Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summers were never the same since...

By - Steve Mezo

I remember when I saw JAWS
 for the first time back in 1975 when I was five years old.

Now before you say "WHAT?!" I grew up watching "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" so my parents thought how bad could a movie about a shark be?

I thought the movie kicked ass and "Bruce" became a new character in "The Ocean of Blood" . But when it came to swimming in large bodies of water, that was a whole different story. 

Jacques had told me (through his television show) that Great Whites live in the ocean and usually preferred warmer climates so there would be zero chance of a Great White living in my Aunt's swimming pool. 

Well as fate would have it a friend of my father's was talking to him about the movie we just saw, and told us that it was originally a book written by a man named Peter Benchley the year before. And he was inspired by a series of shark attacks along the Jersey Shore in 1916 and a shark fisherman by the name of Frank Mundus. 
We used to swim in the creeks all of the time not thinking they're connected to the ocean from the bay. 

 If you look to the right of the red cross by Matawan those little points on Jersey are where I'm at.
 So the shark attacks were literally close to home.  

Then add to the that the fictional town of "Amity" was off the coast of Massachusetts and when you're five looking at a map that's not a long swim for a huge Great White named Bruce.

After that whole conversation my overactive imagination went into high gear and I was like "Ooookay Bruce can be anywhere now!!!"
In that instant he went from being a fictional movie shark to a full on movie monster that had no boundaries whatsoever!

Now your going to say
 "Dude, Sheriff Brody blew Bruce up at the end of the movie!" 

Well five year old me would respond with
"Yeah, well Dracula was killed a whole bunch of ways and he keeps coming back!!!"

And now that Bruce is a full on movie monster real world rules don't apply to him anymore! So if he wants to hide out in my Aunt's pool so he can eat me in two bites he'll find a way to get there. And that goes for lakes in the middle of the woods too. He'll get there live on some fish for a while and then go
"There you are!!!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A review of Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows".


By - Steve Mezo

Went to see Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" today and I really liked it!
I've never followed the original Television Series so I don't have any kind of comparison between them (Sorry)... But I can say I do enjoy allot of Tim Burton's movies.

The movie definitely had allot of styles from Tim's earlier films (In the settings), but it was a cool kind of familiarity. And a great throwback to his earlier work where it was fun to watch. It had that feel I love were a director says with his creation "Dude, leave all of your aggravation at the door grab a snack and a drink and just hang out here for a few." 

Tim did a great job with the back story of how Barnabas Collins came to be and flowed into his present situation with saving and protecting his family. And everyone in the cast were completely rock star as their characters. 

It was cool how the movie was set in the seventies and reminded me why that was my favorite decade ever. You can read all of the intros on the right side of the page here, and just about every one of them have all of my influences from the 1970's that made me the fan and entertainer I am today. And everybody involved in the movie immersed you into that time period so much, that you felt like you were visiting every single Horror movie, Rock Band, Horror Magazine and Horror Comic you were lucky enough to spend some of the best years of your life with for the first time. Even my mother picked up on this and commented to me about it which was really cool.    

Now she had watched the original series, but she liked the movie allot too. She didn't say anything like "The Show was more... or had..." so I hope that gives a little heads up to the fans of the original Television Series that haven't seen it yet. I guess the only comparison I can make is The Brady Bunch Television Show compared to The Brady Bunch 90's movie. Tim's movie wasn't a mockery of the show like Ben Stiller's movie version "Starsky and Hutch" (Which really pissed me off).
Tim's version was more of a tribute maybe as far as a love letter to the series. He may have changed certain aspects to make this his vision of it, but like I said he made a movie where you really cared for and liked the characters and it was cool seeing the family come together when they really needed too.   

*As a little side note* my mother and I are almost positive that Michael Bruce from the original Alice Cooper lineup is on guitar during Alice's "Event" scene.     

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monsters and Multi Millionares would be on my street.

By - Steve Mezo

Over the years I've learned there's two kinds of people.

Munster Fans

The Addams Family Fans

Now I'm a fan of both and how cool would it have been to have both families living on the same street?

First I would have asked Eddie if could have had his dad take us fro a ride in the Munster Coach and get ice cream or hamburgers. Then we would have played with Spot and after went down to Grandpa's Lab and have him tell us all kinds of cool stories about The Old Country. 

And no visit there would be complete without him making some kind of potion where I could fly or turn invisible. Of course there would be some kind of crazy side effect, but that would be part of the fun too. 

Then Eddie and me would head over to The Addams Families house and hang out with Pugsley and Wednesday. And this is where the fun would really start!!!

We could play with Pugsley's pet octopus, and hang out in the dungeon with Uncle Fester and see him blow stuff up or do the light bulb trick. Then Uncle Fester could give us a tour of the family graveyard and tell us all about the cool family history they have. After that we would play one of the games that Pugsley and Wednesday play. And if I were to happen to fall victim to some death or dismemberment I'm sure Grandpa would patch me up with me asking him not to tell my parents.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

A review E. L. Dawson's Novel "CHAT".

Book review by - Steve Mezo

In May of 2011 I was contacted by a writer E. L. Dawson about his first novel called CHAT, and asked if I would like to review it. I said yes and he had mailed me a copy which I enjoyed greatly.

Mr. Dawson introduces us to this Indiana town along the same style that Stephen King has introduced us to the towns in the state of Maine. Where he makes us familiar with the characters and surroundings by using landmarks that could be found in about any suburb.This helps with submersing yourself in the story and finding yourself walking the same streets.

Most people that have described the book as "A serial killer finding victims on a Chat Room". Now if it were only that, it would pretty much be a Slasher Film in print form.

But E. L. has taken the roles of the usual cast list and rearranged them to where who would normally be the focus of the story are the secondaries and the secondary is the main. The smart self reliant female character that finds the strength to fight the killer is no longer the means of the end, but more of a plot driver from the beginning and guides the story. 

The main Focus is the killer Jeff/Shags and his evolution from being a mentally and physically abused but intelligent young boy, to a young man that's completed his first kill and not taking it from anyone anymore, to a point where he was saved and turned human for a while but turned back into a predatory killer driven only by hate. E. L. had brought so much to this character (Where others just do a Cliff's Notes introduction) that you actually feel pity for him and almost forget about the brutal acts he commits.
The story is fast paced and (At the risk of sounding cliche') a real page turner. 

Mr. Dawson is currently making appearances and signings in support of CHAT at upcoming Horror Conventions. Mr. Dawson's table will have it at the ready for purchase and signing. Check Mr. Dawson's website link below periodically for appearance dates, locations and times.

And make sure to tell him I sent you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Do not touch or tease the monsters!


By - Steve Mezo

I would like to start this one by thanking everyone on the
 "You know you're from Keansburg when... Group"
 on Facebook for helping me narrow allot of the info down for this article.  

In the October of 1977 my mother had taken me to see 
"Lets Scare Jessica to Death" 
and little did I know there would be a live horror show too. 

I wish I was a little older at times so I could have seen one of William Castle's Horror Shows.
William had a little bit of a rivalry with Alfred.

Before I get into my experience seeing one I'll give you a brief history on what they're about.

Back in the late 50's and early 60's a man by the name of William Castle made going to the movies fun. And just about guaranteed there were no empty seats in the theater. But at the same time it made large theater owners insane because they would have to do some kind of modifications to the theaters to accommodate William Castle's promotions for that particular film. 

It could be as simple as hooking up a pulley system to have a inflatable glow in the dark skeleton to fly over the crowd. 

To something a little more complicated like bolting a
 vibrating motor to a couple random movie seats.

Then there were times where a "Cowards Corner" had to be set up complete with footprints leading up to it.
If the person wanted their refund they had to stay in the Cowards Corner
 there in the lobby until the theater emptied.

There were others that were more interactive like
 Ghost Viewers for "Thirteen Ghost" 

or fate glow in the dark decision voting cards for Mr. Sardonicus

William really made going to these movies an event because he  intergrated the audience as part of the film as much as he could. There is a great documentary about him called "Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story".

 At first there was "Macarbe" (1958) where he had $1000.00 life insurance policies from Lloyd's of London handed out to audience members that may die from fright. 

Then there was "House on Haunted Hill" (1959) that was presented in "EMERGO" and featured the inflatable glow in the dark skeleton I was talking about that would come out during the films climax. That would just serve as a moving target for movie snack projectiles. 

"The Tingler" (1959)  presented in "PERCEPTO" had the vibrating motors under the seats. But since there was a heavy cost with those motors only one or two were sent to large theaters in cities or large towns. (Oh, the Death Certificate on the door of the medicine cabinet in the movie is from Red Bank, New Jersey.)

"13 Ghost" (1960) presented in (ILLUSION-O) had the audience using "Ghost Viewers" to either see the ghost or not using their viewers. (You could even see them without it, but the viewer made it more fun.)

"Homicidal" (1961) featured a 45 second "Fright Break" where frightened audience members could leave and get a refund right before the movies climax. But these people had to stand in the "Cowards Corner" to get it. This movie also lead to William's rivalry with Alfred Hitchcock since he made PSYCHO the year before. And William was given the nickname "The Poor Man's Hitchcock" which didn't help matters either.

"Mr. Sardonicus" (1961) had the audience members hold up vote cards to let William know if Mr. Sardonicus should be given mercy or not before the end of the film.
There was even a scene where he would count the votes to give the outcome, the funny part is there is only one ending because William knew everyone would vote for "No Mercy". 

For the movie "ZOTZ!" (1962) each audience member was given a magic gold colored plastic coin. 

"13 Frightened Girls" (1963) William Castle had a search for the prettiest girls from 13 countries to cast in the film. 

"Straight Jacket" (1964) had each audience member walking in with a cardboard ax. 

"I saw what you did" (1965)  William had used giant plastic telephones to promote in movie theaters. But after a huge amount of prank phone calls, the phone company told William he could no longer use them or mention phones in his promotions. So he had back sections of theaters made up as "Shock Sections" and had seat belts installed on the seats to keep audience members from jumping out of their chairs in fright. 

Then for his film "BUG" (1975) he had the cockroach star "Hercules" insured for one million dollars. 

 In 1993 Screen Writers Jerico and John S. Hass along with Director Joe Dante had paid William Castle a tribute in their movie "MATINEE".
And featured gimmicks that William would have loved to have had the finances and access to in theaters.  

Other filmmakers had followed suit in the 60's and 70's and started doing giveaways and promotions themselves like plastic zombie eyes and fangs for male and female audience members. Or raffles to win a frozen corpse (Which was a chicken from a local market).

This Wolfman Pendant and Chain was given to me by a friend 
that got it from a New Jersey movie theater in 1964 
when they were handing them out for a showing of
 Universal Studio's "The Wolfman" (1941). 

 This brings me back to the Colonial Movie Theater (Previously The Casino Theater) back in the October of 1977
 in Keansburg, New Jersey.

I had walked into the lobby and was greeted by a large wooden hand painted sign that said "After the movie Live Rats and Snaked will be let loose into the theater! Do not Handle, Tease or Feed them you have been warned!!!

This was too much! Not only was I going to see a horror movie with my mom, I might get a pet out of the deal. After she paid for tickets she took my hand and we walked into the darkened theater. 

Until I had rented "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" recently with my mother I didn't remember much of it from thirty five years ago. But this time around we really enjoyed it. And I would call it more of a creepy thriller than a horror movie. 

Jessica had suffered a nervous breakdown and her husband Duncan and their friend Woody felt it would be a good idea to move to New England as a new place for her to keep calm. When they were getting settled in to the old "Bishop Family" farmhouse Duncan bought Jessica discovers a transient hippie named Emily. 
Emily apologizes for staying the (at the time abandoned house), but Jessica asks her to stay as a guest. 
From that point on things start happening where Jessica's not sure if it's real or her psychosis returning.   
Zohra Lampert was excellent as Jessica because she really makes you feel sympathy for her character the whole movie through. And Mariclare Costello still stands out for me out as Emily.

Once the movie was over I heard a booming voice in the darkness say "Ladies and Gentlemen please remain seated!" And then said "Prepare yourselves to be horrified as well as terrified by the creatures within this theater!"

A spotlight went on and a man who reminded me of "Crazy Eddie" was standing there in a bright yellow sequined tuxedo jacket.     

As soon as he spoke I knew he was the owner of the booming voice. He then looked at the crowd and said "This crowd doesn't look scared enough, release the rats!" And the girls in the crowd screeched. 
Then he said "Don't worry about picking up your feet ladies because they can climb the seats!" This set them off even more. 

After a couple of minutes he said "Wait we're getting a complaint from management about the rats being let loose, so now release the snakes to eat the rats! Be careful not to step on them ladies because they will bite!" I didn't think it was possible but the girls in the audience screamed even louder. 

Now while everyone else was looking for the rats and snakes to avoid them I was looking for one to take home. That's when my mother reminded me that I had two cats and a dog at home. And that the rats and snakes were pretend. Now any other kid would have been crushed by this or at least disillusioned. But not me I was now in the presence of a horror version of a Rock Star!

Here was this man not even dressed up as a monster scarring the crap out of a room full of strangers. And all he needed was a somewhat dark room and a microphone. When he felt the time was right he yelled "Call back the rats and snakes and release the monsters!!!" After that I was in full on Fanboy mode. 

As I sat there I saw Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman and a I guess Executioner kind of guy emerge from the stage. If it would have been The Creature From The Black Lagoon instead I would have passed out from the excitement. 

The crowd really lost their minds at this point and so did I as the monsters made their way up the isles of the theater. And the announcer said "Please do not touch or tease the monsters, instead scream as loud as you can to keep them away!"

This made it allot harder for me to get Dracula's attention to come closer, after all I'm half Hungarian so he's practically family. So to really get his attention I stood up on my movie seat and started waving my arms like a nut. It's a good thing that my mom had a grabbed the waistband of my Toughskin Jeans or I would have gone right over the side. 

The second he got near me I gave him a huge hug. I think this caught him off guard because it made him laugh a little. And I went straight into a yamering of how he was one of my favorites. Then I asked him if he could have Frankenstein and The Wolfman come over too, and he did.

I'll never forget him making his way to them and pointing to me, then seeing Frankenstein do his extended arm walk towards me and and The Wolf Man do his stalking wolf like walk. And yes they got hugs and a complete yammering too as the other kids and girls out on Date Night freaked out. 

Then after a huge day of seeing a horror movie and meeting my favorite monster celebrities with my mom we went to "Jim's Burger Haven" and I told everybody about it within earshot. Good thing my mom was there to back up my story and explain parts of it so I didn't sound like a complete loon.

Thanks Mom!!!