Thursday, April 29, 2010

Orgy Of The Living Dead

Today's monster memories are of..."Orgy of the Living Dead."
Click the images to see a hi-rez versions.

(This post was originally written for an older blog of mine, "Sweet Skulls." I'm re-posting it here so those of you that missed it can enjoy it anew!) Folks, you are looking at one of the single most horrific, (and to my teen self, thrilling) pieces of artwork for a movie ad ever made, that ever fell under the category of "never appears in the movie." When this showed up in the newspaper on the movie ad page back in spring of 1972, my dark little heart skipped several beats as I feverishly cut it out to put in my scrapbook.

You see, I could never go see the movies they advertised, both because I was underage (13 years old), but also because my parents would never let me. The newspaper ads were often the only thing I could collect in association with the films I could never go see. So, I could only longingly feast my eyes on the promotional artwork, and imagine how awesome the movie must be. Little did I know then, that what I imagined was so much better than the actual movie. As I know now, the artwork was much better than the film, and misleading as to what you would see.

Right up front you should be warned that there is no orgy; not even a petting party... and precious few living dead, and those are of the vampiric variety and not zombies. The titular "orgy" was actually the name of the triple-feature under which all three of the films would show: "Revenge of the Living Dead," "Curse of the Living Dead," and "Fangs of the Living Dead." What I little dreamed was that the three films were not even related! One would think that they were all in a series of films that connected, like the Apes movies making the rounds in the butt-numbing "Ape-o-thons," but no... they were three movies completely unrelated to each other, simply renamed to make it seem that way.

But you have to hand it to the promoters here: they did a great job of packaging and promoting the films to maximum effect. The titles, picked to capitalise on Romero's zombie movie, though there were no zombies; the artwork, depicting an imaginary character that never made an appearance; and the idea of "three-movies-for-the-price-of-one" which made it a real bargain. Similar to a cheap smorgasboard of crummy food, you might complain that it didn't taste that good, but you had to admit you sure got a lot for your money.

The zombie/vampire artwork, indeed, the entire campaign, was created by Alan Ormsby, who was a multi-talented man indeed. Besides being an artist, he was a director and actor. You may have seen one of his more famous movies: "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things," another of those movies talked about in awed whispers on the playground. But I'm most in awe of his artwork for the promotion, which remains famous to this day. Look at the detail on that gruesome death's-head: rotted skin peeling back to show an exposed skull: with a hole in said skull revealing the brain beneath! An empty eye socket! A hole for a nose!

My 13-year-old mind could scarcely conceive of such horror. It was the most gory image I had ever seen, even considering the monster magazines I was beginning to get interested in, as I could find them. This was before I had found the comic magazines such as "Tales From the Tomb" and such, which took gore to a new level. Those I would find later, and we'll take a look at some of the outrageous images available to any kid, in a future posting.

Having such an impact on my impressionable mind, the image stood as the pinnacle in scary movie artwork, and was never surpassed. (Inspired, I drew my own copy of it, being somewhat talented in drawing things I could look at. Using felt-tip markers, I colored in my version, supplying the blood and gore that the paper ad didn't have.) So when, about ten years later as a young man I happened upon the entire press kit for the movies in a south Florida collector's shop, I snatched it up like a starving zombie gnoshing upon a handfull of fresh entrails. This was a true find! And seeing the entire ad campaign made me appreciate even more what went into promoting this event.

Here is the front of the actual press kit:

Inside page of the poster-sized pressbook:

Page three of the kit:

The ad I had seen and saved from the local paper (and still have, taped in my scrapbook) was only a small part of the overall kit.

Included with the kit was a sample "Madman 1 Sheet," that the theater owner could order to hand out to patrons (see below). On the front here was a photograph of a raving lunatic in a straitjacket, presumably a viewer who was driven insane by seeing the movies. The copy on the other side read, in part: "This is John Austin Frazier. It has been reported that he now resides at a Mental Hospital, the result of attending a showing of "Orgy of the Living Dead!" Because of this tragic event, we, the producers, have secured an insurance policy, insuring the sanity of each and every patron. If you lose your mind as a result of viewing this explosion of terror, you will receive free psychiatric care, or be placed, at our expense, in an asylum for the rest of your life! We urge you to take advantage of this protection! The insurance is free - anyone entering the theater without it does so at his own risk. Remember: WE WARNED YOU!!!

The copy about the handout reads "This hair-raising 'Madman' special one sheet, taken directly from ORGY's key art, is a guaranteed attention-getter! The Madman's distorted face screams out in anguished horror while the text of the poster contains a WARNING note for those about to enter the theater! A guaranteed crowd-raiser that will draw a quick line at the box office!" I'm sure it did.

Front of the handout:

Back of the handout:

Screengrab from the trailer for the film featuring the raving madman...
There is also copy in the kit about the trailers, TV spots and radio ads that the owner could order to help promote the event. Of particular interest is the language used to describe certain ones of the radio ads: "Two of the spots have been specially prepared for Black audiences, and all convey the spirit of the show-biz excitement that will draw the crowds to your box-office!" One supposes they sprinkled in some jive-talk in those.

Well, if you ever ran across this image of a skull with skin rotting from it in your youth, and it haunted your memory, now you can revel in it till your eyes ache. Thanks, Alan, for contributing not only to success of three movies that were ill-deserving of it, but mainly for enriching our childhoods (?) with such a lasting image.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1974 "7th Voyage of Sinbad" article

From the first issue of the short-lived, but very good Movie Monsters magazine, published in December of 1974, comes this cover article on one of Ray Harryhausen's most loved fantasy films, "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad." It's certainly my favorite. I have vivid memories of listening repeatedly to one of my new record singles, "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus and babe Chaka Khan, as I read this issue. Both this magazine and that song take me back in my mind to when I was 16 and living in Macon, Ga.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

Below, an ad page for the various chapters on Super 8 film from the movie. (I snagged this online, it's not from the magazine.) Kids, before Home Video, these short segments on film were the only way to watch movies whenever you wanted!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

1969 article: "My Life As A Monster" by Boris Karloff

From the collection cabinets come Issue #14 of the legendary "Castle of Frankenstein" magazine, published in 1969, which contained this article "My Life As A Monster," which is more special since it is written by Karloff himself. Enjoy the unique article and rare photos!

(In case the Star Trek cover interests you, I have posted that feature article on another blog, "My Star Trek Scrapbook.")

Below, from the same issue is a reprint of an article on Karloff from a 1940 movie magazine.