Monthly Archives: April 2010

Links *I* Like

As a sequel of sorts to an earlier post by Weird Jon, I thought I would compile a list of websites I enjoy. Well, with the exception of the ones already listed on the sidebar…

Cold Fusion Reviews – One of my favorite bad movie review websites. I love the comments given by the Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound at the end of each review.

Digital Monster Island – The best place to go for reviews of giant monster movies on DVD.

Squonkamatic’s IMDB and Amazon reviews – Interesting reviews from one of my Latarnia forum pals.

British Horror Movies – “Dey’re Briddish movies – I can tell by de way dey tawk!”

Sci-Fi Japan – Incredibly in-depth reviews and news on all things Japanese science fiction and horror. The articles on the Ultraman and Space Giants legal controversies are must-reads!

The HMA – The HMA, or Halloween Mask Association, has an amazing gallery of monster masks.

Haunted Attraction Magazine – The online version of the famous haunted house/hayride/etc. magazine. Includes free article uploads!

Hauntworld – Another great magazine devoted to haunted attractions. This site holds a special place in my heart due to it having the the article that inspired my user name.

Grindshow.com – Sideshow gaff (prop) manufacturer Doug Higley’s website, complete with pictures and user testimonials. The “atomic fish” is very similar to the “atomic mystery monster” attraction noted above.

Cinematic Treasures – A website devoted to the noble goal of preserving classic movie theaters.

MonsterTalk – At long last, a skeptical cryptozoology podcast!

Orgone Research – Don’t let the name fool you, this website has nothing to do with serious research of that junk science. Instead, it offers a variety of articles and musings by my JREF forum buddy Matt Crowley. The debunking of so-called “Bigfoot dermal ridges” is not to be missed.

Dr.Hermes Reviews and Retro-Scans Daily – The good doctor offers a wide variety of movie and literary reviews, including plenty of horror stuff (of course) on his website, while his Livejournal offers scans of posters, covers, ads, and more!

Atomic Monsters – No, this didn’t make the list due to the name. The clever, well-written reviews are what won me over. Fast connection speeds and Flash are a must for viewing the site.

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Free Comic Book Day is Coming!

Don’t forget, tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day 2010! That’s right, comic shops all over America are giving away free comic books and having special sales on May 1st. Don’t miss out on this!

Edison’s Frankenstein

Originally debuting as a self-published work in 1996, Edison’s Frankenstein is back in an expanded and updated edition that’s more than double the original’s page count (along with a tie-in DVD-R release of the film). And the timing couldn’t be better, because 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the original silent Frankenstein film’s release!

Author Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr. presents a wealth amount of information in a way that never seems boring or “dense” to the reader. Not only does he chronicle the complete genesis of the silent film’s creation (including reproductions of short film’s “script” and intertitles), but the book also covers the history of early American cinema and the Edison company (along with biographies of the film’s stars and details on company founder Thomas Edison). Some horror fans might be tempted to skip the non-Frankenstein portions of the book, but that would be a very foolish mistake. I found the biographies of Charles Ogle (who played the monster) and Mary Fuller (who played Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée) to be particularly interesting, due to how Mr. Ogle’s career changed and how Ms. Fuller was involved in the creation of movie serials. I was also surprised to learn that Warner Brothers and Universal both owe their existences to Edison Studios.

Other chapters cover the creation of Mary Shelley’s original tale, stage adaptations (and how they may have influenced the monster makeup used in the 1910 film), other Frankenstein films (and the 1910 version’s possible influence upon some), and the saga of formerly “lost” film finally getting released on home video. There are plenty of pictures from a variety of sources, with the ones from the titular film and other silents being of understandably lesser quality due to the well-worn nature of their source prints. A few other pictures are somewhat pixelated, possibly due to the conversion for the .PDF file for the e-book version (more on that later). According to an e-mail conversation I had with the author, there were no such problems with the original scans. On the plus side, most of the pictures look great and many of the Universal Frankenstein’s monster pictures should be familiar (and please) monster kids old and new.

Like many, I had assumed the scant few film clips available from the film in the 90’s were the only usable scraps from otherwise completely deteriorated film reels. The truth was that there was an honest-to-goodness conspiracy to keep the film from being released in full!


You see, the only surviving copy of the film was purchased by a film collector named Alois Dettlaff sometime in the 50’s. Although he did work on preserving the film (including making copies), he did not realize the value of this particular acquisition until many years later. After inquiring among other collectors to see if they had copies as well, Mr. Dettlaff soon realized that he was the only game in town. But although the film’s public domain status allowed him to release it himself without paying any royalties, it also meant that anyone would be free to make and sell copies themselves the split second the film was made publicly available. So, aside from a few one showing only theatrical screenings, Dettlaff limited the film’s release to clips he licensed out. It’s almost unfathomable to think that a film described as being lost in countless books on horror movies (including ones written for children) could be shown without anyone catching on and calling a local news service. But it happened. It wasn’t until Fred Wiebel saw a clip on a television documentary and became inspired to see where it came from that the truth became known.

Edison’s Frankenstein chronicles the numerous difficulties Mr. Wiebel had in his dealings with the late Mr. Dettlaff, such as numerous cancellations for events and struggles over getting the film to be shown without a watermark. And then there’s the Dettlaff limited edition DVD (not to be confused with the DVD-R associated with this book) and the experiences that others had with him. The Oscar story is definitely not to be missed. Considering all that, it’s amazing the author didn’t just give up out of sheer frustration. Well, that, and discuss the trials and tribulations in a way that doesn’t demonize the deceased film collector. In fact, his final notes on the matter come in the form of a memorial of sorts for Dettlaff.

But what of the film itself? Buying the book directly from the author or buying the CD-R/DVD-R e-book combo will get you the restored DVD-R immediately, and those who get the paperback edition from other sources can still order it separately using the instructions found at the back of the book. The disc art is based on the labels used for Edison Records’ “Diamond Discs,” which gives it a neat “What if Edison made DVDs” feel. Said artwork is printed directly on the disc, so fans need not worry about any of the issues associated with homemade labels. It comes in a paper CD sleeve (unless you get the e-book package), but that should not be an issue for resourceful GdL16 readers.

The DVD’s start menu uses the image most commonly associated with the film as a background and has the film’s title act as the “Play” option. The 12 minute film itself is fairly straightforward: Dr. Frankenstein is a university student who has discovered the secret of life and plans to create a perfect human being. In a very Georges Méliès-style scene, Frankenstein prepares a bubbling cauldron in order to bring his creation to life. As you’ve probably guessed, this film is an early example of a book’s plot getting heavily altered for the movie adaptation. But his giddiness over the experiment soon turns to fear and revulsion once he sees what his finished creation actually looks like. Although he initially dismisses the matter as a bad dream, aided in part by the monster’s disappearance, the reality of the matter comes back to haunt him upon his return home…

The monster, with its wild hair and pointy elf shoes, is more likely to induce laughter rather than chills in today’s viewers. However, its claw-like hands are a nice, creepy touch and the monster looks very unnerving when it’s looming over its terrified, hiding under the covers creator(aided in part by the color tinting used in the scene). The orange tinting used for the sequence when the monster is forming in the cauldron is also well-picked, with that particular tint making the formation of the body resemble burning embers in a fireplace. Although it is rather easy to figure out how the effect of a moving humanoid figure being formed from smoke and ashes, it’s still a pretty neat looking sequence. It, along with the mirror sequence, must have knocked the socks off the movie-goers of the day. The only tinting that could come off as odd to modern viewers is the use of blue tinting toward the end of the film. However, anyone reading the book will realize this was shorthand for scenes taking place at night.

Although it’s not Criterion Collection quality, this restored version of the film easily blows away other versions currently online. The transfer is artifact-free and while there may be some signs of print damage, but that is to be expected given the worn nature of the original print and how Mr. Weibel was only able to work with a watermarked and altered (new title and intertitle cards) copy. Thankfully, he was able to blur the watermark and it’s not very noticeable for most of film, unless you go looking for it. I actually mistook it for a sprocket hole the first time I spotted it. There is only one scene where characters move in the “fast motion” manner often associated with silent films, but it’s very brief. “Blink and you’ll miss it” brief.

Just as how he poured through old Edison company documents for information about the film itself, the author also used those documents to determine what musical cues would have accompanied the film and was able to obtain them from vintage phonograph cylinders! According to a very informative newsgroup posting Mr. Wiebel made about his one-man restoration effort (all painstakingly done on his personal computer), he purposefully didn’t clean up the scratchy thumps so as to better match the visual quality of the film. I have to agree, it’s a nice touch that compliments the film well. The “white text on plain black backgrounds” intertitles might seem overly simple and quickly made to those familiar with the more elaborate ones present in other silents. However, those who’ve read the book will know that’s how they actually looked in the original. It’s important to also remember that since Mr. Wiebel had to recreate certain elements of the film from scratch such as the intertitles and title card, this particular version of Frankenstein is copyrighted. Check out these sections of the US Copyright Office if you don’t believe me. In other words, don’t rip the DVD transfer and sell/distribute/etc. copies. Mr. Wiebel worked very hard on this restoration and deserves to reap the benefits.

I understand that the arrangement of the text in the e-book version (available in both Word and .PDF formats) is different and several of the pictures are in color. No matter what version you choose, the book is still a must-have for both fans of classic films and horror films alike. For information on how to order your own copy, please click here.

Special thanks to Fred Wiebel and BearManor Media for the review copy!

Tuesday uEtsy: LipsTattoo Designs

[Etsy.com’s tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” Coincidently, there’s a lot of spooky on Etsy, and each Tuesday, we highlight one of the sellers. If you’re looking to spruce up your look, redecorate your tomb or get a gift for that special something in your afterlife, Etsy.com is a place for spooky econo.]

LipsTattoo Designs (http://lipstattoo.etsy.com)

From the UK, we have LipsTattoo Designs, offering their handmade jewerly for all things creepy. LipsTattoo Designs was an early supporter of GdL16 on Twitter. We’re glad to spotlight them for this Tuesday uEtsy.

Applicable for both boys and ghouls, LipsTattoo is perfect if you need some unique accessories to compliment your style. Broches, Badges and bows for your hair are all offered, along with some specialty items like death lily greeting cards or a specially painted teapot.

There’s definitely a unique look to all LipsTattoo Designs which captures the more playful side to creepy and weird.

Most of these pieces are a steal, specially if you’re located in the UK. But shipping across the pond is incredibly reasonable.

http://LipsTattoo.Etsy.com

We recommend LipTattoo Designs for this Tuesday uEtsy. If you would like to nominate an Etsy seller for future Tue.uEt Spotlights, drop a line here.

PuppeTose Theater Presents: Random Stories Grab-Bag

PuppeTose Theater Presents: Random Stories Grab-Bag


There’s a neat scene in ‘Premonition,’ the first of three stories in PuppeTose Theater’s Random Stories Grab-Bag. A dragon stalks the character Helgi, a soothsayer within a castle and despite there being no real frame of reference other than both are the trademark PuppeTose puppets.  Through choices in editing, the scene effectively conveys a heightened sense of drama in a short period of time with ‘actors’ that are nothing more than wires, strings and shaped pieces of painted newspaper and flour.

It’s the longer of the three pieces on ‘Random Stories Grab-Bag,’ but all three bear the trademark sense of ‘futile efforts in horrific world’ that one can expect from Ross Wilsey and his cabal of players of PuppeTose Theater.

[I must mention that Ryan Wilsey has worked on every of the PuppeTose production (save for ‘A Question of Clean’) that I have viewed so I want to give mention to him, as not to somehow overlook him. Ross and Ryan Wilsey.]

It’s not considered a spoiler to say that there is no happy ending to ‘Premonition,’ unless the idea of everything burning and falling to filthy pieces of trash is your idea of ‘Happily Ever After.’ If so, you should probably send an email to us and see about writing for the site.

In a time after a civil war, the resistance failed to dethrone the King.  The titular premonition is had by the aforementioned Helgi during a dream. She warns her husband, Asgrim, that when he goes to meet his brother, Thangbrand, death awaits him in the woods. Prophesized that ‘no foe should defeat him,’ Thangbrand plans to unite with his brother and launch one final shot at regicide. But an element of chaos, a stalking dragon, seeks to destroy them all.

I find it an interesting tale since the King nor does any element of the Royalty come into play. Instead, the main antagonist is the nameless Dragon. I see ‘Premonition’ as a fable, or a parable involving the repercussions of an individual’s hubris and/or desires get out of hand.

While PuppeTose is primarily, as you would rightfully guess, about puppets, Ross Wilsey demonstrates his talents as an animator with ‘A Question Of Clean.’ Detailing a patient’s breakdown involving his sense of bugs under his skin, the short animated piece puts together a surreal sense of illness with plague bugs that feast upon the flesh. The style of the animation is raw, very good for helping build the idea of, appropriately, uncleanliness to every character involved.

Finishing up is ‘A Full Life,’ which is admittedly (by the ‘lack of Plot’ listing in the credit) PuppeTose’s weakest outing. This isn’t to say that it’s bad; there’s just a noticeable lack of story in the short. PuppeTose has no problem with story, as seen in tales like ‘Valley of the Robots,’ ‘Premonition’ or even the ‘PuppeTose Street’ shorts. Wilsey & Co. can easily create a captivating tale.

But ‘A Full Life’ is more of a three minute exploration of an idea—a homeless man, dead in the gutter, remarked to have lived ‘a full life’—than a story.

But once again, this isn’t to say that it’s bad. In fact, the shots taken with the PuppeTose puppet against the real world, especially night-time shots that seem to work around with limited lighting, kept me watching to the end. It was more of an artistic display that could express a sense of emptiness, in both the vagrant’s desolate life and in the final statement of the shithead couple who pass his dead body.

What you have in ‘Random Stories Grab-Bag’ is a trio of stories expressing the hollow futility of life and how ultimately, we’re all going to die and fester in the streets, our bloated corpses filling up the cracks until the scavengers pick our bones clean. YUM.

RIP Video Oasis

I’m bummed. You see, I was looking up the contact information for one of my favorite video stores and discovered that they had since closed their doors. I even tried calling to double check. It’s a bit odd for me to count Video Oasis as one of my favorites, seeing as how I only visited once and never rented anything, but I think the following will explain why.

I first learned about the store through its reputation back in 1995. Its selection of cult and obscure titles from all genres was often praised in the It’s All True column of the now-defunct Editorial Humor. That column, along with the paper’s profiling of local events in Massachusetts, set Editorial Humor apart from other humor piece/comic reprint papers (like Funny Times) due to their focus on everything weird. Be it crackpot inventors, television shows, movies, or the strangest the internet had to offer, It’s All True would tell you everything you needed to know. It also sponsored/promoted “Channel Zero,” a showcase of various bizarre movies and television shows (and occasionally things like bad poetry) that traveled from one venue to another. I remember reading that an installment about Japanese superhero programs was held at a bar, while others were presented at indie movie theaters.


But I digress…

I seem to recall that one installment of It’s All True made note of Video Oasis having to hastily assemble shelves from 2x4s and cinder blocks in order to accommodate the sheer number of VHS cassettes they had acquired over the years. It also noted one of the store’s claims to fame: They actually carried the legendary Bruceploitation classic The Dragon Lives Again, wherein “Bruce Lee” goes to the underworld and teams up with Popeye to fight mummies, skeletons, Dracula, the Exorcist, and James Bond (among others). Oh yeah, you read that right.

So that, combined with the various ads for it that I saw in Editorial Humor and various free weekly papers, firmly cemented Video Oasis in my mind as a place I had to visit in the future. I once recognized the store’s distinctive palm tree logo from the newspaper ads, looking at the store with longing as the car I was riding in quickly passed by.

It wasn’t until around 2005 or 2006 that I actually set foot inside the place. I had gotten lost in Cambridge while trying to find a movie theater I was supposed to pick up a prize I had won online from. Despite having walked for quite some time and started getting sore feet (along with a partial sunburn), I pressed on in the hopes that I only had a little more to go before reaching my destination. Instead, I found Video Oasis.

I was both happy and confused. Although I was glad to have an opportunity to actually visit the store, I could have sworn it was located in a different part of the state. The storefront certainly didn’t look like the one I remembered. But it didn’t matter if this was due to fuzzy memories or a change of location, I was finally there. Besides, I could probably ask for directions inside.

I was totally unprepared for what I found inside. It was actually bigger on the inside than it appeared outside. “Standalone, one story Best Buy” big. Rows upon rows of shelves (of the non 2×4 and cinder block variety) filled with DVDs or VHS (depending on what section of the store you were looking at). A barred door was chained shut in a corner, with a sign on it saying you had to ask someone up front to open it in order to inspect or purchase the vintage toys behind said door. “So that’s why they have a Shogun Warrior in one of the windows” I thought.

“Are you all right?”

The guy up front had taken noticed of my stunned expression. I had been so surprised by what I had just seen, I had frozen in place.

Embarrassed, I replied with something to the effect of “Oh…I was just surprised at how big it is in here. I’m just gonna look around now” and quickly darted down the nearest “Martial Arts” aisle. I walked around checking out all the cool covers and rarities until I worked up the nerve to ask for directions and more information about their rental and membership policies. It turned out that I had gone in the opposite direction of where I needed to be. I had to turn down the offer to sign up and take home a rental due to money issues, but vowed to return as soon as I had a steady supply of income.

But that time was further off than I thought and various issues (including an unplanned move) kept me from returning. By the time everything had calmed down and I was able to find the time to get there, Video Oasis had closed. If you maneuver around past the bus in this Google Map street view, you can even see the store’s signs and the darkened, Shogun Warrior-free windows.

As is the case when a loved one passes away, one has to work past the sadness and remember the good times. Although I’m sad to see it go, I’m still glad I had been able to visit at least once. It is also important to cherish those that are still with us and make every opportunity count. So if you’ve been thinking of renting certain movies from a certain store, do it now. They could close up tomorrow for all you know. Writing this also led me to discover that It’s All True/Channel Zero still exists in blog form. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.

Goodbye Video Oasis, you will be missed.

Tuesday uEtsy: Justin Erickson

In honor of the new Roky Erickson release coming out today, who better than Justin Erickson to kick off our inagural Tuesday uEtsy.

Etsy.com’s tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” It’s a clean and simple way for the Internet to have a crafts fair. There’s a lot of creative people out there and they’re willing to sell you stuff at reasonable prices.

There’s a lot of spooky on Etsy. Most of it is reasonably priced for this economy. If you’re looking to spruce up your look, redecorate your tomb or get a gift for that special something in your afterlife, Etsy.com is a place for spooky econo.

Justin Erickson (www.justin-erickson.com) is a Toronto-based artist with a particular passion for the horror and the macabre. He’s a Sheridan graduate and he currently works as a Graphic Designer for Rue Mourge Magazine.

His Etsy Shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/JustinErickson) has prints of his work for sale. Most cost just twenty bucks american (not counting shipping.) You have some spooky pin-up models, sincerely macabre pictures and a peanut-butter-chocolate series of combining Lucha Libre with Classic Monsters of Filmland.

If it’s la noche de el vampiro or you just feel like decorating your walls with some attractive ghouls, head on over and pick yourself up some from Justin Erickson.

PuppeTose Street Vol. 1 & 2

PuppeTose Street Vol. 1 & 2

Despite the name, PuppeTose Street isn’t a parody of Sesame Street, though both utilize puppets and seem to be about learning. But those taught by Fuller and Milo are not the lessons of Muppet-stock. Along with Gypsy Bitch, Louis Lackluster and the landlord, Buford T. Hick, the cast of PuppeTose street teach you a lesson or two with each episode.

  • Sharing — “If you’re going to have sex with passed out women, you NEED TO WEAR A RUBBER.”
  • Personal Responsibility — “Remember: When hiding your intoxicants, make sure you’re not too intoxicated to remember.” 
  • Be Prepared — “Zombies are so fucking stupid. I wouldn’t be a stupid zombie. I’d be a – smart zombie. I’d know how to get brains.I’d have brains IN RESERVE. I’d have a system of when I got all fucked up ’cause I needed a brain and I couldn’t find one – I would have one. And nobody would fuck with me either, ’cause I would be dead.”

When first seeing Fuller and Milo, it’s easy to think that PuppeTose Street might be a Beavis and Butthead parody, but Ross Wilsey & co.’s collected wit shows through the papier-mâché characters. Both Fuller and Milo wax poetically about their degenerative behaviors as men who think a lot about what little they do. There are no redeeming factors here, though. Everyone is pretty comfortable with how completely vile and worthless they are and there’s something endearing about that.

It wouldn’t be such an odd sight to see an episode of PuppeTose Street in the Adult Swim line-up since each ten-to-twelve minute show features a clever story and a catchy song (with such lyrics as “Sex With A Passed Out Girl/Is Like Sex With Melted Ice Cream” are deplorable and catchy as all hell) This lo-budget/no-budget production of low-class/now-class individuals is a little more accessible to the common mongrel than the more serious attempts by PuppeTose. Going for the lowest common denominator means reaching the highest amount of people.

Like ‘Valley of the Robots,’ PuppeTose’s production shows that it doesn’t take a lot of money to make something look really good. This will be repeated in the following reviews and it’s something that can be told to a lot of people.  IT DOESN’T TAKE A LOT OF MONEY TO MAKE SOMETHING LOOK REALLY GOOD. Considering the fabricated reality of the PuppeTose world is of colored construction paper, paint and crayon, what Wilsey & Co. do is rather impressive, especially in the ‘Wife Swap’ episode where an escaped mental patient scalps an unknowing gas station attendant. The gore is less than what one might expect a spooky site like this to cover but we’re about digging up some of the weird and the wild and bizarre; it doesn’t get any better than this (or, like the opening song points out, “you’re no better than PuppeTose Street.” So you don’t DESERVE any better than this. Amen.)

It’s Record Store Day!

We’ve already discussed the day twice now, so consider this your last RSD reminder for 2010. Now get out there and support your local indie record stores! Remember: Plenty of sales and freebies await you.

Happy Record Store Day!

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Maybe you saw this mentioned on an Attack of the Show segment recently but there’s a site called Kickstarter, where creative sorts can set up an account to help find funding for their projects. Transylvania TV, something I mentioned a while ago, has something set up for their Halloween Special. If you like their stuff, feel about floating twenty bucks their way or more. It’s like a pledge drive and you get something better than a Tote Bag.

If any of you readers of GdL set up your own Kickstarter, let us know. We’re all about passing the world along.