Monday, June 30, 2008

From Beyond The Grave

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
"From Beyond The Grave"

The skull-centric poster for 1971's "From Beyond the Grave" shows once again the superior artwork that Amicus used on their anthology films. They never failed to make you want to see the movie. This was another one that I missed out on in the 70's in the theaters, and never once saw it on TV in the years since, so when it finally came out on DVD I was excited to view it for the first time.The Amicus anthologies are some of the most enjoyable movies to come out in that time period, and you got a lot for your money. If you didn't really like the last segment, all you had to do was wait: another one was coming. There were usually three or four good ones, and one not-so-good ones in each film, so the ratio of good to bad was rather high. You seldom got bored with one of these!

Following are some variations on the poster for it's various releases around the world, for your enjoyment.

"I called it 'Buy & Die" when I first opened it, but it didn't seem to have the right ring to it."

Peter Cushing plays a shopkeeper who you'd better not try to cheat. And I pities th' po fool who tries to rob him!

I'm guessing we're not supposed to take this literally.

"The Giant Hand From Beyond The Grave" version was not one of the better posters to be done for an Amicus movie. And the one below for the 1975 re-release of the film is so far from anything in the film that one wonders if it was an unused poster for another movie. It really feels like an attempt by some distributor to get viewers into the movie under the assumption it was a different film entirely. Clever: re-name it "The Creatures," repackage it with unrelated artwork, and no-one would know the difference unless they read the credits closely. I can see some people going into the movie and saying, "Wait, I've already seen this, where's the movie I paid to see this time?" It actually looks like one I'd like to see... if I hadn't already.

Too bad this movie was never made, it looks cool. You gots to be really bad to be evicted from hell!


The only thing missing is Godzilla.

Spiffy cover for the DVD release.

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Eerie Skull

The Skeletal Spotlight shines today on:
"Eerie" magazine cover #117
(Click for a high-rez version)

"Hey, kid, no reading if you ain't buying it."

This December 1980 cover of Eerie was the kind that made young boys linger at the magazine rack at their local drugstore or corner convenience store for so long that they attracted attention. Sure, you came there for the comics or monster magazines, but you were just at the age that those Eerie and Vampirella covers were starting to catch your attention for a different reason. And catch it they did.

Of course, your mama would never allow you to buy it, and if you did it would get thrown away, but there was always that neighbor kid or the kid at school was was a few years older, that let you look at his. And you felt that maybe the thrill you were getting had less to do with the monsters and scary stuff than it did the artwork of feminine pultritude.

The cover of #117, featured here because of the scary skull (look again, there is one), is adorned with a lovely vision of womanhood that would give you a foot fetish even if you were too young to know there was such a thing. And that barely-there fur thong would cause a new patch of pimples to pop up spontaneously just from looking at it.

So, here's to Warren Publishing (as low-down as they were to poor old Forry later), which in it's heyday supplied us 70's pre-teens with both nightmare and daydream material.

Here's another Warren magazine, for free, just because of the scary skull... yeah, skull...

"But mom, it's just a comic magazine! (Riiip!)
Aw, mom, you didn't have to tear it up! Shoot."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Monster-Size Skeletons

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
"Real" Monster-Size Skeletons

"Dream on, my small sucker friend! I'm just the first of life's many educational disappointments."

Of course we all remember the above ad for the "monster size skeleton" in our comic books and magazines. The copy for it was sneakily deceptive from the start: 5 feet tall is not "monster-sized," unless you consider your grandmother to be a monster. Most recall the ubiquitous ad with a sense of unfulfilled longing; but for those that sent off for it, aching disillusionment. Like many things we desire in this life, Mr. Bones was best left to the imagination and wishful thinking. But just because this monster-sized skeleton was a ripoff, doesn't mean that they don't exist. Yes, Virginia, there is a giant skeleton... several, in fact; for below we have photographic proof. And we all know that can't be faked!

A vitim of hit-and-run, the poor pedestrian expired waiting for the ambulance. The rubber-necking passersby just gawked, snickering at his obvious boner.

True to the old adage, he fell hard. Left where he died, the city was simply built around the ancient giant.

About the skeleton:

Created by the late Gino De Dominicis (who died at the young age of 51 in 1998)some of the photos here were taken when it was being displayed in the Pallazo Reale in Milan in 2007.

The only thing that gives this skeleton away as being
a fake is the long nose bone. What was up with that?

"Do you see anything on the bottom of my foot? Cause it feels like I have a bunion."

It is speculated that the giant was killed when he stabbed
himself in the chest during a particularly savage sneeze.

As the crowd began to gather, an onlooker sadly
declared "T'was Beauty what killed the Beast."

It's a lesser-known bit of history that the village folk all ate for a month on the leftovers.

Unfortunately for Gulliver, the Lilliputions took no chances.

Lest you think our beaked friend is unique to the world, there exists a giant skeleton making the rounds that is considerably more active.

"Iiiiiiiii'm a gonna gitcha! Iiiiiiii'm a gonna gitcha! Gitcha-gitcha-gitcha-gitcha!"

"Bite me, Big Bird boy! I don't have a beak bone... and I actually can fly!"

About the skeleton:
Visitors study 'Habibi,' a giant, polystyrene and resin human skeleton creation by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed, at the Regional Contemporary Art Collection in Reims, February 24, 2004. 'Habibi,' translating as 'Darling,' 'Dear' or 'Beloved,' measures 17 meters long, is presented like a giant dinosaur fossil, floating outstretched above the floor.

"Don't make a sound, children... if we don't move it can't see us."

His one dream was to be in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but he
just couldn't seem to get the bouyancy and height he needed to join the other balloons.

Although confined to captivity, he lived for the times
when he scared the pants off the new night watchmen.

Eating candy skulls; spending the night in the cemetery with candles and food; giant skeletons at the fairs; yes, Mexico knows how to celebrate the Day of the Dead!

Somehow the pink seems to take a little of the edge off the spookiness.


"Just gimme a minute, gotta rest my bones."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bernie Wrightson's Dead

The Skeletal Spotlight shines today on:
Bernie Wrightson's Living Dead

"Contrary to the tired and frankly un-PC cliche, I am not a mindless brain-eater. I have a family and work eight hours a day, so don't try to profile me. I... uh... are you using those brains? 'Cause I'd hate to see them go to waste..."

Nobody, but nobody does the risen, rotten, rambling and ravenous dead better than Bernie. Here are a few of my favorite zombie images from the master with a minimum of the usual scintillating commentary from me. They really don't need any!

Oh, and Bernie is not dead yet; if you thought that's what the title meant, well, the apostrophe "s" inferred possession. And well we might infer the mind behind these mastepieces to be possessed!

"Ohhh, I smell Mama's meatloaf in the oven. I know she'll taste wonderful!"

"Aaaaah! Man...that was a brick. Gotta eat more fiber,
them brains is just cloggin' me up something fierce!"

"Foolish mortal, do you think a shattered spine will stop me from taking my revenge? Uhhhh... well, it does pinch a little..."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Remembering the Forgotten Prisoner

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
Aurora's Forgotton Prisoner of Castel-mare

"He’s the last remaining prisoner from years gone by. Long since passed, and now all that remains are his bones as proof to his existence. His crimes have long been forgotten. His sentence fulfilled. However, this unfortunate prisoner was lost in the system, and now his bones are the only remains that hang from the dreaded shackles of his prison cell. Until now."

Oh, man... this brings my younger days back so clearly I can actually smell the model glue and paint. And the giddy, light-headed feeling I had while working on it in 1974 had very little to do with the fumes. Even today, taking out my little Prisoner model invokes such a strong sense of nostalgia that it almost hurts. Among the relics of my youth, only a few survive, and I'm grateful this one did. I had stored it away in a box of collected goodies in my grandmother's guest bedroom closet. Since her house was my one refuge from the strain of a controlling and intolerent stepfather, I kept the things I treasured there, for I had seen more than one item go into the flames of the trash barrel simply because my having them irritated him.

He was an ex-Army sargent, a hunter and construction worker with a sixth-grade education; while I was a bookwormish monster-loving kid who had an artistic bent. Needless to say we clashed, and I always came out on the losing end, being a pacifistic kid who loved nothing more than finding a quiet place to read my comic books. Unfortunately, that also irritated him. That's why my weekend stays at Grandma's house, a haven of love, freedom and normalcy, loom so large in my good memories. Stress-free afternoons reading my newest Monster Times or Castle of Frankenstein, putting together a model, and evenings watching the good stuff on TV: "Kung Fu," "Planet of the Apes," Night Stalker," and the Saturday Night Movie.

The Skeleton in my closet

Over a decade after I built my Forgotten Prisoner model, I re-discovered it in that box in the closet when I went to bring the things I had stored there into my own home. It was in several pieces, but easily fixed and lovingly touched up (except for a missing foot). It was funny, for he had become forgotten for awhile, but he was relocated, restored and placed in a collection bookcase for safe-keeping. Now he comes out yearly and joins the Halloween decorations on the mantle.

It's ironic that the one model that is most remembered by Monster Kids is the one called The Forgotten Prisoner. My lonely friend, you are not forgotten. You are fondly remembered and loved. I think I related to you a lot.

As much as it means to me, you won't find a picture of my own Prisoner on this page; my efforts are painting him were amaturish next to these awesome examples and not worthy to be compared. But you will see some great interpretations of the Prisoner paint job, all of which are terrific. Enjoy!

The two images above come from a great FP page:

A new larger version is available! Wow, but for the price I would possess this...

Here's a Youtube video of "a" forgotton prisoner that's pretty funny. Not a re-creation of our beloved bones, but in the same spirit.

I plan on making a life-sized re-creation of the Forgotten Prisoner for a Halloween display this coming October. I'll post images if my plans come to fruition!