Monday, November 30, 2009

El Chupacabra!!! (A Day of Great Art!)

I spent last Saturday at the awesome Art Vs. Craft Show here in Milwaukee, and came home with a few really cool goodies. The show calls itself 'an alternative market for innovative and handmade work'. I've been to it three times since it started a few years ago, and it never disappoints.

Behold, the Chupacabra!

This was my graduation present from a good friend who I attended the show with :)

Courtesy of Christina Ward Creatures.

Let me tell you, this woman makes all kinds of fabulous creatures including feral cats) and her monsters were selling like hotcakes at this show. I lost track of the number of people I saw carrying around a Chupacabra at the show. And she also sells them to you in these fabulous t-shirt bags (t-shirts that she cuts and sews to make bags with handles- mine came in a Megadeth tshirt/bag, of all things). Unfortunately, her Etsy shop is empty now, but hopefully she'll have items for sale again soon.

I also got this great messenger bag by Jimbot:
Trust me, my photography is not doing it justice. It's comfy to carry, it's freaking HUGE and it has pockets on the sides, and zippered pockets inside.

Not only does he make great bags (I carried this today and I'm not sure how I managed to live without it until now - where have you been all my life, Jimbot??) but he's a fabulous artist. His paintings are beyond yummy.

I'll definitely be looking to pick up some of these soon.
Go to his website and check out his gallery, etsy shop and blog.

I also picked up some awesome zombie prints from Matt Cipov:
You can buy this and other great zombie prints at his Etsy shop here.

Plus - when I bought the zombie prints, he gave me a free sticker with a zombie on it that says 'Ask Me About My Zombies' (!!!!)

I was so pumped to see so much how much scary/horror/sci-fi art was available at the show. Can't wait for the next round.

In the not-scary category, I also picked up a great set of really yummy soaps from Biggs and Featherbelle.
If you check out products on their website, and wonder if something smells good, trust me, IT DOES. It's a small company run by two sisters (mom was also at the show this weekend). They also do shows all over the country - so check here to see if they'll be in your city anytime soon.

Support an artist for the holidays - zombie prints for everyone on your Christmas list!

Mother Firefly

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boris Karloff Blogathon

Did you enjoy the Boris Karloff Blogathon? I hope you went to Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog to check out the list of bloggers and read the entries.

As I said recently, horror movies and their classic icons are a huge part of my childhood - and Boris Karloff is one of those people that I don't remember a time when I didn't know who he was. There have been so many great contributions and fantastic essays from some wonderful bloggers out there -that I don't know that I have much that's new or interesting to add to the conversation.

But since Mr. Karloff is such a big part of my childhood memories - I thought I'd focus on that and talk about my favorite memories of him and his movies in my life.

1. Frankenstein
Yes- pretty obvious. Besides just how wonderful the film is, Boris Karloff and his portrayal of the monster are associated with one of my absolute favorite monster memories of very early childhood. I've mentioned several times how my mom and I used to spend our Saturday afternoons watching Sir Graves Ghastly host classic horror movies. I don't know how old I was when this started, but I do know by the age of four, I was as familiar with the stories of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Mummy as I was with the characters on Sesame Street.

One of my absolute favorite memories of those times was when I was watching Frankenstein with my mom, and the famous scene with the little girl and the flowers came on. My mom explained to me that the monster didn't intend to hurt her, that the monster wasn't actually mean - and that everything he did in the film had to do with how people treated him like a monster based on how he looked. This must have really affected me because for one) I still remember the conversation, and two) I wasn't really ever afraid of the monster. (Remember the list of scary things under my bed? Notice that Dr. Frankenstein's creation wasn't listed...)

In fact, my mother's explanation had the opposite affect on me - and to this day I feel all warm and fuzzy when I see that big old guy with the bolts in his head. It's probably why I used to collect 'Frankensteinia' and also why a really good way to make me cry is to make me watch the scene in The Monster Squad when Phoebe and the Monster join hands. Makes my little black heart go squee every time.

I'm sure it also made me aware for the first time that things are going on in films that we don't always notice at first glance. I'm not sure why my mom felt the need to explain this to a four year old, but I'm very glad that she did. Not only did it give me a great memory that I still cherish, but I'm sure that it also led me to start looking for more under the surface in films - espcecially horror films - and I'm sure it's a big part of why I'm writing this blog today.

Karloff's voice alone is the reason for at least two more of my favorites from childhood:

2. Mad Monster Party:

3. The Grinch That Stole Christmas:

4. The Boogie Man Will Get You:

Once upon a time I was a very poor college student earning my first degree. Those were the days of bologna sandwiches and ramen noodles for dinner, and also the days of a very ancient VHS player that loved to act up on me right when I needed it the most. Take, for instance, the night that some cable station was running a marathon of Peter Lorre movies, so I put a new tape in the player and left it to go all night long. The next day, I had a great time watching the Lorre-athon, but especially I really got into the last film that they played, which starred Lorre and Karloff. Until - the tape suddenly stopped and I realized that I'd been foiled again by my electronic piece of crap.
I searched for this movie for years - and somewhere along the way even forgot the name of it. All I had to go by was that Lorre and Karloff were in it, and that Lorre kept a kitten in his pocket that he seemed to have put there absentmindedly. Finally (God Bless IMDB) I was able to rent it, but only after it being on my most wanted list for a decade. Not too many unfinished films have plagued me in this way and for so long.

5. Black Sabbath:

This was a Christmas present about five years ago (from my mom, of course!). I ended up being alone on Christmas night and I decided to watch this. It went perfectly with a winter's night. I thougth it was deliciously creepy and the segment with Karloff was the scariest.

Please check out the fabulous list of bloggers and their posts on Boris Karloff on Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Boris Karloff Blogathon

The Boris Karloff Blogathon starts today!

Go to the Frankenstein: the Frankensteinia Blog to check out its AWESOMENESS and also see the list of participants.

I'll be posting my own contribution soon...

Mother Firefly

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trick R Treat

Wasn't able to rent it on Netflix since it came out.

Couldn't find it in Best Buy the week it came out.

Finally broke down and bought the dang Blu-Ray on Amazon last week.

Worth Every Penny.

Gorgeous, creepy, beautiful - a perfect movie for Halloween.

Yes, my cheap ass aka Grad Student (but not for much longer!!) actually spent over five dollars for a movie. You can clutch your chest now and tell Elizabeth you're coming to join her, Honey!

You get a gold star and mucho love from me if you get that,
-Mother Firefly

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trilogy of Terror or, Scary Things Come In Little Packages

Trilogy of Terror. I'm not sure it's so appropriately named. While it's cool to see Karen Black play four different roles in the three short stories - I think a better title would be:


Because we all know, Trilogy of Terror is really about this dude right here:Booga. Nuff said.

I never actually saw this movie until just a couple years ago. But I'd still list this little turd as one of the absolute scariest things I ever saw as a kid. Because, one night, cuddled in bed with my mom, I saw the friggin' advertisement for this movie on the TV. That's all I ever needed.

One scene = scarred for LIFE.

I was so completely, utterly EFFING scared out of my skull, that I don't even know how I saw that and CONTINUED TO LIVE. Seriously. I already knew at five that the underneath of my bed was totally filled with monsters. Yep, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, and the mean monkeys from Planet of the Apes all lived down there, just waiting to get me. And that's why I slept with my back to the edge of the bed - because then they could only WATCH - turn over, and you're dead meat, buddy. (I know it's twisted logic - consider it a view into how the five year old brain works)

So here now I had a whole new monster to join the others - one WHO WOULD FIT DOWN THERE PERFECTLY. With his little weapons. Just waiting.

While I'm not scared of him any more - in fact, I watch this and think about how I'd take down 12 inches of possessed Zuni Fetish Warrior. Cause, hey, you never know, and some days I need a break from outlining my zombie survival plan.

Although, I have to admit the final scene is pretty chilling. (And you will just have to watch it on the outside chance that you don't know what I'm talking about).

So, in a nutshell, ToT is really a Trilogy, featuring three stories all titled with a different woman's name (or names), and all the women are played by Karen Black. The first two stories have interesting plots - but they barely get started before, boop, they're over.

If the third story didn't feature our creepy little friend here - and I suspect that the reason it's persisted in popularity has a LOT to do with memories similar to mine - I don't know that I'd be watching it, let alone buy it.

But Yay! We do have our creepy little friend, and even though he was almost the death of me, that initial terror is now among my myriad of happy memories of being completely, utterly terrified by monsters in the movies.

As I was writing this review, I wondered if maybe..just maybe......

Available at Amazon, kids:
I could not put this on my wish list fast enough.

Don't forget to look under the bed,
Mother Firefly

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Attack of the 50 Ft Memories

I think I probably started watching horror films the day I was born.

My childhood memories go back quite far - I can remember things that happened well before I started school. I don't remember the first horror movie I saw - in fact, I don't remember not knowing who Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Vincent Price were. (I also don't remember not knowing who Elvis was, but that's a story for another day).

Consquently, I don't remember the first time I saw Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Hammer films - the list goes on. They just have been always a part of my life and the beginning of awareness of when my life started. And that makes me pretty damn happy.

But for whatever reason, I DO remember the first time I saw the Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman. I also remember my mom announcing with great excitement that it was going to be on TV. Also extremely unusual for me, is that I remember most of the plot as well. I'm not sure why the first time I saw this particular movie is so memorable to me - and for whatever reason, I haven't had the opportunity to see it in a very long time.

I also remember asking my mom (probably more than once) where the heck the 50 ft woman was when the movie started. Yes, my short attention span was already well in place. Show me the monsters, bitches!!!!

Our movie begins with the evening news and the report of some 'strange red fireball' that's been making its way around the planet.

Using sophisticated state of the art 'Finger Technology', the reporter shows us on his trusty globe all the places that the fireball has been seen, and then just by dragging his finger from the last place it was seen to North America, he's somehow able to tell us the exact time it will show up in our country.
The reason you don't see this spage age technology anymore is because the government bought it so they can use it in secret.

The movie wastes no time getting to the action as we see Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes) driving and screaming down the road. Guess this is what has her all messed up:

And this ain't helping matters either:

She runs back to town to find the sheriff and tell everyone what she's seen- of course nobody believes her. She also thinks that the giant tried to take the huge diamond around her neck. They just want to give her some coffee. You know us women, if we get upset, we're probably just drunk!

Then we find out what set her off to begin with - her jerk of a husband Harry (William Hudson) is at the local bar playing kissy face with his girlfriend, Honey (Yvette Vickers):

We also find out in short order that Nancy: has 50 million dollars, and has been in a sanitarium at least once. Well, you know what that means! Harry and his girlie friend decide in order to be together, all they need to do is just push her over the brink, lock her in 'the nuthouse', and then they can be together and enjoy Nancy's money. But they decide to play it all low key - which explains EXACTLY why they're discussing their plan in a crowded bar hanging all over each other.

The doctor comes in the morning, says it's all due to 'mental exhaustion' and alcohol, prescribes drugs and says another trip to the sanitarium would probably kill her. But somehow I'm not too worried about Nancy, a chick that dresses this great isn't going to have the wool pulled over her eyes easily:

Oh, look it's time for the news again:This man is completely incapable of connecting the dots.

Hey, it's the same dude with the magic finger! But now he's got some REAL news, he's reporting that Nancy (who we find out has the Star of India Diamond around her neck) is seeing flying saucers and alien giants! But, he reassures us, it's probably nothing - it's probably just a side effect of all the DRINKING she does.

Uh - didn't this dude just tell us that a big flying FREAKING FIREBALL was directly on its way to us???

Nancy decides she needs to prove to everyone that she's not crazy or drunk. She tells her butler to get the car and her revolver, because we're going on an alien hunt!
No surprise, they're successful:I'm sure at this point, the preschooler me was all, That is NOT a fifty foot LADY!!!!

Well, turns out I still had to wait through the rest of the story which involves radioactivity (because of course it does, things are growing out of control, people!)

And then we see a REALLY big hand......and Nancy's crack medical team deciding the only thing they can do is chain her up and sedate her.Finally, FINALLY, after more sedatives and nursing care and blaming all of Nancy's issues on reaching the 'age of maturity' (YES! GO MENOPAUSE!!!!) and an investigation of the spaceship which leads to cool shots like this:

Yes, FINALLY, in the whole last TEN MINUTES of the movie, we're rewarded with a REAL. LIVE. FIFTY. FOOT. WOMAN.

That looks like shit.

Lord knows my little black heart beats fast every time I see the zipper in the monster's back - and I will take a cheesy rubber space alien any day over a CGI anything....but even as much as I heart that kind of thing - I have to admit that 50 Ft Woman is really, really disappointing. For one thing, I can see right through her, and the same shot of her walking is used about a half dozen times.

Although there are times that props were built and she looks pretty damn righteous:

However, sometimes the props are pretty shiteous - as in this scene, when it's obvious that the prop that's supposed to be her husband is so badly made that it's always kept out of frame - except for this shot when it's very clear that the fake body doesn't even have feet:But I'm not ripping on the movie - I still had a great time watching it and now I finally understand why I was so impatient about when the big tall lady was going to show up. I remembered a lot about this movie but I definitely didn't remember that she was only in the last ten minutes of the movie. It would have been great if they'd given her even five more minutes to really tear up the crappy town that just wanted to give her coffee and blame everything on her hot flashes!

All in all, a perfect movie for a Saturday afternoon, and a great trip down memory lane.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Deaths of Ian Stone

'The 8 Films to Die For' Series....don't you wish they were better? I do. Granted, I've probably seen less than half....but I've yet to see one that really impressed me. Some of them are better than others, and some of them have good concepts that unfortunately lose steam half way through. I'd have to place Ian Stone in that latter category.

The film starts out interestingly - we have Ian Stone (Mike Vogel) whose life is cut short when he's attacked by something very dark and scary on his way home from a hockey game.

After being brutally attacked (and killed, we assume) he suddenly wakes up at his desk at work....and isn't that blond woman at his office the woman that was just his girlfriend when he was playing hockey? Then Ian goes home to a different woman (played by the terrific Jamie Murray) who he's definitely involved with now. The mystery grows as Ian tries to recount his glory days playing hockey by showing her his yearbook - only the person in the team picture wearing Ian's number isn't Ian at all...

Ian tries to figure out why he's having memories that don't appear to have actually happened to him....and just when I was really starting to get into the story, a mysterious creepy man shows up with all kinds of warnings for Ian that he's about to be killed, and that he has been killed fact, every day for a long time - and then he starts a new life over.

Instead of just letting the story unfold, and letting Ian (and the audience) unravel this mystery slowly, the movie proceeds to spill out the whole story about halfway through. Leaving a) no mystery left at all, and therefore b) not much else that can happen beyond a whole lot of killing Ian a few more times and some running and screaming. And oh yeah, Mr. Mysterious Man tells Ian exactly who he is and what he has to do to fix everything.

And that's pretty much it. Except that it goes on about an hour and a half. The CGI effects become annoying, and I didn't even really care too much about the outcome once the mystery had been taken away.

I'll continue to watch more of the '8 Films' series - but my expectations are pretty low at this point.

High point of the DVD -the extras (which were the webisodes from the Miss After Dark HorrorFest 2007 contest). More fun than the movie and a lot more suspenseful.

-Mother Firefly

Monday, November 9, 2009


Just finished streaming this short documentary on zombie films.

Even though it says a 'who's who of the zombie world', it really is more of a tribute to George Romero and his influence on the American zombie film. And there ain't NOTHING wrong with that.

There's some discussion of what zombie films were like before Night of the Living Dead, how NOLD changed zombies on film forever, a short fast vs.slow zombie debate (the film seems to come out on the slow side of the argument), the evolution of zombie makeup, and a fun discussion about how those of us that love the zombie also LOVE to plan out how we're going to survive the onslaught of the undead.

A lot of it was stuff I'd heard before, but the way the interviews were done and the context in which they were put made most of it seem new. If you're a big fan of Romero, Savini, Nicotero, and friends, then you'll probably enjoy this documentary.

nom nom nom

However, if you want more information about zombie films from other countries and how those filmmakers were influenced by American films - or vice versa - well, you're going to have to wait till someone makes that film, because this ain't it.

But it's a very well done documentary, and it covers a lot of ground in a short period of time (56 minutes! My short attention span thanks you!) and maybe best of all, it's directed by a woman-Donna Davies. See - the ladies love zombies too! Yay!

The documentary also spent some time on this Canadian film for some reason. For reasons I'm sure will become apparent, I. MUST. SEE. THIS:

OMG. OMG. OMG. (Adds it to Netflix list)

It was also fun because just when you think you know it all about Romero films, hey, you turn around and learn some more. Watching this made me want to sit down and watch them all -Night to Dawn to Day to Land to Diary....and then throw in Knightriders just because I wanna. Because any day is a good day to watch men joust on motorcycles.

Especially when those men include Tom Savini without a shirt on.

Uncle George, you totally ROCK!

Word to your mother.

Mother Firefly

Still Around

Wow.....I can't believe it's been an entire week since I posted. It feels especially weird after getting in the habit of writing every day. But - the end of the semester (the LAST semester!) is winding down, and I'm really committed to finishing everything that I possibly can before Thanksgiving. That's about three weeks before the official end of the semester - but I'm especially motivated to get all the school obligations finished up before the end of the month because....


The whole job hunting process took about twice as long as I anticipated - after all, it wasn't that long ago that it seemed like my colleagues were picking jobs off trees....... I'll be starting orientation the first week in December - so I'd really like to start knowing that my school obligations are fulfilled.

So I've been busy in the last week organizing, planning out the rest of the semester, and putting the final touches on Version 3.0 of my clinical project. Then I got the good news, took a day to celebrate, and then woke up with a head cold....and spent the day watching football and napping.

The only thing I've had time to watch since Halloween was a Dimension Extreme film called Botched.

Stephen Dorff plays a thief who needs to do one last job to work off his debts to his boss. The job he thought would do just that ends going horribly wrong, so he's sent to Russia to steal a precious artifact. Since it's his last chance to put things right - or pay the consequences, we're pretty sure it's not going to go smoothly.
He's paired with a couple of Russian brothers - one painfully inept and the other with some real anger issues - who don't make the job any easier. The artifact is located on the top floor of a very tall building. The ride up goes just fine but the problems begin on the ride back down....

They end up with a full elevator of people who they get stranded with on a mysterious floor of the hotel.....the thieves attempt to take control by creating a hostage situation - but it's soon apparent that someone else is calling all the shots. Just who are these people they think they've taken hostage? Is that really hotel security on the phone? And why are there portraits on the wall made of human skin??

I thought Botched was fun - I didn't think too hard about it, and I liked the vibe of black humor that was going on. I also liked the chemistry between Stephen Dorff and Jamie Murray. She was also on the second season of Dexter - and I thought she did a great job as well. It was refreshing to see a female character who wasn't falling apart or relying on the man to figure everything out. Smart and pretty women in horror films - who knew?

I was curious to see if she'd done any other horror films, and through an IMDB search, I found that she did 'The Deaths of Ian Stone' (from the 8 Films to Die For series) and she's rumored to have a part in an upcoming film called Devil's Playground. IMDB says the movie is about a man's search for a cure to the zombie apocalypse - while he is slowly becoming a zombie himself. Could be interesting.

Well, I hope that life has a better balance this week, and it's not all focused on work... I did just get a shipment of horror films (via the Amazon horror sale) so I'm anxious to get into those. I have a few more Something Weird double features, a few classic films, and a couple of foreign goodies as well........

Happy Happy Joy Joy,
Mother Firefly

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Time for Something Weird Part II

I said that my 'Something Weird' Post would be part 1 of here I am to make good on my, um, promise.

I have to warn you, though.....the films on this double feature makes The Beast of Camp Sunshine look like ....well, an actual movie.

But we don't need much to put monsters and boobies in the same movie, right? And let me assure you, besides those two things, there's not a whole lot else going on in these movies.

In Kiss Me Quick, we have Sterilox - an alien on a mission to take an Earth woman back to his planet. He ends up in the castle of Dr. Breedlove, a scientist who just happens to have a bunch of half naked women go-go dancing and stripping. Thank god for serendipity.
So the movie goes like this: Dr Breedlove shows a 'specimen' to Sterilox - said 'specimen' has a scene with stripping, go-go dancing, or both - and then Sterilox says he's not sure if said 'specimen' will do. Push repeat.

Some of this is kind of amusing in a cheesy and campy kind of way - I found the women doing topless go-go dancing while trying to balance half full beakers of liquid especially funny.

And every once in a while, a monster shows up for fun:

The worst part of the movie? The conversations between Sterilox and Dr. Breedlove. They're annoying as hell and really repetitive. For me, the movie was fun in a campy sort of time-capsule way - but even that got old after twenty minutes.

Movie #2, House on Bare Mountain, actually makes a small attempt to weave a story around the monsters and topless women.

We have Granny Good who runs a school for girls, where we get to see women educated in the best way possible - which evidently involves reading the dictionary topless. She's also got a werewolf for some reason or another:Werewolves are apparently good at making moonshine - or this one is, anyway, because that's what Granny Good's got hers doing.

We also spend an EXTENSIVE amount of time learning about the educational program that Granny has her girls on. It's very well rounded, including an exercise program that involves lots of jumping:

The fine arts:

And hygiene:

The end of the movie culminates in a costume party, spiked punch, and the cops trying to bust Granny making moonshine.

One of the undercover cops discovers there's a werewolf in the basement:

How is it that Frankenstein always manages to show up in these movies?

Some of the girls have to make their own costumes.

You get a quarter if you can tell me WHAT IN THE HELL THIS SHIT IS:
(And yes, I promise you, that's the costume she made for the party)

In the end, it isn't a party until Frankenstein is swinging from the rafters:
I'm pretty sure that the Phantom of the Opera put him up to that.

These campy little 'nudie-cutie' films are innocent fun - it's interesting, if nothing else, to see what used to be considered sexy or titillating, and how society's views on that have changed over the years. I enjoyed the other set more, especially The Monster of Camp Sunshine - the whole nudist camp - mutant monster storyline really amused me. All the films are really just vehicles to feature topless women, with the difference being that Beast/Camp Sunshine also extoll the virtues of the nudist camp and how wonderfully free it is to be naked. Kiss/House doesn't have any such pretense - they just want to show you naked women and get them to dance or shower.

Overall, it was fun to watch these movies as a little time capsule of an era gone by. Even though I can't put these movies over as some kind of forgotten classics, I'm still glad that there's a company like SW out there who takes the time to preserve them and package them in a great way. SW always packs their releases full of extras - including short films that go along with the theme of the movies.

Monster a Go-Go,
Mother Firefly