Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mad mags mad Max looks forward to!

I've been lucky in meeting many obsessive creeps talented people as I go to weird events, horror film cons, or blather on participate in horror film forums. These weirdos friends get noticed, and often wind up working on horror magazines or in film. Horror magazines are undergoing something of a renaissance even as traditional outlets like bookstores become more scarce.Here's three examples of some of my friends' success in working in print:

Richard Shellbach and 

Rich is a really old pal good friend who has long been a professional writer, and this past year has been writing for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Now he will also be a featured columnist for a new magazine I'm dying to get my hands on--Undying Monsters.

This is issue two, which comes out the first week of August, and the cover art is by my pal Mark Maddox.

From the UM press release:

"Rich has written for Nickelodeon's "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?", NBC's "SpaceCats" and "ALF-Tales," Showtime's "Chris Cross" and was the season four Story Editor on the live action ALF series on NBC. He also wrote all three seasons of the syndicated series, "The Kids CafĂ©" and worked on children's holiday specials for Showtime."  (Above right: Author Tim Lucas, artist Mark Maddox, and me self at the 2011 Wonderfest con.)

Here's Rich's banner. (Rich has never been a bouncer, or worked security for a Stones concert, so I have no idea where this photo comes from.) I'm sure he'll be a great asset to UNDYING MONSTERS, just as he is for FM.

Dwayne Pinkney and 

Dwayne is an artist I've admired and championed for some years, as you can see from this blog post  (which includes an interview), and from this one. I'm proud to say that the new Shadowland magazine discovered him through this blog, and have put his portrait of Lon Chaney from The Phantom of the Opera (a painting that first appeared publicly here at TDSH) on their premiere issue! Dwayne is also interviewed in this ish.

You can buy Shadowland at their web site. This new monster rag looks very promising, and has me more excited than Happy Hour at the morgue.

Dixie Dellamorto and Mr. Lobo with 

Dixie and Lobo publish and edit the new mag Horror Hosts and Creature Features. As a former horror host for commercial TV station KXTV in Sacramento, CA, (the program Cinema Insomnia) Mr. Lobo has a keen appreciation for the subtle virtues and brash weirdness of cult movies. And he and Dixie are very interesting people to spend time with at horror conventions. I speak from experience!

The first issue is a little thin, but has a great article remembering the work and life of actor Al Lewis of The Munsters, some very nice pin-ups of retro-Goth model Thea Munster, original cartoon art by the noted illustrator and cartoonist Danny Hellman, and an interview with Count Gore De Vol, among other items. I'm glad to have my copy of issue one, and look forward to future giant gila monster-size issues. For sale here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The value of SHOCK VALUE

Below is my review of a book I was sent, titled Shock Value. It's a look at the men who shaped the modern horror film. Of all the free books I've been sent for review, this is one of the most impressive. I highly recommend it to all horror fans and lovers of film history.

It's too hot to go out now and do other things--add this book to your summer reading today, and spend some quality time with the masters of horror.


In a valuable and engrossing new book, Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, Jason Zinoman gives us a personality-driven, anecdote-rich look at the rise and fall of "New Horror" in American film.
Chronicling the revolutionary changes in horror movies that began in the late 1960s, Zinoman
traces the transition of the horror genre from "queasy exploitation fare to the beating heart of popular culture," as Zinoman puts it. He contends that Peter Bogdanovich, Roman Polanski, Tobe Hooper, and George Romero, among others, invented modern horror. And in so doing, they took horror from being a popular, profitable, but disreputable and marginal genre, to one that is as much respected and scrutinized as any element in pop culture.

The value of this new book is that will foster a greater appreciation for the influence of these filmmakers. The group includes includes men as diverse in style as John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Wes Craven, and Brian DePalma. Another plus: it includes a much-needed examination of the under-appreciated imagination and talent of Dan O'Bannon, the brilliant-but-bitter screenwriter who dreamed up 1979's nightmarish sci-fi film, Alien.

The New Horror usually rejected Gothic trappings in favor of mundane settings, lessened or dispensed with supernatural elements, and replaced traditional villains with unemotional murderers committing motiveless killings. Explanations were de-emphasized or dispensed with. Downbeat endings became common. Out with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee; in with Leatherface, interchangeable flesh-eating zombies, and films that replaced traditional horror trappings with a dread of encountering overwhelming and relentless, horror. It aimed for an atmosphere so intense as to be unbearable. This is the sharp observation by Zinoman that underpins his analysis.

One of my few criticisms of the book is that Zinoman overreaches a bit. This is especially noticeable when he says "Horror has become so pervasive that we don't notice how thoroughly it has entered the public consciousness...[It's] the show that goes on in our minds when we go to bed at night. The modern horror movie has not only established a vocabulary for us to articulate our fears. It has taught us what to be scared of."

Author Jason Zinoman.

Really? The dark conventions of the "New Horror" movie of the late Sixties and the Seventies arose with similar conventions in other film genres of the same period, (Easy Rider and Mean Streets come to mind) as a more politically- and socially cynical age emerged, and the mass production sameness of the studio system collapsed. Certainly what audiences became afraid of changed, but that could be said to be following current events as much as new film conventions. Zinoman seems to acknowledge this when he writes about Bonnie and Clyde, released shortly before the groundbreaking Rosemary's Baby. He says that gangster film "reinvented the gangster drama as a counterculture fable with two killers as glamorous and sexy antiheroes." This had been done before--1949's Gun Crazy is one example--but Bonnie and Clyde was a big success as it reflected the current zeitgeist as much it influenced it.

All that said, this book is certainly a "must buy" for modern horror film fans and film scholars alike, being the first serious examination of the birth of "modern horror" in American films. (Right now I'd say we're in a post-modern age.) The late Sixties and the decade of Seventies saw a new vitality in all kinds of films around the world (including horror films), and this book presents in rich detail the story of "New Horror" and the men who created it. (The careers and rivalries of O'Bannon and Carpenter, from their time as fellow students at the USC film school, through the production of their feature collaboration Dark Star, and into very diverging paths afterwards, are especially well-documented.) This sort of journalistic "behind the scenes" approach makes for fascinating reading.

Until its gradual demise in the 1980s, as special effects and an ironic film buff-consciousness became dominant elements in shaping genre movies, "New Horror" was a fruitful time in American film, and Zinoman has described and explained the movement beautifully .

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gills and gals

My previous post on a crass, goofy and revolting douche commercial got me to thinking about women and how we obsess over their parts instead their..uh, whole. (Perhaps I should say "entirety.")

That reminded me of me of a cartoon I found in a 1955 book, "Furthermore Over Sexteen." (Yes, they really do underline the "sex" part in case you can't spot it as a syllable in a larger word.) It's a collection of cartoons and jokes from a "men's humor" magazine of the time.

I like this cartoon and its playfulness in imagining variations in mermaids. Also, I see its open and honest, un-sublimated mild sexism as less annoying or harmful than the patronizing but seemingly "pro-woman" sexism of that Summer Breeze commercial. The social mobility of women is better now than then, thankfully, but a certain innocence in portraying gender relations is gone.

Besides this book of cartoons, I also happened to recently purchase a figure from The Nightmare Before Christmas from a dollar store. It's a female creature inspired by the classic film Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Ain't she a beaut? No tossing her back--she's a keeper!

The one and only...?

When I set up my Facebook account to reach out to friends of this blog, I never thought I might be seen as just one of a set of "Max Drunkenseveredhead"s:

Wrong Max Drunkenseveredhead? Search through all the others until you find the one you're looking for!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The most horrifying film ever made!

Dear reader, if you are of a delicate nature, do not watch the film below. It may disturb may even horrify you. It crosses boundaries of taste, even sanity, that no man or woman should ever cross.

Now all my memories of Senor Wences and his toothless pal Johnnie are forever ruined. And
now I can't stop remembering a certain segment of The Groove Tube.

I see that the talking character here is bald. I guess I should be grateful there was no fuzzy wig involved, though maybe wild Wishnik/Troll doll hair might have been, um...not "cool," but memorable, anyway. Funny, too. Googly eyes, too, would have been great, but might inspire nightmares.

Hey, does a man need a passport to go to the land mentioned (shouted, really) at the start of the commercial? (I think a certain bitter, divorced friend of mine might say, "Yeah, good looks and lotsa money--that's the passport you need.")

What's next, a similar commercial with a manly hand for Preparation H? (Oh, you just know that parody we'll be up on YouTube soon.)

[Related link: Senor Wences on The Muppet Show]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ever have days like this?

Days when you just need your clear your head of debris?

Days when the world says, "Aw, stick it in your ear!" (And that's on a day when the world is feeling polite!)

The above tnt cartoon is from the t 'n' a cartoon collection " Furthermore Over Sexteen" (1955). It appeared at a time when "sick" humor was having something of a revival; if you remember "Little Willie" jokes, you're probably a Baby Boomer. (The macabre and mordant "Little Willie" poems were actually written in the early part of the 20th century by the English poet Harry Graham, and I'm guessing they may have been a satirical response to the corny poem "Little Willie" by the saccharine American poet Eugene Field.)

This post is dedicated to my friends Pierre Fournier, Rich Shellbach, and Terry Ingram, whose calls and messages got me through a rough and depressing week plus. T'anks, tops!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today's funnies

Here's some multi-panel weirdness found elsewhere that made me smile. I mean, what else is more delightful than robots, polar bears, booze, flying saucers and lasers?

Above found here.

Cyanide and Happiness is a six-year-running web comic with a happy, sentimental snappy, cynical slant that I like a lot. Find more C & H here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I crashed over at Sean's!

Hello creeps and peeps!

Well, being gone from this site for quite some time, I'm all a-myoo-zed to see the number of my followers INCREASE while I wasn't posting here!

Yesterday, I followed up on an invite from my friend "Spooky Sean" Thompson to crash at his sibilantly-named pad, Spooky Sean's Spooky Bloggery. So I guested over there for one post--on posters!--which you can see at this link.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's coming, kumquats!

Here are images of upcoming posts, seen at this URL and elsewhere:

Saturday, July 2, 2011


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