Monday, March 30, 2015

ADVENTURES IN HORROR NO. 1 (PART 1)


 “The Stanley mags are just too over-the-top for my tastes. The covers look like the deviant wet-dreams of a sexually frustrated and psychotic teenager.” – From an online comics Forum

ADVENTURES IN HORROR
Volume 1, Number 1
October, 1970
Stanley Publications
Editor: Theodore S. Hecht
 
After Jim Warrren broke the choke hold of comic book industry moral watchdogs in 1964 with his landmark magazine-sized horror comic title, CREEPY, the floodgates would soon burst. It seemed like everyone was poised to put out their own black and white horror comics magazine, but it was Warren who took an axe to the moldering coffin lid and, after an ash-can edition test run, success was all but assured.

A decade earlier, the Comics Code Authority had summarily shut down horror and crime comics, citing them to be a bad influence on the youth of America. Much has been said about psycho, er, psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, whose best-selling Seduction of the Innocent set the controls for the heart of darkness aimed at companies such as EC. William Gaines, publisher of EC comics testified on behalf of the doomed industry, but his articulate plea landed on the deaf ears of regulation-minded social engineers.


In 1966, Eerie Publication began publishing WEIRD, a gorier, bloodier version of CREEPY. The artwork was rough and garish and did not compare with the sophisticated look that was offered by Warren through his deft harvesting of ex-EC artists. Nevertheless, Eerie went on to publish still more titles, like TALES FROM THE CRYPT (!), TERROR TALES, HORROR TALES, and the grammatically weird, WITCHES' TALES.

“Magazine racks were definitely becoming more interesting in 1969” – Mike Howlett, The Weird World of Eerie Publications 

A few years later, in 1969, Eerie unleashed more titles in its horror comics magazine line, TALES FROM THE TOMB, in addition to the aforementioned. Publisher Stanley Morse threw his pointy hat into the ring with his own titles, SHOCK and CHILLING TALES OF HORROR. Filled with reprints of his pre-code comic title stories from WEIRD MYSTERIES and MISTER MYSTERY. Morse's line of black and white horror is generally regarded by fans as more anemic than the grislier Eerie line.

In October 1970, Stanley Publications released a new, non-comics title, ADVENTURES IN HORROR. Clearly patterned after popular crime and confessional magazines of the day like FRONT PAGE DETECTIVE and DETECTIVE CASEBOOK, it added monsters, sex and the occult to the mix. With story titles like Love is the Color of Blood and The Naked Slaves of the Master of Hell, one is also reminded of some of the outre and reality-bending stories offered by STAG and other "men's sweat" publications.

While I cannot yet find any definitive citation, some (or all) of the stories are said to be written by Ed Wood, Jr. That a couple of photos from the Wood opus, ORGY OF THE DEAD are included, seems to bear this out -- or it is the basis for the assumption that because of these photos, Wood must have contributed the story as well.

Here, now, in all its hoary glory, is the first issue of ADVENTURES IN HORROR.

NOTE: Because of this post, I am duty-bound to once more put up the adult gateway filter on MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. After Google's recent unrealized threat to shut down all blogs with "explicit" content, one can't be too careful.









Saturday, March 28, 2015

ABBOTT & COSTELLO'S MONSTER MASKS


At about 55:35 of Universal's classic (and I really do mean classic) horror comedy, ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), we see the boys trying on their masks for the masquerade party. Lou's looks like a Mr. Hyde character, but Bud's is definitely a werewolf mask, which, of course, doesn't sit too easily with the person they're showing it off to -- Larry Talbot!

We may be under the assumption that the masks are made of rubber, but we can plainly see that they are quite rigid when worn. That's because the material is really papier mache. They were made by makeup artist, Emile Lavigne, who also helped to apply the makeup to Chaney's Wolfman, Glenn Strange's Frankenstein monster, and Lugosi's Dracula (I think by this time Lugosi acquiesced to having someone else apply his makeup).

The makeup crew for A&C MEET FRANKENSTEIN was star-studded: Bud Westmore was at the helm (naturally), and Lavigne and Jack Kevan assisted. Carmen Dirigo, who also worked with Jack Pierce, tended to the hair and wigs. I suspect that with two supremely capable talents like Lavigne and Kevan, Westmore -- as he did in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON -- mainly supervised. Lavigne and Kevan nevertheless went uncredited.

Incredibly, the two masks survived the years and were sold at auction in 2007 for a combined total of nearly $20,000. Lavigne held on to them as keepsakes until his death in 1990, when his family assumed his estate.







I can't end this post without mentioning that, after Bud and Lou show their masks to Talbot, the dialogue leads into one of the funniest lines ever in a horror comedy film:

Talbot: I know you think I'm crazy but, in a half an hour the moon will rise and ... I'll turn into a wolf.
Lou: Yeah, you and 20 million other guys!

Friday, March 27, 2015

BOOKS I WANT ON MY SHELF


There's a new crop of books headed our way. What looks to be most promising is what looks to be a good look at the Spanish horror film and a revised and updated edition of Jonathan Rigby's British Gothic. The reading stack grows ever higher...





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