By the time this last issue of Cracked's For Monsters Only magazine appeared on the shelves, more earnest coverage of classic and contemporary horror, along with the usual joking (or attempts at joking) photographs, filled the magazine, replacing the cartoons and humorous illustrations that overran earlier issues. With issue 9, "Cracked's" was dropped from the title, perhaps in an attempt to attract the more serious horror fan. It didn't work. But among the many cartoons, illustrations, and abundance of cheeky photographs in this magazine's run, some articles, which focused on the classic horror stars, do stand out. In this last issue, Basil Rathbone is so honored.
A pox on the little terror (or maybe it was a big terror) that ran his or her errant pen across this battered copy of Cracked's For Monsters Only, issue 5. Cheeky little bastard. What, no one worried about collectibility back in 1967? Wait a mo, no one did, actually. Okay, nevermind that. So the little bastard who marked up the cover of this issue wasn't so cheeky or terrible. It does give it some monsterkid flavor, though, don't you think? More jokes (actually some good ones in this issue, see The Nightmares of Monsters), and two thoughtful articles, Richard Bojarski's The Man Behind the Monsters: The Story of Jack Pierce (for you newbies,Jack Pierce was the genius makeup artist who created the Universal Classic Monster look), and The Horror Hits of Peter Lorre, also by Bojarski, make this issue a memorable read. I did meet film historian Mr. Bojarski way back when, but that's a story for another post.
The previous owner of this copy of Cracked's For Monsters Only magazine must have treated it monstrously. I bet he read it, over and over again, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, with a flimsy flashlight held precariously in one hand as he flipped through the pages with the other. And when the pages started tearing away from the spine, due to so many page turnings, he taped them back in place. Maybe his name was Freddy Meyer, the person who wrote the same on the back cover's ECCH certificate. Or maybe Freddy was just one owner among many along the way. Or maybe this issue was owned by a girl who knew Freddy, and she borrowed it from him--Monsterkids stick together like slime and muck, you know--and she taped it for posterity because she liked Freddy, a lot, not knowing that iPad's and ebook readers would eventually eliminate the need for taping worn pages, and holding flashlights precariously under bedsheets in the wee hours of the morning.
Come in, come in. Plenty of room under the bed sheet. My, it's a chilly one tonight, isn't it. Don't worry, it's just the batteries in your flashlight causing it to flicker. It's only midnight. I heard the ghosts and monsters don't come out to play until 2am. Besides, horror magazines act like a talisman to ward them off. So snuggle closer. Tonight's reading is The Monster Times, issue number 23. It's all about Godzilla, you know. He just can't stop talking about himself. Such an ego.
I recently downloaded the second issue of The Haunted Toybox and read this MAXx FX article reprinted here. MAXx FX was a fantastic toy idea that didn't survive the marketing monster. But now, with Face Off and the heightened interest in makeup and special effects, I think it's time to revisit Max Miracle, Master of Make-UP and Special Effects. Issue two also has articles on Monster 500 (which had me running off to Toys R Us to find them; and I did), and Rat Fink and Rad Rods (which made me drool). Johnny Lightning's Creepsters (wish TRU had continued that line) and a lot more is stuffed into the issue, too. With permission from the mad toymaniacs at The Haunted Toybox here's The Lost FX of MAXx FX.
The wonderful thing about The Monster Times newspaper-styled magazine was its coverage of horror and science fiction and comic books. This first TMT collectors issue includes Star Trek, UFO, Lost in Space, The Outer Limits, and a report on the 1972 Star Trek Convention. Due to the inexpensive (aka cheap) printing and paper, some pages were cut incorrectly, but you can still read it all.
After a long hiatus, We Belong Dead returns to satisfy our taste for classic (and not so classic) horror movies. Unlike some magazines catering to modern fare--and all those attached commercial necessities to keep the studio doors open--it's refreshing to read articles that examine movies with a more discerning eye and a fan's enthusiasm. I wished the editor had a more discerning eye for typos and some grammar lapses, but overall, this 9th issue of We Belong Dead is a welcomed addition to the horror movie magazine scene that appears to be experiencing a rebirth of readership.
There's so much here to curl up on the sofa with for a good read: an excellent comparative study of Night of the Demon to its literary source, M.R. James's Casting the Runes, a closer look at Reeve's Witchfinder General, and a bloody good rundown on Salem's Lot. Throughout, domestic and foreign poster art is amply sprinkled, making me wish this issue was in full color.
For Aurora model kit fans, Cage's The Thirteen Monsters of Aurora is a nostalgic reminder of just how good we monsterkids had it back then, and the pleasures of the printed medium are covered by Peter Benassi's childhood memories of pleasant chills pulled from the magazine and book racks. An endearing part of this magazine is how it captures the personal experiences of its contributors with their passions for the horrors of their childhood (and misspent adulthood, I'd warrant).
If you're like me and always on the lookout for a good listing of movies to watch next (or avoid, for that matter), you will find the coverage of the 5 best Ripper movies, Peter Cushing's Amicus roles, and a neophyte's guide to the curious amalgam of The Blind Dead movies a rewarding experience. Not so rewarding are the interviews with Barbara Shelley (everything was marvelous and modern horror shows too much) and Jean Rollin (bits and pieces from a longer interview that was lost) lack the more probing questions that would truly satisfy the jaded horror fan like myself. I know, it's a curse, but I bear it well.
But how can you find much fault with a magazine that dares to hammer Hammer's Dracula films and dares to find some semblance of enjoyment in Dracula vs. Frankenstein?So yes, let's hope We Belong Dead 10 won't take as long to hit the racks as issue 9 did.
With permission from Arena Publishing and Dr. Vollin, MD (aka Freddie Poe), here's How to Collect a Monster: The Birth of a Magician and the Tragedy of the Spook Show, from Movie Collector's World, issue 689, November 2005.
With permission from Arena Publishing and Dr. Vollin, MD (aka Freddie Poe), here's How to Collect a Monster from issue # 711, September 2007, of Movie Collector's World. Wherein the good Dr. V pays a visit to the metaphysically inspiring Monster Bash Convention.
Funny, but we must have brushed shoulders without realizing it because I was at the Bash that year, too. On top of that, it was the first time I met up with the zany Drunken Severed Head (aka Max). Max spent a good amount of time at the convention carrying around Bela Lugosi's pants. But that's another story.
For over 10 years Dr. Vollin, MD (aka Freddie Poe) has been sharing his monsterkid passion with fellow enthusiasts through his column, How to Collect a Monster, in Movie Collector's World magazine. All good things, as the saying goes, and MCW is one for posterity. But the good doctor still makes house calls and Zombos invited him over for a chat.
How did you come to write your long-running column, How to Collect a Monster, in MCW?
I was an English/Theater major back in my
college days. I did lots of stage acting and wrote my own plays, some of which
were produced here in Worchester, Massachussetts. I also wrote poetry, for
which I won contests, and got to read my poems at the Worchester Public
When I started re-collecting movie memorabilia
(I had an earlier collection in my teens), I was looking to write for some of
the monster magazines. I thought they were pay jobs, but soon found out most
genre writers do it for the love of it. The stuff I was writing was about
chasing down movie posters, the hunt, etc, so I didn’t really fit into Scary Monsters, Monsters From the Vault, and the others.
I hooked up via the Internet with PJ Angel of
Pocatello, Idaho, and we began my column “How to Collect a Monster from the
House of Poe” on PJ’s Planet Mopo movie poster site. About a year later I
submitted an article called “Universal Scream Queens” to Movie Collector’s World magazine. Brian Bukantis loved it and it
went to print in 2002 (or maybe it was 2003). Brian got such a great response
to it that he asked me for more. I already had stuff from Planet Mopo, so I
submitted more articles to MCW.
From there we just went monthly. I did the column from 2002 to 2012. Brian had me
take a few months off here and there so I wouldn’t burn out. Unfortunately I
ran into health problems and stopped writing in 2012. MCW continued another six months or so without me and then called
it quits in 2013. The magazine was certainly a staple to the hobby and will be
missed. Brian Bukantis sacrificed a huge slice of his life for that magazine.
He is a great man. He is my brother.
What are the high points that stand out for you from the many interviews you've conducted?
That’s a tough one. There have been so many.
Definitely hooking up with the great Harry Wise, Spook Show Master and Magician
Exraordinaire! Harry was my brother of another mother. Our relationship didn’t
end with the interview. We talked everyday for 5 years before he passed away, just
when I was on my way to Florida to finally meet him in person. It was a great
loss to me. Harry was like my Dad.
Another father figure for me, and a great
interview, was with local, forty year theater manager, Johnny “Dee” DiBenadetto.
The man was a plethora of movie knowledge. He rubbed elbows with all the big
names of the era (1940s to 1980s), including Jayne Mansfield (I have an 8 x 10
still of the interview).
And the Yvette Vickers interview led to a
long friendship with many a late night phone call until her horrible death a
few years ago. Ben “The Gillman” Chapman was another dear friend of mine. Benny
and I had a special relationship. He was my party buddy at conventions. I
really miss Benny.
Being invited to Carla Laemmle’s 100th
birthday party at the Egyptian Theater in LA was another unforgettable event.
At that time I also got invited to Ron Borst’s house to see the greatest
collection of monster movie memorabilia on the planet! Bar none!
Meeting Ray Bradbury was another high point. I said "Ray! want to see the real illustrated man?" and then I showed him my monster tats which include a portrait of Forry and the quote "sci-fi is my high," and Ray said "bless you my son". Imagine being blessed by the greatest sci fi writer of all time. I can take that one to my grave!
There are far too many highpoints in my ten
years with MCW to mention, but they
all hold a special place in my heart.
How did you become a monster kid?
This is an easy one. My mother was a movie
fanatic. She let me watch Frankenstein on Shock! Theater in 1959, on a Saturday
afternoon, and that did it. When it became an obsession for an impressionable
five year old like me, my mother called the family doctor (they made house
calls back then), who was her cousin, Dr. Arthur Haddad. Well, I found out he
was married to Laura Zacherle, John Zacherle’s sister! Yes, the Cool Ghoul
himself! Next time Dr. Haddad made a house call he brought me a Zacherley Fan
Club Kit, which included the passport to Transylvania, an item I’ve retained my
whole life (so far). From that point on I was a monster addict, buying Aurora
model kits, Famous Monsters, and
Spook Stories trading cards.
Another big influence, during my teen years,
was Blackie Seymour. A lot of people didn’t like Blackie and a lot did.
Nevertheless, the man was nice to me. He taught me the movie poster business,
not to mention all about Universal Studios. No one knew more about Universal
than Blackie. He passed away last year.
Tell us about your favorite horror movies and stars and why you like them.
Okay, here is the hard question I’ve been
asked a million times. Also, it’s one I can’t answer. But I will say this. Bela
Lugosi is my all time favorite. I especially like any films Lugosi did with
Karloff. They played off each other very well. It seemed so natural. I love The Black Cat, The Raven, and The Invisible
Ray. Murders in the Rue Morgue is
another Lugosi landmark. I like Dracula,
but I think the Spanish version of the same era is a better film technically
and certainly atmospherically. But Carlos Villarias is no Bela Lugosi, even if
Lupita Tovar states they were very much alike in their portrayal of Dracula.
She is wrong. Villarias couldn’t carry Lugosi’s cape!
I love The Wolf Man, King Kong, The Man Who
Laughs, Things to Come, The Mysterious Island (1928), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
(1932), and The Werewolf of London. One Karloff film that really stands out is
The Body Snatchers (1945). Most people would say Frankenstein was his greatest
role. I would beg to differ. And that’s all I have to say about it. LOL!
Aside from being a monster kid, you are also a boxer. Tell us about that.
Next to collecting monster stuff, boxing is
my other passion. My father was a top ranked boxer back in the 1940s and 1950s,
Johnny Potenti. He was such a devastating puncher that he was ducked by many
champions of the era. The only champion that ever gave him a shot was the
legendary Beau Jack. They fought in 1950 at Boston Garden, both well past their
primes and Beau Jack squeaked out a split decision; while some in attendance
said my father won.Beau Jack said in Ring
magazine that Potenti had the best left jab/hook he had ever faced.
I followed in my father’s footsteps, getting
into the ring at 10 years old. I had a pretty good amateur career in the “no
head guard era,” and had my last bout at 28. But I never turned pro. I was,
however, a professional sparring partner for the rest of my life. I just
stopped boxing at 56 on doctor’s orders. I can’t even go into a gym now because
I know I will get in the ring with men much younger than myself and bang it
out. Boxing is like a drug in my veins. If I go into a gym it won’t be long
before I put on the gear. So to be fair to my girlfriend and my family I have
stopped, but it appears the damage is already done.
What's the one question you would love to be asked and what's your answer?
Question:What do I love about my life now as opposed to my past?
Answer: As I’ve aged I have lost all my
anger. I was what I called a “hater.” I hated everything and everybody. I don’t
know what it was. Even when I was boxing I wanted to get hit and hit. I wanted
to kill my opponents, not defeat them. I took a lot of beatings I didn’t have
to take. I guess I had a lot of problems I didn’t know about. Every
relationship I had with girlfriends went bad. I fought with the police, and
every form of authority out there. I drank a lot and was always saying “I’m
sorry” to people. I think I hated myself more than anyone.
Now at 57, I have the best girlfriend any man
could ever hope for, two great kids from my only marriage (when I was 17), and
7 grandchildren; also two dogs (my best friends), and one cat that I took off
And finally, piece of mind: all the hatred is gone, and when I’m by myself I find
ME in good company.
The Walking Dead magazine debuts today. Newsy bits on everything you can stuff a Walking Dead survivor or zombie into abound. Both the comic book series and the AMC television series are covered. Toys, games, events (like the 2012 San Diego Comic Con), you name it, it's all here, published quarterly. Here are some highlights of what I enjoyed reading the most in this first issue.
Stuart Barr's The Story So Far...covers the comic book's storylines up to the present. Don't read it if you're skittish on possible spoilers for the television series (or the comic book if you're a spotty reader), but here's your chance to come up to speed on the Walking Dead comicverse. And just when you come up for air the third season preview does tempt you with spoilers; I love spoilers, especially the who-lives-and-who-dies kind. Just keep in mind the television series and the comic series don't always jive, so expect surprises and fresh takes on characters and their travails. Looks like the Governor and Woodbury will be popping up, though, sooner than later.
Tara Bennett takes us to the West Georgia Correctional Facility set (Raleigh Studios, Atlanta) to provide us with some insight on the design, like how the prison cell lighting is toned to create just the right mix of gloom and despair, and there are a horde of interviews covering a wide range with Charlie Adlard talking about drawing the Walking Dead comics and Glen Mazzara, the show's executive producer and showrunner, giving us his daily grind on making the television series. Of course there's an interview with Danai Gurira and her new role as Michonne, the Katana-wielding zombie slayer with her two leashed, and defanged, walking buddies. Gurira talks about her prep work for the role.
A quick read but very informative is the article, Anatomy of a Story. In this first installment, A Larger World (a storyline which played across comic issues 91 through 96) is examined. Storyline insight is not only useful to writers looking at how key elements of character development drive successful plots, but it also can be fun for any Walking Dead fan who's interested in knowing why they are a fan. Sure, the zombies are cool, but it's the walking living that keep us coming back for more.
Speaking of cool, there's a shot of Gentle Giant's The Walker Horde, a scrumptious set of little plastic zombie figurines, due on toy shelves sometime in 2013. Here's my plan: I take these little terrors and pile them up around my Clone army. Yeah, baby, now that's what I'm talking about. Lightsabers, Clones, and zombies! George?
For completists, here are the variant covers:
Comickaze Retail Variant Cover
Forbidden Planet & Ultimate Comics Retail Variant Cover
While discussing horrible things (movie related, of course) with Professor Kinema one sunny Sunday, he tossed this replica of Eerie No. 1's 24-page ashcan, 1st edition, over to me. While I vaguely knew about it, I had never seen this pocket-sized first issue, which was quickly slapped together in 1965 by Warren Publishing, and distributed briefly to lock in the magazine title's name before a rival used it, or so the story goes.
Here's the entire ashcan for your edification pleasure (although the stories were pulled from Creepy issues). From what I've read on the web, this replica indicates it's from the 1st edition because: on page 18, panel 5, what should be recognized as the back of a bald-headed man in the upper left corner shows only black; and in the margins of certain pages you can see the paste-up instructions. Bootleg copies abound, making it a difficult item to purchase without authenticating it first. Warren complained about the bootleg copies in Creepy No. 81 (see page at the end).