Monday, February 29, 2016

NEW 'LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT' STATUE


Due to ship this August is a terrific new statue of Lon Chaney depicted in his role as the vampire in LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. There seems to be no end with the fascination of this character, or the film, which seems to be lost forever.

The 14" high sculpt is by artiste extraordinaire Jeff Yagher for Quarantine Studio. Licensed by Chaney Entertainment, the price is $274.99 for the deluxe version that comes with a cemetery gate and wall base. The regular edition sells for $244.99 and includes the figure only.

Pre-orders are being taken right now at MONSTERS IN MOTION. Here is MIM's description:

“All is not well at the Balfour estate. It has been five years since the terrible incident, and the home has stood empty ever since that tragic day. Now, strange inhabitants have been seen creeping around the property at night. What ill fate will befall those who dare to be caught out after midnight?

Quarantine Studio and Chaney Entertainment proudly present Lon Chaney Sr. as The Man in the Beaver Hat from the long lost classic film, London After Midnight. This is perhaps one of Chaney’s most talked about films and is assuredly his most iconic character makeup.

This 1/6th scale limited edition statue, fully licensed by Chaney Entertainment, was meticulously sculpted by Jeff Yagher. Every detail from the prosthetic makeup around the eyes and mouth to the creases in his perfectly posed fingers is faithfully recreated. The likeness to Lon Chaney Sr. is second to none. This deluxe edition includes a wall and gate environment base. Cast in high-quality polystone resin and finished in a classic black and white paint job, this statue is the ultimate tribute to the man who brought this memorable character to life.

Product Size: 13.75" H (349.25mm)”




Saturday, February 27, 2016

THEY MADE 'LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT'


Along with cameramen Merritt B. Gerstad and Wallace Chewning, Tod Browning as co-producer and director and Waldemar Young as "scenarist", or scriptwriter, created the still-lost LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (MGM 1927). Irving Thalberg also was producer and through his influence was also responsible for this thriller/mystery that appears to be lost to the ages.

In the 1928 edition of the FILM DAILY YEARBOOK, Browning and Young shared promo spots. Noted studio photographers Jack Freulich took the shot of Browning and Clarence Sinclair Bull shot Young.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

'MONSTER MASH' MAN MARK VOGER

Author Mark Voger as he is today -- er, as he was as a Monster Kid in New Jersey.
Those of you who haven't yet heard of the graveyard smash book entitled, MONSTER MASH: THE CREEPY, KOOKY MONSTER CRAZE IN AMERICA 1957-1972, you are in for a real treat. Those of you who have and haven't yet purchased a copy -- shame on you! Author Mark Voger has spent decades amassing a tome that represents the very best (along with nearly everything) that signifies the so-called "classic era" of pop culture monsters. Published by Two Morrows, this book is a must have for anyone who is interested in the "Monster Craze" and who wants to own the closest thing to a coffee table book on the subject. Without further ado, here's Mark Voger in his own words:



Photo collage Voger created for a
tribute to Bobby "Boris" Pickett.
MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD: How did the idea for the “Monster Mash” book come about?

MARK VOGER: Thanks for your interest, John. I was born in ’58, and loved monsters for as long as I can remember. It was always in the back of my mind to do a book about the Monster Craze of the ’60s. As an entertainment writer going back decades, I would interview anyone I could about “retro” pop culture. Once, in the early ’90s, I interviewed Forry Ackerman over the phone, and he said he was coming to Manhattan – I’m in Jersey – and he invited me to meet him in the city for breakfast. We met and, over breakfast, he let me try on Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” ring and Boris Karloff’s “Mummy” ring. Right there in the restaurant. He didn’t even know me. He just figured me for a true Famous Monsters fan, and he trusted me for those few moments. So I made it my mission to interview people like James Bama, who painted the exquisite Aurora box art, and Bobby (Boris) Pickett, who sang “Monster Mash,” and anyone from “The Addams Family,” “The Munsters,” “Dark Shadows.” It all added up.

MMW: How long did it take to write it and compile the graphics?

VOGER: I had been amassing the interviews and images since the ’80s. Many of the photos were taken by my late wife, Kathy Voglesong, who always accompanied me on assignments. We were a husband-and-wife, writer-photographer team, until the world lost her in 2005. But from the time I had contracted to do “Monster Mash,” it took 14 months to put the book into final form. I barely slept in all that time. It became a sacred mission.

MMW: Did you shop it around or was it a done deal with TwoMorrows?

VOGER: I took it to TwoMorrows first. I had a wonderful experience with them on my first two books, “Hero Gets Girl!” and “The Dark Age,” which are about comics. “Monster Mash” was a bit outside their wheelhouse, but they rolled the dice. I was thrilled when they told me I could do it in full color – a designer’s dream.

MMW: The image of the Topstone “Shock Monster” mask is iconic. Was the cover your idea?

VOGER: You’re the first to ask, and knowing Monster Magazine World’s “Topstone Tuesdays,” I’m not surprised. Yeah, it was my baby. When I set about designing the cover, I knew I needed a central image. It’s the first thing they teach you in Page Design 101. And that image must miraculously represent everything you want to say about a given topic. It’s a big responsibility for an image. Of course, I couldn’t use a well-known monster face like, say, Herman Munster. It would give the impression the book is about “The Munsters.” I needed something that was, not generic, but all-encompassing. The Shock Monster, by the great Keith Ward, seems to sum up the era. It has horror and humor at the same time, which is the point of “Monster Mash” – creepy and kooky. The artwork is cartoony, but when you really analyze it, it’s extremely gory. I mean, it’s a skull covered in rotted flesh, with one eyeball intact. That’s sick. And Keith Ward was a master at black-and-white linework. This image communicates, whether it’s on a postage stamp or a Jumbotron. I scanned it huge from an old Famous Monsters ad, and then painstakingly re-drafted it digitally. I colorized it using the same blue hair/green skin motif from the Shock Monster mask I had when I was a kid. At first, I used flat colors, like you would have seen back in the ’60s. But it just didn’t pop. I finally put in all the shadows and the mottled skin you now see, and then it popped. This was a bit counter to what I was trying to do throughout the book, which was to make everything look like it was produced in the ’60s. No modernity. But this is finally what worked best. For Christmas, my sister made Shock Monster hoodie sweatshirts for the whole family, in honor of “Monster Mash.”

A "Mummybilia" collage done when the Brendan Fraser Mummy
remake was released.

MMW: You are credited with the design of “Monster Mash.” How did you create the pages – digital or old-fashioned paste-up?

VOGER: I’m an old hand at old-fashioned paste-up. I can work miracles with an X-acto blade, a wax machine, a circle template, border tape, a triangle and a T-square. Oh, and a roller. But of course, I created those pages on a computer. There’s no other way these days, nor would you want to go back to the Stone Age. “Monster Mash” is design-driven; I generally designed the pages first, and then wrote-to-fit, not the other way around. That way, I could control the look and flow of the book. The images came from all different sources – flat scans, digital photos, even scans of negatives and slides. So this was a forensic exercise. I then perfected all the images digitally, and the design work began in earnest.

MMW: Usually, the interest in monsters begins early with a defining moment or two. Was this true for you?

VOGER: Sure. I remember, when I was really little, first seeing a monster face in a store. I immediately had that reaction of simultaneous attraction and repulsion. It was scary to me, but I wanted more. The first time I saw actual monster movie footage was on an old TV show called “Hollywood and the Stars,” which did a theme episode on monsters. I still can’t believe my parents let me watch it. I think I was traumatized. Well, here I am, a half-century later, still talking about it. Oh, and the Zanti Misfits on “The Outer Limits” totally traumatized me. I’m still scared of those horrible little alien bugs.

MMW: What were your favorite monster ’zines as a Monster Kid?

VOGER: Of course, Famous Monsters of Filmland and all the Warrens – Creepy, Eerie, Monster World, Vampirella. The first time I saw an issue of Famous Monsters was at a friend’s house; we were looking at his big brother’s copy of FM #34. That cover painting of Mr. Hyde by Maurice Whitman is indelibly etched. It had an article about “Horrors of Spider Island,” and the photos truly scared me. The first issue I owned was #52, with Barnabas Collins on the cover. It had a big piece on “Son of Frankenstein.” I was hooked. Then, not to sound like a globe-trotting bon vivant, but in 1969 when I was 11, I was walking along O’Connell Street in Dublin and I spotted a vendor selling back issues of FM. I’d never seen those covers in color before; I’d only seen them in the back-issue ads. Wow, were they stunning. I bought, with Irish coins, issues #40, 42, and 46. Back in South Jersey, where I grew up, there is a place called the Berlin Farmer’s Market that has a magazine vendor who sold FM back then. In those years, I bought issues #61, 63, 67 and 68, all first-run, more or less. I also have some guilty pleasures. I have a healthy collection of those terrible Eerie Publications comic magazines like Tales From the Tomb and Tales of Voodoo. When I was in grade school, I had an issue of the Cracked spinoff For Monsters Only, which I still have great affection for, even though it doesn’t hold a candle to FM.

An illustration by Voger for an interview with Jim Warren.

MMW: I was young enough during the first wave Monster Craze that you write about in your book to enjoy monster-related items like Spook Stories trading cards, Monster Old Maid, Marx monster figures (which I still have), even monster Soaky bath bubbles. What were some of the monster-related things you particularly enjoyed as a Monster Kid?

VOGER: My favorite was my Aurora “Hunchback of Notre Dame” model kit. My dad was a shipping foreman at an oil refinery in Philadelphia and a Marine during World War II. A tough-but-fair guy. Early one cold Saturday morning, he handed me a Hunchback model kit and said, “Here ya are. You go for this stuff.” That meant the world. I recall, with a twinge of guilt, wishing it was a cooler monster, like Dracula or the Phantom. But once I built it, I was in love with the Hunchback. An old schoolmate had an Uncle Fester hand-puppet, which was a really cool likeness, and a fellow Cub Scout had the “Monster Old Maid” cards. Those were the days. That’s great, that you still have your old Marx figures.

A Quasidmodo collage done when Disney's "Hunchback" movie was released.
 MMW: What does your monster collection look like these days? Have you kept anything from years past, or did you have to pay “collector’s” prices in recent years?

VOGER: Mostly, I’ve re-purchased things as an adult, but I’m a shrewd and patient shopper. Believe it or not, I bought the Fester puppet and the “Old Maid” cards just to put them in “Monster Mash.” I received Castle Films’ “Doom of Dracula” as a birthday gift. In the past year, I added the Wolf Man and the Mummy Soaky to my collection, so Frankenstein wouldn’t be so lonely. The three of them are still waiting for the Creature. It’ll be a long wait; those things go for $200 at best. I have a complete set of “Dark Shadows” novels by “Marilyn Ross.” I had two Don Post Tor Johnson masks, but one was stolen. Never let a Tor Johnson mask out of your sight. And I love my reissues of the Marx monster figures. Those sculptures are righteous.

Some choice examples from Mark Voger's monster memorabilia collection.

MMW: Tell me a little about your newspaper career. Were you able to use any of your love of monster movies in any of your writing or was it straight news?

VOGER: I turned pro in 1978 when I was 19, as a “stringer,” a part-time municipal reporter, for The Gloucester County Times in Woodbury, New Jersey. It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is in turmoil, but I’m still hanging in there. I’ve always been a writer-designer. I write about entertainment topics with a retro specialty: classic TV, classic rock, old comic books, old sci-fi, old monster movies. As a for-instance, I just reviewed “The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series” for The Star-Ledger. Over the years, I’ve published a lot of monster stuff in newspapers – probably more than my editors would have preferred. I did a big Sunday splash when Boris Karloff turned 100 on Nov. 23, 1987, and a “Many Faces of Quasimodo” page when Disney put out a “Hunchback” musical adaptation. Stuff like that.

MMW: What’s next for you? Are there more monsters in store for us from Mark Voger?

VOGER: I’m neck-deep in my next project, which is most definitely a follow-up to “Monster Mash,” though it’s not about monsters at all. But being Irish and superstitious, that’s all I can say. We Irish believe, whole-heartedly, in jinxes. And singing, corned beef and fisticuffs.

MMW: Where can “Monster Mash” be purchased?

VOGER: Thanks for asking. You can find it at TwoMorrows.com, Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com and all over the web. I was really thrilled to learn that “Monster Mash” made it into some legendary brick-and-mortar establishments, like Forbidden Planet in New York City, Fat Jack’s in Philly and DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis. And again, John, thanks so much for your interest. I love what Monster Magazine World does. It’s fun, informative and addictive. I don’t have to tell you that monster magazines were like the social network for Monster Kids back in the pre-Internet age. We would communicate through the letters pages, you could say. I have two journalistic colleagues who had letters published in Famous Monsters back in the day. The magazines, more than any other format, pulled the whole Monster Craze thing together. They had it all -- the Aurora ads, comics, coverage of the old movies, coverage of the TV shows, cool things to send away for. It was a sweet time.

MMW: A sweet time, indeed! Thank you, Mark Voger!

IT'S INTERNATIONAL PIPE-SMOKING DAY!


Today is International Pipe-Smoking Day! At one time almost as popular with adults as cell phones are today, pipe-smoking is considerably less popular, mainly because of the stigmata of smoking in general and the perceived "hassle" it is to carry, load, smoke and clean them. The latter is a lame excuse to avoid the ritual of preparing the briar and enjoying the sloooow, relaxing pleasure of a tasty, fragrant tobacco.

Many of yesteryear's horror film stars were pipe smokers. Take for instance, Sir Christopher Lee. Here he is shown in a pensive mood, pipe comfortably held in the corner of his mouth. The small white dot on the shank indicates that the make of the pipe is from the old masters, Dunhill.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em!


Monday, February 15, 2016

A FRIEND OF KARLOFF


In IT'S ALIVE! THE CLASSIC CINEMA SAGA OF FRANKENSTEIN (A.S. Barnes $ Co,/Tantivity Press, 1981), Gregory William Manks mentions that several of Boris Karloff's closest friends were frequent visitors to his "little farm" located at 2320 Bowmont Drive in L.A.'s Coldwater Canyon. Karloff bought the property that had been previously owned by Katherine Hepburn, claiming (of course!) that the place was haunted. All this was possible as a result of the overwhelming success of FRANKENSTEIN and his subsequent contract with Universal. The film studio didn't always remunerate the actors that were responsible to fill their coffers (ex. the often snubbed Bela Lugosi), but Karloff was one they didn't want to lose.

One of Karloff's good friends was Robert Armstrong. Armstrong was also enjoying fame for his breakout role as adventurer and filmmaker, Carl Denham in RKO's KING KONG. The property, complete with gardens, farm animals, a swimming pool and barbecue, and, haunted or not, was sure to have been a welcome surcease from the rigors of Hollywood.

Above is a photo of Armstrong from the Spanish film fan magazine CINE-MUNDIAL (September 1932) and below is a dramatic shot in the April 1932 issue of MODERN SCREEN. Both shots were taken when Armstrong was poised to bring back to civilization Kong, The Eighth Wonder of the World!


Sunday, February 14, 2016

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO MY MAD LOVE


One wonders what Dr. Gogol might have written had he sent a Valentine's Day card to the lovely Yvonne!

Rivaling Universal's THE BLACK CAT in its litany of perversities, MGM's MAD LOVE (a,k.a. THE HANDS OF ORLAC) reads like a What's What of the unnatural: Obsession, lust, greed, lunacy, fetishism, you name it.

Peter Lorre really got into his role as the sinister surgeon and eschewed the bald head cap for the barber's razor to shave his head. Just a couple of years away from his alcohol-related death, Colin Clive plays his usual hysteric role as a famous pianist who loses both his hands. His wife, Yvonne Orlac, is the hapless victim of the diabolical Dr. Gogol's twisted love. Played by Frances Drake, can you blame him?

Here are a trio of startling studio photograph negatives of Peter Lorre (one shown above) in his role, probably shot by Clarence Sinclair Bull. Following is a little story to read to your Valentine today, the Filmbook of MAD LOVE from FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #63 (March 1970).



Gogol by Gogos.











Saturday, February 13, 2016

WE BELONG DEAD NO. 17 REVIEWED


WE BELONG DEAD
Volume 1 No. 17
Autumn 2015
Buzzy-Krotik Productions
Editor: Eric McNaughton
http://webelongdead.co.uk/

Fans of horror films lost an icon last year with the passing of Sir Christopher Lee, the last of the prominent actors to emerge from the 1950s resurgence of monster movies. During his long acting career, Lee was not limited to just playing vampires and mummies. For example, he played a James Bond nemesis and, most recently, while in his nineties, enjoyed another taste of fame as Saruman, the evil wizard in the Tolkein epic film series.

Not surprisingly, besides being noted by the media in general, monster magazines responded by lauding the life and accomplishments of this one-of-a-kind, fine British actor. In particular, Eric McNaughton payed one of the best tributes to Lee that I have so far come across in his excellent print and digital magazine, WE BELONG DEAD (Number 17, Autumn 2015).

McNaughton and his talented staff, lead by designer Steve Kirkham, have devoted an entire issue to the horror film icon. That it is from Lee's home country is only fitting.

Leading off is a lengthy overview of Lee's participation with Amicus Productions, "The Studio That Dripped Blood". Who can forget the photo shown in nearly every monster magazine at the time of the fear-stricken Lee behind the wheel, gasping in horror at a disembodied hand that surely has malign intentions?

Next is a surprise look back at the obscure 1967 UK non-horror film, NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT (know by the incredible title of ISLAND OF THE BURNING DAMNED in the US). This Terence Fisher-directed drama shows that Lee was not limited to Hammer horror roles and showed his versatility as an actor.

The list of tributes goes on: Stephen Mosley writes about Lee's role in RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK, Ian Taylor re-examines Lee in TO THE DEVIL ... A DAUGHTER, John Llwellyn Probert covers the enduring Lee/Cushing collaborations, Matthew E. Banks discusses Lee's late-in-life acting revival playing Saruman in the LORD OF THE RINGS series -- and on it goes for 100 pages of thoughtful and heartfelt remembrances.

The neatly done page design, crisp text and well laid out graphics makes for an overall enjoyable reading experience. All of this is book-ended with excellent cover art by Paul Watts, David Brooks, Mark Maddox and Joseph Davis. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing to criticize about this issue. It is superb from cover to cover.

I am in agreement with McNaughton that Sir Christopher was the last of the great horror stars, We may have a handful of contemporary actors enjoying fame in the "modern" era (Robert Englund and Bruce Campbell immediately come to mind), but none can surpass the pure quality of entertainment that Lee, along with Cushing and Price, gave us for many years.

MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD gives WE BELONG DEAD its highest recommendation. Go HERE for more information and ordering.

Friday, February 12, 2016

FREUND BY FREULICH


He directed THE MUMMY and MAD LOVE. He lensed famous silent films, METROPOLIS and THE GOLEM, He was behind the camera in DRACULA, MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, and mainstream films THE GOOD EARTH and KEY LARGO. He was both liked and disliked by the people that worked for and with him. He developed the three-camera film system for comedy films. He was one of the most innovative and influential persons in the development of motion pictures as we know them today. His name was Karl Freund (1890-1969).

Freund had many films to his credit when he was bestowed the Oscar for Best Cinematography for 1937s THE GOOD EARTH. Here, he is lauded by AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER for his cinematic achievements in the March 1938 issue. His excellent portrait is by veteran photographer, Roman Freulich.




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

TOD BROWNING FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE


Tod Browning has been criticized by film historians for years for his "static" camera shots throughout the filming of DRACULA (Universal 1931). The assertion that he "filmed a stage play" can rightly be said in a number of scenes in the movie, but some of the lingering camera shots lend to the eerie atmosphere of the proceedings, in this writer's opinion.

Browning was capable of more than this, and the picture shown below, from MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE (Feb 1927), proves this out. Here we see the director perched atop a platform with his cameraman, John Arnold, shooting straight down on the actors from above. The movie is THE DAY OF SOULS (released by MGM in 1927 as THE SHOW) and the caption describes the camera angle as being influenced by German filmmakers' penchant for filming in "unusual ways".  It is interesting to note that the film was released 4 years before DRACULA.


Monday, February 8, 2016

LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT AN EDUCATIONAL FILM?


Hard to believe that Chaney's LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT was considered "educational", but here it is, mentioned among other films, from THE EDUCATIONAL SCREEN (April, 1928). The magazine was devoted to "The New Influence in National Education".

The capsule review contains a huge spoiler, as it describes Chaney's makeup as being used only for disguise.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN REVIEWED AND PREVIEWED IN 1939


In 1938 the Regina Theater in Beverly Hills ran a triple bill that included DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and SON OF KONG. The re-release of these films proved so successful that the venue stayed open nearly around the clock for several weeks in order to accommodate the crowds who were only too thrilled to once again see their favorite monsters on the big screen. After all, there hadn't really been a horror film released since 1936.

Universal got the message, and, in January, 1939, they released SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, which would mark the revival of the classic monsters, including THE WOLF MAN, which would premiere just a couple of years later.

Hollywood trade magazine FILM BULLETIN, heralded SON OF FRANKENSTEIN with a preview of the picture in the January 14, 1939 issue. It was featured again on January 28 as their "Exploitation Picture of the Issue".

FILM BULLETIN Jan 14 1939

FILM BULLETIN Jan 28 1939

FILM BULLETIN Jan 28 1939

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