While Mark McConnaughey might not have been some famous actor or director, or anything in the movie business other than a fan, for a lot of us though, he made just as much of an impact as any movie ever did. At least I know he did with me. Monster Mark, as we always referred to him as, recently passed away, after battling multiple sclerosis for many, many years. It is a hard loss for me, even though I had only really seen Mark in person a half a dozen times over the last two decades, but we somehow connected through movies that gave us a strong bond.
I first met Mark back in 1995. I had sold him some movies around that time and was planning on going to the Chiller Theatre show in New Jersey. Mark wrote me and said he would be attending too and we should hook up in the evening, which is just what we did. Hanging out in the bar with him, along with my friend Jon Stone, we talked for hours about all sorts of movies. In fact, Mark and Stone were throwing back title after title, each one more outrageous than the last, interrupted with bouts of laughter. Continue reading
Last Sunday, Dawn and I headed into Chicago for our third stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The first time wasn’t really live theater, but the National Theatre Live’s version of the story, directed by Danny Boyle and with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in the rotating roles as Victor Frankenstein and his creation. It was decent enough, but maybe because it wasn’t live, it didn’t have the punch I was hoping for. Next was the Lifeline Theatre’s version last year, which was much different than Shelley’s story. It was more about with dealing grief, with Victor actually being a woman named Victoria trying to resurrect her father. Again, it was a very interesting take on the story, but not what I was hoping for. Continue reading
Last Saturday, we had the official book launch party for my book Discover the Horror, at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. I also had the wonderful opportunity to introduce the film The Giant Claw (1957) before the signing in the lounge area. Now honestly, going into this, I was hoping the film would have a good turnout, but expected it to be 4 or 5 of my friends that were coming out to support me. In reality, there was quite a bit more than that! In fact, we had several people there that had never seen the film before, so we knew they were in for a real treat. Continue reading
Fans of Italian westerns and the giallo film have lost one of their own. George Hilton passed away yesterday at the age of 85. He started in films back in 1956, appearing in more than just a few westerns. But he also made a few giallo films, which when he did, they were pretty amazing, such as The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1970), which is one of my favorites in that sub-genre. Granted, it might have something more to do with Edwige Fenech… He also appeared in films like The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971) and All the Colors of the Dark (1972), another very important film in the giallo sub-genre. You can also see him in Lamberto Bava’s Dinner with a Vampire (1989) playing the century old vampire who just wants to die.
While he stopped appearing in films a decade ago, you could always see him show up in interviews on the latest giallo documentary or new Blu-ray release, speaking so fondly of his experiences in the industry. But as always, when the fans lose a great talent like this, we know that his memory will live on as long as there are fans of these films. And I have a strong feeling that will go on for quite some time.
Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.
Another glorious Monday. Yeah. Let’s get down to business. Our photo from last week was from the 1983 film Mausoleum, starring Marjoe Gortner & Bobbie Bresee. Such a fun memory from the ’80s. Congrats to Gavin Schmitt and William Wilson for sending in the correct answer.
Let’s see what you can do with this little gem. Take a look, make a guess. But please remember not to post your answers here in the comments section so that others can have a chance at guessing. Good luck!
The Witches Hammer (1970)
Directed by Otakar Vávra
Starring Elo Romancik, Vladimír Smeral, Sona Valentová, Josef Kemr, Lola Skrbková, Jirina Stepnicková, Marie Nademlejnská,Miriam Kantorková
Here is another example of showing a lifelong horror fan that there are still some gems out there that not only you haven’t seen yet, but you didn’t even know about. This Czechoslovakian film is about the witch trials and inquisition that were taking place in the late 1600’s. The film is based on actual text taken from court records from trials. The film’s title comes from the book The Malleus Maleficarum, written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, two Inquisitors from the Catholic Church. This book was used to further not only the existence of witches but also how to deal with them. Continue reading
Uh…that answer would be YES! Especially when it is something a little different than the usual images we have from Fulci’s Zombie! Pallbearer Press, who consistently puts out not only high quality products, but comes up with some great looking and original designs. And this is no different. This art is from Barlow and is just fantastic.
I know the new thing is to have these multi-colored shirts of our favorite horror films, but honestly for me, there is something special about a nice 1 or 2 color shirt. Maybe its nostalgia or just being an old man, but the look of these kinds of shirts just feel right. Continue reading
Born Aug. 28th, 1897 – Died Sept. 2nd, 1964
Now this is a guy that needs a little more attention. He is one of these character actors that was never a big star but appeared in so many of our favorite films, such as, of course, The Giant Claw (1957)! But you can also see him in Rocketship X-M (1950), Invaders from Mars (1953), Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956), Zombies of Mora Tau (1957), and even in Bert I. Gordon’s Beginning of the End (1957).
He actually was an attorney and even an economics professor before he was bitten by the acting bug and joined the theater. It was in the ’30s when he started appearing in movies, appearing in close to 300 movies and TV shows before he passed away. He was usually showing up as a military officer of some type, someone of authority, not to mention in more than a few westerns.
So when the next time you’re watching some old sci-fi/horror flick, see if old Mr. Ankrum doesn’t show up somewhere!
Greasepaint and Gore (2004)
Directed by Russell Wall
Tom Savini. Rick Baker. Rob Bottin. Steve Johnson. All of these names are pretty well known to most horror fans. What about Phil Leakey and Roy Ashton? I’m sure you’re familiar with the films put out by Hammer Studios throughout the 50’s to the 70’s, right? If so, then even if you might not know their names, you know the work of Leakey and Ashton. Continue reading
Born Jan. 13th, 1907 – Died Dec. 26th, 1996
Mr. Morrow is another one of these actors that had a pretty active career, is really known for a few films, for better or for worse. Granted, to be remembered at all, well… isn’t that the most important part?
Morrow started working on the stage by the time he was 20 years old, and didn’t make his movie debut until 1953 in the biblical epic Robe. But it is appearances in the Sci-Fi and horror genre in the ’50s that we are going to remember him. From the Sci-Fi epic This Island Earth (1955), to The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), Kronos (1957), and of course, The Giant Claw (1957). In the ’70s, while working as a commercial illustrator, he occasionally appeared in different projects, including a few low budget horror films like Will to Die and Octaman (both 1971). He also appeared in a lot of different TV series throughout his career.
The real beauty of Morrow was that he could play both sides of the coin, from the hero in The Giant Claw or the bad guy in Creature Walks Among Us, and he was always entertaining on both sides. While he may not have liked the fact that some of us still (fondly) remember him from the giant bird movie from outer space, saying he had never been “so embarrassed in my whole life”, I still get a kick out of watching it, and his performance.