Day Two (March 12, 2011): We arrived around 10am and were joined by my co-host Johnnie 13. Johnnie got his hair cut. I guess because Justin Beiber got his hair cut too. Johnnie 13 and Justin Beiber’s fates are intertwined in some strange way and I don’t approve of it. Mr. Potent and Johnnie left the Monster Channel table to pay a visit to Norman Reedus and the Walking Dead cast. Norman Reedus was previously rumored to have dropped out of the convention but he made it and stayed til late Saturday afternoon. Word around the grapevine was that he was expected on set somewhere to film something. Believe me, Norman Reedus is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He was at Monster Mania last August jumping in pictures, walking around in the vendor room, hanging with his fans outside, I think it’s safe to say he loves his fans and he loves doing conventions. Johnnie and Mr. Potent delivered one of my t-shirts to him for me to which he had Johnnie pass along a personalized autograph to give to me. My morning started off great! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I caught someone dressed as V For Vendetta walking around. I blew kisses at him all day.
I was due in the lobby to have an interview with Shaun Kern who has been aspiring to become better acquainted with horror hosts via interviews and blogging. He’s following the foot steps of Corpse S. Chris and our Daves! Good for him! It was a joint interview he conducted with myself and Mr. Halloween Jack! My interview was done before Jack arrived but I sat in to listen in on Jack’s and then we answered specific questions together. After the interview, it was a madhouse in the lobby and inside the convention. The hotel was mobbed with people waiting in line to meet Nick Castle and Ace Frehley. I didn’t get in line to meet anyone. It’s not particularly my thing because I’m not an autograph collector or anything. Though I did have a brief encounter with Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn, The Burbs). We happen to have some very awesome friends in common: Brandon E. Brooks and Amel Figueroa worked together with him on an Indie Thriller called The Quiet Ones which I had the pleasure of doing the trailer for. Other than that, I did make sure I met one person during the weekend but I’m saving the best for last.
Another highlight of that Saturday was sitting across from the Troma table. The Troma team are always so enthusiastic and fun. Plus, Lloyd Kauffman was there for most of the day accompanied by his wife and someone dressed as the Toxic Avenger. I love the monster.
Day Three (March 13, 2011): I was joined by a lot of friends over the weekend including J. Isobel De Lisle who took my famous Facebook picture that I never want to change. Friends I have in my personal life came to see me and show their support for my show. Rob Dimension joined us a lot throughout the weekend at the Monster Channel table. R.A. Mihailoff (Hatchet 2 and TCM 3) visited Rob and I at the table and chatted for a bit. I made sure to pass by his table also before I left. Most importantly a lot of fans and viewers of my show came to visit me which was the most phenomenal feeling in the world. All of you left me this weekend feeling more inspired to keep doing what I do and I thank you for it.
The big highlight of my weekend was meeting Stella and Hives from Saturday Night Dead. Stella, the Maneater from Manayunk, hosted horror movies in the 80s’. There was Vampira, there was Elvira, and there was Stella, a legendary horror hostess from my own backyard– Philadelphia, PA. I visited her and Hives whenever I had a chance to take a break from the Monster Channel table. I found out Stella is a fellow TRUE BLOOD fan and Hives is a fellow Marx Brothers fan. I didn’t know much about Stella other than what everyone else might know about her but she was everything I hoped she would be. She was hip, she was friendly, and she was so excited about the convention and the people who came to see her. Hives was also very enthusiastic about being there and he was such a gentleman too. He offered me a seat by the table a few times when I came to visit them. It was very nice. After two minutes I didn’t feel like the three of us were strangers anymore. It was an honor to meet the both of them and I do hope to see them again in the future.
Links to check out:
Monster Mania Convention: www.monstermania.net
The Monster Channel: www.monsterchannel.tv
Roxsy Tyler’s Carnival of Horrors: http://vimeo.com/carnivalofhorror
The Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead: http://www.zombiehuntershow.com/
Guten Monsters: http://www.etsy.com/shop/gutenmonsters
Stella’s Official Website: http://maneaterfrommanayunk.com/
The Daves would like to welcome and thank guest blogger Roxsy Tyler for this piece!
The Monster Mania Convention in Cherry Hill, NJ takes place twice a year at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. There is one in March and always there’s another in August. Monster Mania also started popping up in Baltimore Maryland aswell. Monster Mania happens to be the first ever Horror convention I attended back in 2008 before I started running my Carnival of Horrors. Easily, the convention became a place where every horror fan in the tri-state area could congregate, get dressed up, get photos with celebs, and meet their Facebook friends! In this amazing place where I met Adam West, Malcom McDowell, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and yes, even a fellow horror host by the name of Karlos Borloff… never did I ever imagine that someday people might come to get their picture taken with me. So, for those who didn’t have the opportunity to go to Monster Mania 17 here’s a recap for you where you can see it through the black drippy eyes of your favorite horror carnival proprietor.
Day One (March 11, 2011): Mr. Potent and I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel around 4ish to meet up with Joe Sena who we had the pleasure of vending with all weekend and asked us to help promote MonsterChannel.tv. If it wasn’t for the vendors setting up shop just beyond the hotel lobby you wouldn’t have any idea a horror convention was about to start. All was slow and all was quiet at the moment. Mr. Potent and I walked in with our merchandise and cameras clung in our arms and the first familiar face I saw was Chuck Maher standing guard as security. Chuck plays our Mad Scientist Dr. Villhelm on our show Carnival of Horrors and he’s a dear friend to the cast. We also happened to arrive the same time Patrick Devaney and Christopher Murphy from the Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead. After all the chatter and catching up we eventually all went to our posts. Up until last August, I never had a table nor had merchandise to sell. When you’re not vending you have more freedom to walk around and pow wow with friends but as a vendor or a guest you have the opportunity not only to pow wow with friends but to make new friends as well.
Last August, Mr. Potent, Johnnie 13, and myself had the opportunity to man the Midnite Mausoleum table because Marlena unfortunately couldn’t make it. We became acquainted with the Zombie Hunters. Don’t let the guns and ammo scare you off– if you’re not a zombie they’re the nicest guys in the world. Also during the convention last August we became acquainted with Ophelia Von Gray and Tucker Sherry, the creators of Guten Monsters. Last year they were at the table next to ours. We did go to the main vendor room to catch up with them to meet all the new editions to the Guten Monster family! I strongly recommend getting a Guten Monster. Everyone must have a Guten Monster to pal around with! I have one named Wolfington and he lives on my bed.
Coming up on Tuesday, March 29th: Part 2!
The biggest draw of any fan convention lies with the celebrities they feature. I find that there are few experiences more gratifying than seeing your idols up close and having an opportunity to tell them how much you appreciate their work. You can also get a small glimpse of what they are really like as opposed to the 2-Dimensional view offered by the small & large screens.
Of course, this can be a double edged sword; Sometimes you gain a new respect for a celebrity like Ardriene King who, though not a horror fan, is happy to share her FRIDAY THE 13th memories while supplying unique genre items for fans to purchase. Other times you become disappointed, as was the case of when I met Linda Blair, who was so stand-offish I started sympathizing with the demon from THE EXORCIST.
The success of a celebrity encounter, however, is not all centered on their behavior. There are things that us fans can also do to increase the chances of having a positive experience with them as well.
1) Mentally prepare yourself that you will be standing in line. We’re an inpatient society and we tend to want, what we want, yesterday! Like it or not, waiting in line is a fact of life and even more so at a fan convention (STAR WARS CELEBRATIONS being the WORST in that regard). Wear comfortable shoes and hopefully find a buddy to chat with. It will make the time seem to go much faster while offering an opportunity to make new friends. You’ll also be less of a crab ass when you finally meet the big headliner.
At last years Horrorhound Weekend I waited 4 hours to meet George Romero. During that time I chatted with a friend, did ample “people watching,” and later enjoyed a cocktail (brought to me by the aforementioned friend). By the time I met the Godfather of Zombies I was calm and in a happy frame of mind. I’m not encouraging alcohol consumption during convention lines (I’m not discouraging it either) but am merely pointing out that the situation can be a more “social” occasion as opposed to a tedious one.
Everyone is conscious of how slow a line is moving while they’re standing in it. Unfortunately, this is quickly forgotten once you reach your quarry. Now, suddenly, you feel as if you can take all the time in the world and those poor saps behind you will just have to wait a little longer. Granted, you have earned some “one on one” time with the star. There are still, however, some things you can do to keep the encounter relatively quick while increasing its overall quality. This brings us to our next tip…
2) Have whatever it is you want signed OUT and ready to go! Some conventions limit the number of items that can be signed, or discourage photo taking with a celebrity. I find this to be unacceptable. The way I see it, if I’m willing to drop some of my hard earned, “non” celebrity money at their table (and willing to pay for each item) than I deserve a picture and having them all signed. At the same time they need to be out of their protectors and ready to be signed when the big moment arrives.
Likewise, if you’re purchasing one of the celebs own 8×10′s then choose your shot BEFORE standing in front of him/her. Most people are so transfixed watching them commune with the people in front of them that they don’t do this. Don’t use your time with a celebrity in choosing a picture, use it instead for…..
Be sure to limit that to one comment or question. This isn’t a lecture hosted by The Screen Actors Guild, this is a brief meeting between fan and star. Even if the celebrity is all alone, and with NO line, try to avoid the mindset that this is an opportunity to become their new best friend. Keep it short and sweet….not scary and stalkish!
4) Take the lens cap off! The simplest piece of advice is often the most overlooked. Get your cameras out and, more importantly, READY to go! Allow me a bit of “true confessions” as I share an embarrassing story that happened to me about 15 years ago. I accompanied a friend of mine to a small KISS convention here in Chicago. This was back before I had any monster friends and the thought of attending a horror convention would ever occur to me. My friend was (and is) a HUGE fan of the group and this event, while tiny, happened to feature one of the most elusive members of the group – Vinnie Vincent (he’s still alive but best of luck finding him today)!
It was a long line and, like waiting for Romero, we decided to have a cocktail. Unlike Romero, however, we didn’t just stop at one. By the time we made it to Vincent, we were both two shades to the wind. As my friend posed with the guitar master himself, I stood holding the camera, joyfully snapping away. As I smiled (and swayed) in my drunken splendor, I was oblivious to the fact that everyone was yelling at me to take off the damn lens cap! Before the sounds even registered, I remember noticing the mob of angry faces, many mouthing the words “dumb-ass!”
5) Don’t forget to pay! In many cases, this isn’t a free “meet & greet.” The attending celebrities are often not getting paid to do so. They are usually responsible for their own travel and room expenses and those 8×10′s they offer weren’t donated to them either.
You may wonder why some of the bigger stars need charge at all since they are, by many accounts, wealthy individuals. Well imagine if you’re sitting at a booth and some guy asks for your autograph. You sign the picture and, later that week, see it selling on ebay for $50. You won’t get a nickle of it, yet it’s YOUR signature! The sad fact is that many people standing in those lines are doing so more for profit than out of devotion. Charging for autographs (with larger fees asked for bigger celebrities) is a way of deterring this practice.
I have been a collector of Halloween masks since about 1985. At the time the 3 main companies were Distortions Unlimited, Don Post Studios and Be Something Studios (now known as Zagone Studios). Back then, before the internet, ordering out of catalogs was the norm and writing letters and making phone calls was how we were all able to keep in touch with each other. Times certainly have changed!
Distortions Unlimited, Don Post Studios and Zagone Studios are still big names in the mask collecting community but now they are joined by other companies such as Trick Or Treat Studios, Night Owl, Fearscape Studios, Horror Sanctum Studios and Darkside Studios. They all produce their own lines of amazing masks and props and now you can see their creations all in one place…MASK-FEST!
We can all thank Eric Austin for MASK-FEST, now in its 3rd year. For those of you who don’t know who he is, you should definitely know of his website, THE HALLOWEEN MASK ASSOCIATION. This forum is a must-go-to site for mask collectors. It showcases masks from the past as well as masks from today and even tomorrow! Artists can showcase their new creations and collectors can sell off their collections as well. It is one of those rare forum communities where everyone is positive, thinks the same way and is there to have fun.
MASK-FEST is at the HORRORHOUND WEEKEND March 25-27 at the Marriott Indianapolis East, 7202 East 21st Street, Indianapolis, IN. MASK-FEST is a convention that celebrates the artistry of masks, make-up, monsters and Halloween! Even if you are not a mask collector, be sure to check out MASK-FEST. If you are at HORRORHOUND then you are a fan of horror and monsters and that is what MASK-FEST is all about! You’ll be able to see many of your favorite horror creations immortalized in latex! You will witness aisle upon aisle of independent artists selling and displaying collectible masks, props, models and every other type of monstrous goody you can imagine!
In addition to the amazing mask companies and artists that will be present, MASK-FEST is also responsible for such great celebrity guests as Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Tommy Lee Wallace and Dick Warlock from HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH as well as Suzanne Snyder, Grant Cramer, Harrod Blank and Mike Martinez from the cult classic film KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE. This will also be a great opportunity to meet Don Post Jr., artist Steve Johnson and Ed Edmunds, from Distortions Unlimited. This is going to be my first mask convention and I can’t wait! See a full report on the event soon!
With Horrorhound Weekend looming just over a week away, I can not help but check over my list of “things to do” and pack for the big event. I’ve attended many conventions in the past and it seems like every time I go I realize, too late, that there is something I managed to overlook.
There was the one year I forgot my razor and, by the end of the weekend, looked a bit like Grizzly Adams. Then there was the time I wore my loafers and forgot to pack my walking shoes. Apparently I had forgotten that even the smallest conventions require a sufficient amount of standing in line and walking. The pain and blisters I endured the following week made that a lesson I’d not soon forget.
I’ve forgotten other things over the years as well but, more on that later. For those attending Horrorhound (or one of the many other events slated to take place throughout a horror fan’s year) I offer you a guidepost in the hopes of optimizing your overall experience.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I would advise that you make a list of clothes and personal care items that you can physically “check off” before embarking on your journey. My son is a boy scout and their mantra of being “prepared” is never more evident than when we’re given a packing list before one of his designated camp-outs. They’re usually about 2-3 pages long and contain everything this side of the kitchen sink!
Assuming you’ll be staying in a hotel as opposed to a pop tent, your list will be considerably smaller. Hotels generally supply such amenities as soap and shampoo but, unfortunately for me, razors and shaving cream are not. Some hotels have little gift shops that offer more specialized items but, with that convenience, comes a heftier price tag. Now I ask you; when you’re at a convention, do you want to buy things you need or stuff that you WANT? Many stores carry special “travel size” items that are also inexpensive!
Once your basics are packed, it’s time to focus on the more entertaining aspects of the convention. You’ve got your wallet and convention pass and are ready to enter the big hall, right? Wrong! Unless you’re just planning on window shopping, you’d best come prepared.
MONEY: I know what you’re thinking; “Duh! Of course I’m going to bring money!” It’s not bringing money that’s the issue but “how” you bring it that counts. Few people like running around with a wad of cash in their pockets and opt instead to pay a visit to the hotel cash station upon their arrival. This, however, is a mistake. Cash machines only have so much money in their reserves. A convention full of eager customers will empty it out in no time. I’m not sure what’s more frustrating; not having money, or having the money but not being able to use it.
Best to have cash in hand before you arrive. Many dealers do accept credit/debit cards but there are an equal number that do not. Be sure to bring your cash in 20′s, 10′s, and 5′s. Dealers aren’t banks and nobody wants to be handed a $50 bill for a $7 item. Smaller bills invariably mean MORE bills and your wallet may not be able to hold so much (or, if it does, you might be walking around with the appearance of having a bad case of elephantiasis).
One solution to this problem is what is commonly referred to as a “fanny pack.” It secures around your waist and has a zipper in front for easy access. Be sure to lace the fanny pack through your belt loops (if you have them) and always remember to zip the pack up after each use. It’s also ideal for coinage, receipts, and business cards you may acquire during the course of the event.
SHOULDER BAG: Do not rely on dealers to supply bags for your purchases! Even if they do offer them you can easily end up with several bags, increasing your chances of losing one while navigating the crowds (the stuff in which nightmares are made). Having a decent shoulder bag (I hesitate to say “man purse”) is not only great for storing purchases but also for keeping items you may be bringing into the convention to have signed by a featured celebrity. Ideally, it will also have a few extra pockets for smaller items you may want to keep separate.
POSTER TUBES: During last year’s Horrorhound Weekend I had no intention of buying posters. The first person I encountered when I walked into the main hall was J.D. Feigelson - writer of one of my favorite films: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. The minute I saw his 11X17 poster of DNOTS, I knew I had to have it – especially with a signature from the man himself. So, while I had no intention of getting a poster, it ended up being my FIRST purchase!
There I stood, holding a brand new, crisp poster while facing an immense dealer room I had yet to conquer. I had no choice but to return the poster to my room before exploring the rest of the main hall (pain in the butt!). This year will be a different story. Although I still have no desire to purchase posters this year, I’m packing some poster tubes in my carry bag none the less! You can find these relatively inexpensive at packing stores or your local Post Office.
AUTOGRAPH TRANSPORT: I’m not one of those fans that needs celebrities to sign something that I already own in my collection. In many cases, I am perfectly content having them sign one of their own 8X10 stills. Aside from keeping things more simple in terms of convention prep, I like framing them and hanging them around my room. Sort of of like waking up in Hollywood’s Brown Derby (a restaurant known for its caricatures & signatures of vintage stars).
Regardless, there are few things worse than taking the time (and money) to frame something that has a big crease in it. Like posters, you want to avoid them becoming bent but, unlike posters, rolling them up in a tube is not an option. Packing a hard plastic folder (which will fit nicely in your shoulder bag) is one option. Another option is going to the local comic store and picking up some magazine size plastic sleeves & back boards. I like this option, especially when I want to take them out and ogle them back in my room. The plastic protects them from finger prints and the backboards keep them from getting bent.
Speaking of celebrities, tune in for my next convention prep blog featuring tips on optimizing your encounter with the featured guests!
The 70′s were a special time for me. It was a great time to be a kid for so many reasons. I still vividly remember the cool toys like Micronauts and the 8″ Mego super-hero action figures (they are not dolls). Actually, pretty much any toy made by Mego at the time was cool! During this time there was also a constant availability of horror and monster movies to be seen on television.
This was also the time period that began my interest in entomology (the study of insects). Thanks to a Christmas gift of a kit for collecting butterflies and moths, I have had this interest ever since. Instead of actually collecting them now though, I am more into photography and conservation with them.
The 70′s also started my fascination with tarantulas and my parents bought me my first pet tarantula when I was in the 6th grade. She was a Mexican red-knee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) and I had her for 12 years before she died of old age. She was very sweet, never showing any signs of aggression, and her name was Fang.
Because of this fascination, and my love of horror movies, it was only natural that I would get excited when I saw the previews for a horror movie featuring tons of tarantulas. This movie, from 1977, was called KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS and starred Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. This movie did not rely on cheap models or CGI for their spider effects…they used the real thing!
The ads I saw were for a Friday night television showing (I had no idea that it had actually been in the theater). I could not wait for the school week to be over. Since it was showing on a Friday, I didn’t have to worry about getting up for school the next day. The weeklong buildup, though frustrating at times, was so worth it as I was treated to one of the all time best man vs. nature horror films.
As a kid I was mesmerized by this film! It was just so cool seeing so many real tarantulas in one spot (it is reported the $50,000 of the film’s budget went to pay for the 5,000-10,000 live tarantulas used). The story was great and there were so many genuinely creepy parts. As a 12-year-old I loved this film. Even today, over 30 years later, I believe it still holds up as a classic film. Unfortunately, as KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS encouraged my appreciation of arachnids, it also caused me to become more aware of the filmakers’ mishandling of the creatures themselves. Looking at the film today, this is something I simply cannot ignore. More on this later…
The plot formula is one that has been used so many times before. An animal, in this case tarantulas, is effected by something that man did to their environment and they strike back. This story takes place in a small town in Arizona called Verde Valley. Thanks to the overuse of pesticides, the tarantulas’ natural foods (insects and small mammals) have been wiped out. So, in order to survive, the tarantulas, who are normally solitary animals, start to hunt and feed in packs, killing prey much bigger than they would normally go after.
The first animals that are attacked are cattle. When blood samples of the dead animal are sent out, a representative from the Department Of Entomology is sent to Verde Valley to see what is going on. Her name is Diane Ashley and she is played by actress Tiffany Bolling. An interesting sidenote is that Tiffany got the job because she was the only actress who auditioned for the part that was not freaked out by the tarantulas (though in the scene that the picture below is from, her left hand is clearly shaking).
After she reveals to Rack Hansen (played by Shatner) that spider venom was the cause of the death, a spider mound is found on the Colby Ranch where the original cow was killed. The Colby’s dog is also found killed and when Walter Colby (played by Woody Strode) is driving his truck, he too is killed as dozens of tarantulas come out of hiding in the cab of the truck, forcing him to drive off a cliff.
As is typical of movies like this, a festival is coming up and the mayor can’t have all of these tarantulas eating their guests (kind of like what you heard in both JAWS and PIRANHA). His answer to the problem, which created it in the first place, is to spray more pesticide. Diane explains to the mayor that it is ignorance like his that caused this problem but of course they spray anyway. The pilot of the plane ends up getting killed when the cockpit ends up being filled with the deadly spiders. In a great shot the plane crashes into a garage and explodes.
The town is then over run with the hungry tarantulas and some of the scenes of people getting attacked are some of the best ever shown. Images of people webbed up and covered with spiders are genuinely creepy and are images that nightmares are made of. Rack and Diane escape and find refuge at the Washburn Inn, run by Emma Washburn (played by Lieux Dressler).
From here they board up all of the windows and hope for the best, but of course the tarantulas get in and wreak havoc. They get in anywhere they can whether it be breaking through windows because of sheer mass, coming down the chimney or in through the air conditioning vents. It is at this section of the movie that William Shatner really shines.
Not only does he have a great scene where he is covered with tarantulas (including one on his face) but you can actually see how conscientious he was to the safety of the spiders! When he is running he is VERY careful not to step on any and even in scenes were he is covered in them, he is very careful not to hurt them. I applaud him for his efforts and wish others had followed his lead.
After surviving the night, Rack removes some of the boards to peek outside and see if the spiders are still there. He doesn’t see any but what he does see is even worse. The ENTIRE town has been webbed up and the end credits roll. Like I said earlier, this is a really fun movie. Yes the basic story has been done countless times before but it is a formula that works. Everyone is great in their parts, providing convincing performances all around. Though no one was ever really in any danger from the tarantulas, it certainly looked like they were and that adds to the overall creepiness of the film. I highly recommend this movie and with that being said, it is time for me to also complain about it.
Like I mentioned before, my problem lies with the overall treatment of the tarantulas used. This movie was made before the SPCA cracked down on animal use in films. I know a lot of people will have the attitude of “Who cares? They’re just spiders!” but the fact of the matter is they are living creatures that are EXTREMELY beneficial to the environment. They can feel pain and even be killed quite easily if mishandled.
According to the spider handler, Jim Brockett, everyone made every effort possible for the animals’ safety. He goes on to say that anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 tarantulas were used and they paid $5-10 each to the people who collected them. The main species used was the Mexican red-knee (Brachypelma smithi) and that with so many tarantulas on hand, there were bound to be casualties. He then mentions that their biggest concern was the tarantulas falling…the reason for this is that there is no protective exoskeleton over their abdomen so if they fall their abdomen will split open like a paper bag full of jelly, killing the animal.
With that being said, there are many instances where little care was taken to assure that they didn’t fall and hurt themselves. There are three immediate examples that come to mind. First are when the spiders are coming through the air conditioning vent. This vent is on the ceiling and they fall into the sink below. That fall is certain death (not to mention boiling water is then poured all over them in the sink). In another scene tarantulas are shown dropping down the chimney. As they scurry away broken legs are clearly seen. Finally, there is also a scene where William Shatner rescues the little girl on the bed that is covered in tarantulas. After she jumps to safety he flips the comforter throwing the tarantulas at the camera. Sure it’s a great image but again, how many spiders were hurt, or worse, when they hit the floor?
This scene of the spiders being thrown from the comforter brings up another issue. Tarantulas have tiny sharp hooks on the tips of their feet, that help them to climb. When they are on a cloth surface, these hooks can get tangled into the fabric very easily. If all of a sudden a tarantula is thrown or brushed off of a cloth surface those hooks can easily rip out of the tips of the feet or in a worst-case scenario, the whole leg will rip off. At least in the case of tarantulas, they will regenerate lost legs the next time they moult.
Two scenes that I found particularly disturbing with the blatant squashing of the live tarantulas. In one scene, as the police cruiser is driving through town, a spider literally pops on-screen as a tire rolls over it. In another scene, at the Washburn Inn, the front door is opened and many tarantulas enter. The next thing you see is everyone stepping on them as they are trying to run away and hide. Disturbing stuff.
The reason Brachypelma smithi were used was because of their gentle nature. It is also this reason, and the fact that females can live to be 30 or more years old, that they were so popular in the pet trade in the 70′s and 80′s. So popular in fact that they were almost collected to extinction, forcing the government to step in and protect them by listing them as a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) animal. This happened in 1985. There is no doubt that over collection for the pet trade was the reason for this but I am also sure that the 5,000 to 10,000 wild caught adults used in this movie didn’t help either. Thankfully it is now illegal to collect these beautiful spiders in the wild. These days any Mexican red-knees that you see in pet stores or offered online are captive bred.
I do still highly recommend this movie to any fan of the genre. It is a fun movie made at a time where certain considerations were not really an issue. There was a rumor many years ago that a possible sequel was in the works, with William Shatner directing, but of course it never materialized. To me a sequel is not necessary. This movie stands on its own merit and because of this will remain a classic for a long time to come. It is rare these days to see a film made that is fun and can stand up so well to repeated viewings. It is also a positive thing that the SPCA more clearly monitors animal use in films and that this species, a valuable resource, is now protected.
There are few horror hosts operating today that can boast the mettle and determination of Virginia’s Karlos Borloff with regard to costume and prop creation. A life long fan of movie monsters (particularly the Japanese variety), Karlos began making masks in the 1970′s – when he was just 12 years old! “I used to shoot my own Super 8 Monster Movies and fight scenes,” says Karlos. “I was obsessed with rubber masks.”
Karlos began to amass a collection of original Don Post masks and, while many were traded off through the years in favor of musical equipment (Karlos’ other great love), he still has many today. His Darth Vader and NOSFERATU masks have made their way on camera for his own “Monster Madhouse” while his own creations have become the cornerstone of the show itself.
In the past five years, Karlos has created over 20 monsters for his show. He does this not simply to sate his own fan fervor but with a watchful eye on his younger viewers as well. “I believe that monster masks are a very important part of the proper mental development of monster kids,” he explains. His theory is far from being without merit. Anyone who has children or spends any time around them knows that male/female kids alike ALL like to engage in a little dress up. Go to any toy store today and you will find a SPIDER-MAN costume prominently on the shelves - long after the movie franchise and Halloween seasons have ended. Indeed, a child who wants to play act the role of a super hero has plenty of options in today’s world. But what of the child monster fan?
Every year since 2004 I have attended the annual G-Fest in Chicago. This small convention, dedicated to Godzilla and Japanese Kaiju fandom, features among its many activities a home made costume parade and contest. Each year it seems to attract more and more participants as the costumes become even more intricate. Not wanting my kids to be left out, I have also tried my hand at it – usually with disastrous results!
Karlos’ theory intrigued me because it not only reminded me of my past costume attempts but what had gone on behind the scenes at G-Fest. While the children in costume waited in a separate room to begin assembling for the parade, many of them literally brought their characters to life! They’d begin walking and moving just as their silver screened counterparts would, while many would also begin belting out their signature roars and sounds. Naturally this led many of the children to begin duking it out and play acting their parts to the hilt. No one ever got hurt and you could tell that, for these kids, it was a rare opportunity they were not about to miss!
On Karlos’ Monster Madhouse, kids need no special occasion to delve into this sort of play. It is his belief that monster costuming and battle is an important “formula that needs to be passed on to the younger generation.” He extols this belief by generously sharing his costumes with young fans and watching them bring his own creations to life on camera. It strikes a cord not only with those fortunate enough to be wearing those costumes, but also for the younger viewers at home. During a recent viewing of Karlos Borloff’s presentation of WAR OF THE MONSTERS, my 7 year old son was glued to the set , cheering while watching a Karlos inspired costumed skirmish.
Clearly Karlos has managed to not only retain his own monster memories but translate them to a younger generation. This is a rare gift for anyone and essential to the world of horror hosting. Ingratiating today’s youth to our favorite genre of movie insures that it will continue on for future generations. It gives it an immortality that today’s digital world has all but killed. Through the charismatic antics of Karlos Borloff and his colorful cast of characters, young viewers today are given the CREATURE FEATURES of yesteryear and an outlet their instant gratification & DVD world denies them. For this, Karlos Borloff is a true pioneer.
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES is pleased to welcome Mary a.k.a “BlueCat” as our guest writer for today’s post! Blue Cat has been essential to Svengoolie fandom by spending the last several years moderating the official Svengoolie YAHOO group, without which David Albaugh and I would never have met. You can read the details regarding that in our past blog THE NEW ENGLAND DIARIES PART 1. Blue Cat was also present during White Castle’s special “Dinner with Svengoolie” contest that took place last month and delighted both Daves by agreeing to share her story. So grab a “slider,” and get cozy!
Let me begin by introducing myself; I’m known to most as BlueCat, the owner/operator of the SvengoolieWeb and Stooge-a-Palooza YAHOO Groups. I’ve been a fan of Svengoolie since before the “Son of Svengoolie” was even a glimmer in his ol’ dad’s eye, which gives you an immediate idea of my advanced age…in other words, this cat’s probably on at least her fifth life by now. I know I burned one in an instant about 6 years ago, but that’s another story.
My real life could hardly be more far removed from the horror/comedy/TV world. My time (or at least 40 hours of it every week) is spent at a high-energy physics laboratory, as an executive administrative assistant to two assistant directors; one a physicist and the other a compliance specialist. At any rate, one day I stumbled onto a website called the SvengoolieWeb back in late 2001 or early 2002. There was a message board there, where you could actually ask questions and get answers about the Svengoolie show, which at the time, was being bounced around to different time slots, and I thought ‘hallelujah – I’ve finally found some people like me who want to keep track of their favorite Goolie!’ Prior to this, you’d have to be lucky enough to catch a tidbit in some newspaper article or a mention on the radio to stay on top of his career.
I joined, and then found my way to the Yahoo Group operated by the same fan who had created the SvengoolieWeb. By early 2003, when Rich was given a weekly, two-hour Three Stooges program, there was no shutting me up! I love Svengoolie, but I’m no horror aficionado like so many people on the Yahoo Group. There are many movies I simply tolerate because of the Svengoolie treatment they receive. Old time comedy teams, however, are right up my alley. Time flies when you’re having fun, and eventually I was made moderator, in a time when it seemed like everyone was being made moderator on those groups. Well, I outlasted them all, and finally, after a somewhat unusual and mysterious exchange of correspondences, in the summer of 2007, the original owner handed over the keys to me and left the groups entirely.
With Rich’s permission, I took over the two groups, and created a short-lived website of my own, which gave me some much needed website building skills, but it also coincided with WCIU finally giving Sven his own site within their website, so I let that one go after a couple of years. I’ve been fortunate to have met Rich and/or Svengoolie a number of times over the years, and find him to be a terrific sport with all his fans, and a very warm and genuine individual.
The contest was advertised as “Win a romantic dinner for 2 at White Castle” hosted by Svengoolie. Twenty people would be chosen randomly from entries received, and they and a guest would be invited to an undisclosed White Castle for this event. Well, we got our invitation late in the week and found out that the event was being held in Griffith Indiana. We arrived to find heart-shaped doilies on all the windows and doors, tables decorated with flowers, candle light, and real red or white table cloths. More and more of us arrived, and although I’m not sure we quite hit the 40 who were invited, we were close. We were told that there were just over 960 individual entries.
The people of White Castle were extremely friendly and seemed truly happy to be hosting this extravaganza. I learned that they treat Valentine’s Day each year in much the same way as they did this evening, but without the Goolie, of course. Who knew?
It began a little slow prior to the arrival of the entourage, but once they arrived, and the burgers started to grill, it turned into quite a clever and fun event. We found it amusing that we had to sign a release form (insert your own White Castle joke here), but it’s a sign of the times, I guess. We all had our dinner, with combinations offered on a specially printed menu, and served table-side by a very attentive wait staff. I’ve never had better tasting, hotter White Castle burgers and fries in all my life. Presentation apparently IS a big part of the enjoyment of a meal!
Then it was time for the man in the hat to arrive. He made his grand entrance and then began to work the room. There was a fellow there named Glen who was trying to celebrate his birthday quietly, but his wife was going to have none of that; she had called the studio without his knowledge to let them know, and he was appropriately embarrassed by the attention they gave him. I believe they had driven the farthest to this event – 85 miles one way from Waukegan, IL.
A young high school student was the closest we came to having a groupie in the crowd. Her outfit mimicked his, but she stopped before getting to the black make-up. She was an enthusiastic participant in the trivia contest, and had really done her Svengoolie homework. Later on, I found out that she had recently interviewed Rich for a high school paper she was writing. I believe we had a ringer in our midst!
When Sven got around to my table, I noticed his road-weary “appearance chicken” and we discussed the finer points of purchasing and keeping rubber chickens, and I asked him how he was planning to celebrate his upcoming birthday (March 12th). He’s a busy Goolie, and will have his nose to the grindstone, and since I’ll be sitting under a palm tree in the Caribbean that day, I told him I’d have an umbrella drink in his honor!
The folks at White Castle were quite happy with Svengoolie and this event, and mentioned wanting to do more of this kind of thing in the future. It was a clever idea and a fun evening!
Living in Rhode Island, we have never really had our own horror host. The horror hosts I have seen over the years for the most part have been because of cable television and recorded shows that people have sent me. Thankfully though, the closest horror host we do have is also one of the most popular…Penny Dreadful from Massachusetts. Penny has been the subject of multiple blogs on our site and my co-blogger Dave Fuentes has an article coming out on her in the spring issue of SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE. Her show, SHILLING SHOCKERS, can be seen locally on cable access as well as on internet channels like THE MONSTER CHANNEL and ALTERNATE REALITIES TV.
SHILLING SHOCKERS is currently filming their 8th season and it sounds like it is one not to be missed! Penny is doing something that no other hosts have done yet. She is devoting her entire season, with the exception of one of the last episodes, to silent films! From the looks of these exclusive pics from the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA episode that she has provided, it is going to be a lot of fun! Penny was also nice enough to answer some questions for me concerning the new season.
ME: How is season 8 coming along?
PENNY: Season 8 has been our most ambitious one yet. Three of the seven episodes are already taped. We had a lengthy delay due to several unfortunate incidents which did not involve ANY terrible black magic incantations which backfired and resulted in untold suffering. Nope. But we’re back on track and Season 8 is coming along quite horrifically. We’ll be taping throughout the rest of the Winter and throughout the Spring.
PENNY: Well, we’ll have ONE talkie at the end, but it isn’t one you’d normally ever see on a horror movie show. Even now, I shudder to think of it. I suppose the challenge with silents lies in the risk that some people might not give these classic films a chance. Unfortunately, there are folks who just won’t watch silent films. However, these are truly some of the greatest and iconic films ever made, so we’re hoping viewers who normally won’t watch silents will give them a chance this season. Plus, if you skip one of the shows you’ll miss an installment of the “storyline” running through our segments. I don’t know why Rebecca the director lady keeps calling it a “storyline.” We lived it man! We LIVED it!
PENNY: I expect them to be ready to air sometime this Summer, but I can’t give you an exact date at the moment.
ME: For those that are not fortunate enough to get your show locally, will they be able to see the new episodes online on places like ARTV and THE MONSTER CHANNEL?
PENNY: I believe so! They’ve been kind enough to air our moldy oldie episodes, so I’m guessing they might just run the new ones too.
ME: Will the hosted scenes this season feature one story arc throughout the season or will each episode have its own story?
PENNY: Much like season 7, Season 8 will indeed feature a continuing storyline running through the first 5 episodes. However, each episode will also contain its own story focusing on whichever era they happen to be in for that episode. Episodes 6 and 7 will be stand-alone shows which aren’t part of the storyline.
The Daves are very much looking forward to season 8 of this amazing show. If you haven’t seen PENNY DREADFUL’S SHILLING SHOCKERS, random episodes can be viewed online at both THE MONSTER CHANNEL and ALTERNATE REALITIES TV (check their listings for show times). Or, if you cannot wait to see these episodes, and would prefer to watch each season from beginning to end, go to the SHILLING SHOCKERS’ website and buy the DVD sets…you will not be disappointed!
The Daves would like to thank Penny for these exclusive pictures and we wish her and the crew nothing but the best of luck with season 8! Photos taken by Eric Parks, Rachel Freitas and Ivan Bernier. Creature Masks provided courtesy of BIG NAZO.