Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Happy Birthday!" to the mother of us all

 Miniature portrait of Mary Shelley by Reginald Easton. Image found here. Copyright the University of Oxford.

On this day in 1797 Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley was born. Her novel Frankenstein is unique in its influence on the popular culture of  English-speaking Western nations. (Of course, non-English-speaking nations have embraced her "horrible progeny" too.) The most successful Gothic novel ever--it has never been out of print--Frankenstein is the first truly important work in the literary traditions that came to be called "science-fiction" and "horror."

It was the work of the fertile imagination of a teenage girl! This fact forced male readers of the first half of the 19th Century to accept, if only grudgingly and privately, that women (or girls, really) were as capable of forcefully confronting dark themes and taboo topics as male writers. She was ahead of her time.

The writer Joyce Carol Oates deemed Frankenstein a unique novel, "if a novel at all;" an awkward patchwork blending Romantic, allegorical, and philosophical materials. (Not unlike Frankenstein's Monster himself.) Oates describes Frankenstein as being held together at its "deepest level" with subconscious elements that are "hallucinatory and surreal."

At the center of the unreal setting that seems to be Europe of the early Industrial Age is Frankenstein's "demon"--as the artificially created man is often referred to Shelley's book--who is both Adam and Satan: unique, alone, outcast.

And powerful only through anger and sin.

What horror-lover has not seen themselves that way? Who in our deliciously morbid community of fans has never identified with a glorious, destructive monster in a book or a movie?

Mary birthed the first monster of the modern age.We are all her stepchildren.

Related: My birthday wishes for Mary Shelley in 2007 (where I found a lesser-seen portrait of Mary, perhaps inaccurate) and 2009, when I talked to her ghost!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Casey: 30 Years Later

 In the middle of photo above is actress Beverly Bonner playing the prostitute "Casey" in Frank Henenlotter's cult fave, Basket Case; Ms. Bonner's appeared in nearly all of Henenlotter's films. Recently, she was in Pittsburgh at the Hollywood Theater screening of Basket Case to premiere a new one-act play she's written called Casey: 30 Years Later. The event was sponsored by the imaginative and fun staff of Pittsburgh's Horror Realm convention.

 The premise is that Casey, even brassier and sassier than in her youth, now runs a call girl service for elderly hookers, and is visited by a young journalist who wants to interview her about the people--including the monstrous Belial--seen in the cult movie. (Belial, as it turns out, didn't die.) The show blurred the line between the world of the fictional Basket Case and the world of fans of the film, winkingly raising the idea that the movie was a documentary!

 Like the Henenlotter universe it sprang from, Casey: 30 Years Later was crass and tasteless.

And like Frank's films, it was also very funny! I laughed so hard at one point the row in front of me jumped--but they were laughing, too. I thought this was a smart event--more than a personal appearance of an actor at a film showing, this extended the movie's story. Henenlotter gave Ms. Bonner his blessing for the show because he enjoys her comedic talent. It was amply on display here, as she added bits of spur-of-the-moment improv that made the sketch funnier, such as when her costume threatened to malfunction during a cross! I also noticed that Ms. Bonner had written in a few of her better jokes from her stand-up act. (As a guy who supports recycling, I like it when material is saved from a data dump! I do it here all the time!)

Some lines were funny because they were sudden and surprising, and played almost like non-sequiturs. A sample, referring to Belial: "He's ugly as hell, but he knows how to handle a breast."

Beverly Bonner and co-star Michael Varrati on the "set" for Casey: 30 Years Later.
 Sadly, equipment  failure ended the movie halfway through the screening, but because Ms. Bonner's act followed the film, "Casey" saved the day!

Prior to the screening was an appearance by talented comic artist and writer, Joshua Emerick. Basket Case has been turned into a comic strip published monthly in the venerable horror mag, Fangoria, and Emerick is the man behind the art and text new feature. He spoke about his love of the film, how Henenlotter was at first afraid to consider the idea (Frank's now enthusiastically involved, suggesting ideas) and how his three year old daughter loves watching the original Basket Case with him. (!)

 With Emerick was the comic's colorist, Eric Kochanski.
Beverly Bonner, Joshua Emerick, and Eric Kochanski
 The host of the evening was Horror Realm's Barnabus Bailey. Below is Barnabus with actor and film blogger Michael Varrati. In his online film appreciation column, Varrati nails Henenlotter as being like a "12 year-old boy [who] finds the most disgusting things endlessly amusing." (Well, I never grew up either.)

   Also in attendance was genre film reviewer and historian Tim Gross, who has long championed Basket Case as under-appreciated. I think cult horror fans agree!
Barnabus Bailey and Tim Gross.
The folks of Horror Realm asked me to interview Bev Bonner and Michael Varrati after the play, and it was a delight and a privilege.Ms. Bonner and Michael Varrati each talked about working with one of John Waters' recurring performers--Divine and Mink Stole, respectively--and reported that neither was anything like the loud, impulsive, vulgar screen characters they played. Ms. Bonner and Michael Varrati similarly agreed that for themselves as performers, outre material was more involving than any classic dramatic fare they've done.

Ms. Bonner, who studied at the National Academy of Dramatic Arts, said it had not prepared her for the phoniness and blandness of the Hollywood entertainment industry, and she far preferred to stay in New York.
Above, left to right: Max the DSH, Barnabus Bailey, Eric Kochanski, Beverly Bonner, Sandy Stuhlfire of Horror Realm, and Michael Varrati.
A lighted birthday cake was brought out at the end for Ms. Bonner to make a wish on. Ms. Bonner says she wants to present Casey: 30 Years Later at horror cons around the country, and I hope she gets that wish!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

O my throbbing heart...

Lara Spencer, a host for ABC's Good Morning America program, appeared this week as a bodiless head. This news makes swoon--one of my own kind at last on TV, and she's so beautiful and charming!

I've only seen this photo of Lara Spencer's newly freed (and free-floating) head--no video. Friends are telling me something about a "green screen" and it being an illusion, but I know what I see. A living severed head breaks the glass ceiling! About time!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wish FRANKENSTEINIA "Happy Birthday!"

One of my favorite blogs, Frankensteinia, is four years old today!

And proprietor Pierre Fournier's other blog, Monster Crazy, is three years old today!

Leave ol' Pierre good wishes!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Was the film BASKET CASE a documentary?

You'll find out the startling answer to that question, and you'll learn who the people in the banner above are, this weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cool cartoons for a warm day

I found some cartoons from Mad and The New Yorker on my hard drive that a friend photocopied and sent to me. All rights belong to the artists and magazines the cartoons appeared in and are shared here only temporarily.

Ah, the great black-and-white art of the amazing Sergio Aragones, a cartoonist who has been both prolific AND funny for several decades.

Currently at The New Yorker website, this cartoon from their regular feature "Caption Contest" is on display:

 My favorite suggested caption reads "We're sorry about your cat, but he was eating the slower children."
It was submitted by Steven Woof of Aventura, Florida.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

C'mon already! I've got a prize to give away!

 UPDATE : We have a winner! Congrats TDSH reader Bill Knox!
Thanks to Shadows and Screams, I have a copy of GHOSTS: True Encounters with the World Beyond  to give away! Been waiting for the last entrants. So the SECOND person to next message me at FACEBOOK gets the prize!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Well, whaddya think?

Decided to do some re-arranging, some painting, and re-naming of the joint. Whadda ya think? It's all good? It stinks? Like everything the title? Like the title but little else? Talk to me, talk to me!

After you leave a comment, go take a look at this!

And yet another surprise is coming. The Drunken Severed Head's marching on, establishing a beachhead with other members of the monster kid army!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Special Makeup Effects: Strange Frankie!

This post originally ran 9-6-07.

Scott Essman of Universal Studios shares this video of makeup whiz Kevin Haney recreating a famous Monster of filmland! As Essman wrote, "Kevin Haney created this Glenn Strange Frankenstein Monster prosthetic likeness makeup in 1999 for the original Jack Pierce tribute which was never staged. As such, this makeup was only applied one time, with assistance by Kenny Myers and Bill Corso. Eventually, Haney created a Boris Karloff Monster makeup that was used several times for tributes to Pierce and Frankenstein (1931)."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Help the Bob Burns movie get off the ground!

Fan favorites Bob and Kathy Burns!
Artist/actor Frank Dietz and producer Trish Geiger are producing a documentary film about actor, horror historian/collector Bob Burns--and his wife Kathy--and how they have inspired so many people to pursue their own dreams.

BEAST WISHES will explore how these two amazing folks became the goodwill ambassadors of sci-fi fandom, and how their joy has influenced generations of artists, writers, directors and fans. But they need help, and they need it fast. (By Aug. 31!) Here's what Frank has to say:

"Bob and Kathy Burns are best known for their incredible collection of original movie props, housed in their Burbank, California museum, often known as "Bob's Basement." From the steel armature of the 1933 "King Kong," to the actual Time Machine from the classic George Pal film, from Glenn Strange's Frankenstein boots to the Queen Alien and the American Werewolf In London, Bob and Kathy's house is a treasure chest of movie monster memorabilia.

"We want to make this project a quality production, utilizing a professional crew and an experienced documentary editor. This, of course, requires funding. So, with Bob and Kathy's blessing, we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds we need to complete our film.

"Kickstarter is a highly successful online platform by which creators can pitch their projects, and anyone can contribute to it's set goal. In return, the project offers rewards to those who pledge, from DVDs to T-shirts to trips to visit the stars in Los Angeles. The bigger the pledge, the greater the rewards.

"But Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" program. If we reach our set goal in the set time, we get the money. If we don't reach it, we get nothing, and the pledges are not collected. It's that simple. Trish and I have set our goal at the absolute minimum needed to shoot, although we could use more for promotion and distribution of the completed film. So we have 20 days to raise $11,000, or we go back to square one.

"If you would like to help us reach our goal, please visit our project page. There you will be able to watch a short test video we've created that gives an idea of the film's content, plus more information about BEAST WISHES, and a list of the cool rewards available for contributors.

"This is going to be - as Bob would say - a "really, really cool" project. We would all love to have you join us on this great adventure."

WIN "Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond"

  Or, "How the Pun-ishing Heat Profited Me and May Profit You."

 The blogzine Shadows and Screams, a site I recommended yesterday, awarded me a prize that I'm going to pass onto TDSH readers because I already have it! The prize is a copy of the book Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, by Hans Holzer. Fans of the history of paranormal activity who don't have this book shouldn't pass up this chance to get it!

 First, I want to tell ya how I won the prize. Shadows and Screams has a prize contest every month, and for the occasion of this summer's scorching temperatures, asked readers for heat-related variations of classic horror film titles.

I jumped in like I was canonballing into a pool. The winning ones I submitted were DAMP PITS AND THE PENDULUM and TASTE THE SWEAT OF DRIPULA.*  Others I sent in included these groaners:

 The high-temperature drive-in double feature:


 Starring Vincent Price:


 '80s horror:



 Fortunately, Mother Nature's feverish days seem to be over, at least for a while. So enter the contest by messaging me on Facebook. (Look to the right for a link to friend me.) The tenth person to send me a message that includes an e-mail address that I can forward to Shadows and Screams wins the book!

* Don't these sound like some sort of fetish porn titles?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


...is a whimsical horror website I discovered last month, and I think might enjoy taking a tour there:

The dapper-but-insane host is another geeky guy like me hiding behind a persona creepy cemetery caretaker Myron Morbidio.Right now Myron's got up an interview with Lucy Chase Williams, a friend of genre great Vincent Price and author of the essential reference work The Complete Films of Vincent Price.

Morbidio also has monthly contests with cool prizes. For the rest of August, you can enter his Star Trek contest. (Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was born in August.

Shadows and Screams says "our latest contest asks you to incorporate something Trek-ish into a well-known horror film title to create some fresh interstellar spookiness. Examples? How about Data of the Dead, FranKahnStein, or Who Sulu Auntie Roo?

"Whether you are an obsessive Trekkie, secluded in your basement compiling a list of inconsistencies in Deep Space 9 episodes, or just a casual fan, we invite you to better these offerings and those of your fellow entrants.  The (ahem) most enterprising entrant will win his or her choice of 3 terrific recent sci-fi/horror films on DVD: The Mist (2-disc special edition), Splice, or Daybreakers."

Click here to read the rules and usual disclaimers.  Hurry! Entry deadline is August 30

Cult movie actress Bev Bonner and me!

This event held at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, PA will also feature a Q & A conducted by ye olde Severed Head!

The evening finishes up with an after-party to celebrate Ms. Bonner’s birthday.  Admission is $10 for the theater event and $5 for the after party (cash bar).  VIP tickets will be available for $20, which includes balcony seating, a poster autographed by Ms. Bonner, an exclusive meet & greet and free admission to the after party!

All sponsored by HORROR REALM!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Get clubbed!

Growing up, did you ever feel you were a weirdo? And now, you realize you've never grown up? Well, the Head says to head over to The Strange Kids Club, one of the grooviest and ghouliest blogzines I've ever seen. For the month of August, SKC is having a Homemade Halloween Costume Contest, where the chosen photographs will get these fabulous prizes:  $125 in Halloween and Strange Kids Club-related merchandise including:
    Limited Edition Monster Squad Poster illustrated by Corlen Kruger and SIGNED by FRED DEKKER  
    Limited Edition Strange Kid T-Shirt illustrated by Glen Brogan 
    FREE copy of the SKC Comix Anthology #2
 AND MORE! Go here to get more info, toots.

Also, this week the SKC is putting the spotlight on Jose Cruz, the man behind From Beyond Depraved and now the new site MEPHISTO'S CASTLE

Jose has a wide-ranging curiosity (read: his mind wanders) and a love of horror and weirdness in all its forms, but is a "classic monster kid" at heart.

Check out his cool-looking new site and read what he has to say. That is, after you check out the SKC and what club owner and chief Rondal Scott has to share!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

No one kicks the cranium.

Have you seen this severed head practical joke on YouTube? Like some episode of the old Candid Camera, only creepy!

Amazing that no one kicks her head in frustration--thank goodness they didn't! Or even nudges her head with their foot to see if she's real or some some sophisticated electronic prop!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Joker Gets Trumped, or...

...My Connection to a Comedic Crime!

This young guy has made the news internationally, and I know him! He was arrested for trying to (allegedly) commit one of the dumbest crimes this year, and (allegedly) offering the lamest lie EVER to the detective who arrested him. His name's Micah Calamosca, and I worked with him for a couple of years, until a few months ago. He also assembled the computer I blog from!

The crime he (allegedly) tried to commit was carjacking a car from an undercover police officer. He then (allegedly) tried to get out of trouble by telling the police officer that he meant no harm--he was only doing it as part of the filming of The Dark Knight Rises, which is shooting here in Pittsburgh. You can read all about it at online news sources as far as England and Australia. An ABC news item on this can be found HERE.

A soft-spoken amiable kid, I never expected this from Micah. His friends are all very surprised. We wish him a better eventual future than his immediate one. Crime doesn't pay! (Hope tough guys in prison aren't soon singing him "For He's a Jolly Good Felon!")

A couple of comments I found in response to online news reports: 

"Letters in his name rearrange to Ciao Cash, Calm Ma."

"That's what he gets for 'Robin' the officer!"

And apparently he too has a sense of humor about this turn of events, as I see he changed his "work" designation on his Facebook page to "Inmate at Arkham Asylum"!

Hoo boy!


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