Monsters. Those things that as a child scared us, gave us nightmares and provided us with so many hours of fun. If you were like me you grew up on monsters. I was never into playing (or watching for that matter) sports of any kind. My Saturday afternoons were spent in front of the television trying to draw in with rabbit ears channel 56 out of Boston, Massachusetts, with their weekly Creature Double Feature show. In the safety of daylight I was thrilled week after week with giant bugs, Godzilla and all of the Universal and Hammer classics.
While Horror Host, Svengoolie, and his predecessor may have christened Berwyn, Illinois as the epicenter of Chicago horror, that title has since been challenged by the city of Elgin. We’ve discussed their local Acme Design (who’ve carved their own Sven-legacy by creating his new coffin and MeTV set) as well as their annual Nightmare on Chicago Street . Now they can add yet another notch to their horror belt courtesy of local author & illustrator, John LaFleur and David Metzger! 8 Little Zombies is a scarier take on the classic children’s story, 8 Little Monkeys and one that us genre fans would enjoy reading to the little monster kids in our own lives (assuming you want to raise them right, of course). It’s a fun book with amazing artwork and even a forward written by the aforementioned Svengoolie himself!
If you are a regular visitor of this site then you know how much the Daves love Halloween. It is one of our favorite holidays and we are always looking for way to make it even better. Both of us have an annual tradition of pulling out our favorite movies to get us in the mood, or Halloween spirit.
Everybody does different things to celebrate the night when the barrier between the living and the supernatural is at its thinnest. You may go trick or treating. You may go visit a haunted house, real or made up. You may do a movie marathon of your favorite horror movies with friends. No matter what you end up doing, it is guaranteed to help the night be more memorable than any other night of the year. Now there is a book that can help make it even better!
“Pumpkin Cinema: The Best Movies For Halloween” came out in 2014 to very little fanfare. It was not advertised anywhere and to be honest, I came across it by accident on Amazon. When I received it I immediately fell in love with it and cannot recommend it more.
Like many monster kids I grew up with the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. One of my favorite aspects of this magazine were the Captain Company ads that appeared in the back, showcasing so many cool monster toys and collectibles. One ad in particular always drew my attention; it was the one for Don Post Studios masks. My favorite has always been the Grey Timberwolf but at the time I couldn’t afford one so all I could do each month was look at the ad and dream.
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.
There are so many movie guides out there today that it is really difficult at times to choose which ones we should buy. They range in quality from very good (like Bill Warren’s “Keep Watching The Skies“) to dreadful (like Rob Craig’s “It Came From 1957“) but at least one thing can be said, movies from the 1950’s are getting more coverage than ever. When it comes to movies, my favorites all came from the 1950’s. No other time period has been more prolific when it comes to monster and science fictions films. Though many of these films are now considered classics, there were many stinkers as well. At least most of these stinkers have their own charm and are still fun to watch even today. The book I am reviewing today, “You Won’t Believe Your Eyes: A Front Row Look at the Sci-Fi/Horror Films of the 1950s“, by Mark Thomas McGee and R.J. Robertson, covers these movies in a way not really seen before, which is why I highly recommend it.