Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Please help get Jack Pierce a STAR!!

Please Help Jack Pierce Get A Star.......

Jack Pierce (May 5, 1889 in Greece - July 19, 1968), born Janus Piccoulas, was a Hollywood make- up artist most famous for creating the iconic make-up worn by Boris Karloff in Universal Studios' 1931 adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

After immigrating to the United States from Greece as a teenager, Pierce tried his hand at several careers, including a stint as an amateur baseball player. In his twenties, he embarked on a series of jobs in cinema - cinema manager, stuntman, actor - which would eventually lead to his mastery of make- up. The small-statured Pierce was never a "leading man" type, and he put his performing career aside to specialize in make-ups on other performers. Early character triumphs of his art included a human ape in The Monkey Talks and the rictus-grin face of Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs, two silent Universal pictures. Pierce was hired full-time by the studio. The 1930 death of Lon Chaney, who throughout the 1920s had made a name for himself by creating grotesque and often painful horror make-ups, opened a niche for Pierce and Universal, who provided audiences with the deformed gargoyles they so clearly enjoyed.

Universal's first talkie horror film, Dracula, eschewed elaborate horror make-up. Pierce designed a special color greasepaint for Lugosi's character, but apparently the actor insisted in applying his own make-up. The most significant creation during Pierce's time at the studio was clearly Frankenstein, originally begun with Lugosi in the role of the Monster. The preminiary design (from contemporary newspaper accounts and a recollection of the screen test by actor Edward Van Sloan) was similar to the Paul Wegener 1920 German film of The Golem. This is not surprising, since studio head Carl Laemmle, Jr. and director Robert Florey were both familiar with German Expressionist films. When James Whale replaced Florey as director, the concept was radically changed. Pierce came up with a design which was horrific as well as logical in the context of the story. So, where Henry Frankenstein has accessed the brain cavity, there is a scar and a seal, and the now famous "bolts" on the neck are actually electrodes; carriers for the electricity used to vivify the monster. How much input director James Whale had into the initial concept remains controversial.

Pierce went on to create make-up for several "Frankenstein" sequels (The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), Henry Hull's subtly terrifying visage in Werewolf of London (1935), and Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Wolf Man (1941), which itself was originally designed for Hull in the 1935 film. This last make-up was extremely elaborate, and pioneered a technique whereby pieces of moulded rubber (now known as "applications") covered in yak fur were glued to the actor's face. As new methods emerged during this period, however, Pierce's slow painstaking approach drew criticism from the studio and actors. Newer techniques could create equivalent effects in less time, and without causing as much pain to actors.

So please click the blog title above (or go to to sign an online petition set up by our friend the Unimonster.

Thanks to John at for passing along the message.

Monday, April 28, 2008

His name is Bruce...

I know that everyone is gearing up for what the studios tell us could be a huge summer for movies. And I know all the fanboys out there are frothing at the mouth over Iron Man this week, Batman later in the summer, not to mention the Hulk, Raiders of the Lost Ark IV, Speed Racer, just to name a few. However, for my money, the movie event of the year will not be released this summer, but is currently set for an October release.

This is the one that gets me all revved up.

For all you Bruce Campbell fans, there is a wonderful interview here. Check it out. Here are just a couple of choice quotes.

Q: "Star Trek" or "Star Wars"?

A: "Star Trek." The original ... with William Shatner. Everything else blows.

Q: Your ideal brain food?

A: It's a plant that grows from the ground. I refuse to identify it.

Great stuff. For more info check out



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reynolds, from The Great God Pan

For those of you that missed the show, here is a tiny taste, and perhaps enough to whet your appetite for our next horrific venture. A little bitty slice of video from our production of The Great God Pan, which, while it is not representitive of the show as a whole, it is a lotta fun. One more thing. . . for those who might be squeamish, there is a tiny little bit of blood.

After meeting face to face with Helen, Reynolds is left with a little bit of truth, which proves a very bitter pill to swallow.

Reynolds is played by Steve Herson.

Friday, April 18, 2008

RIP Hazel Court, the Horror Queen of Scream…

Hazel Court, the redheaded, green-eyed beauty, one of England’s top film actresses in the 1950’s, passed away Tuesday, April 14. Ms. Court died in Lake Tahoe, California, of a heart attack.

The talented Ms. Court, renowned for her ample cleavage and horrified scream, was the only actress to have worked with all of horror films' leading men - Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.

The former pinup girl was best known for her performances in movies such as “Devil Girl from Mars” (1954), “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), “Dr. Blood's Coffin” (1961), Roger Corman’s treatments of three works by Edgar Allan Poe: “The Masque of the Red Death ” (1962), “The Comedy of Terrors/The Raven” (1963), “The Premature Burial” (1964) and “Omen 3: The Final Conflict” (1981). She also had a long and varied career in American television, appearing in such series as General Electric Theatre, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Kildare, Gidget, The Wild Wild West, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Mannix, Mission Impossible and McMillan and Wife.

After her career in film, television and stage, she took up a successful second career as a sculptor in the 1970’s, and also wrote an autobiography, "Hazel Court - Horror Queen: An Autobiography", to be published this month by Tomahawk Press.

“Just in case I should pop off to Heaven in the night, I always remember to wash up, punch up the cushions, and straighten up after a dinner party,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t want everyone to come in and find it a mess. It’s very English of me.”

Hazel Court is survived by two daughters, two stepdaughters and a son.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Werewolves, zombies, monsters and vampires.....

I have been catching up on a few flicks these last few days. No rhyme or reason to these selections. Some that I have been meaning to see for sometime, some I just stumbled upon. God bless Cable and Netflix, or perhaps I would be tempted to go see that pg-13 crapfest Prom Night. No, probably not. I don't go see pg-13 horror movies at the theater. Ever. Which is good because as I am sure you all know, 9 out of 10 are total shite, with the tenth being average at best. Who wants to pay $10 for that?

Anyhow, my horror movie watching experience has run the gamut this week, from one end of the spectrum to the other. Might as well start with the bad.

Last night, I stayed up and watch Howling II - Your Sister Is a Werewolf. Somehow, this 1985 shitbucket got past me. Which is odd, considering I was a junior in high school at the time and had LOVED the first Howling. I was also an avowed Christopher Lee fan, as well as the proud owner and frequent reader of the August 1983 Playboy featuring Sybill Danning.
Well, miss it I did, and to think, I waited 23 years for this god awful hunk of dung. After poking around on the internet, I read that In 1990 when Christopher Lee was cast in Gremlins 2, one of the first things he did was apologize to director Joe Dante (who also directed The Howling) for being in this film. And seriously, that cat has NO shame. It did, however have a naked werewolf three-way, which was, well, a first for me. Awful.

Next up, The Return of the Living Dead. Yes, I know, how could I have missed this one. The hilarious thing about these two 1985 movies was how specifically 80's they were. The clothes, the music, and the gratuitous nudity. Hmmmm. High school. What can I say about the first of the fast moving zombie movies? Well, I only have one word, and that is "Brainsss!"

Last week, I finally saw 30 Days of Night. And I will say, it was overwhelmingly OK. The production quality was good, and there were some quality kills, particularly one full frontal ax to the neck decapitation, but, other than that, it didn't do it for me. Danny Huston was good, but beyond that, meh.

Upon the recommendation of our very own Dr. AC from our Blood Radio Podcast Watch or Die segment, I went back and watched the original 1958 version of The Fly. And, yes, he is correct, if you have not seen it recently, or ever (for shame), you really out to check it out. It is well worth it. After all, it's a love story. What says love more than a hydraulic press?

Now finally, if you have read this far, a bonus for you. A movie I had never heard of, had no expectations for, and was thoroughly impressed by. I am sure the horror afficionados out there have already seen it, but it was a revelation to me. Tonight I saw Perfect Creature, a really well done 2006 New Zealand film. I had never heard of it because it was never released in the theaters here in the states, straight to video in July of 07. Starring the often intriguing Saffron Burrows, it is a vampire thriller horror film-noir cop-buddy alternate universe movie, with hints of Dark City, Underworld, Children of Men and a few other flicks I cannot think of off the top of my head. It was really enjoyable. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dr AC interviewed on ICONS OF FRIGHT...

Hello friends,

We would like to invite everyone to venture over to Icons of Fright to check out the interview that Dr. AC did with them a few weeks back. Beth K. and he talk about everything from pet projects like HORROR 101 and WildClaw Theatre to the state of the genre in general. She asks great questions and AC does his best to come up with something semi-worthwhile in response. We’ll let you guys be the judge of how they did... Here’s the address or click the title above:

Please do check it out and leave a comment to let us know what you thought. (Hey, you know you don’t *really* want to be working.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

When is it OK to remake a movie?

So, I stumbled across this from The Deadbolt today.

10 Horror Remakes That Should Be Made

I encourage you to read the article. Author, Brian Tallerico, sets out his own "rules" as to what should be remade before offering up his list and then defends his choices. Of course, lists such as this are created to be debated, argued and ridiculed.

In light of Ms. Alyrenee's Tuesday, April 1, 2008 post on Blood Radio, Sign of the Apocalypse: Michael Bay Remaking Rosemary's Baby, I thought this an appropriate conversation starter.

Now, Mr Tallerico says many things worthy of discussion. However, one jumped out at me. In general, I am against remakes. To the vast majority of remakes, I say BOO! And that is within and without of the horror genre. There are exceptions of course, and I agree with the author when he says remaking movies that were pretty bad in the first place is usually ok, and can in fact be a good thing. OK. Fair enough. I can think of some pretty good if not great remakes. David Cronenberg's The Fly leaps to mind. Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. Of course, he was remaking his own film, but, you know, whatever. . . .let us not forget one of my favorite remakes, Heaven Can Wait, which is a remake which has since been remade. . . which brings us back to Mr. Tallerico.

He says...

In the same way that issuing a song-by-song remake album of Exile on Main Street or Revolver would be a really bad idea, remaking Halloween, Psycho, or other already-perfect horror movies just feels like a waste of time. On that note, in the world of '80s movies, no one ever needs to remake Re-Animator, From Beyond, The Thing, Near Dark, The Howling, Poltergeist, or A Nightmare on Elm Street (which we know is happening but we’re choosing to remain in denial). No, they're not all equal, but they're all movies that should exist purely in their original form and are still being admired and introduced to a new generation every day (usually by a cruel older brother). As my grandpa used to say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Here is my issue. John Carpenters The Thing, one of my FAVORITE movies of all time, starring my hero Kurt Russell, is, in itself, a remake of the Howard Hawks 1951 movie The Thing from Another World.

So, how does this rule of remakes apply to a movie that is a remake? It simply does not exist purely in its original form. Is it OK to remake a remake?

Here is the Deadbolt list.

10. The Lady in White (1988)

9. Child's Play (1988)

8. The Hunger (1983)

7. Demons (1985)

6. Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

5. Basket Case (1982)

4. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

3. The Dead Zone (1983)

2. Christine (Special Edition) (1983)

1. Fright Night (1985)

Any thoughts? Opinions? Are there movies on Mr. Tallerico's list that you find absurd? Are there glaring omissions that should be remade? And what about a remake of a remake?


Monday, April 7, 2008

Why Horror Theatre?

Why Horror Theatre?

Since the beginning of this WildClaw quest, the response to our mission, bringing Horror to the live stage, has been in my experience overwhelmingly positive. Yet, every now and then, an earnest and oddly sad question cuts through the enthusiasm. “Why horror theatre?”

I usually rattle off a list of viable reasons for starting a Horror Theatre Company in Chicago in 2008. I talk about a new audience, and the fact that no one else is trying to do it, blah blah blah. It always seems to do the trick. And yet, the answer always feels shallow and insufficient.

Because the only honest answer I have to that question is an unsatisfactory one.
Why horror theatre? What do we need a horror theatre for? Honestly, I don’t know.

I guess to answer that you need to ask, why horror at all? Why horror movies, TV, literature? I have thought a lot about it over the past year or so, and so far been unable to come up with a clear, coherent answer. So, if you were looking for clarity and coherence, you should stop reading right now. People write books on this stuff, so, you know, go get one of those.

Because, I don't know. I don't know why I watch, or other people watch, or what purpose it serves. If I am to be perfectly honest, I have not always been a fan of horror. I watched them most of my life, but it was torture until I was in my late teens (Re-Animator being the first horror movie I thoroughly enjoyed seeing in the theater, of course, by that time I had discovered sex and booze as well, so, well, you know.) Although I am more a fan in adulthood, my love of horror barely holds a candle to the majority of the people in WildClaw, or, heck, in my own household, for that matter. Horror for horror's sake has never done it for me, be it Vampires or monsters or psycho's or clowns. Just because a commercial promises blood and killing does not guarantee that I will automatically go see the film. Now, I respect horror. I am a big movie fan, and I love ALL genres of film. Horror movies have been around since the dawn of the motion picture, so I am, by default, I guess, a horror movie fan. But no more so than I am a Sci-Fi movie fan, or a courtroom drama fan, a western fan or buddy-movie fan. I have been over most of my life certainly less a Horror Movie fan than a sports movie fan. I am simply a sucker for a well done sports movie. OK, truth be told, I like the crappy sports movies as well. I know the formula backwards and forwards, and I can see it all coming, but if they hit all the necessary points, play those proper heartstrings, I cannot get enough. The great (Breaking Away, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Hoosiers), the good (Miracle, Shaolin Soccer), and the not so good (Necessary Roughness, Major League), it simply doesn’t matter. Sign me up. Vincent Papale or Rocky Balboa, I love me my sports movies. And if you ask me why I like them, I can tell you, definitively. I am a sucker for them because they are uplifting, life affirming, fantasy fulfillment. Somedays I wish my life was a sports movie.

Life affirming is not how I would describe the vast majority of the Horror movies I have seen in my life, good or bad. I have never wanted to live in one, though at times it has almost felt like it. Most of the time I can't describe or explain what compels me to watch, to pay my hard earned money to sit in that darkened room and put myself through it. In the middle of it, when the walls are bleeding and the voice says “get out", there always comes a moment when I want nothing more than to follow those instructions and flee the theater.

That said, it is horror movies that have left some of the deepest and most lasting impressions on my psyche, images I can call to mind instantly and that still play upon my imagination. The final image of the unrated version of The Descent, with Sarah sitting there, staring at nothing lit only by her flickering torch, has taken its place most recently in the dark and disturbing gallery of images, somewhere between the original The Omen, as Damien turns towards the camera with a smile before the credits roles,

and Jack Torrence frozen in the maze of The Shining. Images that pop into my stream of thought unexpectedly, and never fail to give me a shudder. Frozen guys and demonic children have scared me ever since.

Although I have grown to appreciate horror, there is still that part of my brain which to this day does not enjoy horror. That part that usually waits until I am right in the middle of a particularly well made horror movie, every muscle tense, before it speaks up and reminds me that this is insanity, self inflicted insanity. This split within me has been there for as long as I can remember, each side battling for dominance. There is the one part that was adamant about staying up with my older brothers in the early 70’s. Creature Features on KTVU was showing the national premiere of Night of the Living Dead. And yet, there is the other that spent the next week lying in my bed at night, terrified, psychologically tortured, staring out my window sure that a zombie army was going to come lurching over our hill any moment, wreaking havoc amongst the living. That part that said, never again, I never I want to see that movie again, or any movie like it. And then the other part, the one that made sure I repeated that very same ritual, every weekend, late at night, for the rest of the decade.

I so vividly remember Bob Wilkins, the cigar, the music, the sight of that skull candleholder signaling to me that my parents were asleep and could not protect me, and that my brothers would sell me out to the ghouls and the goblins for a nickel. Terrified, and yet forcing myself to endure it.

And thirty some odd years later, it is still pretty much the same. I claim no insight or special understanding, and yet I still find myself in that darkened room, clutching the arm of a chair or a pillow, just waiting for it all to end. There are many who have taken up the conversations of the sociological implications of the horror genre’s popularity with much greater knowledge and wit than I. But. . . .I still don’t quite get it. I am curious, I really want to know, why do I still do it to myself? It takes much more to scare me these days, but when it happens, when I find myself in a darkened theater, clenched and tense and I listening to the CHUDs approach from the darkened recesses, the thought never fails to cross my mind. Why the fuck do I do this to myself?

Perhaps it is my inability to answer that very question which makes me think that the world of 2008 needs a horror theatre. Because we still seek it out. After all that we have seen and experienced, we still, for whatever reason, seek it out, still need to grapple with that fear, wrestle with that idea, that sensation, experience it, and perhaps. . . own it. I had the honor of being a student of Del Close years ago, and he used to tell us to “follow your fear.” They are words that have resonated for me since I first heard them, because, at the base of our fear, do we not learn who we are?

I have heard a dozen explanations for the popularity of the horror genre. It seems that in the 90’s the rationalization was that we, the audience, were adrenalin junkies and that we fed off of the rush, that a good horror movie is like a roller coaster. That the illusion of danger, the illusion of danger and vulnerability gave people’s dull, tame, safe, boring lives some source of primal satisfaction that we had otherwise evolved away from. Perhaps. I guess that made sense.

In our post millennial world, however, it seems to me that those reasons don’t hold water. Fear is all around us. Our lives, we are told daily, are no longer safe. Danger abounds, round every corner. We are told, over and over, to be afraid. That 'they' are out to get us. Be afraid of terrorists, be afraid of Republicans, be afraid of Democrats, be afraid of Muslims, Christians, Jews, blacks, Chinese, the illegal immigrants . . . . . every single one and a dozen more intent on not just advancing their own agenda, but on destroying our world and our way of life, to turn our friends and neighbors against us, and yes, perhaps, eat our brains (not unlike the army zombies from my childhood vigil). While we are constantly bombarded with messages telling us to fear the 'other', we are also told to fear our food supply, fear our medicine, fear our environment, fear the weather, fear sex, fear the economy, fear machines, fear the government, fear our schools, fear the media, fear change, fear a lack of change . . . . we have no shortage of fear in the new millennium. This palpable societal fear seems to me so wide ranging, like a free floating cloud that hangs over us without the hint of resolution. With images of death and destruction are piped into our homes every day, only to be followed with a story about the bees disappearing which will inevitably lead to a disruption of our food supply, to be followed by a story of an asteroid bearing down on us which may potentially wipe us all out like the dinosaurs we are. . . .in 65 years. The way we are sold fear these days, it seems if one were to follow ones fear, it would be a long zigzagging journey going round and round, doubling back on itself countless times.

Perhaps sociological need for the horror genre may be even more acute now. We need to figure out a way to grapple with our nightmares and process our fear. Not simply for the visceral roller coaster adrenaline inducing body terror thrill, but for a chance to focus all of this free floating anxiety and fear, condense it, and perhaps, get a handle on it, work through it a little.

If the need for the horror genre is more acute today, the job of the practicioners of horror seems much more difficult. It is simply harder to scare us now. And by scare, I do not simply mean make us jump, or turn away in disgust, but scare, give us something to leave the theater with, to ponder. We have watched mass murder and execution, ethnic cleansings, genocide, innocents leaping to their death from the tallest buildings in the world, legitimized the use of torture and openly waged wars of choice, and that was all on TV between 6 and 9pm. It takes more than monsters that to scare us these days. Is this free floating societal fear responsible for the further sensationalism and higher gore factor of the latest surge of horror movies? Is the popularity of the so-called torture-porn sub-genre (Saw, Hostel) a result of the fact that we need more and more to frighten us? Do we need more gore, more pain, more sadism, because horror is now competing with the nightly news?

I actually think we could do with less. I think the reason it is harder for horror movies to scare us is because of the gore, the spectacle. The production values may have gone through the roof, but the level of humanity has nearly been eliminated. Like so many other genres, it seems to me that it is the very lack of humanity, real people and real emotions, that leaving us cold.

After years of arguing against the idea of being desensitized to horror and violence by television and the movies, I have changed my opinion. I feel that it is self-evident that we are desensitized to images of horror and violence. We are bombarded with these images in the movies, on television, in newspapers. They simply cannot have the power that they once did. The images are bigger, and brighter, and louder, and they bleed better and brighter than ever before.

At the same time, moviemaking is no longer magic. Every movie released today seems to have its own “making of” documentary attached. The industry of moviemaking in many ways is making it harder and harder for the moviegoer to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride. Therefore, we need more; it must be more graphic, more extreme, and more seamless. In the age of CGI, sometimes it feels like nothing dazzles us anymore. These days, we know as we sit in the movie theatre, or more often our living room, that we are safe. We know it. We may be afraid of the water coming out of our tap, or the police that patrol our neighborhood, but the CHUDs and the psychos, the monsters and demons, they simply do not scare us like they used to. They are two dimensional, and as we have been told time and time again since childhood, it is only a movie. It takes an excellent movie to move us in any way, and there just aren't that many excellent movies out there, period. And excellent horror movies? Come on. So we take what we can get, and we know that it is all make-beleive, and we have fun for an hour and a half if we are lucky. They may make us jump, or turn away in disgust, but do they make us suspend our disbelief? We can be impressed with the technological mastery. . . .the craft of moviemaking . . . but we remain at a dispassionate distance, objectively witnessing the images as they flicker across the screen. We sit safely in front of the screen, be it the TV, computer, or movie scream, we sit back (so often these days in solitude) and simply watch. We do not feel or experience, we simply watch. They have substituted spectacle for empathy, gore for character, splatter for story. Gore and spatter are good and fine, and have their place, don't get me wrong. I appreciate quality kills as much as anyone, but when the numbers pile up indescriminately, it loses its meaning, and it is simply not scary.

Which brings us back to the beginning. Why Horror Theatre? I guess the answer is, when it works, when we successfully get our audience in that room, close the doors, take down the lights, they simply do not know what to expect. We have them at a unique disadvantage. The images are life sized, the volume normal. They must focus their eyes and direct their attention. The audience must discard the notions of horror that is born and bred in and Dolby Surround and HD. They must enter into a relationship with the story and the characters. They are not allowed simply to sit back and watch. They are forced to become involved, to actively reach out with their eyes and ears and perceptions. Simply, they are not safe. The line between the world of make-believe and the safety of the audience is blurred.

What would appear to be a disadvantage for live theatre, the expectations of an audience raised on Hellraiserand weaned onHalloween, accustumed to more gore and bigger louder bangs and starts, turns into an advantage. The suspense comes from a room full of people silently listening to a whispered conversation. The horror comes more from the empathic experience of witnessing another live human being, investing emotionally in that person in front of you, and then finding yourself surprisingly moved and, well, horrified at his evisceration. The effect, well, lights and fabric and. . . .well, let us not give away all the secrets but suffice it to say, gore, is there, but the impact comes from the humanity, not the biological effect. The biological effect simply serves the story, and is therefore far more crushing than one that comes from pushing the cinematic limits of carnage. And when the blood comes, live onstage, you feel it ripple throughout the room, a mixture of disgust and fear and excitement and appreciation the vast majority of films simply cannot deliver.

Why Horror Theatre? Because now more than ever, as our world peddles fear and insecurity, as our politicians and clergy predict apocalypse, and our scientists ring the alarm of catastrophic climate upheaval, all in an effort to sell soap of one kind or another, perhaps we need to get a handle on this most basic and primal of all feelings, in a dark room, with our other people experiencing the same live horrific event.

Or, perhaps not.

-- B.