Friday, April 3, 2009

Universal - Classic Monsters Montage

I ripped this Universal Logo Montage from my Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) dvd.

This was the montage that was cut together for this first wave of Universal Classic Monsters dvd's - long since out of print.

I get a lump in my throat every time I watch it. I wanted to share it with you as I find it timeless and beautiful. It's MY WORLD. Please have a look - it's very short.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I own a lot of original artwork, movie posters and celebrity autographs. About two years ago I was fortunate enough to obtain the ONE autograph I have been wanting my whole life. True, Lugosi and Karloff are my numbers two and three on my list and I have not been able to afford one of those, but I did manage to get Natalie Wood's autograph and my extremely close friend Jon in Chicago (The Right Frame, in Lincoln Park) did a beautiful job on it (as per usual). He decided

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


R.I.P MAILA NURMI 1921-2008
It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of a true cultural icon, Maila Nurmi, known to the world simply as VAMPIRA - the world's first Horror Movie Host. I spent much of my teen years (twenty years ago) trying to locate footage from her show, which ran on KABC - channel 7 in Los Angeles, until I found out (years later) that essentially no kinescopes of her show exist, just production stills, promotional stills, marketing ephemera, etc. I grew up with Cassandra Peterson's Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (just the absolute perfect age when she first debuted) but, in truth, I was much more saturated with images of Vampira through lurid ad-mats of movies (Plan 9 From Outer Space), magazines (Famous Monsters, Castle of Frankenstein) and culture in general.

It was wonderful to see Maila back in the limelight (beyond the adoration of cult fans) when Tim Burton helmed the quasi-bio-pic Ed Wood (1994). Ed Wood is one of my absolute all-time favorite films (despite its inaccuracies and despite my on and off relationship to Burtons' works). In fact, you will definitely be seeing it in the ever popular "Gone To Bed" series, I have seen this film many many many many times. Lisa Marie (at the time - dating Burton) starred as Vampira and did a fabulous job. Especially considering Lisa was not a formally trained actress. I don't know what happened to the lovely Lisa Marie - she is obviously no longer with Tim Burton and I don't think she pursued much 0f an acting career outside of Burton's Mars Attacks and Sleepy Hollow. Pity, I think she had natural talent. She was a successful model and is an accomplished musician - - - Hey Lisa, need a shoulder, or someone to commiserate with??? At any rate, she consulted with Maila on how to play the part and succeeded wildly in my opinion.

I truly loved Vampira and am so sorry to see her go. She did have a long roll of the die and I understand she died of natural causes - leaving a resonating and iconic legacy - not to mention - legions of fans. I commissioned artist BUZZ to do a piece for me a few years ago, which is exquisite. The cropped image below doesn't do this wonderful rendering justice. I frequently have BUZZ do pieces for me when he's in town for comic book conventions. Together, we've come up with some saucy and bizarre images. Below however, we wanted to give Maila a majestic, royal night to command. I think we succeeded.

One of my favorite authors, David J. Skal wrote a good deal on Vampira's resonating effect on society in the aftermath of World War II. He spoke of her ability to simultaneously evoke death and beauty - binaries to be sure, but somehow, despite her abject waistline and skull like visage -- Vampira was a vision of beauty. How can this paradox be? Read Skal's wonderful The Monster Show to hear his elaboration of post World War II trauma culture as viewed through they lens of the horror film.

Additionally and fortuitously, Kevin Sean Michaels was able to produce and direct Vampira: The Movie (2007) before Maila Nurmi passed away. This project looks very promising. It includes interviews with the aforementioned David J. Skal, Forrest Ackerman, Sid Haig - etc. I will be purchasing it soon and share my reactions with you. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!! Began Vampira's show. She would slink forward in her Charles Addams outfit until she got right up to the studio camera and would then (she would later claim that she was trying to portray a post-orgasm affect) say seductively and in a spent voice: "Screaming relaxes me so..." Rest now in peace Vampira. Thanks for the memories...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Today I simply pay tribute to my favorite lady of all time. My childhood crush since the age of five. The devastatingly beautiful and talented Natalie Wood. There's something in the safety of falling in love with a woman who you know you will probably never meet and who is 30 years your senior. For lack of a better term, "A safe love". And, in the case of tragic Natalie, whose time here was cut so terribly short, her natural talent and radiant beauty are still mourned the world over. She was and always will be the most stunning woman I have ever seen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some "Fab Press" Favorites

I thought I'd share with you a few of my beloved FAB PRESS books from the last several years... FAB press is truly a wonderful publisher.

FEAR WITHOUT FRONTIERS. Steven Schneider’s Fear Without Frontiers continues the dismantling of national barriers that Pete Tombs began in Immoral Tales and Mondo Macabro; Schneider devotes 300 pages to research in global horror cinema. It is the most comprehensive scholarly anthology of global horror films in print today with an academic approach.

There are no major claims in Fear Without Frontiers, rather the book aims at collecting various essays with various theoretical models on various exploitation films from across the globe. In other words, it's not a single authored piece of "original scholarship" - it's a brilliantly edited anthology devoted to foreign transgressive cinema. This book is a godsend to me.

TEN YEARS OF TERROR. My fellow droogie Fred actually plunked down serious cash for the striking black hardcover of this book as a gift to me. What a gift too. The pic of the book featured in this review is the affordable trade softcover.

This baby weighs a ton and is, in a word, GORGEOUS. 143 film entries, 733 illustrations, 48 pages in full color! It's beauty is only matched by the quality of the analysis you'll find in it. The analysis is in no way theoretical, rather it is critical analysis that contextualizes, summarizes and offers opinion.

Especially signigicant is the decade the authors decide to focus on. This was the decade of decline for the British horror film, a period where the genre waxed high in the beginning of the decade and waned to a few yearly productions by the end. A fascinating period to focus on - if this were an academic work, the question they would need to address in more sophisticated methods and detail would be.... why?
It remains one of my favorite books, if you're interested, the paperback is very affordable, the hardcover is probably oop, but it is massively impressive!

BOOK OF THE DEAD. Hold on to yer' hats kiddies. Jamie Russell's 'Book of the Dead' is, without question, THE MOST comprehensive single authored tome on Zombies in the WORLD (picture a good Mickey Rooney... "IN THE WORLD" there). The book is frickin' exquisite and worth every single bloody penny (hundreds of color and b & w stills and plates).

Russel's approach is somewhere between the historian and the scholar, essentially fusing the two and proving himself to be both simultaneously. Very nice critical analysis and the book's "up to the minute of publishing" (he discusses the Dawn of the Dead remake, Shaun of the Dead, 28 days later, etc.) accuracy is very welcomed. He covers it ALL my friends - from the origins to the cotemporary milieu. Nothing even remotely "zombie" is ignored.

If you love Zombies, run, don't walk (of course there's the run/walk fan binary about how fast zombies should move, so run or walk, the choice is yours) to your nearest bookstore and order this book - it is, nothing less than SPECTACULAR.

Lastly, though not a FAB press book, I always enjoyed "Horror - The 100 Best"

HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS. It's a damn fine reference guide. 100 authors contributed by picking their favorite horror novel of al time. Kim Newman does a fine job of putting the whole project together. The collection put me on to a few titles I was unfamiliar with or perhaps needed a nudge to read, and I did. Although, tracking some of the titles down in the mid 90s was a major pain in the ass. Pre-internet mind you - it took me four years to track down a copy of Guy Endore's "The Werewolf of Paris" (made into the fine 1961 Hammer film The Curse of the Werewolf, a childhood and adult favorite of mine). But, half the fun was the "hunt". I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a pretty definitive list of the most powerful/influential "horror" novels of the last 500 years.