Wednesday, April 02, 2014



We undead tend to move a little slow therefore the activity on this blog has been a little sparse so far this year.  Will I be able to rectify that?  I don't know as yet but this is my first shot across the bow:  the new(ish) DVD from LOST's Daniel Roebuck (you've got a little Arznt on ya) and JOHN DIES AT THE END's Chuck Williams. 
Already nominated for a Rondo Award (see the "Vote in this year's Rondo Awards" link down there on the right hand column to vote now), DR. SHOCKER'S VAULT OF HORROR is something of a follow-up to their 10th anniversary DVD "HALLOWEEN:  THE HAPPY HAUNTING OF AMERICA" double disc extravaganza.  This new DVD is more of the same; a trick-or-treat bag stuffed full of treats which focus mainly on horror collecting.  Roebuck once again hosts as Dr. Shocker; his loving tribute to the late great TV horror host Dr. Shock (Joe Zawislak) whom he watched (as did I) on Philadelphia's Channel 17 ("The Great Entertainer" and purveyor of today's "Antenna TV" network).  Chuck Williams returns as the dim-witted Igor. 
While I didn't have the DVD in time for last year's Halloween festivities, I surely plan to re-watch it when October rolls around because, like so many other great Halloweenie-themed DVDs of recent years (HALLOWEEN:  THE HAPPY HAUNTING OF AMERICA, THE WITCH'S DUNGEON, THE COMPLETE BOB WILKINS CREATURE FEATURES, GROTESQUERIES and the re-released THE ZACHERLEY ARCHIVES and HORRIBLE HORROR:  THE SPECIAL EDITION).  In fact, there's a gloriously growing pile of Halloween-themed DVDs which celebrate the season and I couldn't be more pleased about it.  It was such a DVD (Something Weird's MONSTERS CRASH THE PAJAMA PARTY) which, in fact, decided me on buying my first DVD player back in 2000!  But back to Dr. Shocker . . .

Roebuck and Williams (as the Doc and Igor) provide a short comedy introduction on a horror set which fans of the original Dr. Shock will instantly recognize as very similar to his 1970s MAD THEATER and HORROR THEATER set.  As seen in the picture above, there is the painted-stonework wall behind with a framed painting of Dr. Shocker while in front of the pair of ghouls is a long counter -- all this instantly calls back my youthful viewing of Dr. Shock.  Then we go into the meat of the DVD:  a 45 minute-or-so documentary called MONSTERMANIACS celebrating the "Monster Kid" generation who grew up watching classic (and not so classic) monster movies on TV when the "Shock Theater" package was released to TV horror hosts like Zacherley and Vampira. 
This love of horror grew into an adult mania for collecting all those vintage horror collectibles which they couldn't afford when they were kids.  A rather heartfelt autobiographical piece by Roebuck himself introduces a host of other like-minded horror collectors as well as such luminaries as director Guillermo del Toro and Rob Zombie. 
This documentary is narrated by fellow LOSTie Jorge Garcia and, as I said, focuses strongly on the iconic magazine FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND as well as the much-loved and rather shady CAPTAIN COMPANY ads which always featured in the back pages of the mag hawking scads of horror merchandise. 

We get to see in the DVD not only the ads but also the actual collectibles such as the classic BIG FRANKIE,
the beautiful Aurora monster model kits,
the 8" bendable monster figures,
the rather affordable Topstone monster masks
and the outrageously unaffordable (to a kid back then) but mesmerizingly-fantastic Don Post monster masks. 
And much, much more.  After all, Roebuck himself curated his very own Forrest J. Ackerman-like monster collectible museum so he knows of what he raves. 

While the MONSTERMANIACS documentary only goes on for about three-quarters of an hour, there is a wealth of special features which bring the total viewing time to over two hours.  I actually wish many of the special features had been edited into the body of the documentary because they relate directly to the topics covered.  

Particularly I speak of short features on the Imagineering Inc. make-up kits which featured the well-remembered "Scar Stuf" and "Vampire Blood" (which was recalled when it was thought it made a group of children ill when it turns out they actually all had the flu!). 

Imagineering Inc. also made everything from those plastic vampire teeth to an early semi-make-up/semi-appliance kit called "THE FACE" which featured plastic appliances (much like what would become commonplace in movie-making a decade later) which you could apply to your face and then blend in with make-up to transform yourself into a werewolf or a skullface.

There is a live on stage presentation at a horror convention focusing about the Captain Company products hosted by Daniel Roebuck with a panel including Donald F. Glut (author of my beloved 70's horror comic book THE OCCULT FILES OF DR. SPEKTOR) as well as Don Post Jr.  There is also a live on stage comedy production which itself has been nominated for a Rondo Award:  FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN - THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE"! 
Introduced by Bela Lugosi Jr. and Ron Chaney, the comedy skit features a parody of presidential debates with candidate the Frankenstein's Monster going against the Wolf Man (Roebuck in full makeup) and it's genuinely funny for once!  Next we have Roebuck and Williams hitting the road for "A PARANORMAL TOUR OF HAUNTED HOLLYWOOD" and then a tour of the Arizona Gillman's impressive horror collection centering around, of course, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.  A funny gag reel as well as a 3-D photo gallery of Roebuck's horror museum
(3-D glasses are included in the DVD case as well as a membership card to the Dr. Shocker fan club and an autographed (by you) photo.  Rounding out the festivities is a superb short film perfect for Halloween viewing:  Sky Soleil's "HOW MY DAD KILLED DRACULA" starring (naturally) Daniel Roebuck in a truly wonderful short film which would make a perfect Halloween double-feature with FLIP. 

As you might have guessed, DR. SHOCKER'S VAULT OF HORROR is a whole lot of fun for anyone who loves horror and Halloween.  The dvd itself took five years to make relying on donations from horror fans themselves and the love and care really shows in this terrific celebration of the monsters we all love.  You really should check it out.

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