Monsters Crash The Pajama Party

"Not 3-D but real flesh and blood monsters!" was the tagline for this astonishingly stupid film, and back in the day it delivered the goods; wherever this movie screened, actors in monster costumes identical to the ones onscreen would rush into the theater, grab a girl from the audience (a "plant") and bring her back into the movie! Amazing!

A tactic similar to this was used in The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. Other than that, I can't think of any other example of live performance worked into a film.

Movie-wise, this is the closest we'll get to a real, actual Spook Show, the popular 1960's live-action phantasmagoria that would play in cinemas at midnight every Halloween season. For that, it's something very special. Otherwise, the pacing is sluggish. Thankfully, the video here is a ten-minute edit of a 45-minute film, so it doesn't outstay its welcome.

At 9:44 is the big shocking moment when the live actors rush the audience (in this truncated youtube video you see the stock-footage lightening for a few seconds, but it lasts for a couple minutes in the unedited version, allowing lots of time for the players to run around the theater, grab the girl and provoke general mayhem). I love the moment at 10:03, where the mad scientist returns onto the screen acknowledging the camera with his arms outstretched, as if to say, "I was just in the theater! The fourth wall has been broken forever!"

If you want to see the whole thing, buy the DVD. It's down to five bucks on amazon. It includes the full version of this film, but the real treasure is 45 minutes of spook show previews, which are indescribably wonderful. There are also lots of horror-themed vintage home movies, and a 3D short film. You even get two pairs of 3D glasses, which you can also use on this blog! Over 3.5 hours of wholesome fun! What are you waiting for, you big jerk?!?

very related: get over here to download your free spook show wallpaper.

Somewhat related: I must direct you to today's stupendous pizzateen.com post.


Dinner with Drac

Zacherly The Cool Ghoul started as a TV horror host in 1957. By 1958 he already had recorded "Dinner with Drac", a hit top ten single with a bullet. I bought this on 45 at a record fair, way back in the pre-internet days without having heard it, but based solely on my knowledge that the Cramps played it before their annual Halloween concerts.

The single had the original version on its A-side, and a tamed-down version with less gory lyrics on its B-side for airing on TV and Radio (which is the one heard here).

Zacherly is now 91 years old and still a Cryptkicker. You can see him this weekend at the Chiller Theater Expo in Jersey. Keep up with him at his website.

Very related: I just realized that American Scary, a feature-length documentary on horror hosts which includes lot of info on Zacherly, Vampira, Svengoolie et al, is available on Netflix for rental and instant viewing.


Spider Baby

This special Halloween Edition of Movie of the Week showcases the first feature of Jack Hill, who went on to make Switchblade Sisters (one of my all-time favorites) and four of Pam Grier's best films (including Coffy and Foxy Brown). Also stars cult favorite Sid Haig, the weird-looking Carol Ohmart (from House on Haunted Hill) and legendary drunk Lon Chaney Jr. This much-loved quirky classic was adapted into a stage musical a few years ago, and a remake is currently in pre-production.

If you haven't the time or patience to sit through the whole thing, at least watch the first couple minutes for the bizarre opening song, narrated by Lon himself.

A website dedicated to the movie is here.


Russ Meyer Double Feature

Russ Meyer movies are difficult to find; his estate still owns all the distribution and home video rights (with the exception of my single favorite movie of all time, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which is owned by 20th Century Fox) and you can't rent them from mainstream chains like Blockbuster or Netflix.

So it's nice to get two full features from his early, gritty, southern-gothic black & white period available on Google Video. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is the better of the two, but you might have seen it too many times already. Motorpsycho is a little weak for a Meyer film, and it's probably the darkest themed of anything he's done. But Haji makes it worth seeing, and I personally believe it was the inspiration for Mad Max.

If you haven't seen the Meyer episode of The Incredibly Strange Film Show, you should. Can't find the first few minutes, but the rest of it is here.


2 Halloween Books

Two of my favorite books from when I was in the first grade, How to Care for your Monster and The Witch's Catalog, are profiled in the excellent Haunted Closet Blog. The first reads like a practical instruction manual, the second is like the best Johnson Smith catalog you could ever hope for. Both of them are unique in how they treat the occult and the unnatural as something anyone can acquire from the mail or a pet shop.

Click images below for synopses and page scans:


2 Halloween Party Recipes

It's extremely out of place for this blog to dispense any useful information. But in preparing for our fourth annual Pumpkin Carv-A-Thon, I've recently made two homemade beverages which turned out so well that I have to share them here.

Pumpkin Martini

Make this at least three days in advance; pour a standard 700ml bottle of decent vodka into a jar and add a few cubes of fresh pumpkin, along with 1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 a nutmeg, a few pieces of whole allspice, and a couple of thin slices of ginger. Seal. Taste teste every day or two, removing or retaining elements as needed. (I recommend removing the pumpkin after three days, otherwise it gets too intense). Strain when ready.

To serve, coat the rim of a martini glass with triple sec and dip in a mix of equal parts pumpkin pie spice and bar sugar. pour 1 oz. of pumpkin-infused vodka and 1/4 oz. triple sec (or cointreau) into an iced cocktail shaker for every serving. shake and strain into glasses.

Pumpkin Ale
I've made this several times since 1996, and through all the trial and error I've arrived at this seasonal beer which is very light on the malt and hops, allowing the pumpkin and spices to stay in the foreground. I started it three weeks ago and tried an advance bottle just now, which has surpassed all expectations. It's too late for you to have this ready for this year's Halloween party, but not too late to buy a pumpkin at the supermarket and start brewing:

7 lb. Light Malt Extract (liquid)
1 lb. 2-row pale malt
1 lb. cara-pils malt
7 lb. whole pumpkin
1 oz. of 5 AAU cascade hops
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup corn sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

cut pumpkin lengthwise into quarters. Scrape out seeds and stringy bits. Roast in a 350 oven until soft all the way through (@30 minutes). Cool, peel off the skin and put the rest through a food processor.

do a partial mash with the crushed 2-row and cara-pils in 1 gallon of water, maintain at 154 degrees for 45 minutes.

Bring to a boil with malt extract, all of the pumpkin and the cascade hops. Boil for 60 minutes. In the last couple minutes add the pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.

Cool and pour through a colander to strain out larger pumpkin pieces (finer pulp will strain through). After cooling to @75 degrees, pitch the yeast (I used american ale powdered yeast in 1 quart of starter, prepared two days earlier) . Ferment for one week. Rack to a secondary carboy (expect more trub than usual, due to the pumpkin), ferment for 1-2 more weeks.

For bottling, boil the additional pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon with the corn sugar.



Secrets of The Candy Factory

This is the Harlem avenue CTA train platform in Oak Park, bordering the central West side of Chicago. A 1/4 mile away from this spot is the house I was raised in for 18 years. And here you see the Ferrara Pan Candy Factory, origination point of the World's entire supply of Lemonheads, Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans and Atomic Fireballs.

On some nights, particularly in the Summer, the smell of red hots would hang in the air of our backyards like heavy fog. My friends and I would always wonder what the inside of the factory might look like. They didn't give tours, so the closest we ever got was the factory outlet store, which was no more than a window with an ornery old hag on the other side of it, begrudgingly scooping candy into brown paper bags to sell by weight (it's still open).

But now, thanks to the interweb, the secrets are out. Ferrara Pan's website has flash animations of how their most popular items are made. Click on the candy of your choice, and all will be revealed:

Amazing bonus fact: Ferrara Pan still uses trains to get their sugar delivered, and they go through a rail car full of it every day.


Darwin IV

Several years ago a friend turned me on to Wayne Douglas Barlowe, an artist whose work falls somewhere between science fiction and biology (his parents were both natural history artists). My favorite of his books is Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV. It hasn't been reprinted since its initial run in 1990, but you can still get an affordable copy on Amazon.

None of the text (a technical account of the life discovered on a distant planet in the 24th century) can be found online, but a small selection of paintings can be viewed on the artist's website.

In 2005, a 90-minute 'documentary' of Expedition was produced for television. The results are surprisingly good, and the whole thing can be seen here: