Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Bathtub That Contained The Ocean Of Blood!

As I dig around the old Storage Unit of Terror I find a old things from the 70's that made growing up in that decade one of the coolest! I mean there were so many toys, TV shows, magazines and comic books full of monsters that you just about never went without a monster fix of some kind. 

This time it was all about the bathroom. 
From 1972 to 1974 my house had a pink iron and ceramic tub.
Yup, that's me!

In the beginning of 1974 my Dad installed a bright yellow fiberglass surround tub that pissed my Mother off to no end. But that is a whole story on it's own. What the hell I'll tell you anyway...

My dad called my Mom from a plumbing supply house and told my mother (While she was at work) that they had a Gold Fiberglass Surround Tub on clearance. And the reason why it was such a steal was it was ordered, but never picked up. Now my mother had thought it was more of a actual gold color. But when she got home and saw this in the bathroom she had a complete fit! 

Not the exact one, but pretty close!

But for me this new tub became an ocean filled with giant Great White Sharks, Octopuses, Octopus Men, Godzilla and Giant Sea Snakes with one hell of an island around it. Yes I know islands are surrounded by water, but I was turning five and a island surrounding an ocean made lots of sense to me.

Now for a while this island was occupied by a group of brave Green Army Men who patrolled the area in a Military Battle Boat and battled with the sea monsters on a nightly basis
The "Battle Boat Commandos" held their own against the first "Giant Great White Shark", The Giant Sea Snake and The Giant Alligator. They were armed with Anti Sea Monster weapons and their Military Battle Boat was equipped with an Anti Sea Monster Cannon and Armored to the hilt.


But three years later on a stormy night "Octopus Man" was released from an underwater cave he was hibernating in and he was hungry as hell!!!
The Battle Boat Commandos were taken by surprise by Octopus Man and were no match for his powers and were eaten alive those that weren't were dissolved by Octopus Man's toxic acidic ink (Crazy Foam) along with The Battle Boat.


Another adventurer in that deadly ocean was a deep sea diver by the name of Hawk. And he battled The First Giant Great White Shark and the jelly looking octopus he came with for his sunken treasure (But then he was stolen along with his jelly looking octopus).

There was another Deep Sea Diver by the name of "Joe" and he was just cool beyond description! He had a sledge hammer, a knife a treasure chest and a big black octopus to fight. But he also had a metal dive belt and metal boot weights, sooo he didn't see a whole lot of time in the fiberglass tub. 

And just when The Battle Boat Commandos thought they fought the worst that the insanely dangerous ocean had to throw at them an even bigger shark swam in to fight!

The fights were far from one sided, there were nights where the Commandos had enough shark steaks to last a few months. And others where the giant shark would eat the entire crew and most of the Battle Boat.

Years later Hawk The Deep Sea Diver are still living in happy retirement in my own pink ceramic and iron tub (Hey it came with my new place and I'm not paying for a new one!)
But they've been known to fight it out still from time to time.

Watching some Prevues From Hell!

Mad Ron's prevues from Hell, 1987
Written by James F. Murray Jr., Ron Roccia, Jim Monaco and Nick Pawlow
Directed by Jim Monaco

By - Steve Mezo 

Back in 1988 Tim Ferrante (Yup, the guy that wrote for Fangoria Magazine in the 80's) gave me the gift of Mad Rons Prevues From HELL on VHS. "How the hell did that happen?!" you ask, well I'll tell you. 

Back when I was dressed like this allot
That was me in the monster outfit with Writer/Director Warren F. Disbrow on camera.

Warren had filmed allot of sequences for Tim Ferrante's documentary "Drive In Madness" and kept in touch with him allot. Tim even did a cameo in "Flesh Eaters From Outer Space", and would give us all kinds of cool VHS tapes to watch. Well one day he had given us brand new copies of Mad Rons Prevues From Hell.

Warren opened his and we watched it that day. 

We loved the collection of late 60's and early70's Drive In horror trailers, the zombies and the interactions of Nick Powlow and his friend Happy Goldsplatt.

The running plot of Mad Rons Prevues From Hell is Nick, Happy and Mad Ron had become trapped in a possessed movie theater during a zombie invasion. But they lucked out where the zombies are distracted by and enjoy Mad Rons collection of Horror Trailers. 
 Keep em' running Mad Ron there's nobody else to eat!

And there is a ton of great trailers to keep you entertained as well. Like "The Corpse Grinders", "I Drink Your Blood" and "I Eat Your Skin", "The Undertaker and His Pals" (One of my all time favorites) and "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre". 

 James F. Murray, Happy Goldsplatt and Nick Powlow between takes.

And just when you think it's over, the zombies overrun the the projector room. Nick and Happy make their escape but run into a Video Pirate already dubbing off "Prevues From Hell" copies. This doesn't sit too well with Happy and he takes care of the Video Pirate with his own brand of Zombie Justice!

I never get tired of watching this one I literally watched my VHS tape until it broke. And twenty years later I still watch it on Netflix.

Back when I had my VHS copy I used to have it playing in the background while I did makeup jobs on people so it wasn't like a full movie that they had to see all the way through. Or would have it playing in the background while working on props, costumes or appliances at The Costume Shop.   

A couple months ago Nick Powlow had James Murray get in touch with me on the phone and I was beyond excited to find out that they are currently working on "Celluloid Bloodbath: More Prevues From Hell".    
That's Right Happy, Well be keeping an eye out for you!

My review of "The Janitor"

The Janitor 2003 
Written by Andy Signore, Directed by TJ Nordaker and Andy Signore

By - Steve Mezo

This was the first movie I was asked to review ever!!! 

The Janitor "Lionel" (Andy Signore) deals with his day to day as a custodian in an office building at Generico Corporation. Things like smarmy comments from office workers, abuse form technicians and living in the Cleaning Room would be allot to take. But at least he has his friend, co-worker and mentor "Mr. Grobow" played by Bruce Cronander by his side. And I guess killing about thirteen of these Cubicle dwellers helps keeps the stress level down too. 

Lionel and Mr. Grobow had a great friendship until one day Lionel receives a job offer from the T N A Sorority at a local college after a woman he fell in love with named "Hillary" quit Generico after hearing about all of the murders. Andy tells Mr. Grobow about his new job and this breaks Mr. Grobows heart, because he thought they would be custodians at Generico forever. 

Unknown to Lionel Mr. Grobow went behind his back during Lionel's two week notice and taken the job out from right underneath him. Lionel was devastated that Mr. Grobow could betray him like this and now he felt he was completely alone at Generico without his dream or his best friend.

Then Mr.Growbo's replacement a young man by the name of "Willis" becomes his new loyal friend and murdering accomplice in the revenge kill of The T N A Sorority and the final showdown with Mr. Grobow!!!  

"The Janitor" is definitely in the vein of most TROMA style movies and you all know if it has a double helping of Schlock, Cheese and Fake Blood I am so there! The story line is strong, the movie doesn't take forever to get to the point and it's just fun. 

TJ Nordaker had contacted me on Myspace nine years ago and asked if I would be interested in seeing it. 
 Just another day at the office for TJ Nordaker

Back then I was still running The Costume Shop, still in the entertainment game full time and helping other Indie Horror Productions get made.
The Costume Shop a great place because everybody came right there to network. I would have somebody walking in and saying "I need ten gallons of fake blood or six zombie costumes for  movie". Next thing you know we're talking production stuff and I would help that person get actors, costumes, locations, permits F/X tutorials or women willing to do frontal. 
Little did I know other people were getting paid to do Networking!!!

I've dealt with TROMA from time to time too, so it was even funnier seeing Lloyd's cameo and finding out later that Lloyd taped that big old TROMA sign on the dumpster! That frigging poster he was using for a blanket was probably a TROMA movie one too!  

When I watched it I automatically loved it. These guys had taken the teachings of Lloyd Kaufman himself like so many movie makers now and did it back then! And this was quite a few years after my own experience with a movie production. When Warren F. Disbrow had decided to make "Flesh Eaters From Outer Space".

When Warren had decided to make Flesh Eaters From Outer Space the movie industry was in a huge transition and distributors were only taking film masters. The ironic thing was the film masters were then being transferred to the Industrial Studio VHS that Warren was using and already had the master on! But the distributors want what they want. 

The movie still made it to the cult status that it deserves after a great run in Europe. And then Lloyd found out about it while filming in Italy twenty years later, got in touch with Warren and gave "Flesh Eaters From Outer Space" and "Invasion For Flesh and Blood" American distribution through TROMA as a double feature DVD and an even lager following today. 

Okay back to "The Janitor" I couldn't get over how Andy and TJ wrote a script, auditioned some actors, grabbed the equipment, shot the movie and distributed it like gangbusters.

After that they promoted at conventions where Costumers were really starting to turn it up to eleven. When Andy and TJ sent me pictures from the events I was really blown away with the way Costumers were simply making due with slightly modified Halloween Store costumes to figuring out Vacuforms, Sewing and all of the new latex's and silicone's. This was on top of utilizing Myspace to get the word out directly to horror fans. 

Shortly after that these guys were winning all kids of much deserved awards for "The Janitor". And a whole new crop of opportunities and projects awaited them.  

Good job guys glad to see you're still out there and going strong!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Are you brave enough to enter Hollowgraves Haunted Manor?!

By - Steve Mezo

Years ago I got to scratch something off of my bucket list I wrote when I was six years old, and that was to work in a haunted attraction. 

I'm writing this one in the celebration of Hollowgraves Haunted Attraction making it's return to Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

The first time I had found out about this haunt is when my wife and I had went to Keansburg Boardwalk in Keansburg, new Jersey. It was an Easter Sunday and the official opening of the season. As we were walking around we saw a new haunted attraction that wasn't there before. There's a ride through haunt called "THE SPOOK HOUSE" that's been there since forever, but that's another article. 
Photo by "Haunt Space"

We had given our tickets and went inside, and once we made our way inside the doorway we were completely blown away!  

We were led by our guide to the houses foyer, where a ghostly voice gave the history of the house and why it's hunted by murderous spirits today. After that a door opened and we walked into the living room and were greeted by the homeowners Ichabod and his wife Martha. 

Once they told us that we were going to be there for dinner they told us to make our way to the kitchen, and from there the rest of their home. We did as they said and every room ahead held a different horror. Just when we thought we had seen the coolest stuff this haunt had to offer we walked into the library and thought we were at the end of the haunt. As we were looking for a way out we saw a corpse sitting in a chair and just as we were waiting to see what it did or had to say. The next thing we knew they library bookcase slid open to reveal a hidden passageway!!!
 Little did we know my wife would be providing the voice for this moving animatronic months later.

We went through the passageway and enjoyed everything in the second half of the haunt. Once we were out we went to the ticket taker and then manager to tell him what we thought of it. And that's when he introduced us to a man named Stan Ambro. 

We told Stan how great we thought the haunt was and how I did F/X work and horror movies, he thanked us and told us how he had started it as a haunt on his parents front lawn as a teenager and how it grew into the mobile haunt it is know. I had told him that I had some weeknights and weekends free and if he needed help I'd be there. He said yes and that's when began my journey with the haunt. That whole first season there I was a Grim Reaper.

This is also when I found out just how much work goes into working at and maintaining a haunted attraction. Doing something like this is a labor of love just like any other art. And it's something that's never done, not in a bad way it's just each year needs a new feature to keep it exciting. 
Then the animatronics need to have tuneups and parts changed from time to time or just new dialogue. And when it made the move from Keansburg to it's first season in Seaside Heights I really jumped into the deep end with both feet. This is when I had to take part in the tear down to pack the haunt for the move. 

Stan and me before the big move from Keansburg to Seaside Heights

Now Stan is very low key about his abilities but I have no problem telling everybody about them. When I really got to see the guts and workings of the haunt I was even more impressed with it then my first walk through. The Haunt is made up of three trailers with two connectors (Trailer, connector, trailer,connector, trailer then exit ramp). 
From this

To this

Now before you have thoughts of another haunt for years ago, this is absolutely nothing like it. The haunt is equipped with a sprinkler system running throughout, heat sensors, smoke detectors, emergency lights, fire retardant coating on every surface, emergency exits and direct fire hose connectors. 
And the wildest thing is it assembles like a movie set. After the water and electric is hooked back up, the roof line, wrap around porch front stairs and front bay window are added on along with a front yard/cemetery. 

Now for the animatronic monsters. Originally Stan had built air cylinder driven jumpers with lights and actuators. But after he went through a haunt on vacation with his wife (Then girlfriend) he was inspired to build animatronics. He took another look at them and just like that figured out how to create his own! This is what he does, he walks around and then says "I'm going to add this or make that." Then without having to write a single thing down or draw any kind of plan he gets out the welder or other components and it's there like magic, and it's perfect!

  The heads have their own unique sculpted faces as well as drive boards designed by Stan. 
And he had designed the movement brackets for their eyes and mouths himself as well. Once they're put together they are tested on his workbench with a audio/movement sync program.
 Once that's completed their bodies are built with more animatronic actuators designed by Stan fleshed out, painted and dressed. Then their movements are synced to their dialogue tracks. I keep waiting for Stan to make them where they walk around on their own with some kind of heart monitors to detect if their scaring people enough. 

After everything was ready for the new season
 I figured it was time for a new look. 

I had a blast scaring people full time but started to really love repairing and building new additions of the haunt, which was funny because it used to be a chore for me. Then I had the added responsibility of keeping a crew on to be ghouls in the haunt and take care of the business of the haunt on the Funtown Pier itself. The one upside was I had a group of people that loved being there and pretty much worked for lunches like I used to back in the old Costume Shop days (Yet another article). So that got the haunt through most of that season.

Then one day a man named John B. Watt 
walked onto the Funtown Pier and turned the haunt up to eleven!!!

He is to haunting the haunt and managing it like Stan is to creating it. Working it along side John was like watching scare artist. He is so good that not only did he make a woman pee herself, she came back and told him about it as a compliment! True Story. 

And we had allot of fun times together there. We met Joe Jackson yup, the creator of "The Jackson Five" while he was directing a movie on Funtown Pier and he was nothing but cool. As well as Will Rahmer from the band "Mortician", Guitarist "Jack Frost" (okay so I know him from back in the day anyway) but he was still there and liked it, a few members of "Carnival of souls" and I had to take Kevin Smith through with the house lights on. 

And after a huge blackout on the Island where a State of Emergency was called we met then Governor Jim McGreevey.

But the ultimate was us getting to spend the season with Danielle Stampe "Slymenstra Hymen" of GWAR.
That's right, that one is part of another article too.

And we got some great reviews from two
 well know Haunted Attraction web sites.

This is Bill and Seph Cherkasky from "Dark in the Park" sitting with Martha 

This is such a great site with listings and histories of just about every Boardwalk Haunt that ever existed in New Jersey. The link will take you to their review of Hollowgraves, but if you click on the HOME button it will take you to their main page. And you can see everything from photos of the Haunts to their actual commercial spots. 

This site is a one stop shop for everything from Haunt listings to Haunt reviews do it yourself Haunt instructions. 

Hollowgraves Haunted Attraction is currently in storage after surviving Hurricane Sandy.

For the latest news on Hollowgraves days of operation use the link below for Hollowgraves official Facebook.

And follow them on Twitter

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The He-Man Artwork of Chris Faccone!

By - Steve Mezo

Chris Faccone is one of my favorite Professional Freelance Artist to date. Now before I get into his introduction let's take a trip back to the year 1982 in the...

Back in 1982 I was twelve years old and had grown out of playing with toys. I still thought they were cool as collectables, but actually playing with them had become a thing of the past. 

Well one day I was bored and decided to walk though a local toy store and had seen a display for He-Man and The Masters of The Universe. I had looked at the figures which had consisted of He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor, Panthor, Man at Arms, Teela, EvIL-Lyn, Beast Man and Castle Grayskull.

There really wasn't much more to it than a banner, but I thought they were really cool. They were the completely jacked up looking figures that were ready to fight anybody and anything. And He-Man had this kick ass green and yellow tiger that he rides on.

So I bought He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor and Panthor. And when I opened them to put up on my shelf I saw that there were small comic books that came with them and told the story of He-Man and his battle with Skeletor. So they sat there few a few months and then the cartoon of He-Man and The Masters of The Universe came on TV. 
I had told my friends that they were based on the figures I had in my collection so we were all really excited to see these guys and monsters kick the crap out of each other for a half hour. Boy were we wrong, but hey at least it set us up for the disappointment of the G.I. Joe and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon adaptations of  their comic books. 

And as the cartoon went on more characters were added to the series and toy line.
It started out with a decent selection 
when the cartoon toy line expanded.

And when they started riding dinosaurs 
I started to wish I still played with toys. 

And by this time they really started adding really cool interactive figures like Moss Man (Who smelled like a Pine Tree Air Freshener)  and Stinkor (Who just smelled). I wish I could have been there in the development meeting when they were trying to figure out a smell that was stinky without making it so offensive that mothers wouldn't buy him. And I still haven't met anyone yet that had the tower with the tram car. 
Then there was Scareglow and the introduction of the Snakemen figures. The Snakemen were bad ass figures but Other than that I pretty much lost interest in the series.


Chris Faccone created This! 

When I saw his version of "Snake Face" and the other "Snake Men" I freaked out. He did such an amazing job with keeping them close to the original cartoon style, but making them look like they were going to plant a Snakeman foot in somebodies ass! 

Then he did another with where his friend Axel Gimenez did the pencil work for Hordak, Snake Mountain and the initial layout. Chris did the penciling for Skeletor and the the back and foregrounds as well as the penciling and inking. 

This just got the wheels a turning in my head, I mean how cool would it be if the cartoon could be this kick ass? Just straight up fighting every five seconds because they're all there from their own kingdoms and dimensions pretty much playing a lethal king of the hill. Then all of the characters get revived in their own versions of "The Lazarus Pit" in Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain.

Then Chris had to impress me again and add the action figure details to his character works.

     Like here with "Hordak" and "The Horde"

Is a little more stylized after the Collector's Edition version

Look at the detail in Roboto's translucent body parts

 And check out the glow effect on "Scareglow"

To see more of Chris Faccone's art click the link below.