Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
As 2009 wraps up, I want to honor some of the blogs that have intrigued, startled, amused, or otherwise impressed me. And at the same time, I'll pass on an honor that was given to me--the conferring of a "One Lovely Blog" badge/icon/thingy, as seen right:
The style's a bit Red Hat Society-ish, I admit, but it was bestowed on me by a noted doctor, Dr. Zaius of Zauis Nation.
Yeah, yeah, that happened nearly three months ago. Eh. I hate choosing who to pass honors like this onto, because there are so many good blogs out there. I've honored several before, and of course all the blogs in the LOTTD group (see elsewhere on this site) are very good, and hell, I just don't know how to whittle down my choices.
For this particular pat on the back, I was supposed to pay this compliment forward to 15 blogs. I thought of more than 50! I finally narrowed it down to 33, and I'm posting links to them in 2 parts.
First, the rules:
1) Accept the award, then post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
But rules are meant to be broken. So I pass on this Lovely Blog honor with a lovely revision:
3) If the folks I like accept the "OLB" e-grease, they can pass the honor to whatever number of blogs they determine best.
If they're good enough to honor, they're good enough to trust their judgement.
Now the list of honorees--with the reasons why! (That's a feature you don't often get with these mutual mastur--er, virtual admiration awards.) Okay, away we go:
Freddy in Space (John Squires) For his devotion to film horror, and coverage to all its facets, and his sense of humor.
Vault of Horror (Brian S) For his enthusiasm, intelligence, and creativity in appreciation of horror.
Oh! So Spooky. Oh! So Scary. (Belle Dee) For helping educate about, and preserve, the spooky sights & sounds from the early 20th Century.
Unimonster's Crypt (John P. Stevenson) For in-depth genre news reporting.
Negative Pleasure (Harris Smith) For his occasional grumpiness, which leavens his intelligent film reviews; and for his magazine sharity.
No Smoking in the Skull Cave (Becca) For her clean-lined, appealing art and her eye for la femme magnifique.
An Actor's Notebook (Mark Redfield) For his informed and intelligent look at classic performances and the acting process.
It Came From Allen's Brain (Allen H.) For his humorous, spiritual take on genre items.
The Skull and Pumpkin (Mike C.) For truly keeping the spirit of Halloween all the year 'round.
A Patchwork of Flesh (Coop) For showcasing talent from around the world with one simple theme: Frankenstein's creation.
The Roads of Autumn Dusk (Roger) For his odd comics, love of Lovecraft, and deadication to classic horror films.
Weird Hollow (Todd Franklin) For his sense of humor, love of monsters, and his fun, clever videos.
Frog on the Pumpkin (Chris Davis) For sharing the details of her obsessive devotion to Halloween.
Azathoth's Abode on the Plateau of Leng: The Dungeon (someone calling himself Azathoth!)
Universal Horror Sounds (Greg) Both Azathoth and Greg's blogs are marked by a deadication to horror audio sharity.
Ubermilf (SM) For her unique perspective, and for her bitching and moaning that always makes me laugh.
I toast you all with a decidedly alcoholic eggnog!
Stay tuned for Part 2!
to warm up inside! (And these pictures oughtta warm up someone out there in blog-readerland.)
Classic art by Ren Wicks.
The top illo is the "Snow Maiden" from the Girls of Fantasy series, (which featured a devil, a witch, a "centaurine", and a mermaid, among others); the bottom is art from a 1948 magazine ad.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Two of the most popular and linked-to entries of this blog are How to Care for Your Monster, Part 1 and Part 2 about the beloved 1970 Norman Bridwell kid's book from Scholastic.
So as a Christmas gift to TDSH readers I thought I'd share some select scans from another Bridwell book, The Witch's Christmas.
In this charming book from the same year, a young girl and her little brother are friends with a witch, whose magic makes winter and Christmas activities more fun for them. Later, when Santa's sleigh hits a Apollo space capsule (hey, it IS 1970!) and becomes entangled with it, the witch comes to the rescue. Creating magic brooms for Santa, the reindeer, and the astronauts, she leads them all to safety and a party with the brother and sister.
A very sweet story by Bridwell, the artist and writer of the popular Clifford, the Big Red Dog books.
Enjoy the scans--click on any of the photos below to enlarge them.
You could run into Santa and ruin everyone's Christmas!
Here's a "Don't drink and drive" Christmas carol from the satirical mind of Frank Jacobs, who wrote these lyrics for MAD magazine in the 1970s...
"We Three Clods From Omaha Are"
(Sung to the tune of "We Three Kings Of Orient Are")
We three clods from Omaha are
Spending Christmas Eve in a car
Driving, drinking, glasses clinking -
Who needs a lousy bar?
Drink to Charlie, drink to Paul
Drink to friends we can't recall
Signs unheeding -
Drink to anything at all.
We three clods are feeling no pain
Drunk as skunks with booze on the brain
Senses losing, 'til we're cruising
Into a wrong-way lane.
Drink to Melvin, drink to Fred
Drink to those two trucks ahead
Screeching, crashing -
Drink 'til they pronounce us dead.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
(I'd make some cheap joke about the north pole, but I'm sure you're way ahead of me.)
Caption: "Now WHAT did I do with my drunken severed head...... t-shirt?!"
Josh writes to say he is "a loyal reader" of this blog, and eats "enormous amounts of cheese." (Well, this IS a cheesy blog, so I'm not surprised he mentions that latter bit o' trivia.)
Josh also sent me a picture of his fingernails as they appeared before he saw his doctor today:
Uh...thanks, Josh--I think! (He says this a picture of an a-cute nail infection*!)
*Fungi treacli schmaltzi
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I love seeing cemeteries when their is snow on the ground. Somehow they are more beautiful then.
Slate has an interesting essay on the "surprising beauty of portraits on gravestones" with a good slideshow attached. (The pic just above comes from the slideshow.) Check it out here.
And to see some very odd gravestones, click on this link to a Mental Floss item.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Link to HORRORBLES website
Horrorbles, the official store of Fangoria, reminds you to "Think globally, shop Horrorbly!" Located in Berwyn, Illinois, at 6729 W. Roosevelt Rd. Phone #: 708-484-7370
(Disclosure: I received NO consideration of ANY kind for pluggin' this sale. The owner, John Aranza is a friend I see at conventions, and I like his selection of stuff.)
John sent this picture of their new gallery section (next to their new screening room):
Santa Orlock and his helper, John Aranza:
This song is a Christmas classic I treasure, and look forward to all year. Great for caroling!
"But," you say, I want Christmas tunes with nothing creepy in them!" Hmmm. Well, this unusual (but cheerful) a cappella musical mashup oughtta warm the cockles of your heart on a cold day like today!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
...it struck me as a very oddly composed photograph. Putin's head appears to be resting in a surgical tray, and he seems to be missing his lower jaw! It's as if his head were part of some Frankensteinian experiment! Yikes!
So naturally I used my crude paint program to make Putin even MORE like part of some horrible surgical experiment in a Hammer film!
Yeah, I know. I'm weird.
I hope the KGB (or whatever replaced it after the collapse of the Soviet Union) has a macabre sense of whimsy if they ever visit this blog...
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Jeffrey Combs, star of the cult films Re-Animator, From Beyond and others, will be playing Edgar Allan Poe in a one-man show in Baltimore in January!
Actor Mark Redfield sends this press release that I am happy to share:
The EDGAR ALLAN POE HOUSE and MUSEUM
Proudly Presents the East Coast PREMIERE of
JEFFREY COMBS in
NEVERMORE, An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe
Written by Dennis PAOLI -- Directed by Stuart GORDON;
East Coast Premiere Produced by Jeff JEROME and Mark REDFIELD
TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY!
WHEN: SATURDAY, JANUARY 23rd, 2010 at 7pm (doors open to the public at 6pm)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 24th, 2010 AT 4:30pm (doors open to the public at 3:30pm)
The performance is 90 minutes without intermission. Children under 9 years not allowed.
WHERE: WESTMINSTER HALL (the burial place of Edgar Allan Poe) 519 West Fayette Street (corner Fayette and Greene), Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Tickets are $35.00 (Order your tickets at www.poebicentennial.com). Tickets are transferable, but not refundable.
Celebrate Poe’s birthday with us this January as we go beyond the bicentennial and present this astounding tour de force! You’ve heard about this remarkable one-man show and your friends who have seen it agree with the LA Times, calling Jeffrey Combs work “a landmark performance”!
Stay after the performance for our famous Birthday toast to Poe, and an after-show discussion with star Jeffrey Combs and director Stuart Gordon, moderated by Mark Redfield.
About the play: "NEVERMORE, An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe" debuted in Los Angeles at the Steve Allen Theater on July, 2009. Sold-out houses and multiple extensions brought the run in Los Angeles to a close on December 19, 2009. Hundreds of fans have seen the show and raved about Jeffrey Combs portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe.
"NEVERMORE, An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe" recreates the public recitals that Poe presented during the last few years of his life. This is Poe in his own words. The text is taken from his letters and essays.
“A landmark performance” –LA Times
ABOUT JEFFREY COMBS : Combs has appeared in over 75 stage productions during his long and successful career. He has performed at numerous theaters including the Old Globe, the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and the Arizona Theatre Company.
He has starred in over 50 films and is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Herbert West in the cult classic RE-ANIMATOR. He also starred in FROM BEYOND, LOVE & A .45, the recent remake of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and Peter Jackson’s THE FRIGHTENERS among many others.
Over the span of his career, Jeffrey has also guest starred on many TV series including THE 4400, COLD CASE, and CSI. He appeared in almost 50 episodes as three different recurring roles within the STAR TREK franchise. He has also portrayed Poe on film in Stuart Gordon’s THE BLACK CAT, a highly acclaimed episode of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR series.
“A must-see” - Metromix
ABOUT DENNIS PAOLI (playwright): Paoli has written screenplays and plays, many of them adaptations of the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe (RE-ANIMATOR, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM) many of them collaborations with many other writers (BEACH BUMS, BODYSNATCHERS), most of those with Stuart Gordon (DREAMS IN THE WITCH-HOUSE, THE BLACK CAT, FROM BEYOND). He teaches Gothic fiction (among other literature) and academic writing at Hunter College in New York City, and is Director of the Heidi Paoli Fund, to support cancer patients.
“Beautifully directed” – L.A. Weekly
ABOUT STUART GORDON (director): Gordon has been collaborating with writer Dennis Paoli since their high school comedy group called The Human Race hit the boards nearly 50 years ago and with actor Jeffrey Combs since they joined forces on the cult film RE-ANIMATOR almost 25 years ago. In 1969 Gordon and his wife Carolyn founded Chicago’s Organic Theater Company, where as artistic director he produced and directed over 35 original plays. These included the science fiction trilogy WARP which was performed on Broadway, the world premiere of David Mamet’s SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO, and POE, his first exploration of the life and works of the tormented writer.
Stuart Gordon is also known for his film adaptations of the works of H.P. Lovecraft which include FROM BEYOND and DAGON; as the co-creator of Disney’s HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS and as the director of EDMUND, the film adaptation of David Mamet’s play.
Order your tickets NOW at www.poebicentennial.com !
"NEW YORK – An ivory and gold toothpick once owned by New York City auction for $9,150....has sold at a
"The toothpick is engraved with the author's initials and has a retracting mechanism.
"An authentication letter from sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth says the British writer of A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist used the toothpick 'when travelling and on his last visit to America.'"
It fetched far more than auction house Bonham's pre-sale estimate of $3000 to $5000. Guess you'd say it bested their great expectation!
Frankly, buying his toothpick wouldn't interest me. But buying his teeth would!*
*Especially if they were still in his skull.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"Hell is other people." -- Jean Paul Sartre
If the grooming, fashion and style sense of other people are an element in Sartre's concept of the netherworld, then the blogs Sexy People, People of Wal-Mart, Awkward Family Photos and Go Fug Yourself are the web's windows into the deepest levels of Hades...
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Photo right: Ted Newsom
What inspired you to write Too Many Creeps?
I've been a fan of Lugosi forever, Karloff just as long, and Ed Wood since before the revival started by the Rudolph Gray book [Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.]- for a start. I thought the dynamic between Alex Gordon and Ed Wood must have been fascinating, for the time they did spend together in the early '50s-- Mr. Gordon, from what I hear and what I know of him, was a quiet, gentle little guy; Wood, marvelously self-deluded. I thought, that's really a classic Odd Couple set-up. Now, add a 70 year old Lugosi...
I did my video documentary for Rhino Video, Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora during the same time period as the Tim Burton film Ed Wood was being done. Our documentary came out simultaneously with their movie. (Intentionally-- so a little POS video doc ended up having the benefit of a ten million dollar ad campaign.) My friend the late Mark Carducci had already completed his Plan 9 Companion book by then. Obviously there was a lot of biographical material on Lugosi by then: the Richard Creme and Arthur Lennig books, primarily; Gary Rhodes' stuff, Greg Mank's research. Every one of them provided a little prism to reflect light.
I wanted to write a play, within the classic proscenium-arch limitations, basically a one-set piece. I'd never done that before, just films, articles, short stories, and so on. It started as the long opening scene with Ed, Alex and Bela. I did a draft of the confrontation with Boris, then put it all aside for quite a while. I vaguely knew what I was going to do, since it was a fact that Alex Gordon and Ed Wood had tried unsuccessfully to mount films like this in the early '50s. This was probably around 1994, about a jillion years ago. Bits and piece would come to me off and on, but I basically left it alone, promising myself I'd get around to finishing it one of these days.
How long did it take to write? You wrote the play some years ago.
Actually, when I gave it some thought, I've realized I finished it in, probably 2002. I think it was a couple years later that I decided to hold a table reading to see if any of it actually worked. When I finally got down to concentrating on it, after letting it cook and clot in my brain for so long, I think it took about six weeks.
Why did you decide to let it get published now?
First, Max Cheney leaned on me, and since he had the acetylene torch and the Polaroids, there was nothing I could do.
Second, it was time I got off my butt and did something with it. I thought some of the dialogue was fun, I liked the dynamic of the characters, and it was worth people reading it, anyway. And if I'm ever to actually see a play produced, I ain't gettin' any younger.
Other friends of mine-- far more talented than me, of course, (I said with groveling false modesty) have written plays and put them on, and it was about time I tried. My friend John Goodwin, for instance, did a stage show which was basically his theatrical take on the movie we made together, The Naked Monster. His work was an interactive play with terrific William Castle gimmicks-- including a really giant snake's head that lunged out and ate people on stage. His template was The Giant Gila Monster, mine on The Naked Monster was Godzilla and Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. I could appreciate both versions. And my pal Richard Nathan-- prolific and very, very funny, clever writer-- keeps churning out sketches and Shakespearean parodies, one of which, A Night in Elsinore, I was lucky enough to be in. And I knew Ernie Farino-- primarily known as an FX expert and film director-- had directed a small play in one of the little Equity-wavier theaters down on Santa Monica Boulevard. All of this stuff made me think, "Well, why can't I give it a shot?"
If you were to cast Lugosi and Karloff in a film with parts of roughly equal size, who'd get top billing, and why?
I wouldn't. Since Karloff invariably got top billing, I'd do what they did on the posters and ads for -- I think it was-- Staircase, with Richard Burton and Rex Harrison: stagger them. The first billed would be slightly lower than the second on the posters. And do what they did with Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man: one guy billed ahead of the other on the ads, the other in the credits.
In your Lazlo Revik story about a forgotten horror star of the past, your fictional film star Revik plays a character called "Dr. Ghoul." In Too Many Creeps, the main character in the film script is "Dr. Voodoo." Was there a "Dr." character in genre films that you liked very much, one that your characters are an affectionate reference to?
I chose the "Dr. Voodoo" title because I think there really WAS an Alex Gordon/Ed Wood project called Dr. Voodoo. In any case, it's a singular-name title, which implies that it's a one-star vehicle. And that would immediately cause a problem if the story is designed around two leading actors instead of one.
It's not that I was overwhelmed with nostalgia about Dr. X, Dr. Rx, and Dr. Cyclops. My screenplay "Alias Dr. Ghoul" came after I'd finished the "Creeps" play-- again, it was the germ of an idea I'd nursed for a long time-- and the play's "Dr. Voodoo" influenced creating the equally fictitious Dr. Ghoul-- though the characters and stories are nothing alike.
Did you cut any dialogue or business, and if so, why?
I think I considered having a gorilla in it at one point, but I thought, how difficult is that going to be if you're trying to stage this in Butte, or Oklahoma City, or Bangkor? In 2006 (I think), I tried trimming it, because in my opinion the reading was too long, at two hours. I didn't kill any big plot points or jokes, just trimmed lines, dropped out a lot of extraneous "Well," and "Oh," and shortened a lot of sentences. It didn't get all that much shorter.
What were the comments of those who performed the table reading you held? What moment got most laughs?
They all chuckled to the last page. It's tough to gauge. I can't remember any particular lines that caused guffaws, titters or yuk yuks. I know the Peter Lorre stuff always went over well. He was so easy to write for. And Carradine, at least here, is such a wonderful buffoon.
Can you think of any modern day actors that you think could play Karloff, Lugosi, Lorre and Chaney?
I wouldn't try to-- at least not for this. People have done fantasy casting, like Karloff as if played by Liam Nelson. Bela Jr., first time I met him, when I had written a script about his father, brought up Laurence Harvey as a possibility (except that Harvey was already dead.) That wouldn't have been bad. In a perfect world, I think Claude Akins should have played Lon Chaney Jr. in Man of a Thousand Faces, for instance. In 1957, he would have looked and been just perfect. Think about Martin Landau as Lugosi: really, there's no resemblance physically. But the script was right, the Rick Baker make-up was right, and the part was extremely well-written, so you accepted it.
The thing I bear in mind here is, the play's the thing. Richard Nathan's A Night in Elsinore, for instance, is Hamlet, as done by the Marx Brothers. Groucho is Hamlet, Chico is Horatio, Harpo is the Ghost of Hamlet's Father; Laurel and Hardy are Rosenkrantz and Guilderstern; the players are The Three Stooges. It's such a brilliant parody-- entirely true to Shakespeare, but also precisely true to the movie comedians' characters. And when we did it, obviously we all tried to emulate the screen characters, but it was the behavior of the characters within the story which was more important than dead-on impersonations. And his play has been put on in a number of places, in a number of ways-- including an all-children cast, with no actor over 14, and some as young as 7 or 8. Clearly, that's a lot different from the version we did in Pasadena, but apparently it worked great.
It would be good if the play worked without doing impressions. If it still was dramatically and comedically valid if, for instance, some group decided to play the Lugosi character as a non-accented Midwesterner, or Karloff as a New Yorker. That's when you'd know if the play itself worked without the gimmick of using recognizable icons.
At one point, about 2003, an actor-producer I knew, John Clark, read the play and wanted to do it with Ron Jeremy as the Ed Wood character. John wanted me to rewrite it into a generic sleazeball film maker to make it more Ron Jeremy-esque. Well, I actually have a great deal of respect for Ron Jeremy's comedic talents. This did not work out, and I didn't seriously consider it, certainly did no revisions-- but it was not such an insane idea, to think out of the box.
Which of the real people portrayed in the play did you have to invent the most? In other words, who did you have the least material to create your character from?
Alex Gordon and Ed Wood are probably the two characters least bound to published quotes (which is not what you want to hear. You want to know what monster man has the most Ted Made It Up dialogue). Of the historical personages, actually, the Peter Lorre character probably is based less on actual quotes than any of the others. It just SOUNDS like stuff you'd expect Peter Lorre to say.
You get to spend time with ONE of the characters in the play. Who would it be, and why?
Since Peter Lorre often wrote his own dialogue-- that clever ad-libbing fellow-- I'd think he'd be the most fun to spend some time with.
It's been fun spending some time chatting with you about this play. Anything I haven't asked that you would like to tell about?
How about "Are there any plans to stage this?"
I'll bite. Are there any plans to stage this?
Funny you should ask. There ARE some people expressing interest. We'll see.
Monday, December 7, 2009
ACT THREE-- THE OFFICE, THE NEXT DAY
THE OFFICE, THE NEXT DAY. Alex slumps on the couch, annotating a script. Ed has his feet propped on the desk, wearing his Angora sweater.
ALEX: Maybe if we had a scene between the young cop and the inspector. Same sets.
ED: You sure you don’t mind?
ALEX: The Angora? What does it matter now? (Ed folds his arms, trying to take some comfort.) Ted Allen was willing to put up half on Lugosi’s name alone. We should call. (Ed languidly picks up the receiver, clicks the switch-hook, and hangs up.) The pay phone at the drug store still works.
ED: Only if you’ve got a nickel. (Kenny Hyman enters.)
KENNY: ’Morning, guys. Guess your phone’s still out. You should complain.
ED: Complaints are Alex’s department.
KENNY: Wow. Nice sweater.
ED: It’s Angora. I got it from my mother.
KENNY: Was she a goat? Sorry. Kidding. Oh, “kidding,” that’s just as bad.
ALEX: Mr. Hyman, you have no idea how bad we feel.
ED: We’re abashed at the abjectness of the debacle. In spades.
KENNY: Er… right.
ALEX: We’ve wasted your time. I hope we can make up for that somehow. Coffee?
KENNY: I told dad about last night. We don’t think this is right for Allied Artists.
ED: Oh, God. It’s all my fault.
ALEX: Things just got out of hand. Too many cooks.
KENNY: Sorry I left, but Dad’s in New York three hours ahead, and I had to tell him--
ALEX: It was all just too-too, really. If we had time to arrange things better --
ED: Don’t, Alex, it’s my fault. I should’ve known.
KENNY: What are you two talking about?
ED: How screwed up we made things go.
KENNY: I thought it was a riot. I told Dad what a cast we’d assembled, what a show, and we ended up laughing and talking for two hours. (Alex stands immobile with the cup of coffee. Kenny takes it, quite animated.) Now Allied makes maybe two big pictures a year, otherwise it’s all low-end programmers. That, and they want sixty percent from dollar one. We could put all our eggs in one basket, but let’s think substitutes. You got other scripts?
ALEX: Well…King Robot, where we’d use Bela’s shots from the English comedy.
KENNY: Let’s skip that part. What kind of story is it?
ALEX: Like Donovan’s Brain. Scientist puts a gangster’s brain in an atomic robot.
KENNY: Good. Chaney’d make a good gangster. What else?
ED: The Ghoul Goes West. Mad scientist in the old west makes zombies. The sheriff--
KENNY: Who would you see as the good guy, the cowboy?
ED: Well, I happen to know Bob Steele in person--
KENNY: Well-- no. Nobody knows Bob Steele. What about Roy Rogers?
ALEX: I was head of Gene Autry’s English fan club. I could ask--
KENNY: Good. The title’s cutesy-wootsy. Audience might think it’s a comedy.
ALEX: It’s a pun on The Ghost Goes West, the Rene Clair film, 1939--
KENNY: Yeah, yeah,, I get it, I just don’t like it.
ED: Ken, it’s hard to be enthusiastic when we’ve had the wool rug pulled from underneath ourselves on the floor. You said you’re not taking the film to Allied Artists.
KENNY: Yeah, they’re too small. We’re thinking UA instead, as negative pick-ups. We do all finance and have total control, they just distribute. And they need product.
ALEX: This sounds better than just one picture-- but I didn’t think the reading went--
KENNY: The reading? No, Jesus, it was a disaster! But you know the old saying-- bad rehearsal, good performance. Perfect rehearsal, you end up with Flop City.
ED: This is beyond the periphery of our original perimeter of a Karloff-Lugosi film.
KENNY: You said it, pal. Whatever you said. Look… (puts his arm around their shoulders) … just between us girls, my dad knows that horror pictures are coming back.
ALEX: Does he have a crystal ball?
KENNY: Better. A friend at Universal. They’re so strapped they’re selling off all their old monster pictures to Columbia Television. The deal may not close for a year or two, but when it does, wham! They’ll be box office gold again, Karloff, Chaney, all of ’em.
ED: And we’ll be sitting on a string of pictures ready to shoot. It’s perfect!
KENNY: Imagine all those guys in your pictures. Play mix’n’match.
ALEX: There’s a reincarnation idea--Peter Lorre as the hypnotist? Those eyes? And Carradine as the skeptical doctor who investigates him?
ED: Mr. Chaney has a script called The Gila Man that he personally wrote himself.
KENNY: Healer Man? What, like a doctor story, hospitals?
ED: No, Gila-- hee-la-- like a Gila monster. Like the Wolf Man, only a lizard-man.
KENNY: Oh, I can see that playing in drive-ins. Hey, I had this idea. What do you think? It’s Victorian London. Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes--
ALEX: I think he’s done it once or twice already--
KENNY: Exactly. He thinks it’s Jack the Ripper, but there’s these bloodless corpses --
ED: It’s Count Dracula!
KENNY: Exactly! And it’s Boris Karloff!
ALEX: You mean Bela Lugosi.
KENNY: No, no, I mean Karloff. Think about it. In the book, he’s a white-haired geezer with a mustache. Dark brows, sinister. A completely different take.
ALEX: Yes, but Dracula’s really Bela’s part.
KENNY: Forget nostalgia a minute. Carradine did it, Chaney. Why not Karloff?
ED: Why not? Orson Welles played Dracula and he didn’t look anything like Lugosi.
ALEX: No-- because that was on the radio.
ED: Yeah, well… he didn’t sound like him, either!
KENNY: With Karloff, darken up his hair, presto, he’ll look fifty. He grows younger when he drinks blood. That’s the horror of Dracula. (hits him) Wow. What a good title.
ALEX: Bela could appear younger in make-up, too.
KENNY: That might be a little harder… but think of the old switcheroo. What if Lugosi plays, oh-- the expert, the doctor who helps Sherlock Holmes.
ALEX: Dr. Watson? I scarcely think his accent --
KENNY: No, Van Helsing. People expect him as the vampire, he’s actually a good guy.
ALEX: He might be concerned about playing second banana.
KENNY: Frankly, I’m concerned about Mr. Lugosi. Did you guys see that last Laurel and Hardy film, the French one?. Atoll K, Autopia, or Utopia-- whatever it was called.
ALEX: Oh, dear, Hardy looked so-o-o fat, and Stanley looks positively skeletal.
KENNY: Unh-huh , like he vacationed in Auschwitz. It ruined the film for me, I couldn’t laugh. Plus I think Mr. Lugosi might not pass an insurance physical.
ALEX: He says he’s ready to work. Healthy. I believe him.
KENNY: Honestly? He looks, well… kinda scary.
ALEX: Well, it is a horror film, after all…
KENNY: But there’s movie scary and there’s reality. People don’t want to think about real death, or age, or sickness… it’s as if you actually saw a photograph of FDR in a wheelchair, y’know? It makes you… uncomfortable.
ED: So we concentrate on other projects for a while?
KENNY: A few months, till he looks healthier. (heads for door) Think long-term, okay?
ED: Long-term-- how long in the long term?
KENNY: Once we get started-- if this takes off the way we think it will-- we’ll be making these things for years, three or four a year. You’ll be set. All I ask is that you guys keep coming up with those ideas. Call me. As soon as your phone works. (With a wave, he’s off. Ed sits on the edge of the desk, a bit smug.)
ALEX: Eddie. (No response. Alex crosses to him.)
ED: I’m taking a moment to contemplate the infinite possibilities of the twists and turns of the reality of consciousness.
ALEX: Fine, there’s a moment. Now let’s talk.
ED: It’s only just what we’ve always wanted forever. That’s all. Making real movies.
ALEX: This is out of hand. We’ve lost control of this project. It was supposed to be you and me, making a picture with Karloff and Lugosi.
ED: He appreciates our ideas. This is the opportunity of the postman knocking twice.
ALEX: Boris Karloff as Dracula?
ED: Remember on Jail Bait? We wrote it for Bela, he got sick, we got Herbert Rawlinson, he was fine. Of course, then he died, but the show must go on.
ALEX: Bela has nobody else. He’s counting on us.
ED: Yes! He has confidence, and so should you. We’re going to be in a position to help him. To hire him for a real movie. Maybe lots of movies.
ALEX: He thinks we’re going to start a movie. This big plan may not happen for weeks, maybe months-- maybe a couple years! Were you listening?
ED: Yes. And I heard exactly what I wanted to hear. Someone who knows of which he speaks, says that you and I are talented humans.
ALEX: Eddie, just yesterday, your new best friend said your script stunk to high heaven.
ED: Bygones under the bridge, my dear Alex. I’m with him one hundred percent.
ALEX: I can’t do this to Bela, Eddie. You’re ready to sell him out.
ED: No. I’m going to sell myself out so that I can help him. And everybody else.
ALEX: Convince yourself of that. (Kenny opens the door.)
KENNY: I forget the weirdest part. Dad’s got an English company that can do the below the line for a fraction of what we could do it for here. They’ve done sci-fi, mysteries, and they’ve got some great directors. One of them was even the guy who directed that Old Mother Riley thing with Lugosi. How about that? (Kenny looks at Ed and Alex. There’s a long silence.) We discussed this. You said you agreed.
ED: What-- that I have to drink tea?
KENNY: No, umm... consider having somebody else direct the films.
ED: Well, but-- it's my picture...
KENNY: I know. But if we get financing, they-- the banks, the government, whatever-- they’ll want somebody else, if it's a co-production. We'd have to have English directors. (Ed starts to catch on-- and he's flummoxed.) It's a compromise. But we adjust, take a step to the side, and go forward.
KENNY: They’ll still be your scripts. And you'd work with me making them, and we’ll have Karloff and Lugosi and Chaney and whoever we want.
ED: Well, what we don’t shoot in England?
KENNY: I just want you to consider that possibility.
ED: Well, I wrote the script ’cause I wanna make it.
ALEX: Mr. Hyman, you understand how Ed feels.
KENNY: I know, and I don't want to upset the apple cart, but think in the long term----
ALEX: It's been his baby, but what he wants is to make a good film--
KENNY: Yes. A real movie. Movies. Lots of them. And down the line, it's a chance for Mr. Lugosi, too. A comeback. I've always been a fan. As long as we all understand.
ALEX: Eddie’s with you a hundred percent. He told me. Anything to get them done. (Ed nods sullenly. Kenny heads for the door.)
KENNY: Got time for lunch? I want to talk about that gangster robot idea. (Ed waves them off, shaking his head. Alex crosses to exit with Kenny.) What about Brod Crawford or Larry Tierney as the big boss, hmm? (They close the door. Ed looks around, scuffing his shoe.)
ED: Might not be so bad… one thing leads to another… you never know… (A KNOCK. Ed smirks in triumph.) Back to change your mind again, eh? (He opens the door-- the Cab Driver.) I know, fare from La Brea, four seventy-five.
CAB DRIVER: Actually, the meter says fifty-five fifty, but I’ll round it off to fifty bucks. (Ed looks out the door-- nobody there.)
ED: Fifty bucks?!? Where the hell did you take him -- Montana? (The Cab Driver calmly closes the door.)
CAB DRIVER: Around. I seen the ol’ man walkin’, asked him if he needed a lift, and we drove out to the valley, some place out near Universal.
ED: North Hollywood? He used to live out there.
CAB DRIVER: So he said. They was tearin’ it down for apartments. So we bought some beer and just cruised-- on the meter. (The Cab Driver pulls a headshot from his jacket, goes to lay it on the desk.) Your pal said I should drop this off. Anyways, he was happy and tellin’ stories, and we drove into the Hollywood hills, to another old place.
ED: Up on Outpost Drive?
CAB DRIVER: Like a castle. Family lets us in, they’re tickled. He looks around, makes with some compliments, we beat it. He starts talkin’ about some guy named Wally Ford, gettin’… emotional. I figure I oughta get ’im here quick.
ED: Uh-oh. Why? Was he mad?
CAB DRIVER: No. Real quiet. He just kept sayin’, “It’s too late.” Did he… have an appointment with ya or somethin’?
ED (goes to the window to look out): Where is he?
CAB DRIVER: Sittin’ in the cab. You want I should get him? (Bela opens the door, composed and business-like.)
BELA: My friend-- you have a potential customer at the curb. I asked them to please wait for you.
CAB DRIVER: Good, I need the dough. Hey, about the fare-- look, skip it. Just gimme a call when you guys make a picture, huh? See ya, pal.
BELA: Good-bye. And don’t forget: Wallace Ford. (The Cab Driver exits. Ed looks at Bela quizzically.) Do you know of the actor Wally Ford?
ED: Sure, fast-talking sorta New York guy.
BELA: Actually from London, but he makes an excellent Brooklyn accent. We made pictures together, a long time ago. Cheap, terrible. One week, maybe ten day schedule.
ED: He played the cab driver in Harvey, with Jimmy Stewart.
BELA: Precisely. The big rabbit. With one scene, Wally was nearly nominated for an Academy Award. Nice guy. So I told my new friend, never give up. You pray to God and believe in yourself… or maybe other way around… maybe fate is kind. (Bela eases onto the couch, looks up at the Dr. Voodoo poster, then at Ed.) So … on the level… what gives?
ED: I’ve been thinking… maybe alphabetical isn’t fair after all.
BELA: I don’t care. Just tell me the truth.
ED: I do care. It’s important to me. Wait. (Ed goes to the desk and dials a number.) This won’t take long.
BELA: I expect not. Sometimes you are a fast talker.
ED (on phone): Hello, Ken? Ed Wood. I’ve been considering Dr. Voodoo, and Lugosi’s name has to go first. No, never mind alphabetical, we wrote it for him, and Bela is Dr. Voodoo. (Bela looks at the Dr. Voodoo poster with a wry grin.) No, I don’t care what the others say. We can do the picture without them, but we can’t do it without Bela. Well, go ahead, think about it, but it’s a deal-breaker. It’s final. (He hangs up. Lugosi turns, bows politely.)
BELA: Impressive. I hope you realize, you had a bird in the hand… and you crushed it.
ED: Yes, I… had to. It was best… for everybody.
BELA: Decidedly. Eddie, if we do this picture--
ED: Oh, we will, guaranteed.
BELA: In any case… since the part is a maniacal mesmerist, which would you prefer I use? The Dracula movement, like drawing the mind, a psychic puppet-master…(His arm snakes out, his fingers twisting into a familiar curl.) Or the White Zombie gesture, symbolic of a soul bound into submission…? (His hands slide together, fingers interlaced, thumbs arching tightly together.)
ED: Either… but I like the White Zombie pose. It’s less familiar.
BELA: Theatrical, I know. But I think either would look more impressive than reality. I don’t know if people would believe a man can fall into a deep trance at the word gorilla. (Ed’s eyes instantly close and his head sags to the side.) Sit up. Now… you will tell me the truth.
ED: Truth… the truth is… I have a fetish for women’s clothes. I love the feel of silk undies and angora next to my skin.
BELA: Not that! I know that! How long has your phone been out of order?
ED: Since yesterday. I couldn’t pay the bill.
BELA: What did Kenneth Hyman say to you?
ED: We can do a bunch of horror pictures, but I can’t direct them and we won’t be starting for months or even years. No promises. And we probably won’t use Lugosi. (Bela turns, considering this.)
BELA: I can twist your mind to make you believe you are more talented than Alfred Hitchcock …and that you should hire me for every picture that you ever make. (He looks at the wide-eyed Ed Wood, shaking his head softly.) But it would only be Lugosi talking to himself. (He goes to Ed, nose to nose.) Look into my eyes. I command you… to do what is fair… to do what you must. You shall never give up.
ED: Never give up.
BELA: Close your eyes. I will awaken you on the count of three, and you shall forget you were ever hypnotized. One. Two. Three. (Bela snaps his fingers. Ed’s eyes pop open.)
ED: The White Zombie pose. It’s less familiar.
BELA: Very good. I shall use that in our next picture.
ED: Great, and maybe we’ll put Dr. Voodoo aside. Let Karloff get his own jobs.
BELA: He seems to have no problem doing that.
ED: I’ve got that mad doctor script Alex and I wrote for you. We might be able to get half the financing, so at least we could start.
BELA (crosses to door): If that is to be… it is to be.
ED (follows): Bela, all that mesmerism stuff? I was never really in a trance. I was just pretending. For you.
BELA: I know, my friend. The Hindus call it Maya -- a mutual illusion. All this…it is all illusion. We are all in a racket of pretending.
ED: But we are gonna make movies, I promise. I wanna make movies in the worst way.
BELA: I know you will do exactly that. You now will do the best you can do. And perhaps, now… you are the best I can do. You have my number. And one last thing…
ED: Anything. What?
BELA: Elephant. (Ed’s arm hand shoots up. Puzzled, he looks at it, then at Bela.) Your arm is in the air. Does that seem odd to you?
ED: No, not at all.
BELA: Good. Gorilla! (Ed’s head lolls onto his shoulder. With a chuckle, Bela closes the door.)