Archive for movies

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: The Forgotten Frankenstein and other lost cinema treasures

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Frankenstein, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, magazine, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

In Fangoria #2 (1979), there was an article about Universal’s Frankenstein. But it wasn’t about the Boris Karloff movie. It was about the original incarnation of the movie that starred Bela Lugosi as the monster.  It was called The Forgotten Frankenstein. 

It started the article with a picture of the original poster that proclaimed Bela Lugosi as the star (click images to make them BIGGER).

The article says the initial development for Frankenstein was done by Robert Florey and in his development Lugosi was to be Dr Frankenstein, not the monster. However, when his treatment was approved by the studio, they insisted Lugosi be the monster.

As Florey was writing the script they brought in Lugosi, Karloff and several other actors to do a fully costumed test reel. Florey says they shot and edited two reels of footage which included the full Jack Pierce makeup. Lugosi was offered the role, but turned it down exclaiming the tall lumbering mute was beneath him. Karloff was ultimately given the role and then Florey was dropped from the director chair and replaced by James Whale.  After this, all the test reel footage and some of the development for Florey’s version of Frankenstein were lost.

This article reminded me that there is a series of books on similar subjects written by Phillip J Riley, which you can find on Amazon.  The series includes original shooting scripts for a ton of early Universal movies as well as “alternate history” exposes on some of those movies including the Lugosi Frankenstein, the Lon Chaney Dracula, the Boris Karloff Invisible Man, the Karloff Return of Frankenstein and even one on the lost Chaney London after Midnight film.  Lots of fun alternate film history out there to read!



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Fangoria Scream Greats – Beetlejuice

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

It’s Monday, time for another Scream Greats poster. This one was inside Fangoria #76 from 1988 and it features a great image of Beetlejuice.

Just a few issues earlier, in Fangoria #74, also 1988, they featured a set visit to the movie.  The cover page to the article featured an alternate version of the Scream Greats photo.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Fangoria Movie Friday: Christine

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, books, Fangoria, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, magazine, movies, pop culture, Stephen King with tags , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

Every year around Halloween I try to fill in the gaps in my Stephen King reading. I’d read a bunch of his books back in high school and in college, but then I lapsed for a while. So a few years ago I decided around Halloween each year I’d pick up a book I hadn’t read of his and read it for the spooky season. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve read the uncut The Stand, The Talisman, Salem’s Lot, The Shining and Needful Things. This year, I decided to finally read Christine. And since I’m reading the book, I thought I’d watch the movie as well, seeing as how I’d never seen it.

book movie

I was always fascinated by the idea of the story and was eager to dig in. I read the book first. And the book is actually a lot longer than I was expecting. The copy I read had over 500 pages. It’s typical early King, long on setup. But once you get past the halfway mark, things amp up considerably.  But don’t take that as a disparaging remark to the first half.  The fact that King takes the time to set up the concept and we get to live with the characters a little while, it makes the events in the end really affect the reader.  You know and care about the characters, so the horrific events at the end hit you hard. Since King is playing the long game we really get to know Arnie and when the changes start coming you can really see it.  Little events build up to bigger events until it all snowballs in the end to, honestly, catastrophic results.  And I like the motivations and explanations of Christine here in the novel.

I really enjoyed Christine as a horror novel and a King novel.  Is it my favorite?  No, but I’m glad I read it.  The next King book I’m going to tackle will probably be The Dark Half.

So after reading the book, I watched the movie.  Directed by John Carpenter, who was originally supposed to direct an adaptation of King’s Firestarter a few years earlier but it fell through.  After reading the book, I was a bit disappointed with the slightness of the movie.  I get it, it only has like 2 hours to do what King did in 500+ pages, I totally acknowledge that.  Carpenter’s directing is pretty great.  The movie is shot fantastically.  The car looks awesome.  I love the burning car sequence.  It’s just so relentless and horrific looking.  Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed with how the movie answers the motivations of Christine.  It’s different than the book and it just feels so…bleh.  It was evil from the day it was made?  Really?  Huh.  I didn’t love that, but I really liked the kids in the movie and overall I’m happy with how it turned out, but not surprisingly, I prefer the book.

Fangoria did cover Christine a few times.  With several articles.  The movie got a cover story in Fangoria #32 in 1984.

Fango 32 cover Fango 32 article

King’s novel would get a review in Fango’s Nightmare library a few issues earlier, Fangoria #30, in 1983.

Christine novel review 1 Christine novel review 2

It’s a positive review, for the most part, but the author uses so many metaphors it’s tough to really say for sure.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001) movie review

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Halloween, holiday, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2019 by Paxton

Fangoria Movie Friday

So, I’m finishing out the first two weeks of Elvira with a review of Elvira’s second movie, Elvira’s Haunted Hills from 2001.

Like Mistress of the Dark, I had never watched this one, so with the surprise of actually liking that first movie, I sat down to watch this one hoping to also like it.

And I didn’t.  It’s more of the same but not done as well.  Elvira is Elvira.  Double entendres abound.  It feels like it wants to be something like Young Frankenstein, or, to be more accurate, Haunted Honeymoon.  But the charisma of the cast (or lack thereof) can’t overcome the poor script and attempts at humor.  I know this was made on a shoestring budget, and it’s lampooning old Vincent Price Poe movies like The Pit and the Pendulum (the poster for which even had the giant swinging blade on it) and The Raven, which I honestly haven’t seen.  But it still didn’t land, meaning mainly the humor.

The sets for this movie were pretty great though.  The giant castle, as a set, worked very well and had lots of cool elements incorporated into the design including a small hidden door in the side of the giant fireplace (sidenote: I love giant stone fireplaces in castles).  And the overall story was actually not that bad, but this movie lives or dies on the humor and the humor just doesn’t work as well in this one as it did in the previous movie.  It was so MEH that I didn’t really have anything I wanted to talk about more in depth by pulling out screen grabs.  It’s just not as fun a movie as I wanted it to be.

I wish it wasn’t so, because I still love the character of Elvira.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira’s crazy cameos

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Halloween, holiday, movies, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

The character of Elvira has become pretty ubiquitous over the years popping up in everything in pop culture including movies, TV shows, beer ads, MTV specials and video games.  In the next few articles over the next few days I’ll take a look at some of Elvira’s strangest pop culture appearances.  Today, let’s take a look at movies and TV shows.

Like I said, Elvira has popped in all all kinds of TV shows and movies.  Sometimes she’s in costume, sometimes it’s Cassandra Peterson as herself.  Here are a few cool, random appearances of Elvira in costume in different movies and TV shows.


Elvira showed up as a race car groupie in the 1983 Burt Reynolds NASCAR comedy, Stroker Ace.  There are a lot of mixed opinions about this movie, but I love it.


Elvira showed up on an episode of CHiPs in Season 6, episode 21 titled “Things That Go Creep in the Night”. Ponch and Jon are protecting a woman who seems to be stalked by a comic book character. Elvira shows up at a comic book/horror convention.


Elvira starred in an episode of The Fall Guy that was written specifically for her. It was Season 4, episode 7, titled October 31st. Colt Seavers (Lee Majors) is filming a Halloween Special with Elvira in an old mansion that is supposedly haunted.


Elvira also showed up in a couple of live action segments of the Super Mario Bros Super Show from 1989.

Cassandra Peterson had a few fun movie cameos that I always forget about.


Cassandra Peterson had a small part in a sex comedy called Jekyll & Hyde: Together Again from 1982.  She played the busty nurse.  I love this movie and I hope to do it one day on Cult Film Club.


Cassandra is good friends with Paul Reubens. Consequently, she appeared in the biker scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

And there are several others I could bring up but I think that’s a good random sampling of appearances for the Mistress of the Dark.  Tomorrow I’ll take a look at one of Elvira’s first, and most mainstream, forays into comic books!



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira Mistress of the Dark (1988) movie review

Posted in Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2019 by Paxton

Fangoria Movie Friday

So this week has been all about Elvira.  You’ve seen articles and centerfolds.  Elvira has permeated pop culture especially during the Halloween season.  She has popped up in many random movies as a fun cameo. But there have been two Elvira specific movies released and I have watched neither of them.  So I thought now would be a good time to do that.

Today, for my very first time, I’m taking a look at the first Elvira movie; Elvira Mistress of the Dark from 1988.

movie poster

I can’t believe I’ve never watched this movie. It’s fun, it’s campy. It’s the perfect Elvira movie. Mostly comedy, with some spooky genre elements added in. I had a lot of fun with it.

Let’s take a look at a few highlights from the movie.


Title cards.

on the TV show set
The show opens up with Elvira on the set of her late night TV show. It’s a low budget local station so naturally she wants to get out of there and go to Vegas to become a showgirl.

Anchorwoman
This is an anchorwoman at Elvira’s TV station waiting to go on after Elvira finishes her show. She’s not very nice. She’s played by Tress MacNeille. Tress is sort of a legend in voice over animation work. She does voice work for Simpsons, Futurama, Animaniacs, and SO MANY other shows. Check out her IMDB. It’s insane. But, funnily enough, Tress would voice the character Booberella on The Simpsons which was a parody of Elvira.

A lot of this movie is what actors pop up from other genre pictures.

teens
Here are a few of the teens Elvira befriends in the movie. On the far left, is Ira Heiden, who played Will in Nightmare on Elm Street 3.  To the right of Ira is Kris Kamm who’s been in a ton of TV like Quantum Leap, 21 Jump Street, and Coach.

Kenicky!
Hey, it’s Kenicky! From Grease!

villain!
Here’s the villain, Vincent. He plays this up pretty well. He’s appropriately evil and English.  This guy has also been in a bunch of genre stuff like Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country, the old Fox TV show Werewolf, the Max Headroom TV series, Needful Things and Michael Bay’s Transformers.

Apple Slice!
Edie McClurg! I love 80s movies for vintage product placement. We get a scene at a town picnic and in it we see a bunch of old soda cans like this Apple Slice as well as a few vintage Diet Pepsi cans.


Elvira finally gets to Vegas at the end and we get to see a whole overblown Vegas number. It’s campy but fun.

This was a fun movie to watch.  Yes, it was campy, but that’s Elvira’s whole shtick.  The movie was entertaining and I enjoyed it.  Glad I finally watched it.

So next week.  I had so much fun doing Elvira this week, that I think I’ll do it again.  So, expect to see another week of Elvira goodness.  I’ll look at more movie and TV appearances as well as a few other surprises.  Come back next week to see what I have in store.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira Busts Out

Posted in Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

In Fall 1988, Elvira was getting ready to release her first movie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark. And, of course, she got some coverage in the September 1988 issue of Fangoria (issue #77).

I’m honestly surprised she didn’t get a full cover for her first movie. She always had a great relationship with Fangoria.  But if you are going to get bumped, Freddy Krueger in a new movie is the news that’s going to bump you.  *Especially* in 1988.  And *especially* if the magazine has available to them a pic of Freddy with a baby arm coming out of his head for the cover.

This article is an interview with Cassandra Peterson about making the movie Elvira Mistress of the Dark.  She talks about having the longest bit of dialogue to do on the first day and that no one really explained to her how to play the character on the big screen.  Sometimes she was playing it too big, sometimes she played it too small.  It took several days to work it out and get comfortable.  She also makes sure to play up the humor in the movie.  She wants people to know it’s not a horror movie per se, it’s a comedy.  And she hopes that people understand that when they go see it.

It’s a pretty good article, but it always is with Cassandra Peterson.  She’s always funny.  Unfortunately for this movie, New World Pictures went bankrupt the day the movie was released and instead of opening on 2500 screens, it opened on 600 screens.  Even though it tanked at the box office, it has since picked up a big cult following on the home video market.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I love Elvira and I have since the mid to late 80s. As you see, I bought her appearances in magazines, I loved it when she was the Coors Light “spookswoman”, and when she had bizarre cameos in movies like Stroker Ace.  We even covered her 1986 MTV Halloween Special on the Nerd Lunch 2017 Halloween Special.  But for some reason, I never got around to watching either of the Elvira movies.

So tomorrow, for Fangoria Movie Friday, I’m going to take a look at her first movie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, from 1988.  Should be fun, I can’t wait.



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