Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Return of Johnathan Laslo's Knight Storm Photography!

By - Stephen Mezo

I am beyond honored when Artist and Entertainers take time to share their works and or do an interview. But to have a guest return with their newest creations is beyond awesome!!!
And one of my returning guest is photographer Jonathan Laslo of Knight Storm Photography. 


Back in June of 2015 Johnathan was kind enough to allow me to showcase his session with our mutual friend Janet Jay of "The Mummy and The Monkey Show". And I absolutely loved the haunting settings that Johnathan had made Janet a part of. 

Now Cassie L. Ravenwood is the subject in Johnathan Laslo's
journey to a land of nightmares through the lens. 








And with that I would like to thank Jonathan Laslo for being a great returning guest and for sharing his eerie photo adventure starring the lovely Cassie L. Ravenwood.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Talking about the Dark Realm of Ron Fitzgerald

By - Stephen Mezo

Tonight we are going to visit the 
Dark Realm of Master Illusionist Ron Fitzgerald!
Photo by "Jim Sorfleet" SNS-Photo

And we're going to do it with the help of Ron's movie
DARK REALM!!! (2013)

Let me start by saying this movie was a great visit back to my glory full time days of The Costume Shop, Indie Horror Movies, The Haunted Attraction and The Sideshow. And it's what I like to call GRINDHOUSE 2000.

And let me get the movie nerd part out of the way with saying the only complaint I have is I wish they had used better audio and a steady cam or at least a tripod on some shaky shots...

Now lets get to the fun stuff, and I have to say that the movie is a cool showcase of Ron Fitzgerald's stage show and his stage presence. And Ron even impressed me with his presentation of quite a few standards that were turned up to eleven with his twist on them.
On top of that the flow of the movie's story line made the hour and twenty two minute run time fly by and the performance by Vincent Bilancio as "Price" the manager was awesome! As well as performances by Lady India, Red Rum and Ron Fitzgerald's lovely assistants.

DARK REALM is streaming on Amazon and Ron Fitzgerald is on Facebook and Twitter. Check them out and tell him that The Storage Unit of Terror sent you!  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Talking about "Don't Go In The House".

By Stephen Mezo

It's really cool that I got to the age where my Mom is able to be a lot more like my best friend because she is great to hang out with.

Seriously, she is the one responsible for my love of monsters and horror movies and I never went a day without a new issue of Famous Monsters or a monster comic book. She loves going to see new horror movies with me and even enjoys road trips out to different filming locations of our favorite horror movies or places that they were based on. 

One of those places that we recently went to was the house in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey that was kind of one of the stars in "Don't Go In The House".



The house itself has a lot of history and has been made a landmark and is featured on the Blu-Ray version with Greg Caggiano who is part of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society giving a tour of the Strauss Mansion/Museum behind me. It's funny because another site states that the mansion is in upstate New York, but I am clearly standing in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. And a lot of the filming was done at locations on 1st Ave in Atlantic Highlands in February of 1979. The only parts that were filmed in New York were the Disco and the clothing store where Donny bought his Disco outfit in New Rochelle. And Donny's work place was in Jersey City.

Even funnier is I know a lot of it was done in the week of the 10th to the 16th because I tracked down the TV Guide that was for sale in the market store right next to the movie theater that Donny was following one of his victims in.

"TV Guide?" you ask. Yup, I couldn't stop laughing when I saw it thanks to HGTV and was able to buy a copy of that issue off of eBay that you'll see later on in the tour. 

Here is the flower shop that Donny
 had taken his first victim from.  

 This is the interior view when Donny was talking to the shop worker in the movie. And I'll be adding more location pictures to this article later.

"So why all the love for this movie?" is probably your next question. And I'll answer with It's a favorite because I really love the Indie feel to it even though others complain about the acting, yeah it was Psycho knock off but you really did feel sorry for Donny and it was kind of heart breaking when help was given a lot too late, it was a local horror production and it's part of my own history.  

You're going to love this... 

My cousin Colin MacInnes was "Young Donny" in the flashback scene, his then grade school teacher Ruth Dardick was an actor that played Donny's mother in the movie and Colin's best friend back then Chris Isidori was the kid "Michael" that gets the crap smacked out of him by his mother and starts hearing the spirits at the end of the movie.

My cousin Colin MacInnes as "Young Donny"

 Ruth Dardick (Colin's grade school teacher) as "Donny's Mother"

Chris Isidori (Colin's then best friend) as "Michael"

When Ruth was cast the director had asked if she had known any kids that would want to be in the movie. And with her being a school teacher she must have told him to see if any of the kids in her class would want to be chosen. Waaaay different times back then huh? LOL

So he picked Colin and Chris and then got in touch with their parents to get permission. And I found out about this because my mom had seen it in the local news paper complete with a photo of Colin, Chris and Ruth on the outside stairs of the house. Then they interviewed him about the stove fire scene and he told them he was a little nervous about doing it until he found out what zel gel was. 

And I lost it... I was so green with jealousy that they couldn't even make paint that color! There I was the full on monster kid at nine years old that would have done the scene without zel gel just to be the one in a horror movie reading about my cousin that really wasn't into monsters or horror movies!!! Yeah, it was pretty bad and I stopped talking to him, but his family moved out of state not too long after anyway. HA HA HA

But unlike him I actually got to see the movie two years later after it came out on VHS when I was twelve. And it made me so happy seeing so many familiar locations in it. Even the sports store where my dad took me a million times to get ammo or arrows for hunting when he went. And it was the same store where Donny bought his fire suit.

Donny buying his fire suit back in 1975 at "RJ's"
and where my dad bought his hunting equipment. 

And how it looks now in 2017

This is the case where Donny's Fire Suit and Flame thrower were.

Now it's the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council which is extremely cool and provides a showcase for local artist.

 And I'll wrap up my virtual tour with the Mini Mart where Donny got his last victim.

 This is what it looked like back in February of 1979

And now in July of 2017

This was the interior back in 1979

And this is the kicker!

This is the same interior wall of the Mini Mart that was behind the counter that's been halved in 2017

The man behind the store's new counter that now faces the other way (pronounced) Din-Hee was amazingly cool in letting me get this photo. He was really blown away that I was able to get a copy of this issue and couldn't get over the ads and TV listings from 1979. It was so long ago that Columbia House was still sending out 8 Tracks for their Music Club! HA HA HA
When I had shown him what I had so far on my site from my phone he was all about me getting this picture. 
 Thanks for visiting and taking the virtual tour.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mechanical Shooter Games to Light Guns!

By-Stephen Mezo

I have had an absolute love for Mechanical Shooting Arcade Games since the first time I ever played one in the game room at Two Guys department store when I was six years old. 
I can't remember which company made it, but I do remember that it had a seat with some kind of cannon or bazooka and metal army men raised up from foxholes and if there was a hit they would go back down and you would score points. And it had explosion sounds and lighting effects. 

My Mom called games like these quarter eaters because they were timed unless you were good enough to get a second play score. Unlike pinball machines that could be played for hours if you had the skill to do it. Or claw machines that would give you hand fulls of green army men or dinosaurs. 
She just didn't understand that this game was my backyard green army men battles turned up to eleven.
And just when I thought that I had played the coolest game ever I discovered Midways "Haunted House" 

This game is so awesome and had three of my favorite things. Toy guns, monsters and day-glow black light infused artwork. I would play it as much as I could and try to rack up as many free plays as possible.
Then when I had seen the inner workings of the game itself on YouTube I was beyond blown away by how simple it was, but still provides so much entertainment.

And then there was SEGA's "GUN FIGHT"

This shooter was awesome because you would fire until one of the the two action figures fell backwards on a hinge and the cacti on each side would break in half too. But the only down side is you needed another player to play against. 

As time went on I found so many more versions of the mechanical shooters and action games and loved playing them all until SEGA released "Killer Shark".

 It made a cameo in the movie JAWS which led to some of it's popularity three years after it was released in the arcades.

It had it's place in the shooting game universe, but for me the projected sharks just didn't have the same feel as the original mechanical shooters.

And just when I thought shooting games in the arcade were lost to me the EXIDY video game company stole my heart and probably what could have been years of future car or rent payments in quarters.

The first game that I had ever played by them was "CROSSBOW" in the video game area of Rite-Aid in Hazlet New Jersey. And I will never forget the Empire Strikes Back wall paper there in that corner to let you know that you were in the video game area. 

It was cool because even though it was a video game screen it had really kicked up the challenge of the Shooter Game, and unlike the the mechanical versions it wasn't timed and there were a lot of different levels to keep you entertained.
It doesn't look like much here, but the challenge of the game was to provide cover fire to the adventurers as they made their way across the screen to their goal. And you would have the the trolls and evil elves throwing knives at the adventures as well as ghost looking to take them out. The duck was there to distract you and just mess with your head. 

Then there was a desert level with giant ants and scorpions coming from every direction and vultures swooping down at the adventures. They had made a western version of Crossbow called "CHEYENNE" soon after, it was okay but didn't appeal to me as much as Crossbow did when I played it in Bev and Wally's Arcade on the Keansburg Boardwalk.

After that EXIDY had literally upped their game and came out with "CHILLER"

This one was like HAUNTED HOUSE steriods!!!

It was timed like it's mechanical predecessor but if you were quick enough and figured out the targets that gave you more time you could get a lot of play out of it on one quarter. The funny thing about this one was I had no idea that it was being banned in arcades all over the country while I was playing it all of the time in Rite-Aid in Hazlet. 

After that a lot of smaller arcades were closing down and stores were getting rid of cabinet games because home systems were gaining popularity again. And once again I thought that was the end of the arcade shooting games once again...

And then when the TAITO company had released a new arcade shooting game called "Operation Wolf" during the Action Movie craze you couldn't even walk into a laundromat without bumping into one. 

This game had it all and with no time limits. You were armed with hand grenades and a compact UZI to make your way to the enemy camp and rescue the hostages held prisoner by the enemy forces. 

After that arcade shooting games had gained enough popularity that arcades and movie theaters started getting one of my all time favorites of the new generation and it was SEGA's "House of The Dead" and it's sequels.

This is a screenshot of House of The Dead 2  

And the popularity of this brought about Midway creating their own arcade shooter "CarnEvil"
 And it takes place in a haunted attraction that's haunted.

And that strikes me funny because it's like MIDWAY and SEGA came full circle because they were the companies that created Mechanical Shooters for arcades in the first place.