Archive for October, 2009

Happy Halloween from the Cavalcade

Posted in Halloween, holiday, movies with tags , , , , on October 31, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Happy, Happy Hall-o-ween.
Hall-o-ween, Hall-o-ween.
Happy, Happy Hall-o-ween.
Sil-ver Sham-rock.

I challenge you to watch the above YouTube clip from Halloween III and NOT get that tune stuck in your head the rest of the day.  You’re welcome.

So, I know you are all waiting with baited breath.  What did I dress up as for Halloween this year? Glad you asked, I was Capt Kirk from the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie.

Me as Capt Kirk

And here’s an action shot.

Me as Kirk 2

Pretty awesome, I know.  Thanks to Debi for taking the pics of me.

Continue reading

Advertisements

AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: Star Wars and Zombies

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, Star Wars, Uncategorized, zombies with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Okay, one more day until Halloween. I’m going to break with the Frankenstein theme today because, honestly, I’ve done enough Frankenstein. I love the big, lumbering, green guy, but I’ve been up to my pooper in Frankenstein stuff for 2 months now and I’m ready to just put that whole thing on pause for a second.  Don’t worry, I’ll go back to Frankenstein (and Boris Karloff) in mid November for the Boris Karloff Birthday Blogathon.

Right now, though, I want to talk about Star Wars…and zombies.

Zombie Star Wars

Star Wars and zombies go together like Lennon and McCartney. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.  Peanut Butter and laaaadies.  One thing makes the other better.  And for this Halloween season, there are a couple projects that bring Star Wars and zombies together like some awesome Halloween version of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial (where someone gets their chocolate in someone else’s peanut butter).

The first cool, Star Wars zombie item is the book Death Troopers

SW Death Troopers

The book takes place just before Episode IV (A New Hope) and involves a derelict Star Destroyer and an unknown virus. I got the book from my friend, Dr Mike, and I am currently reading it. It’s pretty much as bad ass as you think it is.  I’m not sure why Star Wars and horror (and more specifically, zombies) hasn’t been done before, but count me in.  EXCEPT, Star Wars really needs to tread lightly here.  A virus that makes characters zombie-like is awesome, but I’m not sure I want vampires or werewolves popping up.  Actually, I KNOW I don’t want vampires popping up.  I love this idea, but it has the potential to get very bad, very quickly.

Unlike every other Star Wars book that is published, this book is a one-shot.  It’s not part of some multi-arc storyline in which you have to read 6 other books and 2 other comic books to fully get the story.  It’s completely self-contained, like all Star Wars books USED to be in the ’90s.  And I love it because of that.  These ridiculous 19 book series with in a series are why I stopped reading Star Wars fiction to begin with.

Another cool zombie item?  Star Wars zombie posters.  There is some really cool zombie artwork on the Official Star Wars Blog Flickr Photostream.  There are several zombie versions of the Star Wars posters, like Zombie Wars and Episode III: Revenge of the Zombies (click images to see them BIGGER).

Zombie Wars Revenge of the Zombies

Continue reading

AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: Watching a bunch of Frankenstein movies

Posted in Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 29, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

So, I watched the Edison Frankenstein and the first three Universal Frankenstein movies with Boris Karloff. What next? I decided to check out some other Frankenstein movies that aren’t the classic Universal monster movies. For instance, Hammer Films made like 7 Frankenstein movies. Andy Warhol made a near pornographic one and even Roger Corman took a shot at a Frankenstein movie.

There are literally dozens of Frankenstein movies to choose from.  I chose three.  I was really close to picking the Andy Warhol one because I heard it’s really weird, but I instead opted for three fairly mainstream choices.  One a direct adaptation of the novel, one a classic horror film and, to change things up a bit, a parody version of Frankenstein.

Let’s see how I did.

Gods and Monsters
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) — Directed by Kenneth Branagh, this movie takes its story solely from Shelley’s original novel. It is very faithful to the book, however, there are some changes Branagh made, one of which was to add a mentor character for Victor. The movie is packed with stars including Branagh, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ian Holm, John Cleese (playing the aforementioned mentor) and Robert DeNiro playing the titular creature. However, despite the pedigree, and the faithfulness to the book, the movie was a tad boring. Except for the creation sequence, I had trouble staying focused on the action. Also, I had trouble accepting Bonham-Carter as Elizabeth as I imagined her character differently while reading the book and DeNiro was somewhat wasted as the creature. The movie wasn’t bad, it just didn’t come together for me as a whole. So, I say check it out if you are interested, but don’t expect too much.  I guess I was also disappointed because I thought a straight adaptation of Shelley’s novel would somehow be better.  I guess not.

Curse of Frankenstein
Curse of Frankenstein (1957) – Hammer Films’ classic monster movie starring Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as The Monster.  It was originally to star Boris Karloff but Universal threatened a lawsuit if any element came near their Frankenstein movie so Hammer rewrote the script and changed up the makeup for the Creature.  Also, this was the first Frankenstein movie to be filmed in color.  It would launch Hammer Films as a horror powerhouse and garner six sequels.  It would also launch Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing into the just as popular Hammer Dracula series. The story in this doesn’t follow the novel, it actually is a variation on the Universal movie, almost a remake or reboot of the Universal movie. And thinking of it that way, it really works.
I see why so many people like these Hammer Horror films. They are good. The atmosphere is creepy and the horror is actually horrific, despite the effects being less than top shelf. Peter Cushing is great as the obsessed Dr Victor Frankenstein. He really brings across Victor’s obsession with creating life. Christopher Lee brings something different to the monster. Different, but just as good. I really enjoyed the pacing of the plot and the acting in this movie. I would definitely watch the next few Hammer Frankenstein movies as well as start the Hammer Dracula series.

Continue reading

AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Posted in Dracula, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, Universal Studios, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Yesterday, I watched the first three Boris Karloff Frankenstein movies, the last one being Son of Frankenstein in 1939.  Today, I’m going to jump ahead almost 10 years to talk about my next movie, 1948’s Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein

This movie was a horror comedy (Horr-edy?!) staring the comedy team of Abbott & Costello. It is notable because it features three of the Universal monsters, two of which are played by their original actor. Lon Chaney reprises his role of The Wolf Man and Bela Lugosi returns as Dracula (this is the only time Lugosi played Dracula apart from the original 1931 classic). Karloff, however, had stopped playing “The Monster” after Son of Frankenstein in 1939, so Glenn Strange played the titular monster in this movie (as he had for The Ghost of Frankenstein a few years earlier). Karloff would actually appear with Abbott and Costello in another movie, Abbot and Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff, one year later. This movie is considered the “swan song” of the original Universal Monsters as the popularity of the Universal Horror movies had waned towards the end of the ’40s. As a matter of fact, Bud Abbott did not even want to do the movie, but Universal offered him so much money he couldn’t turn it down.  Also, Universal was set to cast another actor as Dracula because it believed that Bela Lugosi had died!  However, Lugosi’s agent had informed Universal otherwise (his movie career was almost non-existent at this point) and convinced the executives that they owe Lugosi the role he originated.  As for the Wolf Man, it is the only character to be portrayed by the same actor (Lon Chaney) throughout the original Universal monster movies (including this one).  Despite the pedigree, this movie was a cash grab for Universal.  And it kinda shows.

Abbott and Costello 2

I can see why Abbott didn’t want to do the movie. It’s dumb. Apart from the novelty of having the original Universal Monsters all together, this movie is silly and hard to watch (even boring at times). Having Dracula try to reanimate The Monster and being opposed by Abbot, Costello and Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man) is a good idea on paper, but the execution is lacking. I’ve watched this movie twice and I barely made it through each time.  The idea is definitely better than the result.  Abbott and Costello are funny, but I prefer the Universal Monsters in a horror setting where they are taken seriously, not in this comedy setting where they seem more ludicrous and out of place than scary.


Franky_banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: Watching the Boris Karloff Frankenstein movies

Posted in Dracula, Frankenstein, monsters, movies, Universal Studios, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Welcome to Day 2 of Frankenstein movie week.  Yesterday we discussed the 1910 Edison Frankenstein movie.  Today, I look at the Universal Frankenstein movies, which have shaped much of what we know about the Frankenstein myths.

Universal would make several Frankenstein movies, but the first three would be the most iconic.  Let’s look at the first three movies staring the legendary Boris Karloff as The Monster.

Frankenstein

Frankenstein (1931) –Since I read all those books last week about Frankenstein, I had to go back and watch Universal’s original 1931 Frankenstein movie directed by James Whale and staring Boris Karloff. I vaguely remember the movie, and while reading the book I was constantly surprised about how different the novel and the movie are. Several of the main characters are pretty much all the two have in common. While watching this movie I realized the events in this movie encompass most of what people associate with the tale of the creation of the Frankenstein monster. The movie character of Dr Frankenstein (Victor in the novel but renamed Henry for the movie) is more a “mad scientist” than the “curious genius” portrayed in the book.
My thoughts after watching are that this movie is pretty good.  I was surprised that a movie in the ’30s began with two guys digging for corpses in a graveyard.  It was a nice, macabre beginning to the movie. The monster looks good and so do a lot of the sets. The story drags a bit here and there but when it gets going the action is surprisingly good. And, obviously, the end leaves you hanging (as there are, not surprisingly, like 6 sequels to this movie). It’s exactly what one thinks of when you remember Frankenstein and his monster. I see why this is a classic monster movie.  The Frankenstein makeup in this movie (by Jack Pierce) is iconic.  I didn’t remember how emaciated the monster looked.  Apparently Karloff took out some temporary bridge work to give the monster this sunken cheek look.  That along with the lighting created a very dramatic effect.  I was very much looking forward to Bride of Frankenstein when this movie was over.

Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) — Like I said, I was looking forward to this first sequel to Frankenstein because it was made using the same actors as well as the same director, James Whale. It was a serious sequel that many believe is as good (if not better) than the original.  I’m torn, I like both…A LOT.  Overall, this movie’s script seems a bit tighter.  Karloff’s Frankenstein is wonderful as always.  The sunken cheeks are gone because Karloff was asked not to remove the bridge work this time out.  The sets are even grander this time around.  It’s definitely more of the same, but in a really good way.  My only beef, and I didn’t know this going in, the title monster, The Bride, only appears in the final 5-8 minutes of the movie.  I kept waiting for her to show up, but she doesn’t until the end.  Very disappointing, which is probably why I can’t put this movie above the original Frankenstein, even though it’s a fantastic horror movie.
Oh, another thing, the character of Minnie, the housekeeper, was BEYOND annoying. Every little thing, scary or not, would cause her to scream this Banshee-like wail throughout the scene. I wanted to tear her vocal cords out and stomp them into the ground. SO. F’N. IRRITATING. I believe this is where Cloris Leachman’s character came from in Young Frankenstein.

Continue reading

AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: The Thomas Edison Frankenstein movie

Posted in Frankenstein, Halloween, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Welcome to Day 1 of Frakenstein movie week. Last week I looked at different novels and comic books that featured the Frankenstein monster. This week, I’ll be looking at different movies that feature the Frankenstein monster.

I’m going to start with the first movie to adapt Mary Shelley’s novel. Filmed in 1910, today we are looking at Thomas Edison’s Frankenstein.

1910 Frankenstein

Created by Edison Studios in New York, this was the first filmed adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel.  Also, since horror as a genre didn’t exist in 1910, this also marks the first horror movie ever produced.  At the time of its release, the film was censored and banned as being too frightening and weird (David Lynch would probably have been shot, burned and drowned as a witch in 1910).

Frankenstein title card

Shortly after release, the film was taken out of circulation and prints were scattered.  Some to collectors, some to be destroyed.  The film became so lost that when Universal’s 1931 Frankenstein was released, Edison’s film was never even mentioned.  For many years it was thought that this silent film had been lost for good.  No copies could be found anywhere.  Then, in 1963 a film historian discovered the above Edison Studios catalog with details and accompanying pictures of Edison’s production and a frantic search was begun to find the missing cinematic treasure.  The film never turned up in over 20 years.  Then, in the late ’70s, it was learned that a film collector, Alois Detlaff, had the only remaining copy in his collection.  Rights and money issues are still keeping this film from being released in theaters or on home video.  There is a version of the movie that was filmed from the projected image.  You can see it here.  It’s a short, silent film, but fascinating to watch as an example of EARLY, early filmmaking.

That’s Day 1 of Frankenstein movie week. Check back tomorrow as I review the Boris Karloff Frankenstein movies from Universal.


Franky_banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: Frankenstein comic books!!

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

This week we looked at Frankenstein’s many appearances in books and novels. Today, I want to take a look at Frankenstein’s appearances in comic books. Specifically, his cover appearances.  Having Frankenstein’s monster make an appearance on a comic cover gave companies an instantly recognizable character that could lure in more readers.  Plus, having your hero battle Frankenstein’s Monster was pretty BAD ASS.

Let’s take a look at some of the cooler comic covers featuring our friend Frankenstein (‘s monster).

Classic Comics 26 Classics Illustrated 26
These are the Classics Illustrated comic adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel. The comic on the left is the original from 1941. The comic on the right is from ’47 or ’48.  It’s a reprint of the comic on the left with a nice, new painted cover.

Briefer Frank 2 Briefer Frank 10
Artist Dick Briefer created his own version of the Frankenstein monster in the early 1940s. It ran in Prize Comics as a feature. Briefer’s Frankenstein character got his own humor comic in 1945. Issue #2 of this comic is on the left up there and Issue #10 is on the right. Briefer was known for his color and composition. His Frankenstein was very popular and ran well into the ’50s.
Here’s some nice artwork featuring Briefer’s Frankenstein fighting an alligator. Wait…he’s fighting an ALLIGATOR?! I wonder why. Oh yeah, probably because it’s f***ing AWESOME.
Frank vs Gator

Continue reading