Monthly Archives: May 2010

Mothra Madness

Mothra is actually based on a serialized Japanese novel called The Luminous Fairies and Mothra.

Mothra was supposed to battle the unused monster Bagan in a never-realized 1990 film called Mothra vs Bagan. Elements of that script, along with the similarly never made Godzilla vs Gigamoth, were utilized in the 90’s version of Godzilla vs. Mothra.

Mothra is said to bear a resemblance to an European Peacock Butterfly.

During the DVD commentary for the South Park episode “Mecha-Streisand,” series co-creator Trey Parker revealed that his favorite Japanese monster movie is Mothra.

After finishing Gravity’s Rainbow, author Thomas Pynchon was rumored to have been working on a Mothra novel. However, this turned out to be untrue.

Wikipedia claims that Mothra’s distinctive chirp was created by speeding up Anguirus’ roar. That section also claims that Mothra was never realized by a person in a costume, which is disputed here.

In the movie Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior, Mothra’s chirp is used to create Giratina’s cry. The film was distributed by Toho (better known as the studio behind the Godzilla movies) in Japan…

In the American dub of The Magic Serpent, Mothra’s chirp is used as the voice of a giant bird. Similarly, the film’s dragon now has Godzilla’s roar and the giant toad uses Rodan’s cry.

The popularity of Mothra among women in Japan prompted Toho to make the 90’s version of Godzilla vs. Mothra.

When Mothra was released in America, the distributor suggested that theaters should display radioactive materials in their lobbies in order to build publicity for the film!

Eagle-eyed daikaiju fans might notice how the eyes of larval Mothra are red in her cinematic debut, yet they turn blue in Godzilla vs. Mothra(aka Godzilla vs. the Thing in America). In fact, they stay that way for the remainder of the old school Godzilla movies).

If you look at official reference guides, Mothra is much larger than Godzilla when she appeared in Mothra and had to be scaled down for her appearances in the Godzilla franchise.

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Batman: The Stone King

From his appearances on The Adventures of Superman radio show to the numerous “record/tape and comic” releases, Batman has always had a rich history in the world of audio dramas. The latest company to contribute to this legacy is Graphic Audio, with their series of adaptations of novels starring DC comics characters. Some of his appearances are as part of major crossovers, some are solo adventures and the Justice League of America dramas have him as a supporting cast member. Said dramas tend to focus on a single League member, although others argue that these are just JLA stories with a single member promoted on the cover. In this case, I’ll be looking Batman: The Stone King, based on the novel of the same name by Alan Grant.

Why is a horror website reviewing a comic book themed audio drama? Well, let’s look at the plot: a mysterious pyramid is unearthed in Gotham City in the aftermath of a dam burst. Said pyramid is filled with symbols associated with black magic. Needless to say, an ancient evil is unleashed and Batman is the only Justice League member left uncaptured as the entire world is in peril. Horror fans might also appreciate the interesting insights on the nature of fear that are sprinkled throughout the plot. Be warned, as there are minor spoilers ahead…


Batman: The Stone King, is definitely not something you can play for kids (like the above-mentioned record sets). People die (often in gruesome ways) and the gory events are described in graphic detail. Parents probably wouldn’t want the little ones to hear the flashback to two characters having sex, either. It’s nothing explicit (and only lasts seconds since the characters get interrupted), but still.

Although the idea of a non-powered superhero taking on a supernatural foe that managed to defeat the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman might seem outlandish at first, the story actually handles it in a believable manner. I won’t spoil Batman’s plan, but I will note that it takes advantage of the fact that the disembodied shaman needs a human host.

I enjoyed the way the Stone King is handled. Rather than immediately springing into action the second the pyramid is unearthed, Grant wisely chose to have the villain remain inactive until his chamber is disturbed. Similarly, the Stone King uses his powers to test each League member’s abilities before making his move. Even after he’s captured everyone but Batman, he doesn’t rush into his plan to “cleanse” the planet and instead makes sure everything he needs is in place.

Although the JLA does play a good-sized role and each member gets a “chapter” dealing with the Stone King’s test of their strengths and weaknesses, this is still Batman’s show. Most of the plot is about him and it’s his plan that ends up saving the day. Not having read any comics since the mid 90’s (and I was pretty much a “Marvel Zombie” then anyway), I can’t offer much insight as to the characterization of the heroes other than what I’ve gleaned from their TV and film appearances. Everything seems fine to me in that department. There are a few minor plot holes, but they’re nothing too major. For example, the old sewer Batman travels through at one point should have been destroyed in the major earthquake that struck Gotham (which is even mentioned in the drama).

However, there were other occasions when the seeming errors actually weren’t. There were times I thought “I don’t care if the Flash was caught by surprise, he shouldn’t almost get punched by a normal person” or “There’s no way Wonder Woman would have trouble handling a group of zombies,” only to find out later in the story that the Stone King grants superpowers to those he controls.

But let’s get to the question on everyone’s mind: how well does this work as an audio drama? After all, comics are a visual medium and a novel is already one step away from that. Some parts worked better than others and some aspects took awhile for me to get used to, but all in all I’d say it was a good ride. Graphic Audio’s “Movie in Your Mind” format is a hybrid of an audio book and an audio drama: A narrator describes the action while actors perform characters’ dialogue, combined with music and sound effects. Having first been exposed to the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth audio drama, it took me quite some time to get used to this. I suspect this won’t be as much of an issue for you if you have either only heard audio books or have never listened to audio books or dramas. I found that doing something else while this played in the background or listening while feeling a little tired made it easier to visualize the story. The music and effects were all top notch; I’d gladly pay for a soundtrack CD. Judging the voice acting is hard in the sense that the “right” or “wrong” voice for a character depends upon the listener. In my opinion, the only truly wrong voice was the one used for Commissioner Gordon, as it would seem more appropriate for a comic relief character. This is in terms of the voice only, each one of 27 cast members were great actors/actresses. I thought the voices used for Wonder Woman, the Flash and Martian Manhunter were great. I was unsure about the ones used for Batman and Superman, but I got used to them after awhile. However, if Superman is supposed to be an older, world-weary version of the character, then the portrayal here is dead-on perfect. The titular Stone King sounded very creepy and menacing, although the effect is occasionally spoiled in the (rare) instances when he briefly lapses into a vaguely Russian accent. But otherwise, he’s very scary. “Terrify your friends by suddenly turning off the lights and playing one of his rituals” scary. Do not let my attempts at being thorough fool you into thinking that I disliked Batman: The Stone King. On the contrary, I had a great time listening to it and I have far more problems with the sleeves used to store the discs than I do with any aspect of the drama itself. If anything, this release has increased my enthusiasm for audio dramas! Getting back to the sleeves, I wish they had included a hole of some kind on the top side in order to make it easier to remove the disc inside.

Speaking of discs, the story is spread out over six discs, with a running time of about an hour per disc. The long running time is due to both the drama being unabridged and because the company’s target audience is largely made up of people on long road trips. Speaking on someone who has been on many a long, boring vacation drive, this makes perfect sense to me. Come to think of it, I could have easily polished off a disc per day during my old commute. If the thought of swapping discs doesn’t sound appealing, Graphic Audio also offers both a single disc “.mp3 CD” version and an .mp3 download. I should also note that the multiple disc editions use CD-Rs, presumably to keep the cost of a multiple disc release under twenty dollars. They are not unauthorized bootlegs, as they’re licensed by DC Comics. These are professionally done CD-Rs with metallic tops and the title printed on them, so don’t expect some homemade job with stuff written on in marker.

I definitely recommend checking this (and other audio dramas) out and hope you’ll at least listen to the preview for it. Horror fans might also be interested in Justice League of America: The Exterminators, The Flash: Stop Motion and the upcoming DC Universe: Trail of Time (wherein Superman teams up with a variety of supernatural and western-themed characters, including Etrigan the Demon and Jonah Hex). Or for those who prefer non-comic book horror, there are titles like The Destroyer: Deadly Genes and The Demon Wars Saga.

Special thanks to Graphic Audio for the review copy!

Tuesday uEtsy: HorrorCrafts

[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.]

HorrorCrafts (http://HorrorCrafts.etsy.com)

You’ll find a lot of homemade jewelry on Etsy.com, which is great, because no two stores are exactly alike. In fact, it is the uniqueness of HorrorCrafts that makes it this week’s Tuesday uEtsy Spotlight.

One of the more interesting pieces that HorrorCrafts offers in its store is this Ouija board themed bracelet. The photo charms give it a very mysterious look, perfect to complement any gypsy wardrobe or add a bit of spookiness to your work day. Imagine seeing your Vice President walking in, full formal work suit and this baby around his/her wrist. Corporate merger or spiritual takeover? BOTH. 

HorrorCrafts offers many types of photo-bracelets. From vintage horror comics, to classic anatomy drawings, up to non-horror themes like Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo. One example is the Classic Tattoo bracelet, fror those who want something less expensive (and less permanent) than the actual thing.

But horror fans be not afraid. HorrorCrafts has bracelets with zombies, famous monsters, and even of candy skulls for Dia de Los Muertos. Which brings us to the next object, a Dia de Los Muertos ring.

Look at that classy piece of artwork. Seriously, imaging rocking that this coming November. I don’t care what else you have on. That is some serious pull for the Day of the Dead. Get all the skeletons turning bleached-yellow with envy as you come strutting down with this on your finger.

Perhaps you’re a classy gent or lady who thinks that brooches are the way to go. Perhaps you’ve lost your wrists in a tragic accident that has you pursuing your finger-themed revenge on a world that’s done you wrong? You too can look classy and suave with some of HorrorCraft’s wooden pin/brooches. They feature the poster art from classic movies and some of the greater stars of monsterland.

Who wouldn’t want to have a blend of Christopher Lee/Coltrane ‘Blue Train’ on their chest? I’m serious. Look at that. If not your thing, how about some Steve McQueen with The Blob?

We don’t usually say this around here, but that is BAD-ASS.

We were afraid of showcasing this last piece because our coffers are a bit thin at the moment and if we had the right shillings available, we would have gotten it ourselves. Along with the brooches, rings and bracelets, HorrorCrafts offers two-sided pendents. One of their better ones features the late Lux Interior and The Cramps.

Along with the horror-rock icons, there are punk rock medallions (Dead Kennedys, The Clash), Horror stars (Leatherface, Evil Dead) and such. Thankfully, HorrorCrafts also does custom orders so if someone swipes up the pendent before we dig up the right coins.

Head over to HorrorCrafts today. You’ll find that everything is high quality and very reasonably priced. They do custom jobs and customer service is key with HC.

And join us next week for another Tuesday uEtsy spotlight.

Benediction (of sorts)

Here at GdL16, we are thoroughly against bootlegging, specifically the bootlegging that some companies do when they make reproductions of movies without getting the proper legal right to do so.

But, with that said, I just downloaded an mp3 of a “Weird” Al Yankovic demo that was clearly recorded from an episode of the Dr. Demento show nearly thirty years ago. And the hiss, static and evident sound that someone recorded this on a cassette deck has brought back the sensation of when I used to do the same thing. Just teenage and the radio held all that promise. I had a shoebox full of mix-tapes, actual mix-tapes with songs I had caught off the radio. Wild sounds. Amazing things, these wild songs of radio that could be captured with the press of a few plastic buttons on a very low-end stereo. Promise, though. Each of these cassettes held so much magic.

There’s something to be said of the times lost, mainly that it’s never really lost. There will always be a way to go back. Death is never the ending, perhaps could be theme of this post. Someone will always be able to upload an experience you thought you would never find again, out there for you to easily download in the early hours of a new morning.

Happy Sunday. Happy Digging.

Spook Show Bela

While looking through the online preview of Gary Don Rhodes’ excellent Lugosi: his life in films, on stage, and in the hearts of horror lovers, I came across a reference (#57) to a never-realized 1948 spook show featuring Bela Lugosi. The idea of him doing a spook show did make sense. After all, he did have his own coffin and theatrical producers would cast him in plays in order to cash in on his name. These would tie in perfectly with the world of the spook show.

What is a spook show? Spook shows grew out the phantasmagorias of the 18th century, where “magic lanterns” (an early form of slide projector) were used to create images of specters and skeletons on screens (or smoke) in darkened theaters as the show’s host would pretend to summon the dead in fake magical ceremonies. Multiple projectors, often on moving platforms and using glass slides with moving parts, were used along with sound effects to heighten the effect. Fully describing the history of phantasmagoria could easily take up this entire entry, so I instead invite readers to look at the two part “The Lantern of Fear” article at Grand Illusions.


According to writer Sid Fleischman, the spook show arose from the Great Depression as a way for movie theaters to “sell seats” at a time when movies usually weren’t played, usually after midnight. Spook shows usually consisted of someone performing spooky magic tricks, followed by a showing of a horror movie. After the film ended, the theater would “black out.” Scary sounds were heard while glowing bats and ghosts would fly around in the area, monsters would roam the aisles grabbing at people and various items would be thrown at the audience. In reality, the bats and ghosts were either projections, painted on fabric in luminous paint (held aloft on a wooden beam by hidden assistants) or glowing pictures painted onto balloons that were inflated and then released. Thrown items like string or puffed rice(!) were used to simulated spider webs and glowing ping pong balls were used to create glowing eyes. Do I even need to explain how the sound effects and monsters were created? Besides offering some Halloween-style fun, the black outs were also popular since they presented a socially acceptable way for teen couples to grab at each other in the dark.

Spook shows became so popular that sometimes a promoter would book two shows at the same time and have someone transport the film from one theater to the other via bicycle. This led to the practice being called “bicycling.” Sometimes even the people playing the monsters were even “bicycled” between theaters! Although some spook shows played (and advertised) the film they used under its real name, it was not unheard of for films to be retitled or merely billed on the posters as a “horror movie.” This was done for several reasons: to build interest in the show by implying that a new movie would be shown (or to hide the use of an awful film) or to allow the promoter to use whatever films they could get ahold of during the tour without having to change the movie listed in the advertising.

Bela Lugosi made his spook show debut in 1941, as part of a “One Night of Horror” publicity stunt for the premiere of Invisible Ghost (which also starred Lugosi). Despite the name, the show actually continued for the rest of the week (#18). Although he seemed to look down on the concept in an interview with a reporter, he had definitely warmed up to the idea six years later. In the February of 1947, he appeared in the “A Nightmare of Horror” spook show (as noted in items #25-26). Advertised as “Dracula the Batman,” he shared the stage with someone dressed as Frankenstein’s monster and “turned into a bat.” Presumably he was able to sneak offstage and get replaced by either an animation of a flying bat projected onscreen or by the classic fake bat on a string trick. Later that same year, he toured with Bill Neff’s “Madhouse of Mystery” show. His appearance during the 1948 premiere of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was similar to his act with Frankenstein’s monster in the “A Nightmare of Horror” show. 1951 brought the biggest one yet: “Bela Lugosi’s Horror and Magic Stage Show.” Having showtimes at both 8:30 and 12:00, the show played throughout New York and New Jersey (although most theaters opted to only do the 8:30 show). The show had loads of publicity, from announcements in Variety the previous year to ads with a “vampire’s eye” that could give a person free admission (if it turned red when they breathed on it). After a screening of They Creep in the Dark (really just The Ape Man with a new name), Bela would rise from a coffin and start the show. Said show included plenty of eerie illusions and monsters, including a “gorilla” named Ygor. In spite of this, show wasn’t well received and Lugosi ended the show in order to play Dracula in a British stage show. His final (documented) spook show appearance was a tour with Kim Yen Soo in 1952 (#38).

So what happened to the once popular spook show? A variety of factors led to its demise. What started out as some shows switching around the order of when the movie and magic acts began eventually led to some spook shows consisting of merely a magic act (as noted in the excellent Ghostmasters: A Look Back at America’s Midnight Spook Shows by Mark Walker). How wants to go to the movies at midnight to see a magic show? The general public eventually became accustomed to higher quality special effects onscreen than spook shows could offer. Glow-in-the-dark paint and rubber masks just couldn’t compare to Industrial Light & Magic level effects. As megaplexes became the law of the land, individual movie theaters (and screens) became smaller. This left little to no room for a spook show. If you ever want to see the way things used to be, go to the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Cambridge, MA (or this image of a theater in Florence, Italy) and compare it to what you’d find at a general theater chain. The difference is astounding. It’s also possible that fears of lawsuits over the “monsters” manhandling or injuring people in the dark (or vice versa) might have made spook shows less attractive to theater owners.

However, a select few have created modern day spook shows. Vermont horror host Davey Horror used to have a “Spookarama” show every October, although this sadly ended after he retired. Thankfully, the Silver Screen Spook Show is still active. Although the spook shows of old often didn’t allow children in, the Silver Screen Spook Show does offer special children’s shows. Presumably these shows exclude the burlesque act that’s included in the regular show. Although not traditionally part of spook shows, I doubt that Bela would mind. After all, he had been known to appear in such shows on occasion!

Gemora Greatness

In honor of Asian Heritage Month, let’s take a look at the life and works of legendary gorilla suit maker/actor Charles Gemora.

Charles “Charlie” Gemora was born on August 15th, 1903 in the Philippines. Stowing away on a ship headed for America, Gemora arrived in California and made money selling portraits on the street in front of Universal Studios. His talent was quickly noticed and he was soon working in the special effects department. This led to his first onscreen role in 1928, a role that became a defining part of his career: a gorilla.


Charles Gemora’s goal of creating the ultimate gorilla costume made him the go-to guy in Hollywood for those looking for realistic depictions of gorillas, while those looking for more monstrous gorillas went to Ray “Crash” Corrigan (and later to his protégé/successor, Steve Calvert) and George Barrows. Back in those days, studios would often hire gorilla suit suit actors since they came with their own suits are were less expensive than building a new suit from scratch. These men often went uncredited in an attempt to make audiences think that the onscreen gorillas were real (as was common with many horror films of the time). Gemora’s costumes often made use of muscle padding and his “water bag” invention, which created the illusion of rippling stomach muscles, so it’s understandable that some studios would be tempted to advertise them as the real deal. One film, the infamous hoax documentary Ingagi, even tried to pass off scenes of Gemora in costume as documentary footage! However, this (and many other outlandish claims made by the risqué fauxumentary) were exposed in an official investigation.

His reputation as a gorilla suit actor was so great that rumors claiming that he originally played King Kong started circulating! Many just couldn’t accept that anything other than a man in a suit could have created what they saw onscreen, despite the fact that Kong was created using stop-motion animation (along with a large fake hand and mechanical bust for certain close-ups). Soon the rumors started saying that Gemora himself made the claim! However, he always denied any involvement with the film and the rumors seem to have stemmed from his playing a King Kong parody in the never-completed movie, The Lost Island.

In case you’re wondering about the quality of his costumes, here are two pictures of the costume Mr. Gemora constructed for 1941’s The Monster and the Girl. Similarly, here is a picture of the suit he made for 1954’s Phantom of the Rue Morgue. Compare that to these two gorilla pictures. Similarly, compare them to the King Kong costume used in 1986’s King Kong Lives. As you can see, he was truly a man ahead of his time. Castings made from one of his costumes were even used to create a Don Post Halloween mask! In addition to gorilla costumes, he also designed monster costumes for films like The War of the Worlds and I Married a Monster from Outer Space.

To learn more about Mr. Gemora and his creations, please visit this article from Monster Kid online magazine and Gorillamen.com’s interview with his daughter.

The Ded Dave Show Show

We’re always a fan of independent horror and cinema, so it was very kind for the folks over at The Ded Dave Show to clue us in to their little corner of the world, letting us know about their upcoming necro-cabaret of sorts:

“May 22, 2010 brings The Ded Dave Show SHOW to Theatre Bizarre in Detroit! Join the cast and crew for a complete night of live zombie entertainment! Three episodes will be shown on a giant screen, there will be zombie burlesque, a zombie eating contest, a best zombie costume contest, Eduardo Gallagher and his Mallet of Doom, and MORE!”

Look, if you’re in Detroit already, good chances are that you’re dead or will shortly become so. Might as well get on with the appropriate festivities. Zombie Burlesque. Contests. Three uncensored Dead Dave shows. Beer (21+). Seems like a great idea of a Saturday night.

Just because Michigan might be dying (cross our fingers it doesn’t) doesn’t mean it has to take it lying down. Or take it at all. C’mon, Detroit. Death didn’t stop Dave and it sure as hell won’t stop anyone from hitting up Theatre Bizarre this Saturday.

Theatre Bizarre (967 W State Fair Detroit, MI 48203) 

Admission: $5 for humans/$3 for zombies 

18 and older ONLY

Here’s the promo for the event with its host, Eduardo Gallagher.

Tuesday uEtsy: Jerry Shirts

[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.]

Jerry Shirts (jshirts.etsy.com)
This week’s Tuesday uEtsy spotlight is Jerry Shirts, an Etsy store offering some really unique artwork on a different medium – old records.

It was this portrait of Cleveland’s own The Ghoul that caught our eye. Since it’s painted on a 12″ record, Jerry Shirts says it can “be turned into a clock or hung as is.” We think that it’s good enough on its own, but if you want to convert it to have a classic horror host of the midwest tell you what time of day it is, this is the product for you.

On top of that, Jerry Shirts showcases some real talent. Take a look at the Night of the Living Dead record for sale. Want to have Karen Cooper keeping track of you? Who wouldn’t?

On top of that, Jerry Shirts has Ash (Evil Dead), Regan MacNiel (The Exorcist) and such classic monsters as Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Mummy on old turntable favorites. Check out the image below of cult-hit ‘Nightbreed,’ vividly portrayed on a 12″.

Along with horror both classic and new, Jerry Shirts offers painting of punk icons (Circle Jerks, Agnostic Front) and some stylistic renderings of Sanity, Guilt and meth-mouth.

Some of Jerry Shirts’s more ‘traditional’ artwork showcases some of the founding fathers of horror rock: The Misfits. Both Jerry Only (above) and Doyle Von Frankenstein (below) are rendered on 8×10 canvas. Buy them both along with his Danzig portrait and stage your very own Misfits reunion.

A great steal for the prices offered, Jerry Shirts is a classy way to decorate your workplace, living room, bedroom or general punk-rock-horror hang-out place of choice. Head on over and check out his store today to see what he has available for you.

Along with the Etsy store, you can also find Jerry Shirts on MySpace.com (http://www.myspace.com/artforyoubyus) and on Facebook

Free (Legal) Download: Pig

Everyone seems to be offering free downloads lately. Rue Morgue has a free music album, Orbit Books and Black-Chandelier.com both have free wallpaper, and Yog-Sothoth has a monthly free download!

So it should come as no surprise that we want in on that action. Some of you might remember how Adam Mason’s mostly one-take gorefest, Pig, was briefly available at various horror sites for its streaming online premiere. Although that promotion is now over, you can still see it before it comes out on DVD. Just send a request to Mr. Mason via email and he’ll hook you up. He’ll even give you the HD quality version if you ask nicely! Oh, and tell him that Gravedigger’s Local 16 sent you!

He’s The Boogeyman…and He’s Comin’ to Getcha!

I’ve followed professional wrestling for more years than I’d like to admit, and there have been some “spooky” wrestling gimmicks over the years.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about terrible wrestlers with terrific gimmicks.  What better place to start than with The Boogeyman?

The Boogeyman is actually Marty Wright.  Hardcore WWE followers remember Wright as the man kicked off $1,000,000 Tough Enough for lying about his age.  Claiming to be thirty, Wright was actually forty, five years past the cutoff date for eligibility.

This didn’t stop Wright from signing to a WWE developmental deal late in 2004.  WWE is insufferably weird as a company.

In WWE storylines, The Boogeyman was part of UPN Network Executive Palmer Canon’s “new talent initiative,” a refugee from another UPN show.  I won’t mention the storyline past this point, as I value my brain.

The Boogeyman appeared on both Raw and SmackDown! to sing nursery rhymes and confuse the shit out of people.  Here he is bothering John Cena: