Wednesday, October 30, 2013



What would Halloween be without a few Devil costumes? Old Nick has been a costume pick for as long as outfits have been worn. Here's a few from the vintage years.



Dr. Theda suggested that the cover of the FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND 1968 FEARBOOK cover be shown here as the inspiration behind Pete Infelise's exemplary work. Good idea, Dr.! Here it is!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013


This last April, Burbank CA was home to thousands of monster fans for the West Coast's biggest fear fest, Monsterpalooza. The highlight for me was the panel discussing King Kong. Among the group was the World's Biggest Monster Kid, Bob Burns, who brought along with him the last surviving piece of Kong himself, a complete, miniature armature of the Eight Wonder of the World. Later, a big birthday cake was wheeled in and we all sang Happy Birthday in honor of Kong's 80th year on Skull Island.

The next night we were in for another treat. Continuing on with the "ape theme", filmmaker and makeup artist Jason Barnett held a presentation on the life and movie career of Charles Gemora. Not as well known as a Chaney, Pierce, or Westmore, Gemora was behind the scenes for many a' monster movie flick.

Jason Barnett talks about Charlie Gemora at Monsterpalooza, April 2013

Perhaps Gemora's greatest achievement was his mastery of the ape costume. He built and modified "monkey suits" for many years, each one becoming more realistic than the other. Barnett is memorializing Gemora's life as a Hollywood makeup and special effects man in a documentary entitled: CHARLIE GEMORA: GENIUS MONKEY MAN. According to Jason, the film is is still being assembled and edited and is due for release next April (maybe in time for the next Monsterpalooza?).

Charlie's daughter, the always charming and ebullient Diana Gemora, was present during the presentation to speak and answer questions about her father. Accompanying the talk was Jason's slide presentation showing many shots of Charlie and his monkey suits, as well as photos from the rest of his career as an accomplished craftsman behind the scenes of many creature features.

Diana Gemora, who is always enthused when talking about her talented father.

Charles "Charlie" Gemora was born in the Philippines and came to the United States in 1922 during the civil unrest that has plagued the island and and off for many years. On the ship bound for the States, Charlie became an invaluable asset as, because of his small size, he could wiggle through the pipes and lines to repair some critical equipment. Charlie landed odd jobs in Hollywood. He later found work as a sculptor and key craftsman for the famed Universal Paris Opera House recreation that was later seen in Lon Chaney's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Another knack that Gemora had was his ability to sketch amazingly accurate portraits. Many times Charlie would sketch a co-workers' visage as quick as the time it took for a lunch break!

Charlie works on Paul Wexler during the making of THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE.
 Charlie contributed his artistic talents to films for many years, from the Phantom's Opera House stage to the shrunken heads in THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE. His legacy is rich in the lore of old Hollywood and the early days of special effects. Of particular interest to me was his affiliation with famed makeup artist Jack Pierce, who went on to become head of makeup for Universal.

As a financial backer to Jason's Kickstarter project for his film, I anxiously await its release. I was able to briefly speak with him after his presentation to let him know his work is greatly appreciated and has a loyal supporter of this important historical project.

You can follow the progress of CHARLIE GEMORA: GENIUS MONKEY MAN, right HERE.

The black and white photos that are shown here are from the Charlie Gemora website right HERE.


Saturday, October 26, 2013


This interesting monster movie arti-film-fact appears in all likelihood to be a promotional shot, photographed by "Bragg" for the December 1932 issue of PHOTOPLAY magazine. The scene is a set from Universal's THE MUMMY and it depicts various elements that are never seen on screen.

The 2-page spread is titled, The Great Pyramids Move to Hollywood and an Egyptian Mummy Comes to Life!, and shows a number of the characters who are found all together only in this shot and not in the film itself. David Manners is seated in the cab along with Zita Johann, who is dressed in her vestal garb seen at the end of the film. Noble Johnson, who plays the Nubian of Mueller's (Edward van Sloan) "Ancient Blood", peers through the window of the cab. Just outside is Boris Karloff in his Ardath Bey makeup, holding up an object -- the car keys perhaps? The caption reads that Karloff was only in this makeup for three minutes onscreen, so it refers to the opening sequence, when we see him as Im-ho-tep, not as Ardath Bey. Over his shoulder appears to be the unidentified actor who plays the security guard in the Cairo Museum and who is done in by Ardath Bey near the beginning of the film. The seated rotund personage is Karl Freund, the director of THE MUMMY.

Detail of the 2-page PHOTOPLAY spread of THE MUMMY set.
 The caption explains that a Universal employee was sent to Egypt in order to photograph various scenery so that backgrounds in the film could be as realistic as possible. The scene shown in this photograph is set up to use rear projection during the sequence when Manners and van Sloan are in the taxi together at approximately 44m.

The caption goes on to say: "Karloff achieves the one of the greatest feats of screen make-up yet known." John P. Fulton received screen credit for his less-than-spectacular special effect of lap dissolving the Ardath Bey/Im-ho-tep character at the end of the film. Ironically, the "greatest feat of screen make-up" was really achieved by the uncredited Jack P. Pierce, who had previously gone uncredited for his Frankenstein monster makeup the previous year. Other notable creative luminaries were uncredited as well: Vera West for costumes and Willy Pogany for art direction.

THE MUMMY was released in the U.S. on December 22, 1932. It is unknown exactly when the December edition of PHOTOPLAY hit the newsstands, but it was probably a few weeks before, and the picture spread was used to promote the film.


Friday, October 25, 2013


Titled "A STUDY IN EXPRESSION" on the snipe on the back, this is an 8" X 10"gelatin silver, double weight, glossy finish photo of Lon Chaney as he was photographed by famed Hollywood portrait photographer George Hurrell for THE UNHOLY THREE (MGM, 1930).

There is an embossed photographer stamp reading "Hurrell" on the front, a typed publicity snipe and photographer/studio stamped on the verso. The condition of this print was offered as in Very Fine- condition when it went up for bid by Heritage Auctions.

On November 30, 2012 the photo sold for $336.60.