Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 1-Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Every Sunday at 11:30am was a special time for people on Long Island. WPIX showed Abbott & Costello movies at that time, and the best one of all was Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. It had everything. Abbott and Costello at their comedy best. Dracula, actually played by Bela Lugosi. Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man. The Frankenstein Monster played by Glenn Strange. And of course you have Vincent Price making a 'disappearance' at the end in a special cameo.

Boris Karloff was asked to reprise his role as the Monster, but refused since he thought the idea of playing the Monster for laughs was a mockery of the poor creature. He did help promote the movie for Universal.

Glenn Strange broke his ankle on set. Lon Chaney filled in for him in one scene since he wasn't working that day.

Lugosi almost didn't get the part of Dracula for this movie. Universal was looking at Ian Keith, who was almost Dracula in 1931. They didn't think of asking Lugosi at first because they thought he was dead. His agent went to them and told them otherwise.

Walter Lanz, the creator of Woody Woodpecker, did the animation of Dracula changing into a bat.

Dracula's reflection in the mirror wasn't a mistake shot at first. Some say the studio intended to remove Lugosi's reflection from the shot, but ran out of time and left it in.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween and...

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Skeleton Dance (1929)

If this doesn't get you in the mood for Halloween, nothing will.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 2-The Black Cat (1934)

"Do you know what I am going to do to you now? No? Did you ever see an animal skinned, Hjalmar? Ha, ha, ha. That's what I'm going to do to you now — flay the skin from your body...slowly...bit by bit!"-Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi)

The Black Cat is one of those under appreciated films that falls through the cracks. I first saw it on channel 13 PBS when they aired their Kevin Conway hosted Cinema 13 Horror series that showed Universal horror movies from the 30's and 40's. Having nothing to do with Edgar Allen Poe's story by the same name, it teams Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi together in a film written and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

Karloff, looking weird in a widows peak hairdo, is the essence of what you'd think a Satan worshipper to be in 1930's. The character, who was based on Alister Crowley and director Fritz Lang, didn't divorce his wives, but kept their bodies preserved and hanging like statues in his mansion (for the record Crowley never did that...I can't speak of Lang though).

Even though Karloff got top billing, I really feel this is Lugois' movie. He plays the tragic Dr. Vitus Werdegast, who left his wife and daughter to fight in the war and was abandoned in a prison camp for the last fifteen years. When Werdegast speaks you can feel his pain. People forget that Lugosi was a World War One veteran having fought in the Austro-Hungarian Army and was wounded in battle. I think this gave him great insight into his character since they both shared a common background.

Universal made another Black Cat in 1941, a comedy horror film with even less to do with the Poe story. Lugosi was relegated to a small forgettable supporting role, another indignity in this great actor's life. Poor, poor, Bela.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Halloween Count Down: Day 3-The House That Dripped Blood(1970)

"TERROR waits for you in every room in The House That Dripped Blood."-Film's Tag Line.

This has to be one of the best titles ever, The House That Dripped Blood, just say it a few times out load. Each time you do it will sound creepier and creepier.

This is another of Amicus' anthology films (if you read this blog you'll know my fondness for Amicus), and is one of their best with a script by Robert (Psycho) Bloch based on his short stories. The wrap around story has an inspector investigating the disappearance of an actor from the title house, and is told of the other sinister events that have taken place there.

The cast includes Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Jon Pertwee (Doctor Who #3) and Ingrid Pitt (sign, nerd crush). Lee and Cushing don't appear together in the same story, but when Cushing is in the wax museum he does pass a figure of Lee as Dracula. An interesting bit of Trivia is that Vincent Price was originally wanted to play Pertwee's role, but had to turn it down due to his exclusive contract with A.I.P. at the time.

Amicus knew how to make great horror anthologies, an art sadly lost today.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Halloween Count Down: Day 4-The Revenge of Frankenstein(1958)

The Revenge of Frankenstein is Hammer Films' sequel to their smash international hit Curse of Frankenstein starring Peter Cushing again as the demented Dr. Frankenstein. While the Universal movies contiuned their Frankenstein franchise following the monster, Hammer followed Cushing's doctor as he tried over and over again to take the power of God and make men (and sometimes women) himself.

Cushing escapes the guillotine with the help a defromed dwarf and sets himself up in another town as Dr. Stein, who is thought to be a good doctor that helps the poor. Really Frankenstein is just looking for parts. A young doctor figures out who he is and joins Frankenstein in his expiriments (which gets repeated in nearly every Cushing Frankenstein film all the way to his last, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell).

This is my favorite of the Hammer Frankenstein series (I don't count The Horror of Frankenstein to be part of this series, but that's for a later blog). Enjoy the trailer below and keep it in mind for this Halloween.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Halloween Count Down: Day 5-Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Masque of the Red Death, base on the story by Edgar Allen Poe and brought to the screen by Roger Corman (his first production filmed in England) is a favorite of mine. I first saw it when I was eight years old on the Channel 7 (WABC TV here in New York) 4:30 Movie.

Vincent Price is sinister as Satan worshipping Prince Prospero who gathers nobles into his castle while the 'Red Death', a plague that causes the victims to ooze blood out of every pore and orifice, ravages the land. He enjoys the suffering of others, and kidnaps a poor christen girl from the village he had burned down in order to try and corrupt her.

Price seems to relish the role of the evil prince, who is so smug and pretentious that you want him to get what's coming in the end. Hazel Court, beautiful as ever, is often overlooked in this film which is a shame since she turns in a wonderful performance as Juliana the bride to be of Satan. Jane Asher looked every bit the lost innocent amongst the nasty nobles, who tries to hold on to her beliefs and virtue.

Special praise I think should be paid to Patrick Magee (Alfredo), Skip Martin (Hop-Toad) and Verina Greenlaw (Esmeralda), who make up the sub plot of the movie base on Poe's short story Hop-Frog, which is one of my favorite parts of the movie (and one of my favorite Poe stories as well). Personally, I think this should of been it's own movie, but it's done so well here I really can't complain.

The film looks above and beyond it's budget, due in part to two things. One, Corman took advantage of British tax laws to save money and put that money back into the production, and two he got to shoot on the set for Becket (1964) which had just wrapped so he didn't have to build anything.

I own the DVD (available at Amazon) and will definitely be playing this on Halloween.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Halloween Count Down: Day 6-Re-Animator (1985)

The early eighties was a treasure trove for the young horror fan growing up during that era. Just when I thought it couldn't get better, BAM, along comes Re-Animator. It was based on the Herbert West: Reanimator series of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft and directed by Stuart Gordon (who would go on to make more Lovecraft films).

The performance of Jeffrey Combs as West is what really makes this movie. He has a single minded obsession with his experiments that blinds him to the potential dangers, not that he cares anyway. He's like a computer nerd, only he dabbles in cadavers not microchips. Incidentally, I've meet Mr. Combs and he's a very friendly warm person, totally unlike his West character. Darn it.

What really blew me away the first time I saw this movie were the make-up effects. The effects people really pushed the boundaries of what could be done, from the great screaming corpse in the beginning to the headless Dr. Hill. The dead looked like real corpses, special attention was paid to how real decomposition coloring looked rather than just spray an actor with pale white and blue grease paint. I'm still surprised they got away with an R rating back in 1985 considering all the gallons of blood they splashed up on the screen. The effects hold up when you watch it today, I think it's better than a lot of the CGI crap we get now.

The second half of the 1980's didn't hold the promise that the first half did, with the endless Freddy sequels, rip offs and slasher trash that flooded the market. In a way Re-Animator marked the end of quality horror movies for the decade. It did spawn two sequels, Bride of Re-Animator (1991) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), but neither lived up to the original.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 7-Monster Squad (1987)

"Wolfman's got nards!" - Horace from The Monster Squad

And the seventh movie on my list is The Monster Squad (1987) directed by Fred Dekker and co-written by Shane Black who wrote the first Lethal Weapon movie (you know, the good one).

It's your basic story of Dracula leading the Frankenstein's Monster, a wolfman, a mummy and a gill man to a little town so they can get an amulet that will let the monsters can take over the world, and a bunch of kids, their little sister and a old Jewish man are the only ones to stop them.
This opened in August of 1987, and I walked from Kings Park (where I lived) to Commack so I could watch it (I was seventeen but I didn't drive yet). I went alone because none of my friends wanted to see a children's movie, or "those old monsters are stupid" (just so you know, I wound up punching out the guy who said years later, mostly because he was drunk and belligerent but I'm sure that foul comment was a small part of it too). Many others must of felt the same way because I was alone in the theater for a Saturday afternoon showing it's first weekend.

It was a kick seeing the "Classic" monsters back on the big screen. The characters of the monsters stay intact from what we remember from the Universal Monster movies (this wasn't put out by Universal). The wolfman can't control the beast inside him and just wants to be set free. Frankenstein's Monster is both child like and tragic. Duncan Regehr's Dracula is suave, blood thirsty and dangerous, at no time does he camp it up for laughs.

It would have been easy to make it goofy and have the monsters be buffoons but, like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Dekker and Black knew to have the film work the monsters had to play it straight. The boys reminded me of myself at their age, obsessed with monsters and reading Famous Monsters of Filmland. And they act like kids, not talking like adults with tiny bodies.

I recently rented the 20th Anniversary DVD (it was finally released after fans screamed for it for years) from Netflix to see if the movie held up after all these years, and it did. Get it, pop some popcorn, gather the family around and enjoy this one.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 8-Elvira's Haunted Hills

Sorry this is late, work and life got in the way so I'll try and post #8 through #6 today.

And number eight in my list of top ten Halloween movies for 2009 is Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001). What do you mean you never seen it/heard of it? Sure, it wasn't played in wide release, only small screenings, and went straight to DVD. As far as I know it never played on cable either. That doesn't mean it isn't a good film or that you should miss out on it.

It stars Elvira (Cassandra Peterson who also wrote and produced) as...well Elvira. Lost in eastern Europe (around the 1800's) she and her girl friday find themselves in a castle straight out of a Roger Corman Poe film. Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture show) is the master of the castle, who is slowly going insane and mourns for his long dead wife.

This film is a love letter to the horror films of Corman and Hammer (it's dedicated to Peterson's personal friend Vincent Price)and it shows on the screen. It's a parody, but it's a respectful parody that doesn't belittle the original subject.

There's a great documentary on the DVD that talks about the shoot in Romania where the people dress and look like they did two hundred years ago, letting the production save money on having to pay extras in costumes.

One little bit of trivia I found interesting was that Richard O'Brien's part of Lord Vladimere Hellsubus was originally to played by Richard Chamberlain, who dropped out just two weeks prior to film rolling. I can see Chamberlain playing a Vincent Price like character, but O'Brien is an inspired bit of casting and he chews up the scenery very nicely.

Elvira's Haunted Hills is available at Elvira's web site HERE.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

UPDATE 10/27-I finally found a trailer so I just added it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 9-Mad Monster Party

Number nine on my list has special meaning for me.

My memory of the first time I saw Mad Monster Party is very vivid. As a child I had a heart problem that eventually needed surgery when I was seven. For years before that I had to go to the hospital for tests, which doesn't put a toddler in a good mood. I came home with my parents, miserable and still scared (doctors can be as scary as a monster when you're four) and turned on the TV to find this movie already in progress. Immediately I forgot the jabs of needles in my little arm and people poking and examining me. This movie made the pain and fear go away, and I'll forever be in it's debt.

Rankin/Bass, who made all those stop motion(they called it Animagic) Rudolph Christmas specials, made Mad Monster Party in 1967 with none other than Boris Karloff performing the voice of an aging Dr. Frankenstein. The script was co-written by Harvey Kurtzman and characters designed by Jack Davis, both Mad Magazine veterans. The premise is that Dr. Frankenstein wants to announce who his successor will be and invites all the monsters to a big party.

It's made for children for the most part. Still some of Kurtzman's dark sense of humor shows through between the monsters singing and clowning around. Today I'm surprised by the stuff that got past censors and parents back then, like some of Felicia's lines (not to mention her curves). Even after all these years I still think it's a wonderful film. Now I get to share it with my daughter and watch her eyes light up as mine did all those years ago.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Bela Lugosi

Wow, can't believe I almost forgot about this but today is the birthday of Bela Lugosi (1882-1956). So in honor of the sad prince of horror lets raise our glasses high and sing his praises and remember him as the great actor he was.

Here's to you, Bela.

Halloween Count Down: Day 10-Return of the Living Dead

With Halloween just ten days away I've decided to do count down of my favorite ten movies to play on Halloween. These will be in no particular order, but I did try to pick at least one movie from each decade starting with the 1930's. First up is number ten on the list: Return of the Living Dead (1985).

John Russo, who wrote The Night of the Living Dead in 1968, retained the rights to use 'Living Dead' in a movie title and wrote a screenplay he wanted for the sequel. Tobe Hooper (Texas Chain Saw Massacre) was to direct it as a 3D film, but backed out to make Lifeforce. Dan O'Bannon (who wrote and starred in John Carpenter's Dark Star and lots of other great stuff) was brought in to polish the script, and when Hooper left O'Bannon was asked to direct it. He said he would if the producers did one thing: junk the original script and let him write a new one. They agreed and the rest is zombie history.

From the start it pay homage to George A. Romero's first film, but blazes it own path with talking zombies and incredible zombies like the Tarman zombie played by Muppet puppeteer Allan Trautman.

I first saw this when my parents brought it home from Cheap John's Video when it was release on VHS, but I had known about it from Fangoria and other horror magazine I read at the time. Most of the articles I read concentrated on the zombie effects and Linnea Quigley's (man did I have a horror geek crush on her) famous zombie strip tease.

What I didn't expect was the humor, which found just the right balance with the thrills and chills. I remember being a little mad that my mom and dad were going to watch it with me, thinking they wouldn't appreciate it, but we had a great time being scared and laughing it up. It was like a little party. To this day I love sitting down with a group of people to watch this, especially if they haven't seen it before.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Vic Mizzy, Addams Family Theme Composer has Passed Away

Vic Mizzy, the man who wrote the Addams Family theme among many others, has passed away. he was 93 years old.

Little know fact: the company that made the Addams Family tv show (1964-1966) didn't want to pay studio singers for the theme, so Vic overdubbed his own voice to make it sound like a trio was singing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sympathy for the Club: In Defense of The Monster Club

If it will please the court, I do not deny that The Monster Club may not be everyone's taste in horror films. Is it a perfect film? No, far from it, but I ask you what film is? Yes, I've seen The Dark Knight, your honor can you ask the gallery not to interrupt and let me present my case? Thank you.

I first saw The Monster Club on channel 9's afternoon movie sometime in the early 1980's. In a nutshell, Vincent Price plays a vampire who puts the bite on John Carradine's R.Chetwynd-Hayes (playing the real life writer who's stories are the basis of the movie). To make it up to him Price takes Carradine to The Monster Club, where all assortment of creatures of the night hang out so Carradine can get new ideas. Once there we are treated to three tales of monster half-breeds and bands playing early new wave music.

The first tale, The Shadmock, is more a story of heart break than horror. The second, about a bullied boy who's father is a vampire, is the comic segment complete with slapstick. The final tale is about horror director coming upon a town of flesh eating ghouls. His only hope is the offspring of a ghoul and a human woman, who wants to escape and see the outside world.

I didn't realize it when I watching it as a lonely, bullied, wanting to escape kid but the monsters in these stories aren't the Shadmocks, vampire kids, or ghouls. They're the heroes. They're outcasts and society is the villain. Maybe that's why it struck a chord with me.

Also, the tales are rather melancholy and eerie. The only tale with a happy ending is the vampire son's, and even there you get the sense that after the fade out it didn't end well eventually.

Director Roy Ward Baker is probably the best director of horror anthology ever in my opinion. Yes, he didn't have a good budget (the masks the extra's wear in the club is dead give away) but that doesn't stop him from putting some beautiful shots up on the screen.

The only really weird part comes during one of the breaks between stories where bands play. B.A. Robertson performs "Sucker for Your Love" in one long shot (sometimes zooming in a out really fast to make you woozy). For over three minutes they never cut away from the singer's blue tinted face. Even for 1980 it's a strange shot, you'd think they'd at least cut to the rest of the band for a few seconds. In a way it adds to the strangeness of the movie.

The movie ends with a great speech by Price, who asks for Carradine to be given membership to The Monster Club because of how vile and brutal mankind is. Saying, in essence, we are all monsters in our own way. I feeling I know too well.

I ask the jury not to rush to judgement. Is the movie dated, yes. Is the movie low budget, yes. Does it play up the camp a little too much, yes. But the true test of a movie is can it make you feel something, can it touch something in deep inside you. For me, it did and still does.

I now leave it in your hands, and I await your verdict.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Elvira Hosts Chiller Theatre in New York on Halloween

This year Elvira Mistress of the Macabre will host WPIX New York's Chiller Theatre showing of The Evil of Frankenstein. I'm so happy I could melt into a blob.

I was a pre-teen and teen in the 1980's, and as I may have said before I missed the big horror host boom here in New York. So all I had was Chiller Theatre, which had no host, and the Nationally syndicated Elvira. Chiller went off the air in I believe 1982. Elvira was shown on a out of state UFH station and went off (at least on the only station I could find her on) about 1984. Since then it's been slim bone pickings for us New Yorkers.

Now it looks like WPIX will be bringing back Chiller as a yearly event at Halloween. Personally I'd like to see it every week with a horror host, but I'll take what I can get.

So if you live in New York and get WPIX, let them know you want your Chiller!!! Maybe if we make our screams loud enough they'll hear us and put it back on.

Click HERE to see WPIX's web page about Elvira hosting Chiller Theatre.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bob Burns' Hollywood Halloween Videos

Bob Burns is a legend in the SciFi Horror movie fandom. His book, It Came from Bob's Basement: Exploring the Science Fiction and Monster Movie Archive of Bob Burns shows off his vast collection of movie props, including Glenn Strange's boots and head appliance from when he played Frankenstein's Monster (Strange was a personal friend of Bob's). And who else could get professional effects people like Rick Baker, Dennis Muren and Greg Nicotero to work on the haunted house he puts on in his own home? No one but Bob Burns, that's who!

His Halloween shows are produced like feature films, and even stars real actors like Daniel Roebuck. I wish I could get to California to witness first hand the greatness that is a Bob Burns Halloween House. But I can't, my job says that isn't a legitimate business trip for a computer programmer.

What I can do is go to and click on the video tab (sorry, no direct link to the videos) to go see the wonderful video documentary Bob has put on his web site. The documentary, part two has just been put up, takes you through this labor of love Bob and his friends put on each year. They all volunteer their time just to give kids (of all ages) a thrill. I have to respect that.

Go to the site (, click the video tab at the top of the page and sit back and enjoy.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boris Karloff Blogathon 11/23 -11/29

Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog, one of the best blogs about Frankenstein is hosting a Boris Karloff Blogathon November 23rd to November 29th celebrating Karloff the Uncanny's 122nd birthday. Mark your calendars for this event. For more information click on the link below.

Count Dracula Society Oath

In my last blog post I wrote about Dracula A.D. 1972, which had Hammer bring Dracula into the present day. In America back when the film was released a short was shown before the movie where a vampire sworn everyone in the theater into the Count Dracula Society. This was back when they still did fun stuff before the movie, not just show commercials.

The actor playing the the vampire under the caked on white makeup is Barry Atwater. Horror and SciFi fans will know him as Janos Skorzeny, the vampire from the Night Stalker TV movie and as the vulcan Surak from the the original Star Trek series among other appearances.

This video clip is from Zacherley's Horrible Horrors (from what I hear currently unavailable), which had The Cool Ghoul play host to film clips and trailers of classically bad movies.

Enjoy, and as always...

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) - One Fan's Memory

Long ago (1979 or 1980) CBS showed late-late movies, and one dark cold Friday night they showed Dracula A.D. 1972 , so being about ten years old and a monster fan I snuck down stairs and watched it on the only color TV in the house. My memories of that watching consists of being scared (but that was the fun of it) and wanting to see more of Christopher Lee as Dracula.

Now, in my late-late thirties, I decided to re-watch the movie for the first time since that dark and cold Friday night many moons ago. Of course I'm viewing the movie through a different lens now. The time of 1972 is 38 years in the past now, where it was only eight years in the past when I first watched it. The culture shock is more pronounced today after seeing those 1970's fashions and hearing the music of the Stoneground.

Also, after studying horror movies and the people that made them I have more insight into the movie and can place it in it's proper historical context. That's fancy talk for I know more than I did then.

The movie has Dracula, Lord of the Undead, in the hip and happening London of 1972 after his ashes were buried in unsanctified soil next to a church a hundred years before. Wanting revenge on the Van Helsing family, he seeks to make the great great grand daughter of the Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham) who killed him his vampire bride.

The great Peter Cushing plays both Van Helsings (1872 grandfather and 1972 grandson). He would play Van Helsing two more times, in The Satanic Rites of Dracula and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. Lee would be a Hammer Dracula only once more for Hammer (in the Satanic Rite of Dracula). Christopher Neame is devilish as the disciple of the Dracula Johnny Alucard (get it, Alucard) who raises him using a satanic ritual. There's a police detective character who does nothing but supply exposition to Van Helsing, which is a waste. Also wasted with too little screen time (but looking sexy in a black dress) is Caroline Munro, who should of been used more in this film.

So why did Hammer put Dracula in 1972? Much has been written about it, but here is my thoughts on the subject. First, coming into the 1970's Hammer was starting to loose money, a situation which would eventually shut them down (although they, like Dracula many times before, they have been resurrected recently). As a matter of fact I think they did only three more period movies before going into their long slumber from making films. It's more cost effective to set a movie in modern times than period settings, I'm sure the producers were thinking about that.

On the creative end, I'm sure they were running out of ideas of what to do with Dracula. Putting him in (then) contemporary London makes sense if you want to rejuvenate the franchise. Unfortunately, they never take advantage of it. All Dracula does is hang out in an abandoned church the whole time. Neame has to bring him victims to suck, you never see Dracula going out and hunting down Londoners in the streets or in the trendy clubs like Blackula or Count Yorga did. Why bring Dracula to 1972 if you're not going to make the most of it?

On this my ten year old self and I agree, we needed more Dracula. My late thirties self also thinks we needed more of Caroline Munro in a skimpy black dress, but we'll address that at a different time.

The band the Stoneground, who I didn't think were a real band until I looked this film up on Wikipedia, actually serve a purpose in this movie. After the opening set one hundred years before, they help set the movie in 1972 for the audience, then and now. And man do we know it's 1972 from the scenes after the opening credits. Oh, that early seventies music! Oh, those early seventies fashion! What was probably hip then is cheesy now, but ads to the charm of the film.

One scene I remember well, is of the modern day Van Helsing racing through the streets of London to save his grand daughter. At ten, this was a thrilling sequence that made me root for Van Helsing. Today I found myself yelling at the TV, upset that they made poor frail Peter Cushing run in the cold streets at his age. Poor, poor, Peter.

The big memory of this movie is the Resurrection ceremony in the old church the group of friends unwittingly attend, thinking it will be a far out scene to dig (oh, that early seventies slang!). That creepy music (White Noice's Black Mass: an Electric Storm in Hell ) stuck with me for a long time.

So, after all is said and done, ten year old me loved being scared and loved the movie. And you know what, for all it's faults it's still a fun movie.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dinner with Drac TV Perfromance by Zacherley 1958

I'm assuming this is the American Bandstand performance from 1958 (if I'm wrong please let me know) since the announcer says Dinner With Drac is a current hit when introducing Zacherley.

You may notice a difference with the lyrics you're probably use to (at least I'm use to) and this version used for the show. Apparently Dick Clark and other DJs thought the original was too violent so a toned down version was recorded. Fans wanted to buy the Bandstand version so it was released as Dinner With Drac part 2.

I think it has nice production values for 1958, but I'm a Zach-ophile so I'm bias.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Horror Hosts Segment on E.T. (1984)

I remember this segment on Entertainment Tonight from when I was 14 years old. People my age growing up on Long Island missed the heyday of Zacherley and didn't have a horror host for our late night delights until Elvira got syndicated to a little UHF station we could barely tune in.

Up until I saw this I didn't know there were still horror hosts on local TV stations, I thought Elvira was the only game around. I remember watching this report and getting very jealous that people in other states got the joy of having a weekly local horror host. How lucky they were!

Now today we have the Internet, and we can get a glimpse of the greatness of local hosts from all over the country via classic clips on Youtube, and see what the new generation is doing with web shows.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dracula A.D. 1972 Trailer (1972)

I'll post a retrospective on Dracula A.D. 1972 at a later date. Even though it's not my favorite Hammer Dracula film, mainly because Christopher Lee just stands around in an old church the whole time and does nothing, I'm a fan of trailers and this one is pretty good.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From Beyond The Grave (1973)

(Correction 10/10/09 -I mistakenly attributed The Monster Club as an Amicus Production in this blog post, which I thought it was for years. After doing a little research for an upcoming blog on the movie I discovered it was in fact NOT an Amicus. Amicus dissolved in mid seventies and The Monster Club came out in 1980. I think the fact that Milton Subotsky made The Monster Club threw me off. Sorry for the confusion.)

From Beyond The Grave from 1973 ended a run of anthology movies put out by Amicus that started with Dr. Terror's House of Horrors in 1965 (The Monster Club didn't come out until 1980 so I don't consider it part of this cycle of movies). Now I remember seeing it back in the high school, either on TV or from the video store, but I didn't remember it all that well. So I sat down, lights off in the middle of the night, to watch it again.

This movie, like Monster Club, takes it's stories from R. Chetwynd-Hayes for it's four main segments. I can sum up the each part like this:

1)The Gatecrasher-It was okay. I liked the idea of a soul trapped in a mirror making a person commit murder to free him. Part of it was badly edited out of sequence in one spot, having David Warner laying in bed wearing a bloody shirt before he's actually murdered the woman whose blood covers it.

2)An Act of Kindness-Confusing. Donald Pleasence is wonderful along side his daughter Angela Pleasence, who is just creepy in this. But the story's payoff doesn't make sense, and I went back and watched it three times to make sure I didn't miss something.

3)The Elemental-Below average. The story, about a man who has a dangerous invisible demon on his shoulder that wants to take him over, is the humorous story to cleanse the palette after the other frights. Felt like an episode of Tales From The Darkside towards the end of their run when they were running out of A type material.

4)The Door- This was actually my favorite segment out of all of them. A man buys a demonic looking door that can open a doorway to a evil man's castle. A negative is it felt too rushed and I wished it could of been developed more, but still out of all of them this was the best.

Peter Cushing is the old proprietor of "Temptations", a sort of antique shop with item that come with a surprise with every purchase. Cushing, who mourned the death of his wife in 1971 to the day he died, looks gaunt and skeletal. You can tell he wasn't taking care of himself, and he even admitted later that he thought of committing suicide out of grief. Still, ever the trooper, he ties these uneven tales together and gives a great performance.

This is not my favorite Amicus anthology, as a matter of fact it probably is towards the bottom of the list, but not as bad a The Deadly Bees. Re-watching it made me realize why I didn't remember it that well, I didn't want to. I collect my favorite movies so I can watch them over and over again, this one isn't going to make my collection.

Just so you know, this DVD doesn't come with any extras, just the movie and the trailer. Something else, like a documentary or commentary, would have been nice. Warner Bros. really went cheap on this, not even having the a original poster as the DVD cover, instead opting for a generic skull that says nothing about the movie.

Below is the trailer from the movie from Youtube.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman Trailer (1971)

Ah, The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman, what a title!

This little gem is brought to you by Paul Naschy, the Spanish Lon Chaney, who also wrote it. As a kid I never got to see any of Paul Naschy's films, either because my local stations didn't show them or the video stores didn't stock them to rent. Believe me, if I saw this title in TV Guide or on a video store shelf I would have watched it. So the only way I knew of his movies were from the few entries in various books I had on monster movies.

I finally got a DVD of this very movie and got to watch Mr. Naschy in action, and I may have to dig it up (no Acker-Pun intended) tonight and watch it again now that I found the trailer on Youtube.

I really love the flashing red and white silhouette shots they sprinkled in here and there in the trailer. Nice touch.

There were a whole slew of Werewolf pictures starring Naschy as Waldemar Daninsky, the man with the curse of lycanthropy. I'll write more about him on a later date, but for now enjoy the trailer to The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Vampire Hunting Kits

File Under Cute: LA Weekly's web site has a cute article about Vampire Hunting Kits. Click the link to read more.

20/20 Report on Monster Make-up from 1982

I remember seeing this 20/20 report when I was twelve and a HUGE monster make-up fan. They teased the segment early in the evening and I begged to stay up and watch it but I got sent to bed since it was a school night(20/20 was on Thursday's at 10:00pm if I remember right, past my bed time). So I did what any kid would do, I turned the volume down low on my little black and white TV and watch it with a blanket covering both me and the tiny set.

Sure the report kind of simplifies the foam latex process, making seem like all you have to do is sculpt something and paint it with latex (in reality a new negative mold is made and foam latex is injected in then baked, and even that explanation is a simplification), but the fact that I got to see Rick Baker, John Chambers and Dick Smith talking about movie monster make-up thrilled me. This was back in the days before Internet video and 24 hour access to information. The only way I knew about these people was through Famous Monsters and a new magazine called Fangoria that just came out. I never really knew what they looked like or how they sounded when they spoke. So it was a surprise to me when I heard Rick Baker talk, that he sounded like a shy kid talking about monsters. It made me realize he was just like me, a monster fan. That was cool to a twelve year old.

With all the advances in computer technology, I still prefer Rick Baker's American Werewolf in London transformation to the CGI ones we have today. My favorite quote from Baker in this piece was when asked if he ever got nightmare from his creations he says, "No, these are my friends". Very cool.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Alice Cooper's PSA (Keepin' Halloween Alive Single)

Believe it or not, Alice Cooper is my favorite singer. No, really.

So with Halloween coming, I was delighted to see this video he made in the style of a PSA. It's to promote his single Keepin' Halloween Alive, which can be found on iTunes. It's about time the Master of Horror Rock did a song for the best holiday of the year.

I now feel the Halloween Holiday Season has officially begun.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!