Saturday, February 28, 2015

AURORA FANTASY BOX ART: MODEL NOT INCLUDED


I'd wager that most everyone that has ever built an Aurora plastic monster model kit wishes that the line of figures had never ended. After the core group of monsters -- Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, etc. -- the hobby company started spoofing the characters, putting them into hot rods like "Frankenstein's Flivver", "Dracula's Dragster" and "The Mummy's Chariot". Also popular among Monster Kids in the 60s were the TV shows "The Addam's Family" and "The Munsters". Aurora produced kits from these as well.

But, what would it have looked like if the kits had kept being made? What would a kit like The Wolf Man, which had already been produced, been like if it had included a second figure, a fainting Evelyn Ankers? What would a kit of EAP's "House of Usher" be like alongside "The Addam's Family House"? We'll never know ...

... Except from the mind of Mark Reynolds, an artist who has created a line of "What if?" Aurora fantasy kit boxes. Retailing for around 28 bucks, the following is a description of the upcoming "Lon Chaney, Man of a Thousand Faces" boxes from one of the distributors of the line, MONSTERS IN MOTION: 

This is a full size 13 X 7 X 2 Aurora Fantasy Box with artwork by Mark Reynolds. The image is created to appear as though Aurora had made all the kits that we as kids of the 1960's and 70's could have ever imagined.

It is printed on a single sheet that is professionally positioned and adhered to the coffin-style box lid. A box bottom is also included and the entire package is shrink-wrapped for a look that sends you back in time to the shelves of your hobby shop.

These are very well done, and I like the fact that they come as a complete box and shrink-wrapped so they appear authentic. The only thing that I could see as an improvement is to throw in a handful of scrap plastic pieces so that it sounds like there's really a kit inside. 








To put things into perspective, I've added a couple of examples from the FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND ads offering the original Aurora line of monster models that were for sale through Captain Company. I know that these pics have been done to death on the 'net, but I never get tired of the imagery. I think any Monsterologist worth his wolfbane would agree.




Friday, February 27, 2015

LIVE LONG, AND PROSPER, MR. SPOCK


Star Trek fans have reason to mourn today. News wires have announced the passing of Leonard Nimoy, our beloved Vulcan, Mr. Spock. He died from complications related to COPD. He was 83. Ad Astra, Spock.

FRANKIE'S FRIDAY FUNNIES



Saturday, February 21, 2015

'THE CREEPS" IS BAD -- IT'S NATIONWIDE


By all indications, things are looking good early for Rich Sala's THE CREEPS. After two issues he's secured nationwide distribution for his creepy 'zine. This is significant in that it's not often that a comic publication, especially a horror title, can break free of the net that is cast widely by the monopoly known as Diamond Distributors. The company is not named, but I guess it to be Ingram, a giant in its own right, but potentially an overall more prosperous opportunity.


Friday, February 20, 2015

SMOKIN' MONSTERS: INTERNATIONAL PIPE SMOKING DAY


Today is International Pipe Smoking Day. To celebrate, I'm going to pack one of my favorite briars with one of my favorite blends and reflect on the pleasures of smoking from a fine, handcrafted piece of art.

Back in the classic horror film era, it was not unusual at all to see an actor smoking, and many of them were puffing on a pipe. Here are just a few examples.

Lionel Atwill 1932 IMDB/John Kobal Foundation.

Boris Karloff in The Black Room (1935).

George Zucco in House of Frankenstein (1944).

Vincent Price studio portrait.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SEE HELL ON EARTH! AN EARLY ITALIAN 'SHOCK DOC'


This Avco Embassy Pictures Release is not to be confused with the 47-minute UK "mock-umentary" of the same name. Instead, this 93-minute "authentic" little obscurity appears to be in the style of the "shock docs" made popular by films like MONDO CANE. Released on 28 March 1970 in Italy as RITI SEGRETI, the US poster ad claims it to be produced and directed by Ramiro Arango. However, IMDB lists the same credits to Gabriella Cangini (who also has the writing credits) with the production company as Arango Films Italiana.

In any event, this movie looked weird enough for me to cut out the ad from the Los Angeles Times, probably around the same time it was released in Italy in 1970.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

SHOCK CREATURES NO. 1 REVIEWED


Is it just me, or does it seem that the "commercial" (a.k.a. newsstand/bookstore) monster magazine is sputtering a bit? No less overall well-produced, but the general content seems, well, tiresome. Two of the most erudite titles, VIDEO WATCHDOG and DIABOLIQUE, seem to have stalled, and others have extended their subject matter into areas that have a marginal monster content.

"Semi-pro" and privately-published monster 'zines are visibly slowing as well. UNDYING MONSTERS has apparently died, MIDNIGHT MARQUEE finally "pulled the leever" after publishing for decades, and Jim Clatterbaugh's preeminent MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT is soon taking its final carriage to Borgo Pass. I shudder to think when Richard Klemensen announces LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS' last run.

Then, all of sudden, from the broken battlements rises a new 'zine, SHOCK CREATURES!. Accompanied by not one, but two subtitles -- "The First Classic Horror Magazine in Shocking Color...And Atmospheric Black and White", and "The Magazine of Monsters, Mavericks and Madmen!" -- it is edited and published by Mirek Lipinski. No stranger to the subject of monsters and horror films, Mr. Lipinski is offering readers a closer look into the SHOCK THEATER era of the late 1950s through the 1960s.

After shelling out $14.21 US ($12 for the magazine and $2.11 for shipping) I received my print-on-demand copy, as promised, within a few days after ink was put to paper. It arrived from the San Francisco-based self-publishing imprint -- blurb -- slipped into nothing more than a clear magazine sleeve with a backer board, sealed with an adhesive flap, with a shipping label slapped on. Thank God my postman was in a good mood that day and didn't jam it into the mailbox like he often does with my "worthless" photography magazines and my ARIZONA HIGHWAYS.

SHOCK CREATURES is a beautifully-produced magazine. The photos are crisp and sharp and the color saturation, especially on the posters, is cranked up to "lurid". The content varies in scope and depth from "Double Bill Nightmares", which covers Lugosi's THE APE and THE LONDON BLACKOUT MURDERS, to an article covering the history of the famed Shock Monster mask, to the atmosphere promised on the cover, a two-page spread of a rooftop scene from Universal's 1932 MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. Taking up half the page count are a reprint of Robert W. Chambers' weird fiction classic, "The Yellow Sign", and a 12-page pre-code story from the horror comic, ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN. While I don't mind a reprint here and there, I kinda do mind that they are readily available from a variety of sources and take up such a big part of the issue. Still, if you haven't had the fortune of reading either one (especially Chambers' legendary story), here's a good place to do it. Lipinski's two-page introduction to this, the first issue, is learned and well-articulated, and I hope that this the general tone and philosophy that continues.

So, is SHOCK CREATURES worth the trouble? Yes it is! I would get going and order your copy soon, as this first collector's edition is promoted as being limited to only 300 copies. After that, the press shuts down until the next issue. And I do hope there is an issue #2 of this promising new magazine! Click HERE to order.




Monday, February 9, 2015

A $3,000 COPY OF CREEPY NO. 1


Who would have believed it? My 35 cents got plunked down on the drug store counter back in 1964 for a copy of Creepy #1. This was some comic! Every story had a "shock" ending and was illustrated by guys that I knew were masters, even if I was a dedicated Kirby/Ditko/Romita kid at the time.

Suddenly, fifty years later appears a copy, nearly as pristine as the first day it was sold. Only this time it's sealed in a plastic clam shell case, never to be opened, like some Pharaoh's tomb. Well, if it is, it won't crumble to dust like Kharis, but it will certainly plummet in value. Forget the Kool-Aid, somebody must have knocked back the brew of all 9 tana leaves when the hammer dropped on their $2,990 bid back on May 2005. Despite the inflated value, Creepy #1 stands the test of time as the "First Magazine of Illustrated Horror"!

Here is the description that accompanies the lot: 

Creepy #1 Pacific Coast pedigree (Warren, 1964) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white pages. Warren Publishing's concept for its first full-length horror comic magazine was to fill its pages with the work of the best artists available. And hardly anyone would dispute that the goal was accomplished -- not only does the issue have what is believed to be the last comic book story Frank Frazetta ever produced, it has the work of Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Reed Crandall, Angelo Torres, and Gray Morrow. Reportedly, Jack Davis was chosen to illustrate the first issue's cover to "soften the blow" a bit with a lighthearted image -- soon thereafter, more horrific covers ruled the day. This debut issue is also the first appearance of host character Uncle Creepy. This pedigree copy is the only 9.6, and the highest-graded copy overall, that CGC has certified for this issue to date. Overstreet 2005 NM- 9.2 value = $160. CGC census 1/05: 1 in 9.6, none higher. From the collection of Chris Bell.






Sunday, February 8, 2015

ETERNAL YOUTH IS THE ULTIMATE PERVERSION!


AIP's rather pretentious claim at a "modern allegory" of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, DORIAN GRAY (a.k.a. THE SECRET OF DORIAN GRAY), unfortunately bears the taint of the 1970's. Of course, this is way before I ever saw it -- but that didn't keep me from clipping it out of the paper, remembering more vividly the image of the hideous countenance of Gray by the skilled makeup artist Jack Dawn in MGM's 1945 version. And yet another horrifying psychological artifact from the pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, eh?

Also seen here is a review of an early indie horror flick, EQUINOX (reportedly shot with only an $8,000 budget), a clipping of PLAY MISTY FOR ME (another film that suffers from the Curse of the Mod 70's), and a scene from THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, which exploited Holmes' drug use (and not a bad film, to boot).

I hope you enjoy the latest clippings from My Monster Scrapbook, created at the time these films first came out.

[Image Source: Los Angeles Times, Valley News and Green Sheet, ca. 1970's]






Thursday, February 5, 2015

DOCTOR X 'FILMBOOK'


On the newsstands every Tuesday, the UK's BOY'S CINEMA magazine was published for nearly thirty years, from 1919 to 1948. The magazine "fictionalized" movies of the day, much in the way of the filmbooks seen a decade or so later in FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. All types of films were covered, including westerns, mysteries, adventures, and sometimes horror.

The 689th issue, dated 25 February 1933, included a narrative of First National/Warner Bros. DOCTOR X, starring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray, released the year before.












Wednesday, February 4, 2015

JOHN SEVERIN ORIGINAL 'HORROR HOUSE' AD ARTWORK

Original image by John Severin measures 5" x 4".

I've often wondered whatever happened to the paste ups for the early monster magazines. I've never really come across any mention of original pages that were sent to the printer ever surviving over the years. Other than original pages of comic art that surface from time to time, a camera-ready page, complete with screen art and pasted up text seems to be a rarity.

Once in a while, we see the odd or end of a scrap of original art that was used on a page. Case in point, this example offered up for auction. It is a piece by John Severin that was used as the title for CRACKED magazine's Horror House line of monster merchandise.

Complete art measures 12" x 4"
 The image measures 5" x 4" and the overall piece is 12" x4". The artwork is rendered in ink on graphite on Craftint illustration board. The text is pasted up on the artwork. Another unusual example of relics from The Cracked Archives Vault that have been put up for auction.

Horror House ad from CRACKED n31, Sept. 1963

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