Tag Archives: Starlog

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 13: It’s a Tuxedo Trap!

We’re up to Day 13 of the countdown and today I’ve decided to share the ritziest of the vintage monster mask ads I’ve been able to cobble together.  Yet another Don Post as, this one hails from an issue of Fantastic magazine published in 1984…

I sort of saved this one for the 13th post because of all the models wearing tuxes in the ad.  It’s a celebration of the second spookiest day in October.  Anyway, this ad is also cool because it features a couple variations on some Gremlins masks, as well as some classic monsters, Star Wars, and the E.T. mask I shared last week.  Whereas I got a little cheeky about the inclusion of the Bith cantina band mask in an earlier Don Post Studios ad, I do have to say that I would go out trick-or-treating as Admiral Ackbar in a heartbeat…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 12: The Last American Werewolf Starfighter!

Howdy folks!  We’re nearing the halfway point of this year’s Countdown to Halloween and I’ve been having a blast!  Today’s vintage monster mask ad comes from issue #39 of Fangoria (published in 1984) and features a couple different sets of Don Post Studios masks…

Up top there are three masks designed in tandem by DPS and Rick Baker.  They’re replicas from the Nazi werewolf dream sequence David Naughton’s character has in An American Werewolf in London.  This sequence is probably one of the most over-the-top and violent in the film, not to mention one of the more scatological bits (though there are some ties between wolf iconography and the Nazis I guess.)  I think it’s interesting that these were even produced as they’re a very small part of the flick and though memorable not the first thing one would think of when recalling it.  I guess they’re the most straightforward in terms of translatable, affordable masks though.  I’m sure a full-fledged AAWL werewolf mask that looked like Rick Baker’s work would have been too cost prohibitive.

Down below int he ad is a series of concept drawings of masks from the movie The Last Starfighter.  These were probably the biggest part of the film’s merchandising outside of the novelization, comic books, and lunchbox.  It’s kind of weird that there were so many cancelled products for the film including an action figure line and the most obvious tie-in, an arcade game.  Interestingly enough, there are some people working to get that arcade game into the public though…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 11: I am not an animal, I am a human being…

Today’s monster mask advertisement features the work of Mario Chiodo Studios and comes from issue #37 of Fangoria originally published in 1984…

I really dig these masks, but in particular the one up top because of its references to the Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man.  While I love classic monster imagery, and the story of Frankenstein and his creation (particular the 1931 James Whale film) really touches me, the true life trials and tribulations of Joseph Merrick truly broke my heart.  Granted, a monster mask influenced by Merrick could be in poor taste considering the life he led, I can’t help but be yet another person consumed with curiosity about his visage, and therefore can understand why Chiodo would use it as inspiration.  I’ve spent plenty of time studying pictures of his bones, trying to recreate the texture and intricacy of his unfortunate disfigurement (see below), just trying to understand what it must have been like.  If you were ever curious about the life of Merrick, one of the best books on the subject is The True History of the Elephant Man: The Definitive Account of the Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Joseph Carey Merrick

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 10: Distorting Expectations…

Today’s monster mask ad is a preview of sorts for a much larger post coming later in the month.  For kids my age that grew up during the 80s reading Fangoria, Distortions Unlimited was probably the company most known for their gory and crazy masks.  I could never afford any of the masks or props in the ads, but that didn’t stop me from cutting them out and pinning them up on my wall as a wish-list of sorts.  Below is the earliest Distortions ad I could manage to dig up.  It comes from issue #33 of Fangoria published back in 1984…

I’ve just recently become reacquainted with Distortions through their reality television series that just started airing on the Travel Channel called Making Monsters.  It looks like they’re more in the business of making monster animatronics and props for haunted houses these days, but it’s cool to get a chance to peek behinds the scenes.

As for the ad above, I really dig the Slugger mask as it really reminds me of the aliens from Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste (which had a profound effect on me as a 10 or 11 year-old kid.)  Though these are all really cool, the company would be producing some much more detailed and amazing masks just a few years later.  For those interested though, it looks like you can still get a couple of these masks direct from Distortions

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 9: Silver Shamrock!

Welcome back to another entry in the 2011 Branded Countdown to Halloween!  It’s day ten, and though today’s monster mask ad is a little sparse, it’s one of my favorites.  Originally found in issue #25 of Fangoria from 1983, this is another Don Post advertisement for their line of Halloween III Season of the Witch masks…

For those of you not familiar with the Halloween film sequels, part three was the first and last sequel that didn’t feature the character or story of Michael Myers.  Long story short, when John Carpenter was first thinking about sequels to Halloween he wanted each subsequent flick to feature a new Halloween-themed story instead of trotting out Myers again and again.  Though it didn’t quite work out that way in the first sequel, he and producing/writing partner Debra Hill stood firm with the third installment and thus a departure from the franchise was created.  I have to say that I love the idea of a Halloween season themed film anthology series, and a lot was riding on this third movie to ensure the success of a venture like that.  Alas, because the eventual story was a bit off-the-wall it didn’t really resonate with audiences and the idea was scrapped.

Even though it’s a weird flick and there’s a lot of stuff in the film that’s questionable in terms of ration and logic, I love it and in no small part because of the props.  In the flick, monster mask and novelty company Silver Shamrock is seeking to bring about Armageddon through witchcraft and science.  They’ve discovered a mystical obelisk from Stonehenge that when introduced to the flicking imagery and specific music broadcast through a television set can reduce the human form into a pile of deadly venomous insects and snakes.  The idea is to implant chips from the obelisk into receivers that are attached to their line of popular Halloween masks.  The company then created a give-away promotion airing on Halloween night that would reach into millions of households around the country turning children everywhere into swarms of venomous creatures that would kill their families.

There were three main Halloween masks produced for the film by Post Studios, of which the Jack-o-Lantern was the only new mold specific to the movie.  In conjunction, Post produced a line of replica masks that they hoped would become cult items that kids and teens would want to buy and wear to the movie.  Aside from these three there are a lot of other Post Studios masks peppered throughout the flick, in particular in the Silver Shamrock offices.  As far as Monster Mask movies go, this is probably one of the coolest, if not the weirdest ever made!

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 8: Just wanted hairy, you got hairy!

Well, it’s the beginning of the second week of the Countdown to Halloween and I’ve been having a blast so far.  Not only are there almost 25% more sites participating in the 2011 blogging event, but this is the first year in a while where I haven’t had some other project hanging over my head keeping me from fully embracing the holiday.  This past weekend the wife and I took a stroll though the Oakland Cemetary for their annual Sunday in the Park festival, which was sufficiently creepy and moody (even during the day.)  We’ve also been on top of watching a bunch of horror movies and Halloween specials, which has been extra awesome!

Getting to the meat of the post today though, is this 1982 Special Merchandise International monster mask ad from the pages of Fangoria magazine…

I’ve collected these ads into a rough approximation of a chronological timeline, and this is the one entry that gives me pause and backpedals a bit in terms of mask quality.  Don’t get me wrong, these are plenty fun (and quite hairy), but the overall molds and paint reminds me a lot of the unfortunate quality of the mail-away Topstone masks from the 50s (from the very first ads I shared back at the end of September.)  At least the prospective buyer was seeing what they got in this case, but man is there a lot too be desired here.  I suppose if they had anything going for them they’re relatively cheap for full head masks complete with hair (though it’s totally only available in a teased metal fashion.)  There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind getting my hands on that Prickle Puss mask now that I think about it though…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

A look back with Vincent Price…

As an extra bit of spooky fun this evening, I thought I’d share this Tom Weaver interview/transcript of Vincent Price’s appearance at the May 1990 Weekend of Horrors convention (where he was interviewed on stage by Joe Dante.).  This was first published in issue 100 of Fangoria at the beginning of 1991.

If there’s one thing that stands out in the many interviews I’ve been able to track down with Price, it’s his unending well of graciousness for his fans.  Though horror films were his bread and butter for a number of years, his interests were away from the genre (and filmmaking for that matter), yet he never comes across as feeling like he “had” to appease his fans, or that he was ever bothered by being asked repeatedly about anecdotes from his film career.  He also very rarely had anything negative to say about co-stars, directors, or the genre as a whole, and coming from this jaded age of wall to wall internet complaining, it’s refreshing to hear his positive outlook.

    

At the end of the day this interview reads sort of like the greatest hits of Price’s quips and opinions, and rightly so as it was culled from a sort of life-time achievement sort of affair.  One of this favorite jokes makes an appearance here (what he would have called the sequel/remake to the Fly), as well as some hilarious commentary on Peter Lorre.

    

For the most part the interview doesn’t dwell on any topic for more than a thought or two, but Price does take a moment to pause and reflect on his feelings on the more modern horror of the 80s.  Specifically with David Cronenberg’s remake of the Fly and how he felt that it stepped over a boundary in taste and gore.  Price acquaints this trend with films becoming less logical or believable. Granted, it’s a matter of perspective, but I think films like the remake of The Fly are actually much more believable than their predecessors, specifically for the reasons that Price dislikes them.  Either way it’s an interesting divergence in the interview…

    

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 7: Love the modern lines of Death Studios!

We’ve come to the end of the first full week of the Countdown and there have been roughly 88 different masks on display so far (it’s hard sometimes to tell with the repetition of the Don Post ads…)  Today brings the first ad from a new company to the countdown, Death Studios.  This ad hails from issue #17 of Fangoria, originally published in 1982…

For what these masks appear to lack in intricate detailing they make up for in spades with a very smooth and modern design.  The two stand-outs for me are the Entity (bottom left) and Saurian (second to last on that bottom row), both of which have a nice clean and interesting design.  I also really dig the Carnivore mask as it’s a bit more outlandish and gory than a lot of the masks we’ve seen so far.  In fact, that mask gives a good idea of the direction that mask-making would take throughout the 80s.  I definitely have more coming later in the month from Death Studios…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

The Last Man on Earth is Legend!

So continuing on with the Vincentennial celebrations, today I wanted to take a look at my favorite Price film, The Last Man on Earth

For those not familiar, the flick is based on a novella by Richard Matheson titled I Am Legend, and follows the story of Dr. Robert Morgan (Robert Neville in the novella), the seemingly last healthy and living man on Earth after a virus sweeps throughout the world first killing and then reanimating humanity.  In the novella, and to a lesser extent the film, the virus turns the populace into vampires.  Morgan (Vincent Price), spends his days hunting down and killing these undead monstrosities, clearing his city, block by block, and house by house.  At night, he holes up in his home, barricaded from the world listening to records to drown out the din of the hungry undead beating on his doors and windows, the hordes screaming for him to come out and join them…

As we enter the story, Morgan has been at his vampire hunting for well into three years and is reaching the breaking point.  Loneliness, apathy, and ennui are tearing at his mind as he tries to keep his cool and repeat the same horrible day over and over.  Carving and sharpening stakes, checking on supplies, keeping generators running, seeking out fresh garlic and mirrors, and dealing with the undead.  He marks the days on handwritten calendars on the walls while brewing his morning coffee and then checking his intricate city maps to see where his hunting left off the day prior.

What I really love about this film is that it’s a very clear bridge between the gothic and campy horror of studios like Universal and Hammer, and the independent realistic horror boom of the late 60s and 70s (films like Night of the Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.)  For Price, this is a vast departure, at least where his typically horror output is concerned.  The tone of the film is much darker and more nihilistic than the majority of the horror that came before it, and it’s strikingly personal due to the diary-like aspect of the original source material and the heavy use of narration in the final film.  Much like a similar film (in tone at least) The Flesh and the Fiends, which was released just a few years earlier, the depiction realistic corpses on screen is quite disturbing.  Seeing bodies drug and heaped in piles wasn’t the standard for horror at the time for sure…

Similarly, watching as Morgan gathers up the lifeless corpses of extinguished vampires so that he can cart them down to a massive pit filled with a constant pire of charred remains is quite ghastly.  This is heightened by Morgan fitting himself with a gas mask so that he can withstand the smoke and fumes of the burning dead…

Another aspect of this film that I really love is the scientific approach it takes to dealing with the vampire mythos.  Matheson’s been quoted as saying that when he worked on the book he wanted to make the creatures as realistic as possible by taking the little aspects and finding some factual reasoning as to why they were present.  So with the idea of killing a vampire with a stake, it wasn’t so much about piercing the heart in some sort of mystical and iconic way, but rather piercing the skin, breaking open the sealed human body and exposing the virus to the open air which destroys it.  In the novel it didn’t matter where you staked a vampire, or with what as long as you exposed the virus to the elements and destroyed it and the body it kept alive.

Ultimately this leads Morgan to discovering that he himself is the cure to this “disease” of vampirism.  After meeting up with who he believes is another survivor, Morgan gives the lady a blood transfusion curing her of her condition.  This was no doubt very influential in another of my favorite horror films, Near Dark, where Kathryn Bigelow uses the same concept to cure fledgling vampires…

I alao think that Price does a remarkable job at portraying a man on the very edge of sanity.  Watching him go from laughter to weeping and back again is completely believable and not nearly as hammy as the screenshots below might make it seem.  It might not be as vivid a loud of a performance as Chuck Heston would give a few years later when he helped adapt the story a second time for the screen (in the Omega Man), but it’s just as entertaining.

  

The story has been adapted three times in the past 50 years, the third of which was the accurately titled I Am Legend, but The Last Man on Earth is by far the closest to the original source and un my opinion the best by far.  Unfortunately, Matheson doesn’t agree.  Even though he wrote for Price a number of times during their communal time with American International Pictures, Matheson felt that Price was miscast and that the film strayed too far from his story.  Even though he wrote the main draft of the screenplay, he would request to be credited under an alias to distance himself with the project.

It’s a pity because I think at the end of the day The Last Man on Earth is probably one of Vincent Price’s best performances and is well worth examination…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 6: I’n not just any Bith, I’m Figrin D’an!

It’s day six of the countdown and once again we’re dipping into some familiar territory with another Don Post mask advertisement.  This one hails from issue #14 of Fangoria from 1981 and brings the scale down a bit from the Starlog 1979 AD I posted earlier in the week…

There are some of the same classic masks returning, in particular the Hammer and Universal Dracula’s and the Star Wars masks, but there are also some new sculpts that are pretty darn awesome.  First though, I know Star Wars was huge, especially back in ’81, a year after Empire hit theater screens, but one of these masks seems a little weird.  Was the outcry ever so great for secondary Cantina scene character masks that Don Post Studios really felt the need to produce a Bith mask?  See, I’m betting most of you wouldn’t be able to describe who Figrin D’an or one of the Bith were by their name or species alone.  Even though the band in that sequence is sort of iconic, was it ever so popular that six friends pooled $300 together so they could rock their neighborhood to the sweet dulcet tones of “Mad About Me“?

Anyway, some of the stand-outs in this ad, at least for me, are the weird, mouth-tentacled Alien (#905) and Gills (#814), a really interesting and subdued take on the Creature From the Black Lagoon (both were also on the 1979 ad from Starlog, but now much easier to see.)  Even though it’s in high shadow in the picture, mask #2020, Spock from Star Trek, is also a bit interesting, if only for the unfortunate amount of un-life-like paint application.  I wonder if that’s zombie Spock?  I’d also like to point out that mask #304 is the same Devil mask as in the 1977 Marvel Comics Halloween mask ad I shared at the beginning of the countdown…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!