Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WHAT SCARED ME


The "mummy" in THE PHARAOH'S CURSE (1957)
Photo from FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND
#29, July 1964.
While we mostly look upon those times now with a sort of humorous terror, a lot of us have commented about being "scared out of our wits" while watching our favorite fright flicks back in the halcyon days of the classic monster craze daze. I just don't come across a lot of detail about exactly what it was that did the scaring.

Let me tell you, I don't wake up screaming anymore from something I watched 40 or so years ago (I'll leave that to gas prices and figuring out my new "smartphone", thank you very much), but once in a while I remember a scene from a movie or an image from a monster 'zine that made my skin crawl in a bewildering sense of horrified fright. In past posts, I've shared with you my run-ins with two other personal horrors, certain scenes from Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING, and a pic of a body snatchin' "Mexi-creature" from an early issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS.

Another such unsettling memory is the image of a withered visage from the B-movie, THE PHARAOH'S CURSE. I remember seeing this on Sunday afternoon TV when we went to visit some neighborhood friends who had moved away. It was a sweletering day in the middle of summer, but I guess since the movie took place in the desert, it only added to the verisimiltude.

The "mummy" in this movie was a dried-up lump of flesh that crept around his crypt, terrorizing the hapless explorers (sound familiar?). Despite the momentary frisson of the creepy memory, I can't help but to also chuckle a bit at the make-up department's low-budget move to dress him up in a pair of striped pajamas that looked more south-of-the-border than the usual mummy wrappings. Maybe a more fitting title might have been, THE CURSE OF THE SINISTER SERAPE?

Friday, February 24, 2012

BORIS KARLOFF ON TELEVISION


It is not often that The Great Karloff is portrayed in ways less rosy than the usual near-idolotry heaped upon him in genre-friendly books and magazines. Frankly, I believe Karloff more than worthy of the praise from the knowledge I have gained over the years. True, like most working actors, he wasn't very particular about the roles he played, so long as it kept him in creature comforts. Look at Lugosi, for God's sake. But, I can't begrudge a man that, can you?

Apparently Jack Edmund Nolan, the author of Karloff on TV in Issue #102 of FILM FAN MONTHLY, could -- and did, to a certain extent. It was December, 1969, and Dear Boris had hardly gone cold in the grave when Nolan called out Karloff in his article, admonishing him as an agent's nightmare not once but twice, along with giving him short shrift regarding his acting choices, and, indeed, his acting ability.

Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin edited the long-running FILM FAN MONTHLY. The little digest-sized magazine of film criticism and comment packed a punch the size of most full-sized serious movie review mags of the day. The result was content that was sometimes erudite, sometimes controversial, but usually always entertaining.

If you can get past the self-indulgent tone and the literary shivs between Karloff's ribs, the article does include some worthwhile historical information. Maybe I'm being a little defensive with Boris' memory, and maybe I'm being too critical of the film critic. I'll let you be the judge of that after you've read it.





Thursday, February 23, 2012

NO CAPTAIN (CO.) FROM CASTILLE

Jim Warren set his sights on Spain for an untapped combination of market, budget, and talent that had yet to be seen in the world of monster 'zines. He hired a stable of artists to draw for his comic magazines that was virtually uparalleled in the day.

It comes as no surprise then, that the fifth issue of the Spanish language version of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, entitled, FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE (August 1975), contains advertising for other licensed Warren publications.

First published in 1971,VAMPUS was the first of three Spanish versions of CREEPY. Running for 77 issues, it contained an assortment of reprints from CREEPY, EERIE, and VAMPIRELLA, along with a letters page, a fan page with fan art that had been sent in to the magazine, text stories with illustrations by Auraleon (as did at least one issue of FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE), and an occasional non-fiction piece on monster movies a'la FAMOUS MONSTERS.


Another weirdly-titled Spanish/Warren product was entitled RUFUS, the Spanish version of EERIE. Believed to have begun publishing as early as 1973, RUFUS ran for 56 issues. It contained stories from both EERIE and VAMPIRELLA (with Vampi's images removed). David Horne reports that later editions even included material from Skywald (PSYCHO, NIGHTMARE) and DC Comics (!).

Cover art from U.S. CREEPY #66.


VAMPIRELLA was yet another Warren publication that found its way to "revistas" in Spain. This series, first published in 1974, ran for 38 issues. It also included stories from the other Warren comic 'zines, as well as illustrated short stories and articles about monster movies. All three revistas used Warren cover art and all had two or more issues that were called "Yearbooks".

Cover art from U.S. VAMPIRELLA #29.


Again according to Horne, a company calling itself "Moebius" sold some monster-related merchandise in various issues of these magazines. There were also ads for the 6-foot Jack Davis Frankenstein poster (see below) and the 6-foot Jose Gonzalez Vampirella poster. The Warren mail-order business CAPTAIN COMPANY was absent from the Spanish publications. How lucky for them! If you thought we had it bad, could you imagine the wait that the Spanish Monster Kids would have had to endure?!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

EL MUNDO DE FRANKENSTEIN

The longest feature in Issue #5 of the Spanish/Warren collaboration published in Barcelona as FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE was a filmbook of Chaney Sr.'s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.

Another lengthy article, Mary's Monster, was about the enduring legacy of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN and its long history with the movies. The article asks, "The fascination with Mary Shelley's creation endures to this day -- where?" The answer: "The entire world!"








Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LOS MAQUILLADORES -- MONSTER MAKE-UP EN ESPANOL

Yesterday I introduced you to samples from Issue #5 of the Spanish/Warren monster magazine, FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE.

Included in the issue is a two-page spread entitled, Los Maquilladores (make-up artists). Subtitled as a "gallery of weird and terryifying creations by make-up men", the short article shows pictures of Mike Westmore, "a young member of the Westmore family of make-up artists", creating "cicatrice" (scar) appliances, as well as a shot of Ben Lane (who incidentally passed away in 2007 at the age of 95) at work turning Lon Chaney, Jr. into un Hombre Lobo for the 1962 Lizard's Leg and Owlet's Wing episode of ROUTE 66.



Monday, February 20, 2012

FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE


A short while ago I posted an offering from David Horne, author of the Warren Publishing catalogue GATHERING HORROR, where he put to rest the question as to whether or not there was ever a Mexican version of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. In his book he mentions a Spanish version, FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE. For those Monsteologists curious enough, today, and for the next few days, I will be covering an example of this Spanish/Warren publication

FAMOSOS MONSTERS DEL CINE was a Warren-authorized reprint of contents collected from various issues of the U.S. version of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. It ran for 24 issues during the 1970's. Published in Spain by Garbo Editorial and distributed by Edipress (both in Barcelona) it was helmed first by Luis "Monster Man" Vigil, then later by a new "Monster Man" Manuel Dominguez. The masthead lists no editorial staff, but the articles translated from English into Spanish are credited to Dominguez.


FAMOSOS MONSTERS was similar to Warren's stateside version, but had unique characteristics as well. For instance, there was a color comics insert that was Spanish in origin. The copy I am using as an example is Issue #5 (overall SUPERCOMICS series #9), dated August 1975. It contains a serialized "Dracula" strip drawn by Vampirella artist Jose Gonzalez. Entitled El Circo (The Circus), it was the type and style of comic strip that was found in Warren's 1972 mail-order only collection of Spanish strips. Titled, DRACULA, it oddly enough contained no strips with that name.


Issue #5 has a cover painted by Ron Cobb. It is from the U.S. FAMOUS MONSTERS #40 (August, 1966). Depicting poster art from the film HORROR HOTEL, and along with the accompanying article inside the issue, they are the only uses of content from the original issue.

Other material used that is similar with the U.S. version are a letters page, Cartas al "Monster Man", replete with Frazetta-illustrated title, and the Foto Misteriosa (Mystery Photo) department.



The issue contains what I believe to be non-stateside articles as well. There is a text story, Otono del 42 (The Autumn of '42), and a feature, El Malvado Intruso (The Intrusion of Evil), which, if my limited Spanish serves me well enough, discusses murder and death lurking in the shadows and dark places.




There is also coverage of the film, THE ALLLIGATOR PEOPLE.






[To be continued . . .]

MONSTER CARD MONDAY


Sunday, February 19, 2012

FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER WILL LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE



Not even promoted yet on their website is Factory Entertainment's FRANKENSTEIN VFX 1:1 Scale Head due in August, 2012. The Boris Karloff replica bust of Frankenstein's bust is life-sized and comes with lights and audio features. The retail price is a hefty $450.

UPDATE 06/07/12: A picture of an earlier version of this bust shown on this post has been removed and replaced with a newer, current model.

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