Sunday, July 23, 2017

POP! GOES THE MOON MONSTER


Of all places for an image of the fabled "Moon Monster" comic book ad to show up... a firecracker label! The "supercharged" 1 1/2" "Monster" firecrackers are made in Macau, but also aimed for use in the U.S., as there is a DOT designation.

The Moon Monster itself is a colorful and crisp rendition. It makes one wonder where in the world the artist for this label ever came up with the idea.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

RAQUEL WELCH'S FUR BIKINI: THE ORIGIN STORY



"I would be nothing without Loana - Queen of the Shell People" - Raquel Welch, from her Facebook Page

Ray Harryhausen. Raquel Welch. Hammer Films. A Monsterologist's dream team, if there ever was one. They sure were mine.

The ads blared "See Raquel Welch in Mankind's First Bikini!" If ever there was a question of what was producers Michael Carreras and Aida Young's selling point of Hammer's ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C., that statement should have settled it. And, who cares if humans didn't live at the same time as the dinosaurs that menaced them, as long as Ray Harryhausen was behind it all?

The main attraction, of course, was the 25-year old former Weather Girl (she had turned 26 when OMYBC was released in February, 1966), Raquel Welch, who, much like Ursula Andress had in DR. NO and many more to follow, had her first scene emerging from water clad in the famed bikini. There were lots of other beauties on hand -- including Jamaican-born Martine Beswick and Micky De Rauch (who, as "1st Shell Girl" was also Welch's stand-in) -- but it was Welch's screen presence that galvanized her devastatingly good looks into one of cinema history's most memorable glamour images.

Carl Toms was the man who had the enviable task of designing the "prehistoric bikini": "She [Raquel] had such a perfect body that I took a very soft doe skin, we stretched it on her and tied it together with thongs -- prehistoric people knew nothing about bust darts and seams. We took tiny pieces of fur and glued them at the edges of the bikini to make it appear as though Raquel [Loana] was wearing two strips of fur inside out." Toms went on to also design Victoria Vetri's "fish scale" bikini in WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH.



In an interview in MEN'S HEALTH (March 8, 2012) Miss Welch divulged some interesting facts and anecdotes about how she fought to keep her screen name, the controversy of her ethnicity, and, of course, the famous doe-skin bikini.

Raquel Welch: Well, I’ll tell you something, Bolivian blood isn’t a whole lot different than anybody else’s blood. But yes, I do have Bolivian blood. My father was Bolivian, which makes me half-Bolivian. It’s where I got some of my exotic features and certainly my skin tone. And I guess my.... visceral reaction to everything is kind of tinged with the Latina chromosome. But I consider that a good thing.

MH: No argument here.

Raquel Welch: Not everybody is comfortable with my ethnicity. When I first came along in the business, they didn’t really like the idea of my name being Raquel.

MH: They being 20th Century Fox?

Raquel Welch: Yeah. I signed with them and almost immediately they wanted me to change my name. They came to me and said, “We have the solution. We figured it all out. You’re going to be Debbie Welch.” I think they were paranoid that Raquel sounded too ethnic. And I thought, maybe I should be more paranoid than I am. But I wasn’t raised thinking of myself or my background as particularly exotic. I felt very American and middle of the road. I knew that I had a little salsa in my blood, but on my mother’s side there was the whole English heritage.

MH: What was the studio’s argument for changing your name? Did they come right out and say, “It’s too ethnic?”

Raquel Welch: No, it was nothing that obvious. They said it was difficult to pronounce, nobody’s going to remember it. And they had a point. In school, nobody could pronounce my name. They just called me Rocky. But school kids are one thing, your career as an adult woman is another. I took it as a challenge. I was like, “Well, let’s see what happens.” You either embrace your identity or you let them force you into homogenizing yourself.

MH: But they weren’t asking you to do something that wasn’t already commonplace in your industry. Frederick Austerlitz became Fred Astaire, Bernard Schwartz became Tony Curtis.

Raquel Welch: That was mostly an American insecurity. Americans were not sure how to deal with the exotic. I was lucky that one of my first movies, One Million Years B.C. was made in Europe by a British company. The Brits, and a lot of the rest of Europe, seemed to really love exotic women. The fact that I was American and exotic just made me more appealing to them.

MH: How often do you get asked about the fur bikini?

Raquel Welch: Every day, every day. I have people that handle my fan mail, and every day tons of photos come in, with requests for autographs. The fur bikini is the perennial one. I do feel very fortunate, because I had no suspicion that a dinosaur movie would ever pay off for me as an actress. I figured, it’s going to be swept under the carpet, nobody will ever see it. I had a couple of small children at the time, and I used to take them over to see Ray Harryhausen. He did all the special effects on the movie, all the stop-motion animation, and he’s pretty much a science fiction legend. Ray would show my kids all the little figurines he used, all the dinosaurs. And then he’d show them how the animation was done, and they were fascinated. So that’s what it seemed like to me. It was great stuff for kids, but maybe not the ideal way for an actress to enter the movie-making scene. I even complained to the studio. I was like, “Please, please don’t make me do the dinosaur movie.” They were like “No, Raquel, you don’t understand. It’s a classic. It’ll live on forever.” Turns out they were right.

MH: Where’s the fur bikini now? Did they let you have it?

MH: Seriously?

Raquel Welch: I don’t know, really. That’s what they told me, and I suspect it was said in jest, but the idea of putting it in the Smithsonian has been tossed around.

Men's Health News: Click here for today's top health, fitness, nutrition, and sex new, tips, and advice!

MH: Did you at least get the right of first refusal? If anybody deserves to have that famous bikini hanging in their closet, it’s you. It’s practically a family heirloom.

Raquel Welch: (Laughs.) Oh stop! Actually, there was never just one bikini. They made several of them. They were created by this wonderful costume designer, Carl Toms, and he had to do it in triplicate. Because, as he explained it to me, at one point my character would get wet, and then there was a fight scene and blood would get on it. So they had to have several versions of the same costume, and they all had to be form-fitting. So he literally designed it around me. Carl just draped me in doe-skin, and I stood there while he worked on it with scissors.

MH: You had only three lines of dialogue in the movie. Do you remember them all?

Raquel Welch: The only one I remember is (in a flirty cave woman voice) “Me Loana . . . You Tumak.”

MH: Holy Lord.

Raquel Welch: (Laughs.) You liked that?

MH: That may be the greatest moment in my journalism career.

Raquel Welch: Well, you’re very welcome.

MH: When you have so few lines, do you over think them? Do you practice them again and again and again, just to make sure you have it right?

Raquel Welch: I probably did over think it. Not that it mattered. I went to the director, Don Chaffey, very early in the shoot and said, “Don, may I have a word with you?” And he sighed and said, “Yeah, what is it?” I could tell right away that he was not very interested. “Well, I’ve read the script,” I said, “and I’ve been thinking...” And he turned to me and said, “Don’t.”

MH: Yikes.

Raquel Welch: And I thought, okay, that in a nutshell is what it’s all about. They don’t want to hear anything from me. Just show up in the costume and take orders. He said, “See that rock over there? That’s rock A. When I say action, you run from rock A and when you get to the middle of the frame, you look up at the sky like there’s a giant turtle growling down at you. You scream, run to rock B and we break for lunch.”

MH: As far as he was concerned, you were just a set piece?

Raquel Welch: Yes, exactly. I mean, he wasn’t unkind as a director. But when I wanted to possibly find ways to enhance my character, to make her more vulnerable or have some kind of backstory, he was not interested. That was the hardest part, to realize that I was really an object. Not just to Don, but to the film industry in general. I was a completely non-verbal object that wasn’t allowed to talk more than necessary. And that isn’t exactly my personality, as you can now hear.

Raquel Welch: I’ve been told it’s in mothballs waiting to be hung in the Smithsonian museum.




Friday, July 21, 2017

SPOOKS THAT WALK! GHOSTS THAT TALK!


Vaudeville as entertainment ran its course and the "Midnight Spook Show" became the popular theater attraction in the '40s and '50s. The star of the show was usually a magician (i.e. illusionist), who would dazzle the audience with tricks and stunts, including the famous "levitation" sequence. The theme was always ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and other monsters, all staged with creepy effects designed to thrill the audience.

One of the most popular Spook Show stars was Raymond Corbin, a.k.a. Ray-Mond, The Illusionist. For about 5 years after World War II, his show toured the country, spooking and amazing audiences everywhere. Below are examples of the posters that were put up at the theater in advance to draw packed houses on the weekends.


"The Tops" first issue (January 1936).

Following is an article from The New Tops magazine. The Tops was a periodical for magicians that ran from 1936 to 1957. It was revived in 1961 as The New Tops by Abbott Magic & Novelty Company (which still operates today!).

Ray-Mond the illusionist had one of the most successful Mid-Night Horror Shows to tour the country. The show was continually on the road from 1946 through 1950. It played North and South and coast to coast. There were several reasons for its success. It was a good show that was different from the run of the mill Ghost-Horror Show; it had strong booking agents and promoters, and a novel and forceful publicity campaign. 

The years immediately following World War II were good to the magician who had a Ghost-Horror Illusion Show to offer. Theater managers were crying for something to bring people into their houses. Television was rapidly becoming popular as a media of entertainment. People stayed away from the movies in droves. Vaudeville was dead. The days of the stage shows and big bands were over. 

The Ghost Show offered the theater manager a chance to make money with very little expenditure. It was always presented around 11 P.M. after his regular evening motion picture was over. It was a one night stand so it did not tie up the theater every night of the week. The publicity costs were either split or totally paid for by the Ghost Show operator. The publicity campaign was carefully thought out and a "script" of what to do was sent to the manager about a month ahead of the attractions appearance. The show could hardly fail to draw good houses and make money. 

Ray-Mond had 3 editions of his show over the years. The first was "Ray-Mond's Ghost Show," the next "Zombie Jamboree" and finally the "Voodoo Show." 

The show was first booked by the Kempt agency and worked out of North Carolina. Next it switched to the Wilber-Kinsey agency and played the deep South circuit. Finally, Joe Karson of Charlotte, North Carolina, took over as promoter and it played the largest theaters on the Schine, Warner, Paramount, and lowe's circuit. The pattern was to play four small towns a week, each a one night stand, and then move into the larger cities on weekends for two night stands. 

The shows were booked about two months in advance. A complete exploitation campaign including film trailers was supplied the theater manager by our advance man and we in turn would pick up all the re-useable materials on the night of the show and take them with us. The advance man would meet us once a week and take the materials on ahead to other theaters. I'll discuss our complete promotional program later. 

The show itself was about as sensational and shocking as you can make an illusion show. Remember our audiences weren't looking for a cultural experience. The teenagers wanted a fast paced show and Ray-Mond gave it to them. As I think back now, over 20 years later, it is difficult for me to keep the 3 different editions clear in my mind but a typical show might use the following format. 

Ray-Mond started the program around 11 P.M. and it ran about one hour. The house lights were dimmed and the weird music began. We used recorded music. A flash of lightning on the house curtain and Ray-Mond made his appearance. After a short opening speech I wheeled out the Doll House Illusion; it was completely revamped to look like a haunted house. After showing it empty, a beautiful ghost made her appearance dressed in a diaphanous white dress. 

Since ghosts have the ability to fly, Ray-Mond proceeded to levitate her. We carried two levitations (sic) with us. In the larger theaters we used Abbott's Aga, in the smaller houses we used their Super X. Following this there was an audience participation effect or two and then our second girl made her appearance in a skit called "Jungle Voodoo." Each illusion was presented in a brief playlet fashion and each became more horrifying than the former. Ray-mond was building toward a shocker finale. 

The girl appeared in a brief jungle costume and to the beat drums and jungle music presented her exotic dance. As she danced a large net was lowered from the flies. When she finished her dance the two male assistants, dressed as jungle hunters, grabbed her and as she struggled and screamed she was hoisted in the net high above the stage. The music became louder as Ray-Mond made his incantation. Suddenly there was a flash of lightning (from a film in the projection booth) and one end of the net fell and as it did the girl visibly vanished and in her place was a skeleton whose bones fell clanking to the floor. This illusion was a stage version of the Bengal Net effect which is used to vanish a dove. Blackstone also presented a version of it but his girl was dressed in a butterfly costume, and just vanished. The appearance of the skeleton as used by Ray-Mond added that "something extra" needed for a Horror Show. 

This was the first really horror type illusion in the show. The first two, the Doll House and Levitation, were more ghostly and mysterious. 

Because of the rigging needed for the net illusion it was not possible to present it at all theaters so we often substituted the Cremation or Burned Alive illusion. We still kept the jungle motif. 

Ray-Mond next presented the Rod Thru Girl. Again he used a horror theme as he explained the neon tube was a deadly beam. 

The one illusion that stands out in my mind was presented before we went into our final illusion and blackout sequence. It was called Beauty and the Beast. Although it was a cleverly devised illusion and gave the audience the shock it was waiting for, Beauty and the Beast wouldn't win any prizes at a magic convention and it is doubtful if it will ever appear on the market. 

After our girl presented a brief sexy dance (yes, we had two such numbers in the show) the lights were dimmed and as she took her bow a huge gorilla came creeping up behind her. The audience went wild with the screaming of teenage girls. Our assistant turned, started to run, screamed and fell as the gorilla came after her. Ray-Mond entered from the side and yelled for a gun, then he made a quick exit. 

The girl fainted and was picked up by the gorilla who carried her to a table. They were center stage in a blue spot. The gorilla let ot a loud grunt, jumped up and down and the proceeded to disembody the girl's limbs. Ripping off arms and legs it threw them high into the air and they fell to the stage with a deadly thump. The whole act was played very quickly. The audiences frequently stopped screaming and were silent in disbelief of what they saw. The girl was on the table minus arms and legs and the cloth covering the table was red with dripping blood. There was a loud clash of symbols; Ray-mond entered and shot the ape and a quick blackout followed. 

When the spot came on again, Ray-Mond was standing center stage. He asked for the assistance of a young lady from the audience. It was often impossible to get a girl to come up after the audience had viewed the last effect. If this was the case Ray-Mond used a young man. The boy was seated in a chair and Ray-Mond announced that he was about to commit murder! An assistant, dressed as a hunchback, entered with a glass of green smoking liquid. Ray-Mond appeared to drink it and then fell writhing in pain to the floor. When he arose his face had changed into a "mad doctor" with fangs. 

The volunteer was taken by the hunch-back and a girl assistant to Ray-Mond who hypnotized him. while this was being done the other two assistants wheeled out the Buzz Saw Illusion. 

However, Ray-Mond's illusion was made to sever a head! The volunteer was placed on the table and the blade was turned on. The audience was sitting on the edge of its' seat. They thought the Beauty and the Beast illusion was shocking. They hadn't seen anything yet! 

A butcher knife, with a gleaming blade, was held against the saw blade and the metalic (sic) clang sent chills up and down the spine. The lights dimmed, the dramatic music grew louder, and the blade was slowly lowered, cutting of the volunteer's head. It was the most dramatic moment in the entire show. All the assistants played their parts. The two girls, dressed as nurses, screamed and Ray-Mond gave out with a hideous yell! Then Ray-Mond grabbed the severed head and ran into the audience with it; up one aisle and down the other. The audience was dumbfounded. The girls grabbed their boyfriends; some shut their eyes, cringed and crouched down in their seats. This was a horror show! Their expectations had been surpassed by Ray-Mond!! As soon as Ray-Mond got back to the stage all the lights went out and the blackout sequence began. Ghosts floated across the stage and over the heads of the audience. A skeleton danced around the stage and a huge hairy spider made its appearance. 

The audience was one mass of screaming hysteria. There were three flashes of fire shot from a flame gun and this was the signal for the lights to go on. Ray-mond had a few closing remarks. The audience showed its appreciation and the motion picture began. 

In all honesty, the show probably would not appeal to the connoisseur of fine magic. But that was not the purpose of the show. Each act was carefully routined (sic), each illusion beautifully staged and the showmanship was flawless. It played 5 years on the road and many of the engagements were repeat ones.

This is a reprint of a 1972 Tops article by Walter Huston. 

[SOURCE: Creepy Magic.com]



One of the greatest showmen in the traveling Ghost Show scene, Raymond Corbin provided plenty of thrills to teenaged audiences with his presentations of "Ray-Mond's Ghost Show," "Zombie Show," and "Zombie Jamboree." Skeletally-costumed actors spooked their patrons in the aisles, while ghosts and glowing bats flew overhead and sometimes into the audience members themselves. Often, Ray-Mond took on a mad scientist character and performed faux medical experiments and procedures on his pretty assistants, followed up by one of the theatre's horror or mystery films. Possessing fantastic graphics, this Heritage first shows slight edge and fold wear, minor fold separations, creases, small tears in the borders, pinholes in the borders and interior, and some faint stains in the borders. Folded, Very Fine-.




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