Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I've given Frankenstein's Monster the evening off as he's had a busy month and I figured he may need to recharge his batteries, so to speak.  Tonight we take a look back at some fairly recent history and history pertaining to fear of the other.
Fear of the extra-terestrial.
Fear of the invader.
And in particular:
The Martian.


That’s the number of years it’s been since Orson Welles broadcast THE WAR OF THE WORLDS as an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air and was a production of CBS radio.  It was an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1898).

The first forty minutes of the hour long broadcast were presented as a series of news bulletins, which convinced some in the public that an actual alien invasion by Martians was under way.  Another contributing factor for this misunderstanding was that THe Mercury Theatre on the Air was a show without commercial interruption.

Despite some accounts, it is unclear the extent to which listeners were panicked.  In the days that followed the adaptation, there was widespread outrage and panic by certain listeners who had believed the events on the radio were real, however.  The program’s format was described as cruelly deceptive by some.  This secured Orson Welles’ fame.

Here’s the broadcast as it was heard those many years ago:

HIstorical links examining the event:


This is the number of years it has been since TOPPS put out a series of fifty-five trading cards depicting an invasion of earth by extra-terestrials from Mars.  MARS ATTACKS was thenameof that series. And it is one of the most controversial card series in history.

The cards depict the invasion of Earth by cruel and ugly Martians who try to take over by violent and terrible means.  Futuristic battle scenes between ray gun toting Martians and soldiers with conventional weapons.  The story of the card set ends with a combined Earth invasion fleet attacking Mars and completely annihilating the planet.

The cards were popular with kids, but their gore and implied sexual content caused an outcry from parents and lead the company to halt production of the series.  The cards became sought after collectors’ items.

Wally Wood, Bob Powell and Norm Saunders were the artists for this beautifully depicted science fiction horror show.  Wood providing the layouts and designs, Powell mostly finalizing the layouts and Saunders providing the paints.

After a series of cards that continued the tale of he original set, comic books and a 1996 film by Tim Burton, merchandising and popularity of the card series boomed again.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the card collection, a reprinting of the originals has been done as has a very nifty little hardcover book depicting the art of each card in great detail and with insightful introductions and examinations of the pencil art behind the painted art, cards that were cut from the set among other things.  The book is entitled, simply, MARS ATTACKS and was put out by Abrams.

And don't forget:

 Wednesday, October 31, 2012 on TCM


7:30am - THE GHOUL (1933)


11am - REPULSION (1965)

1pm - DEMENTIA 13 (1963)

2:30pm - THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964)

4pm - THE DEVIL BAT (1940)

5:15pm - WHITE ZOMBIE (1932)

6:30pm - THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)

8pm - FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

9:30pm - SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)

11:15pm - THE WOLF MAN (1941)

12:30am - THE MUMMY (1932)

2am - THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940)

3:15am - ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1933)

4:30am - THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Dying is easy, comedy is hard.  Or so they say.  The line is a reference to drama versus comedy.  The inference being that anybody can do drama, but the true skill is in being humorous.  I’m pretty sure Mel Brooks  would agree.  Tonight we take a peek at the power of parody as we visit with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN!


In 1974, Mel Brooks unleashed YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN on the world and the world of scary monsters has never been the same.  Gene Wilder starred as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  The screenplay is a co-creation of Brooks and Wilder.

The true Frankenstein movie this one parodies is SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.  It mostly used props from the original FRANKENSTEIN film and it was shot entirely in black and white and musically scored to place one in the mind of an early Universal Picture.  It was a critical and box office smash hit and remains on many Top lists for favorite all-time comedy films.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, who insists his last name to be pronounced “Fronk-en-steen” so as to seperate himself from his infamously mad scientist grandfather, is informed that he has inherited his family’s estate in Transylvania after the death of his great grandfather, the Baron von Frankenstein.  Frederick travels there to inspect the property.  Elizabeth, Madeline Kahn, his constrained fiancee stays behind.

Once in Transylvania, we meet the rest of the strange cast of characters that will populate the rest of the tale:

Igor (sarcastically pronounced “eye-gore”) a hunchbacked assistant, played by Marty Feldman.

Inga, a servant-girl who the doctor becomes intrigued with who is played by Teri Garr.

The strict and overbearing housekeeper, Frau Blucher, played by Cloris Leachman.

Kenneth Mars plays Inspector Kemp, a monocled/eyepatched police official who also sports a creaky wooden arm.  And an accent so thick nobody can seem to understand him very well.

Gene Hackman’s blind hermit in a scene that parodies Karloff’s FRANKENSTEIN.

Peter Boyle plays the Monster, a big guy with a bad brain--an “Abnormal” brain.  He makes an interesting creature with his bald head and zippered neck.

The story tells itself from there and it is comic gold while also being fairly faithful to a lot of Shelley’s novel.

  1. Brooks and Wilder began the idea for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN during the last few weeks of shooting BLAZING SADDLES.
  2. While working on their album, Toys in the Attic, Aerosmith had the music of a song worked out but couldn’t come up with the words.  Taking a break and watching YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at a late-night showing, the “Walk This Way” gag provided the words they needed.
  3. The original cut of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN was nearly twice as long as the final cut, and it was considered a failure.  Only after a marathon cutting session did they produce the final cut of the film.  For every joke that worked, three fell flat and so they trimmed out the jokes that stunk.
  4. The skulls that Freddy and Inga find under the castle were real, except for the one that was fresh, which was hand-crafted.
  5. The howling wolf and screeching cat sounds heard in the film are actually Mel Brooks from off-camera.

It came from beyond...

Monday, October 29, 2012


Randy Quaid is the Monster our spotlight shines on tonight.  The man who brought to life such creatures as Cousin Eddie in NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION pictures, Russell Casse from INDEPENDENCE DAY and FREAKS’ Elijah C. Skuggs also played the ultimate Monster in David Wickes’ adaptation of the Mary Shelley masterpiece.

Let us not forget that Randy Quaid is a brilliant actor--that he has been nominated for many awards for acting including Best Supporting Actor for THE LAST DETAIL--that he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Made for TV Miniseries or motion picture for LBJ: THE EARLY YEARS.  He is no one trick pony and takes on as many character roles as he does leading ones.

Quaid’s Monster has what appears to be a lumpy, mostly bald skull and swirling burn scarring one side of his head and neck, with normal fleshtones.  He dresses himself in a canvas toga.  The main thing that  makes this Monster unique is that he shares a psychic link to his creator due to the nature of the creation process.  As one has experiences, the other suffers a similar, but lesser version of the same.

Patrick Bergin plays the Doctor Frankenstein, a celebrated, nearly worshipped scientist who has created a machine that he has passed himself through to create a kind of copy of himself in a brass and glass fluid-filled tank.  It’s a twisted copy and one that Frankenstein decides to give the spark of life to one evening after one of his students expresses doubts.  Victor was suffering cholera during the creation, so perhaps it explains the deformaties in the Monster.

Before the Doctor can follow, the Monster has walked out of his lab and onto the streets beyond, disappearing in a panicked sprint.  He quickly gets the experience that all of Frankenstein’s creations receive--rejection, violence and hatred.  And again, the creature gains understanding through that of a blind man.

When forced to leave the blind man he is drawn back to Frankenstein and his Elizabeth.  Tragedy ensues as it usually does.

Speaking of which, here’s the entire film divided into three parts as it aired on TNT...




And here are the websites of note for this article:

‘Frankenstein’ gained the highest ever audience ratings for TNT in the USA (72% cable audience share) and received 3 ACE nominations and 1 ACE Award.

“Nobody has ever done a Frankenstein like this one. And nobody’s ever done a better one.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“None of the previous Frankenstein films was as frightening as this.” WALL STREET JOURNAL

Michael Caine originally turned down the role of the Monster.

And now... this cool lamp!