Sunday, September 23, 2012

Talking about Lloyd Kaufman's POLTRYGEIST

By - Steve Mezo

I know this one has been out for a while, but I just got around to seeing it.
 And I thought I would give my thoughts on Lloyd Kaufman's

To be completely honest I kind of put off seeing it for a while because I wasn't quite sure how it was going to be. But I was surprised that "POLTRYGEIST" was as funny as Lloyd's Toxic Avenger all the way through.

The story is Abe (Jason Yachanin) and his girlfriend Wendy (Kate Graham) have some alone time in a New Jersey, Tromahawk Indian burial ground before she goes off to college. And this is when they make a promise to be only about each other while she's away at college. 

Well you can imagine Abe's surprise when he shows up at the same spot a year later. Turns out the Tromahawk Burial Ground has a brand new chicken fast food restaurant called "American Chicken Bunker" built on top of it. And Wendy has become the girlfriend of a female activist Micki (Allyson Sereboff).

Now that he's heartbroken and humiliated he decides to get back at Wendy and Micki by getting a job at "The American Chicken Bunker". 

The only problem is the Tromahawk Ancient Spirits aren't happy with having the restaurant on their sacred burial ground at all. And they plan on taking their revenge on everyone involved by using the eggs and bodies of dead chickens to posses the living patrons and employees of American Chicken Bunker.    

I was really happy with this one where Lloyd had just the right amount of everything in the movie. It had fart and bathroom humor (That I admittedly can't get enough of), humor, gore, monsters and I'm surprised to admit musical numbers. 
Seriously I was surprised how funny the music numbers were! Normally I use them as a bathroom break or a to get more movie food, but I was cracking up listening to the lyrics. 
The story was solid and the cast did a great job in keeping the humor going and getting you to like the characters.
The movie keeps itself from being as far away from P.C. as possible, but didn't go with an obvious joke the way you think it would have.

I was really surprised by the production quality too. The F/X team went above and beyond with the Zombie Chicken People as well as the gore and bathroom humor gags. Even the The American Chicken Bunker that was a refitted Mc'D restaurant looked great.  

If you're in the mood for a TROMA movie or haven't seen one before POLTRYGEIST is a great first next to The Toxic Avenger.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hurry, hurry step right up!!!


By - Steve Mezo

I guess this one could be a tie in with my last article about Circus Model Builders.

Even though I said the circus never really did it for me as a kid I loved The Circus Sideshow. I didn't hate the circus I just never found a connection with it (Except for the clowns). But when I saw my first Sideshow Gaff at The Hoxie Bros. Circus I was hooked!

I can't find the exact picture of their "Giant Cardiff Frozen Ape Man" but it was pretty close to this one. The one pictured below was created by Johnny Chambers who did the makeup for "Planet of The Apes" and was once owned by Showman Rick West.  
I had paid a quarter to see the Hoxie Bros. Iceman and was blown away. Allot of the people around me were mad that they paid twenty five cents to see a hairy mannequin laying in a bed of foam ice. But I was in awe that the man in front of the trailer had me convinced I was going to see something beyond cool, and in a way I did. 

A few years later I had finally got the chance to see a full on Sideshow and it ruled! It was everything that Uncle Forry had wrote about when he had done a write up about the movie "FREAKS".

There was a Sword Swallower, The Illustrated Man who was also a Fire Eater, a Rubber Man, One of the worlds Tallest Men and a Bearded Lady. And just when I thought I had seen everything that couldn't be topped my parents and I had visited the tent where a beautiful woman was changed into a gorilla with a hypnotic spell!!! 
If you ever get a chance to see a great "Peppers Ghost" version of the girl change into a gorilla do it! I had two friends of mine see it at a carnival and they were so blown away by it they paid to see it two more times. 

As I was able to get to carnivals on my own I got to see even more oddities that I couldn't get enough of. Like The Hundred And Fifty Pound Man Eating Chicken, The Giant Rat, The Geek and of course The Pickled Punks on display that reminded me of The Ray Bradbury story "The Jar" that I read over and over again from a very old and well worn copy of "Dark Carnival" when I was a kid.

Allot of times friends would ask me why am I paying to see a Fiji Mermaid or The Corpse of a criminal that was hung and dug up from his grave in the 1800's? And I would say just to see what kind of showmanship went into it. Even with the performers and living oddities if there wasn't a good Talker in front of the Bally's people weren't paying to go in. They didn't have the same draw as The Circus Performers and Animals. I was like they knew the Circus was a safe comfort full of beauty and wonder. But the mystery and possibility of seeing something that couldn't be unseen needed a little encouragement, kind of like jumping out of an airplane. 

Years after that I got to cross two things off of "The Bucket List" that I wrote when I was six years old. One was to be part of a Haunted Attraction and the other was to be part of a Sideshow. And as an added bonus I got to live out a dream of getting to meet and hang out with Danielle Stampe "Slymenstra Hymen" of GWAR. 

When I was with Stan Ambro at Hollowgraves Haunted Attraction I wasn't expecting to have "Ken Harck's" Brothers Grim Circus Sideshow next door to us on the pier. 

When I had met Ken Harck I had introduced myself and we started a conversing about our perspective attractions, and when he had told me that one of the performers was going to be Danielle Stampe it just about took all of my self control to keep from going completely Fanboy right there.  
This is what I got for asking for a nice picture... HA HA

It was great getting to know Ken because he is a Circus and Circus Sideshow Historian as well as a collector. I think it is so cool that he's saved so many Circus Historical items that would have been thrown out because someone didn't know what they were. And he liked the fact that I knew quite a bit of Sideshow history myself. When I told him about my copy of "Dark Carnival" that fell apart he said that I was one of the few people that knew about the story "The Jar" before it became a episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Television Show. 

Ken doing the Sideshow Talk with the "Hollowgraves Haunted Manor" sign (Hand made by Stan Ambro) behind him.

The day I met Danielle Stampe was so cool. I was expecting to meet Slymenstra Hymen, but instead met a very down to earth and really nice woman named Danielle. She was really friendly and great to talk to Ken introduced us and told her I was at the haunted attraction and she asked me if I could show her around. 
As I was giving her the tour I had to tell her how much I loved GWAR and how much she always stood out to me as a performer. Now she could have easily been polite and just gave a thank you and left it at that. But she saw how much I was into the mechanics and the art of what they did and told me all about the work that went into the shows. And then we talked about their appearance on the Jerry Springer Show and how my much my Mom liked them after seeing them on it. 

It just blew me away how much there is about her and being more than just the fire juggler covered in fake blood. She is an extremely hard worker. One minute she's doing the set up for the Sideshow and building the stage, the next she was helping me get everything caught up at the haunt for our season opening. And she will learn and master just about any talent she can to get work in a production or keep her artistic talents honed for set dressing, painting and or fabrication. 

Then the last night of both shows (The Haunt and The Sideshow) she had her Slymenstra Hymen Costume flown from California so she could wear it in a picture with my friend JohnWatt (In the Haunt Article) and me. 

Then I got to meet and become friends with The Enigma and his then wife Katzen The Tiger Lady known together as "The Human Marvels". 
 My wife and I getting a photo op with Katzen The Tiger Lady and The Enigma 
before the four of us took a dinner break together from our shows. 
I wore a black shroud over the outfit I have on in the picture when working the Haunt.

They have to be two of the nicest people we have ever met. We really enjoyed the seasons we had spent with them and Katzen had tattooed puzzle piece and tiger stripe designs on the two of us as the ultimate human scrapbook pieces. 
One of the funniest times we had together was when both shows were closed due to a heavy downpour. It was going to storm all day so we decided to go to the movies to see X-Men 2. As my wife and I were waiting in line to get tickets a woman (With a friend in tow) asked me what my mother thought of all of my tattoos. I just smiled and responded with "She still loves me." So she goes on to say "One or two's okay, but that's just too much." And before my wife and I could say anything else Enigma and Katzen walked up to us after using the bathrooms. When the woman got a look at both of them I thought she was going to faint. 

Pretty cool from seeing him on X-Files years before.

And there were other Sideshow Stars that I had honor of meeting and becoming friends with too. 


"William Darke"
No magnets, strings or tricks here it's all about balance and years
 of practiced hand movements.   

Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson
I was floored to see all of the amazing things they do that are considered lost Vaudeville Show juggling talents.

Not only did I get to see his Fire Routines he had done
some of the Sideshow Talking as well. 


 Zamora The Torture King
I had lunch with him a couple hours before his show and he was great to talk to. And when I was able to see him do his piercing performance from only a few feet away it still freaked me out!
There's no trick appliances or fake needles involved he really does this!!!

Getting to be part of the Haunted Attraction and The Sideshow was like getting to be in the movie "The Funhose"
Because there were plenty of nights I just slept in the haunt instead of dealing with weekend boardwalk traffic.

If that weren't enough I was Kevin Smith's "Roadside New Jersey" taping for "The Tonight Show". I had Kevin go through the haunt to check it out, but he had me turn the house lights on first (true story). And then John Watt had him talk about it at his Q and A at The Count Basie Theater in Red Bank a year later just to bust his hump.

And I'm in the front of the last crowd scene in a Special about Ken Harck called "Freaky Circus Guy".

Speaking of Kevin Smith and Sideshows Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan had created a comic book series called "Karney"
 And I had them sign each one as each issue came out at
"The Secret Stash"

And this was when they came to the movie premiere of
 "Invasion For Flesh and Blood"
 We're all allot better looking than this!
To see me as this 
About a thousand pounds ago and twenty years earlier.

But that is a whole different story...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The biggest little show on the planet!


By - Steve Mezo

My wife and I had taken a trip to the mall one day just to get out and we're glad we did. As we walked in the main entrance we met a man named Andy Hendrickson and saw he had a display of a Circus.

 Sorry Andy we didn't realize that you blinked...

As we were looking at everything we saw the sign that said he was part of a Circus Model Builders Group (John Pugh's Ring #96 to be exact). And found out that members from at least four states were also in the mall and displaying their creations for people to see and enjoy. 

Okay I know "Tattooed Steve's Storage Unit of Terror" is the name of the site and everything I type about has to have some kind of horror or monster tie in. Well if you're in the mood for reading a little this is the article to do it with. 

I always thought the Circus was boring, but I'm all about The Circus Sideshow. And I'm really in love with Circus Mystique!!! Yeah I know scratching your head at this point... 

I know the performers spend exhausting hours perfecting their craft and allot of times risk their lives doing it, but it just never connected with me. But the endless avenues for all kinds of spooky tales and horrific stories are my attraction to it! 

Like Killer Klowns From Outer Space

And who didn't want the kaleidoscope tattoo sleeve that Mr. Dark had from "Something Wicked This Way Comes". 

Then there's the ease of keeping your secrets with a Traveling Circus before the days of Television and Computers.

This features a scary surgeon in hiding while on the road. 

And I do owe The Circus a huge thank you for introducing me to my two loves. The Circus Sideshow and it's offspring's The Carnival and The Boardwalk.  

Which were also huge inspirations for the creepy and unknown.

I have a whole writeup on it's own about The Circus Sideshow,
 but I'm saving that for another article. And I got a little sidetracked from my main subject which is Circus Model Builders and their creations.

My wife and I love model kits and miniatures, if we had the money and the room we would have all kinds of themed setups everywhere we could create them. We would have everything from detailed doll houses from her to Star Wars scene recreations from me. Not to mention train model scale set ups of entire sections of towns and cities complete with Godzilla and King Kong.

Speaking of Godzilla and other giant monsters think of all of the talented model building artist that built entire cities with as much detail as possible, just to have them smashed and blown up. 
When we saw these scale models of circus's it was two of our favorite things literally put together. When we saw the detail that Andy Hendrickson (Pictured at the top) had put into his models we started up a conversation with him. He had shown us how (Like most of the builders) he had taken available train cars and modified them to become circus cars. He went as far as to cut the heads off of pins to turn into rivets that were glued to the cars individually.  He even went as far as hand making tent poles, wooden ramps and saw horses as well as wooden details to the train cars. Then when the builders select a scale they want to work with they use train model figures, animals, buildings, vehicles and scenery to create their scenes.   
These were scratch built wagons with added adornments
   The Chimp escape was a nice touch. 
The part that really blew us away was their attention to the detail. Not only do they pick a favorite circus troupe to recreate they go as far as picking paint schemes from a particular point in time. 
The degree of the skill of the model builders varies, but they all share the same love of the circus, model building. Even the areas that the set ups cover varies. 
Some are happy with collecting building and detailing small scale wagons, carriages and train cars.
Another cool detail we found out was how varied their backgrounds are. Like we found out that John Karpus was a video editor for CBS for thirty seven years. And he had fell in love with the circus and as he said "Got sawdust in his blood" from when he was editing on location at a circus for one of the CBS shows. Then he told us a great story about how when he was in the editing trailer during the night working he had to use the bathroom. The only problem was the bathroom trailer was somewhere on the grounds in the dark. He didn't have a flashlight and when he opened the door of the trailer he was in he heard the elephants trumpet and a lions roar really close. And he said he wasn't about to feel his way around to the bathroom trailer in the dark. 

Then we met and had lunch with another collector named Robert Houston who owns "The Philadelphia Museum of The Circus Exhibit". Not only was he on the game show "To Tell The Truth" with one of his circus model sets where hen stumped the panel of celebrity judges, and an inductee to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's African American's Legends Hall of Fame for his historic circus collection that includes African American artifacts. And he's a Civil War Reenactor.  

Then we had met W. A. Bushey
 who is a generational builder and member.   
We found out from Mr. Bushey that his mother had hand sewn the circus tent fifty years ago and his father had hand carved the circus wagons. Then his father had sculpted cast and poured the wagon horses individually with different head poses instead of doing it the easy way and just re-pouring one casting. 
  Some were more into the Circus Sideshows like myself
This set up was a favorite of ours because the builder had went as far as building the Restroom Trailers because that's the first thing his wife looks for when they go to the circus.
His setup also included crew, equipment and animal trailers.
Then we met a builder by the name of Sheldon Endy Jr. who was a diesel mechanic teacher and built a large display inside of a ten and a half foot trailer he had also built for transport for shows.
Sheldon had scratch built allot of the buildings as well and modified existing kits. There are so many details and extras that he had made and pointed out that it would take a ten minute video to show all of it.
Another favorite of ours was Donald Kowell's
  "Hoxie Bros. Circus" display.

The thing we liked about it the most was this was one of the troops we had seen when we were kids in that era. And was the first time I had ever seen any kind of Circus Sideshow. 
For more information on Circus Model Builders
 check out their website with the link below.