Friday, October 25, 2013

An Ode to Pumpkin Flavored Everything!

By - Steve Mezo

The proper name is "Pumpkin Spice Flavor", but in this day and age it abbreviated to "Pumpkin Flavor" and it's become as much a part of Halloween as Candy Corn. I use Candy Corn as a reference because they come out the same time of the year. And they both have the same like it, hate it or can only have so much of it following. 

I guess I would have to be in the "Can only have so much of it" group. I love the Duncan Donuts Pumpkin Spice Donuts, but it seems it's popularity has done to the flavor what the movies have done to comic books. 
It's everywhere and in just about every food item you could imagine. I was going to list them all but it would have made this article crazy long...

And it seems just like comic book movies The Pumpkin Spice invasion made a whole lot of people angry. Seriously, there are entire sites dedicated to the hatred of it. 

About the only thing I hate Pumpkin Spice are candles and room air fresheners. So I have to say to each their own.

Now if I could only bring Holiday Pepsi back...   

When I grow up I want to be a Movie Monster!

By - Steve Mezo

It's OCTOBER and that means time to buy more Horror Movies! And my good friend and Writer Director has quite and few titles out there for sale on his site CLICK HERE to buy the Flesh Eaters From Outer Space/Invasion For Flesh and Blood double feature DVD, Scarlet Moon, Haunted Hay Ride and Hate's Haunted Slay Ride.

Warren is the man that had given me my huge break in Flesh Eaters From Outer Space and Invasion For Flesh and Blood. And to get some more insight on what he had to go through in the early 90's with a crew of Metal Heads CLICK HERE to read it in his own words.

Then continue on here with my article below to see the once in a lifetime experiences I had. 

Warren was the main person responsible for the whole film so he really had all the pressure hanging over his head and had to tow the line, while Shawn T. Reich and I were eighteen year old kids right out of high school that were getting to live the dream. Shawn and I were A+ students in "TV production" with a great teacher "Mr. Geller" so we at least had a working background with video shoots (Shawn might even have the first horror movie we made in class still). And we had made a dump load of commercials in class. And I had a basic F/X background from working at "The Costume Shop in Red Bank N.J." 

I can't thank Warren enough for the huge chance and break he gave me. My uncle "Robert Gutowsky" had acted for Warren in "The Bloody Dead" and told him about me.
F/X Artist Ed French, My Uncle Bob and Writer Director Warren F. Disbrow

Warren had given him his card to give to me and a week later I was at Warren's door (My dad drove me) with a plastic skull made to look rotted (Right out of Marcia Lynn Cox "Makeup Monsters" book), a rubber hand I made with worms coming out of it and a big (Wow I'm going to be in movies!) grin. Warren was beyond cool and told me straight out that if I was going to work with him I would have to be serious about it and dedicated to seeing the project through. I was in and a week later I brought my friend Shawn T. Reich. 

I think the main reason Warren had taken us in was he had seen his love of horror, Sci Fi and fantasy movies in us and that we had the talent and at least a working background with F/X and video production. So he had allot to work with and taught us how to focus our abilities and to do other projects we never thought we could. After a few weeks we had reached a point where he could give us projects unsupervised which freed him up to continue with the main things that needed to be constantly done.

The first project I was handed was the construction of the "Contractor Paper Cave" Warren Sr., Warren, Tony, Gene, and myself had made the chicken wire frame then began the long task of stapling the (Meat wrapping paper to it). The cave was built right in Warren's back yard and it was huge! The only down side was after any rain it would have to be repaired in area's which led to Warren naming me "The Cave Dweller" every other week I was handed the staple gun and a step ladder. Along with Warren (Using a Tarzan type voice and pointing in the direction of the cave) "Cave Dweller... Fix Cave..." Then I would plod down in daylight and come out at night time while Shawn helped Warren build props in the F/X lab. Then it was time for frozen burgers on the grill (This is the same grill we used to make F/X gel on). Yeah life was good.

Then there was my tour of duty in Sid "The Space Monster" Tony Annunziata and I would trade off being in it and boy did we have some adventures...
This was Tony's turn in the Sid outfit.

Like when I had to do a "Monster rising from the water" scene and I couldn't go under. The head of the suit floated like a cork so Tony had to cut holes in it (While I was wearing it!) we have pictures of it too. Or when Warren popped JAWS into the VCR the next day before I had to go into the water again. Did I mention that this was when the beaches were closed due to high bacteria?
 It didn't help much that this place is called Shark River either...

And Tony and I had a blast being in the "John Belushi" sceen, and "Desiree Russo/Sendelbach" had made these really bad bangs for me with the front half of a wig to make me look more the part of the halfwit to drive the gag home. It's funny because when I turned my head sideways you can see where the wig ended.  

It was really cool where I was able to write scenes with Warren. And it was really amazing how he could make my crazed babbling and gag notes into a workable scene and would shoot it later.

Then there were the times (which was allot) where Shawn and me survived on nothing but "WAWA" hot dogs and iced tea for weeks. God bless the creators of that stuff. And big old Thank You to "June" Who pretty much lived behind the counter. And "Anthony" the keeper of the 50,000 mile (Shawn name) WAWA hot dogs". And who can forget the "Big Top Frozen Hamburgers"? Add in some day old rolls and you had lunch for the week. I felt bad for Tony because he didn't have the goat stomach like Warren, Shawn and me because the poor guy would be puking his guts up in the bushes moments after eating them. Maybe it was stress from film making or maybe because we used that grill to heat up F/X chemicals too...     

And there were more than a few times where we laughed so hard our sides hurt while filming. "Like when Greg Scott was supposed to bring two friends from the gym to play henchmen". They didn't show so Shawn and me found two bouncers from "The Polo Club" to fill in last minute. They looked great, but didn't know how to stage fight so when they were hitting Greg they were pulling back, but you can still hear him getting the wind knocked out of him on the DVD. And the floor they slammed him down on was cement. Even though Warren was under crazed pressure and had to teach us allot as we went along he always kept it enjoyable and kept you wanting to see it through. I have to say working on "Flesh Eaters From Outer Space" and "Invasion for Flesh and Blood" were two of the best times in my life.

But there were also times where I was like "Why am I doing this again?" Like when F/X Artist "Cory Geryak" had done a chest cast on me with plaster and the Vaseline underneath evaporated. So Warren and Tony had to lift up the casting while Cory cut my imbedded chest hair with a "Exacto Knife" While Warren said "Remember you're making film history!". Then on the ride home we were pulled over and all the cop saw was two long hair guys (Warren was sleeping on the back seat) with a big bag of white powder (Alganate) and four huge syringes with rubber tubing (For spurting blood F/X) between us in a beat to hell "1969 Chevy Caprice". He told us (Tony and me) to get out (Even though I explained why we had the stuff) so he says "I'm going to search your vehicle." I had nothing to hide so I said "Go ahead." I'll never forget the look on the cop's face when Warren sat up (With a bad case of bed head) and said "You know what you're doing is illegal right?" The cop just walked over handed us our ID's and told us to get moving. 

And another time when we had Tim Ferrante (From the early days of "Fangoria Magazine") in the movie. I was really excited because I love the magazine and Tim knows almost everyone in the business. Well Cory Geryak had made a full head cast of Tim and then made a full foam latex head (Which Warren still has) to use in a head crushing effect. Warren needed a live shot of Tim to match the effect shot so Tim had to stand in front of his cement chimney while Cory (Wearing part of the monster costume) had to slowly push his head back (It would be sped up later). Warren said "Action" and Cory didn't realize how close Tim was to the cement and all you could hear was *THUNK!* We were all dead quiet, then Cory started to tell Tim he was sorry. But Tim took it really well and started making light of it by saying "I'm never doing horror movie's again DISBROW!" And when we were finished shooting Tim was cool enough to give me a "Fangoria Magazine" out of his own collection and autographed it on one of his interviews with "Robert Englund" (Freddy Kruger) and if that wasn't enough he gave me a "Tranzor Z" otherwise known as "Mazinga" poster after we talked about favorite cartoons and movies. And I still have both to this day.  

Or after writing Gary Hoffman's (Penile Displacement) scene with Warren and re sclupting the member from Warren's "Kiss of Medusa" then coming to Warren's house the next day. And seeing Desire'e Russo sitting on Warren's porch painting the star of the scene muttering "This is soooo f**king wrong..."  

Did I mention all the make out scenes I got to do? Good times!  

I can still remember him editing the movies and me keeping his spirits up with "Chicken-Fil-A" while he was cutting it (Me and Shawn were usualy behind him watching some B&W drive in horror movie.) Or taking him for trips to the mall or auction when the editing machines were in the repair shop just to keep him a little sane. Those times really sucked because it was such a drawn out process and any setback was rough and it wasn't like cutting film. Any change took forever to make and you were at the mercy of the machines so if they wanted to screw something up bad all you could do was watch and curse. But Warren got through it and the movie made it to your hands (You bought a copy right?)

Talking about Rob Dimension's BAGGAGE!


By - Steve Mezo

I've seen Rob Dimension on the web for a while now and my wife and I had the chance to meet him with his beyond cool wife Kim at "Todd Staruch's Grindhouse Nights at Cafe Z".

And when we were at Rob's table he was selling copies of his movie shorts "No Clowning Around" and "BAGGAGE". 

Jackie and I had watched both when we got home and after I had written about No Clowning Around and pretty much gushed about it, Rob had messaged me and asked what I thought about BAGGAGE. 

And my response was a "I liked It."

Now that doesn't sound bad, but in the scheme of things it kinda was.
It wasn't a matter of Rob getting mad at me or anything like that at all. It's just a different effort went into one compared to the other for him. 

No Clowning Around was taken seriously as a project, but the shooting atmosphere was about having fun creating the Mumbles character in a Tales from the Crypt stye. While BAGGAGE was a more intense Alfred Hitchcock Presents atmosphere, and the shooting was more regimented.

And how do I respond to that one? "I liked it..."

It took about two months for it to hit me like a cement truck, but I realized that I loved it just as much as No Clowning Around. And Rob Dimension has such a talent as an actor that it p!$$ed me off!!!

Seriously he went from a grungy clown that I could relate to in ways that only Rob and I would understand, to a man named Benjaman that I do not like!  
Seriously!!! Rob made me forget he was Rob Dimension in both shorts and became two completely characters!

Don't look at me and go "Well Duh, That's what he's supposed to do!" BECAUSE I KNOW THAT!!!
I'm saying he is True Metal when he does it and I can tell you not a lot of actors can. Look at the cast of FRIENDS they are the same characters in every kind of movie they are in. Not a single one of them act any different then their show characters. 
But if you put Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard and Dr. Richard Kimble in the same room you'll have five different people!

And that's what Rob Dimension did with "Benjamin". He gave me a man that I just do not like, and it worked. I mean it worked to the point of I looked past all of the cinematography, angles and settings and walked with Benjamin just not liking him as a person. 

So when Rob asked me what did I think of it, my response wasn't me talking about the production. It was me tolerating this guy named Benjamin that he asked me to hang out with. 

If you're still with me on this congratulations on being able to follow me talking about how much I love BAGGAGE as much as No Clowning Around.   

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's only Halloween, But I like it!

By - Steve Mezo

Once again it's that time of year where Holiday Grinches feel the need to run everyone's fun... 

I really hate typing these because it means the Holiday Haters have gained a little more ground. And this time the news came from friends and contacts on Facebook telling me about how schools are cancelling any kind of Halloween celebrations. 

Really?!!! I can understand the no costumes rule to keep the kids from being distracted, and I can even accept being careful with not allowing treats because of peanut allergies being a danger. 

But there are a lot of fun things that can be done!

I had a blast back in grade school making Jack-o-Lanterns out of construction paper, me and the other kids tracing each other on contractors paper cutting the tracings out and making them into monsters with poster paint. And getting to watch the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on film!   

This was me back in 1976 with my Aunt Vera celebrating Halloween and she was dressed as a witch and I turned out fine. I didn't know anything about the origins of Halloween or any of it's legends. For me it was just a day of getting to dress up as a Gorilla Soldier from Planet of The Apes my Aunt Vera Dressing up as a Halloween Witch and getting to go to the Filkin's Halloween Castle behind us in Union Beach. And seeing poor Charlie Brown getting nothing but a rock in his pillow case for Halloween. 

Then there's this group of kids here.
They went to strangers houses for free candy, watched Linus search for The Great Pumpkin, and *Gasp!* dressed up as a devil and a ghost. And yet they grew up to be well adjusted parents and possibly grand parents! Hey Shout Out to the fellow Planet of The Apes Fan!!!
And I guarantee not a one of them new anything about the origins of The Holiday either. 

It wasn't until I was in my mid-teens that I started to become interested in the whole origin of the holiday. And read about how a lot of the traditions were brought here by Irish Immigrants. And how the original (according to legend) Jack-o-Lantern was really a hollowed out and carved turnip. 

And it was even cooler to find out about other cultures that have variations of Halloween in completely different months.

China and other Asian countries have "The Hungry Ghost Festival" or "Yu Lan" that starts July 15th and is celebrated through the month, where food and other offerings are made to those recently passed and Ancestors. 

Mexico has Day of The Dead "Día de Muertos" November 1st and 2nd. Where the same takes place. And while I was researching this their are even more countries that have the same rituals including those in African cultures. 

So I would like to know who exactly is being offended?

One complaint I hear (If their not going with the offending somebody excuse) is safety issues. Well we can all thank the internet for making Urban Legends believable.

Another is financial inequality...
I think this was the one holiday where not having much didn't matter. It was the one day where everybody could be creative and join in trick or treating or events without being judged. 
I even remember reading about a friend on Facebook that didn't have much, but his dad made a JAWA costume for him out of Contractor Paper that looked great and he had just as much fun as everybody else. 

And of course there's those making the complaints that it's offending other religions. Well if they had done a little research like I had they would see that it's not the evil abomination their making it out to be. 

And it's been celebrated by God fearing Church goers that they could only hope to be like.


You know for a fact that this kid had a set of Sunday Church Clothes that he used every single Sunday till he was fitted for the last suit he ever owned as an adult. But on Halloween he dressed up as a devil and had some of the best fun ever a kid could have one day of the year.

And his parents would attend Grown Up Parties where they would dress as Devils. Black Cats, Ghost, Witches and Skeletons and had a good time. And this carried on for generations without any trouble because each year the focus was on the fun part of it. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is kids only get to really be kids once. So let them enjoy fun scares for a month and having one day to wear whatever they want and get a pillowcase or Blowmold plastic pumpkin full of free candy. Because there are a ton of happy memories to go along with it too.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Living The American Scream!

By - Steve Mezo

I know a lot of people are talking about "The American Scream", but I lived it.

If you haven't seen it yet and love Home Haunts and Attractions, this is one that you have to add to your October must watch list.

It's directed by Michael Stephenson (Best Worst Movie) and shows three different Home Haunt enthusiast readying their yards and homes for Halloween. 

This one is a favorite documentary of mine because of my lifelong love of Haunted Attractions and Dark Rides. And the love and dedication that these people put into their creations really show.

One of the fabricators and builders we meet is Victor Bariteau who had went from advanced home haunter to opening his own Haunted Attraction "Ghoulie Manor". Much like my friend Stan Ambro went from a haunt in his front yard to Hollowgraves Haunted Manor.

The next is Manny Souza who has the talent I have of finding props needed pretty quickly and for a low cost if any. 
And reminds me of a good friend of mine "Larry" who I had worked with at Hollowgraves Haunted Attraction.

   And the father and son team of Richard and Matthew Brodeur.
Some say they feel that Richard and Matthew were added as some kind of comedy relief, but I think of them as an example where looks can be deceiving. 
Because even though it looked like a mish mosh at the beginning they turned their property into a pretty impressive walkthrough at show time.

And how cool is it that the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts had three haunts to go to during the Halloween season?! I haven't seen that many since I was a kid growing up and the surrounding towns had one or two each.   

I may have never had the chance to create my own haunt, but The Costume Shop and Stan Ambro at Hallowgraves Haunted Manor got me pretty close to it. And I can tell you first hand that it is a labor of love before anything else... 

Click HERE for the article about my time there.

When I was with The Costume Shop we had worked a lot of walk throughs freelance, and with crews from the most known in New Jersey. This gave me the idea of "Hey I'm surrounded by this stuff and get it for cost so how hard can it be to own one?" And boy did I get my answer... twice. 

I ordered Phillip Morris and Dennis Phillips book
 "How to Operate a Financially Successful Haunted House"

It had allot of really useful information (In the 80's) with layouts, costuming, makeup and basic business. If you're a walk through lover it's still a great collection book, but if you're looking to do any kind of Haunt now the current sites are the best bet. 

Now when I had this it was in the days of the internet being something I couldn't care less about because it wasn't even as advanced as it was in the movie "War Games" (You kids in the audience can Google the one). But the information was current because a lot of the haunts back then were doing what was in it's pages. So for me (Having access to the stuff) it seemed pretty obvious. Kind of like one of those learn to airbrush books where it starts off with the basics and by the end you should be painting "Death Dealer" or wizards on the sides of friends vans (You kids can Google that one too). 

But when I got to the part of the book where it came to procuring a building to house the haunt, parking, selling food and extras to offset ticket sales and insurance I realized I didn't have nearly enough money to even try it...

But it was invaluable for getting me ready to work the walk throughs freelance. 

Then when I was working with Stan it was jumping into the seep end wearing a weighted divers belt. I am not saying it was bad, but it was a real eye opener. Twelve to fourteen hour days were normal and spending nights on a camping cot in the Haunt were pretty common. I may have grumbled and ranted back then about things as they were happening, but looking back on them they really were the good old days. 

So when I watched "The American Scream" it was like a trip down memory lane, and my wife and I were laughing about the good times we had at Hollowgraves Haunted Manor. And we knew how it was for each one of them in the movie.    


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tattooed Steve's Halloween Special 2013!

By - Steve Mezo

Halloween Memories are alive and well thanks to artistic talent and collections of people like Matt Gacesa. 

"Who's Matt Gacesa?" you ask. Well Matt is one of many very talented restoration artist and collectors of Holiday Blowmold Decorations. You can see his collection and wild holiday yard displays here on his Facebook Group "Blowmold Magic Holiday Displays".

I had found out about Matt's group and his hobby/passion through Jerry Moore from Monster Madhouse and was just completely floored.

I'm sure you've seen this one a gazillion times on front lawns growing up.

Now check out how Matt had reworked a damaged one to make it a Halloween Train!

Then to really turn it up to eleven he had created an Easter version too!!!

I know it's a Halloween Special, but I just wanted to show that Matt covers all of the holidays with his creations and lawn displays. 

Matt uses a Candy Corn color scheme for his repaints of these classic holiday Blowmolds, and I think it is so amazingly cool that kids in his neighborhood get to have these displays as part of their Halloween memories.

Here's a photo of his Halloween Witch before restoration along with a few other soon to be repainted pieces.

And after her Candy Corn Makeover.

Check out his pumpkin archway!

 And here's a sample of his personal collection.

After admiring Matt's work I had hit Google and researched more about his hobby and collection. 

I was really surprised that there's an entire community dedicated to Blowmold collecting and restoration. And even more surprised to find out that there are Blowmolds for just about every holiday besides Halloween!
I'm just glad that I recently found out that they can be restored for a very reasonable cost way after my F/X workshop years, because I would have a ton of them and would be repainting them right now instead of typing here. 

A lot of the Blowmold decorations are still in production, but there are quite a few that have been discontinued. So it's great that talented people like Matt care enough about them to keep them out of landfills and around for future generations to enjoy. 

And there are quite a few how to sites that give all kinds of information on stripping the original paint, which paints to use and how to repair just about everything from holes to seam splits. 

Another cool thing about it is it's an affordable hobby and pursuit. So since the artist are doing the work the Blowmolds can't be sold for a gouged price. People could try, but who else is going to by sun faded piece of plastic?

And I really have to thank Matt for letting me share his talents with everyone that stops by here. And soon I'll be posting a full interview with Matt and finding out what was the spark that got him started. 

Until then make sure to pay a visit to Matt's Facebook "Blowmold Magic Holiday Displays" check out all of his yard displays and tell him that I sent you.

Oh and my wife and I found a classic Blowmold that we had to add to our Halloween collection in honor of Matt's work.