Saturday, June 30, 2007

Monster Bash, the pants of Bela Lugosi, Rondo for Robles, and more!

The annual Monster Bash festival held in the Pittsburgh PA region just came and went, and of course the Voodoo Queen and I were there. (It's where we announced our engagement in 2005!) Jane took the previously posted pic of Brian Horrorwitz at the Bash, and this week I'll be sharing more on the fun to had there, including a photo of the disembodied but eternally new-looking pants of the late great Bela Lugosi. (I saw them! I touched them! They cured my fear of bats!)

But first, I want to share some photos of an award ceremony I was pleased to be asked to be monster of ceremonies for. One of the Rondo Hall Of Fame awards for 2006 was bestowed upon Mexican horror icon German Robles (EL VAMPIRO, EL ATAUD DEL VAMPIRO, and many others). Sr. Robles was unable to attend the main Rondo award ceremony at Wonderfest in May, but was attending the Bash, and I was asked to present the award to him, and the event would be hosted by the Lugosiphilia Society. Mexican horror expert Bobb Cotter (author of THE MEXICAN MASKED WRESTLER AND MONSTER FILMOGRAPHY) was attending the Bash as well, so I decided it best to ask him to handle the bulk of the tribute remarks to Mr. Cotter, and to give the actual handing over of the award to Sr. Robles' long-time friend and Bash guest, Richard Sheffield. I'm glad I did-- it produced excellent results. Author Tom Weaver called the ceremony "a nice little presentation...just the right length, and some humor", and added "just right, a little bit mushy."

Of course, I went formal for the occasion: I wore my prosthetic body. Here I am with Sr. Robles:

Photos of the ceremony taken by Jane can be found at this cool blog, Vampiros and Monstruos.
Take a jaunt over there and see some nice moments captured for posterity.

To close with a really FUN foto, here's me meeting Elvira, (grrrrRRRRRrrrrr!!!) also a guest at this year's Monster Bash:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Link to TRASH!

At the recent Monster Bash convention in Pittsburgh, I had the good luck to meet Brian Horrorwitz, the genius behind Trash Palace, one of my favorite places on the web to buy stuff. I just added it to my links, as it's a great source for monsters, exploitation and rock-n-roll. (I've dropped a good bit o' dough there over the years.) Go visit the Palace!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My claim to fame

A friend -- thanks, Mike! -- sent me something that I'd forgotten I had appeared on. Here is an UNretouched 1980 "Creature Feature" trading card that featured the drunken severed head's body. (I have no idea where my corpus delicti* is now.)

* (Latin for "delicious body" ;^) )

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Beverage mecca for the drunken severed head

A small Missouri town has a tower filled with the liquid we really need to be on tap:

Photo copyright Max Cheney.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Interview With Filmmakers No. 2: Mark Redfield

Below is an interview with actor, writer, and director Mark Redfield. The impetus for my asking him for an interview was his nomination for a 2006 Rondo Award for Best Independent Film. (The Rondo Awards are organized by the Classic Horror Film Board.) His excellent drama, THE DEATH OF POE, was in competition with Ted Newsom's THE NAKED MONSTER, Paul Davids' THE SCI-FI BOYS (the eventual winner), Conor Timmis' KREATING KARLOFF, Don Glut's I WAS A TEENAGE MOVIE MAKER , Cortlandt Hull's THE WITCH'S DUNGEON: 40 YEARS OF CHILLS, and Gary and Sue Svelha's TERROR IN THE TROPICS.

I spoke with Mr. Redfield by phone in February 2007, and sent off questions by e-mail late on March 3, 2007. The last day to vote for the Rondos was March 10-- which didn't allow much time for full, thoughtful answers before the announcement of the winners! As the deadline came and went, I decided to send more questions. Mr. Redfield, busy with multiple projects, was kind enough to give me long, interesting answers on May 2. Both by phone and by e-mail correspondence Mr. Redfield was gracious, funny and completely charming.

Max the DSH: Have you seen the other films that were nominated for a "Best Independent" Rondo, and what comments do you have about them?

Mark Redfield: I haven't seen a Don Glut picture since DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS, and Ted Newsom had given me a copy of THE NAKED MONSTER before the horse race, which I
enjoyed immensely. Conor Timmis sent me a copy of KREATING KARLOFF after the contest was over, and we'll also be working together in the future-- such is the magic of the Rondos and the Classic Horror Film Board! As you now know, none of us won this year. Maybe the plan to vote for each other wasn't such a good idea. The 2006 winner was THE SCI-FI BOYS. And yes, I've seen it.

Max The DSH: Did you have an acceptance speech ready if you had won the Rondo?

Mark Redfield
: I had one. It was a "fill-in-the-blanks" speech. Maybe I can use it next year!

Max the DSH: Your latest film is about Edgar Allan Poe, who explored themes of loss, hysteria, and fear of death and decay, like no other writer of the 19th century. What made him so different, and just where do Poe's fears intersect with your own experiences and anxieties? (I assume you explored such internal connections when preparing for the role, correct?)

Mark Redfield: For me, and my answer is painted in a very broad brush strokes, THE DEATH OF POE is about the struggle of the artist. The struggle to make one's voice heard. The impermanence of all things we build or create. That is death, and the fear of not being connected. Love lost. Poe was only alive when he was connecting, when he was heard. At least, that's something that I found in him, find in me, and those ideas compelled themselves on the narrative of his last week on earth. I wanted the film to feel like a claustrophobic dream of being boxed in, walled off, and no-one can hear you or understand you. His poem, ALONE, which he wrote, interestingly when he was very young and hadn't had much life experience, says a lot. As a matter of fact, most of his poetry, with the exception of THE RAVEN, was written before he was 21. I'm not sure what that means.

Max The DSH: I'm curious as to your favorite Poe poem and/or story, and if Poe's poem Alone speaks to your experiences growing up. Were you a kid with many friends and shared interests, or someone more like the voice of Poe in that poem?

Mark Redfield: It depends on my mood. Frankly, I don't think about Poe all that much outside of work and maybe it's because I've spent so much time concentrating on him and his work. I can tell you that my least favorite is THE BELLS. Impossible. I've read it, performed it by (arm-twisting) request, and recorded it. Nobody will ever hear it. Basil Rathbone is a far, far better man than I (in more ways than one) for letting his recording loose on the public.

Max the DSH: Before starting THE DEATH OF POE, did the fairly recent theory proposed by a doctor that Poe died of rabies ever play a part of how you thought you would script Poe's demise?

Mark Redfield: Not at all. That theory just didn't fit our thinking, and still doesn't. I'm more willing to believe that Elmira's brothers beat the hell out of him outside of Philadelphia.

Max the DSH: I enjoyed your acting in DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, where you played three characters. Would you like to do multiple roles in more projects, or was it too demanding? May we someday see a Mark Redfield project akin to KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS or DR. STRANGELOVE?

Mark Redfield: The Chinese character in JEKYLL was a fluke and a challenge that Ellie made while we were filming. But it was fun to do. For me, acting is about transformation, and finding the things that are not you. Paradoxically, it's also about finding parts of one's self that fit the character, changing very little, and using selective parts of yourself. It's about selection, really. Selection and imagination.

I'm not a Lee Strasberg-method man. Strasberg and his disciples have done more harm than good. Brando is proof of that. Olivier is proof of that. At first glance, you'd think that they were polar opposites. The internal approach to the external approach thing. Horseshit. They were remarkably similar in approach, in that they used whatever worked, developed their own mysterious "methods" and relied on both the internal and external tools that actors use. No actor can ever completely be someone else. You must use the parts of yourself that work for the character, and discard or minimize the rest. Even John Wayne, who most people don't really give credit for the work that he did as an actor, understood that. A great cinema actor. I enjoy the process of "creating" a character immensely. Later this year I'm acting in a western called ONE-EYED HORSE, and am playing a man called Gatewood who is considerably older. He's full of anger, was locked in prison for years, is plotting revenge, and runs a thriving freight business. In flashbacks, we get to see him during the Civil War, as a man about my age. Now, I have nearly nothing in common with this man, but with a little imagination, and making (hopefully, god willing) some interesting choices, I can bring him to life. I'm still "learning" how to act-- I have a compulsion to explore and go through the process.

Max the DSH: Spencer Tracy and John Malkovich both played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in film. Your approach to preparing for a role is more like which actor's?

Mark Redfield: Great Scott! I have no idea. I'm guessing less like Tracy's, if one believes the stories about the amount of drinking he did, on and off the set. In the upcoming SORCERER OF STONEHENGE SCHOOL I play two characters, good and evil, in the shapes of Merlin and the wicked teacher Judas Holdfast. Merlin was another great make-up by Robert Yoho, who did the make-up in JEKYLL. SORCERER will come out in 2008.

Max the DSH: One thing I notice about your work is the mythic themes attached. ALEX AND ALEX, an upcoming project you wrote and star in, involves classic Greek deities, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE invokes Jungian archetypes, and DESPISER involves a supernatural underworld. Is this just coincidence (because you are drawn to work in the horror/fantasy genre), or are you a kindred spirit to Joseph Campbell?

Mark Redfield: I think it's both a tremendous coincidence, and the fact that I'm a student of Joseph Campbell's work. It's interesting that you should have discovered anything about ALEX AND ALEX. I suppose that it's listed in some cyberspace archives. But ALEX AND ALEX is the one that got away; the one that broke my heart. I worked very hard on the script and designs, and we actually shot most of the Mount Olympus scenes, but the financing evaporated while we were about eight days in. And, apropos to your question, ALEX was, perhaps, the most "mythologically self-conscious".

I was looking for something for Ellie Torrez, who starred in JEKYLL with me. So I created this love story, set in Baltimore's Greek community in the waterfront in 1954. I would've played a Greek artist named Alexander,she a Greek immigrant named Alexandra (hence the title, ALEX AND ALEX). Boy meets girl--BAM--boy falls in love with girl, Greek gods screw with boy and girl, slapstick hilarity ensues. The idea was that Hera and Zeus are having an argument about monogamy (because of Zeus's fooling around), and Zeus (and the other male gods) bet Hera (and the other female gods)that there is no such thing. So the gods spend all their time manipulating Alex and Alex. The gag with the gods was that they, their clothes, and Mount Olympus were all designed for 1954. I like eras where major transitions are taking place, and 1954 is perfect. Much like 1900 for JEKYLL. We have stills and the eight days of blue screen footage of their scenes. If I can get over the pain, and the money comes together, I'd love to make this picture. It makes me smile just remembering it.

In JEKYLL, the themes are inherent, and I couldn't avoid them as I delved into the project. As for DESPISER, pure coincidence, as that was written, directed and produced by Phil Cook, and I was just a hired hand. What attracted me to DESPISER, however, was the chance to run around and fire a machine gun.

Max the DSH: In THE DEATH OF POE, Poe attempts to raise funds for a literary magazine, and grows ever more desperate with each failed attempt. I've read that this somewhat matches your own experiences in fund-raising for film projects; you've had to sometimes doggedly hustle to find the backing for your work. Does it drain you? Any stories of unusual demands for funds? (Ed Wood had to have his cast baptized!) Ever had to do impromptu acting in a meeting with a potential backer?

Mark Redfield: When (and IF) I ever get to write my autobiography, I will have some amazing stories to tell about financing these projects! That's also assuming that I out-live some of the players I'm still doing business with! There's the one who went to jail, and who naturally had to stop putting money in the project as his lawyers needed it more. There's the one who bought himself a role. There's the one who says "yes" every year,then changes his mind six months later. Suffice to say, I spend most of my time on the business of film, and little of it on the creative side.

When filling out various applications, I usually fill in the field that asks for occupation with the word "actor". But you make me think about it, and I suppose I am more of a producer. The tale is wagging the dog. And most producers are continually broke. When I was a free-lance actor, with no overhead, I actually, usually, had a couple of bucks in my pocket. You want to know what it's like to raise money for movies from private individuals? Watch Mamet's GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS sometime. Then we can share the secret code word "Patel!?", and it'll be our own private joke.

There is a wonderful moment with Orson Welles, captured on film in a late interview, when asked a similar question. And mind you, this is the great Welles, not a struggling, unknown Redfield. You can see the light extinguish from the elder Welles' usually shining, twinkling eyes. He looked lost for a moment, and reflecting on a lifetime of chasing money, said simply, -"It's a miserable way to spend one's life."

Max the DSH: I remember that you said on the phone that the budgets for your films can be compared to those of classic horror movie productions. What was that exactly?

Mark Redfield: Well, if I remember correctly, I made some kind of crack about our budgets being on par with Hammer's, but NOT adjusted for inflation. But our budgets are growing a bit. They have to, to be able to compete. I think I first used the budget line on Caroline Munro. She got it and understood and laughed. What she didn't realize was that I wasn't talking 1974 KRONOS money, but 1958 DRACULA money!

Max the DSH: What is your favorite film that few people remember anymore?

Mark Redfield: Roger Corman's ROCK ALL NIGHT. Douglas Fairbanks movies, especially THE BLACK PIRATE. And I guess that would include my heroes Chaplin and Keaton and their films, as they are out of vogue and off the radar these days with the public.

Max The DSH: When no one is looking, Mark Redfield enjoys...?

Mark Redfield: ...watching 80's music videos.

Max The DSH: You seem to be at ease with comedy as well as drama. As a viewer--or reader--what makes you laugh?

Mark Redfield: Laurel and Hardy. Groucho Marx. W.C. Fields. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd (but in different ways). And jokes I've never told myself before, but catch me off guard when nobody's looking.

Max The DSH: I co-moderate an internet group called UNIVERSAL MONSTER ARMY, for people who love the classic horror and sci-fi films of the '30s through the '50s, and items spun off from them (such as models, toys, magazines, books, collectibles, etc.). I understand you love these films too; which have most affected you, and what kinds of "monster stuff" did you have as a kid? And what do you buy today?

Mark Redfield: Wow. I had the same stuff that you and everyone else had of our generation(s)! Monster mags, Aurora model kits, comic books, super 8mm films, Remco Lost In Space Robots--our boats are in the same cultural river.

What do I collect now? Fewer things, as space comes at a premium and money flows in spurts. Knowing now that "you can't take it with you", I'm collecting a little less. Although I did get a Lugosi autograph a couple of years ago. My house is choked and looks like a museum, and my office is like a wing of Pee-Wee's playhouse.

Max The DSH: Kevin Shinnick, a UMA member, has been in films with you, and can be seen in THE DEATH OF POE as "Dr. Moran". Anything unusual I should know about Kevin, any anecdotes? As a moderator I have to keep an eye on dangerous characters in the membership. ;^)

Mark Redfield: Nothing unusual. Sorry to disappoint. Kevin is a true actor, a good actor. We'll be working together again in the near future. Although I am reminded that there is an out-take of him as Dr. Moran falling off of Poe's bed?

Max The DSH: Thank you for sharing your time.

Mark Redfield: My pleasure, Max. You asked some great questions. I hope I had something interesting to say.


Mark Redfield's website: Redfield Arts

A very special thanks to John Cozzolli, Terry Ingram and Richard Olson for their continual support!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Was out partying with friends tonight. Here's me with the great Zacherley:

We were out on a pub crawl, and dropped in to see Lori Nelson (REVENGE OF THE CREATURE), where she was surprised to see me: (YES, I really did meet Lori Nelson!)

Previous Employment

I couldn't find any info on the Drunken Severed Head's origin as of yet. But, I did run across an old poster showing previous employment for the little fella.

HAPPIEST of BIRTHDAYS, Max my dear friend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Birthday of the Drunken Severed Head

Well, today is the anniversary of the day that a little severed head was born. My friend Dale A., who is MUCH older than I am, was present at the birth. He tells me that my first words came on that very day: "WHAT? No more WOMB service?"

Coincidentally-- as I have been a fan of the Marx brothers almost since birth-- WOMB SERVICE is the name of one of their weally wame films that they did wate in their caweer.

Friend Jim B. sent this image as a birthday greeting:

Jim is the producer of a few classic albums by Transylvania's fab four flat-tops, The Franks:

The Pod People are coming! Will YOU be the next to be assimilated?

Two articles that would have Miles Bennell saying, "I warned you!!"

From a recent CBS NEWS item:

PALO ALTO, Calif. - "Palo Alto City Council members won't have to turn their frowns upside down.

"The council had tried to do away with frowning as part of a proposed code of conduct during public meetings. But on Monday, council members voted unanimously to adopt the code but remove language discouraging elected officials from using facial expressions that show 'disagreement or disgust' at public meetings.

"The broad proposal on body language, which critics said could be interpreted as infringing on the First Amendment's guarantee of free expression, made the council the butt of many jokes.

"The intent, said council member Judy Kleinberg, was to eliminate intimidation that arises when colleagues act aggressively or rudely.

"Council member Nancy Lytle wrote a memo suggesting the code be reworded to ask for 'respectful silence and decorum, paying and showing signs of attention while colleagues, staff or public have the floor.'

But council member Jack Morton said that wording won't work either.

“ 'I don't think it's appropriate for a city council to limit any form of expression — or require a positive form of expression,' he said."

And from the Associated Press:

Pastor preaches against complaining

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- "The Rev. Will Bowen tries not to complain. He wants everyone else to stop carping, too -- all 6 billion of us on the planet.

"And his message, first preached in a sermon at his small suburban church, has caught on -- even though some critics note complaining serves an important function.

"Last July, Bowen challenged worshippers at Christ Church Unity to quit complaining as a way to bring more prosperity into their lives. The congregation is part of the Association of Unity Churches, which offers what it calls 'practical Christianity' -- a way of life leading to health, prosperity, happiness and peace of mind.

" 'When you're focusing your attention on what's wrong or complaining, you're going to get more of what you're complaining about,' Bowen says.

"Positive thinking is not a new concept, but Bowen's spin came with a contemporary twist: the silicone bracelet. At the July sermon, Bowen handed out about 250 purple bracelets he wanted his congregants to use to remind themselves to stop complaining, criticizing or gossiping. Sarcasm was another no-no.

"He challenged them to refrain from complaining for 21 days because, he said, that is how long it takes to break habits. Whenever they found themselves failing they were to switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start over.

" 'Complaining draws all of its essence from negativity," the 47-year-old Bowen says. 'When you complain, you do it typically to attract attention or sympathy. It's you saying, "There's something wrong with me." You're sending out this vibrational energy into the universe that you're a victim, and the universe responds with more negativity."

"Bowen thought the challenge would be easy for him since he's a "positive minister guy." But he broke three bracelets after moving them from wrist to wrist so many times before making his 21 days. It took him nearly three months.

"The bracelets and the no-complaining challenge were a hit with church members, who came back looking for more bracelets, which the church gives out free. People at their offices wanted them. Family, friends, students wanted the purple bracelet and to take the 21-day challenge...By October, reporters came calling. After the initial burst of publicity, the church sent out more than 1 million free bracelets. Requests came in via the church's Web site from around the world -- Russia, South America, Asian countries. Some Pentagon employees began using the bracelets, which they kept on their desks because they were not allowed to wear them, says Tom Alyea, a church board member who has been coordinating the no-complaining effort with Bowen.

"But Barbara S. Held, psychology professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, says Bowen's approach is misguided. Complaining is an important, necessary tool for some people, she said.

"Held, author of the book 'Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining," says people cope in different ways and some people need to vent. 'The tyranny of the positive attitude in America, which Reverend Bowen wants to spread to the entire world' can actually hurt some people, she says.

"The research is compelling. When you force people to use a coping style that goes against their nature their functioning goes down," she says. "I'm not pushing pessimism. I'm saying let people cope in the way they cope and don't make them feel defective."

"Since Bowen's appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in March, volunteers have taken orders for more than 4 million bracelets. They've been coming in to the Web site at about 1,000 a day, Alyea says.

"The bracelets are free, but the church includes a donation envelope in each packet it sends out. Bowen will not say how much the bracelets cost the church or what the donations amount to...But so far, contributions are keeping up with costs, he says.

"A book, 'A Complaint Free World', is due in October, and Bowen's next goal is a nationwide 'No Complaining' day, preferably the day before Thanksgiving.

"Held likely wouldn't support that idea. 'If they want to stop complaining and be optimistic and look on the bright side, fine....But why cram the agenda down everybody's throat? You don't see the kvetchers and complainers saying that everybody has to complain.' "

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Classic "Night Gallery" schtick: PHANTOM OF WHAT OPERA?

Not as powerful as the tragic and startling film scene it parodies, but a lot funnier...

Mark Redfield Speaks! Uncle Forry Spooks!

Or soon will, anyway. A kind friend has helped with the technical issues plaguing this blog, and the Redfield interview (an interesting one in spite of my questions!) may be posted as early as tomorrow. In the meantime, I found a product that really appeals to the kid in me (the kid that read Forry Ackerman's FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine religiously):

The Haunted Portrait Of The Ackermonster

The product above will be handy for getting rid of unwanted guests! A necessary item to own!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Please Stand By

We're experiencing technical difficulties, and the blog will be on hold for a while. Any friend of the drunken severed head with a thorough knowledge of computers is urged to contact yours truly. Thanks.


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