Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Currently up for bid at auction is Warren's scarce one-shot, HOUSE OF HORROR #1. This particular copy is slabbed and graded at a phenomenal 9.6, and was a part of comics legends Don and Maggie Thompson's collection.
At the time of this writing the bid was at $215 with a month to go. Here is Heritage Auction's description of the lot:
"House of Horror #1 Don/Maggie Thompson Collection pedigree (Warren, 1978) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages. This is an ashcan for all intents and purposes, and it's one of the rarest Warren items. This mag was printed in a limited run of 400 copies, and produced strictly to secure copyright for the title. The impetus was that publisher Jim Warren found out that British publisher Top Sellers was about to release a mag called Hammer's House of Horror in the USA, so he quickly rushed out this ashcan to beat them to the punch. The cover image (by an unknown artist) was later re-used for Famous Monsters #180. This is the highest-graded copy certified by CGC to date. It's not listed in Overstreet, but note that Heritage previously auctioned a NM- 9.2 copy for $1,314 in late 2011. CGC census 1/14: 1 in 9.6, none higher. From the Don and Maggie Thompson Collection."
HERE is a string of posts from MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD concerning this collector's item.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2014
Hey, monster lovers! We have a winner for the WEEKEND MYSTERY PHOTO!
Bill S. of Scottsdale, AZ was the first to email the Mysterious Mansion with the correct answer of "13 GHOSTS", and has won the DRACULA vs FRANKENSTEIN soundtrack CD.
Don't despair! Be on the lookout for more King-sized Kongtests comin' up soon right here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD!
Saturday, January 25, 2014
There was no winner for MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD's last MYSTERY PHOTO contest! I'll have to admit, though, it was a bit of a trick question.
This time, I'll make it a little easier for all you who are still slavering over the chance to score a free CD soundtrack from the classic B-movie, DRACULA vs FRANKENSTEIN (U.S. mailing addresses only, please). The CD has been graciously donated by fellow Monsterologist and all-around nice guy, Tim Ferrante, who you may recognize from the pages of THE PHANTOM OF THE MOVIES' VIDEOSCOPE magazine and as a guest contributor right here in the MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD "Sound of Horror" column. The CD will go to the first person who emails MMW with the correct answer as described on the MYSTERY PHOTO page above.
So, go ahead now -- put on your thinking cap and when you've come up with your best answer, email it right HERE. Just type "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 the week of January 27, 2014.
Beast of luck, monster lovers!
FINE PRINT SECTION: Only one (1) prize is offered for this contest. Contest is open until one (1) winner is selected or until midnight Sunday, January 26, 2014, 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 U.S. mailing address to send the prize. If the winner does not respond within 24 hours of notification, then they will loose their eligibility and the prize will go to the next winner with a correct answer. The prize can only be sent to U.S. 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.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The thing I like most about Eric McNaughton -- who is the genius behind of one of the best classic horror "fanzines" I have ever had the pleasure of laying eyes upon -- is his honesty. In his forward to the long-winded but comprehensively descriptive THE OFFICIAL WE BELONG DEAD FEARBOOK: THE BEST OF ISSUES 1-8, 1993-1997, Eric 'fesses up by saying he does it all for nostalgia.
Here, I'll let him tell you: "Like many readers I grew up in the 70s. I'd be hard pushed to pinpoint my first monster memory but it was one of three things - discovering Denis Gifford's wonderful Pictorial History of Horror Movies book; accidentally stumbling across the first issue of MONSTER MAG on the comic book rack of our local newsagents and persuading my mum to buy it for me; and seeing the box for the Aurora Glow in the Dark model kit for Phantom of the Opera." Now, I came in on the first wave of monster madness a generation sooner than that youngster Mr. McNaughton, but the galvanizing moments he describes here can be told thousands of times over by any number of Monster Kids during any period of the 50-plus-year chronology of Shock Theater, monster magazines, and the revival of the classic monsters who thrilled an altogether different generation from a quarter-century before. And just for example, my experience went similarly -- like this: I got Carlos Clarens' A Pictorial History of the Horror Film for a Christmas gift in 1965; my Dad finally caved and let me buy FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #31 from the newsstand that held up one wall outside the Owl/Rexall Drug Store off Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley (that's Karloffornia to those in the know); and, just a year or so before after being introduced to monster movies by watching Universal's DRACULA for the first time on TV, building my first Aurora monster model, The Mummy (followed quickly thereafter by The Wolf Man, then Dracula). So, you see, there is something -- okay, I'll go ahead and say it -- universal about getting bit by the monster bug, isn't there?
So enough nostalgia already, what's this "Fearbook" thing have to offer, anyway? Once you start looking, turns out plenty. McNaughton primes us for what lies ahead with a capsule summary and index about each of the issues that are represented in this massive, 120-page tome of terror. For example . . . are you ready? Here goes: Celluloid Horrors: A Look at the Fun and Frustration of Collecting Horror on 16mm & Super 8, a career retrospective of Paul Naschy, the silent film versions of DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, a review of FREAKS and Lon Chaney's THE PENALTY, a look (and I mean look) at Ingrid Pitt: The Queen of Hammer, Poe . . . On the Cheap (the Corman series), a history of Amicus horror anthologies, TV Horror, a feature on the sexy vampire shocker VAMPYRES, Val Lewton remembered, Teenage Terrors of the 1950s, Tigon Terrors, and, quite aptly, a short essay by editor McNaughton entitled, Those Were the Good Old Days, Need I go on? The parade of monster goodness oozing from this 'zine is virtually endless (there's a pull quote for you if there ever was one, Eric!).
Some of you may be asking by now: "Why all the enthusiasm for this monster magazine from the UK?" Well, I'll tell ya why -- because it's damn good. And anyone who wants to find out where WBD came from -- and why you should keep buying it now that it's being published again, should buy this Fearbook. I guarantee it does just what Eric says -- provide a good healthy dose of monster nostalgia. And it's all put together in a palatable modern package, so even those of you who say "Feh!" to the "old stuff" can enjoy it, too. You can't go wrong here, folks. Buy WE BELONG DEAD by clicking on the link on the sidebar to your right.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
In his foreward to Kim Newman's fastidious book, Apocalypse Movies: End of the World Cinema (St. Martin's Griffen, 2000), David J. Schow opines that, in the case of horror and science-fiction genre, "giant, radioactive, skyscraper-eating monsters were not the problem. Goo-faced nuclear mutants were not the problem. The real evil, it seemed to me, even at age ten, was Politics -- the cause of all those Final Conflicts." Schow goes on to explain that: "In movie after movie, politics and politicians were the real monsters the ones culpable for atomically flushing the whole planet, thereby enabling all those giant bugs and post-apocalyptic wastelands. In many a film blaming the Bomb, politicians were the ones whose squabbles caused them to start stabbing big red buttons and upsetting property values worldwide ..." It is perceptive, then, for DIABOLIQUE -- in light of the post-tsunami Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown coinciding with a sort of New Wave of post-apocalyptic films and TV shows led by the ever-popular THE WALKING DEAD -- to produce a themed-issue that re-examines this film making niche.
Leading off the issue is a look at the late, great Richard Matheson's enduring tale of survival, I Am Legend. The novel, which has so far been filmed three times, is his earliest in his cycle of books, stories and screenplays that are infused with the common thread of Cold War paranoia of the kind that held the denizens of this planet on the edge of fear for decades in the 1950's and 1960's. I remember well the "drop drills" that were called by my Elementary School teachers, as well as the regular "fire drill" evacuations. This came at the same time when every morning before school started, the flag was raised and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited outside by the entire school. No one was there to dispute or question what the phrase "under God" meant or why it was included, but every time you watched one of Schow's "goo-faced mutants" or "giant bugs" on Chiller or Science Fiction Theater on the weekends, one had to wonder, what was God thinking? Matheson admitted that there was a reason his family teased him with the moniker, "Mr. Paranoia": "My theme in those (early) years was of a man -- isolated and alone, and assaulted on all sides by everything you could imagine." Matheson's work stood tall in those days, alongside his peers Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and George Clayton Johnson, and his "paranoid" vision still resonates today.
To say that Harlan Ellison is a cutting edge author is a bit of an understatement. While we don't hear too much from him today, in his prime there wasn't a more outspoken, angry writer on the edge than him. I had the fortune of meeting Mr. Ellison briefly years ago in a Santa Monica, CA bookstore called A Change of Hobbit (and, according to the business card, run by Sherry Gottlieb, The Hobbitch!) just at the time I was immersed in his fantastic double-volume diatribe against television, appropriately titled The Glass Teat, which I would follow up shortly with his double-volume paperbacks of sci-fi death rays, Again Dangerous Visions. Being a person who happens to respect a celebrity's privacy, I only spoke with him long enough to let him know I was a fan, coincidentally reading one of his books, and respected his work. He was appreciative and I learned in that moment that I would never make a living as one of the paparazzi. Re-reading some of his commentary that was originally published in the late-60's by the Los Angeles Free Press, I can see where Stephen King may have gotten some of the voice for his narrative swagger.
One of Ellison's stories made it to the silver screen in 1975, a novella entitled A Boy and His Dog. Labeled as a "post-apocalyptic" tale, it is noted for an early role by Don Johnson, who would later go on to woo the ladies (Melanie Griffith, in particular) as Detective Sonny Crockett in Michael Mann's hit TV series, MIAMI VICE. A few years later, another violent tale set in a dehumanized wasteland called MAD MAX would borrow heavily from visuals and art direction in A BOY AND HIS DOG. I saw it when it first ran in theaters and was left a little dazed ... in a 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY kind of way. In other words, I wasn't expecting the violence or the misogyny (I didn't have a word like this in my vocabulary back then, but it more than fits now). A few years before, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE stunned viewers with it's sex and violence, but they were expecting it because of the pre-release media hype. A BOY AND HIS DOG came in under the radar, however. Remember, this was back in the day when all you had was TV and print media. Today, you can create a buzz around any movie just by designing a trailer to "go viral" on YouTube. Directed by L. Q. Jones, A BOY AND HIS DOG nevertheless has been an influence on The Cinema of Dystopia.
The rest of issue #18 of DIABOLIQUE is filled out with articles on writers David Moody and Rob Guillory (creator of the award-winning comic book, CHEW), fantasy-artist-turned-Zombie King Arthur Suydam, and special effects artist, Remy Couture. Thus far in its short existence, DIABOLIQUE has eschewed the DVD and film review columns that many of its competitors choose to include, and instead relies on the feature content for its criticism.
While politics may play a major role in apocalyptic cinema, I would have to say that natural disasters have also caused plenty of on-screen havoc that have led to the dystopian wastelands depicted in the movies. DIABOLIQUE, through its thoughtful and incisive writers have dissected the topic and opened it up to reveal a multifaceted genre that is perhaps even more relevant today than in the Cold War era.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
"In those days, nobody was thinking of a legacy." -- William Friedkin on The Exorcist
GOSH, IT SEEMS HARD TO IMAGINE that it's been 40 years since I stood in a line that snaked around the block, waiting for the movie at a Westwood, CA theater that would later become known as "The Scariest Movie Ever Made". After all these years, just thinking about some of the scenes from that film evoke a time-diluted, but nevertheless still-present frisson of dread. I think you would agree that very few other films from that long ago or longer -- if any -- still have that kind of power. Consequently, I do not hesitate when I say that THE EXORCIST (1973) is, for me, the most frightening movie I've ever seen.
It seems only natural then, that two of the premier commercially-printed monster magazines devote a substantial page count to it. And, after years of magazine articles, movie reviews, and volumes of criticism, there is still more to be discussed about the movie that shakes many people to the core of their spiritual beliefs, and challenges their reluctance to accept the concept of evil.
Chris Alexander's FANGORIA #329 begins its celebration of the recent 40th Anniversary Blu-ray release of THE EXORCIST in typical style with a front cover photo of the possessed Regan staring balefully at the reader, soaked in her infamous "pea soup" vomit. Alexander comes from THE OMEN generation, but he nevertheless fully acknowledges the importance of THE EXORCIST in cinema history and its impact. Shade Rupe's interview with Director William Friedkin is the centerpiece of the issue. The chapter on THE EXORCIST in Friedkin's recently published autobiography is titled, "The Mystery of Faith". During the interview, Friedkin explains this concept and how it influenced the making of the film: "People have been, over the centuries, willing to give up their lives for these [religious] teachings. We will never have a personal experience of them, yet they come to us and we absorb them, and often we find ourselves following them. That, to me, is the mystery of faith, and it joins all the other mysteries of the universe." He goes on to say that we are "fascinated by something we have little or no evidence of, but that we continue to seek. I find faith to be an eternal mystery."
Also discussed is lost and recovered footage from the film over the years, as well as the recent film festival showing of his director's cut of SORCERER, starring Roy (JAWS) Scheider, which has so far played to exuberant SRO audiences (it will be available on DVD in April of this year). Mention is also made of the notorious "ripped from the headlines" gay serial killer thriller, CRUISING, starring Al Pacino, which FANGORIA intends on expanding on in a later issue.
Included are a number of other interesting articles and features that FANGORIA can be counted on in each and every issue. For example, I was surprised to learn that producer Steven-Charles Jaffe is filming a documentary on the master of graveyard humor and long-time PLAYBOY cartoonist, Gahan Wilson. There is a short essay, Where are the Wolves?, by Craig Anderson, lamenting the short-shrift that our canine cousins have been getting in the media over the years. It was also nice to see Bill Mohally recognized for his many years of work behind the scenes as art director for not only FANGORIA, but also for his days at Warren Publishing. Mohally is largely responsible for "the look" of FANGORIA, and has been since issue #27. Greg Nicotero, genius makeup artist and producer of the hit TV series, THE WALKING DEAD, Night of the Living Dead author John Russo, and OMEN II's Elizabeth Shephard are all interviewed in yet another issue of FANGORIA that's brimming with enough meat for any monster to sink it's teeth into.
"I painstakingly almost made it as a documentary of the actual 1949 exorcism case that occurred in Silver Spring, Maryland, that involved a fourteen-year-old boy." -- William Friedkin on THE EXORCIST
The other Alexander -- David -- and his magazine, RUE MORGUE, take a similar track in issue #140, by also interviewing director William Friedkin for a 40-year take on THE EXORCIST. Freidkin expounded on the idea of the continuous battle of good against evil and it's unconscious effects on society and faith. He also spoke aboit the opening sequence of the film, and how it was nearly cut out. I, for one, am thankful, because that is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. "They wanted to drop it back then," Friedkin explains. "Even Blatty's own publisher wanted to cut the prologue from the novel because they didn't understand it. Warner certainly didn't want me to film it , let alone travel to Northern Iraq to film it. I decided to shoot it because I felt that sequence set the whole mood and tone of the film with very little dialogue. It acts as a portent or forewarning of Merrin's future -- and ultimately fatal -- confrontation with the demon, and also establishes this overriding sense of a mystical, eternal evil." Freidkin also dispels the so-called "curse" surrounding the making of the film. He acknowledges that some strange things occurred, but says he had nothing to do with hyping the film in this way. He names actress Helen Burstyn as among the perpetrators, however. After a showing at the Smithsonian last October, as well as its induction in the U.S. Library of Congress, Blatty and Friedkin's THE EXORCIST will be preserved for generations. Makes one wonder if the Devil made them do it?
Included in this issue is a feature on the making of a bit of an unrecognized horror gem, THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988). I have watched this film numerous times, and while in several places it strays from the original (the bad guy character played by Zakes Mokae is not in the Wade Davis non-fiction book, for instance), it nevertheless tells a gripping story. Director Wes Craven relates the sometimes harrowing adventures that the actors and crew had trying to get this movie filmed. For example, they had to flee Haiti to the Dominican Republic or be overcome by a mob who obviously didn't care who they were and what they were doing. The practice of Voodoo, it seems, is still a powerful religion, as well as a political tool.
This latest issue of RUE MORGUE is filled out with its other features and columns that make it one of the "go-to" monster mags for the latest 411 in fear.
It's hard to compare the two magazines, and there is certainly not one that is better than the other in terms of overall quality. FANGO is a bit pricey at $10.99, but has about 20 more pages than RUE MORGUE. RM uses heavier stock paper, but FANGO boasts more content. Either way you slash it, I recommend either -- or both -- of these magazines for a double-dose of monster goodness.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Not a good way to start off so early in the New Year, but unfortunately, Prince Sirki waits for no one. Today, actress and life-long animal lover Alexandra Bastedo passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Her first film appearance was in William Castle's 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS (1963). She played Mircalla Karnstein in the Spanish production of THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE (1972), and later starred with Peter Cushing and John Hurt in THE GHOULS (1975). Previously, she had paired with David Niven in the James Bond farce, CASINO ROYALE (1967).
Strikingly beautiful and with a great figure, she always reminded me as a cross between Sharon Tate and Barbara Bouchet. For more information regarding Alexandra Bastedo, her acting career, and her work with protecting animals, you can visit her website HERE.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
LAST SATURDAY, MY WIFE AND I CELEBRATED our wedding anniversary. I won't tell you exactly how many years it has been since we tied the knot, but I will tell you that it's a lot, especially considering that the last time I heard, the statistic is holding steady at about 50% of marriages that are still failing. Given that, I feel pretty darn good about our chances this far down the road.
If you were to ask me, I couldn't really give you any valuable advice on the longevity of relationships . . . except for perhaps this: When you feel like the chips are down and you are at the end of your proverbial rope with seemingly nowhere to turn and nothing left to do, find a way to get through the crisis and make it work. Believe me, you'll actually feel good about yourself when you have given it your best shot, and many times things only improve afterwards. So far, I haven't heard anybody complain that "make up" sex was ever lousy, know what I mean?
I have a younger family member that has tried marriage -- and given up on it -- three times already, and to hear the insipid, superficial, selfish reasons disguised as "game breakers", honestly I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.
That brings me to one more tidbit of advice, now that I think about it: Don't make up your mind (or what's left of it at the time) until you've heard someone else's viewpoint, preferably from either a non-emotionally attached friend or family member, or better yet, a professional counselor.
So, it turned out to be a sunny -- and just a little bit chilly -- Saturday here. We headed out over the 520 toll bridge (for decades it was free) to Seattle and the renown Pike Place Market, where the main attraction is the fish vendor tossing 10 lb. whole King Salmon to the poor, unsuspecting tourists hoping for a photo op and having no idea how unwieldy ... and slimy a dead fish can be. You can also have fun here if you are a people watcher, as, invariably by noontime, the place is elbow-to-elbow with 'em. With masses of tourists and locals alike, we usually reserve this delightful encounter with humanity for excursions with out-of-town guests and first-time visitors.
You might be wondering by now if there are going to be any monsters mentioned in today's slice 'o life. Funny you should ask, for in the nether chambers of the market known as "Down Under" we came across a shop that caught my usual discerning eye and impeccable taste for the finer things in life. Called "Orange Dracula", it's billed as "the dime store for those with unusual tastes". The melange of kitsch includes a Francis Ford Coppola Dracula pinball machine, a fortune teller vending machine, and a working photo booth. Predominant in the store are monster-related items like models, pins, buttons, patches and other paraphernalia. In the window there is an original 6-foot Frankenstein poster from the Captain Company days. The proprietor is an amiable and talkative fellow and is more than willing to share his interests in monsters with the clientele. Orange Dracula has a website HERE. If you find yourself at the world-famous Pike Place Market, I recommend you find time to stop in at Orange Dracula.
We escaped the multitudes of the market and headed down to the pier, spending the next hour or so at the Seattle Aquarium. There are some really astonishing live exhibits here, including otters, harbor seals, and octopi. Plus, there's anemones, starfish (nay, sea stars), coral and other marine life that look they came right out of an H.P. Lovecraft story.
|Your roving Monsterologist, ready for chowder.|
|The Puget Sound, dark and deep.|
|Looking back east from the water, towards downtown Seattle.|
|A very big boardwalk to enjoy the view from.|
|Somebody always has to feed the gulls.|
|Anemones from Yuggoth ... er, the Seattle Aquarium.|
|A bed of sea stars, a.k.a. starfish.|
|A strange-looking salt water plant.|
|Alien landscape? No, aquarium fish tank!|
|Our view from the restaurant.|
|It really was this pink.|
|Dusk settles on the carousel. Note the quarter moon top right.|