Attending Wizard Con last week prompted me to dig through my old comic collection where I stumbled upon a little known title called “ROM Spaceknight.” When people mention Marvel Comics they will, no doubt, immediately be reminded of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Uncanny X-Men,” or “The Mighty Avengers” – to name but a few. All of these classic titles have (or soon will see) big screen adaptations and have generated lots of merchandise. Sadly, one of their best characters never will. ROM has the distinction of starting out as a Parker Brothers toy before making his way into the Marvel universe.
I remember, months back, seeing the trailer for this movie and rolling my eyes in disgust. To me it represented the marriage between two highly annoying Hollywood trends; 1) remaking older movies and 2) presenting them in 3D whether the added effects were warranted or not. After picking up the latest issue of Rue Morgue, however, I changed my mind. They did a retrospective piece on the original PIRANHA as well as an article featuring the new one. Needless to say, I was hooked (no pun intended).
It’s very rare these days to have a horror host present a Japanese giant monster movie. How ironic considering that many of us were introduced to the these films via weekend Creature Features and late night hosts. For the past ten years, however, the opportunity to see these films on commercial television has become few and far between. TOHO (the Japanese studio that owns Godzilla) has made the films less accessible – their legal team hungry and eager to feed. To me this is a terrible error on the studio’s part. By making them harder to acquire, they are blocking many potential new fans from the genre.
On the final day of the convention, we packed our belongings and loaded the car before making a final sweep of the main hall. The Vampira Tribute began mid day and I stood in line to enter the event. In the distance, I could see all the hosts talking and joking around with each other. After spending the previous days moving about the convention, attending to all their individual commitments, this was the moment that would bring all the participating hosts together.
This past weekend, Chicago celebrated it’s annual Wizard Con at the Donald E. Stephen’s Convention Center in Rosemont. This is the Midwestern version of the famous San Diego Comic Con – largest of all fan events.
It’s been a long time since I collected comic books and about 12 years since my last Wizard Con (or whatever they called it back then as it has changed ownership periodically over the years). Upon discovering that THE EXORCIST star, Linda Blair, along with a few alumni from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” would be in attendance, I decided to give it another shot.
Growing up in the 70′s was an awesome time to be a kid. The toys were cool, Saturday morning cartoons were alot of fun and we had a regular dose of monster movies every week on the Creature Double Feature. I was a huge monster movie fan and every Saturday afternoon I could be found glued to the television watching such movies as WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, RODAN and all of the GAMERA movies (as well as all of the classics we have grown to love). For us, the Creature Double Feature was not a hosted program (though a scary voice was used each week to introduce the movies). Then something happened in the early 80′s…all of a sudden the CDF was being hosted by some guy named the Son of Svengoolie. This started my love of horror hosts.
Jeff Carlson is a name that many Svengoolie fans, like myself, are familiar with. Not only had the 42 year old Chicago artist been a regular contributor to the former Svengoolie Web, but also the current Svengoolie YAHOO group page. You can often see Jeff’s work shown by Svengoolie himself during mail segments thanks to his regular submissions.
Since I was a teenager in the 80′s, the name Roger Corman meant alot to me. Though I didn’t get to see any of his films at the local drive-ins where they usually played, I did get to see them on videocassette and some of my fondest movie memories are of his films. How can you go wrong with monster movies filled with blood and all of the female nudity you could ever want? Just recently Shout Factory, the company that is releasing the long overdue Gamera titles, re-released a bunch of Mr. Corman’s films under their “Roger Corman’s Cult Classics” line. To be honest I already owned these titles in the previously released versions (New Concorde released this very same title in 2001 under their “Roger Corman Classics” series) but have been such a fan that I decided that buying them on Blu-Ray would be worth it. The first one I am going to talk about is probably one of the most controversial: HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP.
Wolfman Mac has the honor of being the first local horror host I’d ever watched after Svengoolie. Last January I was thumbing through YouTube clips when I stumbled upon “Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-in.” Although Mac is a fellow Midwesterner (Michigan), it was the other Dave in Rhode Island who had access to his show via a cable channel called RTV (Retro Television). I asked him to send me some copies and he was happy to oblige.
I received some great photos today from Wisconsin horror host, Dr. Destruction. This past weekend, Destruction’s home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin celebrated the “Summer of Lovecraft.” This unique festival combines Gothic art and activities tailor made for those seeking the darker aspects of artistic expression.
Happy Friday the 13th! This is the day that horror fans, like myself, don’t bother worrying ourselves over black cats and broken mirrors. Instead we fret over which of the numerous FRIDAY THE 13th slasher movies we’ll be watching that night. For more committed fans, you can even turn it into a marathon event. On one of last year’s Friday the 13th’s, I celebrated the occasion with an old friend….appropriately named Jason.
Saturday promised to be the busiest day of the Horrorhound convention. Wanting to get an early start, I immediately went down to the main hall after breakfast. Due to the large number of hosts attending the Vampira Tribute, I had no illusions about meeting them all. In an effort to stay focused, I created a short list of the ones I really wanted to meet.
Meeting Elvira: the Mistress of the Dark had been one of my top goals for Horrorhound! I had been unable to attend the 2008 Flashback Weekend here in Chicago; an event in which she shared a stage with Svengoolie. Missing that historic moment was something I never forgave myself for and I was determined to finally meet her.
The main hall of the convention was immense. Locating the horror hosts required careful navigation through crowds of people to reach the opposite side. Once there, you’d find an entire section dedicated to them, along with a schedule roster listing their availability. As many of them were also filming excerpts for their own shows or even entire web casts, catching them all would require frequent visits.
Hollywood, as well as fans of vintage science fiction film, suffered a loss yesterday as Patricia Neal, star of the 1951 classic THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, died of lung cancer at the age of 84. Although she starred in many films over the years including such titles as THE FOUNTAINHEAD, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and IN HARMS WAY – genre fans will remember her most for her portrayal of “Helen” in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
Slinking down a dark corridor, illuminated only by the glow of soft candles and dry ice, Maila Nurmi makes her grand entrance. In the unlikely event that her seductive gaze failed in seizing your immediate attention, there is no doubt that her skin tight black dress, accenting the quintessential “wasp” waist, certainly would.
Last March, I attended my first (but definitely not last) Horrorhound Convention. As mentioned in my previous post, Horrorhound Magazine definitely ranks as one of my favorites. Like FANGORIA, they sponsor their own conventions too - attracting some very impressive guests! For the past few years, Horrorhound has done two conventions annually; one in Indianapolis (March) and another in Cincinnati (November).
It’s taken me a while to build up the strength to do it, but I have finally allowed my FANGORIA subscription to expire. I tend to be a loyal kind of a guy, often to a fault, and my relationship with this magazine was clearly becoming dysfunctional.
Back in the 1980′s it was edgy and one of the few periodicals unafraid to show a gore fan, like myself, the “good stuff.” Not merely content with graphic photographs, the magazine often had pull-out posters worthy of their own “NC-17″ ratings. When placed on your wall, they were guaranteed to not only startle any adults that wandered into your teen-aged sanctuary but also help secure your status as a bad-ass among your peers.
Back in the summer of 2007, a very successful viral campaign showing a teaser trailer for a film called CLOVERFIELD swept the Internet. It threw hard core Japanese monster fans into a frenzy anticipating the possibility that Godzilla, who was in cinematic retirement, might finally be making his illustrious return.