When I was a kid, my three favorite movies were King Kong (1933), The Wolfman (1940), and The Fly (1958).
Which of those three sat atop the rest changed all the time, but it was always one of those three.
And whenever The Fly was king, it was always, always because of one man.
He would have been 100 years old today.
I can't imagine he really wanted to get that old, though Lord knows if he had, he'd be partying it up with the best of 'em all night long.
The man knew how to live, and knew how to scare, and knew how to laugh, and knew how to have a wonderful life.
Today is a great day to watch a Vincent Price movie.
1. Service de Luxe (1938)
2. Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The (1939)
3. Tower of London (1939)
4. Invisible Man Returns, The (1940)
5. Hudson's Bay (1940)
6. House of the Seven Gables, The (1940)
7. Green Hell (1940)
8. Brigham Young - Frontiersman (1940)
9. Song of Bernadette, The (1943)
10. Wilson (1944)
11. Moss Rose (1944)
12. Eve of St. Mark, The (1944)
13. Laura (1944)
14. Keys of the Kingdom, The (1944)
15. Royal Scandal, A (1945)
16. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
17. Shock (1946)
18. Dragonwyck (1946)
19. Long Night, The (1947)
20. Web, The (1947)
21. Up in Central Park (1948)
22. Rogues' Regiment (1948)
23. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
24. Three Musketeers, The (1948)
25. Bagdad (1949)
26. Bribe, The (1949)
27. Champagne for Caesar (1950)
28. Baron of Arizona, The (1950)
29. Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950)
30. Adventures of Captain Fabian (1951)
31. His Kind of Woman (1951)
32. Pictura (1952)
33. Las Vegas Story, The (1952)
34. House of Wax (1953)
35. Mad Magician, The (1954)
36. Casanova's Big Night (1954)
37. Dangerous Mission (1954)
38. Story of Colonel Drake, The (1955)
39. Son of Sinbad (1955)
40. Vagabond King, The (1956)
41. Serenade (1956)
42. While the City Sleeps (1956)
43. Ten Commandments, The (1956)
44. Story of Mankind, The (1957)
45. House on Haunted Hill (1958)
46. Fly, The (1958)
47. Tingler, The (1959)
48. Big Circus, The (1959)
49. Bat, The (1959)
50. Return of the Fly, The (1959)
51. Fall of the House of Usher (1960)
52. Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
53. Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile (1961)
54. Naked Terror (1961)
55. Black Buccaneer, The (1961)
56. Master of the World (1961)
57. Tower of London (1962)
58. Tales of Terror (1962)
59. Convicts Four (1962)
60. Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)
61. Twice-Told Tales (1963)
62. Tabu, I (1963)
63. Raven, The (1963)
64. Haunted Palace, The (1963)
65. Comedy of Terrors, The (1963)
66. Chagall (1963)
67. Beach Party (1963)
68. Diary of a Madman (1963)
69. Last Man on Earth, The (1964)
70. Masque of the Red Death, The (1964)
71. War Gods of the Deep (1965)
72. Tomb of Ligeia, The (1965)
73. Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)
74. Dr. Goldfoot and the 'S' Bombs (1966)
75. Jackals, The (1967)
76. House of 1,000 Dolls (1967)
77. Spirits of the Dead (1968)
78. Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General (1968)
79. Scream and Scream Again (1969)
80. Oblong Box, The (1969)
81. More Dead Than Alive (1969)
82. Trouble with Girls, The (1969)
83. Cry of the Banshee (1970)
84. Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (1971)
85. Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
86. Theatre of Blood (1973)
87. Madhouse (1974)
88. It's Not the Size That Counts (1974)
89. Devil's Triangle, The (1974)
90. Journey Into Fear (1975)
91. Butterfly Ball, The (1976)
92. Strange Case of Alice Cooper, The (1978)
93. Days of Fury (1978)
94. Scavenger Hunt (1979)
95. Once Upon a Midnight Scary (1979)
96. Monster Club, The (1980)
97. Vincent (1982)
98. Thriller (1983)
99. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
100. Pogo for President: 'I Go Pogo' (1984)
101. Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984)
102. Offspring, The (1986)
103. Great Mouse Detective, The (1986)
104. Whales of August, The (1987)
105. Dead Heat (1988)
106. Backtrack (1989)
107. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Now, I already spent quite the time and energy celebrating his centennial with a li'l Raven I made. I'm sure you've read all about it.
But I just wanted to mark the day and make the point.
Today we're raising a glass and getting the projector fired up.
Today is, at least to your humble pubkeep, an important date in horror history, and in Hallowe'en costuming and effects history as well.
See, today is the 32nd birthday of the Alien... and of Ripley.
On this date in 1979 was introduced to the world one of the greatest horror films of all time.
Yes, I wrote 'horror' and I mean horror. For all of its sci-fi trappings, Alien is as simple and effective an 'old, dark house with a bad thing in it' horror tale as you will find. It is Jaws in space; it is Night of the Living Dead only with one single bad-a** ghoul; it is Hallowe'en with an alien Michael Myers (and a similarly willing-to-fight-for-her-life 'final girl'); it is science fiction only in the way Star Wars, a cowboy western serial, is science fiction -- the scenery might be Asimov but the atmosphere is pure Lovecraft...
So today is the 32nd anniversary of some very important creations -- the alien, the facehugger, the chestburster, and my personal 30+ year crush, the incredibly tall, lanky, strong, sweaty, swearing-like-a-trucker Ripley -- do you remember the first time you ever laid eyes on these now iconic images?
The S&P is running this all day.
We raise a glass and give a heartfelt thank you to Giger, Shusett, O'Bannon, Scott... and of course, Sigourney Weaver.
My God are you kidding me?
You gave us a hero we didn't expect, and didn't even know we needed.
You were the first woman to make me realize it didn't matter that the hero was a woman, and then that it mattered a whole hell of a lot that you were.
Happy 32nd to the Alien, and to Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo.
Oh, S&Pers, there is something spooky going on at the ol' Skull & Pumpkin.
I mean, more spooky than usual.
We have our share of phantoms, revenants, spooks, spectres and ghosts, and they do their own thing whether we're attending pub or not.
But with the addition of a certain Li'l Mini-Boo to our menagerie of minighosts yesterday, I began to notice the four of them moving, just the littlest bit, every time I turned away from them.
So I thought I should fire up the old Spooktrumatic ("See Across The Spooktrum!", man, remember those old commercials?) nightvision camera and set it behind a book on the minighost shelf, letting it run all night long.
I sat through a few hours of boredom, but then finally... this:
I knew it!
Of course, I don't want them to know we know, so please, don't tell them.
I mean, I don't want to embarrass them, or scare them.
Hell, they might be working up a fantastic little shelf show for all of us, and I do not want to mess up that deal.
A fantastic little bit of friendly gifting is a great way to resume posts for May, and today the Skull & Pumpkin was blessed with a piece of Hallowe'en coolness from loyal S&P'er and fine, fine artist/fellow blogger Shellhawk at Shellhawk's Nest!
Shell's a fantastic sculptor and makes amazing ceramic Hallowe'en goodies from her own twisted mind and capable hands (and clay and glaze and kilns and...). You've seen her around the S&P quite often, and we've mentioned her blog before.
At any rate this little bit of joy started last weekend when, as is my usual practice, I began reading her posts for the day, and happened to know the answer to a little quiz she popped on this post.
My prize? A FREAKING SHELLHAWK MINI-GHOST!
So the Lovely Vee and I go out of town for the week, and what comes to our door today upon our return?
A package containing this:
I've blurred the fun personal greeting she wrote just 'cause it's proper to do so, but look! Not one but two (2) awesome Hallowe'eny, trick-or-treaty pencils, the coolest Hallowe'en glitter/mylars you can find, a hand written note and the absolute coolest little handmade ghost I've ever had the pleasure to be spooked over!
Yes! Yes, yessity-yesowitz YES!
How cool is that li'l guy? Handmade by one of the best Hallowe'en artists around. All I did was answer a question and Shell sent all this out to me.
I had to introduce him to his new home and to place him immediately into the menagerie, but where...?
My first thought was to situate Li'l Mini-Boo (what, that's his name) among some other ceramic lovelies. And for a moment it looked alright, but it didn't feel quite right and then... oh! perfect!:
Of course! Among his fellow miniature ghosties, where he is still the mini-est Mini Ghost in the mini ghost collection! Even as the only one without hands, he's the hippest.
I'm not sure what they're singing, but they look to be winding up for the big finish. They just needed a fourth, and now they have him.
Ah... spooky joy, thy name is Li'l Mini-Boo.
Shellhawk, I thank you so much for making these fantastic little guys, and sending one to the Skull & Pumpkin!
He occupies a place of honor, where he can be enjoyed by all of us here at the S&P forever.
Yep. We're Hallowe'en folks.
Don't ever tell me Autumn People aren't the coolest bunch of friends in the world.
Oh, nothing major, of course. We're more about reading and discussing than playing video games.
But the ol' Skull & Pumpkin is trying out a few easy click games for all patrons to play whenever they wish, for free!
Just be sure to share.
First up for the Game Room, a little escape puzzle called, appropriately enough for our little homely house, Hallowe'en Escape!
Just use your mouse to find objects, use them together, and find a way out of the room. Simple, cute and fun, although there seems to be no sound at all -- it's the same at the host site, so I don't know what I can do about that.
"That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to understand. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped."
Dumbledore could have been talking about any one of so many people in this world.
And I find it very satisfying that one of the most insidiously ignorant people who ever brought tragedy and fear into this world has finally been removed from it on today of all days.
We celebrate the end of that murdering coward's life, and can only hope that now, as a mewling, frightened, sick little blip facing his own judgment, he may finally begin to understand the power of that magic and love all of us have held dear since before we were born.
And maybe, just maybe, he'll learn while cowering at the foot of Truth, that nothing he did could ever have removed that magic from the world.
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it -- always." -- Mohandis K. Ghandi
Five years ago today, the great Matriarch of the Lennon family, my Gram, passed away at the age of 85.
It was her way to help you walk in sunshine even when she knew times could be cloudy, dark, and unsure, as they often were in her long, storied life.
She was stoic, she was unbelievably strong and resilient, she held the deepest faith in God and in her convictions... and she was one of the funniest ladies I've ever known -- not always on purpose, mind you -- and when it wasn't on purpose it was extra funny.
She was our Rock and our Light so often and for so long that it's still nearly impossible to think she's not in her kitchen somewhere making the world's most perfect pancakes, or using a little tough love and a wooden spoon to teach a grand- or great grandchild how to be a real person.
My Great Grandmother Nana, my Grandmother Sis, and me, July 1968
And as I've written before, she gave me Hallowe'en -- that she passed away exactly half the year 'round from her favorite holiday must have made her soul giggle at least a little bit. It does mine now.
She had 11 children, and really, I've stopped counting the grandchildren and great grandchildren which now number well into the 60s. And never even mind the hundreds of people whose lives she affected in personal friendship, and the many thousands who have been made joyful by the music and art that her children and grandchildren have brought (and continue to bring) to the world.
Much that is beautiful and unique in my life and yours would not be here but for her.
Still... if anything, Gram was a trooper with way too much to do to cave into emotional wreckage. I can hear her right now: 'Oh! Why do you have to get so dramatic? Smile, lighten up, go outside and do something!'
So we'll go outside...
May is Spring with an attitude. The child April has become a bit of a sullen, wild teen, knowing its time will turn to Summer soon enough.
In honor, I have changed the jukebox just a bit. I will only comment on additions -- the songs still there from last month have their comments in this entry.
The first new addition is a natural. Julie Andrews singing The Lusty Month of May from the original Broadway cast recording of Camelot (1960). Perfection.
Then, from the incredible mind of Corky St. Clair comes a song about Spring rains, flooding rivers, storming skies and the water ravaged but defiant generations of Plains folk -- This Bulging River is a moving number from St. Clair's one-night-only 1997 stage production Red, White & Blaine, celebrating Blaine, Missouri's sesquicentennial (that's 150 years).
The last two additions are in honor of my grandmother.
Flashes is a solo piano piece composed in 1931 by the inimitable Bix Beiderbecke, a wondrous work performed here by Dick Hyman in 2008 (Bix never recorded it in his short life). Now this song, and all of Bix's music, reminds me of my father because he was a cornet player who was often compared to Bix, and he was of an era of the great Jazz players.
But Beiderbecke's music also reminds me often of my grandmother -- this one particularly has always made me feel the way I used to when I was at Gram's house alone, or nearly so, and just walking, or laying on the couch, listening to her radio station or hearing the Venice beach breezes rattle the windows and chimes. Like her, it is as complex and subtle as it is warm and inviting... and like her, it is simply one of the most beautiful things that ever was.
Lastly, since we all agree that if it hadn't been for her, the world would never have had these lovely ladies and their incredible voices...
I had numerous images at my disposal, but I HAD to pick this one... I just had to.
... then I feel a 'May' song that has become so closely identified with the Lennon Sisters (that's my Mama at lower right) was in order. This version of May You Always was taken from a late '60s episode of The Lawrence Welk Show. I had the honor of performing May You Always with them when they sang it together for the first time in years, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary in show biz...
I know Gram always loved to hear them sing it.
I hope you all walk in sunshine, now that May, and mid-Spring, have arrived.
Just don't forget, in the midst of all that sunshine, greenery and flowery-tude-inous-ness, that we are halfway around the year from dark, orange-black, undead loveliness...