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“The Monster Show!” Book Review

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Terror from Beyond the Daves is pleased to welcome guest writer, and winner of our “Hidden Horror Contest,” Mark Spangler!

Book Review: “The Monster Show”

By Mark Spangler

“All monsters are expressions or symbols of some kind of birth process, however distorted or bizarre.”  So says David J. Skal in the opening sentence of chapter ten in his  book “The Monster Show” (W.W. Norton & Company).  Don’t let the name fool you.   Like many a horror film (“I Married A Monster From Outer Space” comes to mind), there’s much more substance lurking behind the exploitative title than the name – or any name – could possibly indicate. The subtitle, “A cultural history of horror” is a much more accurate depiction of what the reader will find in these well-researched and analyzed 432 pages.  From a fun-filled exploration of teen-oriented films on the 50’s drive-in circuit  to an examination of the role that horror film escapism played in helping to digest the real-life calamities of 20th century war, this book runs the gambit from the terrific terrors of the silver screen to a common-sense analysis of why these motion pictures are not only fun, but of vital importance to the culture. No stop is ignored in this horrific journey and we joyfully ride along with Mr. Skal as he explores the brilliance and tragedy of director Tod Browning’s early film work, the European influence on early-American horror cinema, freakshow biographies, , monster-comedy, and two monster kid classics; “Famous Monsters of Filmland” and Aurora model monster kits (I had the Mummy).  We also visit the artistry of make-up professionals throughout the history of the film industry, reflect upon the horror-inspired artwork of Diane Arbus, visit the late and beloved Forrest J. Ackerman in his “Ackermansion”, examine technical tidbits of films old and new  and finally end up with the real-life terrors of HIV, the Gulf War and Oprah.

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“Svengoolie vs The Clock” at C2E2!

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Svengoolie, Lisa Maria Varon, and the MeTV crew (with “me” tagging along) exited the main hall  before heading up several flights of stairs towards the celebrity lounge. Upon reaching the top, we walked along a  balcony which offered a bird’s eye view of C2E2 – And what a sight it was! Thousands of fans looking like busy ants and only moments after I’d been one of them.  It was both awesome and humbling at the same time.

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Svengoolie “wrestles” the crowd at C2E2!

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Svengoolie had been at C2E2 well before his signing time but with a mission. Certain events such as these warrant the host bringing along his entourage which includes a camera crew. These are the makings of his “Svengoolie on the Road” segments which always start with a cartoon Sven getting run over by a hearse. Somehow we intersected at the booth of the former pro-wrestler and current WWE commentator, Jerry”The King” Lawler though, at this time, His Majesty was away on break. Jim Roche, Svengoolie’s assistant, gave me a quick greeting but I could tell he was in the zone and in full business mode. This is my cue that while I’m permitted to stay close, I’d best stand out of the way. With but few moments to greet Sven, they quickly ventured back out into the crowd.

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C2E2 was Comic Paradise!

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With a steady stream of new super hero movies continuously breaking box office records, nothing says “spring” like a good comic convention. Fortunately for me, one of the best of these is right here in the Windy City ala C2E2 (Chicago Comics Entertainment Expo). I’ve been going faithfully for the past couple of years and, though initially just to cover Svengoolie, it has since become so much more.

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Illinois Assembly Declares “Svengoolie Rich Koz Day” for Halloween 2014!

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Not long ago, during my post on Jim Cornette’s appearance at The Squared Circle with Svengoolie, I mentioned something really amazing that happened later at the event that I couldn’t go into any detail about at the time. Well, it’s now official and I’m happy to report that October 31st, 2014 will officially be Rich Koz Svengoolie Day in Illinois!

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Movie Review: Godzilla…..They Got It Right!

Godzilla

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

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Let me first get this out of the way: this movie kicks SERIOUS ASS. I can’t recommend it highly enough, so there are no excuses for not seeing this movie right now!

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