Halloween masks. Some people hate them, some people love them and others just don’t understand the attraction. Growing up I always had to have some kind of Halloween mask with my costume. When I was young I started with those Ben Cooper costumes with the vinyl body suit and plastic mask with the rubber band that held it to your face. As I got older I graduated to rubber monster masks, most of which had little to no resemblance to what they were supposed to be. Times certainly have changed!
During the early 80′s I discovered quality Halloween masks. These were masks that looked cool and had great paint jobs and hair work. These were not the $10 masks you could find at the local drugstore…these were masks that you could only find in specialty mom and pop costume shops. Most retailed for about $40 but they were so worth it.
Back then in Rhode Island, the mom and pops stores were few and far between so I turned to mail order. There was nothing better than receiving a new mask in the mail, opening the box, and smelling the fresh latex. As Halloween grew in popularity, so did the availability of Halloween-themed stores. Places like Spencer’s Gifts were always a great place to visit around Halloween and soon stores like Spirit and Halloween Town were opening up every September.
As great as visiting these stores each year is, nothing compares to what I experienced in March of 2011…MASK-FEST! That awesome smell of opening a box with a new acquisition was magnified a thousand times when you entered the Mask Fest room at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis. This was my first MASK-FEST and it did not disappoint.
For those of you that don’t know, MASK-FEST is an annual event that appears during the Indianpolis HorrorHound Weekend. For more information on this great event you can see my pre-event post HERE. For me, I was looking forward to MASK-FEST for two reasons. The first was because I had never experienced anything like it before. The second was because I was finally going to be able to see David Lady again, after 20 years. David Lady is a mask maker, collector, mayor and has his own cable access horror host show called THE LATE DR. LADY SHOW. Then, every October he turns his home into HORROR HOTEL, a walk-thru haunted house. A man after my own heart. You can read more about David HERE.
Upon entering the hall, you are overwhelmed by not only the smell of latex, but also the sheer size of the room and amount of amazing works of art to be seen! You literally do not know where to start! What made most sense to me was to start at one end and just go up and down every aisle but there was one thing I needed to do first…find David Lady. Thankfully they had him set up at the front of the room in the center. It was a long time coming but I was finally able to see my old friend again…and some new ones. It was great seeing David and the gang throughout the weekend and it certainly is incentive to me to go to future MASK-FESTS!
Wolfie, me, Kellie and David Lady.
One of the highlights for me with MASK-FEST was definitely not only seeing David and his wife Laura again, but to finally meet Kellie. Kellie plays Ilean, along with Wolfie on The Late Dr. Lady Show. Thanks to Facebook and MySpace I had gotten to know Kellie a bit and to finally meet her live and in person was something I had been looking forward to for quite some time.
Darkside Studios’ booth, in my opinion, was one of the most impressive, not only in quality but price!
Many companies were represented at MASK-FEST, including the two that really started it all…Don Post Studios and Distortions Unlimited. Though Don Post did not have a lot of their masks on display, Don Post Jr. was there with four of their most well-known masks, The Shape, The Witch, The Pumpkin and The Skull. The last three of course were from the movie HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WHICH. The Don Post display also featured some shipping boxes with the Silver Shamrock logo stuck to their sides.
Me and Don Post Jr.
Me with the Silver Shamrock boxes.
Distortions, like Don Post, had a limited set up that featured their Resurrection series of masks. Some were available for sale and they were taking orders for the rest. Seeing the Resurrection pieces in person was a site to behold…these are highly recommended! One of the huge advantages of being at MASK-FEST was definitely seeing the masks in person, knowing exactly what you were buying!
All in all I would have to say that MASK-FEST was an incredible experience. Even if you are not a mask collector, it is difficult not to appreciate the artistry that goes into these pieces, as warped as some of them can be. The room was full of variety too, which mixed things up nicely. Not only were there masks, but you could get books, t-shirts, figures and even preserved insects in display cases! The overall atmosphere of the room was fantastic and you could tell that everyone was having a great time…but then again it could’ve been the latex fumes!
I want to thank Eric Austin and The Halloween Mask Association for putting together such an amazing event!
Let me start by being totally honest. I had NO idea what to expect when I received my copy of THE GIANT RUBBER MONSTER MOVIE: SASCRATCH VERSUS AFRODESIOUS! Sure it’s a great title! Sure a lot of the people who are in it had a lot of great things to say about it. But could it really be THAT good?!? The answer? ABSOLUTELY!!!
I received my disc directly from Tom Berdinski, writer and director (you may also know him as Sascratch and creator of THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE PARTS 1 and 2). I have always been a fan of giant rubber monster movies, especially those starring Godzilla and Gamera. I am also a huge horror host fan and always enjoy the skits they do between movie segments. This short film (clocking in at about 30 minutes) takes the fun of a late night giant monster movie and throws in some horror hosts in cameo roles, and creates a parody of the very movies these very same hosts show every week on their programs.
Some of the hosts with speaking roles include Roxsy Tyler, Sigmund Zoid, Marlena Midnite, Robyn Graves and Count and Countess Gregula. Other hosts, such as Count Gore De Vol and Dr. Gangrene make quick appearances on a video screen. The story is pretty basic…an evil alien, Dr. Sigmund Zoid, from the year 25,000,000 A.D., steals a time machine to return to modern times to destroy all of the world’s livestock using a monster called Afrodesious. Miko, a young stowaway who is constantly mistaken for an 8-year-old (he is actually 10) escapes the alien’s ship making his way to the planet’s surface to try to save the day.
Marlena Midnite and Robyn Graves reporting the events on the Midnite News Network.
Will he be able to save the day by using one of Zoid’s other monsters, Sascratch (played by Berdinski) to fight the evil Afrodesious (who really does have an afro!)? You will have to purchase this disc and find out! In fact, I highly recommend you going to THE GIANT RUBBER MONSTER MOVIE Facebook page and order it yourself (it’s only $5 is you go through Facebook)! If you are a fan of cheesy movies then you will not be disappointed!
Afrodesious on the attack!
What is great about this movie is that it never takes itself too seriously. The scenes are over the top and there are all kinds of sight gags to keep you entertained. One of my favorites features Robyn Graves, reporting on Afrodesious’ attack. Marlena asks her how big his proboscis is and Robyn acts all innocent saying “I’m not gonna look at it! You can’t make me!” Even though the effects are not Hollywood quality, they work on so many levels here, adding to the overall charm of the film.
It’s obvious that everyone involved had fun making this movie, and it shows. Maybe it is because I have met these hosts in person that makes me partial to this, but I really think most people, if they give it a chance, will enjoy this film just as much! It has the feel of a bunch of good friends who got together, had a great time and filmed the whole thing and this is what it really is about. Having fun.
For those of you who have seen, and enjoyed THE GIANT RUBBER MONSTER MOVIE, a feature length sequel is in the works with filming scheduled to begin in June!
Since the Daves entered the world of horror hosting, we have been impressed with the unique characters and personalities displayed in the public access realm. By taking a step away from their own shows and interacting with one another (via film projects such as this) they have not only created an opportunity to further develop their characters but have also discovered a refreshing alternative to public domain films. This also illustrates the positive outcome of horror hosts working in this medium to pull their resources and work more with each other. Recent projects such as THE HALLOWGREEN SPECIAL (featuring Dr. Gangrene & Penny Dreadful) as well as THE GIANT RUBBER MONSTER MOVIE show the results can be quite entertaining and have us Daves begging for more!
Dave F: Ohio is one of the most prolific states when it comes to churning out horror hosts. Therefore, it was not surprising that several inductees to The Horror Host Hall of Fame would hail from there. One of these was Dick Von Hoene a.k.a. The Cool Ghoul!
Classic commercial horror hosts were also professional broadcasters and Von Hoene was no exception. In the early 1960′s, he worked on Cincinnati radio and was featured on a show called ”Bob Smith’s Monster Mash.” It was there that The Cool Ghoul character was born, though it would not be until the latter part of the decade (after he moved from radio to television) that the character would be given its official “look.”
Aside from professional broadcasting, Von Hoene also had a background in theater from The University of Cincinnati where he received an MA. This would prove a winning combo for Ohio horror fans in the 1970′s as The Cool Ghoul served up lots of campy fun while hosting the “Scream in” show on Saturday nights.
For outsiders (such as myself) there was some confusion regarding the name “Cool Ghoul” since Von Hoene was not the only one to carry this moniker. Fellow Ohioan horror host, George Cavendar (who played out of Cleveland), would also be named “The Cool Ghoul” though it is important to note that Von Hoene did grant Cavendar permission to do so. Both versions would be characterized by red hair and make-up, but that is where the similiarities would end as both gentlemen brought thier own unique brand of sctick to the hosting genre.
The great Zacherley was also called The Cool Ghoul – one of his many names (Roland, etc). Like Zacherley, The Cool Ghoul also ventured into the world of novelty records and released his own album, ”The Cool Ghoul’s Phantasmagorical Funny Fonograf Record,” on the Artists Records label. I was grateful when my friend, Michael Monahan (Doktor Goulfinger) sent me a copy last year. A lot of fun!
The show opened with a warning to viewers that they might want to consider changing the channel before the theme music played and The Cool Ghoul mad his entrance via an upright coffin. He was also known for his laugh, described by a fan on Egor’s Chamber of TV hosts as “Blih, blih, blih, BLEEAAAHHHH-AH-AH-AHHH!
“Scream in” would only last three years on the air but “The Cool Ghoul” remained a fixture of Cincinnati pop culture making numerous appearances and even being given a jersey from the Cincinnati Reds (Number Zero). Later, in the 1980′s, he would move his character down to North Carolina. Von Hoene died in 2004, and his official Horror Host Hall of Fame plaque will be featured at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.
Horror host, Butch Cleaver (Brian Easterling), from Ohio’s MEET CLEAVER THEATER was given the honor of inducting the late Dick Von Hoene a.k.a. The Cool Ghoul. Unlike many of the presenters featured at this event, Butch Cleaver had the distinction of not only growing up with memories of The Cool Ghoul but also the honor of meeting him. TERROR FROM BEYON THE DAVES was delighted when Mr. Easterling agreed to share his recollections with us…
Butch Cleaver (Brian Easterling): I grew up in the mid 70s & early 80s, a little bit after our local horror host, The Cool Ghoul was cancelled from regular air play, but our local UHF station at the time, WXIX would play repeats of his original horror host show. I would spend my Saturday afternoons drinking in every ounce of monster goodness I could and the Cool Ghoul was my TV pal watching with me. As an only child on a street full of aged people, a horror host takes on the unique role of being your viewing companion, and a welcome and humorous TV pal at that. I developed a deep love of Halloween at an early age and I always looked forward to the new “Cool Ghoul” Halloween special to finish out a bountiful night of trick or treating.
It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I had the opportunity to meet my TV pal live in the ghoulish flesh at a big Halloween party at an old church in Mt. Adams, a ritzy section of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cool Ghoul just happened to be the MC for the evening and it came as a complete surprise to me and my friends. Between sets he would venture down into the audience and enjoy an adult beverage with the crowd. I gathered up my nerve and approached him. He was remarkably warm and friendly, shaking my hand and listening to me as I told him stories of how much I enjoyed his work and what it meant to me as a youth. He seemed genuinely appreciative to meet fans and closed the encounter with a hug and a photo opportunity.
Flash forward to age 20 and I was completing my bachelors in film at a local university. I had an opportunity to meet and work with Dick Von Hoene who was hosting a local affairs talk show in Northern Kentucky. He was an absolute professional and I always admired how he could mingle with the myriad of people and professions. We had another opportunity to discuss his horror hosting work and his charity work throughout the tri-state area. My time spent with Mr. Von Hoene was always very inspiring and I would venture to say, it germinated the seed of horror-hosting that had been planted so many years ago.
It came as a heavy shock when we learned that Dick Von Hoene had passed away unexpectedly in 2004. The city, which I thought had largely forgotten his early work, came together and the now fox-affiliate WXIX put together a 30 minute tribute show on his life and work as the Cool Ghoul. It was nice to see him fondly remembered by the generations he touched with his kindness.
Just a year before his death we started our own horror host program, inspired by him and many other Ohio hosts. While we could never ever fill his shoes, we felt our show was a way to not only honor the tradition of TV Hosting but also honor our TV pal, The Cool Ghoul.
In March of 2011, I had the extreme honor of inducting Dick Von Hoene, Cincinnat’s Cool Ghoul, into the Ripley’s Believe It, Or Not Horror Host Hall of Fame. How could I have imagined that I would have trodden this path with that TV pal of mine so many years later? It was a pleasure to grow up watching him, a treasure to know him and an honor to carry on in the tradition of him.
Butch R. Cleaver
Meet Cleaver Theatre
Cincinnati/N. KY. Horror Host
Horror and comedy were two genres I wasn’t always keen on mixing. Over the years with movies such as SHAUN OF THE DEAD and LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS, however, I’ve slowly gone from skeptic to outright fan. Needless to say, I was delighted when actor, David Fultz, found me on Facebook and introduced me to the latest project he was involved in – MY BLOODY WEDDING!
A blushing bride-to-be decides to honor the marriage ritual of adding “something borrowed” to her wedding day. Unfortunately, this is in the form of jewelry worn by a cursed ancestor. As a result the bride, and members of her bridal party, are transformed into blood-thirsty demons.
The film was shot on a paltry budget of $15,000 over 11 days. This should not imply, however, that it scrimps on the laughs. Interestingly enough, the director and star both share the same name…Morgan Mead! The both co-wrote the script and Mean the actress stars as the blood-spattered bride, Callista DeFord. I have to say that in the numerous vampire/demon themed films I’ve seen, never have I witnessed a more bubbly and likeable antagonist such as Callista. This makes it all the more amusing as she nonchalantly begins racking up the body count!
Patrick Babbitt plays the nervous groom, Doug Shephard, whose trepidation over his fiance’s new found blood-lust is matched only by his fear of “going all the way.” This is despite the uncomfortable pep talk given by his parents at the breakfast table and, later, their even more disconcerting “home-made” instructional video. The repressed momma’s boy is constantly seeking (and dismissing) advice from his neurotic friend, Steve (Kyle S. More). He is also joined by his robot (yes, I said robot) and Callista’s neighbor – a hefty wrestling fan who is extremely funny and likeable.
David Fultz portrays the deranged demon killer, Clyde, who routinely gets doused with buckets of blood. He and all the characters come together for the films climax (the wedding of course) where they must not only deal with the demon possessed bridal party but a legion of undead, wedding guests as well. All in all, this film was a lot of fun and the wedding infinitely more entertaining to watch than the one that recently took place in England.
If you’re looking for a lot of laughs and a bit of gore, then say “I Do” to MY BLOODY WEDDING!
One of the great celebrities we were privileged to meet at The Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend last March, was the legendary Barbara Steele! The 72 year old actress, most notable for her role in Maria Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY (THE MASK OF SATAN), was one we had flagged as a “must see.”
This was despite hearing mixed reviews from people who stated she had a tendency to be a “diva” around her fans. My thoughts on this were – if you’re Barbara Steele you ARE a diva and can hardly be blamed for acting like one. Unlike Lisa Marie (see earlier post), we were fully prepared to let her snub us and would have considered it an honor for her to ash her cigarette over our heads! Fortunately, this wouldn’t be the case. Ms. Steele was very friendly and classy.
I chose to have her sign a picture from her own collection of 8×10′s. Prior to arriving, I had anticipated having her sign a BLACK SUNDAY photo. I would end up choosing a B&W still from THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM that included her co-star, Vincent Price. According to IMDB, Price injured Steele while throttling her in this scene….thought Steele would end up being a good sport about it.
I asked her to write “Viva Italia” while she personalized my photo. “Are you Italian? What part of Italy does your family come from?” she asked. I explained that my mother’s side is, indeed, Italian and that her grandparents came from Lucca, Italy – located in the Tuscany region. “Ah,” she said. “You are very lucky to be from that part of the country.” Not sure what that meant, but I smiled and we posed for a photo.
She really seemed impressed with the other Dave – David Albaugh. The minute he sat down she commented how good looking she thought he was.
Later that day, we would be dining in the hotel restaurant at the same time as Ms Steele. She was sitting only a few feet from us and David couldn’t resist updating his Facebook Wall with this news. When it comes to a great foriegn film legend such as Barbara Steele, one can afford to act a bit like a “tourist.”
Dave F: Over a decade before the Svengoolies would become synonymous with Chicago horror hosting, the Windy City’s very first host was a “near-sighted madman” named Marvin! Former Ventriloquist, Terry Bennett, was working for Chicago channel, WBKB, in 1957 when the station received the infamous “Shock Theatre Package” of films. It was Terry, himself, who created the character of “Marvin” and urged television management to allow him to present these films to a Chicago audience.
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES is pleased to have the recollections of two other notable fans of Marvin who both agreed to share their memories. One is Dick Dyszel, who appears frequently in this blog as his alter ego, horror host Count Gore de Vol. The other is film maker, historian, dinosaur enthusiast, and publisher – Don Glut. After reading Mr. Glut’s memories of Marvin in Scary Monsters Magazine #40, I sought out his assistance in this tribute. He delighted me by not only agreeing to share his memories but some of the great pictures in his collection as well!
DICK DYSZEL (Count Gore de Vol): It was a dark and stormy night in 1957…or at least dark, because it was night…a Saturday night. My parents were asleep as I quietly crept out of my room making my way to the 21 inch Admiral TV in the living room. Turing it on, as quietly as possible, I grabbed a towel to wrap around the tuning knob. Ever so carefully I turned it trying to minimize the “Ka-thunk” made by the mechanical tuner as it went past each channel. Finally it came to rest on Channel 7, WBKB and there in bright and shiny black white was my weekly dose of classic horror on “Shock Theater,” hosted by the most unlikely of hosts….MARVIN; the Near-sighted Madman!
While the 80’s had their ‘punk’ scene and the 60’s had the ‘hippie’ scene, the 50’s alternative social style was ‘the beat’ scene, epitomized by the beatnik. Wearing black, including the ever present shades and/or thick rimmed glasses, the beatniks hung out at coffee houses, digging on the latest poetry…..at least that’s the way I remember it. But on weekends, Marvin brought the ‘beat’ sensibility to the world of classic Universal horror films, exposing young minds like mine to all sorts of alternative possibilities.
Now Marvin, played by ventriloquist Terry Bennett was not alone. His ever present sidekick, and butt of most of his jokes, was Dear - his real life wife, Joy Bennett. She was blond, wore tight clothes and had a couple of points of her own…riding way up high. However, we had no idea what she looked like because she always had her face away from the camera or covered….the ultimate tease.
But even this far out couple was not alone, as Marvin also had his own band, The Deadbeats, that performed live during the breaks in the movie. They also added Orville, a hunchback character and Shorty, a giant monster wearing a Frankenstein mask! Horror classics, beatniks, off beat humor and music…what more could a 10 year old want late on a Saturday night.
The show lasted for only two years. In spite of tremendous popularity and a petition campaign, it was cancelled to make way for boxing! It was during the final show that we finally got to see the lovely face of Dear. The truly sad thing is that there seems to be only one video clip of the show and that was actually shot during a rehearsal session.
DON GLUT: I’d been waiting for the show for a few months. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Paul Malloy had written about the still-unnamed show that would debut on local station WBKB (channel 7) on Dec. 7, 1957, starting with the TV premiere of the original Frankenstein. There was no mention of any host character in that article. So when the show opened that Saturday night at 10:00 PM, Marvin came (to me, anyway) as a total surprise, as did the name of the show Shock Theater.
I became an instant fan, completely hooked on Marvin and the program. Marvin was both ghoulish and funny at the same time. But equally important – to me as a 13-year-old kid – Marvin was cool. Terry Bennett, the guy to created and played him, presented Marvin as a fully developed character.
Shock Theater was an enormous local hit and Terry Bennett was a Big Star to the people that watched the show. When Marvin mentioned “shocktail parties” on the show, such events became a phenomenon in Chicago and the suburbs (I had one myself, dressed as Marvin, for my 14th birthday). And he was popular enough to appear on other contemporary shows. For example, I remember him once hosting the “Outer Space Quiz” on a Sunday morning show running “Flash Gordon” serials.
ATTENTION READERS: Anyone reading this post who has memories of Marvin are encouraged to share them in the “comments.” We would LOVE to hear more!
The next two celebrities I would like to cover are Tim Burton regular Lisa Marie and the one and only Sid Haig. I have always been a fan of both stars, but for different reasons, had never met them. For Lisa Marie she had not been at any previous conventions that I attended. I always found Lisa Marie to be beautiful and found her portrayal of Vampira in the movie ED WOOD to be wonderful. I also enjoyed her alien performance in MARS ATTACKS! and found it to be fun and quirky and I was very much looking forward to meeting her! For Sid Haig, I was actually too nervous to meet him in the past! For some reason, I always associated Sid with his character Captain Spaulding and for some reason, thought he was like that in real life! I know it’s a silly way to think, but I found him genuinely creepy in THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES and for the life of me couldn’t believe that he was actually a nice guy! Boy was I in for a surprise with both stars!
Lisa Marie was the first of these two people we visited. Let me start by saying that she is very beautiful in person. I brought with me an 11 x 17 inch ED WOOD poster that I bought off of eBay to be signed and I had my eye on two of her 8 x 10 pics as well. Since we were covering the event, not only for this site but also for Jason Hignite of HorrorHound Magazine, we were filming everything also. As soon as I put the poster down to be signed Lisa immediately asked, “Where did you get that?” At first I thought she was being sociable but then I could see that she was a little put off by me having the poster. Then her handler (or publicist) questioned the poster as well saying that I shouldn’t have that. He then asked us to stop filming (I guess he didn’t want to look like the jerk he was on film).
Now I understand if people are upset with fans bringing bootlegs and such to events to be signed but this poster was sold by a legitimate poster dealer on eBay and should not have been an issue. The fact that such a big deal was made out of it ruined the whole experience of meeting Lisa Marie for me. Both Lisa and the publicist could’ve handled things much better, and been friendlier, especially considering I spent $85 at her table! That’s right, $85! To get the poster and the two 8 x 10′s signed cost $75 and then she charged an additional $10 to get a picture taken with her! I found this insulting to say the very least.
I could perhaps see charging $10 to get a picture taken with her if you did not buy anything at her table but to charge someone when they do spend money is ridiculous (and she was the only one there doing that). That might also explain why there was never a line at her table! It really is too bad that some stars are like this (though I personally believe it had more to do with her publicist than Lisa herself). They have to learn that in today’s economy, money is tight so fans are more selective with who they will actually meet and spend money with. If you charge more than anyone else, and give the fans attitude, then you will be leaving with empty pockets!
All in all I give the experience of meeting Lisa Marie a huge thumbs down, which is too bad. I am glad that I got the things I did signed and that I also got two pics taken with her (thankfully she didn’t charge me for the second one), including one where she is giving me sexy eyes. Lisa Marie is one star that in the future, I will not be visiting again. I truly hope that this as an isolated incident and that others had a more pleasane experience with Lisa.
Our good friend Dr. Destruction with Lisa Marie.
Next up was Sid Haig. To be honest I had no idea what to expect from this guy. One of the things I was going to do was get an autograph for my friend James and his monster museum, Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. James had this long message that he wanted Sid to write out, which caused one of the funniest exchanges of the weekend. I ended up typing up the message to be written out and Sid’s reaction was hilarious (and let me say the f-bombs were flying). He started complaining that he would need to put his glasses on to read everything and was questioning why James didn’t make the trip himself to get this done. At least this time the attitude was all in good fun, showing me what a genuinely great guy Sid Haig really is!
One of the things I really liked about Sid is that you can tell he genuinely enjoys meeting his fans, he appreciates them and he loves to bulls**t and tell stories…and he had some great ones! He shared with us complaints of how when the event closed at 9 the hotel restaurant was closed and he couldn’t get anything to eat. He talked about one hotel bar that he went to that didn’t have a mixer to make mixed drinks so he gave them $100 to go out and buy one. He also kidded back and forth quite vocally with co-star Bill Moseley, who was sitting further down the table (keep in mind that every story was loaded with f-bombs and other expletives).
All in all, Sid more than made up for the unpleasant experiences with Lisa Marie. As I was going through the dealer room I found a Living Dead Doll of Sid’s character of Captain Spaulding so I figured I would take advantage of getting a Living Dead Doll that I didn’t already have in my collection that I could get signed by the man himself. It’s nice when you meet a celebrity that so impresses you, that you don’t mind visiting him or her again over the course of the weekend, spending more money. Sid definitely gets two huge thumbs up from this Dave!
Back in 1984, the rural town of Kenosha, Wisconsin became the unlikely venue for a unique type of art show. Local resident, Dale Wamboldt, was determined to create a venue where artists such as himself (who delve in the more ominous side of creativity) could showcase their work for a public audience. A fan of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Dale was fascinated by the concept of using art to express his own darker side. Years later, he would adopt his own alter ego as a horror host, Dr. Destruction, while continuing the annual tradition of the “The Dorian Gray Art Show.”
This was my first year attending the show and I drove up with my friends, The Count & Countess Gregula, who have occasionally hosted films via Illinois Public Access. Their presence made sense as the theme of this year’s show was “Night of the Horror Hosts.” We arrived at the Rhode Opera House in downtown Kenosha and were greeted by Destruction’s sidekick, Deadgar Winters, as we entered the main show room. The theater, which opened in 1927, was beautiful and retained many of its original projectors and concession machines for public display.
Having missed the earlier crowds, there was plenty of opportunity to talk to the featured artists while enjoying their creations. First, I said hello to my friend, Dr Destruction, who quickly introduced me to his old pal, Ari Lehman. Mr. Lehman has the distinction of being the first physical incarnation of Jason Vorhees from the FRIDAY THE 13TH films. He was the young boy who jumped out of the waters of Crystal Lake to attack an unsuspecting Adrienne King at the original film’s conclusion. Ari was very personable and, like Dr Destruction, had lots of energy.
Dr. Destruction showed off some of his pieces which included some dedicated to classic Horror Hosts. This consisted of two large portraits dedicated to the “mother” and “father” of all horror hosts, Vampira and Zacherley! The one that caught my eye, however, was smaller and to the left. It was a painting of Rich Koz’s “Son of Svengoolie” (still on the air and now simply Svengoolie) whom I had grown up with.
As Dr Destruction went off to greet more of his guests, I socialized with the artists. The first was Josh Lucas, who created an amazing clock that immediately caught my eye. Josh was very friendly and talked about his devotion to the Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN films, while showing off an amazing tattoo of Michael Myers on his right shoulder. Josh is looking forward to attending the upcoming FLASHBACK WEEKEND where he hopes to finally meet Danielle Harris – who starred in films from both of the HALLOWEEN series. As for the clock, I was intent on buying one but Josh had, not surprisingly, sold out. I am hoping to catch him again at event hosted by Deadgar Winters later this month.
Sharing a booth with Josh was Rebecca Hilbert who was selling her homemade “voodoo dolls.” I ended up buying one of them myself and look forward to using it (smile).
When I had first entered the gallery, my eye was immediately drawn to a painting of Karoff’s FRANKENSTEIN. The creator of the piece was John Bonior who said he did it in 3 hours. I thought it was unbelievable and the artist, himself, seemed surprised. “This is my first year here and I just never thought I was good enough,” he said. I’m quite sure that anyone seeing these pictures would disagree. His work was amazing and, had I brought more cash with me, it’s likely I would have walked home with Frank. John had also painted young Michael Brody from the film JAWS in the scene where he stares in horror as a man nearby gets eaten by the famed Great White Shark. This would later prompt a discussion between John and I where John recounted a story of meeting Richard Deryfuss and his apparent feud with actor, Bill Murray. It isn’t my tale to tell but, suffice it to say, it’s the kind of story a blogger dreams of.
Also featured at the show was the works of Michael Ables and Jody Elizabeth. The couple each share a love of the macabre and this is evident through John’s prints and Jody’s amazing paintings. “Before Dorian Gray, there was nowhere artists like us could show our work,” said John.”We really appreciate ‘Dorian Gray.”
Jody’s work was not just interesting due to her dramatic renderings, but also for their “texture.” She encouraged visitors to touch her work which was often layered and 3 Dimensional. One of the most interesting pieces depicted a maniacal clown in which Jody cleverly used real ice cream cones to finish the presentation. She is also a talented jewelry maker and created a unique bracelet proudly worn by Michael.
As this was “Night of the Horror Hosts,” there were a few of those on hand as well. Marlena Midnite from Midnite Mausoleum drove up from Iowa to attend the event and stationed her own booth selling episodes of her show & “Midnite Mausoleum” swag.
The Gregulas and I had split off after arriving but met back up later. They were being very social and enjoyed talking with Dr. Destruction as well as a fellow Svengoolie fan who calls herself “Svengirlie.” I’ve noticed in the course of my Svengoolie fandom quite a few gals who routinely dress up like Sven. If I had musical talent, I think I’d create a Svengoolie tribute band and perform some of Sven’s parody songs with the Sven gals in the background. Sort of like the ones in those Robert Palmer videos back in the 1980′s. I didn’t get a chance to chat much with “Svengirlie” as she was leaving just as I’d finally met up with them, but both her and her boyfriend seemed like a lot of fun.
Ivan Cryptosis was also in attendance and we spoke a bit about the history of his character as well as his story in SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE which was featured in the 2009 Monster Memories issue. The writer of that piece, the late Dick Nitelinger, had also written an early story on Dr. Destruction when his show first began some ten years ago. My article on Dr Destruction (slated to appear in the summer 2011 issue) will continue where that one left off.
While there is an existing feud between The Gregulas and Ivan, they jabbed each other throughout the evening in a civil manner, thereby making a potentially uncomfortable situation rather humorous. Gregula and I also filmed some interviews and we had quite a few laughs. It’s always a lot of fun going on road trips to Kenosha with both he and his “Greg”arious wife!
By the evening’s close, I approached Dr Destruction and asked how much he was selling his “Son of Svengoolie” painting. “I’m not selling that one,” he said as my spirits began to drop. “That one belongs to you.” I couldn’t believe his generosity and eagerly took my painting back to Chicago. I had a great time at The Dorian Gray Art Show and look forward to returning next year.
One of the highlights of any convention is of course meeting the actors and actresses that starred in so many of our favorite films. Though my priority for HorrorHound was the horror hosts, there were a handful of celebrities that I also wanted to meet. Two of them starred in one of my favorite cult films of the 1980′s, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE.
It’s hard to believe that it has been over 20 years since this cult classic was released. I still vividly remember seeing it for the first time on VHS with some friends. We were of course drinking beer at the time and we just had the best time. I remember wondering to myself if the reason I enjoyed this film so much was because of the beer, or because it was a genuinely good film. Thankfully, at the time, my uncle owned the only video store in Jamestown so I was able to see what ever movies I wanted, when ever I wanted. I re-watched this movie without the aid of alcohol and to my pleasant surprise, it was just as good the second time!
The cheese factor in this movie is at an all time high and that is really what gives it its charm. The Chiodo Brothers, who wrote and directed this film, take the most ridiculous premise (aliens that look like clowns who feed on humans after putting them in cotton candy cocoons) and present us with a film that is not only charming and stylish, it’s also a helluva lot of fun!
The story borrows the plot of many monster movies from the 50′s: a bunch of teenagers witness aliens or monsters and none of the adults believe them. It is then up to them to save the world on their own. The lead teens in this film are Mike and Debbie (played by Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder). While out on a date they witness a shooting star and decide to go look for it. What they find is not a meteor, but a circus tent, in the middle of the woods. Thinking it odd to put a circus literally in the middle of no where, they decide to investigate further. It is here that they discover alien clowns who have guns that shoot popcorn and balloon animal pets that are alive.
After being chased by the clowns Mike and Debbie go to the police station to report it to Dave (played by John Allen Nelson), the acting police chief (and Debbie’s ex-boyfriend). Playing bad cop opposite Dave’s good cop, is actor John Vernon in the role of Officer Mooney. Rounding out the cast are Michael Siegel and Peter Licassi as the Terenzi Brothers.
Though shot on a reported modest budget of $2,000,000, this film is much better, in my opinion, than some of the blockbusters of today. The story is fun and it never slows down, always keeping the viewer interested in what is going on. It is full of all kinds of great sight gags and the clowns themselves are genuinely scary to behold. In fact, the clown designs are so popular, they have been constantly available as collectors’ masks from companies such as Death Studios, Bump In The Night Productions and now DarkSide Studios. It is because of these mask lines that Mask-Fest was the official sponsor of Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder and Harrod Blank being at HorrorHound Weekend this past March!
For me it was an honor to meet Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder. Though I had never seen Grant in any other films, I was very aware of Suzanne Snyder from such films as WEIRD SCIENCE, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART II. I will also say that at times, it is disappointing to meet stars such as this after 20 years because you never know how they are going to look or act. Both of them get high marks in my book!
I visited them both twice over the weekend, because I was so impressed with them. They were fun, funny and both looked great. In signing autographs Grant actually looked up quotes on his phone that he and Suzanne could use in signing! To me, going this extra mile, meant so much! So many stars just sign their name so the fact that they were willing to write out full quotes was just amazing to me. In my opinion, other celebs should take lessons from both Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder! They were both class acts all the way and helped raise the bar of the whole event!