Kool Kat of the Week: Rule-Bending and Award-Winning Author, Nancy A. Collins, Joins the Mayhem and Monster Madness at MONSTERAMA 2019

Posted on: Sep 23rd, 2019 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Nancy A. Collins, award-winning multi-genre author, will be joining a sinister line-up of horrorific guests during Monsterama Convention’s sixth frightening rotation around the sun! Monsterama, co-chaired by our classic monster-lovin’ fiend, friend and Kool Kat Anthony Taylor, creeps into the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta this weekend, Friday – Sunday (Sept. 27-29)!

Prepare for a ghastly weekend of ghoulish proportions including a guest list filled to the blood-curdling brim with chillers like actor Ian Ogilvy [RETURN OF THE SAINT (78-79); DEATH BECOMES HER (1992); THE SORCERERS (1967)]; actress Jane Merrow [THE SAINT (1965); THE PRISONER (1967); THE AVENGERS (1967)]; actress Pauline Peart [THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973); CUBA (1979)]; comic artist Craig Hamilton; author Jeff Strand [EVERYTHING HAS TEETH; FEROCIOUS; BLISTER]; creaturific artist Kool Kat Mark Maddox; Victorian chamber metal musicians Valentine Wolfe; Kool Kat Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte; glamour ghoul Kool Kat Madeline Brumby and so many more! Get wicked with our Kool Kat Nancy A. Collins and haunt on down to MONSTERAMA for a weekend of monster madness!

Collins’s writing career spans 30+ years as a spinner of wild monstrous tales in novels, comic books and short stories. She brought her infamous character Sonja Blue to life in her first novel SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK in 1989, which went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for best first novel. Collins expanded the Sonja Blue universe with several sequels and is currently working on new dark adventures for her infamous goth-punk vampire/vampire hunter character. Collins is the only woman to pen DC/Vertigo’s SWAMP THING, bringing much-needed controversy to Swamp Thing’s predominantly male perspective, from 1991 to 1993. In 2014, Collins was the first woman to be asked to write VAMPIRELLA, again giving the well-known character a new outlook with untapped new monstrous story lines and more.

ATLRetro caught up with Nancy A. Collins for a quick interview to talk comics; being drawn to monsters; killing it in a generally male-driven industries; and the monster mayhem of being a guest at MONSTERAMA!


ATLRetro
: Your debut horror novel Sunglasses After Dark [goth-punk vampire goodness featuring kick-ass vampire/vampire hunter Sonja Blue] was released in 1989 and won the Bram Stoker Award. Can you tell us what inspired you to go against the grain and create your own style of vampire?

Nancy A. Collins: SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK was, in many ways, a middle finger to the then-current best-selling VAMPIRE CHRONICLES series by Anne Rice. It was my revolt against the “pussification” of the vampire. Little did I know that it would get even worse, decades later, with the TWILIGHT series.

Following your debut, you released several others in the series [IN THE BLOOD (1991); PAINT IT BLACK (1995); A DOZEN BLACK ROSES (1996); THE DARKEST HEART (2002); and a collection titled DEAD ROSES FOR A BLUE LADY in 2002], all followed by vignettes and novellas and comics. Basically, you’ve kept Sonja Blue “alive” and kicking for a hellacious thirty years! Any exciting new horrors coming our way in the land of Sonja Blue?

Sonja Blue – Art by Mel Odom

Well, I’ve been working on a new Sonja Blue novel called Kill City for the last five years. It’s a reaction to the most recent “de-fanging” of the vampire genre. Unfortunately, it’s been slow going due to my need to work paying gigs to keep body and soul together. But I would describe it as a cross between THE BIG SLEEP, HARDCORE, and THE SEARCHERS, but with vampires. And it’s the first novel to be told from Sonja Blue’s POV.

On to your monsterific comic book endeavors! From SWAMP THING, to JASON VS. LEATHERFACE, to VAMPIRELLA and beyond, you’ve delved deep into the land of what once was a male-dominated field. Can you tell our readers how you broke the barrier and what obstacles you had to face that your male counterparts avoided?

I landed the gig writing SWAMP THING largely for three reasons: DC was looking for a horror writer to take the character back to his “roots” (pun intended); I’d worked with the then-new editor on the book, Stuart Moore, on a Freddy Krueger prose anthology, and he put me on his short list because he’d had the fewest edits on my story; and, I was living in New Orleans at the time, and was able to provide local flavor. I was the first woman to write for SWAMP THING, and to date the only one, as well. For the most part, I did not run into any real obstacles regarding my gender among the editors and staff at DC. Most of the push-back I got was from the fans, many of whom did not appreciate or understand my focus on Swamp Thing as a “family man” and the emphasis on his family. I also received some blowback for depicting LGBTQ characters and depicting ecologically-driven protestors as something besides terrorists. I remember a particularly virulent letter from a fan who resented my depiction of abortion as a fact-of-life for many women. I also got a lot of hate for ending Swamp Thing and Abby’s marriage (an editorial edict, btw), for which some fans have still not forgiven me, decades later. However, DC/Vertigo is releasing my entire run on Swamp Thing in early 2020 in a hardcover omnibus format—nearly 1,000 pages—called the SWAMP THING BY NANCY COLLINS OMNIBUS. It’s currently available for pre-order through Diamond Distribution and Amazon, among other outlets.

Art by Scott Eaton and Kim DeMulder

What was it like to be the first woman writing Vampirella, a character created by the one and only Forrest J. Ackerman? There’s got to be an interesting story about how you landed that gig. Care to share?

I ended up writing VAMPIRELLA largely due to Gail Simone, who asked me to write a story for her RED SONJA miniseries “Legends of Red Sonja” for Dynamite. It was my first comic story in fifteen years. I then pitched Nick Barrucci a Red Sonja one-shot called “Berserker,” which sold extremely well. Then Nick offered me VAMPIRELLA and allowed me free reign. As one of my mentors at DC Comics had been the late Archie Goodwin, one of the first real writers on VAMPIRELLA, I always felt he was looking over my shoulder the whole time I was working on the book. I’d like to think Archie would have approved.

Can you tell us one thing you did with the character, stepping away from the usual male-created female characters, to bring her into the twenty-first century, a character both men and women would be drawn to and proud of?

I often joke that I was probably the first writer on the series to never pleasure themselves to the character, which might have something to do with how I approached my run. I chose to reach back to characters from the original Warren run and incorporate them via modern storytelling into the series’ continuity. I also made the decision to make Vampirella a more integral part of the supernatural world by bringing in classic “monsters” from myth, legend, and the public domain, and expanded on her family and backstory. I also gave her a werewolf boyfriend and depicted their relationship as that of equal partners. Vampirella in my series is a no-nonsense monster-hunter with a well-defined sense of right and wrong but is also capable of recognizing her own prejudices and misconceptions regarding her fellow “monsters”.

What can you share about your current collaboration with comic artist Craig Hamilton? Anything monstrous and exciting being brought to life?

Art by Patrick Berke

Craig Hamilton and I, along with inker Larry Welch and colorist Gerhard, are working on BECOMING FRANKENSTEIN, a six-issue graphic series from Mel Smith’s Wild Card Ink. It is a prequel, of sorts, to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I’m not allowed to say much more than that, for the time being. But I will say that Craig’s art on it is absolutely gorgeous and we’re intensely proud and excited of what we’re creating. Becoming Frankenstein is shaping up to be best work of both our careers.

Before you became “Author Nancy A. Collins,” what inspired you to write? Did you begin writing as a child?

I’ve always been a storyteller. Even before I could read and write, I would draw stories and stand next to my parents and explain what was going on. It was a given from the age of three that I would eventually become a writer. Marked from birth, I guess you could say.

Have you always been drawn to monsters? Care to share your favorite monster or horror story? What makes that story special to you?

Like I said, I was marked from birth. My maternal grandfather was a huge Boris Karloff fan, and introduced me to the genre very early. It also helped that I grew up in the 1960s, when monster mania was percolating in the kid subculture with stuff like THE ADAMS FAMILY, THE MUNSTERS, Hammer Films, late night horror movie hosts, and GODZILLA flicks. It is hard for me to pick a favorite monster or horror story, but the first one that I can remember was a Dr. Seuss story about a pair of green pants with nobody in them that walked around on their own, which scared the bejesus out of me as a 3-year-old, for some reason.

Which writer from the past and which writer from the present have influenced and continue to influence you the most, and what is it about them that draws them to you?

There have been so many. But of the past, I would have t0 say Robert Bloch, who I would later meet as a young writer. Bob befriended me and was like a second grandfather. I devoured his short story collections, which are routinely excellent and the yardstick I use for what I consider makes a great short story, especially when it comes to weird/dark fiction.

Not only are you a killer storyteller, but you’re also a spooky horror film junkie and fanatic like us! Can you tell us your favorite horror movie and why it ranks at the top of your list?

I would have to say my favorite remains the original THE HAUNTING from 1963. It is a textbook example of how the viewer’s own mind can create far more intense scares than a room full of CGI technicians. Even after all this time, I still get goosebumps watching it.

As a writer working in the science-fiction, urban fantasy and horror genres, what challenges have you personally faced that seem to be a common theme amongst women in the industry?

Mostly being pigeonholed. I’ve written westerns, Southern Gothics, erotica, crime noir, urban fantasy, as well as horror—but I largely get described as a “vampire writer”, and that has become a largely female-centric field, in a lot of people’s minds. I also find myself labeled a “Strong Woman”, which is the nice way of saying I’ve had to put up with a lot of bullshit that male writers rarely are subjected to.

Can you give us five things you’re into at the moment that we should be watching, reading or listening to right now— past or present, well-known or obscure?

I’m currently enjoying the final season of PREACHER on FX, as well as the third and final season of LEGION, also on FX. I’ve also been binging THE BOYS on Prime. I also recommend GENTLEMAN JACK; a historical romance/drama on HBO about Anne Lister, an actual Regency-era noblewoman who lived openly as a lesbian, and even went so far as to marry another woman.  And I always recommend watching THE VENTURE BROTHERS, regardless of the situation.

Any advice for women writers out there trying to get their foot in the door?

I have the same advice I give everyone, regardless. Keep submitting your stuff. Learn to tell the difference between legitimate criticism and bullshit. Nothing you write is carved in stone. Never fight with an editor. Never respond to the reviews on Amazon.

Getting back to what brought us here, MONSTERAMA 2019! Do you have anything exciting planned for our readers this year?

I’m hoping we’ll have the full-color promo posters for BECOMING FRANKENSTEIN ready in time for MONSTERAMA! If so, Craig Hamilton and I will be there signing them. And I’ll be on several panels over the weekend. The first is 6pm Friday, where I discuss Swamp Thing. The second is 10am Saturday, where I’ll be on a Southern Gothic panel, and the third is 10am Sunday, where I’ll be yacking about werewolves. Otherwise, I’ll be at my table in the dealer’s room.

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The Sixth Annual Chattanooga Film Festival Gets Bizarre and Unearths Four Killer Days of Movie Madness & Mayhem, April 11-14!

Posted on: Apr 8th, 2019 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

The Chattanooga Film Festival kills it again during its 6th year invading downtown Chattanooga (Chattanooga Theatre Centre (CTC), The Moxy Chattanooga and Miller Park) this Thursday-Sunday April 11-14. CFF has way more to offer than your average film festival and promises a weekend chock full of killer films (features and shorts blocks), workshops, presentations, podcasts and parties! CFF prides itself in sharing films with the masses that are “unique, challenging, critically significant, and a helluva lot of fun!” This year’s festival showcases films ranging from monsters, rockin’ tunes, geek magic, sinister good times and homages to classic films and bizzaro television series. Here are our top 10 reasons to high tail it on up to our wonderfully weird little sister city to the north for the Chattanooga Film Festival!

1) MALLORY O’MEARA & THE CREATURE. Delve into Mallory O’Meara’s recently released biography, The Lady from the Black Lagoon (Hanover Square Press, March 5, 2019). Take a peek into the life of Millicent Patrick, killer actress, make-up artist, special effects designer and creator of the head costume for Universal’s Gill Man, a.k.a “The Creature.” Patrick’s legacy was nearly forgotten, but O’Meara gives Patrick her due in this monstrous retrospective. O’Meara is scheduled to give a 30-minute talk, a reading and will sign books for all you Millicent Patrick fans. Catch O’Meara’s event from at 3pm on Friday, April 12 in the Classterpiece Theatre! And if you’ve never caught Jack Arnold’s monstrous classic CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) on the big screen, then you’re in for a special treat! Chill with the Creature at 8:30pm at Miller Park on Saturday, April 12!

2) CRISPIN HELLION GLOVER. Spend the night with cinema icon, Crispin Glover [BACK TO THE FUTURE franchise; television series “American Gods”; David Lynch’s WILD AT HEART (1990)] from 7pm – 11:3pm Friday, April 12, as he presents a “Big Slide Show 2,” screens IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE (2007), which he co-directed with David Brothers and tells a psycho-sexual tale about a man with severe cerebral palsy who has a fetish for girls with long hair. According to Glover, screenwriter Steven C. Stewart “wanted to show that handicapped people are human, sexual and can be horrible” – a film you definitely will not want to miss! After the screening, stick around for a book signing and meet ‘n’ greet with Glover! An Evening with Crispin Glover takes place in the Bruce Springscreen Theatre.

3) GARY SHERMAN.  CFF Guest and horror film director/producer Gary Sherman [POLTERGEIST III (1988); DEAD & BURIED (1981)] brings you special treats at CFF this year! First, catch a screening of his ‘80s thriller film with mutilator pimps, Hollywood hookers and more, VICE SQUAD (1982) on Saturday, April 13 at 4:20pm with an introduction and Q&A afterwards with the director, screening in the Bruce Springscreen Theatre! On Sunday, April 14 at 10am, learn The Secrets of Poltergeist III with Sherman in the Classterpiece Theatre. You won’t want to miss Sherman dive deep into the “smoke and mirrors” behind the film’s practical special effects and more!

4) SO-CAL DESERT PUNK. CFF presents their Sonic Cinema Block screening of Stuart Swezey’s documentary DESOLATION CENTER (2018) and see the untold story of the Reagan-era anarchic punk rock desert events that have seeped into our culture by way of phenomena such as Burning Man, Lollapalooza, Coachella, etc. The film will be screened in the Bruce Springscreen Theatre on Saturday, April 13 at 12:30pm!

5) GEEK LOVE – EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. If you’ve ever wondered where the art for Dungeons & Dragons originated, look no further! Directors Kelley Slagle and Brian Stillman present their 2018 documentary, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, which explores the history, influences and stories behind the artwork that helped create the world of Dungeons & Dragons. The film will be screened in Bruce Springscreen Theatre on Sunday, April 14 at 10:30pm!

6) BJORK IN THE JUNIPER TREE. Get medieval with Bjork with a 4k restoration screening of Nietzchka Keene’s debut Brothers Grim-esque film THE JUNIPER TREE (1990) on Sunday, April 14 at 8:40pm in the Bruce Springscreen Theatre!

7) METALPUNKOCALYPSE. CFF plans to rock your face of this weekend! Get hellbent during the Metal Madness After Party on Thursday, April 11 at 10pm at The Moxy, celebrating the Heavy Metal in cinema with themed cocktails, metal face painters and more! Or catch a screening of Eric Pennycoff’s heavy metal terror SADISTIC INTENTIONS (2018) on Friday, April 12 at 5pm in the Screena Turner Theatre, followed later that night by Jonas Akerlund’s LORDS OF CHAOS (2018) where an obsession with creating “true Norwegian black metal” turns truly sinister at 11:30pm! And who needs Saturday morning cartoons when you’ve got Destroy All Movies!!! The Punk on Film Panel with Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly at 10am Saturday, April 13 at The Moxy, with a hilarious take on Hollywood vs. the Punk Rock Movement “when horror films and party comedies became infested with mohawks and mayhem!”

8) MEMPHIS ‘69. CFF presents a rare treat with a screening of Joe LaMattina’s documentary MEMPHIS ’69 (2019), which showcases the 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival celebrating the 150th anniversary of Memphis, all thanks to Fat Possum Records’ acquisition of the nearly 50-year-old footage. LaMattina’s doc features a rare view of performances by Johnny Winter, Bukka White, Rufus Thomas and more, screening Friday, April 12 at 3:30pm in the Bruce Springscreen Theatre!

9) HELL-BENT AND BEWITCHIN’. Atlanta’s own Ben Winston’s feature debut, HELLBOUND (2018) world premieres at CFF! You won’t want to miss this witchy, satanic tribute to the classic films of the ‘70s, shot in B/W on 16mm, and described by CFF staff as giving off an “Easyrider/Texas Chain Saw Massacre/Race with the Devil vibe.” The film screens Saturday, April 13 at 2:30pm in the Bruce Springscreen Theatre! Winston and producer Tim Reis will be on hand for the film’s introduction and a post-film Q&A!

10) COWBOY WHO?
Get weird as CFF presents a screening of the first season of Canada’s bizarre children’s show “Cowboy Who” which aired from 1990-1994 (condensed to 90-oddball minutes) curated and introduced by Peter Kuplowsky. Have a wacked out good time on Saturday, April 13 at 10am in the Screena Turner Theatre.

 

Chattanooga Film Festival main hours are Thur. April 11 from 4:30pm to 12am; Fri. April 12 from 10am. to 1am; Sat. April 13 from 10am. to 1:30am; and Sun. April 14 from 10am to 12am. For more info, visit the Chattanooga Film Festival official website here.

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The Horror! The Horror! Our Top Reasons to Monster Mash it up at the 5th Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION

Posted on: Oct 3rd, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

The horror! The horror! Atlanta kicks off its Halloween celebrations with a bang! Spook up the weekend with a whole lotta horror classics by haunting on down to the fifth annual Monsterama Convention invading the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta and haunting all your senses this weekend (Oct. 5-7)! From legendary actors to spookshows to monstrous sightings, here are our top reasons to get your classic monster fix at MONSTERAMA!

1)  200th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF FRANKENSTEIN. Valentine Wolfe is back for another year with the release of their new creation,THE HAUNTING OF MARY SHELLEY,providing an eerie auditory experience as they accompany Thomas Edison’s 1910 classic silent horror film, FRANKENSTEIN, on Saturday at 1pm, featuring narration by Kool Kat Madeline Brumby!

2) SILVER SCREAM SPOOK SHOW. Kool Kat Shane Morton, a.k.a. ghost host with the most, Professor Morte and the Silver Scream Spook Show featuring the Go-Go Ghouls will terrify with a live spook show featuring special guest Luciana Paluzzi at 4pm, followed by a spook-tacular screening of Kinji Fukasaku’s THE GREEN SLIME (1968) on 16mm, Saturday beginning at 4pm!

3) FANGTASTIC FILM. It’s monster movie madness with screenings of horrorific classics (mostly screening in 16mm) including Jules Bass’ MAD MONSTER PARTY (1967), Don Dohler’s FIEND (1980), Howard Ziehm’s FLESH GORDON (1974), Kinji Fukasaku’s THE GREEN SLIME (1968), Thomas Edison’s FRANKENSTEIN (1910), Paul Annett’s THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974), Mel Welles’ LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971), Paul Naschy’s NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981), Val Guest’s WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970), Sam Irvin’s ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS (2001), Jim O’Connolly’s THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)
and more!

4) CINEPROV RIFFS THE FIEND. Madness, monsters and corpses OH MY! Hilarity ensues as New MST3K writer Larry Johnson and CINEPROV riffs Don Dohler’s FIEND (1980) in 16mm, Friday at 10pm!

5) SPOOKTACULAR GUESTS. Catch some killer guests, including our Kool Kat of the Week, Director Jeff Burr (FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM), Sam Irvin (ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS; OBLIVION), Mark Goddard (LOST IN SPACE; THE RIFLEMAN), Luciana Paluzzi (THUNDERBALL; THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN), Rachel Talalay (FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE; TANK GIRL), Ken Sagoes (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3), creaturific artist Kool Kat Mark Maddox, Kool Kat Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte, glamour ghoul Kool Kat Madeline Brumby and so many more!

6) MONSTER MAKEOVERS.  Get gore-gous with monster make-up galore as part of this year’s Makers Track! Kevin Moe delivers a monstrousMask Makingpanel, Fri. at 9:30pm! Bethany Marchman-Arriagada apes it up with herGirl Makes Gorillapanel, Sat. at 10am! And win some monstrous prizes with the annual FACE-ON make-up contest, Sat. at 5:30pm! And don’t forget to stick around for a creeping cornucopia of frightful faces and monster masks!

7) WARPED WRITERS & LITERARY PANELS. Writers make the monstrous world go ‘round, so check out guest authors, Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew (DRACUL; DRACULA THE UN-DEAD), Nancy A. Collins (VAMPIRELLA; SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK), Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Comics), James A. Moore (THE LAST SACRIFICE; BLOOD RED), Charles Rutledge and vampire aficionado J. E. Browning (GRAPHIC HORROR: MOVIE MONSTER MEMORIES), and so many more!

8) SCARE-TASTIC SHOPPING. Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both classic horror memorabilia, cult classics on DVD and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories. So come on down to the dealer’s room and check out all the toys, collectibles and monstrous goodies you can get your ghoulish little hands on!

9) MONSTER PROM. Hey all you boils and ghouls, get frightfully funky at this year’s Monster Prom, Saturday at 8pm! Dust off the old rat-infested tux, clear out the cobwebs, shine up your shoes and get ready to do the Monster Mash, and maybe even Time-Warp into the wee hours of the morning!

MONSTERAMA main con hours are Fri. Oct. 5 from 2 to 12 a.m.; Sat. Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sun. Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more info, visit the MONSTERAMA official website here.

 

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The Horror! The Horror! Our Top 10 Reasons to Spook on Down to the 4th Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION

Posted on: Sep 27th, 2017 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Illustration by Monsterama guest Kat Hudson

What are you up to this weekend? We’re monster mashing it up with a helluva killer Kool Kat extravaganza and more at the 4rd Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION, creeping and crawling into town this Friday-Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta! From legendary actors to ghastly séances, here are our top reasons to get your classic monster fix at MONSTERAMA!

1)  THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI SCORED LIVE. Valentine Wolfe is back for another year, providing an eerie auditory experience as they accompany Robert Wiene’s 1920 classic silent horror film, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, Saturday at 1pm!

2) HOUDINI SEÁNCE. You won’t want to miss MONSTERAMA’s first ever séance! And who better to raise your spiritual expectations with a conjuring of medium debunker and escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini, than ghoulish guests Kool Kat Shane Morton, Daniel Roebuck and Marcus Koch! Raise your spirits Friday at 11pm!

3) SILVER SCREAM SPOOK SHOW.  Kool Kat Shane Morton, a.k.a. ghost host with the most, Professor Morte and the Silver Scream Spook Show featuring the Go-Go Ghouls and guest, Dick Miller will terrify with a live spook show followed by a spook-tacular screening of Roger Corman’s THE TERROR (1963) on 16mm, Saturday beginning at 4pm!

4) FANGTASTIC FILM AND TWISTED TELEVISION.  It’s monster movie madness with screenings of horrorific classics (mostly screening in 16mm) including Charles B. Griffiths’s DR. HECKYL AND MR. HYPE (1980), featuring guest Dick Miller; Roman Polanski’s THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967); Lainie Miller’s 2014 documentary, THAT GUY DICK MILLER; Roy Ward Baker’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970); an unannounced Ballyhoo Motion Pictures documentary; and a special adults only (21+) screening of guest Brian K. Williams’ newly released SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE with special guests Allison Maier and Ellie Church, and a slew of more slaying cinema! Or get terrified T.V.-style  throughout the weekend and catch screenings of THE OUTER LIMITS – “The Sixth Finger” and “The Architects of Fear”; STAR TREK – “Devil in the Dark” and “Mirror Mirror”; made for TV movie, THE QUESTOR TAPES (1974); and you won’t want to miss a super rare screening of Kolchak THE NIGHT STALKER and more!

5) CINEPROV RIFFS THE LOST WORLD. Madness, monsters and prehistoric creatures, OH MY! Hilarity ensues as New MST3K writer Larry Johnson and CINEPROV riffs Irwin Allen’s THE LOST WORLD (1960) Friday at 9pm!

6) SPOOKTACULAR GUESTS. Catch some killer guests, including Sybil Danning (BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS); BarBara Luna (STAR TREK); Dick Miller (GREMLINS; ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL); visual effects expert Gene Warren Jr. (PET SEMATERY; ELIMINATORS); horror history expert and documentarian, Kool Kat Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; creaturific artist Kool Kat Mark Maddox; Kool Kat Ricky Hess (HORROR HOTEL); filmmaker and set-dec dresser/buyer Kool Kat Dayna Noffke (“Under the Bed”); film score composer Tom Ashton (The March Violets); Kool Kat Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte; glamour ghoul Kool Kat Madeline Brumby, actress Allison Maier (FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS) and more!

7) MONSTER MAKEOVERS.  Get gore-gous with monster make-up galore as part of this year’s Makers Track! You won’t want to miss SSFXLAB’s “It’s Alive” event, creating Frankenstein’s monster in 3 different ways; SFX for the smallest creatures in your life, with the “Littlest Monster Maker,” event featuring mom/daughter duo, filmmaker Kool Kat Dayna Noffke and ultra spooky Vivi Vivian; and win some monstrous prizes with the annual FACE-ON make-up contest! And don’t forget to stick around for a creeping cornucopia of frightful faces and monster masks!

8) WARPED WRITERS & LITERARY PANELS. Writers make the monstrous world go ‘round, so check out guest authors, Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew (DRACULA THE UN-DEAD); John Farris (THE FURY); Sean Linkenback (THE ART OF JAPANESE MONSTERS); Charles Rutledge and vampire aficionado J. E. Browning (GRAPHIC HORROR: MOVIE MONSTER MEMORIES). And you won’t want to miss out on some wicked panels of the literary variety including “Our Favorite Trashy Horror Novels,” with Jeff Strand, Clay Gilbert and Eddie Coulter; “Dracula 120th Anniversary Spectacular,” with Dacre Stoker, J.E. Browning and Kool Kat Anthony Taylor; “Nevermore – A Poe Tribute,” with Kool Kat Mark Maddox and Mike Gordon, and so many more!

9) SCARE-TASTIC SHOPPING. Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both classic horror memorabilia, cult classics on DVD and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories. So come on down to the dealer’s room and check out all the toys, collectibles and monstrous goodies you can get your ghoulish little hands on!

10) MONSTER PROM. Hey all you boils and ghouls, get frightfully funky at this year’s Monster Prom, Saturday at 8:30pm! Dust off the old rat-infested tux, clear out the cobwebs, shine up your shoes and get ready to do the Monster Mash, and maybe even Time-Warp into the wee hours of the morning, hosted by Professor Morte and DJ Deathskiss!

MONSTERAMA main con hours are Fri. Sept. 29 from 4 to 12 a.m. (with screenings at noon and registration at 3pm); Sat. Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sun. Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info, visit the MONSTERAMA official website here.

 

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Kool Kat of the Week: It’s Monster Madness as Anthony Taylor, Monster Kid and Con Co-Chair, Dishes on the 4th Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION

Posted on: Sep 26th, 2017 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Anthony Taylor, official Licensing & Brand Manager for the Bram Stoker Estate, author and one helluva monster-kid, co-chairs Atlanta’s favorite classic monster convention, MONSTERAMA, creeping into its fourth hellacious year at the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta this weekend, Friday – Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1!

Prepare for a ghastly three days of ghoulish proportions filled to the blood-curdling brim with old-school horror connoisseurs like Sybil Danning (BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS); BarBara Luna (THE DEVIL AT 4 O’CLOCK; STAR TREK); Dick Miller (THE TERMINATOR; GREMLINS; ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL); visual effects expert Gene Warren Jr. (THE TERMINATOR; PET SEMATERY; ELIMINATORS); author John Farris (THE FURY); horror history expert and documentarian, Kool Kat Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; creaturific artist Kool Kat Mark Maddox; Kool Kat Ricky Hess (HORROR HOTEL); filmmaker and set-dec dresser/buyer Kool Kat Dayna Noffke (“Under the Bed”); Victorian chamber metal musicians Valentine Wolfe; film score musician/composer Tom Ashton (The March Violets); Kool Kat Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte; glamour ghoul Kool Kat Madeline Brumby and so many more! Get wicked and haunt on down to MONSTERAMA for a weekend of monster madness!

In addition to his duties as MONSTERAMA’s “Monster Kid in Chief,” Taylor has authored THE FUTURE WAS F.A.B.: THE ART OF MIKE TRIM, released in 2014; ARCTIC ADVENTURE, an official THUNDERBIRDS novel released in 2012; VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: THE COMPLETE SERIES – VOL. 2, released in 2010, and more. He’s also penned hundreds of articles published in horror, sci-fi and film fandom publications such as SFX MAGAZINE, VIDEO WATCHDOG, FANGORIA, SCREEM MAGAZINE, HORRORHOUND MAGAZINE, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and more!

ATLRetro caught up with Anthony Taylor for a quick interview about his monster kid memories; the importance of preserving film and classic popular culture; and this year’s maniacal MONSTERAMA madness!

Illustration by Monsterama guest Kat Hudson

ATLRetro: MONSTERAMA invades Atlanta once again and we couldn’t be more excited! As a life-long monster kid, can you fill us in on the creation of this labor of love and tell us what prompted you to bring a weekend full of classic monsters to the heart of Atlanta?

Anthony Taylor: I’ve attended conventions like Wonderfest in Louisville, KY, and Monster Bash in Mars, PA, for many years and enjoyed them immensely. I’d always wished there was a similar show here in Atlanta. I waited around for that to happen for so long that I finally decided to put it on myself, and Monsterama was born in 2014. Though predominantly focused on classic horror films, we embrace monsters of all genres and media, and try to provide a great weekend for people who like them.

Pop culture/sub-culture conventions, such as MONSTERAMA, are great ways to preserve film and television classics. Why do you think these types of events draw larger crowds year after year? In your role(s) as convention director/Co-Chair, are you seeing larger and larger turnouts at these types of events each year?

I’m not certain they are drawing significantly larger crowds every year; at least not the more focused ones. Dragon Con, absolutely; they appeal to multiple genres and generations. We have grown consistently since 2014, but I know some shows that report a shrinking fan base simply due to the age of the films and media they cover – the fans and those still into them are dying off.  That’s why I feel it’s important for conventions like Monsterama to keep the banner flying. If we don’t, sooner or later no one will care about these stories that we cherish. In my opinion, “millennials” just don’t seem to see film as an art form, by and large. It’s a way to waste two hours and then on to the next distraction to many of them. The films we celebrate are definitely art and deserve to be preserved.

The guests that have appeared at MONSTERAMA have been monsterific, from Ricou Browning to Lynn Lowry to Victoria Price to Caroline Munro to Zach Galligan and so many more. What can you tell our readers about this year’s guests? Anything exciting planned? And who are you hoping to snag for future conventions?

We’ve got FABULOUS guests this year! Dick Miller, the guy from every Roger Corman and Joe Dante movie ever made, will be with us, as will Sybil Danning from BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and THE HOWLING 2, to name a few. Daniel Roebuck from LOST and Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN movies will be signing for free all weekend! We also have BarBara Luna from STAR TREK and the OUTER LIMITS, Academy Award™-winning special effects master Gene Warren, Jr., Lynn Lowry (as you mentioned), and so many more. The complete list is on our website here. Next year I’d love to get John Saxon, as I’ve enjoyed all of his performances.

Not only are you seasoned in the areas of classic film and television fandom from the behind-the-scenes running of conventions, but you’re also a published author (ARCTIC ADVENTURE, an official THUNDERBIRDS novel, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: THE COMPLETE SERIES – VOL. 2, along with articles published in several fandom magazines). What compels you to write? And what is it about classic pop culture that makes you want to share it with your readers?

I like sharing my joy in all things popular culture with other people. I don’t want to just share my own nostalgic vision on a lot of these subjects — I want to provide readers with context so they can enjoy art on a deeper level. A good example is the graphic novel WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. To anyone who picked it up after 1989, when the Berlin wall came down and glasnost pervaded Eastern Europe, it has a completely different meaning than to those of us who read it while still under the threat of nuclear war. Of course, now might be a good time for a re-read of Watchmen… I’ve written hundreds of articles and interviews for film magazines exposing what goes on behind the camera because that informs what goes on in front of it. Context makes you view art in a completely different light.

Which classic monster and/or movie would you say is the most neglected and what do you think makes them worthy of attention?

I’ve got a few lesser-known favorites, chief among them I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and CURSE OF THE DEMON. They both work to frighten or creep out the viewer on a very base level, and both are visually striking. They both create tension via a sort of poetic nomenclature and subvert the viewer’s expectations. I could recommend many films, but if you haven’t seen these two, add them to your list!

Can you tell us a little about some of your favorite monster kid memories?

The first monster I was ever fascinated by (like many) was King Kong. When I was six years old, I traded a few comic books for a gorgeous poster of angry Kong towering over New York City, Fay Wray in his hand– and it scared me so much that I couldn’t sleep with it on my wall! My mom had to re-hang it in my closet so it wouldn’t keep me up at night in terror.

We see that you’re a huge fan of classic toys and model kit building. Do you remember the first model kit? And more importantly, do you still have it?

Around the same age, I began to see ads on the back of comics for Aurora monster model kits and could barely contain my desire for the whole set. The first one I coveted was the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but the first one I actually bought and built was the Phantom of the Opera. I eventually got Frankenstein, Dracula, The Creature and a few more. Unfortunately, my originals do not survive, but I have re-issues of all of them now. Knowing they’re safe in my storage unit gives me a warm, completed feeling from time to time.

I’m sure all monster kids are dying to know — how does one become the licensing & brand manager for the Bram Stoker Estate? That’s got to be one big dream come true. Can you tell us some exciting things you’ve got planned regarding Stoker’s Estate?

I met Dacre Stoker, who runs the estate and is Bram Stoker’s great-grand nephew a few years ago and we get along well. After seeing his presentations on Bram and Dracula several times, I began to realize how much branding potential was being wasted by not having someone overseeing these matters. I spoke with Dacre and we eventually put together an agreement that made me Licensing & Brand manager for the estate. I’m working with companies in the retail mystery box realm, jewelry, tabletop gaming, and others to try and create products that will extend awareness of Stoker and his works. It’s going pretty well so far.

What was your first taste of monstrous terror, and which classic monsters are your favorites?

Aurora Classic Monster model kits

Kong! I also love the many creations of Ray Harryhausen, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Creature From The Black Lagoon. I used to be an indiscriminate collector of monster merchandise, but now I’ve narrowed things down to just a few favorites. I no longer feel the need to own everything ever made!

What about your favorite classic television series?

Gerry Anderson’s UFO – the only monsters in it are humans and humanoid aliens, but the protagonist is a bureaucrat, out on the watchtower keeping the Earth safe from invaders. He’s a hero with a briefcase, and the writing of the show made a big impression on me when I first viewed it. There are lots of great miniature effects and explosions, cute girls in silver cat suits, and groovy music, but it remains one of the most engaging and serious television programs I’ve ever seen.

Can you give us five things you’re into at the moment that we should be watching, reading or listening to right now— past or present, well-known or obscure?

I’m afraid my days of being cutting edge are long past! I mostly listen to’70s and ’80s punk and new wave, with a general leaning towards jangly guitar riffs by bands like The Church, or Crowded House. I haunt Netflix and Amazon Prime for new films and shows like THE OA or THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (also starring Monsterama guest Daniel Roebuck). I read a lot of bad speculative fiction but I’m genuinely amazed when something as good as Jeff VanderMeer’s BORNE comes along. I like Sirius radio now that I have it, but wish it were priced more reasonably. I’m a huge fan of Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing, especially THE REMAINS OF THE DAY and NEVER LET ME GO.

And back to one of our favorite classic monster conventions, MONSTERAMA – anything extra special in store for con attendees this year? Any special events planned we should put on our calendar? So many great things!

Friday we have a concert by our heavy Victorian metal house band, Valentine Wolfe, a tongue-in-cheek séance to raise the spirit of Harry Houdini, Cineprov will be riffing on Irwin Allen’s production of THE LOST WORLD, and we’re screening guest Brian K. Williams’ film SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE, with stars Ellie Church and Alison Maier in attendance. Saturday is the Silver Scream Spook Show screening THE TERROR, which co-stars our guest Dick Miller, plus our annual Monster Prom where we have truly fabulous door prizes. Valentine Wolfe will also be providing a live, original musical score for the classic German film, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. Dacre Stoker is bringing some of Bram Stoker’s personal effects to display as well. Sunday the Atlanta Radio Theater Company will be performing BRIDES OF DRACULA live onstage. All this plus many other panels, screenings, exhibits, contests, and demos all weekend long!

A. Taylor and Monsterama 2016 guest, Caroline Munro

And last but not least, what are you up to next? Can you give us some details on any other projects you’re currently working on or will be in the near future?

My partner and I are launching a new convention in Atlanta next Easter weekend called SPY CON. If you’re a James Bond, Kingsman, Man From UNCLE or other Spy-fi fan, you won’t want to miss it! We’re still early in the process, but details are available here. And of course, work has already begun on next year’s Monsterama, which will be classic Sci-Fi and space-horror themed, and is slated to take place at the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta Oct. 5-7, 2018.

 

 

 

 

All photos courtesy of Anthony Taylor and used with permission.

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Kool Kats of the Week: Monster Movie Madness Ensues as Mark Maddox and Jim Adams Let Loose the Creatures of the Night, Sending Chills Down Your Spine with MONSTER ATTACK!

Posted on: Feb 3rd, 2016 By:

by Melanie CrewSaucermen800-730x548
Managing Editor

Award-winning illustrator, Mark Maddox teams up with jack-of-all creative trades, Jim Adams (actor, radio personality, NERDVANA podcast co-host, Project iRadio PR liaison), to let loose upon the unsuspecting public a monstrous creation, their podcast MONSTER ATTACK! via Project iRadio! Their beastly baby aired its first episode on January 11, 2016 (catch it here), diving head first into the monster madness that started it all for these two monster kids [William Castle’s spine-chilling, THE TINGLER (1959), starring Vincent Price, and Douglas Hickox/Eugene Lourie’s THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959)]. MONSTER ATTACK! airs weekly and covers topics that run a gory-fying gamut from scary creatures that go bump in the night, to old-school sci-fi, to radioactive monsters, mad scientists and more! Take a listen, get your bones a rattlin’ and catch the craze that is, MONSTER ATTACK!

Jim Adams and Mark Maddox

Jim Adams and Mark Maddox

Maddox, monster kid, artiste extraordinaire and recipient of a Rondo Award (2011’s Artist of the Year) and Pulp Factory’s “Cover of the Year” award, hails from Tallahassee, FL and his artistic seed has spread like wildfire! He’s illustrated many a magazine cover [SCREEM MAGAZINE (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”; “Universal Monsters”; MST3K’s 25th Anniversary Issue; “American Horror Story”); HORRORHOUND MAGAZINE; LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS; UNDYING MONSTERS; MAD SCIENTIST MAGAZINE, just to name a few], book covers, films [Warner Brothers’ 3D Blu-ray of HOUSE OF WAX, Cortlandt Hull’s DVD THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA UNMASKING THE MASTERPIECE] and so much more! Maddox has also become an officially licensed artist through the Vincent Price estate, having illustrated a vast library of Vincent Price book and magazine covers. If you haven’t caught a glimpse of Maddox’s artistic endeavors, you may want to haunt on down to your local purveyor of monsterific lit, or catch him at one of many classic monster conventions, including Atlanta’s own Monsterama, Louisville, KY’s Wonderfest and more!HH copy

Adams, New Yorker by birth and Atlantan at heart, began co-hosting Project iRadio’s “Nerdvana Interviews” in 2014. He has been a professional actor for 30-plus years, was a morning wake-up show radio personality for twenty years, and dabbled in newspaper reporting. Adams is a fixture in the metro Atlanta theatre scene, having served on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Theatre Conference and served as the Senior Artistic Director for the Canton Professional Theatre. He is a devout monster movie matinee fanatic and is a true monster kid, boasting having once owned a collection of classic and modern monster/horror films that exceeded 1,500 titles. Adams can also be found lurking around classic monster and horror conventions, camera and microphone in hand, seeking his prey as the next charming victim for his Project iRadio interviews.

ATLRetro caught up with Adams and Maddox for a quick interview about their love of classic monster movies, their take on classic and modern special effects and tales from their monster kid childhoods. While you’re reeling in on our little Q&A, catch MONSTER ATTACK!’s second episode, “The Werewolfhere!

Jim Adams and Veronica Carlson

Jim Adams and Veronica Carlson

ATLRetro: Congratulations on “The Premiere” episode of your new Project iRadio podcast, MONSTER ATTACK!, which aired January 11, 2016. Classic monsters and “monster movies” in general are right up ATLRetro’s alley and we’re pretty excited to have a podcast devoted to old school monster flicks and those who dreamed them up. Can you tell our readers how you two partnered up to put together this show?

Jim Adams: Mark and I met at the first Monsterama convention in Atlanta two years ago. His table was located next to Veronica Carlson‘s table and I was heading to speak with her when I spotted a print from the movie INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN. As a kid, it was one of my favorite films, and I stopped to purchase the print. As we talked about the film and many others, it became pretty clear that Mark and I grew up appreciating most of the same monster movies. A few weeks later, Mark was a guest on my podcast, NERDVANA, and we blasted through the entire hour without taking a breath, talking about our favorite films. But it was the following year at the next Monsterama convention that we began talking about doing a podcast together. The idea took form and we recorded our first show 1959_1028_tinglerjust before Christmas.

Mark Maddox: Jim and I had met at a couple of conventions and realized we had a rapport when it came to talking about films. He had a common affinity for classic horror films and the idea to do a podcast came from that. We seemed to work well together talking about them.

In the premiere episode, you both discussed your first taste of monsters in film land, with Mark’s being William Castle’s spine-chilling THE TINGLER (1959), starring Vincent Price, and Jim’s being Douglas Hickox/Eugene Lourie’s tale of a giant dinosaur radiating London in THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959). Although these were your first tantalizing tastes of terror, can you fill us in on your favorite classic monsters and why?

J: For me, my favorites have always been the classics – vampires and werewolves. I loved THE WOLF MAN with Lon Chaney Jr., and it still remains one of my all-time favorites. Fred F. SearsTHE WEREWOLF (1956) is also one I really enjoy and it is the subject of our second MONSTER ATTACK! affiche-la-bete-geante-qui-s-abat-sur-londres-the-giant-behemoth-1959-2podcast. Vampires have always been favorites as well. I am a huge fan of the Hammer films featuring Christopher Lee, although the best vampire film, in my opinion was THE BRIDES OF DRACULA with David Peel playing the vampire. The Count Yorga films are also ones I enjoy watching very much. Bela Lugosi’s DRACULA (1931) has a warm place in my heart. I don’t have much use for some the contemporary takes offered like the TWILIGHT series. I think they sometimes forget that vampires are monsters, not love interests. I am not a fan of what I call “90210 with fangs.”

M: My first favorite monster as a child had to be Frankenstein’s Monster, by far – the film version. The flat head and makeup along with his strength just captivated me. I first saw him on the cover of a magazine fighting The Wolfman and my love for monsters was set. From there, it spread to King Kong, Dracula and on and on.

Which classic monster and/or movie would you say is the most neglected and what do you think makes them worthymummy-poster of attention?

J: The original THE MUMMY with Boris Karloff is a work of absolute genius. The horror is very subtle, but powerful. I love the lighting and set design and Karloff‘s performance the very best of his illustrious career. To many folks, the film may be too “talky” compared to the action-packed horror films of today, but true film lovers should be able to appreciate the incredible artistry The scene where the Mummy first reveals himself to one of the archaeologists is absolutely one of the best horror scenes I have ever witnessed.

M: I think Bela Lugosi‘s DRACULA and Boris Karloff‘s THE MUMMY are both neglected. A lot of people would say they are both slow and not much happens. Bull! They are just incorporating the same kind of techniques that would later be used by Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch – the kind of pacing that brings its own tension. The settings for Dracula and Lugosi’s portrayal are both so weird that it’s like a broken arm that’s been set. Everything looks all right, but there is just something that feels wrong. I think the film has been dismissed too quickly by people.

frankensteinCan you tell us a little about some of your favorite “monster kid” memories?

J: The one I tell a lot is one that happened watching an OUTER LIMITS episode entitled “The Architects of Fear.” I was eight years old and the monster was the most frightening thing I had ever seen. My bedroom at the time had several maps on the walls. I loved maps as a kid, and during the night a fly got stuck one of them. The sound it made was exactly like the sound the creature made on the show, and I was panic-stricken. It was about four or five years later before I dared watch that episode again, but I decided to take a chance. When the monster appeared, my body physically shook. It was almost 20 years before I saw “Architects” again. I purchased the episode on VHS and when I watched it, it still bothered me a bit. I cannot think of anything that affected me quite as powerfully as that one did.

M: One of my favorites was the night that I found out the local TV station was going to show a double-feature of FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) because I had never seen either one. Another was my mom letting me stay up on a Wednesday night to watch KING KONG (1933) and I was ecstatic. A couple memories that Jim and I have in common are one, checking out the new TV UM2CoverFinalGUIDE every week and looking to see what “Monster Movies” were going to come on that weekend. The other was going to the newsstand and seeing the latest copy of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. (Note: One of Jim’s also included going to the neighborhood drug store and watching for the latest Monster Model releases by Aurora and Revell.)

Despite the invasion of modernized and extreme terror tactics, what do you think it is that keeps generation after generation returning to classic monster movies? What is it about these films that continue to draw you to them?

J: There is true artistry to them. I love that we can do so much today with special effects, but sometimes having that luxury creates lazy or sloppy filmmaking. I believe anyone who looks at these classic monsters – even the low-budget ones – cannot help but be blown away by the love the filmmakers poured into them. But, on another note, even the bad ones are just so damn entertaining to watch. Even today, watching the old films I grew up with for our podcast, I find myself re-experiencing those wonderful times growing up with optimism and youthful exuberance from my childhood.

black-scorpionM: Classic films have a lot of dedicated people working for them – writers, directors, actors, technicians, etc. I think that quality is what makes people return to them. With modern horror films, the ones that say something new (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, CABIN IN THE WOODS, and HOSTEL) were all different than their predecessors and that’s why they succeeded. The old films always had the backing of the major studios which helped with the quality. Even the “B” pictures were of high quality

In “The Premiere” episode you discuss the special effects in films like Edward Ludwig’s THE BLACK SCORPION (1957) (Willis H. O’Brien – special effects supervisor) and Eugene Lourie’s THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) (Willis Cook/special effects; Ray Harryhausen/animation). The techniques and art of “old school” special effects has influenced many modern SPFX artists. What do you consider the pros and cons of the advent of computerized SPFX and the more Screem25finalhands off approach to filmmaking? And what is your favorite “old-school” special effect that you think should be used more often in modern film-making?

J: As I said earlier, sometimes I find that filmmakers get a little sloppy and lazy with access to CGI and other computerized effects. I love practical effects because they seem more realistic and I think using those effects helps the performers deliver a better performance. I also believe that the best “scary” movies leave something to the imagination. The human brain will fill the gaps with far more frightening imagery than any effect can. Films like ALIEN (1979), the original THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), and IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) have shown that. I also miss really good stop-action effects. Done well, I believe they can really sell a film. Films like MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961) and any of the other Ray Harryhausen films are still favorites of mine and are always enjoyable.

M: I think that if it is handled well, you should use whatever tool in the toolbox you have to get the job done. That does not mean you use that tool when it is not necessary. Filmmaking is still about storytelling. JURASSIC PARK (1993) needed its special effects to make the dinosaurs seem alive. Some films overuse computerized effects at the expense of the story.

MAD SCIENTIST 29 FRONT CVR MARK MADDOXMark, it’s no secret that your artistic resume and portfolio is quite prolific with your art spanning the covers of SCREEM MAGAZINE; HORRORHOUND MAGAZINE; LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS; MAD SCIENTIST MAGAZINE (and so many more!); your illustrations being used for Warner Brothers Blu-ray releases; and your Vincent Price magazine and book covers leading you to becoming an officially licensed artist through the Vincent Price estate. Can you tell our readers what drew you to your art and why this particular subject matter? And who would you say is your greatest inspiration/influence and why?

M: I loved comic books, monster movies and science fiction. I would draw the things I loved, and the things I loved were my muses. The muse fed the wish to draw, to create more of what I loved. When it came to films, the love of films made me want to draw and the drawing made me love films even more. As far as my influences, the first person who made me want to draw was Dr. Seuss. But the person who really made me want to become an artist, because I loved their work tremendously and still do to this day, was Jack Kirby. That moved me from comic book art to realistic art, portraits and realism with people like James Bama, who did the Doc Savage covers and stills does great Western art to this day.

Jim, we see that you’ve been in radio for quite some time, having been a radio personality in the metro-Atlanta area

Jim Adams

Jim Adams

for a couple decades and now with the invent of podcasts, began co-hosting Project iRadio’s “Nerdvana Interviews” in 2014. Project iRadio not only has brought underrated and almost unknown subjects to light with its podcasts, but it’s made it easier for fans to access knowledge and information delivered by a wide range of industry professionals. What do you hope to achieve with MONSTER ATTACK! and what do you want our readers and your audience to take away from the show?

J: I am so excited about the future of Project iRadio, especially with the incredible hosts we have. After seeing the success of horror writers like Brian Keene, James Moore, Jonathan Mayberry and the others on the network, it appeared there was a need for a look at old horror as well as the new, and that’s where Mark and I fit in. I would love to see MONSTER ATTACK! open up that world to a new generation of fans. Jess Roberts, founder of Project iRadio, is about half my age and he recalls how he fell in love with the older films when he first watched THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954). There are several generations who have never watched any of these magnificent films and maybe listening to the podcast will help whet their appetites to try them out.

30e2e9be532710c523aff1387ccc1381We hear that you were going to initiate a Patreon for subscribers and funding for Project iRadio. Can you tell us a little about that effort?

J: I’m a rookie at Patreon, but from what I have been told, it is a terrific vehicle for helping the network grow and expand. Right now, we are all doing what we do out of love, but bills have to paid and the overhead of maintaining a large podcast network has to be met. Patreon allows those who love what we do help take some ownership in this incredible adventure. I’m still being educated about some of the incentives we will be offering in the near future. You can visit our Patreon site here.

Can you both tell our readers something about yourself that they don’t know already?

J: Wow, that’s a tough one. There is not too much I am private about except my beliefs. I consider myself a very spiritual person – not religious, spiritual. I believe this is one incredible adventure that will set the table for the next adventure to follow after I physically leave this planet. I do believe that energy will come back for another round, and I am a big believer in the concept of “soul families.”

M: I’m taller than Jim. No, seriously I am an artist first, and then I’m a motivational person. I believe that somehow I would be involved in motivational speaking or therapy if I weren’t an artist.

And of course we want to know what’s up next for both of you. Any exciting plans in the near future?

J: If MONSTER ATTACK! succeeds, we would love to launch another podcast where we can talk about all of our other favorite films and TV shows  that don’t fit into the category of old monster movies.

M: A lot more art, a lot more podcasts – even ones that will cover films that are not horror films and hopefully a lot of conventions. You never really know where life is going to take you, but it’s going to be exciting!

 

All photographs are courtesy of Mark Maddox and Jim Adams and used with permission.

 

 

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kool Kat of the Week: The Legendary Ricou Browning and the Man Beneath the Suit, a.k.a. “The Gill-Man” Dives into the History of the Black Lagoon and Terrifies Monster Kids of All Ages at Monsterama 2015

Posted on: Sep 29th, 2015 By:

by Melanie Crew9.2
Managing Editor  

Ricou Browning, “The Creature”/ “The Gill-Man” extraordinaire and legendary underwater stuntman, director, actor and screenwriter will be lurking amongst the monsters at the second annual Monsterama Convention, founded by our classic monster-lovin’ fiend, friend and ATLRetro contributing writer, Anthony Taylor! Monsterama creeps into town at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center this weekend, Oct. 2-4! Browning will be joined by a guest list filled to the blood-curdling brim with classic horror connoisseurs like independent filmmaker Larry Blamire (THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA); horror history aficionado and documentarian, Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures [July 2014; See ATLRetro’s Kool Kat feature on Daniel here]; Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte [June 2011; see ATLRetro’s Kool Kat feature on Shane, here]; Victoria Price (daughter of the legendary Vincent Price); spooktacular actresses, Lynn Lowry (THE CRAZIES; SHIVERS) and Candy Clark (AMERICAN GRAFFITI; THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH); glamour ghoul Madeline Brumby [October 2011; see ATLRetro’s Kool Kat feature on Madeline, here] and so much more! So, haunt on down to Monsterama this weekend and prepare for a ghastly weekend of ghoulishly maniacal mayhem!

CFBL-1
Browning, the last of the original Universal Monsters is best known for his portrayal of “The Gill-Man” (underwater scenes) in Jack Arnold’s monster classics, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954); REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955); and THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956). He began his cinematic career at Wakulla Springs performing in underwater sports newsreels (alligator wrestling and more!) with Grantland Rice Films, and even played a role in bringing to life, with his “hose breathing technique,” the famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids, whose shows he later produced. Browning’s cinematic career spans many decades and genres, including underwater sequence work for Richard Fleischer’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954); Terence Young’s THUNDERBALL (1965); Harold RamisCADDYSHACK (1980); and an episode of BOARDWALK EMPIRE (2010). He is also co-creator, with Jack Cowden, of the beloved ‘60s television series (and films) FLIPPER, and so much more! In 2006, Browning was awarded Film Florida’s first Florida Legends Award, followed by his induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2012 for his wide range of cinematic accomplishments.

ATLRetro caught up with Ricou Browning for a quick interview about the birth of and morphing into “The Gill-Man”; about his expansive experience in the land of film; and his take on special effects and monster kids of all ages! And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with Browning, catch “The Creature” in action here!

ATLRetro: As the only actor to portray “The Creature” more than once, you will forever be known as “The Gill-Man” to monster kids worldwide. And of course, we at ATLRetro are “Creature” fanatics! Can you tell our readers a little about how Jack Arnold discovered you for the role of “The Gill-Man,” and what kept you swimming back for more?

Ricou Browning: I was attending Florida State University when I got a phone call from the general manager of the hotel at Wakulla Springs and a friend of mine, Newt Perry. He said that he had some people from California coming to the Springs to look at it as a location to make a movie. He asked me if I would pick them up at the airport and take them to the Springs and show them around since he would be out of town. I said sure. So I did. After they arrived at the Springs, they loved it: the beautiful river and the wildlife; the clear water of the spring. The cameramen Scotty

Ricou Browning and Ginger Stanley

Ricou Browning and Ginger Stanley

Welbourne asked me if I would swim in front of the camera so he could get some perspective of the size of a human being compared to the fish, the grass, the logs, etc. So I did. They enjoyed the Springs and they enjoyed the river. Afterwards I took them back to the airport and they left.

About a week later I got a call from Newt Perry again, and he said that they were trying to get a hold of me from California and that he gave them my phone number. That same day I got a call from Jack Arnold, who turned out to be the director of the film. He said, “We saw the photo footage that Scotty shot. We like the way you swim. How’d you like to play the part of an underwater monster?” I said, “sure, why not?” So I went to California and spent a number of weeks building the costume, and it turned out to be a bad one. So they remade the suit, and I came back to Florida and we started shooting the underwater sequences for the film.

Any special behind the scenes experiences you’ like to share with our readers?

One experience that I had is that while filming we shot in the wintertime and even though the water temperature was 71 degrees while the air temperature was around 49 degrees, we worked from a barge down in the middle of the spring and I was in and out of the water all day. After coming out of the water, they would take the head off my suit and my hands and my feet and I would be sitting there waiting to go over the next scene. I was shivering and the crew felt sorry for me. So every now and then somebody would come back to give me a little shot of brandy. After a few shots of brandy The Creature couldn’t swim very well, so they had stop that.

18s3mkqkk4g3mjpgYou got the joy of terrifying generations of unsuspecting audiences as a classic Universal monster, which of course spawned fan-driven conventions, such as Monsterama Con. What do you think it is that keeps generation after generation returning to classic monster movies? Tell us a little about your fans over the years.

I didn’t start getting requests for photographs until about 20 years after the film was made. I only had a few at that time, so I would mail them to the fans and then I’d get more requests. I gradually built up a large number of pictures and started attending shows signing autographs.

What do you think about the advent of computerized special effects and the more hands-off approach to filmmaking?

They talk about making a remake of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Whether they will or not, I don’t know. But I hope they make it very similar to the way we did it, with human beings and not just computer special effects, because they overdo that. I think if it were done sparingly, it would be okay.

When you were growing up, did you dream of working on films? Or did the chance just happen upon you? Can you tell our readers a little about your introduction to the industry?MPW-10605

The first time that I worked underwater on films, it was for Grantland Rice Sports Films. They did crazy things at the Wakulla Springs like underwater picnics, underwater prize fights, etc.  They made a bunch of different crazy things that were used as short subjects at the end of movies in a theater.

Who were your favorite monsters as a kid?

My favorite monster was “The WolfmanLon Chaney Junior.

You have proven over many decades to be a well-sought after jack of all trades (underwater cinematographer, stuntman, actor, producer, director, screenwriter, etc.), and you’re still at it! What project would you say is your favorite?

I think one of my favorite movies that I worked on was FLIPPER. Jack Cowden and I created the television show FLIPPER, on air for four years (’64-’67), and then we made the two features (1963; 1996).

We read that you and your team were chosen over Jacques Cousteau to provide your services for several James Bond films, including THUNDERBALL (1966). Did you enjoy working on the Bond films?

I really enjoyed working on the James Bond films, THUNDERBALL and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN.

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Shop Around: Creature Feature: You Don’t Have to Ask Your Momma How to Make a Monster When Kyle Yaklin Is Around

Posted on: Oct 19th, 2014 By:

mask1Monster masks were truly an art in the golden age of Universal horror before CGI. That creepy craft has been resurrected by some astounding Atlanta area artists including Shane Morton and Marietta-based SFX Make-Up Artist Kyle Yaklin. Kyle really turned heads with not only his Creature From The Black Lagoon masks but also entire suits at Monsterama and Dragoncon this year, even taking the Creature for a swim. And he crafts custom masks and suits for sale at remarkably reasonable prices.

Find Kyle’s Creature creations and other artwork at the acclaimed seasonal experiential attraction Atlanta Zombie ApocalypseJust in time for Halloween, ATLRetro hunted him down to find out more about what drew him to Creature-craft, see if he’d share a few of his scary secrets and get the scoop on what’s happening this year at AZA. Read our ATLRetro review of AZA and Atlanta’s other top haunts here.

ATLRetro: When did you first see THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and why did the creature appeal to you?

Kyle Yaklin: Well, I first saw it when I was around three years old! My grandmother got me a copy of the VHS, and I was just fascinated with it! The suit in particular was just amazing to me, it didn’t look like the rest of the B-movie monsters from the time. It looked intelligent, frightening and most importantly like something that could actually exist. I think that’s what made the creature so popular.

How did you get into mask-making, how old were you and what was your first mask?

I was a freshman in college when I made my first mask, and of course, the first thing I sculpted was the Creature! It took me around three months to sculpt inbetween classes, and the result was fairly good for a first attempt! 

creaturesonlyYou use the original mold from the Creature, don’t you? How did you get a hold of that?

Actually no, I do have castings from the original molds from the first two films, but I sculpted every bit of my suit by hand, including the mask. Last May I decided to go back and re-sculpt the Creature mask that I had made three years earlier. I used my casting of the original land head as reference when I sculpted the new version so that I could get my sculpt as close to the original as possible!

And you’ve made entire suits and even swam in them. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I have recently completed the entire Creature suit! And again, the origins of the project go back to my freshman year when I sculpted my first Creature mask. The main goal of that mask was to eventually make a whole suit, so I did a ton of research on how the original suit was created, and planned out how my suit was going to be made. At the time though I realized I neither had the time, money or skill to achieve something I’d be happy with. After I sculpted my second version I was much happier with the results, so I started sculpting out the rest of the suit in small sections just like the original was done. It spread the project out over time and made it seem not so daunting of a project. After six months of working on the various pieces I had finally completed everything! Now I just needed to glue all the pieces down to a skin suit and paint it! 

headlesssuitHere’s the first fully finished suit hanging in my shop which you can see was a huge mess at the time..

fullsuitHere’s the suit at its premier at Dragoncon!

suitsubmergedAnd here are a few photos from the Marriott swimming pool!Taking the suit swimming was just amazing, I got to live out one of my childhood dreams that day and I can’t wait to take it swimming again! I’m hoping to be able to make the trip down to Wakula Springs in Florida where the original film was shot, and get some photos and videos swimming in the actual Black Lagoon! The suit is actually more comfortable in the water than it is on land, and the hands and feet really do work as flippers so the original design really was a very functional suit.

swimsuit1

What’s the most challenging aspect to crafting a mask? 

The most challenging part of making the masks are, of course, sculpting it and making a mold, but after that is taken care of, I guess the most challenging part would be slushing the latex around an 80-pound ultracal mold. 

And the most fun part?

The most fun part is always painting the masks, I use a combination of airbrushing, painting with an actual brush and applying washes. And each mask is personally painted by me, so each one is a little different and one of a kind!

headWhat other masks and other work are you making now?

I do make a variety of other masks including zombie masks, a Karloff Frankenstein monster, my own version of the shock monster, Jason Voorhees, and more! 

I understand you’ll be down at the Atlanta Zombie Apocalpyse. What are you doing at AZA?

I’ve been working at the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse for three years now as one of the main makeup FX artists and actually got the job based on my first creature mask!

We’ve heard AZA is even more rockin’ and scary than ever. Without giving away any big spoilers, what are a few of your favorite things about this year’s experience?

This year is the final year for the Zombie Apocalypse, but were definitely going out with a bang! This year’s story is one of the best yet, and it’s the longest show ever! In past years we’ve split it into two separate shows, but this year it’s one massive zombie experience!

masksHow can folks reach you if they want to purchase a mask?

If you’d like to get in touch with me my email is supergzilla@gmail.com, or you can send me a message on my Facebook page Kyle Yaklin FX! You can also see tons of progress photos of the creature suit and updates on new projects at my Facebook page as well. Thank you all for your time!

 

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Retro Review: Viva Morte! Viva la Plaza! Celebrate the Plaza Theatre as the Silver Scream Spookshow presents ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN!

Posted on: Dec 20th, 2012 By:

Silver Scream Spookshow presents ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948); Dir: Charles Barton; Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Glenn Strange; Sat. Dec. 22;  kids’ matinee at 1 PM (kids under 12 free & adults $7) and adult show at 10 PM(all tickets $12); Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

Let me get personal for a minute here.

This month’s Silver Scream Spookshow at the Plaza Theatre is a special one for me. Not just because every Spookshow is its own special thing. And not just because the Plaza is Atlanta’s oldest running independent cinema, which is just incredible in its own right. But because the film being presented—ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—is my very first memory. The earliest thing I can recall from childhood is trying to fall asleep while watching Glenn Strange’s monster lurching about a pier in a film on the “late-late show” my mom was watching. It’s stuck with me. That’s why one of my most treasured possessions as a kid was a glow-in-the-dark poster of James Bama’s portrait of Glenn Strange as the Frankenstein monster. (Thanks, Super Sugar Crisps!) That’s why I’ve got Glenn-as-Frankie tattooed on my forearm. In the years since that fateful day, I’ve watched this movie over and over again and I’ve never grown tired of it.

For those not in the know, here’s the lowdown on this flick: Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) are bumbling baggage-claim clerks in Florida. Thanks to a late-night delivery of mysterious crates to a wax museum, they unwittingly wind up caught in Dracula’s (Bela Lugosi) evil plot to replace the Frankenstein monster’s brain with a more receptive one: that of the dim-witted Wilbur. Lawrence “Wolf Man” Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) enlists their assistance in stopping Dracula’s fiendish plot, and once the full moon rises, the whole thing turns into a large-scale monster bash along the lines of 1944’s HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN or 1945’s HOUSE OF DRACULA. Just a whole lot funnier.

Besides the film’s early imprinting on my developing mind, though, the film is notable for many other reasons. It’s Bela’s second and final feature-length performance as Dracula (he had a cameo as Dracula in 1933’s HOLLYWOOD ON PARADE theatrical short). It’s one of the few horror comedies in which the monsters are not treated as the butts of the film’s jokes; the horror elements are respected and presented practically as seriously as they were in any other Universal film, while the comedy largely rises from Bud and Lou’s interplay and reactions to the horror. (This, however, didn’t stop Boris Karloff from refusing to see the film, believing it to be disrespectful toward the horror genre.) All three of the “monster” actors had played the role of Frankenstein’s monster (with Chaney even briefly playing him during the course of this film when Glenn Strange broke his foot on a falling lighting rig), and both Chaney and Lugosi had played Dracula. Vincent Price even makes a surprise cameo (though don’t keep your eyes peeled for him).

Dracula (Bela Lugosi) hypnotizing Bud AbbotT in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. Universal Pictures, 1948.

But beyond even those items of interest, there’s a larger and more personal reason why this Spookshow is a special event this month: it’s the final Silver Scream Spookshow being held at the Plaza under the watchful eye of Jonathan and Gayle Rej, the Plaza’s owners and operators since 2006.

Let me make another personal detour here. The Plaza Theatre is, to me, a sacred space. It’s almost a religious temple, dedicated to conjuring and making manifest the spirit of cinema. And over its history—from movie palace to grindhouse to a showcase for independent film and performing arts—it has presented Atlanta with the full spectrum of the cinematic experience. And more than that, it has become a central, vital spot in my life. When I first moved back to the Atlanta area in 2006 after more than a decade away, I was working from home and initially didn’t get out much. It took me a while to get settled in and motivated to check out what was going on. That was when I saw a flyer for the Silver Scream Spookshow in the window of Junkman’s Daughter. It promised a revival of the classic Spook Show tradition of live stage shows augmenting showings of classic horror flicks—a phenomenon that I was old enough to remember coming to my home town, but young enough to have never personally experienced—presented by Professor Morte, an old-school-styled horror host from the cracked mold of Ghoulardi and Zacherley. So I went. And went. And went again.

The Frankenstein Monster meets Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Universal Pictures, 1948.

Being a movie fanatic, the Plaza quickly became the center of much of my recreational time because more than simply being a theater, it has spawned a community. Most of the people I know and the friends I have, I have met either directly or indirectly through the Plaza. In fact, I wouldn’t be writing this piece for this fine website if it weren’t for the Plaza. And if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of Johnny and Gayle Rej in the face of economic struggles that would have beaten down lesser mortals, none of the above would have existed.

As you may or may not know, Johnny and Gayle have sold the Plaza to Michael Furlinger, who recently revived the classic Terrace Theatre in Charleston, SC. I spoke with Shane Morton, the mastermind behind Morte, for his thoughts on the end of the reign of the Rejs and the beginning of a new era for the Plaza.

“I think out of all the phases that the Plaza has gone through, that Johnny and Gayle have really turned it into something much more than just a movie theatre. Something beyond just building the stage and clearing out the space in the back for us to work. It’s like they gave this place a soul. You can feel it when you walk in there. And if I can be selfish, they’ve given me a place to do what I think is the most important work of my life with the Spookshow. We recently did a showing of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925), and I spent 15 minutes turning a kid into Lon Chaney’s Phantom. All that time, I was talking to the audience, and I felt the passion that one of those true-believer preachers must feel—not one of those charlatans that’s just out for money or to bang chicks or whatever. I got to preach about the magic of the movies. I not only get to be this hero (or anti-hero, if you want); I get to educate kids and give them something that they don’t have enough of right now. Kids’ programming today sucks, and they don’t have the kind of stuff available to them that even you and I had growing up; they don’t see things like the original KING KONG, stuff that filled me with a sense of wonder and amazement at the age of four.”

Shane went on to discuss the creative development that the Plaza has encouraged: “It’s become a hub for a lot of creative people: Splatter Cinema, Blast-Off Burlesque’s Taboo-La-La series and all the great art shows that they’ve hosted at the Plaza. Johnny and Gayle really turned a simple movie theater into almost an art movement. I know that it has literally changed my life. It’s given me the chance to fulfill every dream I ever had growing up. I could get to be Houdini or Alice Cooper or the horror host I had always wanted to see. And no matter what happens in the future, if I wind up making the greatest movie ever made, I don’t need any more than this: I saw a kid dressed as Professor Morte for Halloween. My mother passed away recently, and I’m so glad that she got a chance to see me spread my bat wings and fly with the Spookshow. And I really have Johnny and Gayle to thank for this.”

Professor Morte (Shane Morton). Photo courtesy of Shane Morton.

And what of the future? “We’d always hoped that someone with the financial backing could come in and turn the Plaza Theatre around. It seemed like an impossible dream. And then suddenly, it all seemed to fall together at the right time. Johnny and Gayle had just had a baby, and that’s without a doubt their most important job right there! Suddenly, Mike Furlinger came in and was in the position to deliver everything anyone involved with the Plaza could hope for. New digital projectors, new seats, new carpeting…now, I like the old seats and the old carpeting. I like stuff that’s old and weird. But you have to keep moving with the times, and what he’s going to bring to the Plaza is going to help the theater thrive. The future looks really exciting. The Plaza will be able to show first-run films along with the art-house movies they’re known for and keep delivering the funky stuff that all of us bring to the table.”

After the Rejs turn the keys over to Furlinger at the end of this month and renovations begin, it may be a while before we can see Morte’s handiwork on the Plaza stage. So come out and celebrate. Celebrate that the world didn’t end on Friday. Celebrate that the solstice has passed and a new dawn is rising. That Santa’s on his way. That a new year is on the horizon. That one of the best films in the Universal Horror cycle is screening in a lovely digital restoration. That Professor Morte and his merry band of misfits are taking the stage. And celebrate the legacy of the hard work and spirit of Jonathan and Gayle Rej. Raise your tubs of popcorn in salute, boils and ghouls.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

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Retro Review: An American Werewolf in The Plaza

Posted on: Jul 11th, 2011 By:

By Philip Nutman
Contributing Blogger

Splatter Cinema Presents AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981); Dir: John Landis; Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne; Special Makeup Effects: Rick Baker; Tues. July 12; 9:30 PM; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

Yugoslavia, 1969. Teenage PA/gopher, John Landis, was working on the Clint Eastwood World War II comedy caper, KELLY’S HEROES. While traveling to one of the movie’s many locations, the film crew came to a standstill at a crossroads as a large group of locals performed an ancient burial rite. The corpse that was the subject of all the attention was being buried due to local custom because the dead was believed to be a lycanthrope – a werewolf.

The image of this ritual and the experience stayed with Landis, the future director of THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977) and the huge box office successes NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978) and THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980), finally finding its place in cinema history as the basis for the classic 1981 horror flick, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON.

As the movie’s been so popular since it came out in the summer of 1981, you probably know the story: two clean-cut American college students decide to back-pack around England and make the mistake of going off the beaten path and end up being attacked by a werewolf. One dies; the other (David Naughton) is mauled and becomes a werewolf and the results aren’t pretty. As the body count goes up, the victims come back to haunt the lycanthrope. Tthe scene in a London soft-porn movie theatre is both creepy, amusing and disturbing as the mutilated victims urge the titular werewolf to kill himself and end the accursed chain of predator and victim.

David Naughton begins his transformation in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Copyright 1981 Universal Pictures.

While Landis is a huge fan of the original Universal Pictures’ THE WOLF-MAN (1941), the director also is a natural comedian and decided to see if he could balance horror with comedy – which he largely succeeded in doing.

AN AMERCIAN WEREWOLF is first and foremost a fun movie. It’s also loaded with weirdness and more than a few shock moments. And Oscar-winning make-up effects artist Rick Baker’s pioneering use of prosthetic bladder technology made the werewolf transformations physically painfully to watch (no crap CGI here, folks!). A few months later, Joe Dante’s adaptation of a trashy horror novel, THE HOWLING, came out, and FX artist Rob Bottin (best known for John Carpenter’s version of THE THING) used the same principles. These two very different werewolf movies together heralded a new breed of cinematic wolfman. Gone were the old-fashioned in-camera effects, the lap dissolves as groundbreaking monster make-up trailblazers such as Jack P. Pierce (who created Karloff’s Frankenstein monster) had to work with back in the day. Baker and Bottin’s characters stretched, howled in pain – and physically expanded in front of your eyes for the first time.

Since ATLRetro doesn’t believe in plot spoilers, no more details here for the uninitiated. For the faithful, who probably grew up watching the flick on VHS or DVD, now’s the chance, thanks to the Splatter Cinema gang, to get your werewolf fix on the big screen at The Plaza.

Just be wary of naked men stealing your balloons…


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