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Showing posts from October, 2020

Madhouse

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Madhouse is a fun 1974 horror movie with Vincent Price and Peter Cushing that is a bit of a hybrid of the atmospheric horror movies that had been popular up until this time and the slasher movies that replaced them. This was a joint production of Amicus and AIP, with footage of Vincent Price's AIP horror flicks getting used in the movie. The footage allows a couple of other big names to sneak into the movie as well, despite the fact that they were no longer with us. Footage was used of movies that Price had made with Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff. Since this is recycled footage lasting just a couple of minutes at most, the movie can't boast the same star power as House of the Long Shadows, but Cushing and Price alone are worth the watch. There is also Robert Quarry, who doesn't have the same name recognition as the other two but die hard horror fans will know him as Count Yorga, Vampire.   Price plays Paul Toombes, an actor who has gained a level of fame for playing Dr.

A Salute To Elvira

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Cassandra Peterson was born in Kansas in 1951. That is a very bland statement of fact for the arrival into this world as the Queen of Halloween. Of course Peterson wasn't born as the seductive Mistress of the Dark. When she was just a small child, she was scalded by boiling water and had severe burns on 35% of her body. She was teased for the scars this left as she was growing up, She says that as a child she was more interested in horror themed toys than the Barbie dolls the other girls were playing with. It apparently didn't take her long to find at least some of her talents. As a teen she worked as a go-go dancer in a local gay bar. Dancing was to be her gateway to becoming an icon beloved the world over. At 17 she went on a trip to Las Vegas. She convinced her parents to let her see a show, and the story has it that the producers noticed her and approached her about becoming a performer herself. Since she was underage she had to get her parents' permission, but they agr

Dracula Returns

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  Famous Monsters Speak was released in 1963. It appears to be a joint production by Wonderland Records, Golden Records and AA Records. It was produced by James Warren, who was the founder of Warren Publishing which put our Famous Monsters of Filmland. The scripts were written by Cherney Berg and the voice acting was done by Gabriel Dell. Each side featured one monster, Frankenstein on one side and this Dracula story on the other. The cover also shows the wolfman, the creature from the black lagoon and the mummy, but they are not on the record itself. Now that you know the details, sit back and enjoy this bit of Dracula cheese.

The Headless Horseman

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  The Headless Horseman, the Washington Irving story, as told by Wade Denning. This is from a 1975 lp. The back cover illustrations are from Bernie Wrightson.  

House of the Long Shadows

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House of the Long Shadows is sort of an all star game of classic horror. The movie has Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, John Carradine, and Peter Cushing all playing decent sized roles. Desi Arnaz Jr. is a well known face, even if it's not for horror. He did do an episode of Night Gallery, and besides this isn't really a straight horror movie. It is listed as a horror comedy, although it's not funny in the way Young Frankenstein is funny. When it tries to lean into the comedy, which it thankfully doesn't do that often, it feels strained.  The main thing that is fun about this movie is its quirkiness and seeing the four titans of classic horror on screen together for the only time. Incidentally, there was supposed to be another legendary name in this movie, but Elsa Lanchester was too ill to make it and was replaced by Sheila Keith. Desi Arnaz plays Ken, a writer whose soul just isn't in his work anymore. He makes a bet with his publisher Sam that he can write a novel

Suspiria 2

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It was not uncommon for genre movies to get released under various names. Hammer's 1958 release Dracula was renamed Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the 1931 Universal classic. 1974's Blood For Dracula was also retitled in America to Andy Warhol's Dracula to cash in on the artist's fame, despite his not having much to do with the movie. One of the weirdest title changes though, was the Japanese release of Blood Red. Director Dario Argento had a big hit with Suspiria, so for the  Japanese release of his earlier film they retitled it Suspiria 2 depite it not only having no connection to Suspiria, but also having been made two years before it.

Playboy's 1985 Worst Dressed List

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Playboy's worst dressed list of 1985 may just be the most eclectic grouping of celebrities I have ever seen.  The "winners" that year were Prince, Phil Donahue, Richard Dawson, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone, Mr. T., Nick Nolte, Steven Spielberg, Billy Idol, and Billy Joel. It's a weird list to me, because Prince and Mr. T epitomize the 80's in my mind.

The Hitchhiker Season 1 Episode 1 Shattered Vows

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The Hitchhiker aired it's first episode November 23, 1983. This was a little less than a month after the debut of Tales From the Darkside. Personally, I didn't get to see The Hitchhiker as much because my family couldn't afford HBO, so I only got to see it when they would offer the free weekends to entice people to subscribe. Watching this debut episode, two things were clear to me. The first is that this was written to take advantage of it's home on cable by showing boobs. Lots of boobs. Secondly,  this was a stronger debut than the pilot for Tales From the Darkside , and not just because of the boobs.  The story sees Jeff marrying the rich but older Jackie. As a gift his grandmother gives him a figurine of a man and woman that she says will bring him luck. While having lunch with Jackie and her plastic surgeon Peter Jeff meets Jackie's step-daughter Pamela. It is clear there is no love lost between the two, but somehow Jackie has been put in charge of Pamela's

Don Henley Sings Don Henley Must Die

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  Mojo Nixon is a musician who has gone out of his way to try to be controversial. The fact that I had to write that indicates that it may not have brought him the attention that he hoped. Still, he did manage to stir the pot a little with songs like Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child, Stuffin' Marth's Muffin (about MTV VJ Martha Quinn), and Bring Me The Head Of David Geffen. The song that goy him the most attention was Don Henley Must Die. But it wasn't because Don got mad and sued or anything like that. On July 31, 1992 Henley showed up at a Mojo Nixon show at The Hole in Austin Texas. From descriptions of the evening it sounds like Don had maybe had a drink or 6. Mojo Nixon was alerted to his presence. In his own words:  "There I was, the king of bullshit, completely flabbergasted," remembers Nixon. "I took my guitar off, put it back on, did that like three times, then got on the mic and said, 'Don, do you want to debate? Do you wa

Tales From The Darkside Pilot Trick Or Treat

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Tales From the Darkside was a show that always frightened me as a kid. Just the theme music was enough to creep me out. As a result, it's still one of my favorite horror anthology shows, equaling Tales From the Crypt, and definitely better than Freddy's Nightmares or the Friday the 13th show. The showed debuted on October 29, 1983 with the pilot, titled Trick or Treat. The story is about a miserly old man named Mr. Hackles who holds almost the entire town under loads of debt. He makes it clear that he loves two things, money and Halloween. Every Halloween he insists that the children of the families that owe him money come to his house, which he has set up as a haunted house. But it's not for fun! The kids have to look for his stack of IOU's without getting so scared they run out. If they find the IOU's their parents' debts are forgiven. The Kimbles have had the misfortune of moving to town in a year when the crops are bad. As a result they are in deep with Mr.

Yoko Courts Controversy

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Popular music has had it's fair share of controversial figures, but few have stirred as much controversy as one small Japanese woman who wasn't even a musician. Yoko was an artist, who polarized people when it became widely believed that she was responsible for splitting up arguably the most popular band of all time, the Beatles. Yoko continued to make tongues wag when she staged bed-ins with hubby John Lennon, made bizarre caterwauling noises in his shows and on his records that was supposed to be singing, or did (some would say pretentious) art installations like appearing in a bag or gluing a teacup back together one piece a day on a talk show. Of course, as often happens, the world moved on. But Yoko had one last fling with controversy. In 1996 she was giving a concert (being married to a Beatle had given her the opportunity for a music career even if she didn't have the talent to justify it) and during the song Julia she ripped pages from a Bible during the line in Jul

The Gate

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The Gate doesn't get the respect it deserves. So many 80's horror movies are now considered classics, and this one tends to just get overlooked. Maybe it's because it was rated PG-13, and had underage kids as the main characters. This means that it doesn't have the gore and boobs that most 80's horror reveled in. But this is a really fun movie that managed to be thrilling without the decapitations and coitus interruptus slaughter that most movies of the time relied so heavily on. Don't get me wrong, I love a good gore fest and I am a big fan of boobs, but this movie didn't need either of them to be enjoyable. Maybe it's because as a young metal fan myself when it came out I was able to identify with Terry. Maybe it's because I always enjoy a good yarn about people accidentally summoning the Old Gods back to earth.  The movie starts with Glen having a nightmare.  This sets the mood for the whole movie, as you start out feeling a bit separated from rea

Astounding Indeed

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Shirley Kilpatrick was not a huge success as an actress. In fact, she only had one credited part, in The Astounding She-Monster in 1957. But she did bust out in at least one way. She was so voluptuous that she kept making the seams of her costume burst in the back. To cover this she never turned around when exiting a scene. She apparently did a lot of photoshoots for men's magazines, but never had another major part in a movie despite being too much woman to be contained by this part.

A Salute To Carolyn Jones

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Most of the world remembers Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams on the 60's television show The Addams Family, and rightly so. She embodied Morticia in a way that I think no one else could. She struck the perfect balance of creepy and sexy and demure. And while that one role was more than enough for Jones to be remembered for, she did a lot more. She had a very full career including television work and movies both mainstream and genre (read, science fiction and horror). Born in 1930, Carolyn came to California from Texas at 17 to enroll at the Pasadena Playhouse. That's where she was discovered, and she was soon doing some uncredited small parts in movies including The War of the Worlds and the Hope-Crosby comedy Road to Bali. She was one of Vincent Price's victims in House of Wax. She almost got a big break when she was cast in From Here To Eternity, but unfortunately she had to pull out due to illness and Donna Reed got not only her part but also nabbed an Oscar for playing

Superboy Season 1 Episode 1 The Jewel of the Techacal

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The first episode of Superboy (later to be renamed The Adventures of Superboy) aired on October 8, 1988. Television was different then. To be blunt, the standards were much lower. Even with those lower standards though, I am shocked that this show made it past the first season after people saw this premier episode. Let me just say that I am a huge Superman fan. I will watch almost anything that is Superman related. I own a copy of the Supergirl movie, that's how far I take it. But even though this show was on the air when I was still a kid, somehow I completely missed it. I only found out about it recently and decided I had to watch it. I hunted down all 4 seasons. Right from the start I knew this episode was going to be rough. The theme song is terrible, like a superhero theme parody. The special effects are cheap, although the shots where they superimpose (see what I did there?) Superboy over the shot to make it look like he's flying really aren't that bad for the time. T

Black Is White

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Cilla Black was a discovery of Brian Epstein, who became a pop star in the U.K. in the 60's. But before she was a star she was apparently forgettable enough that some had trouble remembering her name. You see, she was actually named Cilla White, but a writer at Mersey Beat got confused and called her Cilla Black instead. She decided to just roll with it and changed her name from White to Black.

Al Kooper's Vital Organ

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Al Kooper is a moderately well known musician and recording artist. His list of accomplishments far outweighs his popularity though. He is the one who discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd. He played guitar on Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, and played French horn, piano and organ on the Rolling Stones classic You Can't Always Get What You Want. His most well known performance is on the organ on Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone. His playing is one of the main things that makes that song so great, and gives it a very distinct sound. The most amazing thing about that performance though is that it was the first time Al ever played the organ.

Almost A Rock Star

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Bill Corgan was a guitarist who once auditioned for and won a spot with The Amboy Dukes. They would later go on to fame with the single Journey to the Center of the Mind. Bill decided that music was too risky and declined the spot to take a 9 to 5 job to support his family. Ted Nugent ended up taking his spot and when on to a long career as a musician and a right wing spokesman. But while Corgan didn't make it into the limelight, his son Billy Corgan went on to form Smashing Pumpkins and realized his father's dreams of rock stardom. Bill Sr. even collaborated on a song with his son.

Arthur C. Clarke, Beatnik

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One doesn't usually associate Arthur C. Clarke with the counter-culture, unless it's that trippy scene at the end of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. But it turns out he had a more direct connection. While he was writing the book that the movie is based on, he was staying at the Hotel Chelsea. While there he became friends with both William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. The latter two writers were part of the beatnik scene, a precursor to the hippies. So it turns out that Clarke, besides being a pretty good scientist and an excellent writer, was a far out dude.

Happy Ever After

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Happy Ever After (released in the U.S. as Tonight's the Night) is a British comedy released in 1954. We start in an old Irish village. The town has all come together to see the patriarch of the town, General O'Leary, jump his horse over a wall (something he apparently does on an annual basis, with mixed results).  This time the General's horse balks and throws him over the wall. As he lies on his deathbed he cancels all debts owed to him and leaves money to several people close to him. The bulk of his estate is to go to a nephew who doesn't live in the town, Jasper O'Leary. Jasper is played by David Niven, who has a ton of t.v. and movie credits including Around the World in 80 Days, a few of the Pink Panther movies, and an uncredited cameo in the Hope & Crosby Road to Hong Kong movie. Also arriving back in the village at this time is Serena, played by Yvonne DeCarlo. Most people know her as Lily Munster, but she has a lot of credits to her name as well. She w