Sunday, December 31, 2017

THE FUTURE WAS YESTERDAY


Calling Fritz Lang's 1927 vision of the future, METROPOLIS, "balderdash", H.G. Wells, a socialist and a Utopian, had an opportunity in 1936 to ply his own progressive views in William Cameron Menzie's THINGS TO COME.

The movie was largely controlled by Wells, who co-wrote the script based on two of his novels, "Things to Come" and "The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind". His original title was the fanciful, "Wither Mankind?".

On the set of THINGS TO COME. From L to R, H.G. Wells, Margaretta Scott,
Raymond Massey.

Raymond Massey played Oswald Cabal, who had a pessimistic, cautionary view of the near future. "If we don't end war, war will end us", he proclaims. Ernest Thesiger was cast as sculptor Theotocopulos, but was dropped by Wells as being "unsuitable" for the role. He was replaced by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. In his unpublished memoir, "I Was", Thesiger explained:
"“Eventually in December my call came and I did eight days work completing all my scenes.  Then in January I received a charming letter from H.G. beginning with some very flattering references to my performance in the ‘Man Who Worked Miracles’ and going on to say that when he had first devised ‘Things to Come’ he had visualised my part as an El Greco but that he had made a mistake - the artist ought not to be the sensitive type as he had first seen him, but a more robust person - more of a Benvenuto Cellini and that the part was now going to be played by someone else. ‘You never liked the part anyhow,’ he added, with a few more consolatory remarks about my ‘artistry which was not in doubt.’  So after drawing a comfortable salary for six months, I had nothing to show for it.  People envied me for earning money so easily, but I would always much rather be working, even at a smaller salary than is earned on the films than disappear from view as completely as I did that summer.”
THINGS TO COME was magnificently produced by the Hungarian-born Alexander Korda, who, for the time, fashioned a film with Wells along with a bevy of avant-garde artists and designers that was both startling and prescient. For example, in one scene we see the image of a bomb going off in a battlefield, first as a fireball, then forming into a mushroom cloud. The year of the scene? 1945!


Presented today is an excerpt from THE MONSTER TIMES #1 (26 January 1972), that tells the tale. Written with keen insight by the prolific Allan Asherman, we are forced to pause and think, Could something like this still be in our future? With the way things are going in these seemingly unstable times, we can only hope that the road to a better future will not be paved in the blood of millions.

Something to think about in the coming year.






Saturday, December 30, 2017

THE YEAR OF HORROR


Acknowledging that horror had a major impact on the film industry in 2017, the NEW YORK TIMES has given it the artistic treatment in this series of photographs from the December 10 issue of their magazine supplement.

Italian-born filmmaker and photographer Floria Sigismondi used a group of currently well known actors such as Jake Gylenhaall and Nicole Kidman in this set of striking studio photos with decidedly horrifying -- and sometimes gruesome -- imagery.

Horror movies came to the rescue more than once in the past year to add buoyancy to an otherwise lackluster season at the box office. Sound familiar?














Friday, December 29, 2017

R.I.P. HILLY ROSE

Hilly Rose in 2008.

For over seventy years, Hilly Rose was a talk show radio personality. Reporting exclusively on everything from The Beatles to the UFO phenomenon, Mr. Rose was a pioneer of the AM Talk Show format. He passed away on December 27 at the age of 91.

Rose was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame as a "Living Legend" pioneer broadcaster in 2016 after a long career covering pop culture and paranormal phenomena. He was at one time a host of the longtime radio program, Coast 2 Coast, as well as a contributor to FATE magazine.

He is survived by his wife Mary Shepper Rose and children Adam, Roger and Patricia. His oldest son, now deceased, was ABC-TV news anchor Judd Rose. He died of natural causes.

FRANKIE'S FRIDAY FUNNIES NO. 87



Herman, Lily and Grandpa having some New Year's fun!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

THE SECRET IS IN THE INK


This print by artist Anton Brzezinski, titled "Lon Chaney, Sr.", has a singular quality . . . the ink used has some of Chaney's makeup added to it! Certified by Forry, the makeup most certainly came from him. This unique piece of art is currently at auction with Heritage.


Here are the details:

Anton Brzezinski "Lon Chaney, Sr." Signed Limited Edition Lithograph Print #176/450 (c. 1998). Signed by Forrest J. Ackerman and Anton Brzezinski, this print bears a notation at the bottom left that Mr. Ackerman certifies "...that some of Lon Chaney, Sr.'s makeup was put into the ink" used to produced this sepia toned print. Signed and numbered in the bottom margin of the 15.5" x 19" matted image area. Matted out to 20.5" x 24". In Excellent condition.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

GLUT'S BRUTE


Don Glut is an original Monster Kid. A fan boy before the phrase was invented, Mr. Glut's name or photos of his various amateur film projects were seen in various early monster magazines. He went on to professional film writing and directing.

Glut dabbles in artwork as well, and this original painting of the Frankenstein Monster from 1972 is an example. It is currently up for auction at Heritage.




Here is the listing for the work:

Don Glut - Frankenstein's Monster Painting Original Art (1972). Professional writer Don Glut is also a painter. He is well-known for writing the novelization for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, as well as his previous work as a screenwriter for such TV shows as Shazam!, Land of the Lost, Transformers, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, and G.I. Joe. This striking piece was created in oil on canvas wrapped board with a matted image area of 15" x 19.5". It is matted out to 20" x 24.5". Signed and dated 3-23-72 in the image area. In Excellent condition.

BONUS: Article on Don Glut in LARRY IVIE'S MONSTERS & HEROES #7 (May 1970).


Don Glut as Spider Man (the first on film!)













Sunday, December 24, 2017

A SCARY CHRISTMAS STORY (PART 2)


ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING . . .
A Christmas Story by John Navroth

Illustration by John Kenn Mortensen.
THE SENSATION OF SOMETHING SCURRYING across his blanket woke him up. What the hell was that? He quickly rubbed the sleep from his eyes and wondered if one of the stray cats that Grandma was always feeding had snuck in and camped down on his warm covers. It didn’t feel as heavy as a cat, though. It felt smaller.

     He thought he heard a noise, and sure enough, Grandma’s shadow once again showed itself at the fireplace. He couldn’t exactly tell what she was doing this time as the logs had burned down to faint embers and cast little light. He figured she’d probably come down to eat the milk and cookies and hang up the stockings. Maybe there was still a part of Grams that was a little normal after all? He conceded the fact that she did try to do what she could to make him feel at least a little like a grandson. To her credit, it was more than Mom and Dad had done recently.

     As quietly as she had come into the room, she disappeared back up the stairway and what was left of the light stretched a distorted shadow along the wall of the staircase. That is Gram, isn’t it? he thought. It had to be. Nothing moved that slow.

     The room was getting ever darker. He focused on the faintly glowing embers in the fireplace. They made an occasional crackling sound as they slowly burned themselves out.

     After a few more minutes passed, he thought he heard the crackling sound joined by another, fainter, but no less distinct noise. He listened closer for a second or two as it continued, and his very creative imagination decided it sounded similar to crabs scuttling across rocks.

     Okay, it definitely wasn’t a cat. But what was it?

     Soon, the scuttling was combined with a skittering -- yes, just like a bunch of beetles would sound like crawling along a brick wall. This is getting kind of creepy, he thought, and let himself succumb to the shiver that had been pent-up inside him for the last few, tense minutes. With that, he was acutely aware of yet another noise, growing louder and more distinguishable now, that sounded like a chittering, like these things were . . .  communicating with each other.

     This is frigging insane, he thought. Could it just be that the radio was still on? Could it only be that the volume had been turned down and not off, so what he was hearing was just late night, off-air static? He suddenly felt scared, and this time it wasn’t so fun. Still, he was dying to find out what the hell was making all this noise.

     “G-Gram?” he called out weakly. “Is that y-you?” His ears were met with more of the noise, now growing in volume and sounding like it was emptying into the room from some vast, gaping hole in the wall, traveling restless, determined.

     Okay, Bill, he thought. Time to buck up and grow some cajones. Maybe a couple of squirrels had crawled down the chimney and invaded the living room. But then, squirrels didn’t come out at night. What was it that sounded like this, but comes out at night?

     He mustered what there was of his bravery and groped around for his penlight. Probably was Santa Claus. After all these years, he’d finally find out Santa was real. Ah, c’mon, ya moron, that’s ridiculous. Can’t be Santa. Has’ta be Grandma ... or maybe Gramps finally got up and was traipsing around.

     “Gramps?” he called again. “Are you there?”

     His answer came unexpectedly in the form of still another noise, that of rasping, like tiny teeth gnashing away at something hard and brittle. Suddenly there followed a crash of glass and porcelain. This sound he knew was coming from the area of the fireplace.

     His blood began pounding at his temples. Beads of sweat erupted into rivulets down his forehead. His fever was now long forgotten. A new sickness was upon him, and it felt frost-cold and ice-numbing ... this was pure, unadulterated, high-octane fear.

     “Oh, God, I think I know what you are!” His voice trembled with the realization. 

     He rose up from the sofa, frantically searching in the dark. “Where’s my goddamn flashlight?” he whined.

     He found it, clicked it on, and stabbed it in the direction of the fireplace.

     In the quavering light he finally saw them ... and knew he’d been right.

     Rats! Dozens of them. Maybe a hundred or so. Everywhere. All over the floor, the furniture, even the fireplace hearth and mantle. The living room had been invaded by rats.

     Transfixed by the sudden light, they all seemed to stop and stare back at him, reflecting tiny, blood-red eyes. They seemed brazen and irritated like he’d interrupted them in the middle of something. Then he saw what they had been doing.

     If ever he had felt true horror in his life, it was then. He felt his ears uncontrollably rise up the side of his head and he could feel every hair on his body stand on end.

     The rats continued staring at him for another moment, then returned to their task ...

     ... and the scream that had been stuck in his throat finally found its way out.

     It wasn’t really the sight of the rats themselves that had sent him bolt upright from the sofa and running headlong for the front door, howling and shrieking out into the night in nothing more than his shorts. It wasn’t even the fact that they looked scarier in real-life than in any horror magazine. It was what they were feeding on ... and it wasn’t the cookies and milk.

     Grandma had come down to hang up the Christmas stockings, except they weren’t the usual, red and white striped cotton stockings, and they weren’t even the homemade, felt stockings with all the glued-on glitter and sparkling sequins.

    These stockings were tanned, wrinkled, and parchment-dry, almost like a dog’s chew toy -- and there, on one of them that was swinging back and forth from the mantle like the pendulum on an old clock -- was the unmistakable image of a mermaid, smiling and waving.


END

[Copyright (C) John Navroth. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or reprint without permission.]

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