Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Here are a couple of Halloween flyers I did myself for my bookstore oh...jeez, more than 20 years ago now!!! One is for an in-store appearance by local Stephen King collector Greg Holmes who brought a nice selection of very rare King volumes to display. He also gave me a list that day of other titles King had supposedly written or at least started. Some had silly names like TOMMYKNOCKERS and I wasn't at all sure the list was accurate. Over the years, however, most of the titles were actually released! One I recall from the list that still has not seen the light of day was to be entitled BLACK MAGIC AND MUSIC. Another item on the list was THE PLANT, which King had been sending out in individual chapters to friends. Greg got me photocopies of the first two chapters. The second flyer seen here was my take on an EC-style comic book cover to promote a reading from the book SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. Bookseller Shana Bowling was a frustrated actress and put a lot of life into her reading that day. Last I heard (if I recall correctly) from her mother who continued to shop for years at the store, Shana had become a University Professor. Finally (and totally unrelated), to see out the scary stuff for awhile, here's a nice shot of THE WIZARD OF OZ's Wicked Witch of the West, Miss Margaret Hamilton, from a mid-seventies TV appearance. Peg Lynch, a radio actress who worked with Margaret Hamilton for years, assured me once that she was more like Cora the coffee lady than a witch.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Here’s some leftover bits and pieces related to the horror fixation of this past month.
First up, it just wouldn’t be October without at least a cursory visit with Linda Blair. Unfortunately, I missed my chance for a REAL visit a couple weeks back. Seems she was less than 150 miles away hosting three nights of EXORCIST showings. Thanks to a helpful reader, I did get a heads up but it was too late to switch my work schedule. Sigh. Adding insult to injury, I found out that my new boss DID get to meet her a few years back at a trade show! She does a lot of appearances at this time of year so if you saw her, I’m sure you enjoyed the occasion. If you DO see her soon, tell her how much we adore her here at the Library. Here’s a pic circa 1976 indicating that she was then negotiating for her own TV series!
We did a piece on Larry Hagman’s SON OF BLOB earlier and I ran across this second ad in the archives. According to this, you got a free autographed picture if you attended...of the BLOB!! Watch for those on E-bay.
MAD, MAD MONSTERS was a Rankin-Bass TV sequel (of sorts) to their puppet animated MAD MONSTER PARTY from the mid sixties. It aired on ABC’s SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE in the early seventies. This one was regular ol’ limited TV cel animation but had some cool character designs. Here’s a group shot of the cast.
DRACULA SUCKS was the porn version of the classic gothic horror and featured Jamie Gillis, himself a rather dark character in real life I hear, well-cast in the title role. Edited down to an R-rating in an attempt to cash in on the surprise success of George Hamilton’s LOVE AT FIRST BITE, it aired for years on cable. The problem, as with most porn films where the sex is cut down or out, is that nothing much is left. I recall some atmospheric shots of Drac walking around brooding but that’s about it. It also wasn’t nearly as funny as they tried to market it.
Speaking of marketing, COUNT DRACULA AND HIS VAMPIRE BRIDE turned up quietly in limited US release some five or six years after it had played out in England as THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA. This was Christopher Lee’s last Hammer take on the character and was not that great a film. That said, it was better than several of the more famous films in the series and certainly didn’t deserve the pass Warner Brothers gave it years earlier. After spying the ads in a Lexington newspaper, I convinced my dad to take a bus to Lexington with me where we saw it at an inner-city theater improbably double-billed with Pam Grier’s FRIDAY FOSTER. Years later, it was finally restored and released by Anchor bay in its originally intended version.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
"SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!" Okay. There. I’ve said it. Now can we forget that pop culture punchline for a minute and consider the movie itself? I first saw SOYLENT GREEN on Good Friday in 1973. I was in the eighth grade and we were released from school at noon. I rushed to catch a bus into downtown Cincinnati to catch the 1 PM matinee at the International 70 theater (you go to your house of worship, I’ll go to mine). I even recall that after taking the bus back across the river later on the way home, I picked up coney islands (a Cincy delicacy) for dinner, then walked the last six and a half blocks. (You regulars know I have a freaky memory!) Even now, I consider this an extraordinary film. The basic plot, taken from the novel MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM! by former EC comics artist (and later creator of THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT) Harry Harrison, deals with a near future US in which the population explosion has become nearly impossible to control. Future NRA nut Charlton Heston, himself the picture of vitality and health, seems horribly miscast in a world where there is so little food that stolen strawberries are a rare treat. That said, he gives a good performance nonetheless, topped perhaps only by Edward G. Robinson in his final movie. Robinson plays Saul, Heston’s character’s "Book." In this future dystopia, people prostitute themselves out. Thus, as his Book, Saul acts as the detective’s research assistant and conscience. It’s a surprisingly subtle performance from one of the great screen tough guys that also includes the second of his two memorable on-screen death scenes. The first, of course, was in 1930’s LITTLE CAESAR ("Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Ricco?"). Here, Saul learns the secret of the miracle food everyone loves and how it ties in to the murder they’re investigating and he realizes he can no longer live in the world in which he finds himself. He decides to "go home." In this case, that means being euthanized in a sterile, personalized environment with your favorite music (here including Beethoven’s Pastoral, a personal favorite of mine), imagery, tastes and smells. A lovely scene. Joseph Cotton is the murder victim. The late Brock Peters (Darth Vader in the NPR STAR WARS series) is Heston’s boss. Leigh Taylor-Young and Paula Kelly are "furniture," in this case a girl that goes with the apartment for those who can afford it. TV’s RIFLEMAN, Chuck Conners, is a villain. Great character actors like Lincoln Kilpatrick, Dick Van Patten and Whit Bissell dot the edges of the picture and the ancient Celia Lovsky, former wife to Peter Lorre, even appears! Director Richard Fleischer keeps the story barrelling pretty straightforwardly to the conclusion but the set pieces along the way are well done and perhaps a little too close to home for comfort. The scenes where the big machines do crowd control are still scary. I’ll be honest with you, though. The eventual resolution about Soylent Green actually seems like the ultimate form of recycling. The story takes place in 2022. That’s only 16 years from now. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone somewhere was working on a variation of that very idea right now.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
This is a really nifty and different German poster for 1968's Hammer horror, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. Christopher Lee appears as the Count (although one hesitates to say he "stars" as his screen time is limited.) and Rupert Davies is his holy adversary. The lovely Veronica Carlson is the featured neck model. Some posters even featured a closeup of her neck with a modern band-aid on it. In spite of that and the tagline that said "You can't keep a good man down," DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE is one of the better films in the Lee series. Directed by cameraman Freddie Francis (after Terrence Fisher had to bow out), it featured impressive sets and a more exciting than normal story for this type of picture. As with nearly all of these pictures though, you're left wanting one thing--more of Christopher Lee.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Now here is one scary book! A HAUNT OF FEARS by Martin Barker was published in the UK in 1984 and offers a succinct, scholarly look at the anti-comics campaign in 1950's England that paralleled the one in the US. Highly readable and smartly illustrated (including two complete EC horror tales and a Fawcett war propaganda story), the author delves into the American roots of the hysteria and how it spread across the ocean in remarkably similar form. Wertham and Legman both appear and their various allegations are once again trumped by logic and facts. Barker also questions the politics involved wiith the issue. With its emphasis on the global impact of the issue, A HAUNT OF FEARS is probably the most comprehensive of all of the various fragmented histories of the era.
Long out of print, check ebay or your local comic shops.If you think you already understand what happened to comics in the fifties and why, you may be surprised.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The other day my friend Terri took us to see the 3-D re-release of Tim Burton's NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS as a present for my son's 10th birthday. I went along for the ride but I had never seen 3-D. Not for lack of trying, you understand. I had been taken to some 3-D fairy tale movie when I was six and a half-dozen other films after that including the ubiquitous HOUSE OF WAX reissue. I couldn't see it. I became convinced that it was like the story of the Emperor's new clothes--no one could really see anything but no one wanted to admit that so everyone pretended that 3-D existed. This weekend...I saw 3-D!! It's real!! I swear it!! Not the movie, mind you but the brief introduction! I put on the glasses during the specially filmed intro and suddenly things started floating in the theater around me, not just on the screen! By the time that jack o'lantern in the box jumped out of the screen, I actually jumped back! The movie itself, though, not having originally been made in 3-D, had none of these amazing effects that I could see. It really, really made me want to see something truly made for 3-D. Something like maybe ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN! Saw it once on a non-3-D cable edit and didn't really care for it but now...! Who knows? 3-D RULES!!!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Here's a disgusting but cool double feature from the early seventies. RAW MEAT, also known as DEATH LINE, is only now getting discovered as a cult horror film. It deals with a group of inbred, underground dwellers who feast on their own dead. Donald (HALLOWEEN) Pleasance stars with Chris Lee in a cameo. The real treat here, though, is the Canadian CANNIBAL GIRLS and not just because of the William Castle-style "warning bell" mentioned in the ad. CANNIBAL GIRLS was made by a number of future SCTV folks including GHOSTBUSTERS director Ivan Reitman. Andrea Martin and Eugene Levy star, both fresh from the legendary Canadian stage version of GODSPELL. With Levy more recognizble today than ever in films like AMERICAN PIE, SERENDIPITY and A MIGHTY WIND, it's strange to realize that he has, in fact, been starring in movies for more than thirty years now!!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
This ad for GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND is from a 1972 "kiddie matinee" release. By that point, I was 13 years old and certainly wouldn’t be caught dead at a kiddie matinee…except that this WAS a Godzilla movie and, in fact, for all intents and purposes appeared from the TV commercials to be a retitled DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, a film I had always wanted to see. Thus it was that I grabbed my friend Terry (also 13) and we sauntered down the sticky floors of the local theater that Saturday afternoon. Now if you’ve never been to a kiddie matinee, it was a real experience. First of all, very few people went to see the movie. It was a social experience. In fact, many times the theaters left the house lights on all during the movie. There was screaming, dancing, grade school flirting, popcorn throwing, pulling girls’ hair, shooting things at the screen through straws and just being seen. When you were as sophisticated as we film buffs, however, this was all a major detriment to the enjoyment of the matinee itself. In this particular case, an even bigger detriment was the fact that it wasn’t DESTROY ALL MONSTERS after all, just a patchwork quickie monster movie featuring lots of stock footage from other Toho films and TALKING monsters!!! I learned a hard lesson, though. No matter how much I wanted to see the movie involved, I never again attended a kiddie matinee after that.
Monday, October 23, 2006
With a new Stephen King book on the stands this week, here's a look at the ad for 1982's CREEPSHOW, yet another skull faced horror movie poster. CREEPSHOW was a nod to EC Comics from King and director George Romero. Okay, more than a nod...an homage, perhaps? A rip-off? Either way, it works fine presenting as it does a TALES FROM THE CRYPT-style anthology of twist-ending terror tales with familiar stars such as Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau. Even old EC artist Jack Kamen (whose son Dean would go on to invent the Segway PT) was dug up (figuratively) for the poster art. As with all good things, it was followed by a lesser 1987 sequel (notable only as Dorothy Lamour's final film), an undoubtedly even lesser 2006 collection (lacking even any participation from King and Romero) that I have not seen and threats of yet another variation to come. The ad's sure cool though!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Vincent Price. Growing up in the sixties and early seventies, Vincent Price was everywhere. He starred in several horror films per year, guest starred in everything from westerns to beach party pictures, turned up regularly on television variety series and game shows such as HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and even dropped by occasionally to menace the stars of TV series such as BATMAN and THE BRADY BUNCH. "Uncle Vinnie" was seen so much he really was like a member of the family. For every time you saw him kill someone, you saw ten times as much singing or joking from him. A popular character actor in the forties, he rose to full stardom on radio and in B movies of the fifties. Roger Corman’s long series of Edgar Allen Poe inspired pictures of the sixties, cemented Price as the new, modern King of the Horror Film. By the seventies, his career had reached a safe plateau and nothing could diminish his status as an icon, even appearances in lowbrow imports such as PERCY’S PROGRESS (or IT’S NOT THE SIZE THAT COUNTS in the US) about the world’s first penis transplant. He entered into a bizarre but apparently happy marriage with Coral Browne (one of his victims in 1974’s THEATRE OF BLOOD), toured extensively as Oscar Wilde and ultimately finished his career as the "father" of EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, written and directed by his life-long fan Tim Burton.
Halloween time is a good time to remember Uncle Vinnie. Seen here are the four best books I know of about Price. The first, VINCENT PRICE UNMASKED hit the shelves in the mid-seventies when Price was just starting to slow down a bit. VINCENT PRICE, A DAUGHTER’S BIOGRAPHY appeared in 1999 with a number of controversial revelations about Price, the very human man. THE COMPLETE FILMS OF VINCENT PRICE by Lucy Chase Williams from 1995 is one of the very best of the legendary Citadel film series books offering as it does detailed synopses, reviews and analyses on even the most minor appearances, peppered with color posters and lobby cards as well a swell chosen stills and publicity shots. Although smaller in size, the more recent VINCENT PRICE: THE ART OF FEAR almost matches it for content and well-chosen illustrations. If you’re like me, you can pull one of these volumes off the shelf this time of year. If not, hit your local library and get one. Vincent Price was a fascinating individual as well as an enjoyable performer. Thanks, Uncle Vinnie. You may not have been perfect but we still miss you.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
On the air in the late 1940's, author Dashiell Hammet's tough guy detective Sam Spade (he of MALTESE FALCON fame) was given a wisecracking makeover by actor Howard Duff. Duff played the role for several seasons and succeeded in making it his own. The series was sponsered by Wildroot Cream-Oil with a memorable jingle. In print, Wildroot was touted in comic strip ads by L'IL ABNER's "ideel," Fearless Fosdick and also by this variation on the radio Spade. These ads apeared regularly throughout the run of the series.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Many folks cite PSYCHO as Alfred Hitchcock’s best film and, in fact, one of the scariest films ever made. Others, myself included, consider the 1960 film that introduced the iconic Norman Bates to be actually a comedy. Oh, it’s the blackest of black comedies, mind you but this IS Hitchcock we’re talking about after all! Hitchcock and author Robert Bloch, a writer known also for his sense of black humor. Bloch’s 1959 novel (seen here in its movie tie-in edition), lacking the cinematic setpieces so artfully employed by the great director, is not in and of itself all that memorable. PSYCHO the movie is, for all intents and purposes, a feature film version of TV’s ALFRED HITCCOCK PRESENTS. That black and white series was a TWILIGHT ZONE style anthology that often dealt in black comedy with EC (and O Henry and Saki) style twist endings. If that doesn’t describe PSYCHO, what does? Eventually, everyone learned WHY the theaters were not admitting patrons after the film had started (they might miss Janet Leigh entirely!) and Norman’s secrets got out. None of that changes the sheer cinematic rollercoaster of the film. Hitchcock had done his version and never looked back. Star Anthony Perkins later milked the Norman character for a number of interesting sequel films and author Robert Bloch even turned out literary sequels, too. At the end of the day, though, the average person remembers the original…and has nightmares. Hitchcock would’ve liked that.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
One of my more surprising "brushes with greatness" if you will is the fact that Anton LeVay, founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan, and I had a mutual friend. One of Anton’s rare on-screen appearances was in the 1975 horror film, THE DEVIL’S RAIN where he was also credited as a technical advisor.
Apparently, the folks who made up the ad seen here were under the impression that the film was entitled THE DEVIL’S REIGN or even THE DEVILS RAIN. It really is THE DEVIL’S RAIN, however, the apostrophe indicating the possessive as in "this rain belongs to the Devil." Thus the grating, ungrammatical wording in the ad that says "Heaven help us all when THE DEVIL’S RAIN." Sigh.
That said, the movie is remembered today as the feature film debut of (the barely seen) John Travolta. It is also cited occasionally as one of the films released by Bryanston, supposedly a mob-run releasing corporation set up to essentially launder the unreported profits of DEEP THROAT.
Underneath all of that you find a LOVE BOAT level cast that includes William Shatner, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino and Ernest Borgnine as the Horned One, most of whom melt in the climactic scene of this devil-worship revenge tale. That scene, touted in the ad as "absolutely the most incredible ending of any motion picture ever!" really is memorable. The problem is that the rest of the film isn’t.In fact, the only other thing I recall is that the print I saw at the Ludlow Theatre on a Sunday afternoon in ’75 was terrible even though the film was still on its first run.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
When you consider that there are scores of photos of me as a child wearing costumes whether or not it was Halloween time, it's kind of odd taht it rarely happens anymore. Back in the early nineties, however, when I was at my third of six bookstores, I did actually join in and play dress-up. Here are a few pics I ran across yesterday. Clockwise from left, that's your humble Librarian as a French stereotype, a masked criminal, Grant Morrison's ZENITH and a STAR TREK officer. Sigh. Those were the days, my friend.
If you think you know actor Larry Hagman because you know him from I DREAM OF JEANNIE or DALLAS, you might be surprised to learn that the real Larry was/is one of the most eccentric people you might ever encounter. A tripped out, beachdwelling, martial arts practicing Bohemian back in the day, he was known for taking "silent days" where he would not talk under ANY circumstances and using a hand-held fan to blow smoke back in the faces of cigarette smokers who smoked around him. SON OF BLOB, the 1972 Hagman-directed movie later re-issued with the tagline, "The film that JR shot," probably shows the real Larry better than any other project did. More a comedy remake than an actual sequel, the picture is dotted with familiar faces like Robert Walker, Jr, Godfrey Cambridge, Dick Van Patten and the director's long-time (and equally eccentric) neighbor, Burgess Meredith. Essentially, there's this...well..."blob" of stuff left over from the first movie. It's revived, consumes anything and everything and black comedy hilarity ensues. A cheap but impressive directorial debut, it seems very much to have been done as a lark and if you go in expecting that, you'll enjoy it! Released also as BEWARE! THE BLOB, it shouldn't be that hard to find.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Here’s one that I wrote about before during the now legendary "Bubblegumfink Era." The pictures anyway. The text is all new.
In Cincinnati at the turn of the sixties into the seventies, a man named Larry Smith managed to bridge the formidable generation gap. He did this by making what should have been a little kid’s puppet show (and in fact had been when Larry first brought his characters to TV more than a decade earlier) into a must-see teen cult program. Bringing Teaser the Mouse and Rudy the Rooster to the brand spanking new WXIX-TV, Channel 19 in 1968, Larry Smith became the hip new UHF station’s link to both the past and the future. It was a different character who stole the show, though, one Hattie the Witch. "Batty Hattie From Cincinnati," as she came to be called, was an "Oz"-style green witch who lived in a castle with a number of other residents including a "Snoopy" like dog named "Snarfy" and a monster simply called "Nasty Old Thing." Like many puppet shows, this one showed cartoons. In fact, this was my source for great obscure things including the MARVEL SUPER HEROES and ROCKET ROBIN HOOD. With a long, daily program to fill, though, perhaps it was inevitable that the puppet characters would get developed a bit more than on most shows. Thus we ended up with soap opera style subplots including a long-running generational battle between the conservative Hattie and her young niece, Pixie the Witch. Pixie, like many young girls in that era, developed a crush on the teen idol of the moment, Bobby Sherman, and Hattie just didn’t GET it!
Bobby Sherman was just coming off the two seasons of HERE COME THE BRIDES where he played the younger of the Bolt brothers, Jeremy. A bit older than he looked, he had been pursuing a low-level singing career for half a decade already when the show’s exposure pushed his records up the charts. Suddenly his face was on every teen magazine on the stands. My first girlfriend, Debbie, was just as obsessed as Pixie which led me to become a Bobby fan myself. In spite of what I now realize was a less than stellar voice, overproduced albums and a sometimes bizarre choice of material (Dylan’s "One Too Many Mornings," for example), Bobby ruled until David Cassidy ascended.
At the peak of both Larry Smith’s Puppets and Bobby Sherman’s career, WXIX arranged for Bobby to appear on the show while he was in Cincinnati for a concert appearance. Hattie the Witch conspired with Bobby in order to surprise the smitten Pixie and all the kids and teens in Cincinnati hurried home from school to catch the results, some of which are captured in these photos that originally appeared in either SIXTEEN or TIGER BEAT.
Larry Smith used to shop in my store back in the eighties and early nineties and always seemed rather dour. He tried to revive the Puppets on TV yet again about a decade ago and while it was nostalgic, it wasn’t popular and faded quickly. I hope he was/is a happy man because he brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people. Bobby’s career and even the memory of it all but disappeared but in recent years, he has hit the oldies circuit and is always a popular performer with Boomers of a certain age.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Ya' know, I never really read DC's TOMAHAWK. I just presumed it was cashing in on the incredible popularity of Walt Disney's Davy Crockett. Since I never read it, I don't have a lot to say about it so I'll ,et this house ad for the first issue in 1950 speak for itself. That's 1950...and Tomahawk already has the coonskin cap...several years ahead of Davy! Who knew?
Friday, October 13, 2006
I love TV series reunion shows, no matter how simplistic or badly done they turn out! HALLOWEEN WITH THE NEW ADDAMS FAMILY aired in 1977. The only original TV ADDAMS FAMILY appearance in color, it's hindered by the cheap looking video on which it was shot. The cast (all except Blossom Rock returning) are wonderful to see in character again, though, particularly John Astin as the manic Gomez and Carolyn Jones as the slithering Morticia. Even my later friend from the radio conventions, Parley Baer, who was almost a semi-regular on the series, returned here as a gangster. There would be cartoons and feature films and reruns galore but to me, THE ADDAMS FAMILY series represents a time and place where the macabre and comedy and a true sense of family all came together to help form the six year old I was into the man I became. This reunion, even with its flaws, was a nice reminder of that.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This one features three features. The trick seemed to be that the third feature was different depending on which drive-in you attended. NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES, with its wonderful exploitation title, was Rene Cardona's over the top Mexican horror/comedy. Cardona had cut his teeth on Mexican wrestling heroes and knew well how to do cheap exploitation pictures. FEAST OF FLESH was a gory Italian thriller from 1972 notable for an early appearance by Amazonian Sybil Danning. INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS was pretty much somebody's horror home movie and the Filipino production, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND was just about a step above it. Still, the early seventies were great times for cheap thrills in the cinema! Note the free body parts to the first 350 attendees.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Here's another cool skull ad from yet another seventies horror film. This one is 1974's THE HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN, a strange hybrid of blaxploitation, voodoo and old-fashioned Agatha Christie style mystery. Victor French, best known as Michael Landon's sidekick on just about everything stars and the only other familiar face is Mike Evans who played Lionel on THE JEFFERSONS and earlier on ALL IN THE FAMILY. Fairly dull and with an almost TV-movie quality (not helped by the TV actors), this one rarely turns up anywhere anymore. As I said, though, the ad's pretty cool!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Dipping into the ol' Library mailbag, we find a letter from a reader that says "I'm looking for information about specific contents in the 1950s humor magazine"Cockeyed" (#s2 & 4; possibly #5 [if there WAS a #5]).Perhaps you can help if you have these in your collection or,if not, maybe you can refer me to someone who might." I appreciate your patronage, reader, but the Library has no issues of COCKEYED on-hand at all and a quick check of the 'Net found only this cover for issue number one. Let's throw the question out to the rest of you experts out there. Any info on COCKEYED? Post it here as a comment or send it on to me and I'll pass it along. Thanx!
My favorite cereal in the late sixties was QUISP, the saucer-shaped cereal from Quaker Oats that competed with the similar (but differently shaped and marketed) QUAKE. The two cereals are best remembered for a memorable marketing campaign that pitted their namesake mascots against each other in a series of clever Jay Ward commercials for about six years. QUISP was a little pink alien with a propeller on his head voiced by the great Daws Butler. QUAKE was a big, tough, lantern-jawed miner voiced by William Conrad. They both offered cool prizes inside including my favorite, from QUAKE: a ring with a real bit of lava inside it! I wore it for about a year! QUAKE never sold as well and eventually was redesigned for some reason as a skinny gay stereotype in a cape and a cowboy hat (or perhaps as an Australian to go along with the new QUANGAROOS cereal but that made even LESS sense). In the end, QUISP won the long-running battle but without his nemesis, the public seemed to lose interest and QUISP, too, became a thing of the past...but not forever. It seems that in the 1990's, QUISP was reintroduced in limited areas with a big Internet marketing campaign! In fact, you can STILL find QUISP in some areas even today in the new century! I got two boxes in Ohio last week. They still taste good, too, but they aren't LUCKY CHARMS. Check out Quisp.com for yourself! Wonder if they've considered marketing QUAKE exclusively in Australia?
Monday, October 09, 2006
If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery then Forrest J. Ackerman must have been extremely flattered when his FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine spawned scores of imitation horror movie mags in the sixties. This particular late entry, FOR MONSTERS ONLY, is from 1971 and was brought to you by the same folks who brought you CRACKED magazine, itself an imitation of MAD. Seen here is issue 9 featuring what seems to be a Jeff Jones front cover. Inside there’s a curious mix of horror and humor as new and recent films such as TROG and HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS share space with classic forties films and MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH-style cartoon captioned photos. There’s some good photos (including John Carradine seen here from HOUSE OF DRACULA) but not much substance in the text. If you make your way to the back cover, though, you’re rewarded by this full-page Tiny Tim and the monsters art by master illustrator John Severin, veteran of EC, SGT. FURY and a long and possibly inexplicable association with CRACKED. Never mind that Tiny’s fifteen minutes were already up by 1971, Severin art is nearly always worth the price of admission.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I would be remiss if I didn't note the recent passing of Tamara Dobson, forever immortalized in movie history as CLEOPATRA JONES, the tall, beautiful, butt-kickin', foxy mamma jamma heroine of two over the top early seventies films. Created by THE MACK's Max Julian, the character was played as a black female James Bond but the films, as viewed these days anyway, were almost laughable and surreal in their ridiculous villains (played by Shelley Winters in the first and Stella Stevens in CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD), forced hip dialogue and obviously choreographed fight scenes. In spite of that, Tamara Dobson brought a grace and presence to the role that makes you wish she'd done a lot more films. The teenage white boy I used to be never forgot you. Rest in peace, Ms. D.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Here’s another horror movie triple feature from the mid-1970’s. It’s obviously from the mid-1970’s due to the consistent EXORCIST references in this ad. That said, the films themselves are older ones. THE DEVIL’S WEDDING NIGHT is a 1973 Italian film starring Mark Damon. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE is Hammer’s THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, the remarkable 1968 Dennis Wheatley thriller (scripted by Richard Matheson and directed by Terrence Fisher!) with Christopher Lee as a Dr. Strange type hero. THE DEVIL’S OWN is Joan Fontaine’s 1966 vehicle, THE WITCHES. This combination wasn’t very well thought out though. If they’d waited just a couple more years they could have put THE DEVIL’S BRIDE first, then THE DEVIL’S WEDDING NIGHT and followed it up with Hammer’s swansong, TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER!