Sunday, July 30, 2017


The long-running kaiju fanzine, G-FAN, has had the great fortune of having a number of notable covers to memorialize its contribution to the genre.

Shown here is the original cover art for issue #36 (Nov/Dec 1988), painted by fantasy and science-fiction artist, Jean-Pierre Normand (b. 1958). The 18.25" x 13" illustration is in mixed mixed.

Incorrectly listed as an unnamed American artist by the auction house, Mssr. Normand is French-Canadian.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


The controversy over the first monster magazine is, in my opinion, much ado about nothing, barely rising to the level of little more than a tempest in a Tana leaf teacup. It is most widely accepted that it was Forrest J Ackerman, inspired after seeing a copy of the annual French film magazine, CINEMA 57 (the issue for 1957, titled Le Fantastique), who came up with the idea for the first film monster periodical (and thus, by default, the first monster magazine) along with publisher James Warren, in 1958. The magazine was to become FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, and it even had a test drive as a special "monster" section in Warren's AFTER HOURS #4.

For the last of the holdouts that stubbornly maintain that CINEMA 57 deserves the honor of being the first monster magazine, their assertion lies in the fact that the entire issue is a cover-to-cover, monster movie-themed magazine. It's hard to argue about that, but it was still only one issue in the periodical's history of covering the oeuvre of world cinema, not just monster movies. If it had been a one-shot, independent publication, the veracity of the argument would be greatly increased. But alas, it was only one of many in the life span of the popular French film magazine.

So, by following the same criteria, it may come as a surprise to know that even the lauded CINEMA 57 drops from the running. Why? Because another French magazine (ah, those French!) qualifies under the very same rationale -- only this one wasn't published in 1957 -- it was published 35 years earlier, in 1922!

Actually, it was two numbers of the French magazine LE FILM COMPLET (The Complete Film) that contained full issues dedicated to F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU. Interestingly, the first of the issues, with a publication date of 3 March 1922, was just the day before the German opening of the film (it had premiered earlier, on 17 February at The Hague, Netherlands). This is not too surprising as advance promotion for the film was heavy and is no doubt how the publishers of LE FILM COMPLET received their materials. It was these same costs for promoting the film that far surpassed the eventual boxoffice returns, and was part of the reason for occultist/film auteur Albin Grau's Prana Films, the production company that financed NOSFERATU, to go out of business after just one production.

The March issue of LE FILM COMPLET contained 9 photos from NOSFERATU, as well as a 13-page synopsis of the first part of the film. The second issue, dated 6 December, 1922 again included 9 photos and a 15-page synopsis of the second part of the film. It is estimated that between the two issues is the most complete "filmbook" of the legendary vampire movie ever published.

LE FILM COMPLET published over 500 issues from the 1920's through the 1950's. It maintained the basic format of a  7" x 10" page size and a length of 16 pages. Not as lengthy as most magazines, it still qualifies as the first "almost" monster magazine (and first "filmbook"), again using the criteria mentioned earlier.

The images of the issues shown here are from auction Lot #83908 sold by Heritage Auctions, Dallas, TX in November, 2012 for $1,015.75. They are considered extremely rare and, unless the owner of these magazines discloses more, or until other copies are discovered, what you see here will likely be the extent of the available images.

As you can see, there is a compelling new argument for provenance of the "almost" first monster magazine. I have laid out the reasons and rest my case!

Friday, July 28, 2017


Just so we're clear, I only, ahem, "read the articles" in these types of magazines. I'm just sayin'...

That's why I discovered this gem of an interview with four of today's scream queens between the gross cartoons and the irreverent editorial content in the January 2017 issue of the infamous HUSTLER magazine.

There is a popular theme in current horror films; that of the "final girl", the last of a long string of female victims to survive the monster/slasher/whatever, who gets pissed off and vicious towards the end of the movie, turning themselves into a lean, mean, killin' machine before the end credits.

The quartet of Danielle Harris, Erin Marie Hogan, Victoria De Mare and Pandie Suicide offer their unique insights into modern horror films from the female perspective in this candid and revealing interview by L.A.-based photographer and writer, Kelly Webb.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


The Christmas Day 1929 issue of Variety includes a review of the German silent film, NOSFERATU THE VAMPIRE (a title not included in IMDBs list of titles used in U.S. releases), which had been released in the U.S. on 3 June of that year. Called "skillfully mounted and directed", the review goes on to explain the origins of the film and how it was inspired from "Bram Stokes" (sic) novel, Dracula and Liveright's play from 1927 (which was produced 5 years after NOSFERATU was filmed!).

Lauded for its "extremely effective symbolism", the review also extols, "One shot of the sun cracking at dawn is an eye filler. Among others of extremely imaginative beauty is one which takes in a schooner sailing in a rippling stream photographed in such a manner that it has the illusion of color and an enigmatic weirdness that's more perplexing than the ghost action of the players."

Overall, though, the picture is called, "a depressive piece of art made even more incompatible for bourgeois theater fare misspotted and poor titling." Ironically, audiences had no idea how lucky they were to view a film where all copies had nearly been destroyed through legal channels by an over-protective widow Stoker.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Of all places for an image of the fabled "Moon Monster" comic book ad to show up... a firecracker label! The "supercharged" 1 1/2" "Monster" firecrackers are made in Macau, but also aimed for use in the U.S., as there is a DOT designation.

The Moon Monster itself is a colorful and crisp rendition. It makes one wonder where in the world the artist for this label ever came up with the idea.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


"I would be nothing without Loana - Queen of the Shell People" - Raquel Welch, from her Facebook Page

Ray Harryhausen. Raquel Welch. Hammer Films. A Monsterologist's dream team, if there ever was one. They sure were mine.

The ads blared "See Raquel Welch in Mankind's First Bikini!" If ever there was a question of what was producers Michael Carreras and Aida Young's selling point of Hammer's ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C., that statement should have settled it. And, who cares if humans didn't live at the same time as the dinosaurs that menaced them, as long as Ray Harryhausen was behind it all?

The main attraction, of course, was the 25-year old former Weather Girl (she had turned 26 when OMYBC was released in February, 1966), Raquel Welch, who, much like Ursula Andress had in DR. NO and many more to follow, had her first scene emerging from water clad in the famed bikini. There were lots of other beauties on hand -- including Jamaican-born Martine Beswick and Micky De Rauch (who, as "1st Shell Girl" was also Welch's stand-in) -- but it was Welch's screen presence that galvanized her devastatingly good looks into one of cinema history's most memorable glamour images.

Carl Toms was the man who had the enviable task of designing the "prehistoric bikini": "She [Raquel] had such a perfect body that I took a very soft doe skin, we stretched it on her and tied it together with thongs -- prehistoric people knew nothing about bust darts and seams. We took tiny pieces of fur and glued them at the edges of the bikini to make it appear as though Raquel [Loana] was wearing two strips of fur inside out." Toms went on to also design Victoria Vetri's "fish scale" bikini in WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH.

In an interview in MEN'S HEALTH (March 8, 2012) Miss Welch divulged some interesting facts and anecdotes about how she fought to keep her screen name, the controversy of her ethnicity, and, of course, the famous doe-skin bikini.

Raquel Welch: Well, I’ll tell you something, Bolivian blood isn’t a whole lot different than anybody else’s blood. But yes, I do have Bolivian blood. My father was Bolivian, which makes me half-Bolivian. It’s where I got some of my exotic features and certainly my skin tone. And I guess my.... visceral reaction to everything is kind of tinged with the Latina chromosome. But I consider that a good thing.

MH: No argument here.

Raquel Welch: Not everybody is comfortable with my ethnicity. When I first came along in the business, they didn’t really like the idea of my name being Raquel.

MH: They being 20th Century Fox?

Raquel Welch: Yeah. I signed with them and almost immediately they wanted me to change my name. They came to me and said, “We have the solution. We figured it all out. You’re going to be Debbie Welch.” I think they were paranoid that Raquel sounded too ethnic. And I thought, maybe I should be more paranoid than I am. But I wasn’t raised thinking of myself or my background as particularly exotic. I felt very American and middle of the road. I knew that I had a little salsa in my blood, but on my mother’s side there was the whole English heritage.

MH: What was the studio’s argument for changing your name? Did they come right out and say, “It’s too ethnic?”

Raquel Welch: No, it was nothing that obvious. They said it was difficult to pronounce, nobody’s going to remember it. And they had a point. In school, nobody could pronounce my name. They just called me Rocky. But school kids are one thing, your career as an adult woman is another. I took it as a challenge. I was like, “Well, let’s see what happens.” You either embrace your identity or you let them force you into homogenizing yourself.

MH: But they weren’t asking you to do something that wasn’t already commonplace in your industry. Frederick Austerlitz became Fred Astaire, Bernard Schwartz became Tony Curtis.

Raquel Welch: That was mostly an American insecurity. Americans were not sure how to deal with the exotic. I was lucky that one of my first movies, One Million Years B.C. was made in Europe by a British company. The Brits, and a lot of the rest of Europe, seemed to really love exotic women. The fact that I was American and exotic just made me more appealing to them.

MH: How often do you get asked about the fur bikini?

Raquel Welch: Every day, every day. I have people that handle my fan mail, and every day tons of photos come in, with requests for autographs. The fur bikini is the perennial one. I do feel very fortunate, because I had no suspicion that a dinosaur movie would ever pay off for me as an actress. I figured, it’s going to be swept under the carpet, nobody will ever see it. I had a couple of small children at the time, and I used to take them over to see Ray Harryhausen. He did all the special effects on the movie, all the stop-motion animation, and he’s pretty much a science fiction legend. Ray would show my kids all the little figurines he used, all the dinosaurs. And then he’d show them how the animation was done, and they were fascinated. So that’s what it seemed like to me. It was great stuff for kids, but maybe not the ideal way for an actress to enter the movie-making scene. I even complained to the studio. I was like, “Please, please don’t make me do the dinosaur movie.” They were like “No, Raquel, you don’t understand. It’s a classic. It’ll live on forever.” Turns out they were right.

MH: Where’s the fur bikini now? Did they let you have it?

MH: Seriously?

Raquel Welch: I don’t know, really. That’s what they told me, and I suspect it was said in jest, but the idea of putting it in the Smithsonian has been tossed around.

Men's Health News: Click here for today's top health, fitness, nutrition, and sex new, tips, and advice!

MH: Did you at least get the right of first refusal? If anybody deserves to have that famous bikini hanging in their closet, it’s you. It’s practically a family heirloom.

Raquel Welch: (Laughs.) Oh stop! Actually, there was never just one bikini. They made several of them. They were created by this wonderful costume designer, Carl Toms, and he had to do it in triplicate. Because, as he explained it to me, at one point my character would get wet, and then there was a fight scene and blood would get on it. So they had to have several versions of the same costume, and they all had to be form-fitting. So he literally designed it around me. Carl just draped me in doe-skin, and I stood there while he worked on it with scissors.

MH: You had only three lines of dialogue in the movie. Do you remember them all?

Raquel Welch: The only one I remember is (in a flirty cave woman voice) “Me Loana . . . You Tumak.”

MH: Holy Lord.

Raquel Welch: (Laughs.) You liked that?

MH: That may be the greatest moment in my journalism career.

Raquel Welch: Well, you’re very welcome.

MH: When you have so few lines, do you over think them? Do you practice them again and again and again, just to make sure you have it right?

Raquel Welch: I probably did over think it. Not that it mattered. I went to the director, Don Chaffey, very early in the shoot and said, “Don, may I have a word with you?” And he sighed and said, “Yeah, what is it?” I could tell right away that he was not very interested. “Well, I’ve read the script,” I said, “and I’ve been thinking...” And he turned to me and said, “Don’t.”

MH: Yikes.

Raquel Welch: And I thought, okay, that in a nutshell is what it’s all about. They don’t want to hear anything from me. Just show up in the costume and take orders. He said, “See that rock over there? That’s rock A. When I say action, you run from rock A and when you get to the middle of the frame, you look up at the sky like there’s a giant turtle growling down at you. You scream, run to rock B and we break for lunch.”

MH: As far as he was concerned, you were just a set piece?

Raquel Welch: Yes, exactly. I mean, he wasn’t unkind as a director. But when I wanted to possibly find ways to enhance my character, to make her more vulnerable or have some kind of backstory, he was not interested. That was the hardest part, to realize that I was really an object. Not just to Don, but to the film industry in general. I was a completely non-verbal object that wasn’t allowed to talk more than necessary. And that isn’t exactly my personality, as you can now hear.

Raquel Welch: I’ve been told it’s in mothballs waiting to be hung in the Smithsonian museum.