Aug 16 2016

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Genki Genki Panic

Genki Genki Panic
Official Site
Ghoulie High Harmony, Canker Bay Records 2015
Spooky Fingers, Canker Bay Records 2016

genkigenkipanic

The Japanese word “genki” is hard to translate thanks to its many potential English meanings. A quick online shows people romanizing it as “energy,” “happy,” “energetic,” “lively” and “enthusiastic.” It’s apparently also used in Japan as a quick way of asking how someone is doing. After much time and consideration, I have concluded the best translation of “Genki Genki Panic” is “a kickass mix of horror punk and surf from Tennessee.” But just who are these mysterious men in lucha libre masks?

The story of Genki Genki Panic starts in Chattanooga, TN. It was there in late 2014 that guitarist Carlos Satana (then known as “Chanco” ) and drummer El Fatsquatch first teamed up. Sometime after recruiting the bassist Larde, Fatsquatch had to leave the band due to health issues. A new drummer known only as Diazabaal joined for a few months in 2015 and his departure led to fill-in bassist El Dorido the Bionic Vaper Boy switching over to the drums. I also understand they have plans to add a new bassist and percussionist sometime as well! But don’t let the departures fool you. They’re all still friends and former members are free to (and have) return for special appearances.

For those new to the group, let’s go back to the original lineup with Ghoulie High Harmony. Although they had released some practice room demos and the Vaya Con Diablos EP prior to that particular album, its status as their first full release makes it a perfect introduction to the sounds and style of GGP. “The Munge” has a wonderfully creepy surf opening with great percussion work. It later kicks up with a more a rockin’ feel at times (but still retains the creepy vibe). Don’t look up the song’s title online. Trust me on this. The guitars really shine in the speedy opening of “Drag The Lake (The Afterlife Aquatic).” The track has the feel of something nasty hiding just beneath the surface, watching and waiting for its next victim. Named after Robert Englund’s directorial debut, “976-EVIL” blasts out the gate with breakneck speed and effortlessly melds classic surf touches with a distinct modern surf feel. “Swamp Hands” 02:24 gives you the surf you crave with the reverb you need. The the slowdown segment and awesome ending making this required listening. The opening drumroll of “HPV Lovecraft” sets the stage for a most interesting beat which later transitions into a vaguely eastern European folk surf tune. In “Camp Crystal Lake,” the guitars set up a lurking, vaguely 60’s spy music feel for the bulk of the track and “Sexting The Dead” is like frozen preserves. That’s right, it’s a solid jam! “Slaughterhouse ’69” has a somewhat similar tone to first track. But that’s where the similarities end. I love the bursts of reverb and haunting musical wailing provided by the theremin. You could easily get away with blasting this on Halloween or in a homemade haunted house. “Your Body Is A Wasteland” may be incredibly fast, but it’ll never make you feel like they finished too quickly. The bouncy feel reminds me of waves, so this could be the perfect track to play to someone who’s having trouble understanding why this sort of music is called surf music. “The Spectrophiliac” has a very 60’s rock feel, right down to the use of percussion. There’s also plenty of eeriness to go around, so everything is just perfect.

Listening to Ghoulie High Harmony made me realize something very important. There’s a big difference between horror surf and surf groups who occasionally tackle horror and sci-fi themes. Although both are great, listening to Genki Genki Panic has reminded me just how different they are and how I’ve been missing out on horror surf for far too long. I’ll definitely be making a more concreted effort to seek out true horror surf for future installments of the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari. But seeing as how the band has changed its lineup since then, let’s check out their most recent release (as of this writing): the Spooky Fingers EP.

genkigenkipanic2

The heavy but fast “Werewolf By Night” is named for the Marvel comic. But despite its namesake being a super hero, the opening scream and guitars really crank up the menace. “Two Girls, One Casket” has a soft and eerie opening which reminds me of a haunted music box, but it soon becomes the speedy surf we know and love. In addition to the dueling guitars and pipe organ, there’s a very Danny Elfman feel to this track. Try to imagine the sound of a cartoon character running around and you’ll have a good idea of what I mean. “Desecration” provides appropriately moody and soft instrumentation while “Phantom III ’37” opts for the speedy and (relatively) subdued. At least until the drums and cymbals cut loose at the end! In “When Bats Cry,” a Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”-style opening buildup leads to a bouncy reverb beat which shapes most of the song. It’s one hell of a closing number, that’s for sure. It’s also a tribute to both Prince and John Carpenter. Check their Facebook page if you don’t believe me!

This album is proof positive Genki Genki Panic is not afraid to change their style up. But even with the changes, fans of the first album are sure to love this too. With a selection of influences ranging from the Ghastly Ones to Ennio Morricone and the skills back it all up, you’re sure to find something to love about their music. So pick up their albums and prepare to let the spooky surf goodness wash over you!

Special thanks to Genki Genki Panic for use of the images!

Aug 08 2016

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Alika Lyman Group

Alika Lyman Group
Official Site
Leis of Jazz, Vol. 2, Dionysus Records 2014

leisofjazz2

For those not in the know, the original Leis of Jazz was released by the legendary exotica artist Arthur Lyman back in 1959. Leis of Jazz, Vol. 2 is the creation of his great nephew Alika. I can’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of the exotica community, but I think it’s safe to assume news of this release was probably first met with a mixture of interest and suspicion. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if some initially wrote the album off as a lazy cash grab from someone trying to make a career for themselves. But anyone who felt that way couldn’t have been more wrong!

Alika Lyman has been honing his musical skills since middle school and has studied under accomplished professionals in order to expand his knowledge outside of his chosen instrument (the guitar), including none other than Randy “The Waitiki 7” Wong. If you can name the genre, he’s probably studied it. He also has enough experience to teach other budding musicians! After performing in numerous bands, Lyman formed his own in 2009 and released two albums in 2013: the band’s self-titled debut and a spin-off jazz/funk project called MANCHiLD3. It wasn’t until the following year that he decided to play tribute to his great uncle. Given his interest in jazz music, which goes back to his school days in Hawaii, such a project was only natural. Rather than just do covers of his famous relative’s standards, he has opted for a mix of original material and covers from a variety of sources.

One such cover version is “Swingtime in Honolulu,” which features many of the instruments you’ll be becoming very familiar with over the course of the album. The sounds of clanking drumsticks open up a peppy world of cymbals, bongos, vibes and guitar work. Soft vibraphone work is the star of “Poinciana,” followed by the equally soft (but energetic) bongos and guiros. It’s incredibly relaxing and I was pleasantly surprised at just how well the guitar work blends in. “Night Orchid” brings us the bird calls and animal noises we expect from any exotica album. A steady bongo beat forms the backbone of this track, which is further enhances by dreamy chimes, maracas and some outstanding musical variations from the guitar and vibes. I love the bongo work of “Kauai Rose.” It all goes so well with the bird calls and quiet buildup of chimes and percussion. “Kaimana Hila” is bouncier than the other tracks, but admittedly not by much. But that should not be taken as a complaint. Although the guitar gets the spotlight here, there’s plenty of exotic percussion to go around. “Hukilau” is comprised of super soft cymbal strikes mingling with guitar work and stretches of vibes. It only sounds like there’s so much more thanks to the melody (and expert playing). I understand “Lei Kukui” is a traditional Hawaiian song for weddings and anniversaries and I can believe it thanks to the soft, soothing guitar work and vibes.

As you might expect from the name, “Arthur’s Line” was a song written for (and performed by) Arthur Lyman. You’re sure to be in absolute awe over the guitar work here. But don’t let its presence make you think it still doesn’t retain the classic exotica feel, because that would be incredibly inaccurate. “Theme from ‘Bewitched'” is just what the title says. And you know what? The theme from Bewitched works surprisingly well as an exotica track. You would swear the song was originally written for the vibraphone. The performance really is that good. If a Tiki bar patron heard this without knowing what it was, it’s easy to imagine them puzzling over what exotica album they heard it on before the realization dawned on them. It also flows nicely into “Guiding Stars,” which is somewhat moody despite being laid back. guitar, cymbals, vibes. In contrast, “Bobo” is more energetic than last track and must be heard to be truly appreciated. “Hilo Hattie Blues” serves up quiet percussion and piano work (among other instruments). It’s a modern day original composition, but you’d swear it was an old standard. As much as I hated to hear it stop, I simply loved the closing. “Pua Lilia” means “the lily flower” and the music making it up is just as soft and gentle as the petals of the flower which inspired it. It’s the perfect close to the album.

Alika Lyman has done his great uncle proud with this delightful album. Had I not used a streaming digital copy to write this review, I would have had access to the liner notes so I could properly praise the other performers. Perhaps those of you with copies of the CD or vinyl releases of this album could help me? Whoever they are, they all did an amazing job. I’m not the only one who feels that way. In addition to its widespread praise and positive reviews, it was nominated as “Best Jazz Album of 2015” at the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano awards! After having listened to the original Leis of Jazz, I can safely say this second volume is a worthy follow up. Playing the two albums one after the other was quite interesting. The first volume seems more energetic and boisterous while this album was comparatively more mellow and dialed back on the use of piano work in favor of the guitar. However, the choices used for the other instruments matched up nicely. The original, like numerous other vintage exotica albums, has a little something extra which I can’t quite describe. But what I can say is Leis of Jazz, Vol. 2 has it too. The choices made by Alika Lyman Group shows their commitment to paying tribute without being a soulless imitation. This is also reflected by the album’s cover. It has enough similarities to the original so people can make the connection between the two (right down to recreating the sticker which appeared on numerous classic Arthur Lyman LPs), but there are also enough differences to let it stand on its own. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we have seen of this group.

Special thanks to Dionysus Records for use of the image!

Aug 06 2016

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: 6’+ Episode 187 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Clean the blood off your favorite Hawaiian shirt because it’s time for our yearly excursion into creepy and cool surf exotica music. With music from JASON LEE AND THE R.I.P TIDES, GENKI GENKI PANIC, CREEPXOTICA, THE TURBOSONICS and more! Monstermatt Patterson learns how to hula in a MONSTERMATT MINUTE that’s not safe for the soul. Big shout out to Dionysus Records for tracks featured on this episode.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Aug 01 2016

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Return

Dionysus Records recently gave me some great news about this year’s Tiki Oasis. Not only is the theme going to be “Party on Monster Island,” but there is going to be a TON of live performances from bands like Creepxotica, Jason Lee and the R.I.P.tides and Alika Lyman Group (among many others). Don’t worry if you don’t recognize that last group, as I’ll be covering them very soon. It’s scheduled for August 18-21 in beautiful San Diego, California and you know what that means: act now if you want to get your tickets! For more information about the event, please visit the official Tiki Oasis website. Even if you can’t attend, you should still visit the site just to admire the amazing artwork of Derek Yaniger.

So whether you’re waiting to attend the event or want to distract yourself from the agony of missing it, here’s last year’s Freaky Tiki surf-ari:

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Return
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Crazed Mugs
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Turbosonics
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Space Fezcapade
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Vulcanos
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: 6’+ Episode 154 is Up!

Let’s not forget the now traditional free exotica download! This year it’s “Goonkacha” by the Martini Kings. It’s a limited time offer, so you had better act fast! Those who miss out on snagging it can console themselves by joining the mailing list for Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica in order to get 6 free tracks (along with plenty of news about the band).

Jul 25 2016

6’+ Episode 186 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“We conclude our six-month retrospective with a look at some of the best psychobilly that has come out in 2016. With tracks from SPELLBOUND, THE SPASTIKS, THE HELLFREAKS, THE GO GO CULT and more, this episode will definitely leave you wreck’d. If the music doesn’t make you want to dance, Monstermatt Patterson will definitely get you moving as you run from another MONSTERMATT MINUTE.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jul 20 2016

Godzilla Marathon Promos

Godzilla movie marathons were a common staple of 90’s television programming, even before the hype over Tristar’s 1998 disappointment started. Although most of them were promoted by simply combining narration with clips from the films, some stations rolled up their sleeves to create something truly special. Our first example comes to us from WGN, as uploaded by tvbrain:

I actually tuned in during the final day of the “Oh My God-zilla!” marathon after this very same bumper caught my attention while channel surfing. I don’t know what was more exciting to me, the marathon or how I was watching one of those “superstations” I heard so much about. I also remember footage from the promo being recycled as bumpers during the commercial breaks. I just wish I could remember whether it was in 1994, 1995 or 1996!

But as fun as WGN’s toy Godzilla trashing a model of Chicago was, only one marathon deserves to wear the crown. The one that immediately sprang to mind when most people read the title of this article: “Godzillabash ’94.” While most of the marathons I was familiar with only used a portion of what was then known as the UPA package of Godzilla movies, TNT showed the whole thing on one glorious Thanksgiving weekend: Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla’s Revenge and Terror of Mechagodzilla. They even threw in some episodes of the Hanna Barbera Godzilla cartoon for good measure! But that’s not what made the marathon truly special. No, that was due to its special promo. Sure, it was made up entirely of footage from the movies, but its inventive transitions and being styled as some sort of government file on Godzilla helped set it apart. Well, that, and how it was set to the music of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla.” I can’t be the only one whose first exposure to the song was through this promo, as uploaded by vastnessoftheabyss:

I definitely wasn’t the only one puzzled by the ad referring to Gabera as “Baragon,” as later versions of the above video had the offending segment removed. As you can see in the additional promos and bumpers uploaded by TheH-Man, Gabera was correctly identified in the narration for another ad:

I suspect this goof was the result of someone at TNT having consulted one of John Stanley’s Creature Features movie guides or Donald C. Willis’ Horror and Science Fiction Films II, both of which identified Baragon as the film’s main villain. Old school G-fans will remember how an appalling amount of American reference books contained inaccurate information about Japanese monster movies. I once read one which referred to Gigan as “Borodan” (presumably since they consulted the American publicity materials for Godzilla vs. Megalon rather than actually watch the movie). I think the same book might claimed Godzilla battled “King Baragon” in a movie! It’s hard to say, given the sheer amount of such books I went through looking for information on Godzilla movies before I had regular internet access. Whoever put this together presumably had access to both the internet and footage from the movie where Gabera’s name is mentioned, so their decision to use a movie guide instead is truly mystifying.

As the years went on, Godzilla movies migrated away from location stations and basic cable into the world of premium channels. The UPA package was acquired and expanded by Classic Media, which eventually became part of Dreamworks! The release of Legendary’s Godzilla did result in Turner Classic Movies showing a bunch of the classic Shōwa films and one of the Starz channels occasionally runs marathons of the Heisei films Sony has the rights to. Perhaps we’ll see more Godzilla marathons (and specially made promos) once the Legendary films wind up on one of the major networks. Until then, all we can do is hope the eventual move to streaming and video on demand services doesn’t wipe out this sort of thing.

Jul 06 2016

Movie Review: Tower of Evil (1972)

Tower of evil posterZombos Says: Good

Normally, Tower of Evil, also known as Beyond the Fog and Horror on Snape Island, a Shepperton Studios' budget-minder with process shots (you know them as phony background scenes), get-it-done scene lighting, and enough bare buttocks and breasts to raise an eyebrow's–if nothing else–worth of attention, wouldn't be worth a critical mention. The story, however, does warrant one.

Attractive young people running around au naturel looking for action, then getting more action they hoped for, would become a staple of popcorn-munching horror fans later in the 1970s, when cutting up nubile teenagers in ever more creative ways became the box-office drawing power to emulate. Here we see an inkling of that direction to come, salted with supernatural and Gothic elements, making Tower a notable transitional horror movie if nothing else.

Gurney and his father, John (George Coulouris), are heading to Snape Island in the opening scene. It's late at night, or too early in the morning, with darkness and dense fog obscuring the many rocks aiming to cripple their small boat as they approach the island. They have important business to finish that couldn't wait. On the island, more gory business greets them with one severed hand, one severed head, two dead males, and an understandably upset survivor wielding a mean knife in her frenzied breakdown. The mystery begins, and it's added to when the large, solid gold, and ancient sword used to pin one of the victims to a door, like a bug to a board, perks the interest of the police and archaeologists who believe it's part of a sizable Phoenician burial treasure. The impaled, door-hanging, male reminded me of a similar door-hanging murder seen in Carpenter's Halloween.

The survivor, Penny (Candace Glendenning), is comatose and placed under psychiatric evaluation. The police have to wait for answers as a very progressive psychiatrist rolls out a syringe and flashing colored lights to hypnotize Penny into recalling what happened. Given the long sideburns, bell-bottom pants, and Barrymore-collared shirts worn in this movie, the flashing lights fit right in. Her brief but vivid recollections provide flashbacks that exploit the gore and nudity. Each flashback digs deeper into Penny's mind allowing O'Connolly to cut back and forth between what happened to her and what is happening on the island, now that the archaeologists and Gurney have returned to it to find the hidden treasure. The gruesome deaths, the mystery of the sword, the isolation of the lighthouse, and hints of the former lighthouse keeper's family tragedy provide plot depth that goes beyond simply waiting and watching for people to be killed. Equal attention is also given to male and female nudity, a savvy move that broadens the movie's audience appeal. We get to see John Hamill's tight bum as much as Glendenning's perky breasts. Murderous intent also is equally distributed among the sexes and not driven by the undercurrent of misogynistic contempt seen in later slasher slaughterfests. 

It's easy to forgive the obvious pandering to the audience; many horror movies do it to pad weak storylines while titillating audiences anyway, but the sexual display and tension here works with the movie, not against it, especially when you've written a horny Phoenician god into the subplot. Of course, slasher enthusiasts will reason that lusting and groping is necessary to initiate the morality-righting vengeance of the killer, which brings back propriety and social stability by butchering its flaunters. Bouncing bare breasts and firm derrières do little to bring in box office, of course, so the enthusiasts may have a point. Hard to excuse is the cheap trick of re-releasing Tower in 1981, re-titled Beyond the Fog, in hopes of cashing in on The Fog's success by faking Tower as a sequel to John Carpenter's more studious movie. That's pretty low, even by today's standards of marketing.

I can be fairly lenient with Jim O'Connolly's (Valley of Gwangi) direction. It's tight and sufficient for generating enough atmosphere to move his (and George Baxt's) story along at a no-dawdling pace. He makes good use of his studio-bound frame depth and the few sets where the events take place, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere suitable for terror with his close camera and its angles, especially in the caves running under the lighthouse. Bolstering the ensemble of frisky and bickering characters is Jack Watson's Hamp Gurney. He's steady as a rock while everyone else is being chipped away around him. His heavily-lined face, strong masculine presence, and ability to move effortlessly to the foreground or background of a scene is always impressive to watch. His classy presence benefits every movie he's in. The usual bickering and libidinous undercurrents break out among the boys and the girls, but he's just along for the ride. Or is he? His secret agenda adds a little more suspense and mystery as everyone does what they shouldn't by opening doors best left closed, walking up to rocking chairs that shouldn't be rocking in the dark by themselves, investigating odd sounds alone, and meandering through damp caves after splitting up. 

I must be less lenient with Desmond Dickinson's (City of the Dead, Horrors of the Black Museum) set lighting. Moonlit scenes are shown in bright, full color, and the lighthouse model isn't lit in such a way as to help camouflage that it is a model–and it's not helped by the dry ice haze, either. The lighthouse interiors are overly lit–you can't get that much steady light from paraffin lamps–but the narrow stairway, small rooms, and the abandoned condition they're in, along with the creaky furnishings, provide an adequate level of unease for us as much as it does for the archaeologists and investigator (Bryant Haliday) hoping to either find the gold or the truth. To be fair to Dickinson, using the Technicolor process could have reduced the amount of light hitting the film stock, requiring increased lighting on the set. Given his black-and-white background, Dickinson may have overcompensated with too much lighting for his color scenes given the film stock used. Or he simply had no choice and did the best he could with what he had to work with. But I have no reservations in recommending Tower of Evil to the slasher fan who thinks he or she's seen it all, or any horror fan not satisfied, so far, by 2014's paucity of decent horror fare to scream at.

This article originally appeared at From Zombos’ Closet.

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Jul 03 2016

6’+ Episode 185 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“We’re back and just in time to celebrate the best horror punk and surf music of 2016 — so far. Enjoy tracks from THE TERRORSURFS, THE NIELSENS, THE JASONS, GENKI GENKI PANIC, AARON & THE BURRS and so much more. Monstermatt Patterson busts out his best bad monster jokes and the paradox almost ends the universe as we know it in another MONSTERMATT MINUTE.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jun 19 2016

The Poe of the Screen

By GLADYS JONES

When the editor told me that I was booked to interview Henry B. Walthall I was both elated and dismayed. Elated because I was to meet the hero of so many wonderful pictures, and dismayed because I was–well, let’s say a little afraid. My imagination had led me to think that the man was something mighty, a man to be treated as one out of many. So, when I arrived at the Essanay plant, I was surprised to find that Mr. Walthall was considered very easy to interview. When I go to interview a person, I generally get some of the minor details from the publicity department. So I went there first, and as I was still rather timorous, I asked one of the young men there to introduce me to Mr. Walthall.

Together we wended our way through what seemed to be miles of dressing rooms, bearing many prominent names. Little Ruth Stonehouse sat in her dressing room and gave me a cheering hail. On, down past the wardrobe and into the bachelors’ room we roamed. There, seated in the corner, were several men playing cards to while away their leisure hours. Bryant Washburn, that handsome young hero-villain, had just won a hand, the game being pinochle, and the rest of the crowd were having a great time over it. One of these was the man I sought, and though I hated to stop the game, I was going to see him whether the others liked it or not.

My guide called Mr. Walthall from the game and explained to him what I wanted, to which Mr. Walthall assented gracefully. Turning to the others he called, “Going to be busy for a while boys. Go on without me.”

Groans and much peevishness greeted this remark, and Charlie Stein, who, under ordinary conditions, is about as good-natured as possible, remarked, “Ain’t it just like a woman to bust up a game like that. Just as I was getting interested, too.”

“Shut up,” remarked Bryant, in an undertone, “she’ll hear you.”

Charlie promptly subsided, and Mr. Walthall led the way to a couple of chairs near the wardrobe room, and smiling engagedly, asked: “Well, how shall we begin?”

“I suppose I ought to ask you where you were born and when and all that,” I replied; “but I found it all out in the publicity department before I saw you, so you might tell me why you went on the stage in the first place.”

poeofthescreen1

“Well,” laughed Mr. Walthall, “you are an industrious person, aren’t you? Why I went on the stage? I went on the stage because the narrow confines of the bar and legal oratory did not give my dramatic expression room to exert itself. You see, my father had law all picked out as my ultimate occupation, and one of the things we learned in the South is to obey our parents, so I took up law. I guess you might say that I was a partial success; but I didn’t particularly like the stuff, so, when the Spanish-American war broke out, I enlisted and went to Cuba. When the war was over I came back and got a position in a stock company. I succeeded fairly well there, and played in a great many companies in the East.

“One evening in the Players’ Club in New York, I heard of a friend of mine, Jim Kirkwood, who was making a good deal of progress in motion pictures, and although I had always looked down on the picture actor, I looked up Jim, and his enthusiasm prompted me to try my hand at the game.

“My first part was that of a ditch digger; but I guess it was a success, for they gave me a good part in the next picture. I first played with the Biograph Company, where I met David Griffith, with whom I have spent many very pleasant working hours. He is a great director, with a mind that is always on the go. I have often wondered when he slept, for he always seemed to have a new idea ready for any occasion.

“When Griffith went West with the Majestic forces on what was then the newest program, the Mutual, he took several of the Biograph people with him. Mabel Normand, Blanche Sweet and the Gish girls were some of them. Out in California Griffith seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted to, so we got out some exceptional film. “The Avenging Conscience” and “The Birth of a Nation’ were two of the largest, and probably the best I ever worked in out there.

“About that time Mr. Spoor of this company made me a very flattering offer, and I felt that I could not afford to pass it up. Since I came here I have had some exceptionally good pictures to play in, and Essanay have done everything they could to help me make really great pictures. ‘Temper’ was my first Essanay release, and my latest is “The Raven, in which I portray the character of Edgar Allen Poe, whom I consider one of the greatest dramatic poetry writers of our country.”

poeofthescreen2

Mr. Walthall looked at his watch, and then said, “I have an appointment at four-thirty, and it’s nearly that now. Don’t you think you have enough interview for one time?”

I sighed. “I was so interested in all that you told me that I forgot all about it being an interview, but I guess it will make a mighty good one, if I can remember all the things you have said.”

“Good heavens,” he replied, “are you going to write everything I have said?”

“Every word I can remember,” I replied, “and anything else I can think about you. For instance, the world is interested in your hair and eyes, and where you were born and”–

“Enough! enough!” he cried, “when you have written all that you will have told all there is to tell.”

“Just one thing more,” I pleaded.

“Well, if you insist,” he smiled. “I never was good at refusing the last wish of a lady. What is it?”

“Are you married?” I asked, with a catch in my voice.

“No,” he replied, and I thought I caught a touch of sadness in his voice. “Not even married. You see, there’s not much interesting about me.” He looked, at his watch again “It’s a quarter of five, so I must go.”

“But I want some pictures,” I exclaimed.

“Well, perhaps Mr. Washburn will get some for you,” he replied, turning to that individual, “Bryant, get out some pictures for me, will you? I have to keep an appointment.”

“Sure,” replied that good-looking villain-hero, “anything to please the ladies.”

He was very nice and gave me a lot of pictures of Mr Walthall, who was making a grand dash for the door. I guess dramatic expression is part of his make-up, for his face says as much as his mouth, and he has the most expressive eyes I have ever seen. They just seem to talk, too. And the publicity department was right when they said he was easy to interview. It wasn’t any trouble at all, and I hope you enjoy my version as much as I did.

[This post is based around an article included in the January 1915 issue of Feature Movie Magazine (Volume 5, Issue 1). Although as much effort as possible was put into preserving the article as it originally appeared, some aspects of the layout were impossible to replicate. To see the original, head on over to Google Books.]

Jun 18 2016

Free RPG Day Is Here!

It’s time for our annual unofficial celebration of Free RPG Day! So once you’re finished supporting your favorite gaming or hobby store, be sure to check these out:

Did you have you eye on the Quick Start rules for last year’s offerings for Atlantis: The Second Age and Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone but just couldn’t find them at your local store? Than you should be very happy with where those links take you.

Speaking of last year, some of the offers we had in our last free gaming extravaganza aren’t available. Erang is no longer offering free sample tracks of his gaming music. Thankfully several of the free images he had bundled with said downloads are still available on his official Facebook page (at least for the moment). For example, The map for “The Land of Five Seasons” is available in both its original form and a new for 2016 version that shows which parts of the map each of his albums is linked to.

Speaking of maps, Wikipedia has several maps of popular fantasy locations available. It also has some links to free stuff for a game called Time Lord that’s sure to be of any interest to fans of Doctor Who and plenty of information about Dungeons & Dragons retro-clones, like Mazes and Perils.

The Google Books previews for the Wildwood and Gloomland adventures for the Chimera Basic RPG also have a retro-clone feel. Well, that, and plenty of detailed maps and information you can work into your own adventure modules.

Hobgoblin is a far-out game. Adventures hinge on drawing cards, splitting the party seems to be a major game mechanic, and chaotic evil monsters can become loyal friends if you talk to them! At least that’s what we’ve been able to glean from Hobgoblin, an 80’s Dungeons and Dragons panic cash-in novel. Hopefully someone with more experience can figure out how such a RPG would actually be played. But that’s not why it’s being brought up here. No, it’s because stats for a Brobdingnagian are included and could be adapted for use in other games with only some minor adjustments.

The D&D Tips Twitter feed has just what its name implies. It also has a sizeable archive at Sly Flourish. Dungeon’s Master also has lots of great advice for both dungeon masters and players alike.

Dice towers are a fun way to roll your dice. Sometimes they’re even a necessity if you don’t have a big enough gaming space. Both BoardGameGeek and PaperCraftSquare have papercraft versions available for free. But those aren’t the only papercraft gaming accessories we found for you! How does a complete dungeon filled with heroes and monsters (among other goodies) strike you? There’s also dungeon tiles, miniatures, terrain, buildings, maps, and even a kaiju or two waiting for you!

Speaking of kaiju, players of Mecha vs. Kaiju can snag stats for King Ghidorah for use in your next gaming session. Although he’s not a kaiju, you still might want to use the stats for Optimus Prime as well.

Want some games with an old school sci-fi feel? Then try X-plorers (for space travel) or Mutant Future (for post apocalyptic thrills). Hereticwerks even has a bunch of free adventures. Not to be outdone, Swords & Wizardry has a ton of freebies while BLUEHOLME has both its Prentice Rules and character sheets available for you.

Happy Free RPG Day!

As always, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Blah blah blah…

Jun 14 2016

Music to Game By VI

As was the case last year, I’m going to take another look at the albums I reviewed for my 2015 “Music to Haunt By” article series with an eye on their use in tabletop role-playing games. But they could also be used while playing certain board games as well. Seeing as how Midnight Syndicate is preparing to release Zombies!!! this September for use with the board game of the same name, it just seemed appropriate to bring up. But said soundtrack could also be used with RPGs like All Flesh Must Be Eaten or Zombiepocalypse. But I digress. The order of the albums once again reflects the order in which I reviewed them and does not reflect personal preference. Although I had to remove some tracks for spacing purposes, you can find the complete tracks in each of the links.

Midnight Syndicate – Whether you’re looking for an album to play continuously or to play select tracks from, The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is perfect for horror and fantasy RPGs. That said, those wishing to play it on a loop might want to avoid the track “Sebed Suite” (due to the use of a dialog sample from the film) and the various rock tracks during the final portion of the album if such things clash with your gaming scenario. The tolling bells, vocals and piano work on display in “‘The Dead Matter’ Main Title” should remind the listener of death and ghosts. “Dangerous Meeting” will enhance encounters with wandering monsters thanks to its unnerving music and roaring sound effects while “Entering the Dusk” is a perfect pairing for encounters with creeping insects and the like. Are your players running away from something? Then play “Unexpected Company” or “Possession,” both of which work just as well as “Hollows Point” does for anything involving a lurking evil presence. But if you need a track which combines both of the previously described feels, then “Trilec Labs” and “Seance” are just what you’re looking for! “Late Night Snack” starts off soft and eerie, but quickly becomes more intense. The occasional footsteps and flapping bats make it a must for dungeon crawls. The menacing “Death is the Answer” will spice up any situation involving a cult, especially since it includes the sounds of chanting in Latin and a woman screaming “stop.” I love the spectral voices in “Sleep” but “You’re So Funny Frank” is my favorite since it combines such voices with soft music and evil laughter.

Jeannie Novak – Things start off with the Horrorshow: Mad House albums. Yes, “albums.” Each of the installments in Jeannie Novak’s “Horrorshow” series are available in synth, piano and ambient versions. However not all versions of each track are the same length. The frantic “Descent (synth)” conveys both nervousness and descending (of course). Naturally, I suggest using this when players have to journey down a flight of stairs or deep into the lower levels of a dungeon. If you’re running a horror RPG and something goes down at a funeral parlor, bust out “Requiem (synth).” “Lament (synth)” creates a sense of just what its name implies and the wordless female vocals and wandering synth work of “Visitation (synth)” create the feel of a visitor from beyond that’s great for séances and summoning rituals. For more specialized scary music, “Phantom (synth)” is quite elegant, “Fugue (synth)” is ethereal and “Solitary (synth)” should remind you of a music box. The next Horrorshow: Mad House is made up of piano music and while most of it is more beautiful than scary, there are a few exceptions. Both “Descent (piano)” and “Nightmare (piano)” would work wonders for a situation where a piano starts playing itself while “Requiem (piano)” is quite mournful. “Descent (ambient)” delivers the sense of unbalance and would work best when paired with a scenario where player characters have to cross a bridge over a seemingly bottomless pit. Ghostly wailing wind forms the bulk of “Requiem (ambient)” and I found “Nightmare (ambient)” to be much more chilling than its synth version. Similarly, “Lament (ambient)” is now less mournful and more chilling. The otherworldly “Visitation (ambient)” could work with an alien realm and “Phantom (ambient)” makes it perfect for any spooky situation.

Horrorshow: Big Top starts off with the (mostly) cheery calliope-sounding music of “Fanfare (synth)” and “Clowncar (synth),” but things become more subdued and slightly mysterious with “Grinder (synth).” “Labyrinth (synth)” has a sneaky feel and “Carousel (synth)” fits in with any situation involving a merry-go-round, scary or otherwise. “Fanfare (piano)” is plodding, yet still happy. It’s like something out of a silent comedy film, so there is potential for use with the Toon RPG. That description also applies for the rest of the piano tracks. Both the synth and piano tracks are neutral enough to work in either scary or normal circus scenarios, while the decidedly scary ambient tracks have almost no musical connection to the circus. The only exception is “Clowncar (ambient)” thanks to both its peppy tone and evil clown laughter. “Grinder (ambient)” is eerie, “Menagerie (ambient)” is very disturbing and “Coulrophobia (ambient)” is otherworldly enough for sci-fi RPGs. “Odditorium (ambient)” is creepy and soft while the similarly soft “Labyrinth (ambient)” has more of a pounding feel. With a name like Horrorshow: Ghost Town, you know you have the perfect soundtrack for a Deadlands session! “Badlands (synth)” offers spooky western piano work, “Rotgut (synth)” brings in the banjos and “Goner (synth)” is a bouncy tune with just a hint of creepy synth tones. “Headless (synth)” is soft and sneaky while “Deadend (synth)” really picks things up in terms of volume. The piano tracks are fairly neutral and sound like something from a saloon or silent movie (just like the circus piano tracks). But there is one exception: the darkness that is “Deadend (piano).” “Badlands (ambient)” is soft and spooky while “Rotgut (ambient)” is made up of winds and distant noises. “Goner (ambient)” is incredibly unearthly and “Venom” has an appropriately slithering feel that’s begging to be used when your players have to fight a giant snake. The wind effects of “Tumbleweed (ambient)” can work in a desert or haunted mine shaft. I love the creeping feel of “Boneyard (ambient).” Why not use it with a situation involving scorpions or spiders? Said creeping also reminds me of rattling bones, so this can also be paired with a skeleton hanging from the gallows. The winds and creaking effects in “Deadend (ambient)” also make it a must, as does its distant harmonica.

Sam Haynes – With its numerous samples and 80’s horror electro feel, The Incredible Dark Carnival definitely brings something new to the world of spooky circus music. You can easily loop it in the background to create an overall feel or use it on a track by track basis. Using tracks with dialogue samples is tricky, but the carnival theme does allow one to play this through a loudspeaker and pass it off as an announcer talking. You could even use the sample on display in “Carnival of the devil” to set the moody of an adventure at a circus or carnival. “At Midnight,” “Death’s Minstrel,” “Nightfall” and “Electric Freakshow” can be used in non-circus horror settings, but the feel of a circus or child’s room is still present in that last one. Even without the samples, both “Here come the clowns” and “Switchblade sideshow” make the presence of evil clowns obvious. The term “eerie” doesn’t even begin to describe “Parade” thanks to its soft lurking tone and wordless female vocals. “Behind the mask” begins with a soft, lurking feel and gradually builds up like a Jack-in-the-box while the buildup in the eerie “Boneyard” is much more restrained. Musical moans form the beat of “Ringmaster” and are soon joined by lighter touches and a circus march you can dance to. The militaristic drums which often appear in this album show up as well. “Funland” has a very soft and slow opening build, but drums kick things up. “Curtain Call” combines a sample with quiet piano music to conjure up an air of sadness. Those who prefer not to use samples can get away with turning down the volume low enough to hide said sample and still get the sense of grief. “Lost Souls” is a must for any situation involving the supernatural. There’s a heavy feeling of dread in the opening, but it does get somewhat lighter when the dance music and chimes put in their appearances.

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Jun 09 2016

6’+ Episode 184 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Polish your horns and get ready to sign on the dotted line, because it’s time to go to hell with the rock and roll that’s worth your soul. DAMN LASER VAMPIRES, FLAK BAIT, THE BRIMSTONES, MAZINGA & more give the Devil a run for his money. MONSTERMATT MINUTE gets kicked out of Hell, just in time to listen to the latest KILLER KUT from KRAIG KHAOS.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

Jun 07 2016

Free RPG Day Is Coming!

Free RPG Day falls on June 18th this year, so you should start preparing this very instant! Here’s a brief sampling of some of the gaming goodies you can snag:

Call of Cthulhu
Dungeon Crawl Classics/Mutant Crawl Classics
The Dark Eye
Faith: The Sci-Fi RPG
Primeval Thule
Feng Shui 2
Through The Breach
Atlantis: The Second Age
13th Age/Night’s Black Agents
Pathfinder

There are also some nifty free dice (including ones you assemble yourself) mixed in with to the traditional offerings of cards and pencils.

To find out more about the event and see if any retailers near you are participating, check out the official Free RPG Day website. No game stores in your area? Don’t fret, as we’ll be posting our annual collection of free gaming downloads on the big day as part of our unofficial celebration of the event!

May 25 2016

Ghoultown-Life After Sundown

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After what seems like an eternity, horror western punks Ghoultown finally get a vinyl release. Originally released in 2008,Life After Sundown, courtesy of Devils Brew Productions , is 12 tracks of spooky western tales told through the onslaught of that classic western country meets punk gothabilly sound that Ghoultown has perfected over the years.

One of the most interesting things about this album,out on July 31, is the vinyl releases themselves. Released on 3 extremely limited different colored vinyl versions. The most exciting being the colored vinyl/obi strip edition.Not only do all Obi Edition orders come with a 4×4 full color embroidered patch of the cover art, a random inserted mystery item will be hidden behind 3 of the Obi strips. The 3 people lucky enough to receive the copies with the hidden item will not only have their money REFUNDED, they will receive a FREE copy of the colored vinyl Obi Edition of Devil’s Brew Productions’ last release, The Big Bad-See You In The Shadows. That’s 2 awesome records FOR FREE!!

And while Life After Sundown doesn’t mark Ghoultown’s first time on vinyl, it DOES mark their first full length album on vinyl. Ghoultown’s albums are sometimes a little hard to come by, so you don’t wanna miss out on this.

And if you just can’t wait until July 31, then make sure the WiFi in your crypt is working and head on over to Devils Brew Productions  and grab you one of the extremely limited soon to be ultra rare Test Press copies with a special edition sleeve.

Or pick up the original CD from The Ghoultown Shop at http://www.ghoultown.com/shop.htm

 

http://www.devilsbrew.bigcartel.com/

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May 24 2016

6’+ Episode 183 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“A certain legendary horror punk band is reuniting in 2016, so let’s celebrate with cover songs from such devillocked misfits such as ENERGY, VCR, THE BROKEN TOYS, THE CRIMSON GHOSTS, LA BASURA DEL DIABLO and so much more. Monstermatt Patterson will try to convince you that letting Jerry sing was a good idea but that won’t be the biggest laugh you’ll find in THE MONSTERMATT MINUTE.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

May 19 2016

Takeshi Yamada

With roots which trace back to an actual samurai clan, the story of Takeshi Yamada begins in Osaka, Japan. He was born there in 1960 and his passion for artwork started at age 12 thanks to a gift from his father. The early paintings he created at that age led to him deciding on art as a career path later in his teens. Said path eventually led him to America in 1983, where he studied at the California College of the Arts and later at the Maryland Institute College of Art. After obtaining his Bachelor of Fine Art, he went to the University of Michigan School of Art & Design to earn his Master’s degree. His incredible photorealistic paintings, including one of a grindhouse theater in New York, naturally resulted in his work being the subject of many one-man exhibits and displayed in several museums. He is also responsible for several posters, calendar illustrations and even a mural at Six Flags America! But he was not content with mastering one form of artistic expression. That’s when he entered the world of “rogue taxidermy” and sideshow gaffs.

To put it simply, “rogue taxidermy” is the use of taxidermy to create fake animals. Sometimes only actual animal parts are used and sometime other materials are used as well. This is different from a sideshow gaff, which is a completely artificial creation. The concept is hardly new, as the corpses of “baby dragons” were created in medieval times using dead lizards with bat wings sewn onto their bodies. The popularity of such hoaxes even resulted in British scientists initially regarding the platypus as a potential hoax when they were first presented the remains of one in 1798! However, the status of this technique as a valid work of art rather than carnival hucksterism is fairly new. The Rogue Taxidermy website describes it as a form of “pop-surrealist art characterized by mixed media sculptures” and Yamada himself goes into more detail about it in the following videos from IGN and BRIC TV:

His “Museum of World Wonders” is currently spread across three separate Flickr accounts devoted to his creations (in addition to his previously linked personal website). These popular works have also inspired countless others to use his techniques in their prop projects in addition to getting him recognized as one of the biggest names in the sideshow gaff business. Bizarrely, his only film credits appear to be for appearances in a few documentaries. Low budget horror filmmakers should be fighting each other tooth and nail in order to secure his talents for their movies. So spread the word about his work and hopefully we’ll see more of Dr. Yamada on screen. If not, at least we still can appreciate his works in their traditional settings.

Bibliography:

The Michigan Alumnus, May/June 1988. “From East To West: Artist Takeshi Yamada Is On The Move.” Sue Burris.
Takeshi Yamada – Wikipedia
MUSEUM OF WORLD WONDERS 1 | Flickr
MUSEUM OF WORLD WONDERS 2 | Flickr
MUSEUM OF WORLD WONDERS 3 | Flickr
Propnomicon: From Beyond
Propnomicon: The Yamada Texts
Takeshi Yamada – IMDb

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