October 17, 2014

HALLOWEEN ENJOYABLES: MY OCTOBER 4TH, 2014

If you're just tuning in, my current Halloween posts are centered around the seasonal activities that I'm experiencing this year. So this is the rare blog post that follows the true "web log" format. I will relate to you my Saturday, October 4th, 2014 as it happened. However, there's so much to elaborate on that I'm in danger of sinking too much time into the write-up, so my solution will be to write captions that are no longer than a Twitter tweet (140 characters max.) So here goes!...

Weather too good to stay home. Hm, Tinkerfest looks good. 1 of my all-time fave artists Randy Regier is there?!
[later]There he is! (Written using only 132 characters.)


He made a functioning guy on a rocket out of an old thermos and a shower rod!


He handed out posters that he designed for the event!


The launch station was adorned with cool 50s looking toys!
(I use a lot of exclamation marks in my tweets too. You know, just to keep the energy up.)


Kids set target & calibrate the launcher. Randy sent Chuck sailing. I got to talk w/ Randy! He has new art nearby, but it's best after dark!


Now we had time to kill until nightfall. So we went to the Walmart museum where the first store was located.



They have old product packaging on display. Walmart brand dog food from the 70s!


They recreated Sam Walton's actual office as it looked when he died!...


They have his pickup truck on display too...


There's a kiddie ride version out front! (Plus a scarecrow on the bench over there!)


Got a Hot Wheels version in the gift shop! Plus a 70s truck postcard! (Would comment on corporate greed but there aren't enough characters lef


Still not dark. Time to go to TARGET! (With no ironic intent.)
Please excuse hazy phone photography.

Nice signage as always...

If I hosted some show about Halloween products, the following would be official "Demarais's 2014 picks from Target." Starting with these ghosts...
 

You just don't see enough kitchen towels with skulls. That's why this is one of my...OFFICIAL PICKS!...



You don't see a ton of substantial Halloween owls these days either. Plus these could probably scare away birds year round. Congrats on Official Pick status!



So appealing. All of these are still my "official picks" (but not the gel blood. I have to show some discernment)...


All of these too...


And these...

Also this fuzzy ghost. (some of these captions seem unnecessary.) 


The official "picks list" 2014 is now over, but these are so fun to look at...

 
Maybe these skulls will make my "official pick list" next year. You never can tell.


Enormous pumpkin containers! Should they have been an "official" pick? I suppose it's too late now.


And now my official pick for "Official Best 'Best Costume' Trophy Pick of 2014" of the year award...


This is such a joyous sight. I bought them all last year, but they got me again by using different vintage designs!


Finally dark outside. Time for ART! There it is sitting in a public alley, NuPenny's Last Stand, by Randy Regier!


It's a hand built storefront full of handcrafted toys from another dimension!


There seems to be a Yeti flying the saucer!...





This creature comes to life when you press a button!...



There is some sort of secret code that goes with it all!


A TRIUMPH!!

It was late, but after seeing these doughnuts a billion times, everywhere I go on the internet, I had to visit Krispy Kreme!


It was the perfect ending to a great day! #HalloweenIsTheBestEver!!!

     

October 15, 2014

FOOT: PHANTOM OF THE FOREST



In 2004 FunKo founder Mike Becker and I co-wrote a short film called Foot: Phantom of the Forest to accompany a Bigfoot Wacky Wobbler. We employed the extremely talented Vance Reeser to bring it to life under our co-direction, along with music and sound from Jamey Clayberg. Four complicated years later the film debuted at the San Diego Comic Con film festival and was sold with the Wobbler as planned.

No doubt most of the DVDs are still "mint in pack." Fortunately the fifteen minute short was semi-recently made available for all to see, including you, if you would kindly put on some headphones, click play, and then hit the "full screen" button...




October 10, 2014

MOON MONSTER COMMERCIAL BY JASON WILLIS

Jason Willis has been improving my Halloween seasons for nearly a decade. My iTunes is brimming with vintage Halloween LPs that were originally offered on his Scar Stuff blog, most of which were nearly impossible to find before that. (Do not miss his Goula-Rama and Spook Party mixes!) After sharing his music collection he began making his own spooky video creations and unleashing them on us each October. This year is no exception!

The subject this time around is the classic 1970 comic book ad for the free Moon Monster poster (and horror fan club membership.) The source material is obviously near to my heart, in fact, Jason contributed the photo of one of the Moon Monster posters that appears in my book, Mail-Order Mysteries.

Best thing is, Jason absolutely does justice to something that could be so easy to get wrong. He takes the old comic book aesthetic and somehow enhances it. He also knows how to use all the little details to add layers of authenticity both visually and aurally. So I invite you to check out his latest masterwork that answers the question: what if the products sold in comic books were also advertised on television?



If you watched to the end you know there's more to it than just the commercial. Jason has also put together a downloadable, printable Moon Monster horror kit with all the trimmings! Just go here!

Let's not stop there! Here's Jason's take on a TV spot for a 1953 issue of Adventures Into Darkness.



Great huh? So why not check out the rest of his Halloween filmography? I've discussed this one before, it's a visualization of the 1973 Johnson Smith Horror Record using Eerie Publications artwork! Beware, this is so much more gory that you are expecting!..



And now a stop motion video for my favorite Halloween song...



Up next is a Halloween Safety film that Jason actually appeared in as a child, no joke!



If you watched the last one you should certainly see the second edition...




WOW!

Finally, while we're on the subject of recent art based on spooky comic book ads, I'd like to point out that Devil's Workshop has made a mask based on the Monster Ghost mail-away product! The head for the real thing was actually a balloon that looked nothing like the illustration so this is the realization of countless childhood fantasies.




As you may recall they also produced a masked based on the Gayle House Ghoul ad.


People, this is truly the golden age of videos and masks that are based on semi-obscure comic book advertisements! 


BROGUN WARRIORS MAN-ZINGA

I interrupt this Halloween Countdown to tell you about the Man-Zinga Brogun Warrior that my friend Scott helped design. It gives you a glimpse into an alternate universe that is mastered by Shogun Warriors. It's debuting at Comic Con right now, and there's a super limited edition glow-in-the-dark exclusive. Have a look!...

Normal version...

Glow exclusive...
  
Here are the details:
New York Comic Con, October 9-12 Javits Center 
"Man-Zinga" glow in the dark variant 6" action figure. 
A limited edition of only 15 pieces produced. 
Retail: $64.99 produced by ToyBots 
(Design: Scott Kinney, Sculpt: Scott Sills).
 Sold Exclusively in the ToyWorth.com booth (#2164)
Link (click on Exhibitor Exclusive for more info): http://nycc14.mapyourshow.com/6_0/exhibitor/exhibitor-details.cfm?ExhID=416185

October 08, 2014

HALLOWEEN ENJOYABLES: REACTION FIGURES FROM FUNKO

Dates enjoyed: Sept. 18 (received) Enjoyment continues when I look at them.

These things have been crawling all over the internet for the past year, so I doubt they're anything new to most of you. But just in case, I offer this two sentence briefing: Super7 made it a mission to finally produce an unproduced line of Kenner Alien action figures from 1979 using the original molds. FunKo stepped in to help distribute them and went on to help produce a massive series of 3 3/4-inch "ReAction" figures that emulate the classic Kenner Star Wars format featuring a wide variety of characters from TV and film.

There are plenty of '80s horror toys out there, but this format still seems delightfully surreal to me. My picture (up above) looks like it belongs in a parody commercial. This feeling is reinforced by Pinhead's baby-like features. Yeah, I know: Where's Jason? Let's just pretend he's still part of a mail-away offer for three proofs of purchase, or something.

Just as FunKo had banked on, the low-detail, stiff posture, and minimal articulation struck a chord deep within me. This stands to reason because other than my Star Wars guys, the only thing I held for more cumulative childhood hours was my Atari joystick. From the moment I read the list of ReAction characters I wanted to see my Star Wars figures standing next to these other mythic beings.

I got my wish...

 Little known fact: Vader had two groups of bounty hunters.

This concept isn't new to me. As a kid I had a number of other Star Wars-sized non-Lucasfilm figures like Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica and Tron. I was always hesitant to mix worlds willy-nilly so I'd concoct a storyline that explained the crossover, and the new figures would "guest star" in that day's play. Then, just like a TV show, all would be resolved, and normal Star Wars life would return by the end of the "episode." The Cylons would have to reside on a far away shelf until their next appearance.

Lastly, a parting shot that's destined to show up on countless 'Halloween decorating idea' Pinterest boards...



http://www.countdowntohalloween.com
 

October 07, 2014

HALLOWEEN ENJOYABLES: URBAN LEGEND ENTERTAINMENT

Date enjoyed: October 5th and various dates thereafter.

Few things can prickle my spook bone like a good ol' urban legend. Sometimes I crave that sensation you get on a long, dark car ride home after a slew of ghastly tales have been shared, and suddenly the world you're driving though seems sinister, and out to devour you. The surrounding trees seem to grow darker, and the car becomes a protective cocoon that you don't want to leave.

As a kid I was fed countless urban myths, all presented as truth. My friends were major culprits, like their annual tales of the five-storey spook house a few towns over that was so scary you paid fifty bucks to get through, but received a ten dollar refund for every floor you successfully completed. (Yet nobody could make it to the end.)

But my mom was the Queen. She taught me all about the gang initiations, from the headlight flashers, to the kidnappers, to the ankle cutters hiding under cars. She informed me of spiders hatching in the girl's unwashed hair, spiders hatching in the boy's coat at the store, and spiders hatching in the cactus. (I am still afraid of spiders.)

Years later, the information age came along and Snopes.com was one of the first web sites I ever visited. I was soon shocked and appalled to discover how much of my world view was shaped by fiction. However, the real world presentation of these tales gave them a punch that no horror flick could ever duplicate, so on occasion I try to revisit that state of mind.

Last week I noticed that Urban Legends: Final Cut was on Netflix and made the mistake of tuning in. I watched thirty minutes before going into what I call "fast-forward bursts to the end" mode.

With my urban legend itch left wholly unscratched (not unlike the itching that accompanied the spider stories), I remembered a recent urban legend-esque VHS purchase, a horror anthology called The Willies (1990).


I just learned of the film a couple months ago, not because of its merit as a movie, but because it happens to briefly show a pack of Hi-C Ecto Cooler. As my life would have it, a few weeks later I found this copy in a waning home video store.

I watched it. Sure enough it starts with very short dramatizations of three popular ones: the Kentucky Fried rat, the poodle in the microwave, and the Disney Haunted Mansion heart attack. Then it goes into its original stories. I'm sticking to my "no formal reviews" policy during this Halloween countdown, but there's still quite a bit to say about this. First off, the cover on my tape does not come close to this superior, yet equally official version...


Cover via VHS Wasteland

The image on mine is most likely stock photography, and the fact that there are two designs, seemingly produced the same year, is a glimpse into the film's fractured nature. As the cover above suggests, there is a strong Creepshow element thematically, visually, and of course, structurally. However, they were clearly shooting for a younger audience. There are clues like some green blood that make me think the PG-13 rating was planned from the start, and yet I'd say it's a "hard" PG-13 at times. I'd bet it was pitched as Creepshow meets The Goonies. It even stars Sean Astin and makes a jokey reference to the movie.

The production quality teeters between higher budget '80s horror and something you'd see on the syndicated Monsters TV series from the same era. There are better than decent monster effects (I really like his design too), and there are recognizable character actors. Plus, Kirk Cameron and Tracey Gould make a bizarre cameo appearance as their Growing Pains characters! Yet all of this is mixed with some truly painful performances. 

After a while I started noticing something that rarely gets my attention— the editing. Almost every scene seems to be somewhat prolonged, and many are unnecessary. There are extra seconds tacked to the beginnings and ends of shots, like characters meandering all the way across the set, or the camera lingering after the real action is over. Then I realized that the movie only has two full length stories. All of this spawned my unverified theory that it was envisioned as a three story show, but something happened with the funding either before or during production.

Aw, man, I didn't just review it, did I?

Anyway, if you want to see what I mean, the whole thing is on youtube.

While The Willies was an interesting diversion, I still craved an urban legendary fix so I turned to an old standby, The Big Book of Urban Legends (published in 1995) from Factoid Books.

 

It's not an encyclopedia or a social analysis, much to the chagrin of those who gave it a one star rating. Those types of books are enjoyable too, but within these pages is the work of over two hundred different comic artists interpreting over two hundred different urban legends; one legend per page in most cases. It's really good. If you don't believe me maybe you will believe its 1995 Eisner Award for Best Anthology.


The art styles are as varied as the stories, which emphasizes the different 'voices' of the storytellers. In any given group of campfire narrators, there are the guys who seem to mess up even the best source material, and others that know how to elevate just about anything to levels of greatness.

Though the book is divided into thematic chapters like "Moving Violations" and "Occupational Hazards," there are two themes that permeate the collection: humor and horror. Most legends have one or the other, and some have both.


Once I've read story after story about people whom I would not want to be, that dark-drive-home feeling usually comes creeping over me. I feel like a kid again, sitting in the back seat, shellshocked by my mother's horrific lies.

You can get the book used on Amazon for next to nothing. Be warned that there's some pretty grisly stuff that's covered, but it's probably nothing that you didn't already hear at summer camp.