What’s it All About Monster Kid?

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By Editor Gene Stevens Monsters After Midnight

When I was growing up in Chicago, sometime around 1972 my best monster kid friend was Eddie. I wish I could remember Eddie’s last name. But I’m sixty years old now and it’s been an awful long time. Though I remember quite a bit about where we lived and about Eddie and his family. We lived in an apartment building on Addison Ave near Pulaski Ave in the city. I went to school and had a paper route there.  Eddie and his sister Linda had great parents. They were a wonderful family and always welcomed me into their warm home. Eddie was huge monster fan and we both read comic books,  Eerie Magazine and built Aurora monster models.

One day  Eddie told me that he had ordered a seven foot tall Frankenstein’s monster. It was mail ordered from an ad that ran pretty regularly in various comic books. On the day that Eddie received the seven foot monster he was really excited.  But the old comic book ads back in the day were kind of misleading. And the seven foot Monster arrived in an eight and a half by eleven inch envelope. Not much room in that size envelope for a seven foot monster.

So Eddie unpacked it only to find that the seven foot monster was a picture printed on two thin sheets of plastic trash bag type material. Even though he was disappointed, he plodded forward with the help of his mom he mounted the seven foot monster on his bedroom wall.

I was there shortly after he and his mom put it up. Eddie said something like “God damn thing is a just a plastic picture”. Then we both stood there for a few short moments and I looked at Eddie and said.. “Yea but it’s still cool”. Eddie looked back at me an smiled his big grin and said “Yea it is”. After all, Eddie had something that no other kid in the neighborhood had. He had a seven foot Frankenstein’s monster in his bedroom. The rest of us only had envy for Eddie’s mail order monster.

Every time I write an article about classic monsters, I think about Eddie and our days as monster kids. Those days were pretty simple and we looked for hero’s in many places. And the classic monster genre was a family and kid friendly place to let our imaginations run wild.

Today’s movies can convey a lot of different messages. And the nature of modern horror is deep with shock value that the older movies were not allowed to use. But they turned out pretty good despite having to work within a set of guidelines. The older movies also expressed the thoughts and culture of the time in which they were produced.

Monsters After Midnight began six years ago as an actual magazine and eventually morphed into this blog page. I decided to do this, because producing a magazine was extremely time consuming and expensive. And I realized that there was a bigger classic monster mag growing in my own back yard, and that was Scary Monsters Magazine. I became a reader and a contributor to Scary Monsters not to mention that I am also a big fan.  And after a complicated divorce and major life changes I decided to bring back Monsters After Midnight as a simple blog. At the beginning of this year, I decided to really expand the blog and its gone from just a handful of visitors every year to over a thousand hits a month.

But in today’s world of social media and fast paced news. Some blog posts can be misunderstood. And that’s understandable, as things are being looked at a lot differently now. More than ever before, criticism moves at the speed of light. So I thought it was time to qualify what we do here at Monsters After Midnight, and who our audience is. And that idea is just as simple as the day that Eddie and I stood in front of that big monster picture and became monster kids. We are the monster kids who watched Svengoolie, Creature Features, and Dark Shadows. We grew up to adults who laughed with Mystery Science Theater and still watch Svengoolie on METV. That’s who I write for and that’s what this blog is all about.

 

 

 

 

Remembering H.P. Lovecraft By Jonathan J. Sample

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Horror: Mutated by Mythos
by Jonathan J. Sample
August 20, 2019 marked what would have been the 129th Birthday of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Since his birth, horror fiction has evolved from the gothic to the spiritual to the weird, the cosmic, and beyond.
Lovecraft is chiefly responsible for the cosmic phase of this development, due to his cycle of stories which dealt with maddening conceptual horror draped over sinister entities, monsters beyond the comprehension of the minds of mankind. He took weird fiction and went off into a dark corner which had never before been explored, and along with him went disciples, capable writers in their own right, who found inspiration in his discoveries and spun them into a greater mythos.
Writers like Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, August Derleth, Robert Bloch (of Psycho fame), and many others took the seeds of cosmic horror, the designs of Lovecraft the progenitor, and helped to expand and establish what would go on to become what is known as the Cthulhu Mythos.
They stirred new shadows of fear and revealed secrets and mysteries of a fabulously massive fictional universe. Through their work they would reshape the very genre of horror forever.

The Evil of Frankenstein

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Hammer films was an extremely productive film production company.  If there’s one thing that can be said about Hammer, it’s the fact that they had a lot of tenacity. They stayed the course and produced a line of classic horror movies that entertained new generations. One of those films was “The Evil of Frankenstein”.

 

 

“The Evil of Frankenstein” was released  in 1964. EVIL was, but one episode of a long line of Hammer films to hit the big silver screen in the U.S.

Thanks to METV and horror host Svengoolie, viewers still get to see Hammer films on TV from time to time. I had the distinct honor of seeing “The Evil of Frankenstein” again after many years. My director’s eye is far more discerning now than in past years. So for classic horror connoisseurs, like myself, Hammer’s work can be long, tedious and boring. The benchmark of Hammer was the art of dialogue in their scripts to fill gaps between action scenes… Not to mention gratuitous boob and ass shots of Hammer’s British hotties.

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As I tracked the plot of EVIL. It became as apparent as having two bolts in my neck, that the plot was pretty cliche. First of all, there are some flashbacks from the past, and like the Universal Frankenstein series, the monster is pretty resilient and he is found frozen in a block of ice, recreating a scene from the original Universal monster movies.  Additionally, the monster, who suffered from migraines, (I’m not surprised due to the cement on his head, the make up department made him wear) was pretty rough around the edges and appeared to be in need of a concrete guy with a trowel to fix his forehead.

As the plot thickens. It becomes apparent that Dr Frankenstein and his monster are destined for a horrible ending. The monster ends up getting used by a bad guy to whack his enemies. Dr Frankenstein is harassed by a crazy preacher who hounds him about his unholy experiments. The monster is besieged by those bad migraines I mentioned earlier, and his brain ache makes him pretty grouchy. The only saving grace of the movie was near the ending where the script takes a turn in favor of the monster. The audience, despite his previous murderous rampage and the fact that he’s made from the dead remains of local folks, are massaged into seeing him in a more favorable way as he rescues a mute girl who befriended him. (Golf clap inserted here).

The twenty first issue of Scary Monsters Magazine, author Chris Fellner penned a commentary piece about the Hammer Frankenstein movies. Chris writes;

” Coming from Hammer, who had revolutionized the look of horror  movies with their first Frankenstein picture, EVIL was a distinct disappointment. Instead of continuing with a fresh approach the producers reverted back to the stale universal formula that Hammer had so boldly rejected in their first two pictures. The result was an unexciting melange of Universal inspired cliches, from the old “monster preserved in ice” bit to the climactic exploding castle.”

Much like the early Universal Frankenstein movies, out of the laboratory , a startled evil creation,  marched out like a large beast that began circling the room. The sounds of the crashing objects rose up loudly from below and the world crumbled around him and his creator. The evil of Frankenstein is a mildly entertaining journey into the life of the monster and his creator.

Svengoolie Group Recognized!

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There are many classic horror and sci-fi sites out on the internet and many to be found on social media pages. One of the social media pages found on Facebook is the Svengoolie Group.

The Svengoolie Group is an unofficial page dedicated to the Chicago based horror host Svengoolie, And it has over 72,000 followers.

The Svengoolie Group is very dedicated to the classic horror and sci-fi genre. One of the fun things about the Sven group is the way that they promote friendship.

On Saturday nights the Sven group holds roll-call and the faithful followers all check in and watch the featured horror or sci-fi movie together, all while making puns and taking jabs at the Saturday night flick on Facebook. But it’s all in good fun.

Monsters After Midnight honors the Svengoolie Group with our seal of approval!

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The Death of Dracula.. Bela Lugosi

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By Gene Stevens Monsters After Midnight (c) 

It’s hard to think about Bela Lugosi without waxing philosophical about who Bela was and how people perceive his film career. Despite the fact that Bela played many roles on both the stage and screen. The name of Bela Lugosi and Dracula are forever intertwined together. Chances are that most people would not even be able to name any of Bela’s other characters. But it’s a foregone conclusion that they would identify Bela as Dracula and be challenged when asked to name others who played the same role.

Bela occupies the collective consciousness of fact and fiction in people’s minds. And the movie Director Tim Burton understood this about Bela when he reintroduced Bela to the public consciousness when Martin Landau played Bela Lugosi in his movie “Ed Wood”. 

Tim Burton took a lot of creative license with all of his characters in Ed Wood. But just like Ed Wood, Burton used Lugosi as a grand character in support of his main star Ed Wood (played by Johnny Depp). Lugosi was Wood’s (Depp’s) rock solid foundation. And when Lugosi died, (in both the movie and real life) Wood’s foundation was shaken into a thousand pieces. But Wood had one thing that no one else had. He had the last piece of film that documented Bela’s final scenes from his very last movie. And that was worth something in cinematic history. And those final scenes that he and Bela created eventually became part of Ed Woods most recognized movie “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. In the movie Ed Wood, while watching the Premier of Plan 9, Johnny Depp says “This is the one they will remember me for”. And with the help of Tim Burton, this became true. Because Lugosi became Tim Burton’s rock too. And Martin Landau seemed to channel Lugosi’s ghost as if he was Bela himself.  His creation of Lugosi was the most uncanny and brilliant acting that many had ever seen. It was as if Bela had been reborn and it took great time and talent to make this happen. Martin had captured the essence of Bela and delivered Bela to grateful fans. I think Bela would have been pleased to see Martin’s portrayal of himself.  After all, I think Bela was a true character actor who would have recognized Martin’s acting ability and faith to his art.

Many actors have played Dracula since 1931, But no actor has ever gained the notoriety that Bela Lugosi did after playing the role of the famed vampire.  The big fact connected to the fantasy of Bela Lugosi is that his characterization of Dracula remains a constant in cinematic history. His personage as it is connected to Dracula seems almost eternal. I think Bela knew this, and even took the connection to his own grave in death when he decided to be buried in his Dracula Garb. Could it be that Dracula died with Bela on that day? It just could be.

 

 

Hammer Films does Dracula! (The Horror of Dracula)

Featured photo above by Artist Daniel Horne.

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Hammer Film’s Dracula was released in 1958. It was a British horror film directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster based on Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name.
This version of Dracula was the first in the series of Hammer Horror films featuring the now famous, Christopher Lee as Count Dracula. Dracula also teamed up Lee with Peter Cushing who played Doctor Van Helsing, along with Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, and John Van Eyssen.
When Dracula open in the U.S. market, the film was retitled Horror of Dracula as to avoid confusion with the earlier Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi, and the film was released in the U.S. in 1958 on a double feature with the Universal film The Thing That Couldn’t Die.

Most monster kids from the 1960’s and 1970’s were introduced to Hammer Films which were then being run on evening television. It swept the genre in the U.S, and re-introduced Frankestein’s Monster and Dracula to a new generation. Hammer films, unlike Universals monsters were filmed in color. The color versions of these classics gave the films more realistic scenes, showing blood and a little more sexual content. One could always count on some nice cleavage when watching a Hammer film!

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Ingrid Pitt a German Hottie and Hammer Star! She did not appear in the Horror of Dracula… But hey.. She didn’t have too to make it into this blog post!

The Horror of Dracula was produced by Bray Studios in 1957 costing approximately £81,000 which is about equal to $98,000 (modern U.S. Dollars). As Count Dracula, Lee’s characterization created the image of the fanged vampire in pop culture.

HAMMER FILMOGRAPHY
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British Pop- Culture expert Sir Christopher Frayling writes, “Dracula introduced fangs, red contact lenses, décolletage, ready-prepared wooden stakes and – in the celebrated credits sequence – blood being spattered from off-screen over the Count’s coffin.” Lee also introduced a dark, brooding sexuality to the character, with Tim Stanley stating, “Lee’s sensuality was subversive in that it hinted that women might quite like having their neck chewed on by a stud”.

According to a 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine saw Horror of Dracula ranked the 65th best British film ever. Empire magazine ranked Lee’s portrayal as Count Dracula the 7th Greatest Horror Movie Character of All Time.
-Wikipedia

Monster Party

It’s a party at Monsters After Midnight! 

Monsters After Midnight is taking the Classic Monster genre by storm! We have long list of supporters in the Classic Monster World.  We have grown by monster leaps and bounds because of people from places like, Scary Monsters Magazine, The Drac Pac, Universal Monsters Forever, Classic Monsters and Classic Horror FB page, The Svengoolie FB page, Universal Monster Fans Unite, Feedspot’s Top 100 Horror blogs and many more! 

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Svengoolie’s Top Fan!

 

I’d like to personally thank the computerized algorithm at facebook that identified me as the TOP FAN of our favorite Horror Host … Svengoolie! I’m honored.. Because like so many of his fans.. I’ve been dedicated to Sven since the early days of Jerry Bishop! That goes back over forty years!

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Letter to The Editor; From Louis Armour

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One of Louis’s models

I’m 64 years old and grew up a true “Monster Kid.” I still have most all of the first 100 isssues of Famous Monsters of Filmland and about a dozen Monster Times, plus tons of fanzines and one-shots. I was in that last generation where the parents would drop the kids off at the theater foran entire Saturday afternoon of monster movie matinees, and I saw them all! TV was important too! The first show I can remember is SUPERCAR! I alsto grew up with the classics, TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, etc.

I built most all the original Aurora Monster kits and still have a few in my collection. I still love building figures and occasionally build for collectors. I have quite a varied collection, but if you were to look at what I’ve concentrate on you find more Godzillas and King Kongs than any other character. The last few years I’ve been picking up more Sci-fi vehicles and spaceships than figures. Presently I’m working on a 51″ Nautilus from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
I’ve written seven articles for FINESCALE MODELER magazine. (two are still unpublished, although they bought them)

I also dabbled in special effects makeup and now play the local GRINCH for charity during the holidays.

Hi Louis,

Thanks for contacting me.. Wow! Your collection is really impressive! We are about the same age.. Growing up in the 60s and 70s was awesome! I grew up in Chicago and I always went to the drive in and local theaters.. Man.. Those were the Good old days!
Right now the blog has been added to the Top 100 horror blogs.. We rank #37. I’d like to see the blog become profitable. But I’m not sure how to get it there yet. So I’m just building it up for the sake of the classic monster genre. We are always on the look out for articles about classic monsters, horror, sci fi, modeling from the silent era to the 1970s. But.. I’d entertain ideas about all time periods of film.
Thanks
  Gene
Monsters After Midnight