Friday, August 31, 2012

Jakks Pacific Brings Back Mini Rubber Monsters With S.L.U.G. Zombies!


It wasn't even that long ago that going into Toys R Us was a depressing and uninteresting experience.  Lame new toys.  Blah.

And then, over the course of the past year or so, things began to change.  The toy industry began experiencing a huge resurgence in 80's toy lines, and soon the shelves at Toys R Us became stocked with everything from old classics like Garbage Pail Kids and Dr. Dreadful's gross out labs to new lines inspired by toys from the past such as The Trash Pack and Stinky Little Trash Monsters.  Throw in some classic Masters of the Universe and Thundercats toys, along with a whole line of Evil Dead 2 action figures, and a trip into Toys R Us these days is needless to say pretty damn awesome.  Hell, I rarely make a pit stop in there without finding something new and exciting that makes my eyes light up like a 10 year old boy on Christmas morning.

My latest find, which I just made tonight, is a new line from Jakks Pacific called S.L.U.G. (Scary Little Ugly Guys) Zombies, a modern day zombified take on the M.U.S.C.L.E and Monster In My Pocket mini figures from the 80's and 90's.  I was surprised to discover that the packs of three that I found were labeled as being from Series 3, being that I had never heard about these.  But I believe the line was just started a few months back, so I guess they're just churning out new ones at a pretty quick pace.  Aint nothing wrong with that!

In any event, I of course could not resist picking up some of these, and at just $3.99 per pack of three, I ended up snatching up two packs, which each contain two green zombies and one tan colored zombie hunter.  Whadya say we crack these bad boys open and take a closer look at the Scary Little Ugly Guys that are on the inside?!

Extra Crispy, Zero Hero, Riled-Up Riley
Basehit Bones, Jeet Kune Dead, Woody The Wrecker

Now the coolest thing about these little guys, as you may have noticed in the pictures above, is that many of them are quite clearly inspired by real life people/actors from horror movies, though the references in name are of course indirect due to the fact that the likenesses are not officially licensed in any way, shape or form.  Extra Crispy is obviously supposed to be KFC's Colonel Sanders, while Jeet Kune Dead is Bruce Lee.

And here's where things get even cooler ...
When it comes to the tan colored zombie hunter figures, these two are clearly two iconic zombie hunters from recent horror films; Riled-Up Riley being Shaun from Shaun of the Dead, paddle and all, and Woody The Wrecker being Woody Harrelson from Zombieland.  At one point in the film Woody wields a pick axe just like that, and the figure even has the gun holster positioned on his leg like he had.  Hell, the description of the character lists Woody The Wrecker as being a fan of junk food, a reference to his love affair with Twinkies.  That's right folks, we now have ourselves the very first Tallahassee toy.  Too cool!!

Looking at pictures from past series', these indirect references to pop culture figures are nothing new, as everyone from Rambo to Elvis, Abe Lincoln to Hulk Hogan has been given the bootleg Scary Little Ugly Guy treatment.  I'm not sure if all the characters are supposed to be references to real people, but there appears to be a mix between those and original characters.

As a dude who has a big time childhood connection to the M.U.S.C.L.E and Monster In My Pocket figurines, I absolutely love these things, and the indirect references to wrestlers, actors and pop culture personalities are but the icing on the cake of what is already an awesome little line of throwback toys.  Online based company October Toys has been churning out similar figures for the past couple years, but it's awesome to see a big time company with widespread exposure like Jakks getting in on the fun.  I approve.  Big time.

Learn more over at the official S.L.U.G. website and pick up your own Scary Little Ugly Guys at your local Toys R Us.  They apparently even have packs of 12 that are shaped like caskets, as well as blind mystery packs, so keep an eye out for those too.

Now get out there and collect 'em all!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Release Review : V/H/S


It's always an exciting thing to sit down and finally watch a movie that you've been hotly anticipating for the better part of a year.  That's exactly what I did tonight, when I grabbed myself a Dunkin' Donuts iced pumpkin latte and pumpkin donut, and plopped down $9.99 to rent V/H/S On Demand.  As a man who absolutely loves horror anthologies as well as the VHS format that this film is celebrating (sort of...), I have been incredibly excited about V/H/S for quite some time now, excitement which has only peaked with a recent wave of incredibly positive reviews on pretty much every blog that I read.

So then, does V/H/S live up to the incredible amounts of hype my fellow bloggers have bestowed upon it?  Well, the latte and donut were pretty fuckin' good.  The movie?  Meh.

The basic premise of V/H/S, for those who may not be aware, is that it's the first ever found footage anthology, presented by a group of dickhead criminal friends who are offered a well paying job to break into an old dude's house, and steal a mysterious VHS tape.  It pays more than they generally get for grabbing chicks in parking lots and ripping their shirts off for the camera (a measly $50), so they take the job and head into the house, where they find the old dude dead in a chair, positioned in front of a bunch of scrambled televisions.  They begin sifting through his many VHS tapes, trying to find the one they're being paid to lift, and as they pop the tapes in to check them out, we are treated to five different found footage tales of terror, with the story of the hoodlums serving as the wraparound sixth story that ties the whole room together.  Er, the whole movie together.

This awesome concept was thought up by Bloody Disgusting's Brad Miska, who teamed up with several hot young up and coming filmmakers to write and direct the individual stories.  Let's take a bit of a closer look at each of those stories, which run about 20 minutes a piece.  Since the stories are all about the mystery of what's gonna happen next, I will keep these brief so as not to spoil anything.



After a solid 15 minutes is spent introducing us to the annoying band of misfits that serve to present each story, V/H/S kicks off with an entertaining bang with this tale, which is shown to us entirely through the lens of a pair of glasses outfitted with a video camera.  The plan is that a group of college kids are going to pick up a chick, bring her back to their motel room, and film one of them having sex with her.  Of course, things go horribly awry, when one of the girls they bring back turns out to be a whole lot more creepy than she looks.  And she looks pretty damn creepy.  But totally cute.  In an Angela Bettis sort of way.  I love Angela Bettis.  And now Hannah Fierman too.

This was my favorite story of the bunch, totally entertaining to watch and with a nice gory little payoff.  Amateur Night reminded me a lot of a Tales From The Crypt episode, and it's both highly creepy and a whole lot of fun.  Despite the intro wraparound being lackluster, and fairly annoying to watch, this segment was a solid way to start the film off proper.

Also want to mention that the actors in this one all did a fantastic job.  Really felt like watching real footage of a bunch of drunk dudes being drunk dudes.  So kudos to them.


This is the segment that I was most excited to check out, given my love for the films of Ti West.  The story is about a man and his woman that are road tripping through the Grand Canyon, who encounter a creepy chick in the motel they're staying in.  Creepy chicks are kinda the name of the game with this whole film, in case you hadn't noticed.  The story begins in typical slow burn Ti West fashion, but like the majority of his work, ends with a pretty weak payoff.  I dug the characters a lot and was very interested in where the story was going, but ultimately the finale of this one is where V/H/S started to lose me.  And it was pretty much all downhill from there.



McQuaid takes things in a different direction with his installment, a short slasher in the woods flick.  Girl brings friends out to the woods, they get high, skinny dip and then die.  That sorta thing.  Didn't like this one at all.  Don't want to give anything away in regards to the killer, but it was all just too silly for my liking.  Nice little shot on video 80's slasher vibe towards the end, I will say that though.



This is probably my least favorite segment in the film, a Skype chat between a girl and her boyfriend that gets creepy when ghosts start popping up behind the chick.  This one was just totally uninteresting from the word go, with a lame payoff that is never explained.  Kept thinking everything was gonna somehow come together by the end of the movie, where some unexplained stuff like the twist in this one would be explained, but alas, such a tie up never came. Boo.



Annnd ... another dud for me.  This one takes place on Halloween night of 1998, in case you couldn't tell by the title, and is basically about a group of friends who go to a costume party and find themselves in a twisted Night of the Demons type situation.  Again, boring story with a payoff that doesn't serve to make the boredom worth enduring.  I will admit that I had bored and sleepy eyes by the time I made it to this one, which certainly didn't help.

Soooo, here's the deal.

I knew I was going to hate to have to come on here and say this, because I wanted to like this movie so very much, but boredom is kinda the name of the game with me when it comes to V/H/S.  Though the concept is awesome, hands down the best thing about the entire movie, the stories just aren't very good.  And for an anthology film, that shit just isn't acceptable.  Aside from the first story, which I had a blast with, I was pretty much bored for the remainder of the film, so much so that by the time I reached the last couple stories I was honestly just waiting for it to end.  The movie is just too damn long (nearly two hours) and the stories too damn uninteresting for me to really say anything too positive about it.  Hell, even the wraparound is fairly uninteresting.

If I'm being honest, though I was incredibly hopeful about this movie, I had a feeling that this was the way I was going to feel about it.  Based on the concept and talent involved, I was so pumped up about the movie when I first heard about it.  But after the trailer hit the net, I really wasn't impressed.  It just didn't look all that great, or at least as great as I had imagined it looking in my head when I first heard about it, and unfortunately I ended up feeling about it how I was fearing I would feel about it.  So meh.  And meh some more.

That said, I am at the same time kinda surprised I didn't so much dig it, given how in love with the movie pretty much every one of my horror loving friends seems to be.  It's really not even that the movie didn't live up the hype, because honestly, even without all the hype, I still would've been disappointed by the whole experience. I also don't really get why everyone is hailing this as a sort of anti-found footage found footage movie, because it's really just another found footage movie at the end of the day.  Cool concept and a unique way of doing it, but to dig on this and hate something like Paranormal Activity kinda doesn't make much sense to me.  But to each his own.

As much as I wanted to love this movie, and as much as I wanted to be able to come on here and hail it as one of the best in years, as so many have been doing, V/H/S ultimately left me scratching my head as to why so many seem to have gotten so much enjoyment out of it.  It's definitely entertaining at times, and I dug the Amateur Night segment quite a bit, but the movie all around just did not do much for me.  Can't help but feel like a lot of people are jerking this movie off because they so badly want to love it, based on the concept, but maybe that's just me being bummed out that I can't jump on the bandwagon here.  I wanted to love it too, in the worst of ways, but I can't come on here and pretend that I did.  So I offer up one last big ole MEH to you, V/H/S.

Oh, one more little thing, before I go.  If all the videos we're shown in the film are supposed to be shown to us through old VHS tapes, why the hell do the events of the stories take place in current time?  Again, I was waiting for everything to be tidied up and made sense of in the end, but that never happened.  I of course understand that the whole VHS tape thing was merely a way to present these different stories, but it would've been kinda cooler if they were actually presented as if they were filmed back in the days of the VHS tape.  Something about webcam footage being on a VHS tape that just doesn't make all that much sense, if ya think about it.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Figures Toy Company Rebuilds Mego's Mad Monster Castle!


Anyone who collects toys is undoubtedly familiar with a company called Mego, one of the leaders of the toy game back in the 1970's.  Known mostly for their 8" figures, Mego rose to popularity after they began acquiring television, comic book and film licensing rights, churning out toys based on everything from DC & Marvel superheros to films and shows like Planet Of The Apes and Star Trek

In 1974, they released a line called the Mad Monster Series, figures based on the ever popular Universal monster movies.  Interestingly enough, unlike many of their toys, these particular toys were not licensed.  Nevertheless, the line was comprised of Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man and The Mummy, and became incredibly popular amongst monster loving kids.  Along with the figures, a playset called the Mad Monster Castle was also put out at the time, a vinyl environment for the monsters to play and display in.

Now the thing about Mego is that they filed for bankruptcy back in 1982, only a decade after they rose to power in the toy world (prior to the 70's, the company was mostly known for its cheap dime store toys).  As a result of this fairly rapid fall from grace, Mego toys have become incredibly rare and valuable over the years, with most of their releases fetching very high prices in the collectibles market.  Because many toy collectors simply cannot afford to own original Mego toys, many companies over the years have put out replicas of those original toys, giving everyone access (sort of) to those legendary and iconic collector's gems.  Several companies have even put out figures in the Mego style that are based on properties that Mego never actually licensed, like Night Of The Living Dead and The Munsters.

Realizing that the original Mego Mad Monsters and especially the Castle playset are way out of the price range of most of us, Figures Toy Company has taken matters into their own hands, by not only releasing replicas of the original four Mego Monsters, but also an EXACT replica of the Mad Monster Castle Playset, which has just gone up for sale.  The Limited Edition recreation was created directly from the original playset, right down to the direction sheet.  How awesome is that?!

Here are a couple more pictures of the set (seen above), which is selling for a small fraction of what the original Mad Monster playsets go for!

You can pick up your own Mad Monster Castle Playset over at Amok Time for a mere $69.99.  And remember, it's only available for a limited time.  If you want to add the figures to the set, you can grab all four replicas for $59.99.  True, you can get them other places, like directly from Figures Toy Company, but when it comes to buying toys, both new and old, Amok Time is my personal one stop shop!

You need this.  I need this.  We all need this.

So ... About That Paranormal Activity VHS ...

Over a year ago, I read something pretty strange on Wikipedia that I simply had to make a post about.  I was reading up on the history of the VHS tape, and I stumbled upon the following bit of information, which was news to me ...

"After a petition on the website, Paranormal Activity had a very limited VHS release in the United States[34] and the Netherlands."

 Prior to reading that I had never heard anything about the film being put out on VHS, so I made a post about the topic in the hopes that someone, at some point, would know something and would comment with further information.  For over a year, no information came to light.  In fact, so hard is it to find information about this apparent VHS release that a Google search looking for such info turns up only one site that even mentions it ... yep, THIS site!

Well I'm happy to say that finally, back in July, I received a comment on the post with all the information I was looking for ...


sjorsvdg said..

I just stumbled upon this blog. It's a late reaction, but hopefully you will read this.

I'm from the Netherlands and Paranormal Activity indeed received a VHS release in this country. I think there were only up to 300 copies of it. It was sold exclusively through the Dutch website I have one copy. On this website you'll find the Dutch press release about the VHS:

In case you'll find a Dutch copy, you're lucky, because we subtitle foreign language films here.

 At long last, the case is closed on this one.  Paranormal Activity was indeed released on VHS.  And that, my friends, is totally awesome.

The only reason I didn't post about this sooner was because I've spent the past several weeks trying to get in contact with sjorsvdg, hoping I could get him to send me pictures of the actual tape, but to no avail.  So sjorsvdg, if you ever end up reading this, drop me an e-mail at MORTIS45@AOL.COM with some pictures!  And thank you for finally solving this mystery for me!!

**UPDATE : Sjors van der Giessen (sjorsvdg) e-mailed me over some pictures of the actual tape that he owns!  Check 'em out!!**




The Life Mask Challenge!

What is a life mask, you ask?  Essentially, in contrast to a death mask, a life mask is a mold taken from the face of a living person, an exact reproduction of that person's facial features.  In the movie business, especially when it comes to horror movies, actors are often given life casts during the pre-production stage, which makeup artists can then use to sculpt appliances onto.  Rather than having an actor sit in a chair and get experimented on for hours, a life cast gives the makeup artist uninterrupted access to that actor's face, which he can do with as he pleases.

So then.  Below you will find the life masks of 10 different actors, cast from their faces in preparation for big time horror movie roles.  Your job, if you should accept the challenge, is to identify each actor, based only on their hairless life mask.

Scroll down to begin!







Leave your answers in the comments section below!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vintage Video Of The Week : The Count's First Appearance On Sesame Street!


You've surely by now heard the sad news that Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer and voice actor who brought Sesame Street's Count von Count to life, passed away this past Thursday, at the age of 78.  In celebration of Nelson's life, a life which touched so many other lives in incredibly positive ways, it seems only right that this week's Vintage Video pay tribute to the man who taught more children to count than any single teacher in this world.

So today, we take a trip back to 1972, to enjoy Count von Count's very first appearance on Sesame Street, from the Season 4 premiere of the show.  Hit the play button below to watch the birth of one of the most beloved characters in the history of television!

Now the interesting thing about Count von Count is that his original incarnation, as seen above, was a whole lot more sinister than the character was in later years.  The Count originally had hypnotic powers and a fairly evil laugh, qualities which were toned down over fears that children would be scared of him.  And thus, Count von Count became the kid friendly number addict that spent decades touching the lives of children the world over, teaching countless kids to count with his unique Bela Lugosi inspired charms.

Rest In Peace, Jerry.  And long live The Count!

... With An Eyeball On Top : A Tasty Look At The History Of Ice Cream Horror!

I'm gonna try and keep this introduction as short as possible, because I've got a lot of text to post here as it is.  But first, a little backstory is needed...

Long story short, I wrote an article for Mad Monster Magazine prior to last summer about the various ice cream themed horror films & television episodes that have been released over the years, everything from the 1995 film Ice Cream Man to the Tales From The Crypt episode People Who Live In Brass Hearses.  I spent a solid week ingesting all those goodies and writing about them, and I in fact even had a nice little half hour long phone chat with Clint Howard, which was going to be printed within the article as a little exclusive interview with the Ice Cream Man himself.  I worked really hard on the piece and I was incredibly excited about the fact that my writing was going to at long last appear in an actual magazine, in print.  
Long story short once again, Mad Monster Magazine went under, and the article sat in the 'Documents' file on my desktop, collecting dust.  The magazine was set to start back up sometime this year, in time for the article to finally be posted this summer, but since that never came to fruition, I've decided to just post the article in full here on the blog.  It was written specifically for Mad Monster, and I hate to put it out there in a way it wasn't intended to be, but since I put so much work into it, I just want to get it out there already.  So I contacted my buddy Frank Browning, had him whip up some graphic support for the article, and I'm ready to do just that.

So here it is.  My ice cream horror article for Mad Monster Magazine, which never made it to print and now can be exclusively read here on Freddy In Space, Clint Howard interview and all.  Enjoy!


Like many of you who are probably reading this right now, I grew up with a love for two things that trumped all others; ice cream and horror.  Though my young self initially thought the marriage of the two began and ended with simply eating ice cream while watching horror movies, all of that changed with a trip to my local Blockbuster one fine summer day back in the 90's.  Staring back at me on the shelf, amongst a myriad of beautifully crafted VHS art boxes, was the image of a hellish looking ice cream man holding a blood covered cone of vanilla ice cream.  It was love at first sight.

With summer now upon us and the familiar jingle of the ice cream truck once again filling the air, I thought it the perfect time to take a look back at one of my favorite bad horror movies ever made (I say that in the most loving way possible), as well as some of the other ice cream themed horror movies and genre television episodes that have come before and after it.  So come take a journey with me through the good, the bad and the downright inedible world of ice cream horror, where the blood flows as heavily as the strawberry syrup and I scream, you scream, we all scream ....



The first horror movie ever released to feature a homicidal ice cream man, this guiltiest of guilty pleasures from 1995 had a very interesting writing/directing team behind it, which undoubtedly was responsible for much of its oddball charm.  Director Paul Norman (aka Norman Apstein, as he's credited on this, his only legit production) was a porn director before directing this film which featured a cast comprised mostly of children (funny how things work out, eh?), a profession that he continued plugging away at until the early 2000's.  His claim to fame?  The infamous Edward Penishands trilogy.  Yep.  On the writing front, the duties were shared between Sven Davison and David Dobkin, two men who have no other writing credits to their resumes.  The big difference however between the two is that while Davison never quite made it in Hollywood, Dobkin soon after became a big time player in the game, with directing credits including Clay Pigeons, Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus.  If that's not the perfect set-up for the perfect awesomely bad horror movie, I just don't know what is.

Ice Cream Man is just that; an ultimate guilty pleasure that I personally consider to be one of the best worst horror movies ever made.  Much like with the film that is the current holder of that title, Troll 2, it is the flaws, strange and nonsensical qualities, continuity goofs and the overall badness of Ice Cream Man that make it so gosh darn charming.  Some of those charmingly bad qualities, you ask?  Well, for starters, one of the child actors is stuffed with a clearly noticeable fat suit through the whole movie, which reveals its purpose in the final moments when we realize the child's character arc from fat kid to skinny kid, a positive life change made after his terrifying ordeal.  The ice cream truck alternately reads "Watch Out For Children" and the brilliantly modified "Watch Out Children", depending on whether or not the script supervisor made it to set.  A throwaway character inexplicably believes that she can channel the spirit of the archangel Gabriel, which is shown in one scene then never mentioned again.  It's a veritable rocky road of bad ingredients that, when jam packed together into one great big waffle cone, manage to create a pretty tasty little treat.

Beginning with a paper thin villain backstory, we find out that Gregory Tudor witnessed the gang murder of the local ice cream man, 'The Ice Cream King', when he was but a small child.  Obviously, this being a horror movie and all, this snapped something in Tudor's brain and he made up his mind in that very moment that he would grow up to be a killer ice cream man.  When the image on the screen turns from black and white to color, movie shorthand for "that was then, this is now", Tudor is just that; a super creepy ice cream man who calls himself "The Ice Cream Prince" and who has more bugs and eyeballs in his truck than he does sprinkles and cherries.  In the role he was perhaps born to play, Clint Howard totally steals the show as the fully grown Tudor, a mentally unstable man who teeters on the brink of evil and affable, a blend as dangerous to the neighborhood children in the film as the confectionary concoctions stored in his freezer.  Utilizing everything from ice cream scoops to waffle presses to knives hidden inside of push pops, Tudor stops at nothing to turn the entire town (pets included) into edible treats, all while training a new protege, 'Small Paul', to take over the throne.  Though it is suggested that Small Paul does take over that throne after he pushes Tudor into his own mixer at the end of the film, a sequel unfortunately never followed.

Joining Howard on the cast are a few other familiar faces to genre fans, including Black Christmas' Olivia Hussey (who plays Tudor's former mental hospital nurse) and American Werewolf's David Naughton (whose decapitated head ends up being used as the filling for a mega sized ice cream cone), as well as a nipped and tucked Jan Michael Vincent as the super cool nonchalant detective who is on the hunt for Tudor throughout the film, bravely venturing towards the end into the mental hospital Tudor used to reside in, calmy making his way through a crowd of really happy nutjobs like only a badass washed up star can.  Rounding out the cast are several pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors, which get more screentime than a lot of the actors.  Story goes that the film was partially funded by Converse (and of course partially by porn money), which is why nearly every character wears Chuck Taylors, a fact the director reminds us of with many gratuitous shoe shots throughout.

There are bad horror movies, there are good horror movies and then there are those rare horror movies that are so delightfully unique and charmingly bad that they transcend good or bad, almost forcing you to love them.  For me, Ice Cream Man belongs high atop that latter category.  The stars truly aligned to create a real gem with this one, for my money the most delicious ice cream themed horror flick to date. It's the kind of movie you invite people over to watch, recite the dialogue along with and create drinking games for.  Just don't take a drink every time a pair of Chuck Taylors are shown if you want to remain conscious through the whole thing.  If ya ask me, Ice Cream Man is a cult classic that is just begging for more of a following.



It should probably come as to no surprise to you that this episode of Tales From The Crypt is one of my favorites from the entire television series.  Introduced by a football gear clad Cryptkeeper, 'People Who Live In Brass Hearses' is an adaptation of a tale from the Vault of Horror comic book series that premiered as episode 5 of season 5 of the show back in October of 1993.  Starring genre vets Bill Paxton as Billy, a hardened ex-con with a serious butter fetish (you'll never look at a stick the same way again), and Brad 'Chucky' Dourif as his dim-witted brother Virgil, the episode was directed by Russell Mulcahy (Resident Evil : Extinction), who was nicknamed "Buckets of Blood" on the set of the show due to his proclivity for serious bloodshed in the episodes he directed (four in total).  One need only watch this particularly gory episode to know that the moniker was more than well earned.

In the story, Billy, fresh out of prison, enlists the help of his brother to get revenge on the local ice cream man, Mr. Byrd, who is the one who turned Billy in to the police after he caught him shaving off profits from the ice cream company.  They hatch a plan to steal Byrd's nest egg (har har) and ensure he never delivers a cone of ice cream again, a plan that goes horribly wrong from the word go thanks to Virgil's ineptitude.  Moving on to plan B, Billy decides to abandon a clever plot and simply break into Byrd's home in an effort to find out where his money is hidden (in the freezer stuffed in ice cream boxes, duh!), at which point Virgil delivers a seemingly fatal shotgun blast to the ice cream man's skull.  This is when the gleefully silly twist of the episode rears its ugly head, literally.  Turns out Byrd is connected to his more evil siamese twin brother at the rear end and it was the nicer brother who Virgil killed with the shotgun, allowing the remaining half of the ice cream man team to exact his bloody revenge on the opposing set of brothers.  Can't make this stuff up.  In a hilarious little touch, Byrd's ice cream is advertised as being 1/2 off after the death of his siamese brother, whose lifeless body remains affixed to his dairy-aire.  Now that's what I call good humor!

'People Who Live In Brass Hearses' fires on all cylinders from start to finish and is packed with all of the elements that make the best episodes of Tales so good, making it one of the more fun webs the keeper of the crypt spun during the show's seven year run.



If Ice Cream Man is a decadent super thick Cold Stone Creamery milkshake with a cherry nestled on top, Mr. Ice Cream Man is a watery homemade version gone wrong, a super low budget affair that manages to make the former look like Citizen Kane.  Though IMDb dates it as being released in 1996, Mr. Ice Cream Man was apparently shot in the early 90's, even before Ice Cream Man was, and not released on DVD or VHS until the early 2000's.  So while there are a few glaring similarities between the two at times, I guess you can't say this one ripped off its far superior and more well known brother in ice cream horror, as would seem to be the case.  That being said, regardless of when this one was made, and I honestly don't know when that was, Mr. Ice Cream Man possesses little to none of the charm that Ice Cream Man does and it serves as a reminder that there is a big difference between so bad it's good and so bad it's just plain bad.

There's really not much to say in terms of plot with this one.  Creepy robotic ice cream man, played by writer/director Mack Hail (a far cry from Clint Howard), kills people (all off screen) and then reveals himself in the final moments to be the father of one of the kids he's been stalking.  Whoopee.  Mr. Ice Cream Man is the kind of movie that makes you feel embarrassed for everyone involved, though it's not without its shot on video 'we can't afford a second take' charms, which mostly come in the form of a thoroughly watchable kid named Roland who seems to be the only actor in the whole thing who knows he's in a bad movie, hamming it up as much as he possibly can so that he stands out.  Hell, even when he's killed off he still manages to move his eyeballs around underneath his closed eyelids, still hamming it up in ice cream heaven.  Aside from him, a few scenes deliver some unintentional hilarity, most notably one where the killer ice cream man stands up inside of his truck to give a menacing glare at the camera, a scene which is rendered more awkward than terrifying when Hail has to keep his head bent to avoid bonking it on the roof of the truck.  It's because of stuff like this that the film is oddly watchable and amusing at times, but eventually reality sets in and you realize you're wasting your time watching someone else's home movies.  Ultimately, even at just over an hour, Mr. Ice Cream Man amounts to nothing more than an ice cream headache, a headache that can only be cured by swapping out the DVD in your player with the one that doesn't have the 'Mr.' in the title.



The unfortunate thing about the Masters of Horror series is that the majority of the episodes just aren't that good, coming off more like the work of amateurs than the work of seasoned veterans who have brought us some of the best horror films in recent memory.  Season 2's 'We All Scream For Ice Cream' is a bit of an exception, managing to be a fairly entertaining installment that's more enjoyable than most.  Directed by Child's Play/Fright Night's Tom Holland and starring William Forsythe as a killer ice cream man who also happens to be a clown, this take on John Farris' short story is in my opinion worth a watch, a fun little throwback to the days when horror was allowed to be cheesy and filled with poor dialogue without being criticized or analyzed too much.  Oh, those were the days.

The campy premise, at times reminiscent of Stephen King's IT, is totally off the wall and fun.  Story goes that many years prior to the events of the episode, a group of friends accidentally killed the stuttering and slightly mentally challenged neighborhood ice cream man (Buster), the result of a prank (masterminded by a bully who grows up to be a reject from a Rob Zombie movie) gone horribly wrong.  Years later, when the only member of the group who had moved away from home returns back to town, the men begin dropping like flies, which eventually leads to the revelation that the chilly spirit of the ice cream man has driven back into town for several big ole scoops of revenge.  Not satisfied with merely stalking and slashing his victims, Buster instead uses human shaped ice cream pops as voodoo dolls of sorts which, when consumed by the town's children, melt the parents who wronged him into sticky and gooey piles of ice cream gore.  Me gusto.  As usual, William Forsythe is highly impressive as the sympathetic and evil clown. Despite some pretty generic and somewhat lame killer clown makeup that looks more like a cheap Halloween mask than the work of KNB (perhaps that was the idea?), Forsythe's talents shine through the grease paint and elevate the episode to a much higher level than it would've ever reached without him.

All in all, 'We All Scream For Ice Cream' rises past its shortcomings and ultimately ends up being an entertaining time killer thanks to the talents of its director and star, the former of which seems to thankfully for us remain stuck in the more fun and carefree decade that he made his greatest films in.



Alternatively titled Hot Blood Sundae when it's actually putting forth some effort to get you to want to watch it, Ice Scream : The Remix is a remake of a 1997 Conrad Brooks (he played a cop in Plan 9 From Outer Space) film titled, naturally, Ice Scream.  The original is long out of print and seems to be pretty difficult to track down so I've never been able to see it but from the clips I've checked out, it doesn't look like I'm missing much.  In any event, The Remix has exactly the same plot as its original, focusing on a sleazy ice cream shop owner who exploits his sexy female employees and makes them shill ice cream with salacious names like Orgasm Orange and Peppermint Panties.  The girls begin to get killed off one by one, yadda yadda.  Hoping to coast by on nothing more than the good looks of its porn star cast, the flick attempts to deliver sex appeal alongside horror and humor but manages to fail miserably at delivering all three.  Quite frankly, the only reason I'm even mentioning this movie is because I wanted this article to be as complete as possible and to show that even a combination of two of the best things on earth, horror and ice cream, can be totally inedible.  This one most certainly is.
 1) Now that over 15 years have passed since the release of Ice Cream Man, what are your thoughts on the film looking back?

CLINT : Well listen, it's a classic B movie.  Even while we were making it, we had our tongues firmly planted in our cheeks.  We knew that we were not playing for keeps, that it was kooky.  It's certainly not my best work, but it's certainly not my worst.  In many areas it's really awful, but I certainly enjoy it and I understand why people get a kick out of it.  So for that I'm grateful that I had the opportunity and I'm proud that I was the ice cream man, no bullshit.  I really truly did have a blast making the movie.  There were so many wonderful memories about making it that, regardless of the reality of it being another Clint Howard B-movie, it ranks right up there in my top experiences of being in the industry. It honestly does.

2) Did you know that Paul Norman was a porno director when you signed onto the project and did you have any hesitation about doing the film due to that?

CLINT : No, I didn't know, but that doesn't matter to me.  Norman and I became friends, he's a really nice guy.  As it turned out, they had already hired somebody to play ice cream man.  But when they realized I was available, they ultimately had to pay the guy that they had hired and then pay me.

3) Do you have any idea whatever happened to the awesome prop you hold up in the film of David Naughton's head on a giant ice cream cone?

CLINT : The guy who did the David Naughton head on the ice cream cone, his name is Mark Garbarino.  He's the man who had David Naughton's head the last time I saw it.  He doesn't get credit on IMDb, but I know he was the guy.  But yes I did see it and it was holding up just fine as of about 8 or 10 years ago.

4) What's the deal with the cover art for the film?  Why did it go from you holding a bloody ice cream cone to you holding one with a skull shaped ice cream scoop on it?  Did the bloody one get censored?

CLINT : No, I think they (the studio) just made the decision to tone it down a little, that's all.  We actually did lots of versions on the same theme, multiple tries. 
5) The ending of Ice Cream Man leaves ample ground for sequel potential.  Was a sequel ever discussed or planned?

CLINT : No, the sequel was never discussed.  The financiers of the movie, which included Norman, took it in the shorts pretty good.  A sequel never crossed my ears.  These people were not addicted to losing money and they lost money on Ice Cream Man. 
6) Are there any plans that you know of to ever re-release Ice Cream Man on DVD, perhaps with some special features?

CLINT : Somebody might have plans, but I don't know anything about it.  It becomes a business decision, so I don't think it's anything anyone wants to jump on.

7) What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

CLINT : I like mocha or coffee flavored ice cream, but I'm sort of old school.  I'm a chocolate guy, love chocolate.  And nothing beats a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup or hot fudge on it.  I'm not an exotic guy.

- Though not technically an ice cream themed horror film, I simply wouldn't feel right not giving a brief shout out to The Stuff right about now, a 1985 Larry Cohen cult classic about a delicious and highly addictive new ice cream-esque dessert treat that controls the minds of its consumers and proceeds to eat them after they eat it.  While the ingredients of said Stuff are as closely guarded as Coca Cola's secret formula, it's no mystery that the mixture of great old school practical effects, a highly entertaining Michael Moriarty in the lead and smart social commentaries abound combine to make this one absolutely irresistible treat, the kind that can only be a product of the 80's.  Seek this one out.

- Some of horror cinema's most famous ice cream men are featured in the films Phantasm and Killer Klowns From Outer Space, though neither film deals with ice cream as a central theme.

- Still hungry for more blood covered ice cream?  Check out the Grindhouse style trailer for the latest installment in this themed sub-genre of horror, Killer Ice Cream Men And The Untimely Waffle, Zombies and Cat!  I assume it's a faux trailer rather than an actual movie, but it's pretty funny either way!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

RIPT Apparel's Got Nards, Today Only!


One of the shirts in my ever growing closet that I wear most is Fright Rags' Wolfman's Got Nards design, which I can even be seen modeling in one of their promotional postcards.  Always love the reactions I get when I wear that shirt, such as the time when an older woman who was with her young son asked me what nards were.  Uncomfortable, to say the least!

Anyway, where was I?

Oh right.  Since Fright Rags' nards tee is no longer available in their online shop (until you help dig it up from their graveyard, that is!), today's shirt of the day over at RIPT Apparel will tide ya over.  Designed by artist and Freddy In Space friend Nik Holmes, the shirt fuses The Monster Squad with the ever popular Got Milk? ad campaign, asking the question that the Fright Rags shirt issues as a statement.  Get it today and today only over at RIPT!

I leave you with an adorable image that's sure to brighten even the most unpleasant of your days!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Toys That Never Were : Transformers Horror Movie Series!

Iconic monsters from the big screen have been fused with pretty much everything over the years in the toy world, be it Ninja Turtles or American presidents.  But did you know that at one point in time we almost had ourselves an epic mash-up of horror icons and Transformers?  A rather odd pairing, to be sure, but a line called 'Horror Movie Series' was in fact on the table at one point, a planned sub-line to the ever popular Transformers Generation 1 line, a joint venture between Takara and Hasbro that lasted from 1985 to 1992.

The project only reached the concept art stage, with only three monsters being given a rough conceptualization.  That concept art was featured in the deluxe edition of the 2001 Japanese book Transformers Generations, giving us our first and only look at the line that could've been.

So let's take a look, shall we?!

So why did the line never get picked up for production?  The obvious answer to that question would be issues with copyrights, which is the most likely cause.  But we can only speculate as to what exactly went wrong, because no further details are known about the line's demise.

The transforming monsters would've made for a cool Transformers Halloween cartoon special, if nothing more.  How badass would Optimus Stein be?!

The Coolest Horror VHS Boxes Of All Time!

I've talked countless times over the years about my love for old school horror VHS box art.  But what I'm here to talk about tonight are the boxes themselves.  Much like with DVDs & Blu-rays nowadays, some companies back in the day went the extra mile with their VHS releases, adding various gimmicks and bells & whistles to the tape boxes in an effort to spice up their releases and separate them from the pack.  And, ya know, do whatever they could to make more money.  
Since I love you guys and gals, I've collected together some of the coolest of the cool gimmicky VHS boxes for your enjoyment.  So please, enjoy!

HOUSE, 1986

We begin out journey with what is perhaps the very coolest VHS box of all time.  Yes, what you see above is indeed a clamshell box, which not only housed the House VHS tape but also came equipped with a battery operated lighting system.  This bad boy is super rare, and from what I understand it was sent out to video shops back in the day to promote the release.  I encountered one on eBay recently, where it sold for nearly $100.  And I don't expect to ever find another!



Ah, who doesn't love Microwave Massacre, the film where Jackie Vernon plays a cannibal who cooks up whores in his wife's new microwave.  And yes, that'd be the same Jackie Vernon that was the voice of Frosty The Snowman in the 1969 Rankin/Bass animated special.  Anyway.  When you pressed the ON button on this particular VHS release of the film, the microwave on the cover lit up with red lights and even buzzed.  Cause, ya know, microwaves buzz and shit.



The Shapiro-Glickenhaus Home Video release of Frankenhooker also utilized the push button technique.  Only with this one, a push of a little button on the cover of the box spouted the infamous "Wanna date?" dialogue from the film.  Why yes, Frankenhooker, I do!



Couldn't find a picture of this one in action, so that's the box along with an embedded picture from Vidmark's print ad for the release.  When you pulled a little tab on the box, the ghostly image of the film's monster would appear on it, essentially giving the fans two cover arts in one!



Ya know that awesome DVD release of Ichi The Killer that had a blood bag attached to the front, which you could move the 'blood' around in?  Well Bleeders did it first, back in the 90's.  Doesn't get much cooler than that!



The 60th Anniversary VHS re-release of the original Kong was another push button noise emitting affair.  Push on Kong's chest and hear him roar!



This coffin shaped release of the elusive sequel is so rare that it wasn't until recently that I even knew of its existence.  In fact, this is one of the ones that I fell so in love with that I knew I had to base a whole post around it.  From what I gather this was an Australian release of the film, and I don't expect to ever have it in my collection.  Hell, I'm not even sure at this point if I'll ever have a DVD or Blu-ray release of the film in my collection.  Thank the good lord for horror convention bootlegs, is all I'm gonna say.  Not that I'd support that kinda racket or anything.

And no, the tape itself isn't coffin shaped.  That'd be far too awesome to ever be possible.


JACK FROST (1997), JACK FROST 2 (2000) & UNCLE SAM (1996)

I have many fond memories of gazing up at these three tapes at my local Blockbuster back in the 90's, which were put out by the same company and employed the same lenticular printing technique.  The images on the covers appeared happy and friendly, until you picked up the box and moved it around a bit, bringing the horrific visages of Jack & Sam into focus. Still not as horrifying as the Michael Keaton Jack Frost though, that's for damn sure!



Holograms were all over the place back in the 80's & 90's, long before Tupac made them super cool and revolutionary again.  The original VHS release of this Karen Black/Yvonne De Carlo gem featured a holographic image embedded into the mirror on the front cover, making it appear as if a hideous monster was lunging his way out of it.  Like that Kiefer Sutherland movie.  Only much cooler.


DEAD PIT, 1989
Imperial Entertainment's original VHS release of the straight to video Dead Pit was a double whammy of gimmicky awesomeness.  Not only was the image on front raised and in "3D", but a push of a button near the zombie's hand made his eyes light up a spooky green.  Good luck finding one nowadays that still works!


If you know of any other gimmicky VHS boxes that are out there, please do leave a comment and let me know.  And if you have any of the ones listed above, feel free to do the same!

On that note I do want to give a quick shout out to HBO Video's Stepfather 2 box, which I've got in my collection.  It's not exceptionally cool or anything, but I always dug how Terry O'Quinn's knife was given that shiny look.  Along with the shiny droplets of blood, it really makes the art pop, even when it's all sun faded like my copy is!