Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BEATING THE DEVIL BACK IN PRINT!


MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD has learned from author Tony Earnshaw that his long out of print book, BEATING THE DEVIL: THE MAKING OF NIGHT OF THE DEMON, is slated for a new edition later this year. This is exciting news for those that missed it the first time around when it sold out rather quickly. Prices for used copies have been as high as $444.32 (Alibris), so word of a new printing is welcome. Below is a description of the book from a seller:


"Book Description: Tomahawk, United Kingdom, 2005. Soft cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket, As Issued. Softcover, good condition, very light pressure scratches. very small crease on top-right corner. Pages all clean and unmarked, Images and text all very clear. "This is the first in-depth examination of 'Night of the Demon', one of the greatest movie chillers ever made. 'Night of the Demon' has enjoyed huge commercial success since it was made almost 50 years ago and is now a celebrated and revered cult horror film. The full history of this troubled picture has been unearthed in "Beating the Devil" -- a book no serious film fan can do without. The book is based on four years of original research and new interviews with surviving cast and crew members. The book presents the reader with intriguing never-before revealed detail, including: Tracing the route of the film from Edwardian short story to 1950s screenplay; Tussles with the British Censor over the film's supernatural content; Internal rows between director and producer over the inclusion of the demon; The development of the film's special effects sequences; The casting of imported American star Dana Andrews; Behind the scenes stories from actors Peggy Cummins, Brian Wilde, the late Richard Leech, stuntman Jack Cooper and the late producer Frank Bevis; First-hand accounts of shooting the film, many never before published; Extracts from the British Censor's report, never before published; A detailed breakdown of the film's special effects sequences; Dozens of rare images including behind-the-scenes shots, never before published; Ken Adam's production designs, many never before published; Biographies of all the principal actors and filmmakers.".

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PRETTY WOMAN, TEXAS CHAINSAW STYLE


On Sunday, I posted a review of HORRORHOUND #39. One of the features in this issue is a retrospective of the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE franchise. Included is a page on the history of the three different masks that Leatherface wore in the movie. Two of them were sold by Heritage Auctions.

I tracked down the information at Heritage. Here are images of the "Pretty Woman" and "Kitchen/Old Lady" masks as they were sold. Also pictured is the "Leatherface Apron", and "arm lamp" and "bone chair" props used on screen. The accompanying text is from the auction descriptions.


The "Pretty Woman" mask sold for $9,200.
 
Leatherface "Pretty Woman" mask from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Bryanston, 1974). - In the annals of film history, there are several masks that can be considered classic: the mask worn by the Phantom of the Opera to hide his disfigurement, or that worn by Zorro to conceal the identity of the wealthy Don Diego de la Vega. Batman's mask is known to million's worldwide, while Jim Carrey's verdant visage in the aptly titled 1994 feature, "The Mask", is similarly well-known. Of all the masks ever worn upon the silver screen, however, the most disturbing and possibly the most unforgettable, are the faces worn by actor Gunnar Hanson in director Tobe Hooper's classic horror film, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Created by art director Bob Burns for the low-budget classic, this is the "Pretty Lady" mask (so named because it is decorated with grotesque lipstick, eye shadow, and a horrendous black wig) worn by the character Leatherface during the dinner scene in the latter part of the movie. Art Director Bob Burns reportedly made the mask from a fiberglass material (which is no longer manufactured) and latex. One of only two masks used in the film (the other is the infamous "Killing Mask"), Burns has claimed that there were no duplicates made of either prop, making this a unique piece of film history. In an e-mail received shortly before Burn's death, the artist said, "I was amazed to find out this mask was still in existence. I had thought it had been discarded 25 years ago. It's always a thrill when my work pops up somewhere like this." The mask, along with several other key props, was kept in a storage room in Austin Texas until the unit was abandoned by the renter. At that point, the contents of the storage room were sold on a blind bid basis to a furniture store in Austin. From there, the contents were acquired by Ed Neal (the "Hitchhiker" in the film), who has kept possession of them until consigning them to this auction. According to Neal, "This mask really creeped me out the first time I saw it on the set. Bob Burns did such a great job creating it, and Gunnar Hansen really brought the thing to life. Even more than the Killing Mask, this is the face that still gives me nightmares. I hate to part with this, but I have faith that it will find a good home with some devoted fan." The mask, which is mounted on a styrofoam head form, is in delicate condition, and has not received any conservation or restoration work of any kind. It has been authenticated by both the creator, Bob Burns, and by Ed Neal.

The "Kitche/Old Lady" mask sold for $3,737.50.
 
 Leatherface "Kitchen/Old Lady" Mask from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Bryanston, 1974). Art Director Bob Burns created three separate and distinct masks for Tobe Hooper's 1974 nightmare classic, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The "Killing" mask, which Gunnar Hansen wears in the climax of the film, was sold by Burns several years ago. The "Pretty Woman" mask, worn during the infamous dinner scene, was sold at auction by Heritage on July 17, 2004 for $9,200. Offered here is the is final mask of the set, the "Kitchen/Old Lady" mask. This grotesque face is worn by Hansen during much of the film, particularly during the scenes where he is seen in the kitchen. The bottom of the face is missing, as that part was stitched on separately to give Leatherface an even more horrific appearance. Made of a fiberglass material (which is no longer manufactured) and latex, Burns acknowledged that there were no duplicates made of any of these masks, and that these were the actual props that were used on-screen. In an email received shortly before Burns' untimely death in 2004, he said, "I was amazed to find out that this mask was still in existence. I had thought it had been discarded 25 years ago. It's always a thrill when my work pops up somewhere like this." The mask, along with several other key props, was kept in a storage room in Austin, Texas, until the unit was abandoned by the renter. At that point, the contents of the storage room were sold on a blind bid basis to a furniture store in Austin. From there, the contents were acquired by Ed "The Hitchhiker" Neal, who has kept possession of them until consigning them to this auction. The mask, which is mounted on a styrofoam head form, is in delicate condition and has not received any conservation or restoration work of any kind. It is a truly historic artifact from a landmark film.


The Leatherface apron sold for $10,350.
 
Leatherface Apron from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Bryanston, 1974). - Providing vittles for a large family can be a messy affair, and no one knew that better than Leatherface, the "hero" of Tobe Hooper's horror classic, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Those victims can be so uncooperative: squirming, screaming, spurting blood all over the place. What's a modern, fastidious serial killer to do? Why, wear an apron, of course! And now, for the very first time, you can own this massive killer's own clothes-protecting garment, the authentic, one-of-a-kind apron used on-screen in 1974's "Saw". Part of a cache of props kept in a storage room in Austin, Texas, this and other items (including the "Pretty Lady" mask offered separately in this catalog) were eventually sold to a furniture store when the owner tired of paying the storage fees. These important movie artifacts were later acquired by actor Ed Neal (the Hitchhiker in "TCM"), who has graciously consigned them to this auction. According to Art Director Bob Burns, the budget on "Saw" was so low that all props were one-of-a-kind (as opposed to many films, where multiple props are the rule), making this a unique and significant item. Ed Neal confirmed, saying, "To my knowledge, this is the only apron ever worn by Hansen in 'Saw'. Just like with the masks, the original budget of the film was so low, we didn't have the luxury of duplicate props. There are still some of the original blood marks on the apron! Whose blood it is, I can't quite tell." The apron is in excellent condition and measures approximately 43" x 33" overall. There is a clean tear in the lower right side that measures approximately 2.25", but this is the only visible defect. To the best of our knowledge, this apron has never before been offered for public sale, making this a unique opportunity to acquire an important and recognizable movie artifact with an impeccable provenance.

The "arm lamp" sold for $5,175.

 
 Screen-Used Arm Lamp from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Bryanston, 1974) Have you ever said to yourself, "Boy, I could really use a hand here?" Well, now you can not only have an extra hand, but the whole arm as well! Fans of the immortal horror classic, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," filmed on a shoestring budget by Tobe Hooper in 1974, will immediately recognize this prop from the film. This "disarming" piece was part of a collection of props from the film that was kept in an Austin, Texas storage locker until the owner tired of paying the storage fees. Sold to a local furniture store, they were later acquired by Ed Neal, who played "The Hitchhiker" in Hooper's opus. Ed kept them safe and sound for years, and has now graciously consigned them to this auction. This prop, like all the others, was created by Art Director Bob Burns, who authenticated the collection shortly before his death in 2004. The lamp stands approximately 16" tall on a 5" x 1.25" base, and is wired to hold a standard lightbulb. If you bid on this piece, you'll not only have an opportunity to win a rare and unique piece of horror movie history, you'll also be supporting your right to bare arms

The "bone chair" sold for $3,737.50.


 Screen-Used Bone Chair from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Bryanston, 1974). After a long, hard day of killin' and cookin', nothing says "comfortable" like this hand-made, one-of-a-kind bone backed chair used in Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror-fest, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Can't you just imagine yourself curling up in this little beauty waiting for your son to serve up a heapin' helpin' of head cheese and lady fingers? Sure you can! Created by Art Director Bob Burns, this prop, along with several other important pieces from this landmark film, were kept in a storage locker in Austin, Texas until the owner tired of paying the storage fees. Sold to a local furniture store, these pieces were later acquired by Ed "The Hitchhiker" Neal, who has authenticated them and consigned them to this auction. The chair has a height of approximately 16", with a seat measurement of about 16.5" x 16". The bone back rises approximately 28.5" from the ground, the arms are approximately 13.5" long and the back measures approximately 18" wide. This chair can be seen in the infamous "dinner" scene, wherein Marilyn Burns is brought to the table as a reluctant guest. This piece is sold as an historic artifact only; we cannot vouch for its functionality as a piece of furniture.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

DEADTIME STORIES



[From: ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN No. 1, Fall 1948 (American Comics Group)]

HORRORHOUND NO. 39


One thing I always look forward to from each new HORRORHOUND is their long-running tradition of featuring a retrospective on a particular film or series of films as a focal point of the issue. This time around its the southern-fried franchise of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Packed into its 10-plus pages, the series of films -- originated by director Tobe Hooper -- is sliced open and analyzed. Of particular interest are the numerous behind the scenes anecdotes, especially the discussion of the brutal conditions faced with camera and crew during the filming of the first of the series. Accompanying the article are the usual plentiful scene stills, posters, toys, and other merchandise associated with Leatherface and his pals.

The only criticism I have with this series, and as a rule, the magazine in particular, is the use of tiny typefaces and postage stamp-sized pictures. I know of the cost it takes to put out a full-color magazine, but increasing the size of both would, in my opinion, elevate these pieces to a more archival standing.

Another beefy feature is The A-Z of Exploitation! which alphabetically goes down the list of films that were significant in some way to this popular genre. Also worthy of mention is another long-running series, Video Invasion, which, in each installment, covers a particular videotape producer or distributor from the glory days of VHS.

HORRORHOUND is not far from its half-centennial issue and, as long as they keep doing what they're good at -- that is, focusing on 70s - 80s horror -- I don't see why they can't make it down the long stretch. Two paws up for HORRORHOUND!

HORRORHOUND #39 Table of Contents.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

MY MONSTER SCRAPBOOK: "TEAR 'IM UP!"


"Blood and guts, that's what the people want." - Moe DiSesso, rat wrangler
 
It didn't take much cajoling to get my buddy to drive us to the local drive-in to see the killer rodent movie called WILLARD. It was the summer of '71 and we were sophomores-soon-to-become-seniors in High School looking for kicks like any other "valley dudes" of the time. I was not quite done yet being a Monster Kid, but adulthood -- and the requisite raging hormones -- was calling, so I was interested in a few other things . . . like sports for instance (Ha! Ha! Thought I was going to say "sex", weren't you?).

So, on this particular Saturday evening my buddy and I headed out in his beat-up but running Plymouth Valiant, to the heart of the San Fernando Valley and the well-frequented party mecca known as the  Van Nuys Drive-In. We were outfitted with our packs of Camel non-filters and two "sixers" of Brew 102 (the cheap stuff). Along with the Woodlake Bowl, which was tucked comfortably in the upper middle class neighborhood of Woodland Hills between Canoga Park and Calabasas, the drive-ins were the best places to go for underage soft-core hoods like ourselves to kick back, smoke cigarettes, drink beer that we'd suckered someone into buying for us, and talk about those strange and troublesome creatures from another planet -- chicks.

Well, we found ourselves within a block or two of the theater, cruising with the top down in the warm suburban air, and thinking we were damn cool. I remember being able to see the "Van Nuys Drive-In" sign from where we were. The afternoon sun was dropping but it was still pretty bright out. All of a sudden, I hear a "shit!" from my buddy. I look over and he's gazing into his rear view mirror with his mouth open and a half-smoked Camel hanging from his bottom lip. I looked back and saw the none too familiar sight of a black and white, cherry top spinning it's universal message to "pull over". We did, and all coolness suddenly faded to shriveling, sniveling fear. Crap, we had beer behind our seats, fer cryin' out loud!

The police officer who was driving got out of the patrol car and walked -- no, swaggered -- up to my buddy's side of the car. "License and registration, please!", he demanded, and with a suddenly palsied hand, my buddy reaches into his back pocket for his wallet.

Now, one thing I didn't tell you yet was that my bud had a big brother who was a cop, who some time ago had given him one of his business cards to clip on the back of his driver's license for times exactly like this. I think they called it a "courtesy card", and back then it was still okay to do that -- these days, they'll haul you in for suspected bribery (what's this world come to?)! "Hey are you Dave's little brother?", the cop asks. "Yeah, yeah! my buddy says," and suddenly we're all happy and relieved. Then, the cop looks over to me and says, "You, get out of the car . . . right now!"

Needless to say, I did as I was told, and was lucky enough not to have crapped my shorts right then and there. Jeez, we're good kids -- really we are! was all I could think of at the moment. Then I looked down the few yards to the cop car and saw the cop's partner in the passenger seat . . . laughing his ass off! I was thinking, WTF, when I noticed it wasn't just any cop -- it was my buddy's big brother!

After this somewhat inconvenient delay, we made it inside the drive-in, with beers and smokes still intact, and with the promise to "sober up" before the end of the show. This we promised with an alacrity that bore no falsehood, I can assure you. A word of caution, though, for underager's of today -- if you're thinking you could get away with something like this these days, have a safe trip back to earth.

It was finally dusk and, after the obligatory Pink Panther cartoon, the opening credits for WILLARD came on. For the next hour-and-a-half we were engrossed in the trials of Willard, a somewhat dysfunctional young man, played by Bruce Davison, who was getting screwed out of his job and money by unscrupulous villains (among them the late Ernest Borgnine). Also starring Elsa Lanchester and Sondra Locke, the movie has become known as being the first in the onslaught of animal invasion flicks of the '70s. One of the hallmark scenes is when Willard, after cornering Ernest Borgnine and confronting him about his evil-doings, orders Ben (his alpha-rat) and a horde of others to "tear 'im up!" Sloshed on a few Brew 102's, we cheered for the rats, of course.

And, yes, by the time the movie was over and it was time to roll, my buddy and I were sober and full of snack bar junk food. We hung our window speakers on their poles, drove over the parking humps of the car lot, and out into the warm San Fernando Valley summer night . . . and feeling pretty damn cool again, I might add.

Here are a couple more pages from my monster scrapbook, along with an image of the movie poster and a few color publicity stills from the movie, WILLARD. I've also added a clipping from the Valley News & Green Sheet about Moe DiSesso, the animal trainer who was Ben's, Socrates', and a host of other rats' "wrangler". Coincidentally, his monster menagerie of animal actors was not too far from the Van Nuys Drive-In. Hmmm . . . now that conjures up images of a potential stunt that not even a cheap thrills huckster like William Castle could come up with . . .















Thursday, February 21, 2013

WHEN JASON MILLER WAS "ON THE SCENE"


Producer, playwright, actor Jason Miller was featured "On the Scene" in PLAYBOY's June 1973 issue. More of a plug for his Hefner-backed film production of his award-winning play, THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (not actually released until almost ten years later when it was bankrolled by Golan-Globus Productions), his performance in the "upcoming" film, THE EXORCIST, is only briefly mentioned.

Infinitely more interesting is the piece on a certain, 26-year old up-and-coming rock star by the name of David Bowie (photo by Mick Rock). Despite his being married to Angela and with a son, Zowie, the brash young Brit nevertheless provocatively describes his sexuality as "admittedly changeable". Once a professional mime, he counts among his idols the usual underground-favorite personalities, Edith Piaf and Judy Garland (hey, what about Barbara Streisand?).  Bowie also doesn't miss the chance at his bid for every narcissistic rock star's melodramatic fantasy of martyrdom on stage: "One day a big artist is going to get killed onstage, and I keep thinking it's bound to be me."



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SMOKIN MONSTERS: INTERNATIONAL PIPE SMOKING DAY


Today is National Pipe Smoking Day. Pipe smokers and tobacco retailers all over the world are celebrating the recognition of one of the more artful modes of smoking. While the use of pipes has dramatically diminished over the last 20 years, I have read in recent months that some dealers are seeing an upswing in sales. This is exciting news, because the more interest that is shown by consumers, the more innovation is inspired by producers of the product. Pipes have a deep tie to a nostalgic past, but over the years, new technologies and resources have maintained a contemporary place for them as well. New tobacco blends are always being created and there isn't a better time to try out the art and enjoyment of pipe smoking. A good place to try for a wide range of pipes, tobaccos, and accessories is Smokingpipes.com.

Pictured below is everybody's favorite menace, Vincent Price. However, here he is in a more dashing and sophisticated moment, pipe in hand, staring off into an imaginary cinematic distance. If I had to make a guess, I'd say he is smoking a Peterson pipe. Many of the Irish pipemaker's models are characterized by the use of a wide silver shank band incorporated into the design.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

GO GA-GA FOR GORGO: COMING TO BLU-RAY!


VCI Home Entertainment is in the process of producing a Blu-ray edition and regular DVD of GORGO, the gaijin's version of Godzilla. The disc is due for release in March of this year.

The list of special features is plentiful:

  •  "Ninth Wonder Of The World: The Making Of Gorgo" a new documentary by Daniel   Griffith
  • Gorgo - Video Comic Book and Comic Book Cover Gallery
  • Extensive Lobby Card & Poster Gallery
  • Photo Gallery
  • Gorgo Toys & Collectibles Gallery
  • Production Notes
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Pressbook Gallery
  • Star Ciné Cosmos - French-language "fumetto" (comic book)
  • Before & After Restoration Video

Along with the expected release of the Gorgo model kit from Monarch, this could be a Gorgo-kinda year.

Proto-box art for Gorgo model kit shown at the CultTVman website.

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