Friday, August 29, 2008

Strange Change model kit ad

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The "Strange Change" model kit ads
(Click on images to view full size.)

I've been having a blast going through my collection bookcases lately, mining them for material to post on my blogs, here on Sweet Skulls and Monster Memories. Usually, the only time I would get into them very much was when I was packing them up for a move. That was a killer; if you look at them in this picture, you might never guess that they would fill up ten banana boxes each. That's 30 heavy boxes total. I hope I never have to move them again, but that's hoping for too much, I suppose. Otherwise, I only reached into them occasionally as I was looking for something to read on a bathroom visit that threatened to be of extended length. Under such circumstances, you grab what you can off the top of a stack and hoof it!

Now, though, I am seeing things I haven't seen in years, re-discovering items I had forgotten I had. In many cases it's like seeing a friend you haven't come across in years.

Anyway, these ads for the "Strange Change" model kits from the early 70's were something I had forgotten about completely. It must have been well over 30 years since I saw these ads and thought about them! Or course, I never owned one of the kits; if you've read this blog much you know I kept my collecting to things like books, magazines and comics that could fit flat in a drawer, for easy hiding and quick packing. But that didn't keep me from reading and wishing!

"Ah, excuse me, do you have any toilet paper over there? Hello?"

The Vampire was the one I wanted most; I mean, changing from a "living" vampire to a skeleton, and back, how incredibly cool was that? I thought it was the coolest idea in the whole line of hobby kits put out in the MPC line, including the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean kits. It was like a scene from a Hammer Dracula movie!

"Goodbye, I'm off to the age of dinosau....Aaaiieee!"

I always thought it was "strange" that the time machine had the monsters appear inside the craft, but I guess they were taking dramatic license, and assumed that we kids would figure it out that it wasn't merely a fatal design flaw by a careless inventor.

"Close it, close it! Gosh, this is my private time, Mom!"

The Mummy was kind of neat, but he only got a little distressed and dishevelled in his change, not that big a difference. I think the Wolfman would have been a better candidate for a dramatic change. But what would they have put him in? A dog kennel?

If they wanted a truly strange change, they could have made one where Frankenstein's monster changes into the Bride! But that would have been a little ahead of it's time.

Of course, the ultimate would have been to make one with Vampirella; where she changes between slightly dressed and completely undressed! Ah, one can dream...

Don't forget to visit my other blog: Monster Memories!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Living Skeleton

Today's Skeletal Spotlight shines on:
"The Living Skeleton" story
From Gold Key's "Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery" June, 1970.
(Click image to enlarge.)

If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the night watchman.

Ooooh, spoooooky!
To get the full effect, this is best read with a flashlight, under the covers, when you are 8 years old. Even then, the most you might get is a slight shiver; this is not the scariest thing ever written. But it's supposed to be a true story, which does make it a little creepy. And after all, we both know that kindly, grandfatherly Boris Karloff or Gold Key Comics wouldn't lie to us kids, would they? Would they?
In the inescapable logic of Criswell...

"Can you prove that it didn't happen?"

I didn't think so.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Creepers" poster art

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The "Creepers" video release poster
(Click on image to enlarge.)

"Have some bugs, they're rich in protein... mostly mine!"

This is the 1986 promo poster advertising the VHS video debut of Dario Argento's "Creepers," which was the American name of the edited version of "Phenomena." Since I worked in radio, I was able to get on a couple of video release company lists as a reviewer... so they sent me promo material! That was sweet. Between that and getting in good with the local Entertainment Editor at the local newspaper, who gave me their no-longer-needed press kits, I was getting some good stuff. One of the best items was a specially-produced kit for James Cameron's "The Abyss," which was a notebook-bound slick book of stills, behind-the-scenes pics and info, all in a special slipcase. Classy.

I liked "Creepers," being as it was my first exposure to Argento's work, and the art is neat in this version of the poster. Another version (pictured to the right) has star Jennifer Connelly's face, but this one depicts half of it eaten away... which does not happen in the movie, but was probably done to make it appeal to the American gorehounds.

Sporting an atmospheric Goblins score, a sleep-walking psychic heroine, foreboding locations and scenery, bloody decapitations, detective work that involves tailing a fly, a dip in a maggot-and-corpse-filled pool, a Poe-inspired straight-razor-swinging chimp, flesh-eating insect swarms, a murderer stalking students in a female school with a staff featuring detachable blades, it has it all.

Here's a great review by a fellow blogger at the Tomb of the Headless Werewolf that renders any attempt I might make a redundant effort.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Creeping Flesh

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
"The Creeping Flesh" poster
(click on images to view hi-rez.)

The sensationally-titled "The Creeping Flesh" from 1973, starring horror gods Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is among one of director Freddie Francis' most interesting efforts, standing tall among his already impressive movies. (Here is an insightful review of the film from another site that I think you'll find most interesting.)

"Man, I'm so scary I make my own flesh crawl!"

Turnabout is fair play, as we see from the poster below. This artwork is very unusual in that the poor skeleton is the helpless victim and the monster is a naked, though oddly nipple-less woman.

"He ain't heavy, he's my daddy's skeleton!"

The IMDB synopsis for the 1970 "Blood Mania" reads "A sex-crazed nympho helps speed along her father's death so she can use the inheritance to help out her depraved boyfriend." By most accounts it's a waste of time. But we got an amusing poster out of it! Scary though, it's not.

But, the story is not over... for look at the image used on the DVD release of "The Creeping Flesh!" Yes, the skeleton is being carried by the man. Full circle.

(Which brings up a point; why is it that so many recent DVD horror releases forego using the awesome poster artwork, in favor of a lame screen-capture from the movie? I mean, there's nothing particularly scary about a man carrying around a lifeless skeleton, is there? Makes the skeleton seem harmless. Whereas in the original poster spotlighted this time, the evil skeleton seems anything but harmless. )

"Good grief, you been packing in those fried twinkies lately, haven't you?"
As he stumbled over the threshold with his new bride, his insinuations about her weight got the honeymoon off to a bad start.

And so, as we draw the curtain on the happy couples, we have learned that it matters little who carries whom... as long as they have each other to hold.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Skeletal Cheerleaders

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
Skeletal Cheerleaders

1987, for all of it's other dubious distinctions, gave us two (and really two more than we needed) slasher films about cheerleaders. But even if the films were bad, the posters are cute, upbeat and perky.

When it came to boyfriends, the usually inseperable gal pals found that it was the one thing that could come between them.
(Image Source)

Oh, and don't forget to visit and bookmark my other blog, "Monster Memories!" I have recently disinterred it, winched it up to the roof during a thunderstorm, and brought it back to lumbering life! I'm adding entries about once a week or more, so put it on your list of blogs to check in on regularly. Together we can revive our monster memories!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Scream Issue #6 cover

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The Scream cover art from issue #6, June 1974
(Click on images to enlarge.)

"Always after me Lucky Skull!"

In this awesomely rendered cover painting, Dr. Frankenstein looks as if he has fared a bit more worse for the wear than his movie counterpart. Based on a publicity photo of Peter Cushing for "Frankenstein Created Woman," pictured below, the cover art was for the story inside titled "2073: The Death of The Monster."

"A hush falls over the crowd as Dr. Frankenstein concentrates on getting the spare he needs to win this bowling tournament."

In preparing this blog entry, I was a bit conflicted... the cover was right for Sweet Skulls, but the story inside was more suited for Monster Memories. So, with true Solomoniacal wisdom, I decided to split the two up, put them on each blog, and cross promote the two. If I weren't so humble, I'd say I was a genius.

Obviously the standards for attractiveness have changed over the years.

The panel above comes from the story inside, a neat little tale of the Monster's ultimate end. Of course, he's been dead "for good" before, so consider it just another chapter in the life and many deaths of the Creature.

To read and enjoy the whole tale, go to the Monster Memories entry on it!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Psycho #12: Welcome To My Asylum!

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
"Welcome To My Asylum" from Psycho #12, May 1973

So, I was digging through some stacks of magazines in one of my collection bookcases last night, scanning in a whole bunch of new old stuff to use on my various blogs. I put stuff that I'd like to share in three stacks; one for Sweet Skulls, one for Monster Memories, and one for Held Over! Movie Ads. Going through my stuff for this is so much fun; because if I didn't have an excuse to actually sit down and do it, I might not see it for a long time otherwise. I'm rediscovering a lot I had forgotten about, or at least hadn't thought about for ages. So, blogging is a good thing! I hope you are enjoying the results of my collection-sifting as much as I am.

I only have a few issues of Skywald's Psycho, and they're all a lot of fun. Since the criteria for being featured in this blog is to have "skull-terior" motives, or containing at least one or more of the calcified cadaverous creeps, this story qualifies.

Here's a brief (and I do mean brief) little tale from Issue #12 that I bought in spring of 1973... it places you in the role of the first person, taking a tour of an infernally bad asylum. Did I say infernally? Well, I meant nothing by it... nothing at all!

The End.

Betcha didn't see that one coming, did ya? You know, how it turned out that you were the new inmate.. and that you were dead and all... and in hell... yep, a real shocker of an ending. A twist, if you will. Totally unexpected, infernally surprising, even. Um... uh... well, see ya next time! (Hurriedly beats it.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Skull Head Lights

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The Skull "Head Lite"

From the Nov. 1980 issue of Famous Monsters.

If I had been a kid when this came out, and I got it, you know what I would have liked to have done with it? I'd have waited till after bedtime, then snuck into my little brother's room with it. Then, holding it out in front of me and making it float in the darkness, I would have made the jaw move and spoke for it in a haunting voice, saying "Wa-a-a-a-ke u-u-u-u-p! I have come to take you to... HE-E-E-E-E-ELLLLLL! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!" But the screams and subsequent awakening of the parents and the extreme trouble it would have gotten me into wouldn't have been worth it. Very little was.

The actual product, actually bigger than one would have imagined, knowing most ads.

I imagine more than a few kids that got this put it in the basket of their bike and tooled down the street at dusk terrorizing the neighborhood cats. Of course, the kids that liked this sort of thing grew up and got adult versions to make their cycles look cooler. Pedestrians would look like a deer in headlights when they saw you coming down the street at them, blinding them into targetable immobility with the glaring stare of these chrome skulls.

"You... light up my death... you take my hope... to carry on...!"


And then there's this even more awesome version, which is more scary and less goofy.


You can't run and you can't hide from the cycle-mounted skull light. It will find you in the dark and run you down just for kicks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where The Skeletons Roam

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:


I don't ordinarily feature sites on this blog... I link to them, maybe even mention them. However, this one I'd like to bring your attention to. And don't just click on it and view it at work or casually during the day. To get the full experience, you really need to do it at night, the later the better.

As you navigate through the eerie landscapes, and click on various interactive parts of the image, you will feel a little of the uneasiness you might experience should you be in the woods at the real Devil's Tramping Ground in North Carolina... a mysterious dead spot in the woods steeped in local folklore.

The artist behind the site, Ed Blain, operates Dark Arts Media to showcase his unique Flash creations. The art, combined with original music, really does impart a sense of foreboding... reminding me of the way I felt when watching a spooky movie as a kid, a feeling hard to come by now, as jaded as I am by unrelenting gore effects and shocking images. There is no screaming terror in these artistic expressions, only a visual recreation of some traditional ghost stories, and original material. I think it's the fact that you are made to feel that you are there, and are alone in the dark as you explore. And if you were to be doing that and see some of the sights for real, you would definitely be unsettled.

So, tonight, when you are all alone, and the lights are all out, draw close to your computer, turn on your speakers, and take a walk in the haunted woods. Leave no trail untried, and see where you end up. Also participate in "The Banshee" story, which is quite eerie. You will feel once again that you are six, sitting around the campfire surrounded by the dark, a delicious shiver tickling your spine as you listen to a "true" ghost story.

Here is a list of Ed's pages you will enjoy!

The Tramping Ground
The Maco Lights
The Banshee
The FeeJee Mermaid
Hell's Kitchen Haunted Hallway Cam
The UFO Cam
The Windermere
The Ghost Trick
Stranger Pilgrims
The Lost Magic of Franklin Love
Preview Gargamoth the Monster
The Google Trick

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Look at my brain, mommy!

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The "Bitz" Anatomy Skull

Hey, kids! Want to be a brain surgeon? A Crime Scene Investigator? Mortician? Serial killer? Then you need "Bitz!" The game where you put together then take apart a human skull and brain! Be the envy of all your friends! Learn what you look like inside! Pretend you're Dr. Frankenstein or Hannibal Lector! Conduct your own autopsies! Educational fun for ages 6 and up. Fake blood not included.

"Practice on this instead of your little sister, your mother will love you for it!"

"I don't know, having the top of my skull open just kinda strikes me as funny, ya know?"
More info:

"Baby brains may be underdeveloped, but they are sooo much tastier and tender than those of adults. We Japanese know this."
More info:

Another type of this kind of toy that Herbert West likely played with while growing up.
More info:

Seriously though, any kid getting this at 6 years old is going to be messed up. If he or she doesn't turn out to be a sicko killer with a taste for brains, they will at the very least become a Monster Kid and spend the rest of their life obsessing about weird movies and comics. And nobody wants that! They should turn out normal, emulating Brittney Spears, rapping with Flava Flav, and learning how to steal cars and kill cops while playing XBox or whatever.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Propaganda Skulls

Propaganda art is so cool. Especially when they invoke the skull image to make a point. Either the enemy is death, or you are death to the enemy... the death's head catches the attention, which is perhaps why it is so prevalent in art and the media. Below are a some examples of it's use as a wartime warning.

"Grinning death's head" Artist unknown, 1939-1945

A pencilled careless talk drawing of a grinning death's head skull wearing a German U-boat sailor uniform, with a skeletal hand cupping it's ear in order to listen to useful information, including ‘sailing dates, cargoes or destinations'. With the UK a maritime nation, reliant upon many imported goods, the U-boat created havoc with merchant shipping. With good information, targeting could be more precise, and the damage more devastating.

WWII German propaganda leaflet dropped on Allied troops fighting for Anzio in Italy.

This one is self-explanatory. Hitler=death. Hard now to imagine a time when people had to be told this.

Hmmm... I wonder if George Romero saw this before he made his first zombie movie?

Yes, the skull is nature's way of getting our attention and focusing us on our mortality. After sex, the skull is the most effective way to grab the eye and make a point, hence it's usefulness in propaganda.

Have you hugged a skull today?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monster Memories...LIVES AGAIN!

Before I started Sweet Skulls, I created a blog to post stuff about the monsters of my youth that I loved so much... Monster Memories. It only went as far as one post... and fell into a coma. The fact is, there was such a wide area of topics to choose from that it was just too daunting to add to very often. So I narrowed my focus to skull-oriented items and was able to keep it going more easily.

But, after awhile, there were things I wanted to blog about that didn't fit the format. So, I am resurrecting MM to showcase those things as I get the sinister urge. I will probably only post a new item about once a week, so it won't get to be too much. Without the pressure to post an epic every day, I can handle it and still have fun.

It's at:

So, visit it now and then to stimulate your own monster memories! Oh, and here's you a skull... a screen capture from "Fantasia." Now, that's art.