Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SIMON MARSDEN: MY FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHER. Not to be one-upped by Ms. Henrietta (and her beautiful collection of artwork posted recently), I thought I'd put up a few examples of the work of my favourite photographer. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSimon Marsden has been around for quite a long time and I have been mesmerized by his photographs for at least 20 years. There's a haunting, terrible beauty captured in these images. Believe it or not, you also have seen his work before. Marsden did the photographs appearing on U2's "The Unforgettable Fire" album way back in the early 80's. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNow, it's kinda obvious why this guy is my kinda shutterbug! After all, he specializes in photographing genuine haunted houses, ruined abbeys, abandoned graveyards, stormy skies, stately mansions, standing stones, crumbling castles . . . and even the burial site of Vlad (Dracula) Tepes. Marsden has captured these forlorn and abandoned, windswept places from the British Isles all the way across Europe.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting He was knighted a few years ago for his life's work. For years, I have been trying to figure out how he gets that look in his photos. Marsden specializes in black and white photography (although he has dabbled VERY sparingly in color). Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe ghostly graininess of the photographs combines with an eerie, glowing quality of anything green and growing (such as moss or ivy or windblown grass). Good ole Maz speculated years ago that he probably used infrared film; this can give green this oddly glowing quality. And sure enough, Marsden has admitted (on his tremendous website) this is exactly the kind of film he DOES use (as well as exposures of 15-20 minutes per photograph). Marsden has photographed practically every haunted location of note; from Stonehenge to Glamis Castle (the site of Macbeth) to Dracula's Castle in TransylvaniaPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting to Whitby Abbey (as seen in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula) to the Devonshire moors (a la Wuthering Heights). There's a powerful silence in Marsden's photos as well as a sense of eternity which I enjoy very much. That and the maggoty gravedirt! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"THE APE" is one of the least shabby of poverty row horrors Monogram made (talk about "faint praise" but I don't mean it that way). I actually like this film quite a lot; despite my general aversion to horror movies featuring an ape as the monster. Yawn. However, this one has a nifty little story and Boris Karloff so I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. "Dear Boris" plays Dr. Bernard Adrian, a kindly, grandfatherly doctor who is haunted by the disease-ridden death of his wife and daughter. He befriends wheelchair-bound polio victim Frances Clifford (Maris Wrixon, who is less insipid and more likeable than many actresses in similar parts I have seen). Boris has our sympathy right away; which is why the beginning of the film is so perplexing to me. A group of young brats (including child actor Buddy Swan, who played Charles Foster Kane as a boy in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane) skulk outside Boris's house (in broad daylight, yet!) daring each other to approach what they treat as the spookiest, most haunted house a small town has seen since Boo Radley! They throw rocks and smash windows until Boris frightens them off. It seems like the whole town treats Dr. Adrian as if he's Dr. Frankenstein renting a local bungalow. Perhaps the biggest plot hole in the script (written by Curt "The Wolf Man" Siodmak & Richard Carroll) is exactly why the town feels this way. Boris is quite likeable and sweet and, unlike in "The Devil Commands", there doesn't seem to be any reason for the town to view him this way (that THEY know of). A circus is in town. Frances and her boyfriend Danny Foster (Gene O'Donnell) attend and make a night of it. We then see a sadistic animal trainer (played by I Stanford Jolley who was wonderful as a gangster in the underrated Poverty Row quickie "The Black Raven" with George Zucco) torments an ape in his cage. Said ape proceeds to maul the trainer almost to death! Photobucket - Video and Image HostingJolley's cigar drops to the hay, the circus burns down and the ape escapes to the countryside. The townspeople carry the wounded trainer to Dr Adrian (which is odd considering how much they just said they avoided Karloff). Left alone with his patient, Karloff first gets that gleam in his eye. "Man," he says, "is the highest animal" as he reaches for the hypodermic needle. Cut to the next scene where the trainer has conveniently expired; but not without first making a contribution to mad science! As Karloff writes in his journal: "By means of Lumbar Puncture, all spinal fluid removed from deceased circus trainer. With this human spinal fluid, will attempt to relieve paralytical condition of patient Frances Clifford by means of spinal injections." It turns out this wacky treatment actually begins to work as Frances begins to feel a heavy sensation in her legs. Of course, in perhaps the most bumbling move ever by a mad scientist, Karloff places his container of serum on a lab table. It slowly rolls off and smashes to the floor! The Doc ain't too happy. Later, the rampaging ape crashes through Karloff's window and is stabbed to death by our grandfatherly doctor. A string of ape murders ensues. The dead ape is apparently alive again! Has the mad doctor found a way to revivify the dead killer ape??? Do we have a zombie ape on our hands now??? A ghost gorilla???Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting "The Ape" was made as a direct result of the renewed popularity of horror movies caused by the release of Universal's "Son of Frankenstein" in 1939. From the mid-30's till then, horror was out (mostly because of a management change at Universal and Britain's "horror ban" of the mid to late 30's). This is when poor Bela Lugosi was almost out of work, Peter Lorre was stuck in all those Mr. Moto movies and Karloff languished in an increasingly dreary series of Mr. Wong, Detective films. By this time (1940), horror got a second wind and Boris left the final Mr. Wong film in the series to Keye Luke and began playing horror roles once again. "The Ape" was one of them. Since Monogram is notorious for simply not having the money to hire big talent, it is surprising that Curt Siodmak co-wrote the script. The author of "The Wolf Man" and "Donovan's Brain" was quite a coup for Monogram. Karloff, who brought all his acting talent to such a minor production, is wonderful as usual. The moody photography is by Harry Neumann (who was more used to filming westerns) and is greatly helped by the typically dark and gloomy Monogram sets. The less one sees of a Monogram set, the better. Poverty Row did not have the benefit of hiring Hammer's Bernard Robinson to transform nothing into something. The supporting cast performs quite well. Maris Wrixon as the paralyzed Frances is particularly affecting when she manages a slight movement of her foot and realizes the serum is actually working. Wrixon's expression of hope, exhaustion, surprise and happiness is very real to the viewer. Standout performances are also turned in by Philo McCullough as a nasty, two-timing husband and Mary Field as his long-suffering wife. In one scene, McCullough is off to his mistress and Field confronts him about it. She is ashamed that everyone in town knows about his philandering and pleads with him to "carry on" out of town where he won't be seen. "Why don't YOU try going somewhere else?" sneers McCullough. Field replied tearfully: "I have no folks! I've no place to go!" As he walks out the door, McCullough snaps: "You've got the river!" Wow! The writing and the acting are much better than one might expect from a Monogram Picture. "The Ape" doesn't have much in the way of bells and whistles but it's a solid, enjoyable and little known film that is a cut above the usual poverty row standard.

Monday, May 22, 2006

THE CALL OF CTHULHU: THEY FILMED THE FILM THAT CAN'T BE FILMED! Hey, has anyone seen the new DVD of "The Call of Cthulhu" by the H.P Lovecraft Historical Society? Just picked it up at the Monster Mania Convention. This is an actual movie version of the Lovecraft story with a special twist: it's filmed in the exact style of a 1920's silent movie; right down to the stylish title cards. Now, the idea of modern filmmakers (amateur ones at that) making a new silent movie of "The Call of Cthulhu" in the style of films like "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "Nosferatu" has the great potential to become tiresome after about 5 minutes. The truly startling thing is -- the movie is actual quite good! I would definitely recommend it to all Lovecraft and horror fans! The director (Andrew Leman) and photographer (David Robertson) of the film really captured the style and (more importantly) the FEEL of 20's silent horror films. It's really quite beautiful in places. The opening scene sets the mood right away: an overhead shot of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" painting slowly rotates to reveal it's a jigsaw puzzle. A hand goes to put the final puzzle piece in place, hesitates and then puts it down. It's a beautiful shot which SCREAMS 20's German silent movie! The filmmakers deliberately used effects that 20's filmmakers would have used; their are cardboard set flats (similar to "Caligari") and ocean waves are created by waving cloth covered with glitter. Shockingly, it works. The quality of the acting is also quite good; none of the "director's best friend" casting but people who can actually act their way outta a paper bag. The film even has a very nice musical score to accompany it. For the big finish, we actually get to SEE the Mighty Cthulhu! The big guy himself (courtesy of some charming stop motion). None of this "claw glove emerging from the shadows" cheating. We see Cthulhu quite clearly and he's quirky and nightmarish (and looks EXACTLY like he does on the DVD cover art -- which is ANOTHER first). So, check out the H.P Lovecraft Historical Society website and you'll get a look at the DVD cover (plus some info about it). Apparently, the film has just won an award as well. So, if you are at a convention and see the DVD, you might just wanna pick yourself up a copy

Friday, May 19, 2006

I hope I'm not the only one who finds all this Da Vinci Code controversy ridiculous. I mean, this is a mystery book. It's fiction, folks. I really don't have to point that out, do I? Well, yeah, apparently somebody needs to. This reminds me of Dan Quayle attacking Murphy Brown for causing the downfall of American values. Some comedian had to say, "Um, Dan ... she's not real. She's a fictional TV character." I mean, we have Christians tearing their hair and wringing their rosaries about "re-considering their faith". WHAT?!?!? That's like converting to Anglicanism after reading an Agatha Christie novel. I guess we never have been very good about getting things in perspective. What, we got tired of gasping over the "betrayal" of "Million Little Pieces" so now we have "The Da Vinci Code" movie to wail over? Isn't there a war going on? Aren't there better things to worry about than a second-rate (according to early reviews) thriller movie based on a poorly-written novel (which itself was lifted piecemeal from a 1982 non-fiction speculative book called "Holy Blood Holy Grail")? No one seemed to get that excited about that book (which has been in print for 25 years and is actually shelved in the non-fiction section; unlike Da Vinci Code). I am just so sick of listening to people agonize over insignificant pap when the real, important issues are blindly ignored. These are the same people who ran out and bought Nostradamus books after 9/11. This is the reason why more people vote for the new American Idol than for a new President. People are coming home in bodybags, folks. Why don't you get up in arms about the new X-Men movie coming out; that has as much basis in reality as The Da Vinci Code. Wait a minute! Isn't that Ian McKellen in that X-Men movie as well as The Da Vinci Code. Hey, maybe there IS a conspiracy after all!!! Now, sadly, I have actually read The Da Vinci Code. But, before you berate me ... I read it long before it became what it's now become. In fact, since I work in a book store, I actually read it before it was even published (in an advance copy of an uncorrected proof). I picked it up because, having read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" two decades before, I thought, "Oh, isn't that cute. Somebody's using stuff from that book to write their little mystery. Maybe this'll be interesting. I'll read it. Hell, why not, it's free." Well, the writing was pretty bad and I had a hell of a slog through it but it was a nice enough little mystery which could be diverting and then immediately forgotten. The same goes for this movie that's coming out. But that's all it is, folks. It's just a movie. Get over yourselves, stop taking yourself and this dumb movie so seriously and worry about something that really matters for a change. Sheesh! I mean, really!!! Can we please just grow up?!?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Just picked up the fantabulous book "Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos" which lovingly reproduces many classic painting by the greatest monster artist who ever lived: Basil Gogos! Ever since his first painting for the cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine #9 in 1960 (depicting Vincent Price from the then-new film "House of Usher"), Basil Gogos has reigned as the greatest monster portaitist of all time. His paintings show a magnificent use of color as well as showing the nobility of these monsters we all love. Any issue of Famous Monsters with a Basil Gogos cover usually sold a lot more. Of course, there's a reason for that: Gogos' paintings jump out at you from a mile away. There's no mistaking a Basil Gogos cover and they didn't even suffer when hemmed in by all that cover copy; in fact, FM publisher James Warren once told Gogos that his were the only paintings that would not suffer when plastered with words. The great painter has had sort of a career renaissance since the 90's when magazine like Monsterscene commissioned his first monster paintings in a decade; starting with this splendid portrait of Lon Chaney in the lost film "London After Midnight". Then rockers like The Misfits and Rob Zombie commissioned Gogos to do their cd covers; Rob Zombie's first solo cd "Hellbilly Deluxe" featured a stunning Basil Gogos portrait. As a public service, I'm displaying some more magnificent Gogos portraits including one of the king of all horror hosts: Zacherley! The wonderful book features fine quality paper with beautiful reproductions in full color (many full page). The great artist is still producing wonderful artwork which he is offering for sale on his own website. There has never been a painter who better captured our beloved monsters on canvas.
The first time Universal ventured into lycanthropy was the 1935 film "The Werewolf of London" starring Henry Hull as Dr. Glendon, Warner (Charlie Chan) Oland as Dr. Yogami and Valerie Hobson as Lisa. Werewolves were an untried element at the time of this film; there was no real literary work to adapt (as in the case of Dracula, Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde). As for the movie at claw mean HAND. . .(click here to watch the movie trailer) I saw it years ago as a kid and was frankly disappointed in it. I thought it was OK but nowhere near as good as "The Wolf Man". I would watch it whenever it came on Creature Double Feature or Dr. Shock's Mad Theater/Horror Theater on Saturday afternoons (but then this Monster Kid would watch EVERYTHING horror). Then, in the 80's I rewatched it every time AMC played it and STILL found it disappointing. However, after watching it again in the last few years on the Wolfman Legacy DVD collection, I found myself liking it much more. I don't know why. I have made an effort to try to see the good things in all horror films in order to support the genre. . .and 9 times out of 10 every horror film has SOMETHING to recommend it. "Werewolf of London" has quite a few more things going for it, as it turns out. I absolutely LOVE Henry Hull's makeup and costume as the werewolf. I think it's very distinctive and nicely satanic around the face and hair. Shots of the lycanthropic Hull in cloth cap with turned-up collar work surprisingly well. Whether or not the old chestnut about Hull refusing to have too much makeup is true or not, Jack Pierce did an elegant, effective job creating Universal's first werewolf. The beauty of Hull's werewolf can be seen very effectively in the Sideshow Toys collectible figure of "The Werewolf of London" made in the late 90's. The opening of the film is, of course, a stunner; much like 1931's Dracula truly shines most in the first reel. However, "Werewolf"'s first reel is not the equal of "Dracula"'s first reel. The shot of Warner Oland's lycanthropic werewolf peering over the rocks at Henry Hull as the full moon plays among the clouds behind him is an absolutely beautiful shot. The fight scenes between both characters here and moreso at the end of the film (with those wonderful clawmarks to the face) are genuinely thrilling. In fact, the movie is littered with nice scenes (as well as less interesting talky ones). The opening setting in Tibet and the concept of the werewolf-curative flower which only blooms in the full moonlight are great ones which also bolster the film's interest. The concept of the werewolf hunting the one he most loves would be used many times but is always welcome. Hull's performance is good if cold. Warner Oland shines as Dr. Yogami; he was quite good in sinister roles (see Drums of Jeopardy for a great example where Oland plays a raving mad doctor named Boris Karlov!). Perhaps my favourite line is the first (non-lycanthopic) meeting of Dr. Glendon & Dr. Yogami at a dinner party. "Have I met you before?" asks Glendon to which Yogami replies "In Tibet. Once. But only for a moment. In the dark." (My second favourite line is the one that opens this blog: Dr. Glendon excuses himself from a night out with Lisa by saying that he's waiting for a shipment of bulbs from Burma! That line's a hoot!) Valerie Hobson is adequate as Hull's love interest but she (along with everyone else except perhaps Oland) is saddled with typical old-fashioned 30's acting styles. Spring Byington's comical character could be either annoying or funny; depending on your mood. Half the time I think she's annoying; half the time she elicits a smile. Stuart Walker's direction is adequate and keeps the film moving at a reasonable (if not kinetic) rate while Charles Stumar's photography makes an effort to move around rather than anchor itself in one place. All in all, "Werewolf of London" is a very good, if second tier, Universal horror and remains watchable (if you can sit through the "drawing room" scenes). For a first try, "Werewolf" does modestly well as a warmup for the truly classic "Wolf Man" starring Lon Chaney Jr. You could do a lot worse than this picture.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Franco was the most influential and important African musician of the 20th century. Afro-Cuban music comes from him. That Paul Simon Graceland album; lifted from him. I can't tell you how much I love Franco's music. There's a reason he was called "The Grand Master". His biography is called "Congo Colossus". Click here to read a short bio of Franco. When he died in 1989, much too early, his country of Zaire (aka Congo) went into national mourning for 4 days. Criminally, this giant of African music is mostly unavailable on CD. I've managed to track down 3 or 4 and a friend in Oregon has sent me some as well; it seems Franco's cd's are easier to come by on the West Coast. Anyway, the moment I first heard Franco's music on Public Radio's "Afropop Worldwide" I was hooked! They devoted an entire hour program to Franco on the 10th anniversary of his death in 1999 and rightly so. Aforementioned Oregon friend also sent me a copy of the biography and what a fantastic read! However, it's the music itself which is so magical. Very few things can make this sour, vinegary old poop cheer up almost immediately; one of those (and probably the most powerful) is Franco's music. Le Grand Maitre and his mega band OK Jazz (later known as T.P. OK Jazz which stands for 'The Almighty OK Jazz') can cleanse my soul. The only site I can find where you can actually hear his music (albeit in one minute soundbites) can be clicked on right here and I strongly urge you to have a listen! You can click on quite a few albums and then click on individual tracks. Oh when Oh when will his approximately 150 albums be made available on cd?

TAKE MY MUSIC QUIZ!: Alright all you slackers, it's time to answer some questions. I got (stole) this idea (and a couple questions)from the new issue of Uncut magazine but the other questions I made up all by my little self. I'll put my own answers after each question and then you can post a comment with your very own revealing answers. So here we go:

1. What's the first record you bought?

Actually, it was The Beatles' Abbey Road.

2. What's the song that reminds you of your childhood?

Um. . .really young, it would be "Sweetie Bear" (shut up!) and a little older it would be "True Love" by Peaches & Herb (my mommy used to sing it to me every night....when she wasn't singing Johnny Mercer's "Ugly Child" to me, that is).

3. What's the first record you remember dancing to?

"I Don't Love You Anymore" by Teddy Pendergrass.

4. The first record you had sex to?

Sadly, there was no music playing. But I think I had a kazoo. . .

5. What's the last album you listened to?

"Discovery" by Daft Punk

6. What's your favourite album?

Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love"

7. What's your favourite song?

"Black" by Pearl Jam. My 2nd favourite song is "A Change Is Gonna Come" though.

8. What song best represents/describes/sums up your current relationship or, if you're not in one right now, your former relationship?

Ooooooo! I would have to say "Storms" by Fleetwood Mac sums it up pretty well.

9. What 3 singers/groups would you cover in honey, bury up to their necks in sand and release the killer ants upon if you had the chance?

Michael Bolton, Creed and Dashboard Confessional. . .in that order.

10. What's your Mom's favourite song?

"Blue Eyes" by Elton John, anything from Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" album, "Look at You Look at Me" by Dave Mason, "Creep" by Radiohead, "Do You Know What I Mean" by Lee Michaels, Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones. . .OK, I'm beginning to think she doesn't know WHAT her favourite song is. My father's is "Gimme Shelter", how bout that???? Hold on, wait a minute! She's got one and she's sure this is her favourite song now: Neil Young's "Harvest Moon".

OK, pals o'mine. Let's here your answers.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

THE GENTLEMAN FROM PROVIDENCE. H.P Lovecraft (seen here holding his lunch) is, without doubt, the greatest horror writer of the 20th century; on a par with Edgar Allan Poe or any others you may care to mention. Lovecraft's dimension-spanning tales of the horribly monstrous "Great Old Ones" (who had dominion over this universe and our Earth millions of years before man) include such demonic entities as Yog Sothoth, Nyarlathotep and the ever popular Cthulhu (not to mention the fabled forbidden book known as the Necronomicon). Lovecraft has also probably influenced more writers than any other author besides Ernest Hemingway. Think about it. As great as J.R.R. Tolkien is, you don't see many people creating new tales of Middle Earth. One or two, maybe, but not the literally HUNDREDS of authors who have used Lovecraft's "Cthulhu Mythos" as the basis for their short stories and novels. Name another author who has spawned such a vast number of tributes and pastiches in the world of horror writing. A superb HPL biography (more like an extended essay) is Michel Houellebecq's "H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life" which celebrates his writing while not shying from HPL's very real faults and foibles. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Lovecraft. The thin tome is fleshed out by the inclusion of two of HPL's short stories: "The Call of Cthulhu" (which you can listen to in audiobook version by clicking here!) and "The Whisperer In Darkness". I have gone on record in the past as naming "The Colour Out of Space" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" as my favourites but there are just too many great stories from which to choose! As for the world of motion pictures, Lovecraft has not faired particularly well; HPL's cosmic horrors have proven remarkably difficult to film. Only recently (as was also the case with Tolkien) has technology advance sufficiently to make filming them possible. Such films as "The Haunted Palace" starring Vincent Price, ""Die, Monster, Die" starring Boris Karloff and "The Dunwich Horror" starring Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee (!) have made valiant but doomed efforts to successfully bring HPL to the screen; the movies remain pretty good but fail in conjuring the spirit that is Lovecraft. Later, director Stuart Gordon has made numerous attempts including the wonderful "Re-Animator" and the recent "Masters of Horror" episode of "Dreams in the Witch House". I am also rather partial to Gordon's recent film "Dagon" (click here to watch trailer) which is very close in spirit to ole HPL. However, if you have never experienced the purple prose and cosmic horror of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, rush right out and read some! If for no other reason than this: when the Great Cthulhu stirs from his slumber and our tenuous grasp on this universe is wrested from us by the mind-blasting, eldritch horror of the Great Old Ones. . . .well, you will have been forewarned!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A GAGGLE OF VAMPIRES: Or is it a flock??? Whatever you call them, vampires have been haunting the nights of this planet (and sometimes OTHER planets as evinced in Mario Bava's eerie "Planet of the Vampires") almost since our species had begun telling tall tales. There's something compelling about these bloodsuckers that keep them in the public imagination throughout the years. They're powerful, they're alluring, they're erotic, they're fashionable. . . they're everything to everybody. From the monstrous Chinese variety (which would seduce NO ONE) to the tuxedo-wearing Transylvanian noble to the motorcycle-riding leather-clad bad boy with fangs, vampires have been popular entertainment since time immemorial. Their have been many notable movie vampires over the years but here are my top ten battiest biters; some favourite vampires I have known. 1) Christopher Lee as Dracula -- I'm sorry, I love Bela but my favourite Drac is Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula. 2) Bela Lugosi as Dracula -- the iconic Count whose shadow falls over every subsequent vampire performance. 3) Max Shreck as Graf Orlok -- the first filming of Dracula was Germany's unauthorized adaptation "Nosferatu" which Bram Stoker's widow tried to have destroyed. . .thankfully some prints survived and we have the nightmarish, rat-like vampire played by an actor whose very name means "terror"! 4) Boris Karloff as Gorca the Wurdalak -- Karloff's only appearance as a vampire is genuinely frightening and vicious in Mario Bava's "Black Sabbath". Gorca is a father who goes off to kill a local vampire but returns as one himself. His sole compulsion is to put the bite on his family. Truly chilling performance! 5) Anders Hove as Radu (seen here with Denise Duff) -- The Subspecies films are the best things Full Moon every put out. This might seem faint praise but in fact these films are quite good and Hove's performance is even better! Sometimes Radu likes to wait outside in our yard and peer in at the window. 6) William Marshall as Prince Manuwalde -- If you've never seen "Blacula" you may be surprised at how good the film is. This is helped in no small measure by the regal and heartbreaking performance of Shakespearean actor William Marshall (as well as the presence of my childhood infatuation Denise Nicholas!). 7) Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins -- the early 70's phenomenon that was Dark Shadows is hard to imagine now but the cobwebbed, gothic Barnabas was a florid triumph! 8) Lon Chaney Sr. as the Man in the Beaver Hat -- some may cry foul at the inclusion of a "fake" vampire from a lost film "London After Midnight". Well, I disregard the "cheat" ending which revealed the vampire was "only an actor" and prefer to drink in the lovely, evocative stills of Lon with his fright wig and razor teeth in a film we all will probably never see. 9) Barry Atwater as Janos Skorzeny -- Dark Shadows guru Dan Curtis scored again with "The Night Stalker" featuring Darren McGavin's Kolchak chasing a Vegas vampire played by the athletic, powerful and intimidating Atwater. The TV movie was the highest rated in history at the time and was another cultural phenomenon! And what predatory eyes that vampire had! 10) Denise Duff as Michelle -- Radu's unwilling acolyte in the Subspecies films brings home the nearly impossible struggle against the pull of vampirism; Michelle has been fighting Radu's curse since Subspecies 2 and has sometimes succeeded (and sometimes failed). A truly interesting performance arcing thru several films. And since the mere mention of her name makes me lose control -- I have to put up this photo of Denise Nicholas as this month's eye candy (sorry, Ms. Henri but I HAD to swipe it in this case). Sigh.

Monday, May 01, 2006

MAY IS MONSTER MONTH IN THE LAND OF CERPTS & HONEY! In honour of this month's boffo Monster Mania Convention from May 19 - 21, we're getting a little spooky in this blog. Our mascot for this month's theme is dear old Cousin Creep: a beloved family member who is near and dear to my heart -- oh wait, that's somebody ELSE'S heart he's near to -- in fact, he's actually clutching one in his bloody hand. I wonder who's chest he ripped that outta??? Oh well. Anyway, Cousin Creep has bequeathed to me his lovely old home pictured here. Unfortunately, since Cousin Creep hung around with Cthulhu and his gang about a million years ago, I don't expect to inherit anytime soon. But enough about real estate. I'd just like to take a moment a wish a belated birthday to Lon Chaney Jr. (who was born 100 years ago February 10th). Everyone have a sprig of wolfsbane on me!