Archive for the 'Horror Movies/TV' Category

The San Francisco Comic Book Company in Nightmare in Blood (1978)

Nightmare in Blood (spoilers ahead) is a cult film directed by John Stanley, who was writing for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time and went on to host Creature Features (replacing Bob Wilkins) at KTVU from 1979 to 1984. The plot surrounds a series of murders at a horror convention and the event’s guest of honor, a famous vampire actor named Malakai, who turns out to be a real vampire. And Malakai’s “public-relations men,” B.B. and Harris, are actually William Burke and William Hare, the famous 19th century serial killers. The film is loaded with winks and nods to early horror fandom and classic horror films.

When Malakai arrives at the convention, filmed at Oakland’s Fox Theater, he’s greeted with cheers by his young fans, many of whom are—oddly—wearing ape masks. The kids were members of a Planet of the Apes fan club, and one of them was a teenage Fred Dekker, soon-to-be writer-director of Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987), two wildly fun films that are now cult classics.

The film features, in a way, Gary Arlington’s The San Francisco Comic Book Company, the first comics-only store in the U.S. The store opened in 1968 and was a nexus of the underground comix scene throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Robert Crumb was a frequent presence, and Simon Deitch, Rory Hayes, and Flo Steinberg all reportedly worked at the store at various times. The hippie character in the clip is not just based on Gary Arlington, he’s named Gary Arlington. Arlington himself, with his own stock, tried to recreate his Mission District store at a bigger location for the scene Stanley wanted. (The San Francisco Comic Book Company was notoriously small, some 200 square feet.) Arlington died at the age of 75 in 2014.

Compare the Nightmare in Blood clip to the absurd scene in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, when Samuel Jackson’s character dotes on a vintage comic book illustration in his comic book “art gallery,” and then berates the man who wants to buy it for his boy because “art” is not for children. What makes it absurd is that the scene is played straight—entirely devoid of humor. A comparison of both films, in fact, explains quite a bit about the transformation of sci-fi/fantasy/horror fandom from a bookish, establishment-wary subculture into a mainstream, corporate phenomenon.

Read more about Nightmare in Blood at San Francisco Weekly and John Stanley’s site.

TV Guide Ads for TV Movies (1978): Special Halloween Edition

TV Guide 1978-1

TV Guide 1978-2

TV Guide 1978-3

TV Guide 1978-4

TV Guide 1978-5

Highlights from the week of October 28 through November 3, 1978, via Garage Sale Finds, where you can see a lot more.

Kiss Meets the Phantom is actually Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, and it’s one of the more notorious TV productions of the 1970s. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, it plays like a demented, less well-acted, live action Scooby-Doo episode with a hard rocking soundtrack, and for all those reasons is a must watch. A slightly different, slightly more coherent version titled Attack of the Phantoms was released in theaters outside the U.S. in 1979, and you can watch it (as of now) here. Incidentally, if there’s a place to put your “Get Your High School Diploma” ad, it’s underneath a Kiss promo.

I talk about Devil Dog: Hound of Hell here. Stranger in Our House is a fun chiller directed by Wes Craven about a satanic, teenage witch who infiltrates and terrorizes a suburban family, with Linda Blair playing the good girl. (1981’s Midnight Offerings was another TV movie with the same theme). Both films aired on Halloween night.

ThrillerVideo Ads Featuring Elvira (1985 – 1989)

Elvira 1985-2

Elvira 1985

Elvira 1989

ThrillerVideo was a home video series released between 1985 and 1989. Most of the schlocky horror flicks were narrated by Elvira, but she refused to host a number of the more graphic titles, which were released in a less sexy format. You can see the full catalog here.

(Images via Monster Memories and Zombie Logic)

Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout (Cinema Home Video, 1990)

Quigley 1990-2

Quigley 1990-3

Quigley 1990

The quintessential ’80s scream queen, you have to admire Quigley’s pluck and wry self-promotion. The direct-to-video “cult spoof of exercise videos and fright films” was recently re-released, and you can get an autographed copy through her website. Read a good review of the original video at The Betamax Rundown.

You can see an interview with Quigley in “VCR Horrors,” a 20/20 panic piece from 1987.

(Images via VHS Collector and The Betamax Rundown)

Movie Theater Marquees: The Exorcist (1973/1974)

Exorcist 1973

Above: The Exorcist opens at the Paramount Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1974. “Proof of age required”! The Paramount opened in 1964 and closed in 1990. According to Cinema Treasures, “no trace remains” except for this lone photograph.

Below: The Exorcist opens at the National Theatre in Westwood, California. The film received a limited release on December 26, 1973, and the National was one of the 26 participating theaters. The landmark was demolished in 2008, displaced by luxury apartments.

You can see more Exorcist marquees here, as well as video footage of audience reactions at the National and elsewhere.

Exorcist National

Exorcist National-2

Tom Savini Makes Ari Lehman into ‘Mongoloid’ Jason Voorhees for Friday the 13th (1980)

Fangoria #6 June 1980

From Fangoria #6 (June, 1980). I have an interview with Savini here in which he describes his Friday the 13th experience as “one of the greatest times [he’s] ever had.” If you’ve somehow forgotten the scene, watch it here.

(Image via Pinterest)


Wizard Video VHS Ad (1986)

Wizard 1986

Charles Band started Wizard Video in 1980, distributing a number of horror classics (and trash classics) as well as introducing the “big box” VHS format. The big boxes splashed graphic art and were a signal innovation that changed the market. You can see a whole bunch of awesome brochures here. Wizard Video also released two obscure, ultra-violent video games for the Atari 2600, Halloween (1983) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1982).

(Image via Monster Memories)

Movie Theater Marquees: Book of the Dead (1981)

Raimi Josh Becker 1981

Josh Becker and Sam Raimi

Raimi Ethan Coen 1981

Sam Raimi and Ethan Coen

Raimi Tabert Campbell 1981

Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell

Book of the Dead (later retitled The Evil Dead) premiered on October 15th, 1981, at Detroit’s Redford Theater. Turnout was excellent, and Raimi started touring the movie. Eventually he met Irvin Shapiro, who had distributed George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Shapiro convinced Raimi to change the title to The Evil Dead and got the film into Cannes in 1982, where Stephen King saw it, loved it, and gave it a rave review. The rest is history.

Josh Becker did sound and lighting, Rob Tapert was producer, and Ethan Coen, believe it or not, flew down from New York with the final edit on the day of the premiere. His brother Joel had assisted with the editing. Blood Simple, the movie that got the Coen brothers their start, was inspired by the indie ethos and look of The Evil Dead and premiered three years later in 1984.

(Photos via Home Theater Forum and Book of the Dead)

Movie Theater Marquees: The Evil Dead (1983)

Marquee Evil Dead 1983-1

The Prince Charles Cinema, London, 1983

The Evil Dead premiered in the UK on January 17, 1983. The photo is from “the definitive Evil Dead website,” The Book of the Dead, specifically the section on Graham Humphreys, the artist/illustrator who handled promotion of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II in the UK. His theatrical quad posters are below. See more of Humphreys’ work at Horrorpedia.

Evil Dead Quad 1983

Evil Dead 2 Quad 1987


Movie Theater Marquees: The Exorcist (1973/1974)

Marquee Exorcist Snowball

Exorcist 1974

I don’t remember where I found the first photo, but it shows the Kallet Capitol Theatre, now Rome Capitol Theatre, in Rome, New York. Note the two Disney movies on the right side of the marquee: Snowball Express (1972), a staple at elementary schools across America throughout the 1970s, and The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973).

The second photo, from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, shows The Exorcist UK premiere at London’s Leicester Square Theatre on March 13, 1974. It’s playing with Enter the Dragon. Remember that the next time someone says movies today are just as good as they used to be.

The Exorcist remains the most unforgettably frightening movie ever made, in my opinion, although I still think Jaws is the greatest horror movie ever made. The video below shows many more marquees and premieres, as well as audience reactions to the blockbuster, including lots of fainting.




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