Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To the Phantom, a phavor.

Welcome, S&P-brains!

I'm taking a tiny break from all my torturing tinkering in the dungeon laboratory to come up to the pub and share a round with everyone. Making monsters is thirsty work!

I see the ol' place has acquired a few more cobwebs and a blanket of dust since I've been away... and it feels just right.

Hey listen, while we're up here relaxing, maybe you can help me out with a little biznizz for a buddy of mine. I sure hope so.

My friend Cortlandt Hull is a legend in the Monster Making world, and probably needs no introduction to most of you loyal S&Pers. You've probably seen him here once or twice -- he doesn't drink much, but he's got some of the best pub-time tales about our favorite monsters (and movie monster makers!) you've ever heard.

The amazing Joe Moe (L), your pubkeep and Cortlandt Hull (R) goofing for the 
camera in front of the always gorgeous Witch's Dungeon display at
Monsterpalooza '11.

Cortlandt is a real ar-teest -- a fantastic painter, makeup artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and most famously to Monster and Hallowe'en Kid fandom, a writer, producer, director and the wonderful horror figure maker and creator of the historic Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum, a Bristol CT monster museum that just this past Fall celebrated its 45TH year delighting and thrilling Monster Kids (and their kids!) every Hallowe'en season.

Well, Cortlandt's latest horror-iffic homage is in the works, and needs the help of all us Kooky Monster Kids.

Just watch this, please. He'll explain everything...

If you would please shamble over to Cortlandt's Kickstarter page for The Phantom of the Opera: Unmasking The Masterpiece and consider any donation you can handle. There are many levels of funding and each comes with its own perks and Phantom-ish swag.

It is more than a worthy project to fund -- it's a chance to help preserve one of the most iconic films in cinema history, and of our Hallowe'en and Monster Kid heritage.

There are only 27 days left to raise the needed funds, and the planned DVD set is going to be such an awesome addition to every avid Horror Lover's movie library that you will be very, very glad you had a part in making it happen.

Please tell your friends, and refer them to the Kickstarter link above.

A toast -- to Cortlandt, the Witch's Dungeon, and getting full funding for Unmasking The Masterpiece...


Sunday, February 19, 2012

I haven't forgotten you.

I'm just toiling in the laboratory day and night.

Pictures and video to come, promise.

Now -- where's that spare arm...?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Old tubes, St. Valenstyle.

Who ever said love was pretty?

Yes, even our trusty old Hallowe'enith console radio knows that today -- and certainly tonight -- we celebrate that most delectable of emotions -- the all-seeing, all-devouring, all-but-can't-be-lived-without energy of LOVE, good S&Pers.

Just now, the crackling and sparking and humming has calmed, and the magic eye tuner on our beloved radio has somehow become the cute li'l lovelorn fella you see drooling and sneering above.

I am pretty darn sure that means we have some new bit of fun to listen to all night long.

First up, a delightfully twisted little tale concerning med school pranksters, an old cadaver, and a med student pursuing the love of a beautiful but mysterious young woman who seems to think she's half a century in the past.

Love and the Lonely One was the first episode of the awesome CBC radio horror series Nightfall, first broadcast in 1980. It's probably not for children. Or the kinds of grown-ups who wouldn't venture into the Skull & Pumpkin. 

So I know all of you will love it.

Then, to cap our romantic radio repertoire, we have a tiny little tale of terror, voiced by the master of screen horror himself, William Henry Pratt.

From the 1963 Mercury Records series Tales of the Frightened, here is Boris Karloff spinning the short-but-oh-so-satisfying The Vampire Sleeps, wherein chance brings together a young nobleman and a (yet another) beautiful and mysterious lady.

You're not one of the frightened, are you?

Anyway, we'll be toasting, talking, dancing and romancing here at the S&P all day and night. Do come by.

Good listening, good loving, good night to you all.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And that reminds me.

Greetings, S&P-brains.

I see you've been making yourselves at home. Good, good.

Settle into your seats -- this one's a little long.

Our previous post, saying goodbye to Bill Hinzman, garnered a comment from our ol' pal Fester -- you pubbies know him as a long-time and quite loyal patron of the S&P, raise 'em high -- who wrote:

"Night of the Living Dead has played almost as important a part in my upbringing as 
any of the Universal Monsters." 

Couldn't agree more, Fester. And with Sunday's passing of the Cemetery Ghoul himself, I think it's a fine time to muse over youthful memories and the influence this film has had on my growing up.

Don't worry, I'm not going to review it, or give a synopsis; we've all seen it a thousand times.

No, this is just a walk down Memory Lane... if Memory Lane passed through Evans City Cemetery.

I first beheld the wonder that is Night of the Living Dead when I was just about twelve, no older than thirteen.

To be sure, I'd seen stills in magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fangoria, and had even seen (relatively tame) clips on television shows like That's Hollywood (remember that great series?), and I recall laughing quite hard with my mom and dad when a clip of Sheriff McClelland's "They're dead, they're... all messed up!" popped up on some Hallowe'en special or other. 

So even as a little kid, I knew the basic gist -- dead people somehow come back to eat living people -- and I was terrified and fascinated by how creepy and disturbing I thought the concept was.

But when I finally caught the film on television (thank you KTTV11!) in its entirety for the first time on a late, sleepless Saturday night just at the beginning of October, I quickly realized I hadn't really known anything about it. I was enthralled, giggling, shaking my head in pure admiration. I knew I'd get no sleep, and in fact wanted to watch it again. I was terrified and euphoric, not at all wondering if it had caused damage, but if the damage was good or bad!

I was officially converted to the love of zombies.

"They're coming to get you..." Well they got me that night!

And beyond the pure enjoyment of a scary tale well told, I also felt like I had grown up a little bit, that by choosing to watch the whole thing alone, late at night, I had earned a merit badge of young manhood.

That Hallowe'en, just a few weeks later, we were setting up our family's traditional big haunted display/show at my Grandma's house, listening to spooky music and sound effects as we dressed up the house. Suddenly I heard "They're coming to get you Barbara!" coming over the sound system, and I stopped decorating and looked around. "They're dead, they're... all messed up!" came blaring over the speakers. 

"Hah!" I shouted, "I know that stuff!" Turns out our friend who always helped put together the audio for Hallowe'en night had decided to put in audio from his favorite zombie films, including Night, along with the traditional music and effects. Why he chose to do it that year, I've never known, but the awesome coincidence has always made me smile like a jack o'lantern.

So for a time, every October would bring at least one or two late night broadcasts of Night (usually on KTTV11 but also on KABC7), and I would ponder the mysteries of zombies and survival while making Hallowe'en stuff, and I would easily hear tidbits of the Night soundtrack and dialogue at Grandma's house on the 31st. 

Night of the Living Dead was now officially folded into my Hallowe'en experience.

In early October of 1986, my mom surprised me with a gift she had found while grocery shopping (at Ralph's, which in October was another kind of Hallowe'en 'tradition' in my family). I still have it:

(Yes Shellhawk, there's li'l Miniboo back there!)

I couldn't believe it. "It was only three bucks," Mom told me, "and I knew you had to have 'They're all messed up' before Hallowe'en!" -- my mom is really cool, by the way, didn't know if I ever told you that -- and I immediately put it into the VCR.

For some reason I put that jack o'lantern sticker over the price label during the first time I viewed the tape (the very afternoon she brought it home to me) and it's still there.

The thing is, I watched Night of the Living Dead at least once every day for weeks afterwards, especially in the early afternoons when I was generally alone (like many, I was a young bum just after high school!). After that Hallowe'en, I'd enjoy the weekly Saturday or Sunday afternoon viewing.

The ritual was: order a medium pepperoni and sausage pizza from Domino's, along with a few Cokes, and await the delivery while watching the beginning. I could count on the pizza getting there by the time Ben showed up at the farmhouse in the film, and I giggled every time his truck pulled up with a screech while the Domino's guy rang the doorbell!

At any rate, I watched this VHS copy hundreds of times. Easily hundreds of times. Christmastime. Eastertime. Summer nights were great times to chill out and visit my old ghoul friends, and of course come Autumn, it was tradition. As I built props and masks and drew up plans and ideas, I'd invariably have it playing in my room.

Over those crucial years, I folded Night into the rest of the Hallowe'en Universe I had created. I'd see an image of Bill Hinzman creeping through the graveyard, and feel a grey-orange Autumn sunset. Cooper and Ben arguing became part of a soundtrack that also included the Bride hissing, the Wolfman howling, and Linus groaning "You didn't tell me you were gonna kill it!" The ghouls from Night began hanging out with Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Fly. It influenced my tastes, my craft and my outlook on celebrating the Dark.

In the Fall of 1988, I received two more Gifts of the Living Dead from -- you guessed it -- good ol' Mama. I did mention how cool she is, didn't I?

First was the Complete Night of the Living Dead Filmbook:

-- a blow-by-bloody-blow recounting of the history of the film by one of the film's creators, writer John Russo, and:

-- the Fantaco t-shirt I have worn every Hallowe'en since. Seriously. Come this October 31st, I'll have worn this tee atop or underneath my costume for 24 years. I wore it during the HGTV shoot so it would be visible throughout the segment. I wore it last October. It's just Hallowe'en for me.

Night has become so much a part of my Hallowe'en that I tributed it (and its younger brother Dawn) for Hallowe'en of 2008, about which you can read (and view) a little here.


You can see how this film has been an influence.

Certainly, it is not the only horrific, fantastic film to enthrall and inform and enlighten me as I grew up. It is only one of many, many influences.

But it is squarely among the handful of favorites occupying the center of what makes me, me. I have it on DVD in various releases, and I still make sure it's running (along with its Romero zombie siblings) while I make Hallowe'en.

I must thank Mssrs. Romero, Russo, Streiner, Hardman, etc., but I must also surely thank my Mama.

And again, I thank Bill Hinzman for being #1, and for shambling, shuffling, and leading us into a new world of gods, and monsters, and zombies.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Farewell, First Zombie.

Welcome loyal S&Pers, welcome.

Please take a moment to fill your glasses. We have another toast of remembrance to raise.

I have just been informed of the passing of Bill Hinzman at the age of 75.

Yes, Bill Hinzman... the screen's first full-fledged, flesh-eating Romero ghoul -- in short, The First Zombie.

Scott William Hinzman
(1936 ---- 2012)

Hinzman was the Cemetery Ghoul, the Graveyard Zombie, from the very first modern zombie film in the first and best zombie film property in history, 1968's Night of the Living Dead.

He may not have been Zombie Zero -- we don't know who, or what, was the first shuffling, biting, infecting ghoul along the East Coast after that Venus probe came back from space carrying that mysterious, high-level radiation -- but he was the very first ghoul we saw, as Johnny teased his sister, "They're coming to get you, Barbara."

He started it all.

He also happened to be a fine cameraman for Romero for that film, and was involved in other Romero projects like There's Always Vanilla (1971), Season of the Witch (1972) and The Crazies (1973). He worked on other films as well, notably directing his own reboot of his Cemetery Zombie character in Flesh Eater (1986).

For many years, Bill had been a staple at horror and fantasy film conventions, dressing up in his iconic makeup and suit, delighting convention goers, autographing pictures and spending time with Dead fans, all of whom will tell you what a kind, funny and approachable fellow he always was.

He doesn't look all that approachable here, but seriously, he was!

Sorry to see you go, Bill.

I hope you can get some rest now.


... somehow, I can't imagine him staying down for long...

So, a toast, as we must --

They came and got you, Bill. 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Game day.

It's not shaped like a foot.

It's not even shaped like a ball.

But it's loads of fun.

Being a pub, the S&P always has a place for those Autumn folks who enjoy the Autumn tradition of American football, even if we don't really make too much noise about it.

We don't allow arguments about teams, yelling at the old Predicta above the bar, or any wagering on it, of course.

But The Big Game is afoot, as Sherlock Holmes would say... or would've said if he'd been into football.

The team buses have arrived...

The players are getting in the zone...

The cheerleaders are warming up the fans...

"Gimme a Z..."


Everyone on the field is ready for action...

"Dude! I'm open!"

No matter your team, or who wins, or if you really even care, I hope you all enjoy your Game Day. 

We'll be watching and laughing and enjoying ourselves all Day.

And Night.

And Dawn.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First of the Second.

Welcome, welcome, dear S&Pers, to the first post of a new month!

As we all learned last year, February is Runtmonth. My niece had been lamenting the seeming endlessness of January, and I suggested that perhaps February's great brevity somehow made up for it. She then mentioned that February was the runt of months -- hence, Runtmonth.

From such inauspicious beginnings come great traditions.

Today, of course, is Runtmonth the First, or simply Runtmonth's Day (or, as I was tempted to refer to it last year, the medieval vulgarity 'Runtmas').

In honor of the new, runty, monthy Runtmonth, we have yet again changed up the songlist for our player on the right. Some things are staying over from January, but there are five Februarial tunes to enjoy for now.

Now, we all know that Runtmonth's most famed association is the holiday (not ironically) at its heart: Valentine's Day.

Here at the S&P, we're not that big into Valentine's Day per se -- we've believed for a long time that one should express their love to the object(s) of that love more than on February 14th and on their birthdays -- but there's no denying that, for whatever reason (Hallmarkian or otherwise), February is the Month of Love in pop culture.

We certainly don't discourage  romance here.

We just light it with a little more orange and black than other pubs might.

First up on the ol' jukebox after our ever-present Great Pumpkin Waltz is another Vince Guaraldi waltz that has become Runtmonth tradition here: the Heartburn Waltz, from the 1975 special Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. It's light and jazzy and quirky like so much about childhood crushes can be... and two Guaraldi waltzes never hurt anybody.

Then, I felt like another waltz, because the waltz is the dance of love. Maybe.

I can't find real recording dates or tech notes for this next track, except to say it's from "John Leach and George Fenton" according to the Inter Webs. Nobody seems to have more information than that.

But if Paris is considered the city of romance, then its music must be considered the music of romance. Just think of a cafe, your true love, a sunny afternoon, and listen to Valse Moderne (Modern Waltz). It's short and sweet and oh so playfully romantic.

Then I thought, I've given them two waltzes, surely they couldn't take a third. So that's what I'll give them!

This one's a little slower but no less heartfelt and romantic.

A Penny For Your Thoughts is a sweet three-quarter ballad from the 1996 stage musical Red, White & Blaine. It is the song of Ima and her lover, Armani, as they spend the eve of his shipping off to the trenches of WWI-ravaged Europe doubting, dancing and ultimately declaring their undying love in spite of the question mark of his return from battle. 

It has also been suggested that the recording is actually of Christopher Guest and Parker Posey from Guest's 1996 mockumentary classic Waiting For Guffman, but that's totally not true.

And then I got tired of waltzes, but still felt like hearing the odd stage musical love song. Where was it? Where is love...?

Where Is Love? is the gorgeously sad interlude from the 1960 classic musical Oliver!, with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. In this 1967 version, it is Leonard Nimoy who asks if love is underneath the willow tree he's been dreaming of. In outer space. 'Cause he's Spock.

And finally we feature another song from 1967 that used to be heard on this jukebox quite often, but is now returning to the S&P after a notable absence -- Francesca's ode to Felix on the shores of the Isle of Evil, There Never Was A Love Like Mine. 

Like the earlier A Penny For Your Thoughts, this song is often attributed to a satirical film, in this case 1967's Mad Monster Party, and sung by Gale Garnett (as Francesca) to Felix Flanken (voiced by Allen Swift but not heard in this song). 

Again, this is totally untrue.

I've left last month's Northern Sky, because it's good and it's a love song and it's my pub.

I did the same with the theme from Escape From Monster Manor because Runtmonth is still the off-season for me and I am still spending some time each week shooting ghosts. And it's my pub.

I sure wish everyone a fantastic Runtmonth's Day/Runtmas today, and a fine, loving Runtmonth.

Here's to romance, spooky or otherwise. 

And what is that crackling noise... ?