Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Last Hallowe'en post of the year

For the last Hallowe'en 2007 post, I want to share pictures of our celebration. Included are a few pics of the Max O' Lantern (carved by T. J. Thorne), some items of the Hallowe'en fun we had, and of the yard decor. Enjoy!

The Anniversary!

"The Anniversary" is the name of a dark comedy with Bette Davis. It is also what today is for me and the Voodoo Queen.

This blog, as it says in the description, is an outpost of the Universal Monster Army. And it was there that I met my bride. The UMA is a Yahoo group for people who love the classic Universal monster movies and the stuff (toys, mags, records, masks etc.) that have been derived from them. It's a group that I help moderate, and it's a group where I have made many dear friends.

It's where I met Jane Considine!

Like many other friends made online, we'd e-mailed often and yakked on the phone a good bit. Eventually, this became a romance, and Jane and I would visit each other. (She was in Pittsburgh, and I was in St. Louis. ) Then one day Jane proposed, I accepted, and we decided I'd move to Pittsburgh.

I had a sale of my stuff. Here's the flier for that sale, beautifully done by friend Richard Olson:

I later described the move and the wedding at the Universal Monster Army. We had several very good friends help us move, and they had quite a job, with all my crap; including a relatively large number of films on 16mm, and of course, all my monster stuff.

Here's a slightly edited version of that account from 2005:

The move of the Drunken Severed Head from St. Louis began at midnight, appropriately enough, just after he and the Voodoo Queen had loaded the last of a pile of reels, each wound with several thousand feet of nightmare dreams printed sixteen millimeters wide. The packed caravan driven was crammed with many--far TOO many--other items as well, such as books of stories of terror, plastic jack-o- lanterns, little dolls representing the undead, etc.. A portion of the eerie cargo had been wrapped by Coffin Ray (Raymond Castile) himself! (A banner on the side saying "Prof. Lampini's" would not have been entirely inappropriate.) [A reference to the movie "House Of Frankenstein".] Believe it or not, the trip also ENDED at midnight the next night, and a thunderstorm greeting Max and Jane as they entered Transyl-- er, Pennsyl-vania.

The next day the newlyweds-to-be unloaded all the tchotkes of terror of the Severed Head into an empty apartment. The front door was fronted by a pair of gas lamps, seeming to usher them backwards into an earlier, shadowy time of the dim past. Both of them remarked that they half expected to see Mr. Hyde or Jack the Ripper! That would have been redundant, since Jane wants to Hyde whenever Max has sauerkraut, and becomes a Ripper himself.

The wedding, a few days later, took place a mere block from the apartment where the terrible two will be making a home come December. Currently (said Dr. Frankenstein, when asked how he would create life), Jane and Max have TWO apartments, her very small one bedroom AND the two-bedroom they will be occupying. (Can't say "living in", since there is a question as to whether either are actually alive.) They feel like barons of industry--or maybe just Baron Frankenstein--having TWO domiciles to haunt. Oh, the luxury!

On the edge of night's approach, in a courtyard of a former priory, they married each other before a small party of guests. The weather was perfect--crisp enough to remind one it was autumn, but warm enough for basic comfort, and the foliage of the trees was a collection of Halloween shades of orange and red. The ceremony had no officiant, as the two lovebats were wed under Pennsylvania's marriage law which offers a "Self-Uniting License" to those who request it (originally meant for the Quakers who founded Pennsylvania.) The wedding did have two friends who assisted in the ceremony, and who were the official witnesses. Max and Jane's self-written vows were said, they exchanged rings, and they then declared themselves wed as husband and wife. This was followed by a hand-fasting rite, where their hands were ritually bound together with a long satin ribbon. As a finale they ceremonially jumped two crossed brooms, as the guests cheered, screamed, or hooted to scare away any mischievous phantoms of ill-will that might be lurking.

As the guests came into the reception room, an elegant, large Victorian dining room, processional music from "The Bride of Frankenstein"--done by a modern orchestra--played. (It was the march from the scene where the villagers have captured the Monster and then carry him off in a hay wagon.) To have this music played at his wedding was long a dream of Max's! The food at the reception came from Whole Foods where Jane works, and though there was enough for three times the number of assembled people (as well as for unassembled people); it was SO good that it was nearly all polished off!

As the guests dined, they talked of many things, but at one table the talk was of one guest's upcoming trip to Transylvania, which led to varied and sometimes nicely-ghoulish talk about the history of the region, Vlad Tepes, Bela Lugosi, and Transylvania's export, "Vampire Wine". (Max and Jane drink it! Dark red, dry but not horribly so, and inexpensive. This year's vintage is a good one.)

After this, toasts were made, buttering up the bride and groom--so they were buttered toasts, apparently. Max toasted his bride by quoting one Cathy Howes: "I love you truly, a little madly, but oh- so-deeply. I want to grow old disgracefully with you! And if love can be sealed with a kiss, may there be kisses enough to make our marriage watertight!" The two married maniacs also toasted the guests, absent friends and family, and the UMA (both as "the Universal Monster Army" and by naming several members in the group.)

Max told the guests that Jane was, apparently, his reward for every good thing he has ever done, calling her his "karma in a cute package." He related how nervous he was in doing the final writing of the vows they made, and shared a list of words he had found that one was to avoid when writing one's own wedding vows:


Jane and Max danced to a song by the famous horror host Zacherley, "Come With Me to Transylvania". (He had wooed her by singing this and Zach's "Howling At The Moon" when first they met.) Max later left a message with Zacherley to tell him of this. Coupla days afterwards, Zach called back and said he was thoroughly delighted to hear about it, laughingly telling Max that he had told his friends about it! Max and the Cool Ghoul talked about the wedding and reception, Zach's career and new CD release, and how much he enjoyed appearing onstage with Bobby Pickett for the first time.

Other music at the reception included Erich Kunzel's "Chiller" album of classics such as "Danse Macabre", music fom Zip Caplan's "Monsters and Heroes", the CD "Monster Party 2000"(including a cover of the theme from "Young Frankenstein"), and Verne Langdon's "Music for Zombies."

During Mr. Considine's visit to Pittsburgh, Max and his new father-in-law got along very well, as they both know every old joke ever told, and he and Max may have traded ALL of them. (Poor Jane! Her eye muscles got strained from all the eye-rolling she had to do!) Son and father-in-law also would sing old pop songs of the 30's and 40's at the drop of a hat, which was fairly often, since hats don't stay on severed heads too well.

The Severed Head has looked into work both in security (his previous line of work), and in meat-cutting, which has a nice Gein-ian sound to it. His search was hampered a bit as his car was stolen a week after the wedding, but it was recovered a few days later, somewhat the worse for wear but driveable.

The Voodoo Queen was off from work for over two weeks, but had little time to relax. After a trip to St. Louis to see friends of Max's, then one to his hilly Arkansas hometown to visit his family, (they could come not to the wedding-- probably a still had to be protected from "revenoo-ers".) Jane helped Max pack and load, then move to Pittsburgh. She and Max prepared for the wedding in a myriad ways, then after a happy wedding and a day and-a-half to themselves, Jane had to get ready to go back to work. The third day after the wedding, she was back in the trenches at Whole Foods, where the holiday season has kicked off. But she thrives there, the queen of cheeses and imported delicacies.

Max thrives on moving stuff into the new apartment from the old, refreshed by the occasional beverage labeled "O-positive."

Well, that's all the belated moving and marital news from this corner of the UMA community. Carpe noctem, fellow creatures.


That's the story! Now for pictures from the wedding! (Several from the reception look like we had no electricity, but it's just because we had a cheap camera.) Enjoy, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN, everybody!

Hallowe'en Weird News Report

Halloween Zombie Mistaken For Murder Victim!

Bigfoot Photo Online: Controversy Over Picture!

Iowa Taxes Jack O' Lanterns!

Traffic Stop Yields A Dozen Human Heads!

H.G. Wells' THE TIME MACHINE Will Come True!

For Hallowe'en: A Forgotten Horror Star, Part Nine--The End of Laszlo Revik?

Dear god. Despite my flippant reply to the comment by Sparkle Plenty, I'm more afraid this Halloween than I've been in 30+ years. And it's just because of some news from Ted.

He has sent two e-mails that have left me reeling-- no film pun intended.

First there was the news of the death of the horrible death of "Faye", that cable exec who tried to sink the cable deal for the Revik films. Now I've learned that the details of her death are pretty nasty, even gruesome. From Ted:

Oh, boy, Max, is this the cynical replay of “the show must go on.” No sooner does this female executive get attacked, mauled, raped and—for God’s sake—partially eaten—does her twerpy preppie assistant get boosted into her job. The queen is dead, long live the prince. This 24 year old twerp reversed her decision and the cable company is dumping the Revik films onto the market, fast. The distributor, Andy Hensley (oh, go ahead and use his name. It’s been in all the trades) plans to saturate the media and try to make money quickly, then get out: coordinated dvd release-- they’re already working overtime pressing thousands of discs-- a cable marathon, and simultaneous streaming video. It’s gonna be radio station KRVK, all Revik, all the time, thirteen films, one after the other, in constant rotation. He’s pretty much forced to do it by circumstance. Once he learned they were ALL in PD, that’s giving video pirates a license to steal, clone every one of them a jillion times.

About Faye’s death: Somebody had followed her that night, through the dark park, stalking her. It was foggy that night, and I’m hearing old Hans Salter themes when I imagine it. There were BIG animal tracks leading up to the location of the body (it was found the next morning)—but the tracks didn’t lead anywhere, they just stopped. The local papers followed the police party line, suggesting she was attacked by an escaped animal from Griffith Park Zoo. They had to say something. My cop pal Brian told me they’ve again got conflicting clues, like they’re straddling realities—either that, or somebody’s faking things REALLY well. The forensics guys found human hairs on her body. And canine-family hairs. And yak hairs. Hint: the zoo is not missing an escaped disappearing, flying yak.

[Yak hair's used in film makeup, for those of you who aren't film geeks like me, or film pros like Ted.]

Remember Eva, Sam’s girlfriend? They’ve split, rather acrimoniously. If she’d been venal, she’d stick with him into the “big time” he thinks he’s going to hit, but she’s a sweetie, and he’s become a total dick with this Laszlo Revik fixation. Too bad. She’s got a part in some little Equity-waiver play, an Agatha Christie mystery. She deserves a better guy (I’d volunteer, but I’m busy), or at least a sober Sam Lee in his right mind. Or at least somebody who wasn’t a suspect in three homicides.

Yeah, three: a cleaning lady found Lorette dead in her hotel bathtub, naked and “completely ex-sanguinated.”
["Drained of blood", to spare some of you a Google search.] The hotel (Beverly Hills) is big enough to pressure the papers to keep quiet about this, but again, my pal Brian is giving me the inside scoop. She was naked (well, sure, it’s a bathtub), drained nearly dry, with two little marks on her—you know. So that’s one more obstacle out of the way of showing these movies. The old, obvious investigator’s question: Who benefits? The cops haven’t arrested anyone yet, but there are “persons of interest.” Sam, because the deal goes through; ditto his distributor, Andy Hensley; maybe the upwardly mobile ladder-climber at the cable company. And of course Laszlo Revik, because his creepy face and form become part of world-wide consciousness forever. Problem with him is, he’s been certifiably dead for 27 years and he only exists on films no one’s ever seen. I don’t think the cops consider him a serious suspect.

Given what they found in the hotel bathroom, off the top of my head, I’d put out an all-points-bulletin for Count Dracula, but that’s the romantic in me. And here’s one for Sherlock Holmes. Know anything about electric blueprint symbols? Lorette apparently drew a symbol on the tile in her own blood:
My Shop classes in eighth grade were a LONG time ago. I had to poke around the ‘net for an hour before I found it. It’s the symbol for grounding a circuit.

I’ve got to make this one short. Jeff Richards just called. He’s edited a video together, and says there’s more bad news. Should be an interesting Halloween. * * * * *

After reading this, I wasn't sure I wanted to open anymore e-mails from Ted. Seriously! As I feared, this morning the forthcoming news got worse. MUCH worse. Well, it gives me an excellent excuse to drink...

More pictures of Laszlo Revik below-- why I share the face of this bastard here, I don't know, but I feel compelled to-- followed by Ted's second message...

Sorry. I think you can use the distributor’s proper name now, Max. Andy Hensley’s a dead-un, along with a priest named McFarren. They’re probably both too obscure to make splash headlines, but tabloid TV might pick it up for surreal weirdness.

They found Hensley in his home/office, slumped on the floor, strangled, with a face like Barbara Leigh-Hunt in FRENZY. The priest was outside in his car, throttled with his own rosary, no less. Laszlo Revik sell-sheets were scattered around—the 8x10 color handouts with the cover art: THE KIND OF EVIL with Price, TRIUMPH OF EVIL, and the original 1943 ALIAS DR. GHOUL. There’d clearly been a scuffle. In the fireplace were the ashen remains of a cashier’s check, made out to cash, in the amount of one million frigging dollars. AND in the priest’s briefcase out in the car, there were three OTHER checks, one for a quarter million, one for half, and one for two million.

Jeeze Louise!
Lets Hensley off the hook for the murders, I’d say. Not looking good for Sam.

Now, what kind of fight? That’s another dose of bizarre world. Hey, Hensley was a film distributor, so there’s any one of a thousand people who wouldn’t mind seeing him croak. But the culprit left something behind. His clothes. A herringbone jacket, shirt and tie, pants, shoes… this must’ve been an interesting business meeting!— plus a pair of dark sunglasses and a length of Ace bandage. The one “normal” clue the cops found was a small .22, but even that was outrĂ©. It’s been fired (they dig the bullets out of the wall), but there was a near-transparent length of mono-filament fishing line attached to it—as if someone had been puppeteering it to make it appear to “float.”

The cops finally issued and arrest warrant for Sam Lee, and he’s skated. Jeff Richards tells me “I don’t know where he went,” but I’d probably say the same thing for a friend. Jeff also brought over a little montage he’d edited from the Revik films—bits and pieces of all of them, like a cinematic acrostic puzzle. I watched it and saw what he was getting at. It goes into “what if--?” territory, and neither of us could prove anything. The cops and any sane person would laugh us out of the room. But it fits the stuff that’s happened.

What if you’re a brilliant attorney but on a mystical quest through life-- and you discover the secret of true immortality in some long-forgotten medieval grimoire stored in the Vatican archives? On the surface it would be an obliquely-worded thing, an illuminated manuscript like a thousand others. It would be an arcane, coded explanation that probably meant nothing in 1374, seemed like Latin gibberish in 1750, but by 1937, with a little imagination and insight as to what technology could do—or might do-- some day, the ideas and the method to achieve them started to make sense—but were impossible to achieve at that time? Stealing such a book would get you booted from the Church; offering the secret to Nazi occultists has certain drawbacks, like the threat of death once they found the secret. But Hollywood would have possibilities. Lots of high-profile people have gotten away with murder there. And that’s Laszlo Revik’s life up to the time he made his first film—about a devious alchemist seeking eternal life.

What was alchemy, anyway? Magically turning lead to gold? No, that’s the comic book version, the fairy tale view. It was about transmutation, changing one thing into the other. All “things” are energy (E=mc2, y’know). Energy can never be destroyed; it can only be transformed, or transmitted. And the human mind is incapable of differentiating between the “real” and the vividly imaginary. Our memory makes a thing real. Or, in this case, a person.

And say you could capture some of your energy, your essence, your personality, in a fixed medium— such as a coating of silver nitrate on 35mm film, silver being an excellent conductor of energy. When that “essence” was enhanced by energy (the light from a projector), the “personality” becomes alive.

But to what end? Showing a crummy monster movie to a dozen drunks in a Times Square flea-pit or a backwoods Thai movie house or some adobe shell in the plains of Madrid? You’d dribble it all away. But if you made sure no one would see these things until the proper time— until Goddard’s experimental rockets grew up to spawn broadcast satellites, until Vladimir Zworkin’s funny little picture-radio became ubiquitous TV screens, until a digital technology could give a viewer the exact image that was captured on the film…

There’s a line in Jeff’s video from ATOM-AGE ZOMBIES that made the hairs on my neck curl. Dr. Ghoul looks directly into camera and says, “My essence shall exist forever in the minds of men. I shall walk the earth in a thousand forms.” Through a combination of 21st century “alchemy,” manipulation of consciousness, and the power of instant worldwide transmission, that’s the plan—existing, eternally, in the real world via the implanted memories in a million minds.

And if you could go one way—coming “out” of a movie into the “real” world-- could you go another? Sending 2 dimensional “people” from our minds out into our three dimensional world? The string of killings—the characters from the Revik films, doing his bidding. Jeff and I think it was intentional, that the “accidental” public domain status of the 13 Revik films was exactly what he intended. The “unexplained” vault fires, studio bankrupcies, “lost” negatives. And like a character in any given Revik movie who thinks he’s going to get the edge on Joseph Elwin, Sam Lee is the fall guy. It’s crazy. It’s happening.

I don’t know what the hell any of us can do about it.

# # # #

For god's sake-- be careful, readers. The only advice I have to give is-- well, I'm not sure what to say. But I know what I'll do. You should do it, too.

Watch the shadows.


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