Saturday, June 30, 2012

SPACED-OUT BRADBURY



"I have a very personal definition of s.f. which means man lost in the maze of his machineries and how to find a way out to light again" -- Ray Bradbury

Not to be content with only a magazine for monster movie lovers, the classic team-up of James Warren, Publisher and Forrest J Ackerman, Editor, combined their talents yo produce another type of magazine. In July, 1961 the first issue of SPACEMEN appeared and, while it did contain some monster-related material, this time the content catered especially to the science fiction fan.

In issue #8 (June 1964) was an article by none other than Ray Bradbury. Since this was to be the last issue of SPACEMEN, we only get a brief glimpse of the things to come from the sometimes poisened pen of the sci-fi master.

In a major coup for the magazine, the series was apparently intended for Forry's friend to sound off as he pleased. Bradbury certainly does so as he hangs out to dry FORBIDDEN PLANET, that he claimed was "marred by mediocre performances, direction and writing".

Bradbury voices his desire to, sometime before he died, work with directors David Lean, Kurosawa, Fellini, Bergman, Zinneman, and Jack Clayton. He also talks about his wish to have what is implied as an anthology film of his stories, such as "The Veldt".

Bradbury is concise, conversational and candid in his article. It would have been a real treat to have seen a few more of these.







Friday, June 29, 2012

MY MONSTER SCRAPBOOK: COME SEE HOW THE VAMPIRES DO IT


"Who let Barnabas out of his coffin?" -- LA TIMES Film Review

During my early years as a Monster Kid I found it tough to pass up any chance I could to collect information about my beloved monsters. This included cutting out magazine and newspaper articles about anything monster or horror-related, along with ads and reviews covering the latest movies. And, let me tell you, back in the days of the Monster Craze, there was plenty.

Somehow surviving all these years of moving and the dreaded, "Honey, get rid of this junk!" purges, I've managed to hang on to a couple of file folders and a 3-ring binder of collected material from that halcyon era of horror. In essence, I was scrapbooking and have preserved what amounts to a veritable time capsule of monster memories.

Looking through this stuff has been enjoyable, as I remember the thrill of each new movie that came out along with he exciting possibility that I might even get to see some of them!

A lot of these clippings ended up in my homemade monster magazine called, imaginatively enough, MONSTERS MAGAZINE. I've found a handful of those, too, and friend Doug has surprised me with a few himself that he has been holding on to since purchasing them from me lo, these many years ago, found in a box tucked away in his garage.

The only thing I had to be careful of during this period of intensive scrapbooking was not to cut up anything before my parents had a chance to read the newspaper!

Admittedly, the items contained in MY MONSTER SCRAPBOOK are aging. Thankfully, we've got scanners and the means to save things in a digital format these days. Back then it was notebook paper, scotch tape and rubber cement.

Before this stuff crumbles into a pile of decayed wood pulp, I'm working on preserving it all electronically for posterity. I also thought while I'm at it, why not share it with the readers of MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD?

So, henceforth I'll be posting a parade of monster pleasure for anyone interested in clicking on a thumbnail and zooming in to read some of the commentary that was going on at the time.

My first offering is from the original release of the first DARK SHADOWS feature length film from 1970, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. Reading the review reveals that this movie used an entirely different approach than the recent Burton/Depp box-office disappointment.

Phil Wright, the LOS ANGELES TIMES reviewer had this to say about it: "Let there be one thing perfectly clear, this is not camp. They play it all the way with soap-opera seriousness."

I make no apoligies for the condition of this material as it has weathered the years in a less than satisfactory archival environment. As a result, what you see is only minimally retouched and post-processed. I've descreened the images during scanning to minimize the usual moire pattern of newspaper and magazine print and adjusted the contrast to add a little extra visual appeal.

So, here it is, folks -- I give you the first pages from MY MONSTER SCRAPBOOK, in all their ragged glory!




Thursday, June 28, 2012

A CASE OF WRITER'S BLOCH


“Horror is the removal of masks” ― Robert Bloch


Robert Bloch is on the short list of genius fiction writers who will never be considered "literary". That's okay with me, and I'm sure it's okay with him. He made his living (eventually) writing novels and stories and created one of the most enduring icons in horror, Norman Bates.

Fashioned in part from the notorius Wisconsin cannibal killer, Ed Gein, Bloch gave the world PSYCHO as a book and Hitchcock gave the world one of his classic films based on the story.

Bloch was from the classic era of pulp writers. He wrote stories for WEIRD TALES and counted H.P. Lovecraft as a correspondent and friend.

Bloch was not shy once in front of a tape recorder. Possessed of a humor that fell somewhere between Chas Addams and Gahan Wilson, but at the same time wholly unique, his was not reluctant to share his morbid and sardonic side with an interviewer.

In the July, 1982 issue of MYSTERY magazine, Bloch was interviewed by Ray Zone. You may recognize Ray as a pop culture historian and pioneer of 3D imaging. His enthusiam for the genre's classic roots make for an interesting discussion.




 







“So I had this problem -- work or starve. So I thought I'd combine the two and decided to become a writer.” -- Robert Bloch

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

EYE ON EBAY: KEN KELLY VAMPIRE ART


When I think of Ken Kelly's art, his sword & sorcery work most often comes to mind. But, like most imaginative artists, his work covers numerous genres, including an occasional foray into the world of monster magazines.

Offered back in February on eBay was an original that he painted for the cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #124 (April 1975) depicting the mexican film star German Robles in his role as EL VAMPIRO (The Vampire).
  
Ken Kelly's original art.


The painting is in oil on stretched canvas with the dimensions of 19" x 25" (large for an FM cover painting -- Gogos usually worked smaller, as did Bama for his Aurora monster model box art!). The price tag? A "Buy it Now" price of $4,000.
 
The art as in appeared on the cover of
FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WHAT'S THIS?



Another free giveaway? That's right! I've got one more copy of THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK to giveaway FREE to one lucky fan.

Don't go giallo on me, now -- click on the banner at the top of this blogroll for details.

Monday, June 25, 2012

MONSTER CARD MONDAY




NOTE: I'm showing a series of SPOOK STORIES trading cards that were graciously donated to MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD's Museum of Monsterology by a most kind benefactor. As a result I will, in turn, be sharing them with you, dear readers. A heartfelt "thank you" to James G. in Colorado for your generosity. You have hereby been bestowed the official title of "Fellow Monsterologist"!




MONDAY MORNING MACABRE



Sunday, June 24, 2012



STONEHENGE AND THE FIRST ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT

It never ceases to amaze me just how pompous and arrogant scientists, and the scientific community in general, can be. Believing they can hide in plain sight with their utterly confounding assumptions and pronouncements is a modern-day mystery.

Speaking of mysteries, the headline at that website oasis of news called THE WEEK boldly proclaims that the meaning of the building of Stonehenge has finally been solved! I have to thank the folks there for putting together such an amusing piece of humor -- I hadn't had a good laugh all week until I read the mercifully brief drivel that passes for scientific discovery.

Now, I have to tell you that I have been reading for many years on such topics as the paranormal, metaphysics, the occult, UFO-logy, magick, and so on and so forth. Periodicals such as FATE and FORTEAN TIMES are no stranger to my bathroom magazine rack, and I am a devoted listener of Coast to Coast AM radio, albeit one who subscribes and listens during the day to downloaded MP3 files.

All this has made me neither a skeptic or a true believer. One thing that I have learned over thousands of hours of scrutinizing and simply paying attention to the words I am reading, the speech I am hearing, and the images I am watching, is the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to outre claims such as the one you will read here shortly.

Many, many books and articles regarding life's multitude of mysteries are written in a kind of Codex Temeritus, so to speak, where the sky is, indeed, not the limit, but only the starting point. The authors or the speakers are so busy gushing out their so-called well-researched and vetted (but really baseless) ideas, that the average audience barely has time to pick the fly poop out of the pepper.

Following is the Stonehenge article from THE WEEK website, in its entirety. I have highlighted key "code words" in red and added comments in green.

The mystery of Stonehenge: Solved?
Forget the druids and aliens. Scientists in Britain say they've figured out the real story behind the puzzling megalith
PUBLISHED JUNE 22, 2012


Theories surrounding Stonehenge's origins seem to go back nearly as far as the stones themselves. Over the course of centuries, philosophers, scientists, and innumerable crackpots have tried to decode the meaning of the monument — composed of several enormous stones arranged in a circle thousands of years ago. Some said Stonehenge was brought to the English county of Wiltshire from Ireland by the wizard Merlin; others posited that it was a druidical temple, an architectural paean to the ancient Egyptians, or a kind of calendar; and still others insisted that aliens must have been involved, since prehistoric humans could not possibly have dragged the giant slabs from quarries more than 130 miles away. However, a research team from Britain now says it has the definitive answer to the riddle of Stonehenge. Here, a guide to the findings:


How was this study conducted?
The research team, made up of scientists from five universities in Britain, conducted "the largest program of archaeological research ever mounted on the iconic monument," according to Science 2.0. Researchers "worked to put Stonehenge in context, studying not just the monument but also the culture that created it," says CBS News. [This sounds less in context than just comparing the ancient world with our modern world -- a high-handed and assumptive method of reasoning.]


So why was Stonehenge built?
Researchers say the monument symbolizes the unification of Stone Age Britain, which for centuries had been riven by an East-West divide. The stones are thought to [my, isn't that conclusive!] represent different tribal factions, brought together in concentric circles to commemorate the peace. The erection of Stonehenge coincided with the development of an "island-wide culture," in which previously insulated and isolated communities began making similar houses, pottery, and tools.


How did they decide where to put it?
The scientists say the spot had a "pre-ordained significance," because it sits "upon a series of natural landforms that, by chance, form an axis between the directions of the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset," says the BBC. The scientists speculate that Stone Age Britons might have viewed the solstice-avenued site as the center of the world. [Speculate? Might have? Does this sound conclusive to you?]


How did the stones get there?
The construction of Stonehenge was simply a "massive undertaking, requiring the labor of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales," says Professor Mike Parker Pearson, a member of the team. "Just the work itself, requiring everyone literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification."[Can you spell presumptuous?]


So — mystery solved?
Perhaps. [Perhaps? Your misleading headline lead me to believe that the mystery was solved.]The research team says Stonehenge is not as uncannily unique as it appears to be [Oh, yeah. Stonehenge ain't nothin' special. That's why there's always tons of comparisons shown with every picture of Stonehenge I've ever seen.]. "All the architectural influences for Stonehenge can be found in previous monuments and buildings within Britain," says Pearson. Stonehenge was likely one of the last expressions of Britain's Stone Age culture, which Pearson says was "isolated from Europe and from the new technologies of metal tools and the wheel." However, the mystique of Stonehenge, which attracts thousands of visitors a year and endures as a pop-cultural symbol of ancient mystery, will likely continue [No sh*t, Sherlock!].


Sources: BBC, Daily Mail, The Guardian, Science 2.0, Telegraph, TIME, University of Sheffield.
- 30 -

So, tell me, what is it again that these so-called "scientists" are basing their conclusions on? I'll tell you -- their petards!

The shoddy rhetoric masquerading as "science-speak" is the same stuff that I have seen over and over again in so-called "investigative" literature across the panorama of controversial topics. Ten years of research? Give me some grant money and I could come up with something just as profound by staring at a photograph for a couple of hours. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I am afraid that the context that these fellows based their decisions on were more about modern-day political correctness and wishful thinking than ancient culture. It would be nice to think that everybody ended up getting along, but, based on history, the halycyon days of a one-world/one culture Stonehedge were short lived at best.

ABNORMAL BRAIN is a blog-within-a-blog, and will be seen here on an occasional basis, usually on the weekend. It's purpose, besides therapy for the blogger, is to discuss topics that may or may not relate to the general theme of the main blog, but however are intended to entertain no less through biting wit and acerbic criticism.



Saturday, June 23, 2012

HIDDEN HORRORS: MONSTERS IN THE MEN'S MAGS



The publishing team of brothers Myron and Irving Fass churned out magazine titles fast and furious during the 1960's and 1970's. A whacked-out mix of girlie magazines, monsters, UFO's and anything capitalizing on the most current pop culture craze that a buck could be made on, it is older brother Myron's EERIE PUBLICATIONS horror and sci-fi comics magazines that are remembered most out of the melange.

The eccentric publishing empire fondly remembered for its lurid covers of monsters beating up and eating other monsters, busty vamps ripping up hairy werewolves with their claws and gobs of blood and gore were so extreme as to be ridiculous. Still, they lasted for about 15 years and ensured that the name "Fass" would be indeliby etched on the scroll of monster magazine history.

The June 1963 issue of FOTO-RAMA, a girlie magazine racy for the day but tame by today's glut of unimaginative feasts of flesh, contained the usual page-count of pin-up photos. Posed in a manner that was risque but not raunchy, any bare breast that showed a little too much was tipped with a heart-shaped censor's mark, a little more attractive than the well-known "censor's strip" that was commonly used on magazine photographs that might be considered objectionable by the general public. The magazine's masted listed the art director as one Irving Fass.


F0T0-RAMA was one of the many magazines
churned out by the eerie publishing empire
of brothers Myron and Irving Fass.

Monterologists might also be interested to know that a hidden bit of monster magazine lore lurked within this issue of FOTO-RAMA. Found deep into its pages was a full-page ad for the 3-issue run of the horror title previously produced by Fass called THRILLER.

For only a buck and an extra 2-bits for postage, you could receive a trio of terrifying magazines that promised stories about weird gals and ghouls that were "guaranteed to send shivers down your spine and scare the yell out of you." You could read about a wanton witch and meet the gal would like "somebody to lay her in her grave." You get the picture.


The masthead of FOTO-RAMA showing Irving Fass as Art Director.


To tie it in with the marketing of the adult readership, a stack of 5 "cheesecake" photo pin-ups was offered as a premium. Also of note is the fact that this ad was used in PHOTO LIFE, another Fass publication -- you can see that it was pasted up from the other magazine from the title at the bottom of the ad.

All-in-all a fascinating tidbit of monster mag trivia, don't you think?


For only a buck you could get 3 monster mags.
Today, prices for these same issues run
in the hundreds of dollars.


The "fotos" in FOTO-RAMA were limited to
fairly tame model poses by today's standards.


When the pics got a little too risque, out came
the little black heart-shaped censor's marks.
During the day, adopting this practice kept
kept "girlie" magazines lke FOTO-RAMA on
the newsstand rack and out from under the
counter where the real nasties were.



MONSTER MOVIE QUIZ ANSWERS


As promised, here are the answers to the "Great Brain Strain" monster movie quiz from yesterday's post.



Friday, June 22, 2012

THE GREAT FAMOUS MONSTERS MOVIE QUIZ


I mentioned a few days ago that there will be another copy of the newly-published THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK up for grabs at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. In order for readers to prepare themselves for the contest, I've included here today a monster quiz published in FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #115 (April 1975).

So, have at it and massage that gray matter. Consider it like making Kobe Brains for zombies.

You can see the answers right here tomorrow.









Wheew! To cool down after that, here's a couple of easy ones. The images are sized so that you can print them off on 8.5 x 11" paper. It is strongly recommended that you don't use a felt tip pen or other marker to do the mazes directly off your screen.




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