Horror Fest 2016 – Doctor X (1932)

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doctor-x-1Horror Fest 2016: Doctor X (1932)
Cast:      Lionel Atwill as Dr. Jerry Xavier
Fay Wray as Joanne Xavier
Lee Tracy as Lee Taylor

Based on a play by Howard W. Comstock & Allen C. Miller
Screenplay by Robert Tasker & Earl Baldwin
Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, White Christmas)

Plot: Reporter Lee Tracy is on the trail of the notorious Moon Killer. The murder victims are strangled and cannibalized with surgical skill, which leads the police to the institute of Dr. Jerry Xavier. There, the doctor leads suspicion away from an odd assortment of scientists. Could it be the scientist studying the moon or is it the doctor who has odd sexual perversions? And, of course, with death lurking around every corner, you know that love is in the air as well between the lovely Joanne and the intrepid reporter.

doctor-x-3Personal Thoughts: This pre-Code classic offers some rare looks at taboo topics of cannibalism and rape in an equally rare early two-color Technicolor format. However, when I first saw this movie years ago, it was presented in black and white. In fact, two different versions were filmed with only a couple of minor differences between the two. The color version was actually considered lost for many years. It wasn’t until the death of Jack L. Warner in 1978 that a print was discovered in his personal collection. After a restoration, it was once again redistributed and is now the more common version to see.

While the reporter piece is fairly routine, it’s actually a rather graphic film at times, again due to its’ pre-Code status. The sequences with the synthetic flesh and the “creation” of the Moon Killer are particularly creepy. At 76 minutes long, it’s a very enjoyable film, well-worth more recognition that it gets as it’s often overlooked in favor of the Universal Horror classics of the same period. Definitely worth adding to your personal collection.

doctor-x-2Trivia:

  • The original nitrate print was donated to the UCLA Film Archives.
  • First of three films pairing Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray in a two year period. Doctor X was followed by Mystery of the Wax Museum and The Vampire Bat, both in 1933.
  • Despite the title, Return of Doctor X (1939) is not a sequel.

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Trek 50 – Classic Star Trek Magazines

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trek-50In the dark time before the internet, magazines were the only way Trekkies could gather information about upcoming films and TV shows. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, I’ve unearthed some of my collection and thought I’d share them with you. Below are some movie magazines, newspaper clippings, convention flyers, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock movie special (purchased in the Fox Theater in downtown Newton, KS in 1984) and even an original script idea for Star Trek IV (purchased at Encounter 8, a Doctor Who convention in Wichita in 1984).

 

Introducing Some Friends of Monster Movie Kid – Part Two

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Several weeks back, I introduced you to some friends of mine. Through my love of movies and comics, I’ve had the great fortune to meet some wonderful people. I’ve met some face-to-face, others virtually. Some are artists, others are writers. As I’ve previously said, it’s always nice to get a little recognition. So here are some more friends of mine that deserve the spotlight.

SolitaryWriter CW Cooke

CW Cooke is a writer that I first met at Freestate Comicon 2014. I was immediately drawn to the Vincent Price Presents comics on his table and quickly amazed at his work. I’ve been following his career ever since. His work in the four-issue series Solitary is fantastic and he’s got lots more coming out soon. All four issues of Stillwater, with artwork by Kelsey Wroten, have just been released online and a little bird told me he’s hoping to have some in print at the upcoming Planet Comicon here in Kansas City. The Barrens is soon to be released as well! You can find him on Facebook, so send him a Friend request today. That’s the best way to follow what he has coming out. You’ll be glad you did!

Robot PulpArtist Ed Bickford

I first met Ed as he was creating a giant robot piece of art outside of Elite Comics on Free Comic Book Day 2015. I became an instant fan of his incredibly cool Robot Pulp series of artistic creations. I was lucky enough to get an original piece of work at the Freestate Comicon 2015 along with a print. Ed has been working on a new online series called The Birdlander with writer Aaron Walther. The Birdlander made its’ debut in print form at Fancon #45 in Lawrence, KS on April 2. I have my copy, do you? Check out the website for The Birdlander and become a supporter. You can also find Ed on Facebook and Twitter.

BSOH Comic 2Video Creator/Editor and Horror Host Joel Sanderson

This June, Joel Sanderson will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Basement Sublet of Horror, episodes of which are currently available on archive.org. He’ll also be celebrating his 26th year of video production. Joel is the man behind Gunther Dedmund, the horror host of The Basement Sublet of Horror. He’s also the editor of The Basement Sublet of Horror magazine and comics, all of which are currently available on IndyPlanet.com. Joel does some amazing work and his vast knowledge of film is unrivaled. He also has a very creative mind, evident through his artistic creations. Check out the main website and start becoming familiar with his work today!

There are many more creative people out there. They’re running podcasts like Derek M. Koch or Terry Frost; writing novels and creating films like Nic Brown; writing blogs like Barry Harding; and watching films non-stop to share with all of us like Juan Ortiz. Plus many, many more. Check out their work and let them all know Monster Movie Kid sent you.

Introducing Some Friends of Monster Movie Kid – Part One

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It’s always nice to get a little recognition. Whether you’re a writer or an artist, it helps to get your work out there to people who might not have otherwise been aware of what you were doing. Today, I turn the DVD off and give my writer’s mind a rest so I can give a shout out to some friends of mine.

AbominationsAuthor and Podcaster Desmond Reddick

Desmond is the main man behind the Dread Media podcast, going strong with more than 450 episodes so far. But did you know he’s also a writer? He’s had short stories published in such books as Dark: A Horror Anthology (2010) and A Mythos Grimmly (2015). But his latest work is a full-length novel entitled Mother of Abominations: A Monster Earth Novel. It’s currently available for Amazon Kindle with a print version coming soon. It’s set in a world where giant monsters are real and features someone by the name of Aleister Crowley. Check out his new website to find out more about what Derrick is doing outside the podcast community.

 

Artist Steve Lightle

Justin ZaneSteve Lightle is an amazing artist who started his career in 1984 and has worked for both Marvel and Dc Comics. While most of his career has been spent as a cover artist, he did interior work on both Legion of Super-Heroes and Doom Patrol in the 1980s. After an absence from the world of comics, he returned with his own original title, Justin Zane. If you know his work, then you know it’s worth supporting. If you’re new to it, check out his website and become a patron today! You might just also learn a little about Whizzo the Clown. I am way late to the party as I just met Steve at Freestate Comicon 2015. However, I was instantly impressed and you will be too!

ManosAuthor Stephen D. Sullivan

I met this man through the wonderful podcast community. We share a love for all things monster and it’s that passion that Stephen brings to his many written works. He’s been working professionally since 1980 as a fantasy author, artist and editor. He was also a TSR editor during the early days of Dungeons and Dragons. Nowadays, he’s the author of such recent books as Daikaiju Attack, White Zombie and Manos: The Hands Fate. Actually, he’s tackling two versions of Manos, so some might say he’s unleashing Hell on Earth! You’re also likely to hear his voice on such podcasts as the B-Movie Cast and Monster Kid Radio. Check out his website and Patreon page to let him know we’re out here!

Let all these guys know Monster Movie Kid sent you. Next week, I’ve got a few more people out there who you need to know!

20th Annual Kansas Silent Film Festival

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This past weekend marked my second time attending the Kansas Silent Film Festival in Topeka, Kansas. This was their 20th year of offering a selection of silent films absolutely free to the public. In White Concert Hall on the campus of Washburn University, the gentle whir of a projector brought flickering images to life with live music accompaniment. Being in a room with what appeared to be more than 150 fellow cinema lovers was magic.KSFF 1

This year’s event was three days, starting with a special ticketed evening at the legendary Jayhawk Theatre on Thursday night. Then, Friday night and all day Saturday, admission was free with a non-stop presentation of classics and rare gems. Like last year, I attended the Friday night and Saturday morning segments with my big sister.

Friday night, the evening kicked off with an introduction from film historian Denise Morrison. Then, the lights dimmed and our first flick of the evening was Call of the Cuckoo (1927). This Max Davidson comedy also features the familiar faces of Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Charley Chase. I’ve seen this before, several times in fact, and it always makes me laugh. However, it has never been better thanks to the wonderful music of Marvin Faulwell. The main event was an unbelievable presentation of The Thief of Bagdad (1924). A pristine picture was made magical by the music of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. If you ever heard their music, it is even more amazing live. This was my first time watching this Douglas Fairbanks Sr. adventure from beginning to end and I can’t imagine it could get any better.

Thief of BagdadSaturday morning started early with episode two of the rare retrospective series Hollywood. Graced with the narration of James Mason and interviews with many of the original silent film stars, I highly recommend you track it down. Most episodes are on YouTube or archive.org. This was followed by the Soviet cinema short, Chess Fever (1925). This half-hour comedy featured chess champions of the day and was a unique and highly entertaining comedy that was enhanced by the manic piano work of Rodney Sauer. It deserves more recognition than it gets. The morning main event was the classic Battleship Potemkin (1925). This was another first-time viewing and I must admit, it’s a little dry compared to the other offerings I saw. However, the imagery is stunning considering the era it was made, so definitely worth watching.

KSS 1The lobby was filled with glass cases of old movie programs and pictures from a bygone era. Standees of legends like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were watching over everyone to bring a smile on our faces. Vendors offered a selection of goodies including DVDs, books and even genuine 16mm films. Above all else, the thrill of watching silent films with live music in a great venue amongst fellow movie lovers with my big sister made for a priceless time.

From humbles beginning in 1997, this event has grown each year and helps continue the legacy of classic silent cinema. If you happen to be in the area the last weekend of February, it is well worth the effort and you can’t beat the price. Guaranteed, I will return in 2017 for the 21st annual event.

Day 10 – Murder by Television (1935)

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Murder TV posterDay 10: Murder by Television (1935)
Cast:      Bela Lugosi as Dr. Arthur Perry
June Collyer as June Houghland

Screenplay by Joseph O’Donnell
Directed by Clifford Sanforth

Plot: James Houghland has invented a device in which a signal can be sent to televisions anywhere in the world but he refuses to sell the rights to the invention. On the night he unveils his creation, he is murdered. The tale becomes a whodunit with suspects at every turn, including his assistant Dr. Perry, who was mysteriously absent at the time of Houghland’s death.

Personal Thoughts: The see-saw ride of good to bad to good with Lugosi continues. Today, we’re on the downhill slide with Murder by Television. Clocking in at less than 55 minutes, this film is quite forgettable. The overall concept of television in 1935 was interesting, especially from a historical point of view. Unfortunately, the story is dull and Lugosi simply turns in a paint-by-number performance (even in a dual role) without anyone else exciting enough to help with the landscape. Put this one low on your to watch list.Murder TV 1

Trivia:

  • The film is in the public domain.
  • The early television device shown was actually worth $75,000, more than the $35,000 budget of the film itself.

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Rest in Peace – Wes Craven (1939 – 2015)

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Wes Craven2015 has been a rough year for sci-fi, fantasy and horror genre fans. We’ve lost some big players in the last eight months and, sadly, we’ve lost another legend. Wes Craven has passed away at the age of 76 due to brain cancer.

Wes Craven had certainly carved out his own spot amongst the legends of the industry. He wore many hats, from director to writer, from producer to editor. He was responsible for some of the genre’s most classic films. Anyone who saw the original The Last House on the Left (1972) or The Hills Have Eyes (1977) will tell you how impactful those films were at the time and still are today. There were clearly some lesser entries, such as Deadly Blessing (1981), but those are easily overshadowed by the cinematic juggernauts like Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) or Scream (1996). He had a key role in the creation of Freddie Krueger, one of the most iconic horror characters ever created. Multiple generations had been entertained by his movies, which is really what most filmmakers want to achieve. They want to entertain and want to know their films will live on long after they are gone.

NOESHis most recent film credit was that of executive producer on the MTV television series Scream. Before that, his last two films as director were Scream 4 (2011) and the disappointing My Soul to Take (2010). Nonetheless, despite the occasional box office failure, he had more than secured his status amongst horror fans due to his decades of previous work. Some will argue his legendary status but what most cannot argue are the key films he made over the years and the impact they still have on the industry today.

ScreamPersonally, I have fond memories of Nightmare on Elm Street being one of the first three movies I rented in the 80s. Alongside Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and Star Trek: The Cage, several of my friends came over for a night of movies and pizza to help celebrate my birthday. With one of those clunky VCRs inside a gray plastic carrying case, I was amazed at how cool it was to watch a movie whenever you wanted. I was hooked for life. And the fact that it was a cold and foggy night out as everyone left to go home, the memory is even more so chiseled into my brain.

Rest in peace Wes Craven! Thank you for all the thrills and chills over the years.