspects, as have many rural denizens over the years, that a chupacabra may have killed as many as 26 of her chickens in the past couple of years.
"I've seen a lot of nasty stuff. I've never seen anything like this," she said.
What tipped Canion to the possibility that this was no ugly coyote, but perhaps the vampire-like beast, is that the chickens weren't eaten or carried off — all the blood was drained from them, she said.
Chupacabra means "goat sucker" in Spanish, and it is said to have originated in, specifically and .
Canion thinks recent heavy rains ran them right out of their dens.
"I think it could have wolf in it," Canion said. "It has to be a cross between two or three different things."
She said the finding has captured the imagination of locals, just like purported sightings of Bigfoot or thehave elsewhere.
But what folks are calling a chupacabra is probably just a strange breed of dog, said veterinarian Travis Schaar of the Main Street Animal Hospital in nearby Victoria.
"I'm not going to tell you that's not a chupacabra. I just think in my opinion a chupacabra is a dog," said Schaar, who has seen Canion's find.
The "chupacabras" could have all been part of a mutated litter of dogs, or they may be a new kind of mutt, he said.
As for the bloodsucking, Schaar said that this particular canine may simply have a preference for blood, letting its prey bleed out and licking it up.
Here's a picture of another dog (found dead in Maine last year) that was being touted as some unknown monstrosity (one message board called it a chupracabra):
You can read more about this beast here. At least most descriptions of the carcass describe it as a dog-wolf hybrid, or seem to think it's a deformed dog. Doesn't seem too monstrous to me-- it seems to have been a "Hound Of The Baskervilles" scenario where fear and rumor make something slightly-out-of-the-ordinary into something seemingly supernatural.
But that's an inescapable part of being human. No amount of mundane reality or sum of prosaic facts will ever make us creatures without a need of shadows, angels and phantasms. And thank Cthulhu!
All photos copyright: Associated Press.