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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

teenage-werewolfFirst, let me extend thanks to everyone who came out to the show at the Kada Gallery on Saturday night.  It was great seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones.  And thanks to Kathy and Joe at the Kada for their longtime friendship and encouragement–you provided me with a wonderful night.  If you didn’t make it out there, you can still see the show as it hangs until December 3.

Now, today is yet another Halloween.  It doesn’t have the same impact on me now as it did when I was much younger but I still get a kick out of this  night and all the goofiness around it.  And I have to say that the imagery that swirls around this night was very influential to me when I was a kid.  You often see macabre imagery show itself in the work of student artists.

So in honor of this most hallowed evening, I thought I’d throw out some scary music but there isn’t a great selection of monster themed music.  Oh, there’s the Monster Mash but that gets played to death this time of the year, much like Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer at Christmas.  And the Addams Family or Munsters themes are memorable but not what I’m looking for.

cramps-bad-music-for-bad-peopleBut there are the Cramps.

The Cramps emerged out of the NY punk scene of the 70’s with a distinct sound  that influenced by rockabilly and the B-Horror movies of the 50’s.  Two guitars and a small drum kit- no bassist- and a leader called Lux Interior and a girl guitarist/femme fatale named Poison Ivy, the Cramps’ music was often called psychobilly.  Many of their songs paid direct homage to old horror flicks, like Human Fly and the one I’m highlighting here, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, which starred  a very young Michael Landon in a pretty kitschy story.  It might not be high art but the Cramps created some high energy creep-tastic stuff, very appropriate for a most inappropriate night.

Below I Was a Teenage Werewolf I’ve included their even more creepy TV Set.  Give a listen and have yourself a very spooky night.

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Monster Movie MatineeThis is a repost of one of my more popular posts.  I still get people contacting me who have come across this and have memories of Monster Movie Matinee, the Syracuse-based show that ran for many years at 1 PM on Saturdays.  In the years since this ran back in 2009, a documentary has been made which chronicles the show and its effect on the many kids who found themselves glued to the couch watching classic (and not so classic) horror films.  More clips and photos have come to light including the intro at the bottom.  If you are interested in the documentary you can get more info at its Facebook page, Monster Mansion Memories.

Hope you have a very scary Halloween! Or not– it’s not necessarily a holiday suited to everybody’s taste.

Monster Movie Matinee 1With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, my mind switches back to past Halloweens and all the things that go with them.  Part of my normal Saturday routine growing up was to be in front of the TV at 1 o’clock to watch Monster Movie Matinee, a show out of Syracuse that ran for a couple of decades and showed classic ( and not so classic, as the years went by) horror and sci-fi movies.

It was a great kitschy broadcast.  It would start with the camera panning in over an obvious model of an haunted-type mansion on a hill as eerie monster movie music played.  It was hosted by Dr. E. Nick Witty (I think this is supposed to be funny but it eludes me) and his assistant, the wretched Epal.Epal on Monster Movie MatineeYou never saw anything of Dr. Witty but his long emotive fingers.  His voice was kind of a bad Bela Lugosi copy that played perfectly for this type of show.  Epal, played by the station’s longtime weatherman who also played other characters (his other main character,Salty Sam, introduced me to Popeye cartoons) on a number of other shows, was covered in rough-edged scars and wore an eyepatch.  He seemed to constantly erode as the years passed.

They had storylines that they used as they introduced the films, little vignettes that ran from week to week.  Goofy stuff but fun.  They let the movies they showed be the real stars and I saw most of the greats through them.  All the Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman movies were in regular rotation in the early years mixed in with a plethora of lower quality, monstery B-movies, which kind of took over in the later years.

215px-Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon_posterI remember one wet and dark Halloween Saturday back then spending the afternoon watching one of my favorites with Dr. Witty and Epal.  It was The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  It was a movie that was shown at least a few times a year so it became part of the kid memory bank.  It was the story of a group of geological researchers sent to explore a fossilized skeletal claw-like hand found up the Amazon where they encounter the Creature, a rubber-clad Gill-Man who makes repeated attacks on the research vessel, finally abducting the babe girlfriend of the main scientist.

Originally in 3-D in the theaters, was a pretty stylish 50’s monster movie.  Pretty good quality, actually.  The Creature was a great costume, very sleek and somewhat believable- at least to the kid sitting on the couch with the Fig Newtons.  It had nice underwater photography of the Creature gliding after his prey and also had great sound and music that really enhanced the story.  It wasn’t the scariest but it kept you involved with the story.   I always felt more of a connection with the Creature than I did with the crew of researchers and actually felt myself kind of rooting for him at times.  Much like King Kong, he seemed sadly alone.

That wet and dark Saturday many years ago seems to come to life now whenever I think of the Creature or Halloween, for that matter.  I remember the light.  The smell of that living room. Funny how certain things, even the smallest trivialities, imprint on the memory  when coupled with something important, as Halloween was to a kid.

Today I’m thinking of that day and that lonely Gill-Man and Dr. Witty…

 

 

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Merry-cemetery-Sapanta-RomaniaIt’s a few days before Halloween which conjure up all sorts of macabre images, especially those of creepy cemeteries.  I am not one of those people who are repelled by the thought of cemeteries and I am sure I have mentioned my fondness for cemeteries on this blog.

I’ve always been attracted to the peacefulness of them, the shape of the stones and the names inscribed on them.  I try to imagine the lives behind those stones and names, trying to somehow connect with their essence.  I even speak to them sometimes, especially those that I know or those who have become my favorites in the cemeteries where we regularly walk.  For instance, I always say hello to one couple with  what I consider  wonderful names– Arthur and Flora Greengrow.

Grim Reaper Figure at Base of Tombstone

Grim Reaper Figure at Base of Tombstone

While many of us here are scared a bit by cemeteries, there are place where that is not the case.  There is, for example, Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, Romania.  It is filled with brightly colored wooden tombstones that are carved with a sometimes humorous limerick and naively painted images depicting the deceased at work or play .  Sometimes, however, the stones show how the person died.   These images can be a bit gruesome but even then there is a lightness about the tombstone.  You see, they are aligned with the Dacian culture which is associated with the Zalmoxian religion which has a differing view on death compared to most, seeing it as a moment of great joy filled with the anticipation of the better life that is waiting.

With the bright blue tombstones and descriptive and often humorous limericks  ( there is a very funny one about a woman where the  voice of the limerick is her son-in-law who hopes she is happy now because he doesn’t want her back), Merry Cemetery has become a worldwide tourist attraction with crowds traveling to see the 800-some tombstones.  I guess it’s always a Happy Halloween in Sapanta.

Here a few views of some of the tombstones:

Merry Cemetery Tombstones  Romania

Merry Cemetery Tombstones Romania

Merry-Cemetery-Romania- Tombstones showing means of death

Tombstones with a boy drowning and a girl being hit by car

Merry-Cemetery-Romania- Young Man being hit by train

Young Man being hit by train

Merry-Cemetery-Romania- Decapitation Tombstone

Decapitation Tombstone From WW II Era

Merry-Cemetery-Romania-25

Top of Tombstones, Merry Cemetery

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