Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 Days of Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I hope this final post conveys a sense of the fun and great times I've had during this Halloween Blog Blitz across the preceding 30 days. If you've been here for some or all of it, thank you! If this is your first visit in the month of October - welcome!

As the day began, I returned home from a family visit that involved a few scary movies on a large TV screen - and once home I watched a last few scary movies on a large TV screen while I waited for the doorbell to start ringing...

I'm feeling like the Halloween Blog Blitz needs a cameo from our blog good luck charm, so without further ado:

Hey everybody! Happy Halloween! Hope your scary day is sprinkled
with plenty of victory powder! You know, you could go as me for
Halloween - the hardest part is getting the eye right!

Ooookay, thanks Gary!

And here's some photo fun as my trick or treaters arrived:

This whole thing has truly been a blast - thanks to anyone who dropped in or came by regularly; thanks to my wondrous wife Suz for putting up with all my horror nonsense and watching a few of the pictures with me; thanks to my other movie buds (Sandra, David, April) for watching some pretty cool stuff with me on 10/30; and thanks to anyone who's ever worked on any scary movie or TV show, in front of or behind the camera - you all rock!

And you know what the scariest thing of all is? If I were to try another Halloween Blog Blitz for the entire month of October again! I've only got 334 days before it starts again! AIIIEEEEE!!!

Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 Days of the Macabre!

Elvira - Queen of Halloween! 
(Part 2 of 2)

    As the 1990's got going, Cassandra Peterson showed her business acumen as well at this time by branching the Elvira character out in all kinds of directions for merchandising. I thought two of the products Elvira lent her name to were pretty interesting. Elvira's Evil perfume and Night Brew beer. I searched high and low for both, eventually finding a bottle of Evil that I displayed until its loss in one of my moves.

You too could smell like a Mistress of the Dark.

I never did find any Night Brew, though I guess I could track some down on EBay these days as long as I wasn't planning to drink it. (I'm not much on fifteen year old beer no matter how well it's been stored).


 In addition to the perfume and beer gigs, she also put Elvira on a brand of decorative Halloween lights. There was also a brief series of paperbacks featuring the character co-written (as pretty much all Elvira material is) by Cassandra and her good friend John Paragon.

John of course played the Breather character on the old Movie Macabre shows, but he is a little more known to audiences for playing Jambi the genie on Pee Wee's Playhouse and for making several appearances on Seinfeld as an easily angered neighbor.
The books were fun, very much in vein with the first movie where Elvira is not a character per se, but instead the actual person who hosts the bad movies and is Elvira 24/7. I managed to get ahold of all three books that were released, and wished they had done better so more could have been written.

    In addition to the paperbacks, around this time Elvira expanded into another printed medium with a second comic book series, this one coming from smaller comics company Claypool. Written and drawn by a variety of people over its publishing life, this series was like the paperbacks and the Elvira movie showing our fave ghostess as she works for Podunk station K-WHA hosting Movie Macabre and otherwise getting into scrapes and adventures living as the Mistress of the Dark all the time. This was a fun series, surrounding Elvira with an ongoing supporting cast and building on the movie at least a little by continuing the character of the shape changing familiar, though changing his name (probably due to licensing issues). I read this series for several dozen issues from late in the 30's and on into the 70's (issue numbers, not years) through my third round of regular comics reading, finally giving it up with all the others when the cover prices went up one time too many and became overall too high. The comic ended up running 166 issues (!) into early 2007. I'm sorry I stopped when I did! And you have to give the creators props: any comic that makes it to even high double digits at 12 issues a year has done a fabulous job surviving.

Claypool's Elvira comics were stories about her, instead of other stories hosted by her. Two stories per issue, and a photo cover. Very nice!

   I have learned that in 1992 Elvira got a television pilot produced for a Mistress of the Dark TV show that would have starred Cassandra and Katherine Helmond (first known as ditzy Jessica from Soap and later as feisty Mona on Who's the Boss). Apparently the humor was a little risqué for CBS and they turned the show down, and the pilot now languishes pretty much unseen on a shelf somewhere. In the past I have caught some one-shot failed pilots I wanted to see when the network would "burn it off" by throwing it into the schedule unexpectedly, usually during the summer months as a small relief from all the reruns. Unfortunately I don't know if CBS ever showed this one, but I did not manage to see it.

    All during this period I kind of kept up on Elvira's doings through her website and the Claypool comic which kept a page devoted to upcoming events for the Mistress of the Dark. One of the items that kept catching my eye was Cassandra Peterson's desire to get a second movie off the ground. I guess the first movie only did a fair amount of business, so it was not automatically sequelized in the year or two after its release. However, the movie was not a Waterworld sized production, so I imagine after a US theater run, overseas theater bookings and home video release it must have at least made some profits. However, it was obvious to me as I kept reading little blurbs about a possible second movie online or in the comic that it was difficult to find financing for the production despite the character's longevity and high profile. Finally the movie went into production according to the new tidbits. I know now that Cassandra and her then-manager/husband Mark Pierson apparently put the money up themselves for the new movie. After a while I saw through the usual channels that the movie had been completed and was being shopped around for a distributor under the title Elvira's Haunted Hills. That took some time, and I then read that the movie was being screened as part of charity events to benefit the charity and get some word of mouth going about the movie. This actually went on for a couple of years, and then finally I saw the movie was going to be released direct to DVD.

Pair this up with the first movie for a truly double feature.

    It was starting to be a yearly event that I would arrange to be off work on Halloween day and I would put together a film festival of some scary movies I hadn't seen to watch as a marathon on Halloween Day. In late October of 2004 I was gearing up for this again, and haunted my local Blockbuster on the 29th or 30th to line up my weekly rentals for viewing on the 31st. That year I watched the classic Peeping Tom, one of the later and lesser Wishmaster movies and Elvira's Haunted Hills. I enjoyed the movie, which this time puts Elvira in the mid 1800's as she is diverted to a creepy castle owned by Richard (Rocky Horror's Riff Raff) O'Brien while on the way to Paris to perform in a Can-Can show. I was (and still am) a little put off by the time frame, dropping the modern day character into the 1800's period sans explanation, but realize now Cassandra and the producers were following in the footsteps of such movie greats as Abbott and Costello who would go from film to film in different time periods, from the 1940's (Buck Privates) to the late 1800's (The Naughty Nineties) with no explanation or real changes to their character or shtick. I'm still not entirely sure keeping the opening of the movie as modern day, then having Elvira notice she's either really or seemingly in the past with her usual droll commentary would not have been funnier, but I guess we'll never know.

    After that year, I decided that all of my Halloween film festivals would have to include the Queen of Halloween in some way. I took the next year off, because I spent late October in 2005 in Illinois visiting my father. I put the film festival on hiatus as my pop's not into horror movies and my time to watch stuff is severely curtailed. In 2006 it got a lot easier to add Elvira to the Halloween film festival because a home video distributor called SHOUT Factory started issuing some of the original Movie Macabre episodes on DVD with the Elvira material popping up throughout some of the original movies she showed as though going to commercial, though of course it then goes right back to the movie. And these DVDs were really cool, because the films themselves were the uncut editions, not the edited for TV versions Elvira was showing in the early 80's. Awesome! I think 8 movies were issued in the first batch, and I scooped them all up, programming one into the next four Halloween film festivals.

Like taking a ride in the DeLorean with Doc Brown back to the 80's.

    And that brings us to 2007. I try to keep up on pop culture news, so somewhere back in the spring or summer of that year I hear that Elvira is going to launch a search for her successor and turn the quest into a reality TV show. I was saddened to hear that Cassandra would be hanging up her long black dress, but could understand if she wanted to do that. After a small blurb about this I didn't hear much else about it and kind of forgot, instead turning my attention to the 2007 SHOUT Factory DVD release of three more double feature Movie Macabre DVDs.

    However, as time marched on into October I was thrilled a cable channel called Fox Reality was going to be airing The Search for the Next Elvira, a four part reality series.

    I set the Tivo for it as the first three episodes were airing often, with the fourth and last episode to be broadcast live on Halloween night. I caught those first three and watched them among my Halloween scary movies. I thought the show was terrific, with Elvira at the top of her game putting these would-be Mistresses of the Dark through the reality show paces. And Ms. Peterson seemed to be having such a good time, and still looks absolutely amazing in costume. In fact my wife walked through the room as I was watching, and stopped a moment. She watched a brief bit of the show and commented "Oh, using old footage of Elvira, are they?" I told her no, this was all new and had been shot this year. My wife's jaw dropped at how awesome Elvira was still looking.

Here's the whole gaggle of contestants, with one man, and one Girl Next Door
(identifiable due to slightly different hair from the others) amongst the crowd.

As far as the contest itself went, in the first episode there was a brief interview with one contestant named April outside her audition, and I pegged her right away as the outright frontrunner in the race. She had not shown up in full Elvira mode, but she did have a black wig over her blonde locks and sexy goth clothes as a lot of the competition did, and she was gorgeous, and funny, and just had that "this is so much fun" sparkle while being interviewed that made her stand out.

April Wahlin.

There were a couple of other young ladies who gave her some competition but I had April picked as the best right off, something I'm very proud of.

The finalists - April (l), Jenny (c), and Kitty (r) in full Elvira gear, with Mini Elvira Helga down in front.

    And thankfully, she made it through each successive elimination round, and on Halloween night was crowned the "next Elvira."

A man could get killed. And what a way to go!

The live show was a lot of fun, and it really came down to the wire, as both Jenny and Kitty would have made wonderful Elviras. But April just had that little extra spark.

The newest Mistress of the Dark. She now calls herself April Elvira when in character.

    Elvira 1 also made the happy announcement in the post show interviews that she herself was not hanging up the dress, but had recruited April to be a secondary Elvira presence in the Halloween season, allowing for double the dark fun. I am really looking forward to next October to hopefully get a chance to see both ladies in action in whatever venues they appear in and continue my neverending love affair with the Mistress of the Dark!

Friday, October 29, 2010

31 Days of Darkness!

This is my 50th blog post! Huzzah!

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark!
(Part 1 of 2)

    The first time I ever saw Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was in the pages of Fangoria magazine. I'm going to guess the year as 1982, and from the article it seemed she had been on the air in California for several months or a year. Of course, I was struck by her incredible beauty, but in reading the article I also found myself very enamored of her humor and intelligence. The article touched on her alter ego Cassandra Peterson as well, so I also got to know how the character came about. I didn't see anything else of her for a while after that article, then one night some months later I saw in my local TV Guide that Elvira's Movie Macabre was going to be airing on channel 25 out of Evansville Indiana one Saturday night at 11:30pm. This was both good news and bad, as it was awesome that her series had been syndicated, but sad too because my house out in the boonies could not pick up channel 25. Luckily, my pal Brad lived in town and had cable (something else that didn't reach as far as my house) and in those days before the FCC started limiting who could watch what the local cable company included channel 25 in their lineup. So Saturday night at 11:30, with his parents safely in bed, Brad and I hunkered down to watch our first Movie Macabre and see Elvira moving and talking. The movie that night was a early 70's British flick called Crucible of Horror, about an evil father (Michael Gough - later Alfred in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman movies) finally killed by his long suffering family, but turning up after to torment them. 

It was really very bad, and as each movie segment droned on we completely lost interest in the movie (I have no idea how it ended), only perking up for the terrific segments leading to and from commercials with Elvira. Well, my friends and I were movie masochists anyway, watching bad movies even without any help from the Mistress of the Dark, so we were hooked. After that for several months every Saturday night around 11:30pm I would head over to Brad's house, usually with either a giant Slim Jim or a huge convenience store sub sandwich and a bottle of YooHoo and we would watch whatever Movie Macabre had on tap for us. And oh, the brutally bad movies we sat through! House of the Dead, New Year's Evil, The Devil's Wedding Night, Inn of the Damned. Wow! But it didn't matter as long as Elvira was there to soften the blow with her jokes and humor.

Here's what we saw at about 11:30:30 on Channel 25.

While that was occurring Elvira's influence was starting to spread. I saw a profile of Cassandra Peterson and Elvira on the NBC series Real People that was a lot of fun; Movie Macabre was airing in syndication all over the country; and around Halloween it started to be common to see Elvira popping up on all kinds of TV shows (The Fall Guy for example).

Here's a redundant caption: Elvira (l) with The Fall Guy's Lee Majors (r).

She would still turn up in the pages of Fangoria magazine occasionally, and I joined her fan club, getting the membership card, a lapel pin, a couple of newsletters, etc.

I also found a couple of posters, one the classic shot of her in the flames, it's an early shot (you can tell if it's early because the hair is not as tall) and another classic called Moonbathing with Elvira in a one piece black swimsuit on the sand under the full moon. Terrific iconic shots.

Here's one of the two posters. I think the "Pro Elvira Big Hair League" has totally suppressed the other one.

Not long after this I was in college and as is usual for a college town there was a GREAT comic book shop nearby. One day I was looking through some special bundled comics the owner had put together, selling the complete run of a limited series or a particular storyline from a comic, and there among them I was amazed to see a several issue run of DC's House of Mystery featuring Elvira as the host! At this point in my life I had been away from comics for a few years as they had gotten too expensive for the allowance I got as a very young man. Now, even though the cover prices had continued to go up, money was a little more plentiful, so I was getting back in to reading them again. I was familiar with DC's House of Mystery from my first round of comics reading. As a kid, it seemed like a pretty cool horror comic. As I got older and more sophisticated, and thanks to my pal Brad and his knowledge of EC comics from the 50's like Tales from the Crypt, I had come to realize that the Marvel and DC horror comics of the mid to late 70's and early 80's were pretty lackluster. The Comics Code Authority pretty much made sure nothing truly horrifying was going to occur or be shown, and I was not in the habit of reading them in college. But here was an entire run of 12 comics with Elvira in them. And at a great deal! I picked them up and ran home to start reading. Basically you had the same "EC-Lite" horror stories, but it was fun to have the Mistress of the Dark introducing them instead of the original host Cain. (Cain hosted House of Mystery, Abel hosted House of Secrets. Cain and Abel. Get it? Yeah, me neither, really.)


    Around this time I was reading that Elvira had signed on to host some home video releases under the "ThrillerVideo" label. Apparently the first few releases were not well received because they were of movies that were not otherwise available on home video and in addition to an opening and closing segment, the Mistress of the Dark was popping in and doing shtick in the middle of the movies, which was really torking people off. Thrillervision pulled back for a while, then started a second wave of releases, (including the first few movies again) and I remember the wording on the packaging making it very clear the movies were uninterrupted once they started! I didn't see many of these first few ThrillerVideo tapes as my local video stores in Illinois did not carry them. As the home video industry continued to expand into the late 80's however, more stores opened and had a wider variety of product, and the Thrillervision line expanded to include Elvira hosting episodes of British TV's Hammer House of Horror as well as obscure horror movies, so I got to see several of these. I was not as fond of these as I was Movie Macabre, because after her opening, it was goodbye to Elvira until the end of the show or movie, and I wanted to see more of her! (Especially so when the movie or show was particularly bad). Still, some Elvira was better than none!

Elvira as a character continued to explode into new avenues throughout the 80's and one of the merchandising deals was with Coors beer. For a few years around Halloween Coors's would feature Elvira in their TV commercials and the displays in the grocery stores for Coors would have a life sized cardboard cutout of the Mistress of the Dark. I honestly cannot remember where I got it from, but I managed to get ahold of one of these cutouts (I seem to remember some money exchanging hands, I think I paid a grocery boy $10 for her or something.) It was Elvira alone, holding a tray with a couple of cans and bottles of Coors on it, and nothing else! Some of these cutouts had word balloons for sale prices or whatever stuck on the figure, but I got one that was clear. (I think it had come from a larger display where the word balloons and Coors logos were on the other pieces of the display.) I kept that standup for several years, only finally giving it up when I was moving (either to Florida in 1988, or to North Carolina in 1992) and there was no room for her in my car.

This is exactly what my standup looked like, minus the big yellow word balloon on the side.

    Speaking of Florida and my move there in 1988, it was a strange two months spent watching 125 movies, both on video and at the theaters in Winter Haven. One of the feature films I saw there was none other than Elvira-Mistress of the Dark. I loved the movie, bought it on video in VHS and eventually DVD.

    The story has Elvira finding out her aunt has passed away in puritanical Falwell Massachusetts. Elvira comes to town to collect her inheritance, which turns out to be her aunt's house. Settling in to figure out what to do with the house, Elvira turns the town on its ear with her sexy ways. She also comes in to conflict with her uncle Vincent, an arcane old codger looking to get his hands on Auntie's recipe (spell) book. The movie doesn't aim particularly high, keeping most of the humor aimed squarely at its star's two most noticeable attributes.
    I am speaking of her sense of humor and quasi supernatural trappings. What did you think I meant? In any case, Uncle Vincent is played in the movie by the great character actor W. Morgan Sheppard.

W. Morgan Sheppard as Vincent Talbot.
 A few years after Elvira was made, I worked with Mr. Sheppard on the CBS series American Gothic. He was a hoot, and had some good stories to tell about working with the Mistress of the Dark.

We're doing a bad sitcom freeze frame ending here.

    Right after college I worked in a little video store in Crown Point, Indiana called Box Office video. I learned that Rhino Home Video had licensed Elvira to host a new series of VHS tapes for movies they were putting out, and I talked my manager into letting me purchase the entire 14 tape set in one swoop at COST. Sweet! (And home video was still more expensive than now. The retail on almost every movie at the time was $19.99. I haven't paid $19.99 for a single movie on DVD that wasn't a double disc "extreme edition" in ten years, let alone that price for a single movie on VHS! But it was a different time, so I paid like $13 and change for each of these flicks!) Anyhoo, I got the series, called Elvira's Midnight Madness and thoroughly enjoyed watching them. Most were for 50's movies I hadn't seen like She Demons and Frankenstein's Daughter, so it was money well spent.

Here's one of the Midnight Madness tapes. Note the "Uncut Uninterrupted" blurb.

Because it has always been the lady's talent that has appealed to me in addition to her beauty, I also sought out what I could of Cassandra Peterson's appearances in movies and television out of the Elvira getup. I did manage to see Echo Park which was a decent little movie with a nice role for Ms. Peterson, however I was very disappointed in the Allan Quartermain sequel which featured her only in a brief role as the Queen of the bad guys. Of course the two Allan Quartermain movies of the 80's are perfect exercises in 80's movie cheese, and well worth watching with a box of crackers and bottle of wine, but viewing the second movie strictly as a Cassandra Peterson showcase leaves the movie choking on the ground.

Allan Quartermain and the Lost Opportunity
     I remember a picture in Fangoria magazine of a very cute Cassandra in a movie with the late great Robert Webber, I think it was one of those weird Robert Blake movies from the early 80's. (Coast to Coast?) I never got a chance to take a look at that one back then, so I have no idea how big a role she played or if the movie is worth a look at all. Might be worth trying to track down now, though I would imagine it would have to be a VHS search as this is not a movie you'd find on DVD. (I could be wrong about that though as there are some movies I never thought would be on DVD that I own in that format…)
    And back from digression! As the world moved into the 1990's Elvira took on somewhat more iconic status, becoming eventually the Queen of Halloween. The whole month of October became her busy time as she made personal appearances at parades and shows and festivals, and popped up on talk shows and other television programs. For years she also had a Halloween show at Knotts Berry Farm in California, something I always wished I'd had the opportunity to attend.
    And we'll break off here to go to commercial. And as Movie Macabre taught us - whenever we go to commercial, we always get what? That's right! Elvira!

To Be Continued!

And til then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

31 Days of Scares!

Tales from the Script!

An excerpt from my scary screenplay Hospitality...

    The story opens with a convenience store robbery perpetrated by a trio of ne'er-do-wells, Cory, Annie, and Vern. Things do not go as planned, and people die. This sequence is crosscut with the average morning of a man named Henry. Henry rises from bed, paints while the morning light is good, then gets breakfast for his aged father and himself. Everything sounds normal in Henry's house, doesn't it? Except it isn't. And in the early scenes it's nothing you can put your finger on. But something is "off."

    The escape in the car is derailed by a flat tire, and the kids stop off in an empty field outside of town. Eventually, they decide to steal a car from a passing motorist. To accomplish this, Cory has Annie get all dolled up in a fairly trashy outfit, the better to lure middle aged men to a meeting with their insurance adjuster.

    Of course, the person they stop is Henry, on his way back from town with some groceries. Annie plays her part well, and gets Henry to stop. But Vern is off sinking their car in the river, and Cory won't jump Henry alone.



Annie glances up at Henry as she continues to massage her ankle.

Are you all right?

Not really.

What seems to be the problem?

Out late. Party. Met a guy, seemed all right.
He brought me out here. You know. When I
said no, he kicked me out of the car
and left me out here in the middle of nowhere!

The last few words she directs to the departed “guy.”

I fell asleep over there by the river. I heard a car go
by a little while ago, as I was waking up, but I
couldn’t get out here in time.

I guess that must have been me.
Not many cars out this way.

Well, I’m glad you came back. My ankle
is really hurting. Can you help me?

I live close by, just got a few things in town.
Why don’t you get in? You could call someone
from my house?

Henry opens the side door. This is not going as planned. Annie looks off as though she is thinking this over. She is actually looking at Cory.

Cory mimes that he doesn’t know, looking around to indicate he has no idea where Vern is. Annie looks back at Henry.

How close by?

You can almost see it from here. Come on.
Let me offer you some hospitality.

You’re not one of those crazies? You’re not
going to turn out to be an axe murderer?

Absolutely not. I don’t even own an axe.
Scouts’ honor. I’m Henry.

Not knowing what else to do, Annie pretends to hobble to the car.

Uh, my name is An...gelina. I hope my
friends can find your place.

Won’t be a problem. Angelina.
Such a pretty name.

Annie climbs into the car. Henry smiles as she closes the door. He rolls the window up, closing Annie in with him. She watches the window slide into place almost nervously.
[As the car drives off, Vern returns. Cory berates him with much profanity and they start walking, hoping to find Annie quickly.]


Henry’s car pulls in along the driveway. The house is set back a good distance from the road. The car stops near the house, and Henry climbs out. Annie does the same, but slower, very on edge.
She looks back down the road.

See, I told you it was close.

Yeah, but my friends still might have
a tough time finding the place.

Henry waves this off and opens the back door of the car. He reaches in and pulls out the two brown paper bags of groceries. With keys in hand, he turns and walks to the house, expecting Annie to follow him.
She doesn’t. He turns back and sees her still looking down the driveway.

Aren’t you coming inside? You
still need to call your friends.

Annie casts one more look down the driveway, then turns and walks nervously to where Henry stands by the door. Henry maybe starts to realize something is hinky here. However, the curtain has risen, the play must go on. But Henry can’t resist one little prod.

Your ankle seems to be much better.

Annie realizes she forgot her limp.

Yeah, I guess it is better. Guess being off
it for a few minutes did the trick.

I guess so.

Henry unlocks the door and gestures for Annie to precede him inside. She smiles anxiously, and goes in. Henry follows, and the door closes with an ominous click. Once again, we stay on the door just long enough to expect something else to happen. Finally, it doesn’t.


Henry has taken the lead and walks in to the kitchen. He sets down the grocery bags. Annie looks the place over as she eases into the kitchen. There is a sign posted: “Enjoy our hospitality. We’re glad you came to see us!” There are also small paintings here, the lightest in tone of any we’ve seen so far.

This is a nice place. You have a lot
of paintings.

They’re mine.

Annie looks at him like “of course they are.”

Well, sure they are. It’s your

Henry grins.

No, I mean I painted them.

Really? Wow. You’re really talented. I like
your sign too. Hospitality. You said that out
on the road.

Thank you, Angelina. Yes, my father always
encouraged having guests, and treating them well.

Do you live here alone?

No, my father lives here with me.

Annie starts slightly at the change in tense. This day started off bad, and just keeps adding more complications.

Uh, you can make that Annie, I guess.
Where is your father?

Annie it is then. I’m afraid Father is not well. He
sleeps most of the time. Actually, I need to check
on him, and put these groceries away. Do you
need to freshen up?

Uh, sure. Yeah, that would be good.

Bathroom’s first on the left down the hall.
But first, let me show you this.

Annie is not sure what he means as Henry steps over to a small fusebox looking box on the wall. He opens it and flips the switch inside.
We flash to the front door, the back door, and a shot of the windows. Each time, there is a soft CLUNK that sounds like a lock being thrown followed by a soft and steady electrical HUM.
None of this can be heard in the kitchen.

There. I just turned on the light over my mailbox.
Now your friends will have no problem finding this place.
 And you can make your call as soon as I check on
Father. First door on the left in the meantime.

Annie smiles and walks down the hall. Henry smiles back, but the smile fades after Annie disappears and he starts to put away the groceries.


Cory and Vern walk along, scanning each side looking for some sign of Annie or Henry’s car. They come upon Henry’s driveway.

As they stop to look at it for a moment, the sharp eyed will see the mailbox, which is brightly painted to look like a rather strange fish, the first dimensional representation of Henry’s art that we’ve seen.

And no, there is no light over it at all.

Is this it?

Hell if I know. I don’t want to go to the
wrong place and get some nervous nellie
farmer calling the cops.

Vern calmly pulls out his pistol. Cory sighs and shakes his head.

And I don’t want to leave a string of bodies
across the county. Let’s go further down,
see if we see the car.

Vern reluctantly agrees, puts his gun away, and they walk on.

The door to the bathroom opens quietly. Annie peeks out, then slips out into the dimly lit hallway, trying not to let her heels clatter on the floor. The walls here are also covered with several framed pieces.

Down the hall, Henry putters and puts away groceries, humming to himself. Annie turns and walks down the hall the other way.

She comes to a closed door, and puts her hand on the knob. She watches back down the hall, but Henry continues to make noise in the kitchen. She debates opening this door, which could creak, or walking down to the last door, which is open.

She lets go of the doorknob and creeps on down the hall. She peeks carefully around the door frame.
Inside the room, there is a figure lying in the bed. It is very still, and does not show any signs of life. With another peek back to the kitchen, Annie slides into the room.


Surrounded by Henry’s art, Annie’s eyes adjust to the even more dim light here, and Annie can see that the figure appears to be a very old man, with gray hair and an ample gray beard. There is still no sign of obvious life.

Annie steps closer, and finally, unable to resist, reaches out a hand to the figure’s foot and gives it a gentle shake.

Instantly the figure’s eyes snap open, startling the hell out of Annie, who reels back. The figure flops and writhes, absolute stark terror in the eyes. No speech, but a muffled mumbling can be heard. Now it can be seen that the figure is restrained in the bed. Annie turns to run away...
...and finds Henry standing right behind her, rage in his eyes. He grabs Annie and hustles her out into the hallway.

(very angry)
What are you doing?
Why did you do that?

What’s wrong with him? Why is he
so scared? And why is he tied
up like that?

(very angry)
He is a very old, very sick man. He is terrified
of just about everything these days, especially strangers.
And in his confusion he cannot be left to fall out of
bed, or wander around the house and hurt himself.

This explanation calms Annie somewhat. Henry also relaxes a bit.

I’m sorry, Henry, I heard a noise...

It’s all right. I’m sorry I snapped. I need to
get him calmed down, and seeing you again
won’t help. Will you wait in the kitchen
for me?

Yes, of course.

Annie walks back down the hall to the kitchen. Henry watches her until she disappears around the corner, then he walks into the bedroom. The figure reacts again, still terrified.

I’m sorry, Father.

He walks over to the dresser and picks up a small case. From inside he draws out a hypodermic needle, which is already filled. He squirts the air out as he approaches the bed. The figure on the bed mumbles incoherently again in the same muffled way.

But it’s for your own good.

The figure on the bed tries to jerk away, but cannot escape.

Annie waits nervously. She eyes a butcher block full of knives, even slides the largest partially out, then decides against it and lets it fall back.
After a moment, Henry walks back into the room. He seems to have regained his composure, though maybe it is now a bit brittle.

There, he’s settled down now.

God, I am so sorry, Henry.

It’s all right. So much upsets him these
days. Now, how about that phone call?

Annie has no desire to make a phone call, but still doesn’t what to do.

Uh, sure.

Phone’s right over here.

He gestures to an old cordless phone mounted on the wall. He takes the handset off and gives it to Annie.
It feels strange, and she hefts it as though the weight is off.

Henry, I don’t think there are
any batteries in this phone.

Henry slides closer as though to take a look.

No, there aren’t. Oh, and Annie?
I was never a scout.

Annie tries to move but she’s let Henry get too close as he pulls the same hypodermic up from where he’s been palming it and slams it into Annie’s upper arm.
Annie turns and grabs for the knives, but only manages to get the largest back out and turn before crumpling. The knife clatters harmlessly onto the floor beside her.
Ooooh boy! That's gonna be trouble! From there, very bad things begin to happen. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?
That's about 8 1/2 pages out of a 98 page screenplay - if you have cash in the six figures range lying around you're not using, please let me know - there's an Executive Producer credit waiting for you on this bad boy!
Til next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

31 Days of the Heebie Jeebies!

Hobby Lobby!

Another set of classic lobby cards!

How to Make a Monster  (American International, 1958)

After they had some success with I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, American International did their own monster rally picture bringing those two groovy ghoulies together. Sort of.

A makeup artist for American International pictures is summarily fired. He promptly loses his mind, and mixing "hypnotic chemicals" into his makeup, he commands the two young actors playing monsters in AIP's latest production to commit murder!

Here he takes matters into his own hands, wearing his own disguise.
Apparently he wants to make sure no one at the studio will ever drink
coffee again! Die, java brewing guard! Die!

Here Dumond examines his work on the Teenage Werewolf (Gary Clarke, in
for Michael Landon) as a big headed special effects creature looks on. I mean,
Dumond's assistant looks on.

Teenage Frankenstein (a returning Gary Conway) wants to borrow a coat.
It's chilly out.

The real American International's real makeup artist, Paul Blaisdell, worked
his magic on this flick. Here's two of Blaisdell's earlier creatures decorating
Dumond's home. That's one of the aliens from Invasion of the Saucermen
on the left, and The She-Creature on the right. I'm not sure what that is in
the middle, except for SCARY!

Dumond gives Teenage Frankenstein some extra makeup on his right ear.

As often happens after a murder, the pesky ol' police show up. Here they're
apparently looking for killers AND autographs.

Teenage Werewolf and Dumond console Teenage Frankenstein after their
audition to be the new Three Stooges does not go well.

How to Make a Fire.

The blurb on the cards that reads 'SEE The Ghastly Ghouls In Flaming Color!' refers to the climax of the black and white movie. Right in the middle of a shot, the picture blooms into color for the final 10 minutes or so! This is a fun little picture, and worth catching. But be warned: there's not a lot of real monster recipes in it.

Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 Days of Psychos!

Tenlist Presents: Halloween Horror Hotties Vol. 4 - Friday the 13th Edition!

Babes in Mortal Danger from the Voorhees family!

1. Adrienne King - (Friday the 13th '80)

She calls her fans her campers - I've been promoted to Counselor!

2. Amy Steel - (Friday the 13th Part 2)

Yup. That's she and me on the set of American Gothic in 1995.

3. Tracie Savage - (Friday the 13th Part 3)

4.  Kerry Noonan - (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives)

5. Catherine Parks - (Friday the 13th Part 3)

6. Judie Aronson - (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter)

7. Darcy DeMoss - (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives)

8. Gloria Charles - (Friday the 13th Part 3)

9. Laurie Bertram - (Friday the 13th '80)

10. Dana Kimmel - (Friday the 13th Part 3)

11. Lisa Freeman - (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter)

Yeah, can't resist the leg shot.

12. Tiffany Helms - (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning)

13. Diana Barrows - (Friday the 13th Part VII: A New Blood)

She gets a whole subplot about this makeover, then no one sees it but Jason. Poor girl.
And it does capture the 80's perfectly in all its pastel and big hair glory...

What can I say, I watched a lot of Friday the 13th movies (which is to say all of them, several times each) and for my money, this is the horror flick series with the most babealicious beauties on view. And what kind of a Friday the 13th Tenlist would it be without 13 entries?

Dedicated to Laurie Bertram (May 16th, 1958 – May 25th, 2007)

Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!