Friday, October 9, 2015

Frankenstein Friday: Karloff in and out of the Monster makeup

Previously on this date: The Comedy of Terrors and The Rattle of Bones

Here's your weekly dose of Frankenstein goodness! Today we'll be looking at some photos I've come across over the years that haven't yet been featured here, all from the first two Universal Frankenstein films. Enjoy!

As a bonus, here's a shot of Karloff playing the part of the mad scientist alongside Glen Strange's Monster in 1944's House of Frankenstein!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Son of Dracula

Previously on this date: Frankenstein (1931) and Corpse Bride & Hanged Man decorations

When assigning themes to each day of the week, I had a couple of problems with Thursday. Frankly, there just aren't many alliterative words that would make suitable themes. Sure, there are a couple of possibilities, but none were ideal. finally, I decided to just go with the standard Thursday theme used across all social media: Throwback Thursday. That presented its own set of challenges, namely, since I'm doing posts based on classic horror here, every post is a throwback! However, the solution quickly became apparent: Since I'm only doing posts on the weekdays this month, there are quite a few worthy articles from the first couple of years of the blog that are not being linked in the "previously on this date" bit at the beginning of each post. So, on Thursdays this month, I'll choose one of those to re-present for your enjoyment!

Today's throwback is my feature on 1943's Son of Dracula, which was originally posted on November 17, 2010. Despite the miscasting of Lon Chaney Jr. as the vampire king, it's an enjoyable romp in the style of Universal's horror films of the 1940s. It has several things working against it, but the phrase "greater than the sum of its parts" most certainly applies. go check the article out at the link above, and I'll see you back here tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Werewolf Wednesday: Oliver Reed in The Curse of the Werewolf!

Previously on this date: The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and The Frankenstein Project!

1961's The Curse of the Werewolf is generally regarded as one of the lesser films in the Hammer horror cycle, though it's a perfectly decent movie in its own right. (I'll have to get around to doing a full feature on it here one of these days.) It's perhaps best known today for starring a young Oliver Reed. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm convinced that Benicio Del Toro's Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolf Man was based on Reed in this film. Take a look at the photo below and try to tell me you can't see a strong resemblance.

 Get a load of this next one; Hammer definitely knew where their box office bread was buttered!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Transylvania Tuesday: Christopher Lee's Dracula

Previously on this date: Garfield's Halloween Adventure and The Wolf Man!

As we've discussed before on these digital pages, there's no doubt that Bela Lugosi is the definitive Dracula. That said, the great Christopher Lee made the role his own in a series of performances spanning three decades. Indulge in some decadent vampire action today with these shots of Lee in action as the vampire king!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mummy Monday: A Master at Work

Previously on this date: Tombstones and Dracula's Daughter!

Today, enjoy a few photos of makeup master Jack Pierce working on the mask and costume Lon Chaney Jr. wore for the Mummy sequels in which he starred. The sequels to the original (and excellent) The Mummy are infamously for their lack of quality relative to most of Universal's classic horror output, but Chaney made for an imposing monster all the same!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Kickoff!

It's back! Longtime TMR readers will surely recall that this blog began five years ago with me doing a Halloween and/or horror-related post every day of October. I was unable to do that the past couple of years, as work and real-life responsibilities got in the way, and I missed it quite a bit. Unfortunately, those things that eat up my time haven't gone away, but I decided to make a concerted effort to return to daily posting this year. To help things work with my hectic schedule, I'll stick to posting on weekdays(aside from the 31st, which is on a Saturday), which will technically make this 23 days of Halloween, but we'll stick with the 31 Days tag on all the posts for simplicity's sake. You'll only get some cool photos or something along those lines more often than not. I'll make sure it's something worth stopping by for though, so no worries there! I'll also include links to past entries that were posted on the same day in years past. Speaking of, on this day one year ago, we similarly kicked off the month of October, four years ago I had a feature on the Ray Bradbury classic From the Dust Returned, and five years ago, the inaugural post featured the 1933 classic The Invisible Man! I'll mostly stick to a theme for each day of the week; for instance, tomorrow will be Frankenstein Friday! (I do love my alliteration, after all.)

For today, enjoy this assortment of photos from classic horror movies to ease you into that Halloween mood! Here's an awesome shot of Bela Lugosi in full Dracula regalia, from his stage days!

Here are a couple of shots of makeup wizard Jack Pierce working on Boris Karloff.

Peter Lorre looks appropriately macabre with a bald head in 1935's Mad Love.
Glenn Strange's Frankenstein Monster is pretty freaked out by his Batman comic!
Lon Chaney is captivating as always as the tragic clown in 1924's He Who Gets Slapped.
That's it for today. Hope to see you again tomorrow, and each day thereafter! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Opening an Auto World UltraRed chase car!

It's a hotly-debated topic in the world of collectors of... well, pretty much anything that comes in a package: Do you open it, or keep it sealed? It's a common problem among adult collectors of such items as action figures and die-cast cars. There are pros and cons on both sides. If you keep it in the package, it tends to be worth more(assuming it's an item that retains any value at all), but on the other hand, how can you really enjoy it when all you can do is look at it in its sealed plastic prison? This will demonstrate how I feel about the whole thing. MOCers, shield your eyes!
Not only did I open it, but the car I opened is one of the rare UltraRed chase cars!

I'm an opener. I won't presume to tell anyone else how to spend their money, or that the way they choose to enjoy their hobby is wrong, but I see it this way: These things are made to be enjoyed and appreciated. Some people derive pleasure simply from the knowledge that they own a certain collectible, and seeing it inside its package is enough. That's perfectly fine, but I like to go beyond that. What that means for action figures is appreciating the sculpt up close, with no barriers (clear or otherwise) in the way, and putting them in silly or badass poses. When it comes to cars, I like to examine the models up close and really take in the detail, especially when they're as well-made as Auto World's product. Whatever your preference, the important thing to remember is that we're all enjoying our hobby in whatever way we see fit, and it's really not something that's worth arguing about. We share some common interests, and we should be celebrating that, not fighting with one another.

On that note, I'll leave you today with a shot of my small collection of Auto World die-cast cars. I only have a few of their models, but they're probably my favorite manufacturer of die-cast cars right now. They do beautiful work at a good price, and they're pretty easy to find, to boot! As always, click to embiggen the photo.
See you all next time!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

LEGO Collectible Minifigures Monster Series Grope Guide!

It's that time again! Another LEGO CMF series is hitting the stores, and the bags are just begging to be groped, bought, and opened! Even better, this series seems to have been designed specifically with me in mind, as it is all monsters! (The Haunted house is about to get seriously overcrowded!)

For whatever reason, the stores around here are only just getting the new series, and the local Target-- which is usually my go-to source for the CMFs-- has stopped carrying them altogether, so I haven't been able to put together my usual grope guide to help you TMR readers who are also lovers of the LEGO CMF line. (There must be dozens of you, right?) Thankfully, a friend sent me a photo he found at this blog, which is a great guide! As always, click on the pic to embiggen.

I'll be using this in my own bag-groping adventures. (Yeah, I know what I said. Quit your snickering!) So save this to your phone so you'll have it handy, and get groping!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Simpstravaganza finale: Construction of the LEGO Simpsons House!

I toldja this would be a big one! When the LEGO Group announced that they would be producing a set based on the iconic Simpsons house, excitement spread like wildfire across the internet, and the widespread appeal of the Simpsons brought it a great deal more attention than a LEGO set typically receives. When the set was unveiled, many were quick to hail it as the greatest LEGO set ever produced. Does it lay claim to that lofty title? You'll have to wait until the end of the article to see! (Or, y'know, scroll down to the bottom, if you're the impatient sort.)

As a hardcore Simpsons fan who has been watching since the Tracey Ullman Show days, I knew I would be getting this set. At 2,523 pieces, it is the largest LEGO set that I own by a fairly significant margin. (The next largest one I own is the Haunted House, which clocks in at 2,064 pieces.) I milked it for all it was worth; eschewing the numbered bags that are designed to make the build quicker and easier, I dumped them all into a bin, put on some classic Simpsons episodes, and spent the next three days building this beast. (My estimate for the total build time is about fifteen hours. If that sounds too daunting, you could easily knock off a few if you used the numbered bags. I don't get to enjoy a massive build like this too often, so I wanted to string it out.) I documented the build fairly extensively, so for now, I'll let a selection of those photos do the talking.

 Impressive, eh? It's difficult to get the size of the set across in the photos; it really is quite large. Devoted Simpsons fans will immediately notice that the interior layout is not 100% show-accurate; unfortunately, the realities of toy production mean that making the house larger and more accurate would have resulted in a set that was easily twice as expensive, and $200 is really pushing it as it is. All the most important rooms are present, though the scale can seem a bit small at times. The kitchen is particularly crowded. It must also be noted that the layout is not consistent on the show itself-- note, for example, the magic door in the kitchen that leads to various places depending on the needs of the episode in question-- so it's tough to hold any inaccuracies against this set.

Once you get past that, you can appreciate the amazing detail in the set. Things like the workbench and tool set in the garage, the dented fender on Homer's car, the posters and comics scattered around Bart's room, the vacuum cleaner tucked into an alcove behind the staircase, and the “Property of Ned Flanders” labels on the various items Homer has “borrowed” over the years propel a great set into truly legendary territory. (The newly-released Kwik-E-Mart appears to double down on this!) 

Most of the issues I have with the set are related to the minifigures that are included. Obviously, including the family is a no-brainer, and Ned Flanders is a similarly obvious inclusion. However, the family has a sleepy/stoned appearance that just makes them look odd, with the exception of Maggie. (I have the Collectible Minifigure Series Maggie displayed inside my house; the one included with the house is identical, but has normal wide-open eyes.) It's understandable that TLG felt the needed to differentiate these minifigs from the ones included in the CMF series, but one would think that such details as Homer's tie and Marge's apron were enough. As things are, anyone who buys this set and skips or cannot find the CMF versions will be stuck with less desirable versions of most of the family, and that's a bit of a bummer. Maggie is fine, as noted, and Flanders is okily-dokily.

Another drawback is the absence of the family pets. (At least they are now available in the Simpsons CMF series two, but it honestly kinda sucks that we have to buy another Lisa and Maggie to get Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II. Lisa is a neat variant, but Maggie is exactly the same.) It should also be noted that the floors are completely covered with tiles, making it tough to get minifigs to stay in place. This can be easily fixed by simply popping off a tile so you can lock a minifig's feet in place, so it's not a big deal. On the contrary, the tiled floors look sharp, and I'm glad TLG made the decision to do them like that.

This set is definitely greater than the sum of its parts; its drawbacks are few, and its positives are innumerable. So, is it the greatest LEGO set ever produced? In my opinion, it is not, though it is a solid top ten, possibly even top five, contender. That said, putting aside all objectivity, it is my second-favorite set of all time. (For the record, my all-time favorite LEGO set remains the Haunted House.) It's a must-have for hardcore Simpsons fans and lovers of great LEGO sets alike. I feel this is destined to become one of those “holy grail” sets in the years to come, so if you're interested, better get one while you can! (It is currently out of stock on the official LEGO Shop website, but they are expecting more, and it's currently instock at Don't pay ridiculous scalper prices if you can help it.) Hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at one of the coolest Simpsons collectibles out there, and if you missed any Simpstravaganza articles, you can catch up right here. Enjoy the season finale Sunday, and I'll see you all next time!