Saturday, January 19, 2013
This last week, I got up dark and early and was heading in to work. I took an alternative path in my batmobile than I would normally take the morning after a freezing rain.
Here's what happened... I'm driving in the dark and the road looks pretty safe. It's a narrow road in the country, so when a car comes my way, I try to give it more room. It passes by and I keep moving forward. At that moment, I notice the road ahead is a little darker than what I've been driving on. I get to that and feel the car start to slide a little and realize that I'm on black ice. I try to compensate very carefully and without warning the car takes a jerk and I find myself fishtailing. I take my foot off the accelerator, but the inertia I had is still moving me forward fast. I'm moving my steering wheel back and forth trying to get control back.
Did I say, I was friggin' scared?! I was. Now, I'm going to admit to something. Of late, I've been a wee bit morbid. Maybe it just comes with getting older (I'm 53) and seeing my parents fighting all sorts of health problems. It feels sometimes like there's a record playing in my head that is stuck playing a message over and over all day that says, "You are going to die. No, really... you're going to kick the bucket."
Back to the fishtailing death device. Barbed wire fencing, trees, a farm front yard, all flash by as I try to stop this car. It's not feeling very good about my chances. Then, I blurt out, "God save me!" Guess what happens? No, I don't become a TV evangelist. But I let the car go where it wants to... and it stops rushing and slows down and goes into a ditch on the right side. I sit there for a moment, looking at the ice covered grass. And I actually drive out of the ditch. I'm only about 2 miles from home. I get home and wake Colette and tell her about it.
I'm upset and tell her what happened. She gets me to relax, which I do. I go back out and drive a safer way to work.
Do I believe that God actually saved me? Maybe. However; if you had spoke to me right after it happened, I would have said, "Yes!"
It reminds me of the time I was driving home on a warm summer day and a truck driving by me carrying bricks came by (which I wrote about in an earlier blog update). The brick that flew off the truck missed my head by inches. I could taste the dirt. The brick blasted through my windshield like a cannonball, showering the interior of my car with tiny shards of broken glass... none of which got in my mouth or eyes. The police officer who helped me said. "You must have an angel sitting on your shoulder." Maybe. That officer had seen nothing like that before.
Honestly, though I often act like an agnostic when it comes to God, sometimes the examples as to if it's real seem to be very persuasive.
Like everyone reading this, I'm going to die some day. As of this last week and since, that doesn't seem to be bothering me quite as much. And if I believe in ghosts, demons and other creepy creatures, what's wrong with an angel sitting on my shoulder?
Time to draw more monsters...
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Once again, G Hyland (Creepy Artist and hockey player) has asked me to get up off my dead ass and throw around some ideas for our 3rd annual Halloween tradition with the return (again!!!) of the Aztec Mummy for the LL online strip. I'm always happy to comply, and always amazed at what Greg does with my scratchy thumbnails (other than use them as a coaster). A sample of one of my scratchy thumbnails lies below.
In case you didn't know, Greg also does lots of nifty conceptual stuff for LEGO. When you go to his site (http://www.lethargiclad.com) to look at Lethargic Lad, check out loads of keeno LEGO stuff he worked on.
Meanwhile, my old buddy Mike Fenske (we've known each other for 10 years... scary, isn't it, Mike) asked me if I could put together a piece of art to promote his yearly Yard Haunt for Halloween. Mike asked me to do something that looked sorta like an old EC Comic, like Tales From the Crypt. Then, he actually trusted me to go do it!!! Anyway, the art for his flier is below.
Click on either image to see the larger graphics (or download and look at 'em full size). As usual, I might be posting more stuff here in time for Halloween. Time will tell. I'm still recovering from that Paul Lynde Halloween Special from 2 years ago...
So, if you don't see me before then, have a safe and Happy Halloween.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
You all owe me big time. Why?
For all of you, I dared to look a demon in the face and spit in its eye. Nay, nay, worse than that… I actually watched the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, shown on the ABC TV network on October 29, 1976. More recently, this program was actually released on DVD.
Now, I’m going to give you a small taste… and a very small taste is all you dare try, because this thing is too terrible to believe.
Okay, I’m no dope. These days Paul Lynde as an entertainer is more a punch line himself than a teller of jokes. This holiday special takes all the worst aspects of the man, crams it into an hour long special, tosses in a few bizarre guest stars, and ends up with a cocktail that is all bad 70’s. In fact, it is so much a part of its era that when you see the title of the program with narration, you may find yourself thinking this is all some ingenious SCTV bit.
I should also note that there is a strong connection to TV kid vid creators Sid and Marty Krofft. Though they are only mentioned in the end credits regarding Witchiepoo as being their creation, almost every guest is involved with a Krofft production of that era.
But how bad is it? It’s so bad that when watching it you may find yourself closing all the curtains, putting towels under the door and whatever else is necessary to avoid letting friends and neighbors know that you’re actually watching it.
So, what’s so bad? Let’s go…
The program opens with a short series of bad jokes wherein Paul dresses up for Christmas, Easter and Valentines Day, pretending to ignore the fact that it is Halloween. His housekeeper, Margaret (played by Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West) chides Paul, until he admits that it is Halloween. Cut to Paul on stage, telling bad jokes and dancing and singing. The dancers (including Donnie and Marie Osmond) finish the number by putting Paul in a garbage can, which explodes.
After the commercial break, we see Paul and Margaret driving to her home out in the country, which happens to be a creepy castle. They ring the doorbell and Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf answers the door. She’s actually Margaret’s sister. Margaret then assumes her real self, the Wicked Witch of the West. Loads of bad jokes follow, plus a cameo by Betty White (for no particular reason) during which Paul is granted three wishes.
His first wish is to be a truck driver with a big 18 wheeler. Tim Conway appears in the awful sketch as a couple of different truckers doing jokes with Paul through their CB radios. As it ends up, they’re both supposed to be getting married to a waitress at a seedy café. The waitress is played by Roz Kelly… who was the very short-lived Pinky, Fonzie’s girlfriend from Happy Days. She’s attractive, but can’t act or sing at all… which is proved in a singing and dancing number to finish the bit off.
Back at the mansion, Paul does more shtick with the witches… which results in introducing KISS in their TV debut appearance. They do a couple of songs but remain removed from the show’s star.
Next up, comes a second wish from Paul that will challenge anyone with an upset stomach. Paul wishes he was sheik in the desert a la Rudolph Valentino. He’s trying to woo Florence Henderson. Their scenes of kissing and hugging strain the very fabric of sanity and the ability of my stomach to hang on to whatever I just ate.
After a commercial break, we see a small unfunny bit with Margaret and Billy Barty. Paul returns and decides to let the witch sisters use his third wish for themselves. Touched (in the head) by his kindness, they decide they want their home to be a disco. A disco dance number follows, with Florence Henderson singing a song and Roz pretending she has any talent at all (she still doesn’t).
Paul wants KISS to return, this time having them actually talk to the program’s star. Peter Kriss sings (or more correctly, lip synches) “Beth.” The band does another song, but there are still a few more jokes from Paul, Roz, the witches left to be squeezed out. The show ends with the cast dancing and this TV viewer drooling from the mouth while bleeding from my eyes and ears.
Oh, and Happy Halloween!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
In the last few years, it seems like a lot of people have begun taking notice of the really inspiring weirdness of the Mexican horror film. This one, though certainly not the best, was loads of fun.
I remember when I first saw it. It was a Saturday afternoon. I was still a high school kid. I saw that goofy title in the TV Guide and thought I would put in on. What I saw blew me away. Here was a film that was actually 3 films in one, packed with extensive flashbacks to the first two movies and a fast finish in this last one. After I saw it, all I wanted to do was create a movie that Some Kind of Monster Vs. Some Kind of Monster, the cheesier the better.
I still like it!
Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster
There may have been two movies that no self-respecting Godzilla fan of the first series of films was likely to admit they actually liked. The first one was Revenge of Godzilla. Well. that sucked... despite Gabera. No matter how you try to rationalize it, it's awful. Now, relax and accept it. Okay, the other film was Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster.
This was a film that I and some buddies tried to catch at a summer matinee showing at the Plano Theatre but it was actually sold out. It had received a huge write up in Famous Monsters. Years later I caught it on TV and thought it was awful... and of that I had no doubts, with its juvenile preaching and that damned annoying little kid.
The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism
Could a film with as lurid a title as that possibly be as gruesome as my brain imagined it could be, even showing on television.?
It was my good buddy Eric that turned me on to this one. He had a knack for seeing some truly edgy films first in our group of young monster fans... like, for example, Night of the Living Dead. He saw it before he was 12 at a theater or drive-in, meaning his parents actually took him to see it. As luck would have it, Svengoolie (a.k.a. Jerry G. Bishop) hosted the TV debut of the movie on his Screaming Yellow Theatre late night film fright program. We watched it and were scared shitless. We stayed awake and watched the second film, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, but even fantasies of gorgeous Allison Hayes' giant, swinging breasts couldn't wipe out the flavor of NOTLD... and we ended up staying up all night. That was the first time I had ever done that.
So, if Eric told me that I should see a particular scary movie, his advice carried a lot of cache. So, when he suggested Dr. Sadism, I watched...which was probably showing on Son of Svengoolie, played by Rich Koz.
Okay, it's not really scary... but it is mesmerising. The film is a period piece packed with lurid imagery telling the story of Count Frederic Regula, a nobleman who had been working on an elixir for immortality until the royal guard caught on, hammered a spiked mask to his face, and had him quartered. Christopher Lee plays the fiend and dubbed in his own voice in English for this production that was shot in German language.
Years later, his surviving henchman captures the descendants of two of his accusers who takes them to his sinister weird-ass castle. Within the film's narrative there are some startling images, like a great scene that has a carriage ride through the forest near Regula's castle, which has corpses hanging from the tree tops and various limbs protruding from around tree limbs, etc. That's one example. I don't want to give too much away, because if you haven't seen it I'd rather not wreck it for you.
For me though, it wasn't just a fun, gruesome story, but it also grabbed me the way something else inspired by horror films did. By that I mean it reminded me of what kind of film you might have if you took one of those sleazy old Eerie Publications comic magazines covers and tried to make a movie out of the bloodbath. These were bottom of the barrel magazines with a unique sleazy charm about them. You didn't mind getting caught reading Creepy or Eerie, but how on earth could you explain a typical issue of Tales of Voodoo or Witches' Tales? Check out a huge load of cover images from these sleaze gems by clicking on the Tremendous Thing Blog link in the right column on this page. Then, let the sleaze wash over you, letting it kick your sense of good taste out... Then, you'll understand The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, but that's my opinion.
Those are my top 10...which are subject to change at any time. For example, I was thinking about Dr. Sadism and...
Ah, well, all good things and all that... But, hold, (as Roy Thomas might have written for a Thor comic long after Stan and Jack were gone) you want more? That is for another day... another list for another time. I must rest, let my mind's eye scan over visions of things perhaps better left unsaid...
The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow
The writing was on the wall, the 50s style monster movie churned out by AIP was going to cease to exist... and it was AIP itself who sent a message to its audience of drive-in attending teenagers for those paying attention.
It's a silly film that starts with a newspaper reporter doing a story about teen hotrodding, initially very straight but gradually letting its eccentric characters take over the movie, including an elder aunt with a smart ass talking parrot, a big brain custom car building Poindexter-type and his gorgeous long legged girlfriend, and even AIP master monster creator Paul Blaisedell playing himself, wearing the last fragments of the She Creature costume. Toss in some late in the story haunted house hi jinks and you've got a movie that feels like a surf film, before Frankie and Annette, before color and before Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films broke new ground for the exploitation studio resulting in big changes in the kinds of horror movies they made.
It's the end of an era, and you know it is.
The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters
The older I get the more Ray Dennis Steckler's idea of how to make a movie makes more sense. Basically, if there was ever a script, Ray would toss it out and improvise the whole thing. In doing so, he made some truly unique films, maybe not realizing what the end results would be. Though most of the fans of his films enjoy The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, I find myself drawn more often to The Lemon Grove Kids.
I realize now that if Steckler had been a bit more canny or had realized what he had here, he might have created something loads more people would look back at nostalgically. The film is actually made of three or four different short films, improvised, filled with Steckler friends and family and goofy Bowery Boys inspired wackiness. When I first saw it, I imagined the big potential there and that Steckler could have easily turned it into a syndicated kid program shown on local TV kid programs in 5 minute chunks, like on Chicago's Garfield Goose (which ran a serialized version of Karel Zeman's amazing Journey to the Beginning of Time). It could have been another Funny Company, and actually funny.
Ah, well, missed opportunities. Show it to your kids, and maybe they'll actually watch it.
My Bloody Valentine
There's nothing poetic about this slice and dice Canadian gore film. It is just what it is.
It tells the story of a man who went crazy in a mining town when the mine he was in caved in on Valentine's Day, and were ignored due to the big yearly holiday dance. When he finally got out, Harry (that's his name) went on a killing spree, wearing his mining outfit, gas mask and wielding a pick axe to tear out the hearts of those who didn't care.
Years later, he breaks out of the asylum and the Sheriff thinks he's headed home to stop the first Valentine Dance since Harry went crackers. Of course, much carnage follows, with a nice twist.
There's also some soap opera aspects when the Sheriff's son, who went away to California without letting anyone (including his girlfriend) know where he went. A highlight of their tormented discussion is sabotaged by the young man's thick Canadian accent. "I'm so soorrry. I'm soo dammm soorrrey."
Okay, to be fair, with the exception of this lesser acting, the rest of the film's thespians are actually pretty good. Still, we're not talking about aperformance of Hamlet here.
What stands out for me on this film is that the production level is elevated by the authentic locations used to film in, including a real operating mine. Low budget films usually had to work with Friday the 13th style campsites back then. This movie has thousands of dollars worth of sets.
Also, as this stuff goes, the killings are particularly unique and gruesome. What would a person look like left in an operating laundromat dryer. Hmmm, par boiled? I guess that I wasn't alone in liking this flick, because an unnecessary remake was made in 2009 in 3D. No, thanks, I'll stick with the original.
Next: The Last 3 Guilty Pleasures!