Tribute to Bela Lugosi Begins October 1

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It’s hard to believe that Monster Movie Kid is now three years old. Back in 2012, after two successful articles on the B Movie Man website (thank you Nic Brown), I decided to launch this blog to share my random thoughts on the movies we all love. That first October, I spent my 31 Days of Halloween reviewing random horror films. After doing the same in 2013, last year I decided to spend the entire month doing a tribute to the legendary Boris Karloff.Bela Lugosi Collage

Since I had so much fun revisiting the Karloff films last year, I am sharing the love this year with a month-long tribute to Bela Lugosi. As the 4th Annual 31 Days of Halloween begins tomorrow, I’ll dive head first into the classic Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and begin my cinematic journey. By the time the jack-o-lanterns are burned out, we’ll end up with his last two films, The Black Sleep (1956) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

I’ll be incorporating a new format to the daily reviews that I think will make them quicker and easier to read. Please share your thoughts as I may continue this going forward for some of my reviews. And this year, there will be the added fun of sharing my thoughts on Lugosi on the Dread Media podcast (thank you Desmond Reddick).

So let the magic of Halloween month begin. Dust off those Lugosi VHS, DVD and Blu-ray flicks and remember what Lugosi once said, “I have never met a vampire, but I don’t know what might happen tomorrow.”

Right: Bela Lugosi comes to life in this beautiful painting from artist Don Marquez.

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Monster Movie Kid Returning to Free State Comicon

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Free State Comicon PosterOn Saturday, October 3, I will be returning to the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Lawrence, KS for the 10th Annual Free State Comicon. Once again, I will be supporting Joel Sanderson and The Basement Sublet of Horror magazine as the third and fourth issues will be making their grand debut.

Issue #3 is a tribute to Tom Leahy, the local legend from Wichita who was The Host from Nightmare, one of the original TV horror hosts from the 1950s. Tom also gave us The Beast from the Beginning of Time (1965), Green Hell from the Void and Major Astro. You’ll find some great articles from Roger Hill, Scott Phillips and yours truly, the Monster Movie Kid. You can read both of Tom Leahy’s published science-fiction stories from the 50s (worth the purchase alone) and get an amazing cover from artist Dan Rempel.BSOH 3

In issue #4, there is an interview with artist Bradley Beard, who has also provided the fantastic cover artwork. You can read about Dave Toplikar’s new book on UFOs in Kansas along with the start of a series on Boris Karloff from the Monster Movie Kid again.

BSOH 4Last year, I was honored to be invited to this fantastic old school event organized by Craig Klotz. You will find creators and their wonderful independent comics and artwork plus lots and lots of comics and very cool things to add to your collections. This year, the impressive lineup includes writer C.W. Cooke, the man behind the incredible Solitary series, Kyle Strahm (Spread), Matt Fox (Ufology), Greg Smallwood (Moon Knight), Scott Drummond (Nightsmoke) and artist Ed Bickford (Robot Pulp), amongst many others.

If you find yourself in the Lawrence area on Saturday, come on down to the Douglas County Fairgrounds Building 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the ridiculously low price of $5, you can celebrate comics and be among friends. Check out this cool promo to find out what’s happening. Then, as you’re resting up after the show, read the latest issues of a very cool monster mag and check out what flick Gunther Dedmund has butchered this week over at The Basement Sublet of Horror.

Dread Media Podcast – X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963)

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XAfter taking a week off, it’s time to kick things into gear and what better way than a review over at the Dread Media podcast! In episode 422, I take a first-time look at the Roger Corman and Ray Milland classic, X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes. Best of all, my copy was from a 1990 television broadcast of Nightmare with Tom Leahy as The Host. And if you want to learn more about Tom Leahy, come back tomorrow as something cool is only a few days away! For now, sit back and listen to Dread Media. Be sure to tell them Monster Movie Kid sent you!

Dread Media Podcast – The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

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Serpent and the RainbowThis week on the Dread Media podcast, I recognize the talents of the late Wes Craven by reviewing one of his non-franchise efforts, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988). After starting off the Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) series and some right years before Scream (1996), Wes Craven entered the world of voodoo and zombies. Bill Pullman heads up the cast in this tale loosely based on the real events surrounding Clairvius Narcisse. Take a listen to episode 420 and honor the memory of one of Hollywood’s horror legends.

Tales of Dracula (2015) is a Labor of Love for Monster Kids

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Tales of DraculaBack in June, I finally had a chance to sit down and watch Tales of Dracula (2015). This independent production from the mind of Joe DeMuro is truly a labor of love. I was going to review it here but after the death of Sir Christopher Lee, I didn’t want to wait until August. So, I reviewed it in episode 410 of the Dread Media podcast, which was the start of my current weekly participation on that show. However, I think it deserves a few more words here at Monster Movie Kid.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Joe this past Thursday as a thunderstorm raged outside my western Kansas City home. During this conversation, I began to get a better picture of not only the hard work that Joe and the rest of the crew put into Tales of Dracula but the countless obstacles they endured to see it finished. From the complications of location shooting to the unavailability of cast members to budgetary limitations, this was truly a labor to finish. At any point, Joe could have thrown in the towel but he never did. He is truly a monster kid with a passion for seeing his story be released for kids of all ages to enjoy.

The flaws I pointed out in my review came as no surprise to Joe. He was well aware of them and more that I honestly didn’t even pick up on. All the more important to respect Joe and his crew for moving forward to a point where they simply had to unleash the beast and see what would happen. Reviews have been generally very good with a few pointing out the same issues I did. Yet, at the core, I believe we all see it for what it truly is…a dream come true for Joe. He created a film that will be around for decades and future generations to experience and enjoy. But, is this the end of the story?Tales of Dracula 2

One of the major issues I had with Tales of Dracula was its cliffhanger ending. That will hopefully be rectified as Joe envisioned this as the start of a trilogy. There is more to the story of Count Dracula and his battle with Von Helsing. The Frankenstein Monster is still lurking and the Wolf-Man is ready for another full moon. But in order for this to happen, Joe will need our help.

Tales of Dracula 3Joe invested not only his time, blood, sweat and tears into Tales of Dracula but his bank account as well. For the second film, he has higher hopes. Better effects, studio locations and perhaps a surprise or two with the cast. In order to make this happen the right way, Joe will be launching a funding campaign soon on Facebook. Go to Wolfbain Productions and like their page so you can get updates on when and how this will be happening. You have an opportunity to make this movie not only a reality but a chance to make it bigger and better than the first film.

But, before you do all of that, you need to see Tales of Dracula. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again. This film needs your support and, trust me, you won’t regret it. Leave that critical eye on the shelf and see it with the eyes of the inner monster kid in all of us. The make-up work from artist Ron Chamberlain is worth it alone. It’s currently available through Alpha Video at oldies.com for less than the cost of an unsatisfying value meal. Monster Movie Kid fully endorses it and the future sequels.

Dread Media Podcast – Sssssss (1973)

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SSSSSSS 1973This week on the Dread Media podcast, I take a look at Sssssss (1973) starring Strother Martin and Dirk Benedict. This is a fun mutant snake flick that I saw numerous times back in the day on the Creature Feature with Crematia Mortem. It came out a few years before Dirk Benedict struck it big with Battlestar Galactica and after Strother Martin told us all there was a failure to communicate going in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Check out the trailer, listen to episode 419 and tell them Monster Movie Kid sent you!

A Night of Crab Monsters and a 50 Foot Woman at the Cinema A Go-Go

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Cinema A Go Go PosterFor years, I’ve heard about the cool monster movie events in other cities. And for years I lived in Wichita, KS where we just didn’t have much in the way of monster goodness. Now, after more than a year of living in Kansas City, I’m beginning to discover how much more sci-fi and monster mayhem there is to do here. Last night, I attended my very first Cinema A Go-Go in nearby Lawrence with my daughter Kayla. While it may have been at the edge of what she’ll do with dear old dad, we both had a great time.

So just what is Cinema A Go-Go? It’s a double feature movie event held two or three times a year at the wonderful Liberty Hall on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence. The event has been going strong since at least 2009 and is sponsored by Kansas Public Radio, which is home to The Retro Cocktail Hour. This incredibly cool weekly radio show is something I know every monster movie kid out there will enjoy. It’s pure heaven for the ears and you’ll hear music you won’t hear anywhere else. With occasional theme weeks like tributes to TV crime dramas and outer space exotica, do yourself a big favor and check out the website. All of their shows are readily available for streaming. Highly recommended!

RCHDarrell Brogdon is the host of The Retro Cocktail Hour and was the host for the evening of films as well. He served up some very interesting trivia and even gave away some cool prizes during the intermission, such as DVDs, cocktail glasses and yes, a Blue Demon luchador mask! This was a very popular item as they also present those wonderful Santo movies. Of course, they change the name of those events from Cinema A Go-Go to Cinema Con Queso. Last night though, it was 1950s monster greatness with Attack of the Crab Monsters and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Crab MonsterAttack of the Crab Monsters (1957) was directed by the legendary Roger Corman. The most notable two cast members are Ed Nelson (Invasion of the Saucer Men, The Brain Eaters) and Russell Johnson (Gilligan’s Island, The Twilight Zone). The plot deals with a group of scientists investigating a shrinking island and trying to find out what happened to the previous group. They soon discover the island is full of intelligent crabs as a result of atomic bomb testing. Not only can they absorb the knowledge of the people they eat, they can also mentally communicate in that dead person’s voice. A good blast of energy can zap them out of existence though. Of course, the scientists are stranded after their plane explodes and the radio is destroyed. They are running against time before the island disappears. It is definitely cheesy at times but lots of fun and well worth checking out. Did you know that Ed Nelson played both Ensign Quinlan as well as the crab monster?

YvetteAttack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) is the classic example of so bad its good cinema. Allison Hayes is the incredibly wealthy Nancy Fowler who is still recovering from mental stress and alcoholism when she encounters an odd object in the desert. The giant sphere is home to an alien of epic proportions. She becomes infected with radiation and turns into a giant herself. This doesn’t bode well for her husband Harry (William Hudson), who just wants her money and to run off with the lovely Honey Parker (Kansas City native and July 1959 Playboy Playmate of the Month Yvette Vickers, who died in 2010 but wasn’t discovered until almost a year later, mummified and alone in her home). Add in Nancy’s man servant Jess, a poor sheriff and his bumbling deputy, and you have an interesting recipe for a unique little flick. Roger Corman designed the movie poster, which is itself considered a classic. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from a crazy script and some very poor special effects. All of which make the movie even that much more entertaining.

Libery HallPart of the charm of this event is Liberty Hall itself. This is essentially an art house cinema showing independent and foreign films while also presenting concerts and events. It’s also home to Liberty Hall Video, an honest-to-goodness video store that still has VHS! The original Liberty Hall dates back to 1854 and was named as such in 1856 because Present Abraham Lincoln once called Lawrence the “cradle of liberty”.

LH 1It was an opera house before showing its first film in 1924, The Canary Murder Case. It still has the same chandeliers, marble staircases and tile floors nearly 100 year later. It operated as The Jayhawk Theater from the 30s until the 50s before spending a couple of decades as a night club and disco. It was renovated in 1986 and is once again a prime spot of entertainment on the most eclectic street in Lawrence. You’ll find bookstores like The Dusty Bookshelf and The Raven next to restaurants and even a tarot card reader.

LH2I had an amazing time and will certainly go back for more. I am anxious to experience my first Cinema Con Queso event. The crowd, which numbered more than 150, cheered at the right moments and booed when the villains deserved it. And there was a lot of laughter but out of pure enjoyment rather than ridicule. If you live in the Kansas City area, discover for yourself the joy of this event. For me, I have finally found a classic movie event where I know I’m going to become a regular attendee.