Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DARK SHADOWS: "It's better than you might think"



As you probably know by now, I pretty much hate Tim Burton's DARK SHADOWS movie. I rank it as just a little bit higher than Franken Stool, but not quite as bad as stepping barefoot onto a sewing needle. But the movie has its defenders. Some of them (the ones with particularly thick skins) continue to read this website.

Which brings me to this video, featuring Ty Burr and Wesley Morris visiting (or re-visiting? It's not made clear) the 2012 Burton film. They seem to like the film, but can't muster much enthusiasm to fully endorse it. "It's better than you might think" is the definition of faint praise.

You can watch the video above, which runs just over a minute.

Listen to the teaser for Big Finish's adaption of THE PRISONER



A new trailer was released today for Big Finish's upcoming adaption of THE PRISONER. Don't get too excited, though, because the trailer doesn't do much besides stress the concept of the original television show.

It's fitting that this adaption continues to be shrouded in mystery. Yes, Big Finish has released a summary of all four episodes planned for the full-cast audio drama, (revealing a mix of adapted and original content). "We're re-imagining the original 1967 TV series," says writer/director Nicholas Briggs. "It isn't a continuation. We've ‘recreated’ it from the very beginning (and, hopefully, one day, until the end). It’s different, but it’s very much in the spirit of the original." That pretty much spells out Big Finish's goals for THE PRISONER.

Here's where things get a little mysterious, though: the series is scheduled for release in January and there has still been no casting announcement. This, despite the presence of the series' cast in the new trailer ... and what has to be their likenesses on the teaser art for the series. Weird.

An eagle-eyed fan at the Big Finish Listeners page on Facebook identified the support cast on the cover as Celia Imrie, John Standing, Ramon Tikaram and Michael Cochrane.

Listen to the trailer below!

Via: Big Finish

Monday, September 28, 2015

TCM is preparing a double dose of DRACULA for Halloween


Turner Classic Movies is giving you two chances to see the original 1931 DRACULA on the big screen in October. Even better, each screening is being packaged with 1931 Spanish-language version of the film, creating a monster-sized double feature.

I've been pretty vocal about my love of the Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi feature. But, if you haven't seen the Spanish-language version — shot after hours using the same sets as Browning's film — you're missing out. It's actually a better film than the Lugosi version, save for one critical casting decision: Carlos Villarías as the Count. As my grandmother used to say, "He'd have to stand on a step ladder just to kiss Bela Lugosi's ass."

The first screening is set for Sunday, Oct. 25, with an encore taking place Wednesday, Oct. 28. The package runs a little more than three hours and is rated PG-13 for some reason. Find a screening in your area by visiting Fandango's event page HERE.

Via: Fandango

Ghoul House Rock: A SPOOKTACULAR IN SCREAMING SOUND

The monsters of Hollywood’s golden age disappeared because they stopped being scary.

As obvious as it sounds, this fact is rarely addressed by fans of the genre. It feels almost sacrilegious to even type those words, but it’s true … the average U.S. citizen in the post-war years had little to fear from werewolves, vampires and their likes. The horrors of World War II shattered all taboos, oftentimes with such terrible results that they still can’t be discussed in polite company. Victor Frankenstein couldn’t compete with Auschwitz, Unit 751 or the ruins of Hiroshima.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that these monsters quickly became fodder for humor. ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN proved to be the swan song for Universal’s original monsters, leaving Bela Lugosi to match wits with the likes of Milton Berle, Paul Winchell and Red Skelton.

Instinctively, I’m very protective of these classic characters. It's my gut response to offer some kind of critical defense of America’s growing bemusement with horror during those years ... a few words to frame this cultural shift in a way that paints these characters in a more heroic light. But my instincts here are wrong, though. We weren’t laughing with these monsters, we were laughing AT them. It couldn’t be another way, because those classic movies were never joking.

Exhibit A.
Things haven’t changed since then. Dress a child up as the Frankenstein monster and you’ll get a lot of ooohs and aaaahs from grownups. Dress that same child up as Leatherface and those responses will become a lot more muted. The classic monsters are safe. They’re so safe you can even let them babysit.

But I’m actually OK with that. I can’t explain why, but I’m perfectly comfortable with Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf-Man as both symbols of legitimate horror, and as quaint Halloween party decorations. I think their occasional failure to disturb is a strength — not a failure — of the characters. Which is why something like the 1959 album “Spike Jones in Stereo: A Spooktacular in Screaming Sound” doesn’t offend my every sensibility.


The album might even be the greatest recording of its kind, thanks in no small part to Spike Jones. As with Ernie Kovacs, Stan Fregerg and Steve Allen, Jones was one of those comedians perpetually ahead of the curve. His contemporaries spent much of their careers just trying to catch up.

And there’s no filler on “Spooktacular,” either. When the "monster album" boom hit a few years later, many producers leaned heavily on covers (“Monster Mash,” “Purple People Eater,” etc.) to help fill albums. Jones cut 10 lean, original tracks for his 1959 offering. And he brought along some amazing talent. While their names might not ring any bells, few people alive during the last 50 years have not heard their voices:

Paul Frees got top billing in the cast, and rightfully so. If you have a few hours to spend, take a look at his massive list of credits at IMDB. His most famous role is that of Boris Badenov on the original ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, but his resume suggests he had a few clones running around. Because there’s no way one guy had time to do that much work, right?

Thurl Ravenscroft also lent his booming voice to the production. The guy’s voice is as unreal as ever, and his vocals on the track “Teenage Brain Surgeon” makes it the best song on the album. Ravenscroft’s list of credits is as thorough as Frees', so its unsurprising that they occasionally overlap. But you probably know him best as the voice of Tony the Tiger, as the singer of “You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” or from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Haunted Mansion” rides at Disneyland.


Loulie Jean Norman and horror host Zacherley promote "Spike Jones in Stereo" in 1959.
Completing the vocal trinity here is Loulie Jean Norman, who is credited on the album as playing “Vampira.” Her list of credits might not be as lengthy as her co-stars, but they’re no less significant. You can hear her voice in the themes to “The Carol Burnett Show,” the Tokens song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and provided the signing voice for Diahann Carroll’s character in PORGY AND BESS.

Oh, and that’s her you hear singing in the original theme to STAR TREK.

NOTE: The vinyl edition of "Spooktacular" has been out of print for quite a while, but the MP3 version of the album can be downloaded from Amazon HERE.

Pocast: IN CONVERSATION WITH JOSEPH LIDSTER



Joseph Lidster
The DOCTOR WHO convention Whooverville 7 took place Sept. 5 in Derby, England. During the event, Big Finish Productions writer/producer Joseph Lidster was interviewed by John Godbold about his work on DARK SHADOWS.

CHS special agent Robert Dick was present and recorded the conversation. You can download the interview for free HERE.

And don't forget to Lidster on Twitter at @joelidster.

Counting down TV's "sexiest undead"

Most of the news clippings that get shared here date back to the original broadcast of DARK SHADOWS. Generally, those are the most interesting to me because they feel the most connected to the series. But DARK SHADOWS' cult following means its cast and characters often find themselves introduced in some unusual places ... such as this TV Guide feature from 2008. The theme seems a little confusing, it's heart is in the right place. And it gets bonus points for including no fewer than three actors associated with either DARK SHADOWS or the 1991 revival series.

COUNTDOWN:
Vampires, demons and zombies! We're loving TV's sexiest undead creatures 

TV GUIDE: Oct. 20, 2008
By Damian Holbrook


DEAN WINCHESTER (Supernatural)
Hell got much hotter when the ripped and roguish demon hunter was sent way south to pay off his Faustian deal with the devil. Though he's back on this mortal coil now, you know part of him died down there. And word is we'll find out what part that was during November sweeps.


LILY MUNSTER (The Munsters)
That flowing Cruella hair! The luminescent green skin! The way she rocked a hooded cape! Even if her husband could crush us with his Frankenstein feet, we wouldn't kick the First Lady of 1313 Mockingbird Lane out of the coffin for eating crackers, OK?



VAMPIRA (The Vampira Show)
As Maila Nurmi, she was just another 1940s pinup girl. As a Bettie Page from the Beyond, with her glamour-length press-on nails and a 90210-worthy waistline, she was the horror-movie hostess who gave us really bad dreams and laid the groundwork for Elvira to put the "boo" in boobs.


LUCAS BOYD (Point Pleasant)
Yes, he was Satan's immortal minion and fine, he was sent to Earth to help the boss' daughter do all sorts of dirty deeds to a Jersey beach town in this short-lived Fox series. And we're OK with that, because this devilishly charming chap looked exactly like Grant Show. Is that wrong?


BILL COMPTON (True Blood)
You gotta give this Civil War vamp some credit. He prefers synthetic blood to the real deal, is totally protective of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and has the kind of hypnotic gaze that could make even vegetarians want to grab a bite with him. Let's hope his attempts to fit in with regular folks aren't in vein.


JOSETTE DUPRÉS (Dark Shadows)
Whether it was the classic soap's Kathryn Leigh Scott playing her or the short-lived revival's Joanna Going, this ghostly gal had it going on. Goth-hot and yet so innocent; it's no wonder that sucker Barnabas Collins was haunted by her memory—and specter—so many years after she offed herself.



MICK ST. JOHN (Moonlight)
Like Angel, this private-eye vein drainer was all about helping the innocent instead of helping himself to them. But more than that, he could brood with the best of them (and those circles under his eyes? Undead giveaway!) Tragically, ol' Mick was felled by something far more fatal than sunlight; anemic ratings.


THE BORG QUEEN (Star Trek Voyager)
More a zombie than anything else, this half-person, half—AC adapter knew that a skintight leather number is all a girl needs to make the fellas see past the jumper cables popping out of her domed skull.



DUNCAN MACLEOD (Highlander)
If you like your scotch finely aged and super-smooth, this 400-year-old blend of sword, sorcery and straight up sexiness should help take the edge off. An immortal with perfect stubble and the power of resurrection, Mac had no trouble making hearts skip a beat. Even if he didn't have a beating one.



ANGEL (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel)
Tall, dark and deadly never looked so good. From the first night Buffy's 270-year-old bloodsucking beau started lurking on the mean streets of Sunnydale, it was clear that beneath the leather jacket, buffness and super-sharp teeth resided a tortured soul—one legions of fans would risk their neck to comfort.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Louis Edmonds: “You have to be shameless to be a singer," 1973


In 1973, Louis Edmonds took the stage in Bridgeport, Conn., to play the mad knight Don Quixote in MAN OF LA MANCHA. While there, he spoke to the local newspaper about the production, and also went into surprising detail about his life and career.

There's a touch of sadness to the interview. A few paragraphs after noting that the success of DARK SHADOWS didn't lead to more television work, he went on to say: “Acting is a glorious career. It offers dignity and good money if you are successful and if you are not, you better get out." Luckily, stubbornness prevailed. Edmonds continued to entertain people for decades to come, stopping only when he was physically unable to take the stage.

I've been sitting on this interview for a while. Edmonds would have been 92 years old today, which seems like a good enough excuse to share it. I've cleaned up a few of the factual errors (the writer cites Thornton Wilder as the author of "The Importance of Being Ernest," for example) but have left the rest of the article untouched.

I added a few hotlinks within the article, for those of you interested in learning more about some of the productions discussed here.

As Quixote has his horse, so actor has his bike
The Bridgeport Post, Aug. 15, 1973

By SUSAN WARNER

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, actor Louis Sterling Edmonds left his Setauket, L.I., home on his bicycle and rode to the Port Jefferson ferry.

When he arrived in Bridgeport an hour-and-a-half later and a little windblown, he hopped on his bicycle and rode to the Mertens theater at the Arnold Bernhard Arts and Humanities Center of the University of Bridgeport, where he started rehearsals for the final play of the UB Musical Repertory theater season.

His carefree entry and nature are similar to Don Quixote taking off on a weatherbeaten horse for another adventure.

Louis Edmonds is an actor whose personality complements the roles he will create "Man of La Mancha” both as Miguel Cervantes, the author of “The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha,” the book on which the play is based, and as the character, Don Quixote.

The play will open tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. in the Mertens theatre and will run Aug. 17, 18, 22, 24, 25 and 26.

During a break in rehearsals yesterday, the actor said: “I am grateful to the Bridgeport shore, the beach sand and the soft breezes. Each day I bicycle down to Seaside, take a swim for exercise, then study my lines on the beach and I’m well prepared and relaxed for the day’s rehearsal.”

The Baton Rouge, La., native said he loves singing. This is not the first musical he’s done.

From left, Gerriane Raphael, Louis Edmonds, John Irving and Leila Martin in the studio for ERNEST IN LOVE.
In Wilde Musical 
He performed in the musical version of Oscar Wilde's play, “The Importance of Being Ernest,” which opened on Broadway as “Ernest in Love.”

"It was delight to work in that play," he recalled, adding that the play opened the night after the opening night of the “Fantastiks.”

“We got great reviews,” he said, “even better than those the ‘Fantastiks’ received, but our show didn’t make it.”

He also played in two other off-Broadway musicals, “Subways Are for Sleeping” and “Royal Flush,” the latter “which closed in Philadelphia as it deserved to,” he added.

"You have to be shameless to be a singer,” he said with a smile, adding that sounds overheard earlier were exercises for his “golden voice.”

“It helps in strengthening the muscles in your throat,” he explained, noting that he wouldn’t be caught on Madison Avenue in New York doing voice exercices.

“I am sorry I haven’t had more musical opportunities in my rather spotty career,” he admitted.

“I studied voice in New York City under Emy Joseph. I guess it’s part of my Southern upbringing but I always called that gray-haired, beautiful blue-eyed lady, ‘Miss Emy,” the casually dressed actor said.

Louis Edmonds and Andrea Dromm in COME SPY WITH ME, 1967.

Theater or Movies?
“I feel at home in both the theater and television, but I cannot really answer whether I prefer the theater to the movies because I’ve never had the good fortune of being in a good movie,” the blond, blue-eyed actor said.

At Carnegie Tech, he said “I received good training in the classics, like Shaw, Chekov and Shakespeare.

“I made my Broadway debut under the direction of Sir Tyrone Guthrie in Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ and I was not singing in those days and was hired strictly as a speaking actor.

“I feel at home in Shakespere,” he said of his many performances as Antony in “Antony and Cleopatra” and his performances in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Philadelphia.

“Shakespeare is a beautiful world to work in. The climate in Shakespeare is so expansive and free, if you have the voice, speech training and leather lungs necessary for some of those epic monologues.  It’s an absolute joy to bring meaning to a play and make it alive for the people,” he said.

“My sister and brother-in-law and two nephews came to see ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Philadelphia,” he said. “When they came backstage they had tears in their eyes because they laughed so much.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to have people get the message of a play and be responsive to an actor’s interpretation. It’s like being turned on,” he said.

“Yes, people do recognize me as the actor who played Roger Collins for four and a half years in the television series, ‘Dark Shadows,’ but they do not identify me with just that type of role,” he said.

However, he added, it may have influenced the New York casting people, because “There ain’t been any nibbles to do something else on the telly.”

Louis Edmonds on DARK SHADOWS.
Cast as a “Heavy”
"I was the old conservative in the series but it was fun.” He explained that when he first started in the series he was cast as a “heavy” and was expected to be written out of the cast in the first 13-week cycle. However, the executive director, Dan Curtis and he got along well, and the part was made to atone for his beginning character in the series, and he was accepted as a regular by the viewers, he said.

His first professional job in the business was in 1946 in Woodstock, N.Y., when he was in “Candida.” He went into the Navy Air Corps shortly after and thee years later was honorably discharged and resumed his career.

“I’ve been in the mean world ever since then,” he said.


“My favorite part was playing ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ at the Great Lakes Shakespeare festival and I think Don Quixote will also be a favorite. I hope I’ll be able to do ‘Man of La Mancha’ other places. It’s a beautiful part,” he said.

“Acting is a glorious career. It offers dignity and good money if you are successful and if you are not, you better get out,” he said.

Asked what he plans to do when he finished his run with the play year, he said: “Go home and paint my house.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Podcast: IN CONVERSATION WITH MATTHEW WATERHOUSE



Matthew Waterhouse and a familiar landmark.
The DOCTOR WHO convention Whooverville 7 took place Sept. 5 in Derby, England. Actor Matthew Waterhouse was interviewed by Ian Parkes about his work on DOCTOR WHO, DARK SHADOWS and his original novels.

Lucky for us, Robert Dick was present and recorded the conversation. You can download the interview for free HERE.

You can find Matthew on Twitter @MinettaLane.

And subscribe to THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY podcast on iTunes by clicking HERE!  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ghoul House Rock: FRANKIE STEIN AND HIS GHOULS



The music of Frankie Stein and his Ghouls is cooler than it has any right to be. Between 1964 and 1965, the “band” cranked out no fewer than five full-length albums. By all rights these records should have been little more than white noise, the kind of generic elevator music that blared from teenage radios in movies and television whenever the producers didn't feel like ponying up the dough for a legitimate song.

But there's something special about the Frankie Stein series. Something surprisingly focused, haunting and aggressive. Which has led fans to sometimes speculate about the identities of the anonymous musicians that made of the ersatz band. If Frankie Stein was a real person, he’s been suspiciously quiet in the years since his band’s albums were hastily released. And there might be a good reason for it, if even a fraction of the rumors about the musicians involved with this project are true.

The “Frankie Stein” albums were released by Power Records, a subsidiary of the children’s specialty label Peter Pan Records. Power would later strike a chord with its young audience during the ‘70s when it licensed movie, television and comic book properties for its famous “book and record” sets. Years earlier, though, it was still struggling to find an identity, which lead the company to create some … unusual products.


For example: the 1966 album “Batman and Robin” by The Sensational Guitars of Dan & Dale. It’s since been established that there were no “Dan & Dale,” and that the band was actually made up of the legendary Sun Ra and members of the Blues Project. It was a quickie album meant to capitalize on the first wave of Bat-mania. The music had little to do with the Caped Crusaders, but it’s likely the young fans buying the album didn’t care.

“Batman and Robin” was produced another music legend: Tom Wilson. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, his list of credits absolutely will. During the 1960s, he produced such acts as Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention. He’d been working with Sun Ra since the 1950s, which is probably why he was able to persuade the man to pick up a quick paycheck on a silly Batman knockoff.

The album was the product of Synthetic Plastics Co., a toy company located in Newark, N.J. Coincidentally, Synthetic Plastics Co. also produced the “Frankie Stein” albums. Which is where the rumors about the album’s creation get interesting. While nobody has ever taken credit for their work on them, rumor has it that Wilson produced these albums (all of which might have been recorded during the same session) with a roster of musicians that might have included Duane Eddy and Max Greger, members of the Blues Project and, possibly, Sun Ra, himself.

Or maybe it didn't include any of them. Who knows?

Here’s how Frankie Stein  was credited on jacket of the band’s album “Monster Sounds and Dance Music”:
The monster maestro (Frankie Stein) is a graduate of the mausoleum of music at the University of Paris Green … He plays guitar with three hands and conducts with the other two. He is DEAD serious about his music. Many critics have hailed him as “hideous” … “ghastly” …“horrormonius”… etc. etc. etc.

As far as mysteries go, the real identity of “Frankie Stein” isn’t in any danger of displacing D.B. Cooper as America's Favorite Mystery Man. The albums were popular novelty records, but novelties, nonetheless. Many — if not all — of the participants might have had good reason to keep their identities a secret at the time. Cutting records like the “Frankie Stein” series was the musical equivalent of pornography for many musicians, though I suspect nobody has fessed up in recent years simply because they haven’t been asked.

As with many of the albums from the era, vinyl editions of the Frankie Stein and his Ghouls are hard to find — and a little pricey, to boot. While the music has since been released on compact disc, the collections are a little frustrating. “Ghoul Music” and “Shock! Terror! Fear!” were released as a double-album set, while an anthology titled “Monster Melodies” collects an additional 30 tracks. I haven't added up the track lists to compare them to the original releases, but wouldn't be shocked it a few songs slipped through the cracks during the conversion process.



WALLACE McBRIDE is an award-winning South Carolina journalist, and creator/editor of THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY website. He was once used as a human shield by Michelle Phillips, owns a complete run of HOWARD THE DUCK comics, and talks too much about DARK SHADOWS.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Big Finish closes its forums


I should have been more surprised by this: Big Finish, the company that produces (among other things) the DARK SHADOWS audio dramas, shuttered its forums over the weekend. Trying to manage this kind of feature is insanely difficult, thanks to humanity's tendency to take disagreements to stupid extremes. When you factor in the growing population of SpamBots on the Internet, this kind of endeavor can quickly turn into a joyless chore for those that manage them. And that's when people bother to participate, at all.

Here's the explanation posted earlier this morning by one of the site's administrators:
We are sorry to announce that the Big Finish forum is indefinitely suspended with immediate effect. The increasing demands on our time both in urgent moderation and countering extensive spam attacks are frequently exceeding our resources and good will, and at a time when other social media platforms now prove not only considerably larger, but far less open to attack, we have taken this decision.

For those wishing to continue following Big Finish news, updates and releases, you're recommended to subscribe to a Newsletter sent out regularly with news and exclusive free offers, and of course there's always the Big Finish news page and podcasts

Alternatively, seek us out on any of:
Facebook,
Twitter,
You Tube or
Soundcloud

For the moment this forum has been turned to a read-only mode for archive/information purposes. New posts are not possible.
So, that's where things stand at the moment. It's not impossible for Big Finish to change their minds about the forums, should customers voice their displeasure ... but I have a funny feeling that message boards/forums are going the way of the dinosaur. 

Brace Yourselves: Halloween is Coming

I've got good news and bad news.

First, the good news: many, many classic horror movies are making their Blu-ray debuts in time for Halloween this year. While a few of these are 4K restorations or anniversary releases, the majority of them are getting the high-def treatment for the first time ever.

The bad news: most of them will be hitting the market in a release pattern designed to devastate your bank account.

It's always feast or famine when you're a horror fan. Distributors seem to think the only time of year anyone cares about these movies are in the weeks leading to Halloween, which sometimes forces products to fight for our affection. It's an exciting roster of films this year (Peter Cushing and Christoper Lee appear in the lion's share of them) but I suspect many of us will be holding off until after the holidays to pounce on some of these films.

Here's a sample of what you can expect to hit shelves in the coming weeks. Click on the individual images for title specs and ordering information.

Sept. 22


Sept. 29


Oct. 6









Oct. 13


Oct. 20



Oct. 27



Podcast: Behind the scenes of DELIVER US FROM EVIL




In August 2015 Big Finish released DARK SHADOWS: DELIVER US FROM EVIL. The story featured original series stars Christopher Pennock and Lisa Richards as Cyrus and Sabrina alongside a number of characters returning from earlier plays.

Robert Dick was in the studio for the UK recording and talks to writer Aaron Lamont and actors Brigid Lohrey (Danielle), Simon Kent (Alfie Chapman) and James Unsworth (John) about the story and their day in the studio.

Writer Aaron Lamont, James Unsworth as John, Brigid Lohrey as Danielle Rogét and Simon Kent as Alfie Chapman
Please note, the interviews contain spoilers for DELIVER US FROM EVIL. Listening to the story first is recommended.

Listen to the episode streaming above, or download it as an MP3 by clicking HERE.

And subscribe to THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY podcast on iTunes for free by clicking HERE!  
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