Saturday, December 31, 2011 Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that 2012 is a better and brighter year for us all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011 Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2011 Beware the Krampus!

From NPR:
Horror For The Holidays

Meet The Anti-Santa
by Peter Crimmins
December 10, 2011 from WHYY

For generations the Christmas season has been infused with sweetness, but
some families in Philadelphia are adding a dash of horror.

There are no Christmas lights up at Janet Finegar's house in the Northern
Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. She does not deck her halls with
boughs of holly. Instead, hundreds of rib bones leftover from a neighborhood
barbecue hang on a clothesline strung across her backyard. They're bleaching
in the sun.

"They have been scraped, boiled, scraped again, bleached and are now strung
on strands and hanging out to dry," she says. "They smell. Rib bones, as it
turns out, are incredibly nasty."

She will drape the bones over herself and wear them like a grisly tunic.
It's her Krampus costume.

The Krampus is a character from European Alpine folklore, common in Austria
and Switzerland. The creature stands on two hooves and has horns growing out
of its skull. An extremely long tongue hangs out of its mouth, and it
carries a basket to haul away naughty children.

For hundreds of years, the Krampus and Saint Nicholas have worked a kind of
good cop-bad cop routine. Saint Nick rewards the good children; Krampus
terrorizes the bad.

For Finegar, it's the perfect antidote for Christmas.

"If everything is sweet and beautiful and lovely and the most wonderful time
of the year, some people, like me, start to get a little nauseated, want a
little salt to go with the sugar," she says. "I think there [are] a lot of
people out there who enjoy the idea of having a little salt."

Around the country, there are Krampus parties and club nights in December,
where people dress in leftover Halloween costumes to drink and dance.

Finegar is helping to organize a traditional Krampuslauf: a procession of
people dressed as Krampus, walking through the streets with noisemakers. The
idea for the Krampuslauf in Philadelphia came from Amber Dorko Stopper, a
mother of two.

"Spooky and scary has had a place in Christmas historically - A Christmas
Carol is a ghost story with scary things in it," she says. "I hate to see
everything get watered down because I remember how much fun those things

Krampus parades are rare in the United Sates. Last year, Joseph Ragan
organized one in Portland, Ore., as a reaction to the way Christmas
dominates the winter season.

"Of all the 10,000 holidays that can be celebrated, we just have this one
particular version of this one particular holiday really shoved down our
throats for months at a time - in the most saccharine form," he says.

Consider that Christmas muzak you hear in grocery stores before
Thanksgiving. That really annoys Stopper. She's a fan of horror movies, and
enjoys the folk tales of Krampus stealing children, throwing them into icy
rivers or eating them alive.

"I realized really quickly how that was not popular in this time period. As
a parent of small children that was seen as suspicious behavior almost
immediately," she says. "Everything is so soft-pedaled these days with kids
to the point where you're not showing any kind of conflict to your kids,
much less folklore."

But even Stopper admits there are limits.

"Since both of our children are adopted, we're a little extra sensitive to
talking about being taken away," Stopper says. "But we did tell them that,
'He'll take you to his house, you'll have to eat spicy vegetables and watch
boring adult television - and then he'll bring you home.' "

The horror. The horror.

I'm right there with Ragan and Stopper. As much as I love the holidays, I hate hate hate how it's forced upon us so early. And it just keeps getting worse every year, especially in these economic times*.   This year I started hearing the Christmas muzak pumped into stores before Thanksgiving.

Christmas isn't special if you celebrate it for three straight months. Christmas decorations aren't special if you hang them up in November and leave them up until March. The four seasons of the year are not Spring, Summer, Fall, and Christmas!

The Krampus is pretty cool.  I read about him as a kid, but forgot all about him until he turned up in a Venture Bros. episode a few years back.  I don't know how much success a demonic ant-Santa will have in a country obsessed with fighting a non-existant "War on Christmas", but I wish him the best.

I'm not down with the Leatherface bone costume, though.

*Hey, you want consumers to spend more money?  Give them more money to spend!  Quit cutting back on salary and benefits, quit sending jobs overseas, quit laying off employees by the hundreds to spur short-term stock market increases, quit dancing to the tune of the corporate interests that control us all... oh, wait. 

Friday, December 2, 2011 Santa Claus is Coming to Town

 And he's bringing Martians with him!

Holland Releasing is bringing this holiday "classic", along with a bevy of seasonal shorts and cartoons, back to theaters across the country this Christmas. A list of theaters and screen dates are available at the site.

I've already seen SCvM on the big screen at a Cinematic Titanic event a few years back, but if you haven't yet experienced this "space-blazing" spectacle this is a great opportunity to do so!

Sunday, November 20, 2011 Phil Noto Is A Genius

His space lounge aesthetic is relevant to my interests, but the Han Solo images below?  Genius.

Friday, November 11, 2011 Beware the Wisconsin Sex Werewolf!

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Woman jailed in bizarre sex-related stabbing

Bloodied man with 300 wounds calls police from east side intersection
By Gitte Laasby of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 9, 2011

A Milwaukee woman apparently interested in werewolf spirits having sex was in jail Wednesday after an 18-year-old man endured 300 puncture wounds when their sexual encounter "got out of hand," a police affidavit says.

Rebecca Chandler, 22, was being held in the incident, which may also have involved satanic or occult practices.

Bleeding from the neck, arms and back, the man called police Sunday night from the intersection of E. Knapp St. and N. Astor St. on Milwaukee's east side. He told police he had traveled by bus from Phoenix to Milwaukee for a sexual encounter with Chandler.

"Once he got to the residence, he was bound and stabbed numerous times over a time frame of what he described as two days," an affidavit accompanying a search warrant states. The affidavit also says the apartment contained a book titled "Werewolf's Guide to Life," a necromantic ritual book, as well as a black folder called "Intro to Sigilborne Spirits." According to various websites, Sigilborne spirits include female werewolf spirits who engage in sexual acts.

The man suffered more than 300 wounds to his back, face, arms, legs and neck and was taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, according to the document. His condition was not immediately available.

Near the intersection from where the victim called, police found bloody duct tape "fashioned in a manner that appeared to be a restraint, as well as a bloody length of rope," the affidavit says.

Officers followed a blood trail to an apartment in the 900 block of E. Knapp St, where the door to one of the units was open. Inside, there was blood on the floor and on bedding in a bedroom as well as duct tape that, again, appeared to be a restraint, according to the affidavit.

The 22-year-old woman introduced herself to officers, saying, "I think you are here looking for me."

She said she'd been having sex with the man and that the cutting was consensual but quickly got out of hand.

After she was arrested, Chandler told police her roommate, whom she called Scarlett, had done the majority of the cutting. She said Scarlett is "possibly involved in satanic or occult activities." She claimed she didn't know Scarlett's full name, but that her DNA could be found on a hair brush.

Police searched the apartment for DNA clues to determine if there was another person involved. The man had told them "a woman" had bound and stabbed him.

Chandler is being held in the Milwaukee County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

I guess not all werewolf dates can be romantic nights in.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 The Day After

It's time to relax! Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011 Halloween Treats: Fun-Sized Horror

Fill up your trick-or-treat bag with these mini-movies from Daywalt Fear Factory and Fewdio! They're all under ten minutes, so they make for perfect viewing in-between doorbell rings.

There's No Such Thing... by Drew Daywalt

Cellar by Randy Link

Creep by Drew Daywalt & David Schneider

Room 19 by Drew Daywalt

Jack by Drew Daywalt

Loads more films at the links above!

Random Image: Creepy Kids

From Haunted Air, a book of vintage Halloween photos, via NPR. Lot's more photos at this link. NPR also has a selection of reader submissions in a similar vein.

Huffington Post Overrun By Zombies!

See for yourself!

I had to LOL at the Rahm Emmanuel bit:

Much more at the Huffington Post.

Halloween Treats: A Tale of Dracula, the Wolfman, & Frankenstein

Some more spooky listening for your horrible holiday!  A Tale of Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein was not technically part of Power Records' Monster Series.   The Monster Series were adaptations of Marvel Comics such as Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night and released in 45 RPM.  A Tale was an orignal Neal Adams story and issued as an LP.  A Tale was reissued as House of Terror on Parade Records, and the comic was later expanded for a French publisher and subsequentially reprinted in various outlets, such as House of Hammer.   Neal Adams has since lost his marbles and the bag he kept them in, but he's at the top of his game here as an illustrator and the audio play is up to Power Records' usual standards - dig the crazy Lugosi impression for Dracula! 

Halloween Treats: "Le Vampire"

Have a safe and fun holiday!

Sunday, October 30, 2011 Halloween Countdown: Kolchak, the Night Stalker

A while back, I came across this column by Michael Phillips, movie critic for the Chicago Tribune. It says everything I would want to express about one of my childhood heroes in a far better way than I could manage:

Vegas vampires in the 1970s faced an unforgettable foe

August 19, 2011

This week's release of "Fright Night," a sharp-witted remake which brings vampires to modern-day Las Vegas in all its sunny horror, marks a fine time to celebrate the memory of Darren McGavin and one of his choicest roles.

I refer to Carl Kolchak, the Vegas reporter in the porkpie hat, featured in "The Night Stalker," originally broadcast Jan. 11, 1972, as an ABC Movie of the Week. (Kolchak moved to Chicago for a short-lived TV series.)

Remember those? I certainly do. I remember the tear-stained hallways of my grade school the morning after "Brian's Song" aired. And I remember the not-quite-11-year-old me dying to watch "The Night Stalker" a couple of months later, which the promos made look pretty racy for network television, and then watching it (dad, mom: thanks), and not so much dying of fright (though it was scary for the time) as going crazy for McGavin's brashly comic portrayal of a seeker of truth and reluctant vampire slayer.

Talk about a genre mash-up. A refugee from a '30s newspaper comedy plunked down inside a serial killer movie with a mythic supernatural premise.

And people did talk about it. With a script by Richard Matheson, "The Night Stalker" was a huge ratings success up against "Hawaii Five-O" and an NBC documentary special on the troubles in Northern Ireland. The cast of "The Night Stalker" included Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Claude Akins and Ralph Meeker. Until seeing "The Night Stalker" again recently, in the less-than-ideal YouTube edition, I'd forgotten that Meeker was part of the cast. (By the way, if you haven't checked out the Criterion Collection reissue of Robert Aldrich's "Kiss Me Deadly," starring a vicious, sneering Meeker as Mike Hammer, do so as soon as possible.)

Johnny Depp has expressed interest in developing a remake of "The Night Stalker," which has already undergone a reboot or two in various formats. The original ABC version spawned a lesser sequel ("The Night Strangler") and a short-lived TV series. Vampires never die, as we know. They're everywhere, and they all seem to have their own franchises to run. I was frankly surprised how much the new "Fright Night" brought to a crowded party.

Revisiting "The Night Stalker" reminded me of how dependent the teleplay was on McGavin's rumpled charisma. Had "The Night Stalker" featured a less interesting actor as Kolchak, the ratings probably still would've soared. But while various aspects of "The Night Stalker" date, or weren't especially fresh to begin with, everything McGavin does adds to our enjoyment. Everything. A wonderful character man, he never really got his due or the career, busy and productive as it was, that he deserved. He also had a wonderful way of tilting a porkpie hat just so. Bloodsuckers come and go, and many are worth the time and trouble. But Kolchak was something special: an immortal mortal.

Fantastic Kolchak JACK O'LANTERN (!) by Benchak at DeviantArt

I was too young to watch the original movies when they first came out, and the follow-up series aired after my bedtime and I doubt my mom would let seven-year-old me watch something so spooky, anyway.  I was fascinated by a TV listings ad for the "Vampire" episode of the series ("Remember that vampire Kolchak killed in Vegas?"), so I was ecstatic to finally catch up with Carl when CBS aired reruns as part of its Friday late-night block of programming (which is where I also discovered stuff like The New Avengers).

Naturally, I was hooked right from the start.  The monster of the week format, the Chicago setting, but above all Darren McGavin's wonderful portrayal of Carl Kolchak as a broken-down newshawk who always fought the good fight no matter how terrified he was.  And Carl got terrified a lot.  Only Shaggy and Scooby could give him a run for the money in that department.  But still Kolchak soldiered on, and it was one of the reasons we loved him so.

Given that the series was not a ratings bonanza, it's not surprising that there has been almost no Night Stalker merchandise.  I was rather giddy when Fanogria #3 fell into my hands in 1979.  It had a complete Night Stalker episode guide, and full color mini-poster that hung on my wall until it literally fell apart.  But my first piece of Kolchak memorabilia was a copy of Arrgh! featuring a parody of The Night StalkerArrgh! was a monster-themed humor comic put out by Marvel in the early seventies.  It had even less success than the Night Stalker show.

Here's the complete Night Stalker spoof from  Arrgh! #4

Even today, now that geeks have inherited the Earth, there's precious few Kolchak tchotkes to be had, aside from Moonstone's line of Night Stalker comics and prose books.  However, I did come across this replica of Kolchak's legendary straw hat.  It's pricey as hell but it looks great (especially if you tuck this baby in the brim).  Maybe someday, when I have a big house and I can set up a corner desk with an old manual typewriter, flash camera, and "portable" tape recorder.  Make it look like ol' Carl had just stepped out for a moment to look something up in the file room.

Happy Halloween, Mr. McGavin.

Zombie Home Invasion Thwarted

Everyone likes to grab a late snack after a night out, but you can't get human flesh at the drive-thru.  From KTTC-TV (Rochester, MN):
Police arrest man in zombie makeup for trespassing

Oct 30, 2011 12:14 PM CST

MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) - Police say an intoxicated man in zombie makeup has been arrested after allegedly walking into a residence in Moorhead before dawn Sunday.

The incident began about 1:20 a.m. Sunday when police responded to a burglary call. Officers learned an intoxicated man in zombie makeup walked into a residence, where he was confronted by a homeowner with gun.

The zombie fled, but officers found a man matching the description hiding in the attic of another home on the block. He was known to people there.

The 20-year-old Fargo, N.D., man was arrested and taken to the Clay County Jail on suspicion of trespassing and consuming alcohol as a minor.

Saturday, October 29, 2011 Halloween Countdown: Monster NIght 1998

There used to be a time when Halloween meant all-night creature features on local tv.  Here in Chicago we were spoilt for choice as WGN and the various UHF stations would break out the best ghoulish goodies their syndication packages had to offer - Universal, Hammer, and Toho - well into the early hours of All Saints' Day.

The cable boom and the rise of the infomercial have put an end to that era.  Yeah, some basic cable outlets put on their own fright-fests, but they tend to be rather anemic affairs that stick to the glossy, brain-dead crap that have be filling multiplexes for the last decade or so, as anything older alienates the most desirable demographics.  On the other hand, the wonders of DVD has enabled bitter old geeks like me to create our own monster movie marathons

One of the last gasps of traditional creature features actually took place overseas.  Way back in 1998, BBC2 broadcast an entire night of giant monster mayhem hosted by comedian Bill Bailey.  In addition to such kaiju classics as King Kong vs. Godzilla and Gamera vs. Gyaos, programming included an original documentary (Godzilla, King of the Monsters), a clip show (Lee and Hering's Reasonably Scary Monsters), and wraparound segments featuring Bailey, Phil Jupitus and Chris Moyles.  Tonight, I'm sharing everything but the movies themselves, via an avi rip of an old off-air VCR recording.  While it's entertaining enough on its own, I'm listing the movies originally shown you can recreate BBC2's Monster Night in its entirety if you're ambitious or really, really bored.  

BBC2 Monster Night (1998)

Godzilla vs Ebirah
King Kong vs Godzilla
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
(under the title Gamera vs Gyaos)
King Kong (1976)
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

The Real Estate Market Can Be Scary

From the Chicago Tribune:
Altered states: A peek at scary movie houses and their actual locations

By Lew Sichelman, United Feature Syndicate
October 28, 2011

Bill Murray's mansion in the comedy classic "Zombieland" is up for grabs for a mere $22.5 million.

The 2009 spoof of the horror genre — stars Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin have survived a zombie apocalypse — takes place all over the make-believe map. But before they wind up at the supposedly zombie-free Pacific Playland amusement park, they visit Murray's house in Hollywood.

Only the 40,000-square-foot mansion isn't in Hollywood. It isn't even in California. It's in Atlanta, sitting on two acres on West Paces Ferry Road. And with the approach of Halloween, that annual homage to ghosts and goblins, the fact that the place is now for sale causes one to wonder about other scary filmdom houses and their actual locations.

Take the house in "A Nightmare on Elm Street," the 1984 slasher film by Wes Craven. The first film in the "Nightmare" franchise, it featured Johnny Depp in his movie debut. It also featured a murderous Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger, who slashed the house's occupants with his razor glove as they slept.

If the three-bedroom house could talk, it would scream bloody murder. And it would tell you it's not in the fictional Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio, but rather on Genesee Avenue in Los Angeles, according to Zillow, the online real estate marketplace.

The town house featured in "The Exorcist" was in Georgetown, a ritzy section of the nation's capital. The movie about demonic possession was released in 1973, but just the thought of actress Linda Blair's head turning 360 degrees still brings shivers to the spine.

The film was based on a book by William Peter Blatty, which itself was based on an actual exorcism. But the ritual didn't take place on Prospect Street NW, where the movie was made, but rather in a residence in the close-by Maryland suburb of Mount Rainier.

In "Thriller," often called the greatest music video of all time, Michael Jackson and his ghoulish friends break into song and dance, and then Jackson chases his date, former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray, into a Victorian house. The house, of course, plays second fiddle, as movie haunts tend to do, and the video makes no mention of its location. But Zillow found it on a small lot on Carroll Avenue in Los Angeles.

Not far away, in Pasadena, lies the Omega Beta Zeta House from "Scream 2," another Wes Craven slasher flick, this one starring Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Liev Schreiber and Neve Campbell.

The 6,500-square-foot house on East Crary Street sits on 1.5 acres and has seven bedrooms and four full baths. Jada Pinkett Smith, Jerry O'Connell, Omar Epps, Timothy Olyphant and Sarah Michelle Geller met an early demise in the movie.

Across the continent, folks who remember "Rosemary's Baby," the 1968 horror film directed by Roman Polanski, can find Rosemary Woodhouse's apartment building on West 72nd Street in New York City.

In this movie, Mia Farrow played a pregnant woman whose "loving" hubby, John Cassavetes, makes a deal to allow his eccentric neighbors to use her child as a human sacrifice in their occult rituals in exchange for success as an actor. But the building, the Dakota, is probably far better remembered as the place where Beatle John Lennon lived and was killed.

Both "Halloween" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" were filmed in Southern California. So, kiddies, it may be wise to skip haunts in those movies and go elsewhere for treats.

"Halloween," a 1978 independent film directed and produced by John Carpenter and featuring Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut, was set in the fictional Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Ill. But white-masked Michael Myers actually did his thing in a 2,600-square-foot, five-bedroom house on North Orange Grove Avenue in Los Angeles.

In "Buffy," cheerleader Buffy Summers, played by Kristy Swanson, is asked to defend the world against vampires. Exterior shots where she sleeps were of a palm-studded, four-bedroom house on Cota Avenue in Torrance. And just down the street sits Torrance High, aka Buffy's high school, Sunnydale.

The witch's house used in the 1957 film "The Undead" and early silent films was built in the 1920s in a movie studio. But trick-or-treaters be warned: It was later moved to a lot on Walden Drive in Beverly Hills, where Zillow found it as a private residence.

The place featured in the 1959 B-movie "House on Haunted Hill" might just be the only house of any architectural significance to be featured in a horror film. Here, Vincent Price pays guests to stay one night in a house where body parts lurk and the ceilings drip blood.

But the only thing that really drips from this place is history, for the exterior shots were of Frank Lloyd Wright's 1924 masterpiece, Ennis House, which is perfectly sited on a hill in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, with sweeping views all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Clint Eastwood's horror/drama "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" featured Kevin Spacey and John Cusack, as well as a cameo by Uga V, the University of Georgia's English bulldog mascot. Also making a cameo appearance is the mansion on Bull Street in Savannah, where the party never ends.

Halloween Weekend Events

In addition to tomorrow's Vincent Price celebration, the Portage Theater is hosting a Halloween Chainsaw Massacre tonight starting at 7PM. The original versions of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween will be shown. Yeah, it's probably going to be a digital projection, but it's FREE. The event is all ages, but booze will be sold to those with a proper ID.

If you really hustle, you might be able to squeeze in three clasic horror flicks tonight!  Because the Music Box Theater is running a midnight showing of the Lucio Fulci classic, Zombie! I've never seen this on the big screen, so I might make attend this one if I am still sober by nightfall.  Be warned, however, that you will encounter Rocky Horror fans attending the sold out screening also at the Music Box tonight.  Brrrr.

For those of you (way, way) outside of the city, there's Nightmare on Chicago Street, a zombie-themed streetfest being held tonight in Elgin.
Nightmare on Chicago Street is Elgin’s ZOMBIE SAFE ZONE.
Chicago St. from Douglas to Villa
Entrance on Spring St.
Saturday, Oct. 29th

If you have not noticed there have been many strange things happening (read about them here) in and around Elgin, IL. The end is near!! The apocalypse is at hand, and your only way to survive is to be at the safe zone…. The Last Human Stand!

It All Ends Here!!

At the entry of the horrific street fest, (entry points at the intersection of Spring and Chicago) visitors will be welcomed by a mountain of macabre body bags and hazmat gear to make sure that ONLY HUMANS are allowed entry.

Storefront windows will be boarded up, cars, provided by Artie’s Towing in Elgin, will be flipped over and garbage will be strewn across up the street. This is not your average Halloween decorations… is much MUCH more than that!

Svengoolie and Victoria Price, daughter of Vincent Price, will be on hand for a meet and greet.

A dance group will entertain the crowd with a performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and dozens of morbid actors and actresses will mingle about fest goers. Now im sure that some zombies will make it into the safe zone, so just be aware of who’s around you, your surroundings, and make sure to AIM FOR THE HEAD!

Alcohol will be served from the 16 foot beer truck, plus several stores and bars along Chicago St. will be on hand to serve up food and drinks as well. Many of the store will be open and running so please, support them, buy from them, and keep them open during this time of need. For a complete list of stores that will be open during the festival, CLICK HERE.

Drinks and snacks will be served up in military-like survival kit ration packaging, and make-up artists will be present to create zombies (and survivors who fought off zombies) out of willing fest attendees. A zombie council will be present fighting for the rights of zombies.

Sounds like it'll be a lot of fun. Well, except for the overplayed Thriller dance.

Friday, October 28, 2011 Halloween Countdown: The Monster Club

On Sunday the 30th, the Portage Theater on Chicago's north side is hosting Vincentennial, a Halloween commemoration of the 100th birthday of Vincent Price. Events include a Q&A with Vincent's daughter, Victoria Price, short films & classic trailers, a vendor's area, and a double feature of House on Haunted Hill and The Last Man on Earth.  The Portage is a great old venue, just run down enough to give it old school charm, and they serve booze.

I'm not likely to be attending, however, as I've just recently re-watched both films.  Seeing them on the big screen might have enticed me to come out anyway, but I am pretty sure the showing will be digital projections of DVD's.  The Portage has a pretty good set-up, but digital projection just lacks that special something film has.

But I am always happy to celebrate Vincent Price, so tonight I am sharing The Monster Club, a 1980 film notable as the last film produced by Amicus.  It's anthology film based on the short stories of R. Chetwynd-Hayes, who is portrayed in the movie by John Carradine.  After being recognized by a hungry vamopire, a famed horror author is invited to a party at the titular establishment where he is regaled with a trio of uncanny tales and disco music.

The Monster Club is not a great film.  The musical numbers are poor, the monster make-up is rather terrible, and the camp attitude is overplayed.  But Price and Carradine as as fun to watch as always, and some other genre favorites (including Donald Pleasence, Patrick Magee, and Richard Johnson) turn up as well.  And if the stories themselves aren't scary, they do have some neat ideas and as eerie a feel as the budget could accommodate.  The Monster Club is just the kind of the thing to have on while doing some last minute Halloween decorating.

This pretty much says it all.

The illustrations and concept art for the film were done by legendary British comics artist John Bolton, who also worked on an adaptation of the film with the equally renowned David Lloyd.  Oh, look - there's copy right there!

The Monster Club
13.2mb     CBR Format

Thursday, October 27, 2011 Halloween Countdown: Power Records Monster Series

While my love of audio drama was shaped by the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, I believe it was first kindled by Power Records. Geeks of a certain age will fondly recall these book-and-record sets that adapted various comic books into "read-along" audio plays.  My brother and I only had two of the sets, Curse of the Werewolf and The Fantastic Four, but we played them over and over until the 45's were scratchy, skippy wrecks.  We would later receive LP compilations of various titles as birthday and Christmas presents, but it wasn't quite as cool without the comics.

Tonight, I'm sharing both the comic and audio for the four "Monster Series" titles from Power Records.  These were all adapted from various Marvel comics - Man-Thing, Tomb of Dracula, The Monster of Frankenstein, and my favorite, Werewolf By NightCurse of the Werewolf was a gateway drug for me, as once I learned of the connection to WBN I spent years hunting down issues until I finally had a complete collection.  And I am not exaggerating about how much we played that record.  My brother and I can still recite every skip by heart - "I ran - I ruh - I ran - I ruh - under the light of the bright full moon!"  

The comics are in CBR format; you will need a viewer application like CDisplay, or you can rename the files to .RAR extensions and unzip the jpg images. These are not my rips or scans, and I appreciate the work put into their creation.

The Curse of the Werewolf
20mb     CBR File & MP3

The Monster of Frankenstein
23mb     CBR File & MP3

Dracula - Terror in the Snow
23mb     CBR File & MP3

Man-Thing - Night of the Laughing Dead
25mb     CBR File & MP3

By the way, I am still trying to track down either MP3's or the original vinyl of the Wonderland Records versions of The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Invisible Man, and - most especially - Godzilla, King of the Monsters. I owned all of these as a kid and would love to revisit them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 Halloween Countdown: A Last Minute Costume Idea (Or Two)

I hadn't had the chance to dress up for Halloween for the better part of a decade, but in 2008 I got invited to three separate parties.  Inspired by a sketch on Little Britain, I came up with a Baby Jesus costume that won me a trio of best costume honors.  I've been stuck having to live up to that achievement since then.

This year, I have been so excruciatingly busy that I hadn't really gave any thought to what I would be wearing until I wandered through the Halloween section at Target.  I spotted a large light-up decorative Jack O'Lantern and thought, "I could get my head in there."  (That's actually the only way I can judge relative size, by whether or not I can get my head in there.  It makes parallel parking difficult.) 

You will need:
  • A bigass Jack O'Lantern from Target ($30)
  • 1/2 yard of black gauzy material ($2-3) 
  • Heavy duty sticky back Velcro ($3)
  • Battery-powered emergency road flare ($10)
  • A measuring tape, some duct tape, scissors, string, and a pencil ($0 - it's all in your junk drawer)
  • Old clothes ($0-50)
  • Cheap workman's gloves ($2)
  • A Garden Implement of Doom ($0-20)
  • Raffia ($6)
  • An uncle with power tools (priceless)
First Step: Ask her out and treat her like a lady.  Prep the Jack O'Lantern by removing the light bulb from the back.  Like many things in life, it's simply a matter of squeezing at the base and pulling firmly.  Now use the measuring tape to measure your head at the widest part, from the base of the skull and across the nose.  Give it about an inch and a half extra wiggle room, and that's the size of the hole you need to cut in the bottom of the Jack O'Lantern.  I used a string and bit of pencil to draw a pattern for the hole; neatness doesn't count here, but leaving enough room to squeeze your head through does.

The plastic used for the Jack O'Lantern is deceptively tough.  My Dremel could barely cut a groove in it, and an electric hand saw fared no better.  Give it to your uncle with power tools.  He knows what he's doing.  Once you get the pumpkin back, you'll want to make sure you can get your head in and out of it easily.  Did you remember to leave enough room for your glasses?  Dumbass. 

Everything looks pornographic on the internet.

Second Step: Tell her she's the one you're dreaming of.  Now you'll want to rig up the inside.  You'll find that it's pretty roomy in there.  Those of you with mad technical skillz may want to hook up some LED's and a sound system.  I can barely post crap to this blog, so I just picked up a small electronic road flare at Fry's.  The idea was to create a flickering flame effect with the blinking red light, and it actually worked well in practice.  Use Velcro to fix the flare to the bottom of the pumpkin shell; the flare weighs a bit once the batteries are in, which is why you need the heavy duty stuff to keep it in place.

The device with Velcro attached. It probably wasn't necessary to illustrate this part.

The device affixed to the inside of the Jack O'Lantern.  Place it near the bottom for the eeriest effect.

Third Step: Hold her in your arms and never let her go.  Once you have your LED's or flare hooked up, you'll want to add the black gauze to the inside of the pumpkin.  The idea is to prevent people from getting a good look inside the Jack O'Lantern while still making sure you can see out.  When buying the fabric, test it out by holding it about four or five inches in front of your face to make sure it's not too opaque to see through.  Once you've selected your fabric and brought it home, lay it across the face of the Jack O'Lantern to see how much you'll need to cover the all the holes. (Heh-heh.)  Cut away the excess, but remember to leave about an inch all around to work with.  There's not enough room to maneuver a hot glue gun through the bottom of the pumpkin, so I used duct tape to attach the fabric and even then I was working blind. Make sure you stretch the fabric tight so you don't choke on it after a few beers. How are you drinking with that damn thing on your head, anyway?

All things considered, this is actually a pretty neat job.

Fourth Step: Follow that restraining order to the letter. Once the Jack O'Lantern head is ready, you can slap together the rest of the costume.  Cut short strands of raffia and duct tape them to the inside of your pants cuffs so they stick out through the bottoms. (You can do the same thing with your shirt cuffs if you don't care if you drag raffia through the salsa.)  Loop raffia around your shirt buttons, stick some out of your pants, and drape some more over your shoulders.  Use duct tape to bind the strands together if you don't want them all over the place.

And that's it.  Apart from getting the hole cut, it took me literally twenty minutes to put the rest of the costume together; flare, gauze, raffia, and all.  In my rush to get to my family's annual party, I forgot the work pants I had planned on wearing but the raggedy old jeans I had in my car trunk worked out okay.  Overalls would probably look spiffiest, especially with fake blood sprayed on them like I did with my gloves. The pitchfork was borrowed form my mom's garage; depending on where your party's held at real gardening implements may not be welcome, so you'll want to grab a toy machete from the Halloween aisle instead.  I was never one for face paint myself, but if you're not adverse to make-up a skull or zombie face might look pretty cool under the mask and could probably save you the hassle of the black fabric. 

I'm not fat, I'm overstuffed.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the Baby Jesus costume, I don't have any pictures but I can try to describe it:
  1. Get a cardboard box (I think I used this one and cut the height down by half) and cut a hole in the bottom a little smaller than your head.  Start real small, as it's easier to make it bigger than vice-versa, and remember that cardboard has plenty of give. 
  2. Line the outside of the box with wood grain contact paper for an authentic look.  
  3. Take a plastic baby doll and remove the head.  If it doesn't pop right off, run hot water over the neck.
  4. Use a box cutter or thick Exacto to cut two vertical slits about an inch apart at the base of the doll's neck.  
  5. Slide heavy duty sewing elastic through the slits and tie the loose ends together.  Use just enough elastic so that you can slip the loop over your head and still keep the doll's body firmly in place beneath your chin.  
  6. Again with the duct tape and raffia!  This time, tape the strands around the inside edges of the box.
  7. Get a cheap beige bedsheet and arrange it at the bottom of the box. 
  8. Get a cheap black flat bedsheet and cut a hole in the center for your head.  Slip it on like a pancho.  Put on a pair of black gloves. 
  9. Slip your head through the hole in the box, position the bedsheet to hide your neck, slip on the doll body, and voilĂ !
The black gloves and bedsheet hides your real body and helps suggest a floating creche. I threw a glowstick in the doll's body before putting it on; again, you technical whizzes might be able to wire up something much more impressive.  It's a simple costume, but it's really effective if done right.

Hope this gives you procrastinators some ideas. Me, I gotta start thinking about next year's costume.