Wednesday, November 24, 2010

King Kong Covered

I love pictures. And I love to compare things. And I love King Kong. Hence, we have:


Or, more precisely, magazine covers featuring King Kong. Most of these, by the way, come from Mike Scott's excellent site: Monster Magazines. I also grabbed a few covers from a Google image search. Anyway, Mr. Scott's site is well worth checking out.

We begin with, of course, the granddaddy of all monster magazines--Famous Monsters of Filmland.

FMOF No 6 - RKO's 1933 original and still the King--notice the wee magazine mascot hiding between Kong's teeth.

FMOF No 25 - note Mighty Joe Young peering out from that center bottom pic.

FMOF No 32 - the old Aurora model kit depicting one of the best scenes from the film.

FMOF No 44 - great scene from the 1933 film and - hello - an additional photo feature on Tarantula inside? Does it GET any better?

Ah yes. The legendary FMOF No 108. Possibly only legendary to me--it was a prized possession when I was a kid, lost then and reacquired now thanks to the miracle of eBay. Basil Gogos did the cover painting - w00t!

FMNo 125 - Most kids my age were being introduced to Kong through the 1976 remake of the RKO 1933 original. Not I. I'd been a fan of the original for half of my then 9 year lifetime.

FMOF No 132 - Another gorgeous cover painted by Basil Gogos.

FMOF was the first and I think the best of the movie monster mags, but there were a lot of others around for awhile. Check out a few of their covers.

The Monster Times was a newspaper format mag published between 1972 and 1976, and graced their very first cover with Kong. GRAAHHHGG!

A one-shot from 1976. Maybe in anticipation of the upcoming Kong remake....

A similar one-shot from 1977.

Monster Bash No 4 - a newer mag that is still publishing. Man, this wide-eyed gaping maw look was popular with the monster mag circuit....

Another one-shot - this one from the UK - 1977.

This mag was actually published by Marvel Comics. Featured Kong on their 1974 first issue. I don't know about the whole blood dripping jaws thing....

Um. Some Japanese magazine with Kong fighting Mechani-Kong. No idea on this one but it's pretty cool, huh?

What? This isn't a magazine cover. But it IS a monster size comparison chart that came up in my search and it's interesting. Sadly, Kong is that wee white silhouette fourth from the left, with only a T Rex, the Wicked Witch of the West and Chucky the killer doll smaller in size. I think if you click through, this is big enough to actually see and read stuff....


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frankenstein on Film - The Silents

Frankenstein on Film - The Silents
Frankenstein on Film - Universal Part 1
Frankenstein on Film - Universal Part 2
Frankenstein on Film - Hammer

Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned.
It's been seven months since my last post.

I was flipping through some articles on the old Universal horror films (it being October and all), and I got to thinking how cool it'd be to see a photo comparison of all the actors who played the creature throughout the series. You know, to compare makeup and physical characteristics and stuff.

(I REALLY love to compare things.)

But. Never one to keep a simple plan simple, I got all above and beyond and started looking up pictures of every monster in every Frankenstein series (Universal, Hammer, etc.). You know, so I could really get the Full Deal.

(Did I mention that I really love to compare things? Peanut butter and jelly/peanut butter and honey, old mustangs/new mustangs, original movies/remade movies, first editions/later editions....)

So anyway, this post is for the pre-Universal silent films. It's not much of a comparison really, 'cause I found precious little information. These films seem to have little to nothing in the way of web love. So. I did the best I could.

Far as I know, the first film version of Frankenstein was done in 1910 by Edison Studios and titled, appropriately enough, "Frankenstein".

It ran about 15 minutes and took kind of an existential moralistic approach. The monster (played by Charles Ogle) is created because Frankenstein has acted on his "evil and unnatural thoughts".

I have those sometimes.

Later, the poor beast is sent to his doom by being dissolved away into the aether, as Frankenstein concentrates on exercising his "love and... better nature". Kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde-ish. Without the body-sharing.

Meh. To each his own, but I like me a good old fashioned created versus creator. None of this mamby pamby emotional stuff.

Anyhoo, we're not here to review the movie; we're here to see the monster.

First, we have the Edison Monster closeup. Ish. Closeup-ish.


I'm guessing this was a scary face in 1910.

I guess, if I take my pinkie finger, and hold it up really close to the screen right in front of his mouth, he does look pretty monster-ish. But when I don't hold up my pinkie, he looks.... Well, you can see for yourself how he looks. For early nineteen hundreds sensibilities, though, it was probably pretty daring and extreme. (Nothing to do with Mary Shelly's descriptions, but then none of the other films have gone there either.)

The full figure shot.

I know the film is a serious piece, but all I'm gettin' here is "hula dance".

I believe Elvis may be just off camera, strumming "Blue Hawaii" on his guitar....

You know, no one has ever done justice in portraying the sheer size of the creature as told by Shelly. For obvious reasons, of course. She describes him as "eight feet in height, and proportionably large". Not many actors fit that bill.

You get the movies that try (admirable), with padded shoulders and shoe lifts. And you get the ones who throw out the size thing and portray him as average (lame). To get an idea of what we're talking about, check out this real life eight foot guy, Leonid Stadnyk:

8 foot veterinarian Leonid Stadnyk, on the right (obviously), with Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yeah. You know what I'm saying then.

Anyway, just for fun, here's a pic of 1910 monster Charles Ogle sans makeup (really quite a proper looking British chap).

Just two words: Lionel Hardcastle. Am I right, those of you in the know?

Now, here's where the whole comparison thing breaks down.

Below is the ONLY image I could find having ANYTHING to do with the second film. It was called "Life Without Soul" and filmed in 1915. This was no short--no no, it weighed in at 70 minutes! Oh, how I'd love to see this one.

But. I can't; none of us can, because it's a Lost Film. Grrmph. As far as anyone knows, there are no surviving reels or stills. But then, you know, Edison's Frankenstein was considered a Lost Film until the 1970s when some bloke pulled a print out of a dusty box and said "look here!".  So you never know....

No longer comparing but in the interests of thoroughness, a fellow in Italy made a third film called Il Mostro di Frankenstein, in 1920 or 1921, depending on your sources. But there's even less known about it than about the previous one. May have run about 40 minutes and is... also... considered lost.


But I did find a photo of the Italian guy (Umberto Guarracino) who played the monster. Not actually a photo of him PLAYING the monster. Just a photo of him apparently dancing with another man.

I guess they're actually fighting. He's on the left.

He's got monster-y eyes... but the other guys bigger.
Sigh. What a downer. How does a fella compare monsters when he can't find the monsters?

Now I'm depressed.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Polish Movie Art vs American Counterparts (Part 1)

(Part 1)     (Part 2)     (Part 3)     (Part 4)     (Part 5)

Awhile back, I came across a site with a butt-load of Polish movie posters (butt-load = 50). I thought they were beautiful and intriguing, and I wondered how they'd look against their American counterparts. So I left a note and borrowed some.

I only got 12 pairs uploaded before feeling compelled to rub onions in my eye sockets and tear my own throat out, due to Blogger's woeful image uploading system. So I stopped there.

Posters are shown American first with Polish right below. BTW, the Polish art for Stephen King's "Christine" really floored me. Wow!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Executive Koala [Koara kachô] (2005)

I know.

But give it a shot anyway. It'll be well worth your while.

So. Mr. Tamura is a man-sized, bipedal Koala Bear working mid-management at a Tokyo pickle distribution company. His coworkers are all human beings, and no one seems to mind (or even notice) that he's a giant Koala bear. Life is good for Tamura--he's just closed a deal with a Korean kimchee distributor, and his devoted girlfriend may soon become his devoted fiance.

Even so, Tamura is a haunted bear--

--haunted by his previous wife's disappearance three years earlier. And any memories he might have of the events around her disappearance are buried deep in his subconscious--three years of therapy have yet to bring to light what actually happened.

And so, we have a mystery on our hands.

When the cops come calling, telling Tamura his girlfriend was found all hacked up, he's devastated. (And who wouldn't be?) Turns out he was the last person to see her alive. Just like he was last to see his wife before she disappeared. Well, as things move along, we find evidence that Tamura was physically abusing his wife and had even threatened to kill her. And now (maybe it's all the stress), Tamura is having blackouts again--just like the ones he had when his wife disappeared. Oh, and... people are dying.

Okay. That's the setup. And this movie is SO worth your 85 minutes. I mean, if it was "just" a slasher movie with a bear as antagonist, it would be great. But this is a slasher-crime-drama-spy-mind freak-musical-karate-comedic-love story. With a bear as both protagonist and antagonist. What's NOT to love here? This thing is all a crappy B-Movie fan could hope for.

Watch this movie. It deserves to be watched. And you deserve to watch it.