Archive for the Halloween Category

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice (1989)

Posted in books, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, mummy with tags , , , , , on October 17, 2016 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Anne Rice is known for her vampire books, but she’s written a slew of other supernatural books featuring other things like witches, werewolves and, more relevant to today’s article, a mummy.

The Mummy - Anne Rice4 The Mummy - Anne Rice

Per Anne Rice’s bibliography, I was aware of the Vampire Chronicles as well as a few of her other erotic tales that she’d written. I had read Interview with the Vampire and tried to read The Vampire Lestat back in college but gave up after twenty pages or so. I hadn’t been aware of this mummy book until I started researching for AWESOME-tober-fest.

The premise is thusly; an archaeologist discovers a long lost tomb, presumably to Ramses the Great.  He opens it up and begins cataloging everything and notices several weird details like lots of Roman and Greek influences as well as Latin inscribed on the tomb itself.  However, before he can finish translating the tomb’s scrolls, the archaeologist is killed, seemingly by a curse on the tomb.  And when the mummy and artifacts are brought to London to be displayed in the archaeologist’s home, strange things begin happening, not the least of which is that the mummy itself has risen from its sarcophagus.

That’s a quick, elevator pitch to what’s going on.  I’ll say this, I liked the plot of the book.  It was interesting.  The titular character was interesting as well.  In fact, Ramses himself seemed like a variation of Rice’s vampires.  He’s immortal, he has a “thirst”, not for blood, but for satiating his physical senses with things like eating, smoking, drinking and sex.  However, instead of existing only at night, Ramses is fueled by the sun.  He’s like a “sun vampire”, if you will.

Anyway, like I said, I enjoyed the book’s overall plot but the page to page events were too exposition-y with a bit too much of the Harlequin melodrama.  I don’t need to be hammered over the head with how evil cousin Henry is.  Or how “in on it” Uncle Randolph is.  I don’t need to hear how much the daughter is falling for the bad boy Ramses despite her feeble attempts to ignore her yearnings.  You got a good plot, let it run, Anne, don’t bog it down.  There are too many characters with too many less interesting stakes in what goes on and it bogs down what could be a nicely paced action yarn.

The action does pick up a bit in the last third, but honestly, by then, I was prepared to tap out.  I didn’t really care for any of these characters and I was only mildly interested in the conclusion to the story.

2012 banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Out of the Aeons (1935) – HP Lovecraft and Hazel Heald

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

There were five stories written by a Massachusetts writer named Hazel Heald which were revised by HP Lovecraft and published. I’ll talk about one of those stories today.

The story is called Out of the Aeons and it was published in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales magazine.


Like the Doyle story The Ring of Thoth, this story isn’t a typical “mummy story”. It begins with the discovery of a mysterious mummy on a mysterious island that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the ocean and then mysteriously disappeared soon after its discovery.

The story is written as a letter of final confession for the curator of the Cabot Museum in Boston.  The letter explains that some unbelievable and terrifying events have sprung up around the mummy and this letter he’s writing is to set down on record what actually happened as museum officials have essentially “white washed” the majority of the story with the press.

Much of the story is the curator delving into the history of the mummy.  It’s a fairly interesting and creepy sort of legend that has been culled from several banned tomes like “The Black Book” and the “Necronomicon”.  About half the story is catching the reader up to what the mummy could possibly be.  The back half of the story is essentially what happens to the mummy in the museum when the story gets out and the exhibit becomes popular.  All the nutzos come out and the situation escalates to a creepy and horrific end.

I enjoyed this short story.  I think I liked it even better than the previous Lovecraft stories I read, Herbert West, Re-animator and From Beyond.  I really need to delve into some of the Cthulhu stories.  Lovecraft’s writings have sort of the “creeping dread” atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat feeling like something just isn’t “right”.  Very effective.

A few tidbits of Lovecraftian mythos make appearances in this story.  One of the characters who briefly visits the mummy is awesomely named Swami Chandraputra, which is a known alias for Randolph Carter, one of Lovecraft’s recurring characters.  There are several Dark Gods listed in this story, two of them being previously mentioned as a part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  Lastly, the previous curator of the museum who actually discovers the mummy is named Pickman and shares this name with the painter in Lovecraft’s story Pickman’s Model.

2012 banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Scooby-Doo and a Mummy Too! (1969)

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2016 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

During the very first season of Scooby Doo Where Are You!, the gang met up with a mummy.  It was in episode 12 which aired in late 1969 and it was called Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too!
SD_01 SD_02

As most Scooby-Doo episodes are, this is a pretty fun little episode with all the regular Scooby tropes you’d expect.

The show starts off with the gang at the local college’s Department of Archaeology. They are unveiling a new mummy exhibit and the gang has offered to help set up.
SD_03 SD_04
The gang is talking to “The Professor”, who is the white bread dude in the middle.  I have to assume “The Professor” is his name as he’s never called anything else.  Next to “The Professor” is…

Dr Najib who, I presume, is the Egyptian expert.  I have to presume because the show never directly says just who he is.  The show also implies that he actually found the mummy, who is identified as “the mummy of Ankha” at first then as just “Ankha” later.  With Najib’s ascot and red fez I believe they’re trying to invoke Boris Karloff in Universal’s The Mummy.

This is Scooby Doo so we get Shaggy and Scooby eating food that’s inedible for normal humans. For example, this is a liver a la mode sandwich. With an olive garnish. Classy.

The mummy eventually disappears from his sarcophagus and the gang begin pursuit. They almost catch the mummy but he escapes through the museum’s glass door leaving only a mummy shapped outline in the glass. I love that this is how glass works in Scooby-Doo Land.

SD_09 SD_10
Here’s the mummy stalking the gang all mummy-like. Scooby actually picks a fight with him and changes into his Hong Kong Phooey outfit to do battle. Scoob’s a black belt?!

While being chased by the mummy, Velma has time to go to the lab and carbon date a piece of the mummy’s rags in order to reveal a clue to the mystery.

SD_13 SD_14
Scooby and Shaggy, on the run from the mummy, duck into an old tool shed. Shaggy doesn’t hear the mummy in pursuit so he opens the door to see if he’s still there and sees that the mummy has started to BRICK UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE SHED. Did he mix his own cement? Surely already mixed cement wasn’t just lying around?  I love that he’s holding a spade too. Amazing.

SD_15 SD_16
The mummy chases the gang around the museum and eventually gets thrown up into the basketball hoop where Fred climbs up on a ladder and unmasks him. Scoob celebrates by finding the actual mummy hiding in some bushes.  And the actual mummy looks a lot like the Boris Karloff wrapped mummy (see my AWESOME-tober-fest banner).

That’s the episode.  Like I said, it’s a pretty fun episode.

2012 banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: The Ring of Thoth (1890) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted in books, Classic literature, Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2016 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Here we are! Day 1 of AWESOME-tober-fest! Welcome to my daily celebration of all things spooky. As you can tell, my theme this month is “mummies”! So I’ll be looking at books, comics, movies and TV shows that feature mummies. It should be a lot of fun. Today, we’ll start with a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In 1890, Cornhill Magazine published a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story called The Ring of Thoth.


While this story has a mummy in it, it isn’t technically a “mummy story” like you’d expect. However, it has elements in the story that will clearly influence mummy movies in the many years to come afterwards.

The story is about an Egyptology student who falls asleep in The Louve and winds up locked in overnight and witnesses a bizarre sight.  The overnight caretaker unwraps one of the mummies from the collection, embraces and kisses it, then rummages through some of the jewelry in the Egyptian collection clearly looking for something.  The student is discovered in hiding and the strange looking caretaker reveals his story about living in ancient Egypt, discovering a long living chemical serum and losing the love of his life to a plague.

This story is short, obviously, and very concise with much of the backstory filled in by exposition from the museum’s overnight caretaker.  However, the way the story is written you feel a sense of wonder at the caretaker’s tale as well as a sense of urgency at what he plans to do that very evening.  These two things make the story breeze by.  It’s also interesting and it keeps you reading along with its fantastical story ideas.  Plus, as I mentioned, there are elements within the story that have clearly influenced many successor mummy movies but also the original Karloff Mummy movie.

First of all, the strange looking caretaker, Sosra, is described as being a very tanned and overly wrinkled person.  Someone with much wisdom and experience in his eyes.  From the description, I immediately got an image of Karloff in his Ardath Bey disguise from The Mummy.  There’s even a scene in which Sosra threatens the protagonist with a knife, much like in the picture below.


Second, the trinket that Sosra is looking for is the title bearing The Ring of Thoth. Thoth is the God of Knowledge in ancient Egyptian culture. His name would be used in countless mummy movies, however, this story would be one of the first. Universal’s The Mummy used it as well in describing, not a ring, but a scroll.


Like I said, while this story doesn’t necessarily involve a reanimated mummy it does carry several things that would influence mummy stories and movies in the years to come. Including a story Doyle would write just two years later called Lot 249.

Overall, this is a really enjoyable, short read.  The timeline is very compact and you feel like there is some urgency in the main characters.  It keeps the action moving along despite that the majority of the story involves backstory exposition.  This is definitely a recommend.

2012 banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016 is near!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, movies, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2016 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

It’s early September. The days are growing short. The spooky season is fast approaching. Some, like my good friends Matt and Jay, have already begun. It’s Countdown to Halloween time!

And yes, I’ll be doing AWESOME-tober-fest this year.  And my theme will be The Mummy!  So expect to see lots of ancient, bandage wrapped awesomeness popping up here starting, officially, on Monday Oct 3.  I’ll be covering lots of pop culture mummy things like books, comics, movies and even a few cartoons!  So mark your calendar, starting Monday October 3 I’ll be redressing the Cavalcade for the entire month of October and starting daily weekday updates featuring The Mummy!  Plus a few other surprises.

And I guarantee you, at some point during AWESOME-tober-fest, the below cartoon depiction of Alcatraz Island will show up.


AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Destroyer (1988) movie review

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

This is it!  The final day of the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2015. It’s been a blast. I really hope you guys have had as much fun as I’ve had. I’m sad to see the Halloween season come to a close. But, all good things, am I right? Anyway, without further ado, here is today’s final AWESOME-tober-fest article and it’s the last of this week’s look back at all of my previous years’ AWESOME-tober-fest subjects.

Last year, my theme was Bloody Best of Fangoria.  I went through the vast history of the magazine, showed you articles and pictures and each Friday I reviewed a B-horror movie that appeared in the pages of the magazine.  Those reviews were called Fangoria Movie Fridays.  The last FMF was the awesome Cheerleader Camp starring Lucinda Dickey.  But it was almost a different movie.  As a matter of fact, it was so almost a different movie that I had watched and mostly drafted a completely different movie review but I changed my mind at the last second.  I think it’s time to bring that movie back and give it its due.  That movie was the flick Destroyer from 1988.  It starred Lyle Alzado, Debra Foreman and Anthony Perkins.

Here’s the ad they used to promote the VHS release.  I remember seeing it in an issue of Fangoria.

Destroyer poster

Lyle looks like he’s holding his head weird.  Or is his head just Photoshopped into the poster?  I can’t tell.

Here’s the actual poster for the movie.



Yeah, this is actually a bit more bonkers and awesome.  Did you notice that they added a LASER SCOPE to the jackhammer?  Why the f**k does he need a laser scope on the jackhammer?!  Crazy.  And weird.  And awesome.

Anyway, this movie poster obviously spoke to me.  Lyle Alzado as a “half dead” serial killer?  Anthony Perkins as a horror movie director? Yes, please.

So, first, is this movie any good.  Ehhh, it’s okay.  It’s not bad for a late 80s slasher flick with a ton of cult pop culture familiar faces in it.  What’s it about, well, Alzado plays a serial killer who is on Death Row.  He is about to be executed when a power surge while he’s in the electric chair makes him “half dead”.  Essentially it makes him a savage, nearly indestructible killing machine.  The jail is abandoned and Lyle is left to roam the empty jail.  Flash forward two years or so and a horror film crew arrives to film their movie in the infamous jail.  They, of course, stir up Lyle who starts killing off members of the crew.  How do you stop an unkillable monster?  I. Don’t. Know.

That’s the basic premise.  Did I mention this movie had familiar faces?  Yep, let’s quickly look at the cast. You’ve already seen sweaty Lyle Alzado up there on the poster as the “lead”. Lyle is known mainly for football but he also appeared in this movie, Ernest Goes to Camp, Zapped…Again! (yes, the sequel to Zapped!) and the sadly short lived wrestling sitcom Learning the Ropes.

The next most notable face would be the aforementioned Anthony Perkins, best known as Norman Bates in the Psycho movies.  Anthony is playing the director of the horror movie-within-the-movie, Death House Dolls.  Honestly, Perkins is pretty much the best thing in the movie.  He’s very entertaining and I loved every scene he’s in.


Here’s a familiar face, Clayton Rohner.


I did not expect him to pop up in this movie. This guy is an 80s staple with lead rolls in Just One of the Guys, I, Madman and another little horror film I love called April Fool’s Day.  If you haven’t seen April Fool’s Day, watch it.  It’s pretty great.  But also starring in April Fool’s Day was an actress named Deborah Foreman.  And in a nice little reunion, Deborah is in this movie as well.


Deborah is adorable.  You’ve seen her in a ton of 80s flicks like Valley Girl, Real Genius, Hot Pursuit and My Chauffeur.  Unfortunately she goes with “Hilary Clinton” hair in this movie which is rather…unfortunate.

I do like both of these guys, so it’s nice to have them here.  Clayton comes off a little better because he’s written to be a funny, irreverant writer so he has some funny lines.

So, how’s Lyle?  He’s okay.  I mentioned his character is described as “half dead”, which I assume means he has “crazy eyes”.  Because that’s what he does at every opportunity.  Gives us his “crazy eyes”.

destroyer02 destroyer03

He does seem to have a lot of fun with that jackhammer, though.

destroyer06 destroyer07

Easy, Lyle, you can go blind handling that jackhammer so much.  Take a break, buddy.

If you like cheesy 80s “horror” with a dash of comedy, I think you’ll like this.

2015 banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: The Dell Comics Monster Squad

Posted in comic books, Dracula, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, werewolf with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Yesterday, with my review of Dell’s Frankenstein, I finally completed all three infamous 60s Dell superhero monster comics reviews (Here’s Dracula and Werewolf).  I love all three of these zany re-imagining of the classic monsters.  And as I mentioned in my reviews, the only thing that was missing was a team up.  We did see Frankenstein pop up briefly in a one panel cameo in Dracula, but other than that, no other crossover ever happened.  It’s time I rectify this situation.

So, issue #10 of Cavalcade Comics features the debut of the Dell monster super heroes in a team up.  Finally we get the Dell Comics Monster Squad.

Cavalcade Comics 10

How did this never happen? I’ll tell you how, the comics never sold. It’s why we only got three issues of each title. I would love to see these characters come back in a cool retro reboot. I don’t even know who owns the license to them anymore, but with the right writer and tone, they could be fantastic.

I had only three covers of each of the three heroes to try to make work, but I luckily found Marvel’s Where Monsters Dwell #3 (1970) which works as a really nice base image for this cover.


I love all those 70s horror comics from Marvel. Such good cover artwork and great to use as a base for these types of Photoshop projects.

The Dell Monster Squad logo was going to be a re-interpretation of some awesome original art by Nathan Milliner.


Nathan created these awesome EC-style vintage comic covers I just love.  I really wanted to use that logo, but no matter how I manipulated it, it didn’t fit in the 60-70s vintage comic cover I was trying to create, so I sadly had to abandon it. I then went back to the original Where Monsters Dwell logo and just created the new logo off those letters and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m happy with it.

As for the monster heroes themselves; Dracula comes from Dell Dracula #4, Frankenstein comes from Dell Frankenstein #2 and Werewolf from Dell Werewolf #1.  

I also had to change the background a bit and add the night sky with the full moon which I believe I got from Marvel’s Werewolf by Night #11.

2015 banner
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.