Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Much like in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, the mysterious man in a flat crown hat and duster arrives at a small town to save the terrified local folk from a marauding gang of zombies on horseback in this very weird western.
The 8-page story entitled, "Outlaw Zombies", was written by Gary Leach and drawn by Dick Ayers in 1992. Ayers was paid $27 a page by Eerie Publications to produce bloody, gory and disgusting revisions to recycled pre-code horror comics. His specialty was eyes popping out of heads. Ayers also worked with artists like Tony DeZuniga at DC on JONAH HEX, another weird western.
The tale shown here was scheduled for the third issue of Hamilton Comics' horror title, DREAD OF NIGHT, but the comic was cancelled after only its second issue. This original art, signed on each page by Ayers, surfaced from the dark vaults of lost comic art to appear at auction.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Mark "Monster Mash" Voger has offered yet another Topstone sighting, this time from a 50s teen monster flick.
Mr. Voger elaborates: "A rock 'n' roll masquerade party at the climax of American International's horror comedy "Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow" (1959) has a whole bunch of Topstone masks: the mummy, Girl Vampire, the caveman and, I believe, a witch and some skulls that look like Topstone."
Man, that Caveman mask got around, didn't it?
Thanks again for sharing, fellow Monster Kid!
Monday, January 29, 2018
Boy, how did a day like this almost slip by without me knowing it? I managed to dig around in the basement here at the Mysterious Mansion and came up with something related. It's a crossword puzzle from the pressbook for LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. This should be tougher than the NY Times crossword puzzle because it's from 1927! Promise not to look at the answers at the bottom until you've given it your best shot.
Nobody, and I mean nobody would argue that Pam Grier epitomizes the strong female version of the action hero. As a matter of fact, she was the first black female to have the starring role in an action film. Never mind that she got that way from playing in movies that are now categorized for the most part as "blaxploitation"; She has proven herself over and over again in films such as COFFEY, FRIDAY FOSTER, and JACKIE BROWN that Pam Grier is for real. And let us not forget, monster fans, Ms. Grier played Ayesa the Panther Woman, in THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE!
Now, Constance White, former editor of Essence magazine and the author of the new book, "How to Slay: Inspirations from the Queens and Kings of Black Style", singles out a handful of the most notable black style "influencers", and details how each has made an impact on what we wear. Pam Grier -- not surprisingly -- is one of them.
Called by White as "The Bodacious Natural Babe", she goes on to say that Grier was "one of the biggest stars of the blaxploitation film genre that helped define the '70s. North Carolina born, Grier exuded a new kind of on-screen appeal, one rooted in natural beauty and down-to-earth pieces like denim cut-offs, button-up shirts and hoop earrings. As the titular character in FOXY BROWN and COFFEY, Ms. Grier inspired a new generation of women to bare their midriffs and cultivate lush afros. Those halter tops may feel too brazen today, but Pam Grier's sass and confidence are still just right" (source: The Wall Street Journal).
MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD couldn't agree more. Consider this the MMW contribution to Black History Month!
Sunday, January 28, 2018
The secrets contained in ancient coded documents have been the source of endless fascination to students of antiquity, history, and the occult. The Voynich Manuscript is perhaps one of the most famous of them all. Its combination of pictographs and cryptic text have baffled researchers for years. Also of interest to cryptographers is the document known as the "Devil's Letter", reportedly written by a possessed nun.
Now, modern technology is breaking the mysteries locked within the pages of these document by the use of computer science. By employing algorithms (which are said to be a form of artificial intelligence), we are getting closer to cracking the mysteries that have long puzzled the curious.
Voynich Manuscript Solved Via AI?
A computer scientist in Canada says that he has cracked the code of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript using artificial intelligence.
The infamous indecipherable text found in the book believed to be from the 1400's has baffled researchers since it was found in 1912.
In the ensuing years, countless researchers and cryptographers have exhaustively studied the book hoping to unravel the riddle that is the Voynich Manuscript.
And it seems that not a year goes by without someone declaring that they have finally done it, yet the mystery has endured as Voynich-ologists can never quite agree on a specific solution.
The latest entry into the fray is Greg Kondrak, a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence from the University of Alberta.
According to Kondrak, he and a colleague devised a method to apply their AI work to the coded text and the results were rather astounding.
They began by creating a massive data set comprised of the UN Bill of Rights translated into a whopping 380 languages.
The researchers then developed a way in which a computer could process the Voynich Manuscript and determine its core language.
Amazingly, they say, the project proved successful with the AI picking out Hebrew as the root language a jaw-dropping 97 percent of the time.
The program ultimately was able to reassemble the scrambled, vowel-less words into Hebrew text which seemed to fit together perfectly when put into a sentence with similarly-deciphered words.
For example, Kondrak claims, they were able to actually solve the first sentence of the notorious tome and say that it reads, "she made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people."
A cursory look at some of the other words they've found in the book suggest that theories suggesting that it is some kind of health or medicine text appear to be on the right track.
But what may be even more remarkable is that the AI analysis is perfectly in line with a study of the book's illustrations that made headlines last year by indicating that the author was a Jewish doctor.
That these two studies coming from dramatically different perspectives could come to the same relative conclusion is particularly tantalizing.
Nonetheless, Kondrak's work is presumably now being parsed over by the fastidious Voynich research and, no doubt, adopted by those who see it fitting with their theories and discarded by those who don't.
Source: CBC News
Mysterious 'Devil's Letter' Decoded
An eerie 17th century letter that was written in code by a nun said to be possessed by the devil has allegedly been deciphered.
The creepy missive was purportedly composed by Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione in 1676 following a bizarre episode in which the nun awoke with a face covered in ink and possessing the cryptic letter.
The sisters at her convent were convinced that the note was the product of some kind of demonic influence, since the text was comprised of various letters from the alphabets of different languages and, therefore, could not be read.
Over the next 341 years, an array of academics, occultists, and cryptographers attempted to decode the letter, but no one could unlock the message contained in the notorious note.
However, a recent research project in Italy appears to have finally solved some of the mystery by determining the meaning of 15 lines from the text.
Remarkably, the team managed to decipher the message by using a computer algorithm used by intelligence services for just such an endeavor which the researchers obtained on the infamous 'dark web.'
As to what the 'Devil's Letter' says, the general theme of the missive appears to be some kind of musing on the nature of God's relationship to man and how Satan figures into the equation.
Although the researchers have not released the complete text at this time, they did share one particularly unnerving passage which states, "God thinks he can free mortals. This system works for no one."
Considering that it took centuries for the code to be broken, one can't help but wonder, based on the chilling 'insight' revealed so far, whether we were ever supposed to know what Satan had to say to the sister and what might happen know that we're poised to find out.
Source: IB Times
Saturday, January 27, 2018
“Thinking about writing isn’t writing. Planning to write isn’t writing. Neither is talking about it, posting about it, or complaining how hard it is. These may be part of the process. But only writing is writing.”
― Jack Ketchum, Writers On Writing: An Author's Guide Vol. 1
So I sat down and watched it. As the film progressed from innocence to ominous to outright horror, I knew I was watching not only something repulsive, but something that was truthful. The movie was Lucky Mckee's THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, and the book that it was based upon (from a true story no less), was by Jack Ketchum.
It was one of those synchronistic events when circumstance and mood combined for the perfect time to allow total impact from a film. It was sickening, it was disgusting -- which meant the movie (and the story behind it) did its job.
Ironically, this happened to me twice more with the films RED, and THE WOMAN, both directed by Mckee and written by Ketchum. There was something potent about this pair, and at the very least, they left their singular imprint on the horror film that will unlikely be equaled any time soon.
Dallas William Mayr, known to the world as Jack Ketchum, passed away on January 24th. He has left a unique legacy of horror literature behind. Ketchum, who read and was influenced by authors such as Robert Bloch, Charles Bukowski, Jim Harrison, Ernest Hemingway, and of course, Stephen King, skillfully applied all he learned from these authors and branded his own style in the process.
Perhaps Ketchum's greatest gift was in the fact that he was able to not only recognize, but put words on a page, that told of the worst things that humans are capable of. He let us in on the dark world of hate, cruelty and vengeance, kept us in the shadows, and never once provided any light for relief. That was the essence of Ketchum's work -- showing us the face of the human monster. After that, the supernatural seems far less frightful.
As for the films I mentioned, I'll let you watch them if you haven't already and experience for yourself the unsettling world of the worst that man is capable of.
“People were complex creatures, walking, talking rag quilts, youthful dreams and hopes and fears and middle-aged indiscretions, aging aches and pains and losses, the whole damn kit and kaboodle, mended here and tattered there. People were pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions and did whatever it was they had to do for balance.”
― Jack Ketchum, The Lost
Friday, January 26, 2018
Actress Dorothy Malone (b. 29 January 1924), who rose from playing in B-movies to more glamorous roles in the 50s and 60s, passed away on January 19th, just a few days short of her 94th birthday. Perhaps best known as the character Constance Mackenzie in the famous TV series, PEYTON PLACE, she also had a memorable scene as the sexy bookstore clerk in 1946's THE BIG SLEEP. Miss Malone played in numerous horror and sci-fi films, such as MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES, THE DAY TIME ENDED, and THE BEING. Her last role was in BASIC INSTINCT. She was married for about a decade to Jacques "The Hypnotic Eye" Bergerac.