Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MUSINGS FROM THE MYSTERIOUS MANSION


GOOD EVENING, MONSTER LOVERS! I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season.

Beginning tomorrow, things will be a little different at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. After a long deliberation, I have decided that I could really use more time to pursue other projects. I know this is a common affliction that eventually hits most bloggers and your host here at the Mysterious Mansion is no exception.

I can't begin to tell you how much time and energy that it takes to sit down and create at least one blog posting a day for more than two years. I'm not complaining, mind you -- I've loved every minute of it, and I wish I had enough time to continue. But, the truth is, I've got some other creative irons in the fire that are demanding my attention and I just can't summon the forces to make it all happen the way it's been going. As a result, I'll be economizing my efforts here to free up some time for other things.

Fear not, you will still see regular posts, just not on a daily basis. There will be no set schedule, so I would ask you all to check here regularly as I know a lot of you do.

In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD in its new format. Thanks for your support, and a Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

MONSTER CARD MONDAY




This is the last of my run of Topps Monster Midgee cards. I hope you enjoyed them.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

ED "BIG DADDY" ROTH'S RAT FINK TURNS 50


It's hard to believe that it was 50 years ago when I was plastering water-slide decals of an ugly little critter called the "Rat Fink" all over my bicycle and whatever other surface they would stick to. The Rat Fink became the 60's adopted mascot for goofball kids (teenagers included) who loved monsters and hot rods, not necessarily in that order. Other characters followed -- like Mr. Gasser -- and the sub-culture grew to include yet another craze of the 60's -- surfing -- all creating a pop culture melange that evolved into a kind of pre-Vietnam War subversion led by America's youth. In fact, the Rat Fink can be viewed as the antithesis to another, more cuddly but no less lovable (some will claim) rodent who goes by the name of Mickey. Rat Fink, on the other hand, became the symbol of an idealized middle finger that "flipped the bird" at the Establishment, albeit in a less violent and malicious way than later efforts by more extreme causes.

So, who started all this? Most people turn there hillbilly-hatted heads to a man who went by the name of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Roth was born in Beverly Hills, CA, on 4 March 1932. He was a cartoonist and custom car designer who, with his talent, furthered the "SoCal" mystique of sun, fun, and more fun, a segment of which would quickly become known as "Kustom Kulture", and almost single-handedly created an industry around kids, cars and cartoon monsters. Roth died 4 April 2001, but he left behind a legacy that influenced many other artists with his indelible mark of wild hot rods and the kooky kreatures that were depicted driving them, always hinting at the "weird oh" that secretly lurked in all of us when we were young.

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth with his weapon of choice -- an airbrush.

The following is an interview with another counter-culture cartoonist and illustrator, Robert Williams. Williams began his career drawing comic strips for Robert Crumb's underground publication, ZAP COMIX, and is well known for his contributions to the surreal and psychedelic side of graphic arts. It appeared in the April 12, 2012 (#135) edition of the magazine he publishes, JUXTAPOZ.








Saturday, December 28, 2013

HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME FILMBOOK

FAMOUS MONSTERS #33 (May 1965) Cover by Ron Cobb.

Carrying on with the spirit of the 90th anniversary of Lon Chaney's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, today's offering is the Filmbook from FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #33 (May 1965).

As proclaimed by FM Editor, Forrest J Ackerman: "Lon Chaney Shall Not Die!"

















Friday, December 27, 2013

HUNCH-FACTS OF NOTRE DAME


"The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a two-hour nightmare. It's murderous, hideous and repulsive." - Variety review (1923)
 
No self-respecting monster lover could go through the year without recognizing the 90th anniversary of the release of Lon Chaney's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Premiering on 6 September 1923, the movie was a split decision with the critics and a huge success with theater-goers, even when it showed a half-a-dozen years later.

Like many movie histories, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is subject to many extravagant and erroneous assumptions that find life with repetition over time. Here are a few fact-check "Hunch-facts" that have been researched from reliable sources:

  • The hump on Chaney's back is said to have weighed up to 75 pounds! The truth is, it was a molded plaster cast that weighed about 20 pounds.
  • It is unknown how much box office earnings were, but it was at least $1.5 million.
  • Chaney's version was not the first time the story had been adapted for the screen. It had at least 6 previous versions, in varying lengths.
  • Chaney originally wanted to not only star in the movie, but produce it as well. However, he could not raise enough money for an independent venture.
  • More than 2,000 extras were used on the film. The logistics of feeding so many people was a production in itself!
  • Famed columnist Louella Parsons reported that a stage adaption of the film was considered, but according to Chaney he felt it wouldn't work.
  • After it's first showing in 1923, the film was re-released and replayed for the next six years.
  • Scenes showing the Hunchback crawling on the facade of the Notre Dame cathedral were not always Chaney. At least one stuntman, body-builder Joe Bonamo, was used.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

LIONEL ATWILL AND FAY WRAY WAX NOSTALGIC ON THEIR 80TH ANNIVERSARY


Another film with its 80th anniversary this year is Warner Bros. MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM. Directed by Michael "Casablanca" Curtiz, it starred Lionel Atwill in another of his famous "mad doctor" roles and a pre-KING KONG Fay Wray. Shot in an early Technicolor process, it premiered 18 February 1933 barely two months before being overshadowed by the Eighth Wonder of the World.

MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM is notable to Monsterologists for its gruesome makeup of Atwill, who, as Ivan Igor, survived a fire early in the film but was disfigured by the flames. The startling makeup effect was created by Ray Romero and Perc Westmore. FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #81 (December 1970) featured a two-page spread showing the unmasked Atwill about to turn Fay Wray into a human candlestick.

FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #81 (Dec 1970)
Lionel Atwill as Ivan Igor unmasked.
An autographed photo of Lionel Atwill.

Monday, December 23, 2013

RARE DRACULA LOBBY CARD


This ultra-rare DRACULA lobby card from the 1931 Universal picture was auctioned in 2007 for the princely sum of $14,340. Lobby cards from the original version of DRACULA are not, as a rule rare, but this one is, mainly because it shows the title character in two images on the same card, something the others do not.


ANSWER TO WEEKEND MYSTERY PHOTO CONTEST


There was no winner for last weekend's MYSTERY PHOTO contest! Several of you were close by guessing HALF HUMAN.

The question was, what is the title of the 1955 movie that the pictured monster was in. The correct answer is, JU JIN YUKI OTOKO, or "Monster Snowman". It was released in 1958 under its U.S. title HALF HUMAN.

Watch for the next MYSTERY PHOTO contest, where you'll get another chance at winning a free CD soundtrack.

Thanks for playing and beast of luck next time!

MONSTER CARD MONDAY



Saturday, December 21, 2013

WEEKEND "MYSTERY PHOTO" CONTEST


It's been a while since the last contest here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. "Sound of Horror" contributor and fellow Monsterologist Tim Ferrante has dug into his vault and come up with an extra CD to pass along to one lucky winner of this weekend's MYSTERY PHOTO King-sized Kongtest.

All you have to do is be the first one to email the correct title of the 1955 movie shown above on the MYSTERY PHOTO page and you will be the lucky winner of a free CD soundtrack of the classic B-movie, DRACULA vs FRANKENSTEIN (sent to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only).

So, go ahead now -- put on your thinking cap and when you've come up with your best answer, email it right HERE. Just put "Mystery Photo" in the subject line and your answer in the body of the message. If you're correct, you'll be the winner if your email arrives first in the mailbox here at the Mysterious Mansion! And don't forget to read the fine print section below!

The winner will be announced Monday, December 23, 2013.

Beast of luck, monster lovers!

FINE PRINT SECTION: Contest is open until one (1) winner is selected or until midnight Sunday, December 22, 2013, whichever comes first. The winner is eligible to receive the described prize on the condition that he/she when notified that they have won, provides a valid mailing address to send the prize. Prize can only be sent to U.S. or Canada mailing addresses. Postage will be paid by MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. The owner of this blog has the right to cancel this contest at any time.

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE GHOUL GALLERY (PART 2)


Gaumont British Picture Corporation's THE GHOUL, starring Boris Karloff and Ernest Thesiger, is 80 years old this year. It was released in August 1933 in London and 25 November 1933 in the U.S. When its copyright failed to be renewed, it ended up languishing on the desert island of Public Domain cast-offs. There exists as yet no definitive version on DVD or Blu-ray (Kino, are you listening?), but a "remastered" edition has been floating around the marketplace.

For years THE GHOUL was thought to have been lost. Then, a rough Czech copy was discovered, but was marred in the eyes of film historians because of its subtitles (a theatrical version was released that had the subtitles on the bottom portion of the screen blocked out, giving it a quasi-widescreen appearance). Finally, an uncut, British version was found and has been well-copied since.

THE GHOUL is creepy and atmospheric, but admittedly some of it relies on the beat up and noisy available prints that have the aged effect that many videographers can only hope to attain in post production. Portions of the story (it deals with Egyptian magic and reincarnation) and some of the sets are reminiscent of Universal's THE MUMMY, released just the previous year. Even Karloff's makeup by little-known Heinrich Heitfeld looks as though it could be a combination of Ardath Bey from THE MUMMY and Morgan from THE OLD DARK HOUSE.

The film has numerous trivia surrounding it. For instance, this was Ralph (later to be knighted, "Sir") Richardson's first screen role. Boris Karloff traveled from America to Great Britain to play in his titular role: it was his first time back in his home country of England for many years and it was also his first British feature film. Another interesting irony is that, in THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932), Karloff played Ernest Thesiger's butler, and a year later Thesiger was playing Karloff's manservant in THE GHOUL. In Argentina, the film was titled EL VAMPIRO (!), perhaps because there was no title in Argentinian that was suitable to use as "Ghoul"?

Issue #110 of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND included a "Filmbook" on THE GHOUL. The cover image of Karloff from the film was rendered by renowned men's magazine illustrator turned Warren cover artist, Basil Gogos.

Following are very rare, original lobby cards that were sold at auction in 2005. Some went for as much as nearly $5,000.

THE GHOUL is a film worth remembering and anyone who has yet to see it are missing the great team of Karloff and Thesiger, pre-BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN!








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