Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
And, just to remind you that Halloween isn't always about fun and games, here is a selection of disturbing images from DARTZINE (August - October, 2011 issue), a webzine from the DeviantART group of artists and illustrators. It is a featured Halloween portfolio.
These Universal Monsters Grave Walkers are a great idea for decorating the lawn on Halloween . . . heck, for anytime of the year so far as I'm concerned. I'm thinking one would even be cool over the fireplace mantel. Good luck on that one!
With a little luck, you can find them on the 'net for about 100 bucks apiece.
With a little luck, you can find them on the 'net for about 100 bucks apiece.
Halloween remains the second biggest holiday of the year, consumer-wise. Even the Las Vegas entertainers get in the act -- as this article from LAS VEGAS WEEKLY for the week of October 27 shows -- literally.
Another batch of dress-ups to choose from in the MORRIS COSTUME CO. catalogue. From Nile Queen, to Goth Gal to Temptress of Terror, these costumes turn any lady into a Halloween treat, don't you think?
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Hey, monster lovers! There's a new movie to watch here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD! Just click on the "WATCH MONSTER MOVIES" tab under the MMW Blog title header and have fun watching the latest feature-length fright flick!
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|Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau|
in ISLAND OF THE LOST SOULS (1932)
Now, I know that a lot of these 'zines will be short-lived . . . that's the -- pardon my pun -- nature of the beast. It doesn't mean the mag is either good or bad; it's a matter of sustainability in an enevitably saturated marketplace. I'm not implying, either, that the monster magazine market is saturated right now by any means, but these types of publishing upswings have a way of finding their own level, and thinning out the ranks along the way. Time will tell, as they say.
Another thing that has been pleasing me for some time is, like the monster magazine revival -- and I'll say it now: THERE IS A MONSTER MAGAZINE REVIVAL GOING ON, FOLKS! -- the products that are the primary reason for their existence are also enjoying a rebirthing of Daikaiju proportions.
And, just what are these "products", you ask? Why, monster movies of course! What monster magazine would be worth its fangs without monster movies? A monster trading card magazine? A monster toy magazine? A monster model magazine? All necessary elements of the total monster magazine experience, I grant you, but without the fright flicks, monster 'zines would be anemic at best.
The zombie genre has suddenly -- so to speak -- picked up speed. Fulci's CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIE have been revived. The great silent sci-fantasy film, METROPOLIS was re-released in Blu-ray, complete with lost footage, as was the eerie Carl Dreyer (virtually silent film) VAMPYRE released in a beautifully-presented box set. The list is seemingly endless. I for one, hope the end is a long way away.
Now, the latest horror film to be resurrected is the great screen classic, Paramount Productions' ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. I have been promoting this movie off and on for a while, and for good reason -- it deserves to be. Being offered in both DVD and Blu-ray editions, viewers can take their pick. It also looks like the Special Feautures are the same for both discs, which is nice. A gimmick that often gets used to try and win over Blu-ray purchases has been to cram on more feautures than the regular DVD edition. Universal's The Wolfman is one example.
Called "a twisted treasure" by an Amazon.com Editorial Review, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS was released in December, 1932 (erroneously reported as January 1933 on WIKI) to horrified pre-Code audiences. This "touchstone of movie terror" featured some of the creepiest scenes of the day, along with some of the best classic monster movie make-up ever (now credited to Wally Westmore) outside the House of Universal.
The following film synopsis and notes are from the American Film Institute, a leading historical conservator of our cinematic heritage. To those very few of you who do not know the story, here is the prerequisite SPOILER ALERT.
Edward Parker, the sole survivor of the S.S. Lady Vain , is rescued by Montgomery on the trading ship S.S. Covena and taken to a South Sea island. There, Captain Davies deposits Edward, along with his shipment of wild animals, at the experimental station of Dr. Moreau, a mad scientist involved in "bio-anthropological research." Moreau's island is inhabited by half-man, half-beasts, who are products of genetic engineering that is meant to alter the evolutionary process of animals through ions, whereby they become men. Moreau has made only one woman, Lota, from a panther, and hopes to mate her with Edward. When Edward discovers Moreau performing an operation on what appears to be a man in his torture chamber, the House of Pain, he tries to escape with Lota. As the couple fends off Moreau's beasts, Moreau strikes a gong and the beasts recite the law of the island, which forbids running on all fours, eating meat, or spilling blood and exonerates Moreau as their maker. Meanwhile, at the seaport of Apia, Edward's fiancée, Ruth Thomas, discovers him missing from the S.S. Covena . The American consul then sends her and Captain Donahue to find him. At Moreau's island, Edward discovers Lota's origins when he kisses her and sees that her fingers have begun degenerating into claws. Moreau then threatens Lota with the House of Pain, in which he previously tortured her to keep her from reverting to a panther; but Montgomery, who heretofore has assisted Moreau as an alternative to jail, refuses to torture Lota. Donahue and Ruth then arrive, and that night, Ouran, one of the beasts, tries to attack her. Forced to leave the island, Donahue braves the jungle of beasts to collect his crew and, at the orders of Moreau, is killed by Ouran. Having broken the law of the man-beasts that forbids the spilling of blood, Moreau is attacked by them and tortured in his own House of Pain. With the help of Montgomery, Ruth and Edward escape, but Lota is killed by a man-beast.
On the opening title card, the following cast credits appear: Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi "and The Panther Woman." A later cast list in the opening credits includes actress Kathleen Burke's name following Lugosi's. In the end credits, Burke is identified as "The Panther Woman." According to a 1 Oct 1932 HR [Hollywood Reporter, -ed.] news item, Burke won the Paramount "Panther Woman" contest and was awarded a role in this film, as well as five weeks' accommodations at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
The Island of Lost Souls was shot on location on Catalina Island, CA. The opening titles for this film were cleared from the screen by ocean waves. According to modern sources, the film was officially banned in England for being "against the laws of nature." A modern source credits Wally Westmore with makeup. H. G. Wells' story was the basis of the 1913 silent French film Ile d'Epouvante ( The Island of Terror ), and the 1959 New Realm film Terror Is a Man (also known as Blood Creature ), directed by Gerry DeLeon and starring Francis Lederer and Greta Thyssen. There was a 1977 by American International Pictures adaptation released under the title The Island of Dr. Moreau , directed by Don Taylor and starring Burt Lancaster and Michael York. A 1996 New Line version, released under the same title, was directed by John Frankenheimer and starred Marlon Brando as "Dr. Moreau" and Val Kilmer as "Montgomery."
A COLLECTION OF LOBBY CARDS
And lastly, I couldn't help but to add this well-written, very favorable review from none other than the NEW YORK TIMES (in its entirety):
October 21, 2011
ISLAND'S INHABITANTS? CLEARLY NOT NATIVES
By DAVE KEHR
MOST of the classic horror films of the early 1930s have been released and rereleased on home video to the point of surfeit and beyond. But one, in many ways the most disturbing, has remained elusive: Erle C. Kenton’s 1932 “Island of Lost Souls,” an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel “The Island of Dr. Moreau” so extreme in its effects that Wells himself denounced it. The film was banned in Britain until 1958, when the censors finally passed it with an X rating.
“Island of Lost Souls” was available on VHS back in the day and was briefly available on Laserdisc, but since the ’90s it has only surfaced in dubious offshore editions, despite the constant clamoring of horror film aficionados. But just in time for Halloween here’s the Criterion Blu-ray edition that fans have been praying for, and I’m happy to report that the film has lost none of its powerful whiff of perversity.
Devoid of supernatural elements, this is a horror movie the Marquis de Sade might have written, with a very human monster at its center. As Wells’s Dr. Moreau, a British vivisectionist who has taken up residence on an uncharted South Seas island to pursue his unorthodox research, Charles Laughton presents a calm, civilized veneer, with his crisp linen suits and too-neatly trimmed goatee. But he harbors fantasies beyond those of the standard-issue mad scientist: where Frankenstein wants to create life, Moreau is more interested in systematically debasing it.
Apart from its general aura of moral unhealthiness, one of the chief factors that kept “Island of Lost Souls” off the market for so long was the lack of material good enough for a high-definition release. Part of the library of some 900 Paramount titles now controlled by Universal Pictures, “Lost Souls” lost its camera negative generations ago and now survives only in a handful of positive prints in variously poor states of repair. For the present version Criterion combined two 35-millimeter prints and mined 16-millimeter collectors’ copies for missing frames, and then ran it through an extensive digital restoration process to remove (or minimize) scratches and dust spots. Peter Becker, Criterion’s president, has described “Lost Souls” as “one of the two or three most challenging reconstructions and image restoration jobs we’ve ever done.” But as heroic as Criterion’s efforts are, some of the sharpness and texture of the original images has been irretrievably lost.
Sometimes, though, the damage works to the film’s advantage, as in the opening shot in which a ship emerges from a fog bank, gradually taking shape in a swirl of grain that suggests the crosshatching in a Doré engraving. Carrying a cargo of zoo animals (the stench and squalor is almost palpable), the steamer slows long enough to pick up a drifting derelict: Edward Parker (Richard Arlen), seemingly the lone survivor of a passenger ship disaster. He is taken, as the law of the sea requires, to its first port of call: Moreau’s island, where Parker is deposited along with the howling cargo and the mysterious Mr. Montgomery (Arthur Hohl), a defrocked doctor now serving — in a haze of self-disgust — as Moreau’s chief assistant.
Parker is not a welcome guest, but Moreau, recognizing his duty to a fellow representative of civilization, allows him into his fortresslike compound. “Strange-looking natives you have here,” Parker says, as he is confronted with porters with distended bodies and bizarre facial configurations. Moreau says nothing but demonstrates the bullwhip he uses to keep them in line.
In a sequence that inspired the entire gestalt of the ’80s band Devo, Parker discovers Moreau leading the islanders in a strange midnight ceremony. They treat Moreau, invested by Laughton with a beaming self-satisfaction, as a kind of god: for indeed he is their maker, having carved their humanoid forms out of animal flesh on the operating table in his laboratory, known to the locals as the House of Pain. “Are we not men?” chants the lupine creature called the Sayer of the Law (Bela Lugosi, in one of his most imposing performances), as he reminds them not to walk on all fours and not to spill blood.
“Island of Lost Souls” is a film rich in references to other films: Arlen was Paramount’s resident square-jawed action hero, having become a star in William Wellman’s 1927 “Wings.” Lugosi’s presence evokes “Dracula” and the Universal horror films then in vogue; when Parker’s fiancée arrives later, in search of her missing lover, she is played by Leila Hyams, fresh from Tod Browning’s “Freaks.” And Laughton, though still a relative newcomer, would have been familiar to viewers as the grinningly decadent Nero of Cecil B. DeMille’s “Sign of the Cross,” still in theaters when “Lost Souls” was released.
But it is with the entrance of Lota, an exotic beauty played by Kathleen Burke, that the film makes its most disturbing connection. With her childlike manner and open eroticism, Lota would have been a familiar character to audiences steeped in the South Seas romances, including F. W. Murnau’s “Tabu” and King Vidor’s “Bird of Paradise,” that were then popular. Here was another sarong-clad child-woman, ready and willing to initiate an overburdened white man into the sweet simplicity of natural love, a development that Moreau leeringly encourages. For Lota is another of his creations — a Panther Woman! — and he is eager to learn if she is able to love (which is to say, mate).
And so bestiality — merely notional, perhaps, but quite enough under the circumstances — enters the range of horrors on Moreau’s little island, probably entering through the screenplay by Waldemar Young and Philip Wylie. (Wells’s novel includes only a garden variety Panther Man.) The sentimental fantasy of the island romance is turned on its ear. What Moreau is offering is not an erotic escape into innocence, but a frightening descent into the primitive. (When “King Kong” was released a few months later, the deconstruction of the island romance was complete.)
The enduring mystery of “Island of Lost Souls” is how these variously perverse elements were so well and suggestively blended together by Erle C. Kenton, a director known mainly for comedies. For a filmmaker who could be remarkably offhanded, Kenton’s work here seems amazingly controlled and inventive. In the movie’s most stylistically innovative sequence (which is also one of its creepiest) Kenton portrays the rising anger among Moreau’s victims by having a series of the island’s man-beast actors, led by Lugosi, stride one by one from middle distance into extreme close-ups, thrusting their disfigured faces at the audience in an effect that seems almost three-dimensional.
The intimate links between comedy and horror — as the two genres that demand an immediate, physical response from the viewer — would be developed more fully in the ’70s and ’80s by directors like John Carpenter (“Halloween”), Joe Dante (“The Howling”) and John Landis (“An American Werewolf in London”). And Mr. Landis, appropriately, appears in a supplementary feature, leading a round-table discussion with the makeup artist Rick Baker and the horror film historian Bob Burns.
But “Island of Lost Souls” remains an island unto itself: one of those unique, unaccountable objects the cinema produces at widely spaced intervals, as if they had sprung directly from the collective unconscious. (The Criterion Collection, Blu-ray $39.95, DVD $29.95, not rated)
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