Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days of Halloween - Movie 2

I managed to squeeze in one last movie for this year's Countdown.

In Egypt in 1900, a mummy is uncovered that comes with a curse than anyone involved with the opening of its tomb will die. There's also an amulet that can reanimate the dead which is used to bring the mummy back to life. The mummy then proceeds to carry out the curse before being lured to his ultimate purpose.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964) is perfectly watchable, but one of Hammer's more ho-hum movies. There's nothing particularly new or interesting brought to the living mummy subgenre and the bulk of the characters are equally stale and passive. The mummy itself is not particularly imposing or interesting to look at. It's fine to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon, but not really worth seeking out, or revisiting.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Movie

After a close encounter with a mass murderer, a television reporter (Dee Wallace) is sent to "The Colony" to recuperate from her ideal. Once there she discovers that everyone else at the colony is a werewolf.

When The Howling (1981) was new, I watched it every opportunity I could. I loved the movie with it's sense of humor, all of the products that had "wolf" somewhere in their name and all of the nods to classic werewolf movies. I especially loved the wild transformation effects by Rob Bottin. I've only seen it a few times since the 1980s, and overall the movie holds up rather well, though my wife compared the final werewolf shown to a labradoodle. 

My only complaint is that for some reason, whoever was responsible for transferring this movie to DVD decided to lighten the exposure on the transformation scenes. Now, what was incredible state of the art make-up effects designed to take advantage of low light levels and shadows looks crude and rubbery in the harsh lighting it was not meant to be seen in. This was an absolutely terrible decision that does nothing but hamper the film's effectiveness. I'm hoping that when The Howling gets released on DVD this will be reverted back to the way it was meant to be seen. 

If you've never seen it, you should. Just keep this in mind when you are watching it. 

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Mask of the Day

The final print, cut-out and wear mask this year is a Jack O'Lantern.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31

Here is a little craft project that you can do at home. As I post this it looks like by Halloween, I could very well be without electricity since I'll be directly under the appropriately named "Frankenstorm," and possibly see Halloween cancelled as an event for trick or treaters. I'm sure this is the case for many of you as well. I hope you are all safe, and for those of you out of the path of the storm, remember the rest of us this Halloween.

Check back here for my final mask, and movies. Thank you for visiting during this countdown.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 - Movie 1

Nicholas Medina's (Vincent Price) fragile mental state is on the brink of collapse as he struggles with childhood memories of watching his father murder his uncle and torture and bury alive his mother, and guilt he suffers over the death of his own wife, whom he fears he buried alive, and whose presence seems to still reside in the castle, tormenting him. A cast of characters in attendance find themselves at the mercy of his psychosis and the basement dungeon full of the torture devices Nicholas has inherited from his father.

The Pit and The Pendulum (1961)  is a stylish and engaging movie directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay by Richard Matheson which incorporates material from Poe into his expansive, haunting screenplay. This film practically drips with damp, oppressive, gothic atmosphere. The performances are good, and the plot is riveting in that it's clear all along that there's more to what's happening than we are being shown, but how much, and what? The ending is also deliciously cruel.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 - Mask of the Day

Here are a couple of movie tie-in masks for you to print, cut-out, and wear. First is the robot, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still. Also, we have King King from the Peter Jackson remake.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30

Back in 2010, I was one of a number of comic book creators asked by Robot 6 to talk about the comic book stories that scared us as kids. What came to mind for me were covers to comics more than any of the contents. That's what I ended up talking about.

Since then, a couple of stories that I'd read as a child surfaced in my memory as being particularly disturbing, unsettling, or at least creepy to my then seven year old self. I tracked those stories down and now present them for your enlightenment and my ridicule.

First up is a story that I encountered in Monsters on the Prowl #28 (June 1974) though the story originally came from Adventures Into Terror #14.

Now that you've read this story which pretty well conveys feelings of persecution, paranoia, and a slipping grasp of sanity even though it's not really all that chilling, you may be wondering what it was about "They're Driving Me Crazy" that I found disturbing enough that it stuck with me all these years. I'll tell you. Take a look at the first panel of page one. That pink old man fetus with the hook like hands. I couldn't bear to look at him, and I couldn't stop looking at him. His reappearance at the end seemed incredibly threatening now that he was freed from his jar than he actually presents himself in the story. 

The second story reached me via Where Monsters Dwell #33 (January 1975) but was originally published in Marvel Tales #128

Oddly structured with the meat of the story transpiring over a single one of its four pages, this tale also has some lapses in logic such as why the scientist ages not at all while his baby is born, grows old and dies, but suddenly ages rapidly between two panels. For me, the story itself wasn't disturbing, but images in it were. First up, the panel on the last page where the baby asks for a drink of water. To me, that baby-child was just plain creepy looking. I think it must have been the hair. Second, and probably most troubling, the next panel where the middle aged baby is seen sitting in the playpen smoking a cigar and reading the paper. Never mind how he learned to read and developed a taste for cigars, the thing that really unsettled me about that image was the grown man still being kept in the playpen. That just seemed so wrong to me that the image would come to mind any time I heard, or saw, a commercial for one of those man-baby horror movies which I would never go see because of this story. Finally, the last panel where the scientist is suddenly old and his wife doesn't know it yet. I think it was the idea of how she'd react when she saw him that did me in. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Movie 2

An intelligent, disembodied life form is brought to earth aboard a returning space probe, where it crashes off the coast of a remote Pacific island. The life form then takes over the bodies, successively of a cuttlefish, crab, and turtle transforming them into giant monsters who battle the islanders as well as visiting Japanese investigators.

Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaiju / Space Amoeba (1970) is one of the least compelling of all of the kaiju movies produced by Toho in the 1960s and 1970s. There's a lot of repetion in watching the same people running, screaming, and fighting back while three of the least convincing and interestingly designed (though I personally love Gezora - the giant cuttlefish) wave their appendages and knock over some grass huts. This movie also contains too many convenient coincidences to advance the plot.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Movie 1

An atomic bomb test in the arctic revives a prehistoric monster which makes its way down the Atlantic coast of North America until it reaches New York City. If it's physically destructive tendencies weren't enough of a problem, the beast is also transmitting a deadly virus to the humans it interacts with.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) is a pretty standard giant monster on the loose movie of the 1950s elevated by the complication of the deadly virus spread by the creature, and by Ray Harryhausen's outstanding stop motion animation special effects. The beast, itself, is one of my all time favorite monsters and I was disappointed when X-Plus produced all of those toys and figures of pretty much every Ray Harryhausen creature except for this one.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Mask of the Day

Here's a couple of toy based masks, both of which, I think, were to be found on the back of boxes of Rice Krispies.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29

Here are the winners of a Halloween contest held in the pages of Dynamite magazine. I couldn't tell you what issue this is from as, inexplicably, these are the only two pages I could locate. I'm sure some of my fellow Cryptkeepers can answer that question. Click on each page in order to see all of the terrifying details.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of Halloween - Day 28 - Movie 2

A doctor finds himself at the mercy of John Gray (Boris Karloff) the Cabman, who provides his school with freshly obtained cadavers, because of a dark past history shared between them. The doctor's kindly student assistant finds himself caught in the middle.

The Body Snatcher (1945), based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, was produced by Val Lewton, directed by Robert Wise, and stars Boris Karloff in one of his best performances. This movie is an all around classic; well written, directed and acted, with beautiful cinematography and a claustrophobic atmosphere.

This is an essential horror movie that should not be missed.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 28 - Movie 1

A mad scientist injects a reporter with a serum that turns him into an asshole, a murderer, and then a two-headed monster in The Manster (1959).

Essentially a Jekyll and Hyde story with an extra head, this movie is actually not bad, with some very memorable disturbing imagery, particularly of one of the scientists surviving failed experiments, and some physical symptoms pertaining to the reporter's transformation. If you've seen stills of the two-headed monster, you'll recognize that it's not terribly convincing, but wise lighting choices, editing, and articulation of the second head keep it credible in the film itself.

The real flaw in this movie is one similar to Werewolf of London in that the reporter isn't particularly likable even before he starts turning into a jerk. It never even occurred to me to root for this guy to get rid of his Hyde persona and go back to normal. I just had no investment in him. The only somewhat sympathetic character is the mad scientist's beautiful assistant. Because of the lack of characters to invest in, the movie feels a bit long, but still contained enough elements to make it worth watching.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 28 - Mask of the Day

Today's print and cut out masks are a whole crew of pirates.

Short a crew member? Here's one more pirate mask

31 Days of Halloween - Day 28

Today is Elsa Lanchester's birthday. I thought I'd celebrate by sharing a big batch of artwork inspired by the role she's best known for.

Bill Sienkiewicz

SeƱor Salme

Alice Chan

Eric Matos

Sarah Young

Jessica Ward

Craig Drake

Steve Rude

Belle Dee

Basil Gogos

Basil Gogos

Steve Mannion

Selena Goulding

Arthur Adams

Michael Bair


Kendra Melton

Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola

Josef Rubinstein

Ryan Sook

Joelle Jones

Bruce Timm

Bruce Timm

Martin Ansin

Gabriel Hardman

Damian Fulton

William Stout

Fred Hembeck

Tom Bagshaw

Dan Brereton

Gene Colan

James Bama

Kevin Nowlan

Kevin Nowlan

Jason Chalker