Monday, April 20, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: Q is for Robert Quarry!

I would have first encountered Robert Quarry over at my cousin's house - I was spending the night and we were up late half watching an old vampire movie on Showtime - it was something called The Return of Count Yorga - and it seemed really creepy - but we were playing a board game or something with it on in the background - but the movie definitely had some imagery that threatened me with nightmares later that night.

Here's one of my nightmares now!

I next encountered Robert Quarry in another horror sequel - this time it was Dr. Phibes Rises Again - which I was watching on the CBS Late Movie. In that one he's the antagonist trying to prevent our antihero - the title character played with great panache by Vincent Price - from finding the Egyptian fountain of youth - which Phibes plans to use to resurrect his late wife. I won't tell you how it comes out - but one of them is singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" over the end credits...

A few years later Quarry started to show up in a lot of direct to video genre movies - and it was always great to see him. He had effortless charisma and could even make you halfway like his most despicable characters. Some of the many titles he appeared in include The Tomb, The Phantom Empire, L.A. Bounty, Cyclone, and Evil Toons.

Check out some Robert Quarry when you can!

Robert Quarry (November 3, 1925- February 20, 2009)

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: P is for Jack Pierce!

As a little kid, I was introduced to the Universal Studios Monster Movies thanks to a horror host named Seymour - out of Los Angeles but nationally syndicated and playing for me on Saturday nights on Channel 30 out of St. Louis, Missouri, which we could pick up over in Southern Illinois where I lived. He played a lot of what's now called the "Shock Theater" package - a collection of Universal Studios' monster movies from 1931 through 1958 or so.

Frankenstein (1931): Boris Karloff

Jack Pierce and Boris Karloff - hard at work.

I didn't know it at the time - but those cool looking monsters in the earliest of the Universal movies were all the brainchild of a makeup artist named Jack Pierce.

The Mummy (1932): Boris Karloff is all wrapped up in his work.

Later he gets unwrapped and pretends to be a living human - but look at that face!

Karloff and Pierce - together again.

Pierce was a genius - using materials now considered quaint and old fashioned to create his creatures. Cheesecloth, wax, yak hair - all found their way into his makeups at different times. He worked slowly and took great pains to get everything just the way he wanted - which did not endear him to the money men in the Universal offices who wanted the pictures made as quickly as possible.

The Wolf Man (1941): Lon Chaney Jr. 

The Universal execs weren't the only ones who thought Pierce took too long with his makeups - he and
Lon Chaney Jr famously clashed often over the extensive time Chaney had to be in Pierce's chair for several
different characters and movies.

Jack Pierce was a fixture at Universal Studios throughout the 1930's and into the 1940's. His final monster makeup for the studio was on Claude Rains as the title character in  Phantom of the Opera in 1943. After World War II, Universal merged with International Pictures to become Universal International - the studio cleaned house and replaced most department heads, including Jack Pierce.

The Phantom unmasked: Claude Rains

Pierce and Rains.

Pierce continued working, mostly on low budget independent films - and finished out his career as makeup department head for the TV series Mr. Ed from 1961-1964. Jack Pierce died in relative obscurity in 1968 at the age of 79. Thankfully, his work has been preserved on film, and in the last few years his artistry has started to be recognized - he received a posthumous lifetime achievement award from the makeup union and he might be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the near future. I hope he gets it - he certainly deserves it.

Taking a break from all the monsters.

Check out some Jack Pierce work any chance you get!

Until next post - mere hours from now - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, April 17, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: O is for Olivia Newton-John!

I first saw Olivia Newton-John in Grease when my mom took me to see it at the theater - I was only just into double digits. I liked the girl next door aspect of her character Sandy - but I liked her bad girl presentation near the end even more! I later rented Xanadu - on BETA! It was one of the very first movies I ever rented. I loved it - unlike the rest of the world.

Thereafter I was totally a fan and bought her albums - and even went to see her in concert on the Physical tour in the early 80's. Yes, my mom took me to that too. Don't you judge me.

I'm always happy to see her - but I'm not thrilled that she has subjected herself to the knife to try (in vain) to hold on to the past - as she's starting to get that damned Joker thing going on - so I try to stick to my memories of the days when she still had her original face.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: N is for Nichelle Nichols!

Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura in the Star Trek series in the 1960's. She helped show a future where race was no longer an issue in people's lives - and it was so important at the time that when she first met Martin Luther King and revealed she was thinking of leaving the show - he implored her to stay - to continue to provide that message - even if she was often only in the background of the stories. Plus, she had the best legs in the 23rd century.

Uhura came back for the Star Trek movies in the 80's - and Nichelle Nichols got some great moments here and there. Two other movies that stand out for this blog - Truck Turner (1974) - you've never seen her like she is in that Isaac Hayes Blaxpolitation vehicle - and The Supernaturals (1986) - which is not a classic but again gives Nichelle a character to play completely unlike Lt. Uhura.

Still looking amazing and offering a strong presence in genre circles - Nichelle Nichols is an amazing woman - check out something with her next chance you get!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: M is for Lois Maxwell!

Lois Maxwell was a marvelous presence playing M's secretary Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond movies. She holds the record for the most appearances in the series, beating out every Bond, all the M's, Q, and the seven guys who played Felix Leiter - her record stands at fourteen 007 movies. I don't think that record will ever be broken.

Lois Maxwell and Sean Connery in the first 007 movie - Dr. No (1962).

She and Roger Moore attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts together, and I always felt she had a special chemistry with him, though she and Sean Connery had some fine moments as well. She also helped George Lazenby in their only film together, and he got the sauciest moment with her, giving her a discreet tush squeeze just below camera (his hand movement is unmistakable as it moves down there.)

Lois Maxwell and the boys - Roger Moore, Desmond Llewelyn, and Patrick Macnee - in
her final 007 film - A View to a Kill (1985).

Miss Moneypenny has since been played by four other women - and they're mostly all awesome - three of them, anyway - but no one compares with Lois Maxwell!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: L is for Lance Henriksen!

Lance Henriksen is one of my very favorite actors. I first took notice of him seeing The Terminator in the theater, where he had fun chemistry with Paul Winfield as the cops on the case.

 I know I saw him in other movies after that - but my next clear memory of him was when he played the bad guy in the Brian Bosworth vehicle Stone Cold. I loved hearing that he wrapped that movie - playing a long haired modern day biker - on Friday and then flew to Italy over the weekend to start playing the bald 15th century Inquisitor Torquemada for director Stuart Gordon on Monday. Now that's acting.

Lance Henriksen is the kind of actor who literally makes everything he's in better - and he's made otherwise bad movies watchable with his presence. He's been going strong for more than thirty years - with over 200 credits on the IMDB - check out some Lance Henriksen when you get the chance!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: K is for Jack Kelly!

I first saw Jack Kelly during a 48 hour Maverick marathon that TV Land ran across one weekend some years ago. I taped several VHS tapes full, and really enjoyed the show - and both of its stars - James Garner and Jack Kelly. Maverick was the main character - a traveling gambler in the Old West who always managed to find trouble no matter where he went. But in this case, there were two Mavericks - and they were brothers - both engaged in the family business - professional gambler.

In order to stay on schedule, it was decided to alternate episodes between the Maverick brothers. One week you'd watch James Garner's Bret, the next week Jack Kelly's Bart. A few weeks after that both would show up.

James Garner and Jack Kelly have you covered.

Both actors were a lot of fun on the show. Garner had seniority as he was hired first, so he got to pick which scripts he did - he always took the ones with the most humor and quirky bits - leaving Kelly the more serious episodes. But whichever Maverick you got - and especially when you got both - the show was a blast.

Jack Kelly acted in lots of other shows as well - starting out in the late 1930's as a child actor - and appearing in scads of movies and TV shows from then until the early 90's. Some movie titles that stand out for this blog: Cult of the Cobra, Forbidden Planet, and The Human Tornado.

This 007 fan also loved that during a contract battle with Garner
they brought in cousin Beau from England - and he was
played by Roger Moore for several episodes!

Jack Kelly got into politics in the 70's - but also kept his hand in, appearing in episodic television in the 70's and 80's - and did return to the show every time Maverick was revived - which was three times (!) from the late 70's to the early 90's.

Jack Kelly's last screen appearance - as Bart Maverick in one of
The Gambler TV movies.

Check out some Jack Kelly when you can - he's fun!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!