Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Morlocks of "The Time Machine"

Today's Monster Memories are of:
The Morlocks from George Pal's "The Time Machine"
(click on images to view full size)

George Pal's "The Time Machine," released in 1960, is my all-time favorite movie. Sure, there are others up there high on the list, jockeying for position in my mind, but this tops them all. I first saw it in 1971 when it showed on a local TV channel where I lived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL at the time. I was 13, and was lucky enough to have a small black and white TV in my room in the house we rented. It was that Saturday afternoon's movie on "Adventure Theater" which I usually tried to catch. It showed the type of films that today you might find categorized in the DVD aisle under "Action," which covers a large territory, but then including sci-fi and fantasy.

I was entranced, and afterward was floating on a "movie high" for the rest of the day. There was just something about it that was truly special, and has remained so in my mind ever since. The Morlocks were truly scary, not only visually, but because they were cannibals... although technically they only ate the Eloi and not their own kind, arguably being no longer human.

After that single viewing, I had no opportunity to see it again for nearly 12 years. Then, I found it on a local library film list, where you could order a 16mm movie and check it out along with a projector. That I did, and had my two young nephews down for a movie night as I showed it on a sheet pinned to the wall. Seeing it in large format, in color, was even more exciting. I plugged the projector audio output to my stereo system and we had speakers on either side of the screen, so along with the popcorn we popped, it was almost like a theater! They loved it too, but the youngest, only about 8 at the time, got scared when the Morlocks were threatening the Eloi in the underground near the end. I couldn't blame him, it was pretty intense!

The climatic scene has our hero George taking on the Morlocks in their own territory to rescue Weena and the other Eloi, and Indiana Jones had nothing on him! He leaps from rock to rock, swinging on poles to kick the creatures, pummeling them with his fists and swinging their own whips at them! He was truly a great action hero.
The score, by Russell Garcia, is a truly memorable one, and is a soundtrack I often take out of my CD shelf and put on while working. The special effects by Pal were wonderful, adding to the charm of the film. The stop-motion and time-lapse effects to show the rapid passage of the ages, and the design of the time machine itself, were magical.
But make no mistake... the best effect the movie had to be Yvette Mimieux, the waifish and innocently sexy Weena. She was my first true crush, and I fell in love with her on sight. My heart still beats faster on seeing her in the movie, all these years later. She's truly beautiful in a pixie-ish way, and between her and Anne Francis, barefoot has never looked more appealing.

The romantic angle was played up heavily in the promotional shots such as these, but on film it was prettry much a chaste affair; they never even kissed, but came close to it. Perhaps all this snuggling is what happened when George got back to 802,701 at the end of the film. I think one of the three books he took back must have been a sex manual!

Oh, George, you lucky dog you!

Every New Year's Eve I take out this movie and watch it, as a personal tradition. Since the movie itself happens over the course of a New Year celebration, it seems fitting, and a great way to enjoy the film on a regular basis without watching it too often. Since tonight is New Year's Eve, I plan on taking out the DVD and watching it about 9 PM. I look forward to it all over again!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Godzilla: In Person!

Today's Monster Memories are of:
When I Met Godzilla: And Lived!

The King of the Monsters roars a challenge to the con-goers.

In the summer of 1979, Miamicon 2 was held in, naturally, Miami. I had missed the first one back in 1975, but managed to come up with a lie convincing enough to get me out of the house for a whole afternoon (if you read this blog much you'll know why I was forced to), and I tooled down from Ft. Lauderdale in my gold 1968 Cougar to join the fun.

One of the most outstanding memories I have of the events was a match between Godzilla and King Kong! The Godzilla suit was awesome, and I wish I knew where it had come from and who made it. A pre-recorded tape with Godzilla's music and sounds played over the sound system as the Big G stomped into the room to a roar of laughter and applause from the gathered fans. As he tromped around in a power display, cameras were flashing. But then, a challenger appeared! A guy in a gorilla suit.. er, I mean... King Kong himself, stormed in for a rematch!

And thus began the battle of the century as the two titans wrestled for the crown of King of the Monsters. A referree annouced the fight and made calls as the two pummeled each other and tossed one another around in what was the funniest sight I ever saw. Gales of laughter were coming from me and the rest of the crowd as they went at it whole-heartedly, in no less of a fight than in their last movie together.

Unfortunately, the photos of the fight came out blurred, so I don't have any to post. My camera wasn't that great and they just didn't turn out in the low light and when the subjects were in motion. How I wish I had video of it!

But, posted above are the photos I do have, so you can see what a great job somebody did on that Godzilla suit. Maybe someday I'll find out the story behind it and get more photos from others that were there.

8-13-2010 UPDATE: Cleve Hall, whom I found on Facebook, has been revealed as the the person responsible for the suit! Read his post in the comments section below and get "the rest of the story!" Then visit his Facebook page for more photos!

Below is a newspaper article about the con.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Elvira's Christmas Carol

Really, there are no monsters in this story (unless the monsters are, truly US) but since Elvira is all about horror and spooky stuff I feel she qualifies for this blog. So, here for your holiday enjoyment, from the 1986 special Elvira's Haunted Holidays, the story of "Elvira's Christmas Carol." As you'd expect, it's a bit different from the usual (as is Elvira herself) but sometimes that's what we need!

Something tells me Elvira will get anything she wants from "Santa Baby."

In case you'd like to read Marvel's 1978 comic adaptation of Dicken's original story, click here!

Merry Christmas, to one and all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My First Monster Memory

Today's Monster Memories are of:
"The Abominable Snowman" From "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer."

If you saw this coming up over the mountains you'd crap your pants
even if you weren't five years old.

Called "The Abominable Snow Monster of the North" on the show, but nicknamed "Bumble" by the crusty prospector Yukon Cornelius, this monster memory goes wa-a-a-y back... it's about the first monster I recall seeing, vividly and clearly remembering the scare it invoked. I was only 5 when the Rankin-Bass special played for the very first time, and I had seen the promos all week, so I was anxious to watch it. I even remember the Norelco electric shaver commercial that played during the breaks, that was animated in the same style and had Santa riding an electric razor over the snowy hills. Like the intended audience would need to shave!

Bumble did a little dance of joy at having spotted a fresh hot supper below.

I had seen other monsters before that, I know; in cartoons, and comics, and tv shows, but this was the one that made the biggest impression on my young mind. Perhaps it's because it was such a threat to the characters, and I felt their fear. I mean, look at that thing!

"Hey, kids! See you in your nightmares!"

Now just look at that creature... to a five-year old, that can be pretty darn scary, and it was to me. The TEETH, the roaring, the threating to EAT helpless little Clarrise, who was the first feminine love interest on a TV show that had made me feel warm and mushy inside! "Fluffy," the voracious man-eating creature in "The Crate" segment of Creepshow, seems to echo old Bumble... I wonder if the designer was influenced by his childhood memories?

Somehow I don't think this one's going to end up decorating the Christmas tree.

I know, a Christmas special such as this one is supposed to generate warmth and special memories. But I'm sure I'm not the only kid to be freaked out over this monstrosity who wants to devour alive his cuddly victims?

The voracious nature of the beast was intimated by his lair, a gaping maw waiting to swallow you up. Yes, Merry Christmas, kids! Try not to think about the horror that lurks within with huge teeth!

Of course, it ended up happily, with the defanged monster unable to eat solid food, (in a bloodless operation by amateur dentist Hermie) and I suppose he existed on mashed fruit and soggy cereal for the rest of his domesticated life, called upon to change lightbulbs and dust the places that the elves couldn't reach in the castle of Christmastown. Although, I can't help but muse that his meat-eating nature might reassert itself later, as the elves were small enough to swallow whole.

Watch this gem again this holiday season, if you haven't already! And don't think about the gruesome gore and unspeakable horror that would have happened had Yukon Cornelius not arrived in time... *shudder*

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dark Shadows #6 Part 2

Today's Monster Memories are of:

Gold Key's Dark Shadows #6: Part 2
(Click on images to view in Big-Bellied Mummy size!)

Barnabas savagely attacks the innocent mummy both physically and verbally. All he wanted was to borrow some Grey Poupon and ask directions back to Egypt.

Last time, as you remember (if you don't, read the previous entry below) I posted the first half of the Gold Key Dark Shadows comic #6, published in 1970. In it, we discover a mummy has somehow come to the perpetually-overcast town of Collinsport, and not just your usual mummy; this one is, shall we say, somewhat "brawny" or "big-boned." He's unique in another respect... in that he can run at full tilt like a sprinter. Now, most traditional movie mummies (not to be confused with the real-world mummies who move very little, if at all) creep along at a geriatric's pace, dragging one leg behind them like they stepped in doggie doo-doo and swinging the one free arm. They are never in a hurry, and depend solely on either the element of surprise or a paralysing fear that causes the intended victim to only stare and scream as the moldy fingers approach to choke the life out of them. One would not be surprised in the least to see one plodding along using a walker with little wheels on the front!

Even Christopher Lee's rather athletic Mummy in the Hammer film moved in such a stiff-legged manner that if he didn't corner his victims they could usually have escaped. But the mummy in this story is not only nimble for his considerable size, but unusually quick on his feet for a 3,000 year old gauze-wrapped corpse. Oh, and he howls like a dog, also! What's up with that?

Here it is, for those patiently waiting; Part Two, the conclusion of the opus I glibly called "The Case of the Howling Mummy." Drink a smoking cup of Tana Leaf Tea to summon forth the immortal Inner Child, and enjoy!

And, so, the poor pot-bellied mummy is burned to death and everything is once again right in Collinsport. The Bandaged One, finding himself awakened in a strange country, in unfamiliar surroundings and hounded by torch-waving villagers who spoke not his language, becomes a misunderstood victim of cruel circumstance. I hope you feel good about this, Barnabas... you cold-hearted, friend-poisoning, mummy-bashing bloodsucker creep!