Welcome to New Jersey!

The one time I have to go to the West coast in hell, five years, the one time I fly out past Chicago and keep going is the one weekend that Deadbolt decides to return to EST after a five year break. John from the Crimson Ghosts was there at the show and said it was one of the best he’d ever seen. And he had seen the Mummies reunion show just before that, a tandem blast of pure rock fury. I remain jealous as hell.

I flew out to Chicago to see Man…Or Astro-Man? play at Touch and Go’s 25th Anniversary, but there wasn’t that much of an adventure. I met someone who was really cool and saw a fantastic band but compared to the spooky band I would go to see a few years later, man. Let me tell you.

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Storytime!

And here I thought exiting a bathroom with toilet paper on your shoe was embarassing...
There’s nothing quite like reading a good scary story on a cold October night. As a public service to those who have yet to experience this, here are a selection of websites full of great horror stories:

Six Word Tales offers up various tales of terror by Stiles White (of The Ghastly Ones fame), along with some cool artwork.

Readers of last year’s Halloween countdown will remember RavensBlight as a great resource for spooky artwork and papercraft templates. What they might not know is that it also has a great library of scary stories, including some audio book versions.

Joe R. Lansdale, the writer of the story that inspired the movie Bubba Ho-tep, has a rotating selection of his horror stories on his official website (including the previously mentioned story).

Halloween-Mask.com has an interesting twist on their stories (both scary and humorous): Every story has something to do with a mask. Thankfully, the site doesn’t have as many “possessed mask” stories as one might think.

Here’s something I chanced upon while looking up material for August’s “Free D&D” post: A short Ravenloft-inspired horror story by Ari Marmell called “Before I Wake.”

Finally, WikiSource offers a wide variety of vintage horror classics. Works by Poe, Lovecraft, Stoker and Shelley (and many more) await you if you have the nerve.

Nick or Treat!

Hey, remember how Nickelodeon used to do a “Nick or Treat” contest promotion every October? Don’t bother tuning in to relive old memories, as the promotion has been long since abandoned. That is, abandoned as far as television is concerned. Why the change? Follow this link and click on the sound file. Be warned that it’s most unintentionally NSFW (not safe for work) clip to ever be linked to on Gravedigger’s Local 16.

Finished? I can assure you that what you just heard wasn’t altered or edited in any way. It’s just that the speakers’ “New Yawk” accents had a rather unfortunate effect on the pronunciation of “Nick or.” Try saying it to yourself over and over again and you’ll probably make the same slip-up. That said, I can’t blame Nickelodeon for dropping that TV promotion like a bad habit.

UPDATE: Despite the clip mentioning that this occurred during a “Nick or Treat Live” special, I thought it would be a good idea to note that the incident happened on the show U-Pick Live. Which makes sense, as I highly doubt the segment would have been allowed to air had it been taped in advance (and reviewed by editors). The show itself was not canceled over that rather unfortunate slip of the tongue.

After Dark

The Cramps

If the new internet-based society has done anything right, it’s increased the access to knowledge, perhaps to the a fault; instead of having a bereft of knowledge, the isolated youth in the far corners of the country, nay world, might have too much. Instead of starving, they’re overwhelmed.

“A cornucopia of sex and horror.”

– Poison IvyIt’s up to us to pass around the word, to let everyone know about the Cramps. Ain’t like they’re some best kept secret but it’s not like they’re first on a girl’s lips when it comes to the question of ‘what music do I listen to now, as I’m stuck in this room or in this town?’ Ain’t gonna front like my blood had bled black for years. I’m a new recruit and see that years have been wasted not knowing about this band, so I spread the word with the zeal of the kid who first discovered the unexplored world underneath another person’s clothing.

So, it’s still up to you, dear reader, to make sure that those creepy kids know about The Cramps.

The Cramps were a band I could have used growing up. When you’re spooky, freaky or just plain nerdy in life, a band like the Cramps can give a neophyte that much needed subtle ‘fuck you’ attitude that can keep a teenage mutant going from day to day. That attitude, damn. It’s one of the fantastic things about this band, this band that blended roots rock and rockabilly with the new brash attitude of punk. The Cramps were a sexy middle finger, rigid and stiff. Listen to them and what you can hear is a confident swing of the hips, a swagger or a grin from a face that isn’t beautiful but damned, there’s something pretty powerful there when it smiles.

A lot of sex in the music, which is good for the undersexed ball of lightning and hormones that might be collecting, storing up in your neighborhood. Pass along a copy of ‘Songs the Lord Taught Us’ and have them YouTube the videos deemed ‘unsuitable for minors.’ It’s corrupting, sure, but in the way a sly whisper might be, a great reveal that life can be sweat, fun and not boring at all. Things can be as wild as you want it to be, if you want it to be. Sunglasses after dark, my son and daughter.

That’s spooky, a call to the chemical bits of living, the pumping blood and adrenaline rushes. It’s getting scared and liking it. I think the Cramps captured that attitude, of both being the monster and being chased. If we chalk them up as a band for the season ‘cause they sang about werewolves and creatures from the black (leather) lagoon, we miss out at the core reason of the season, of the guttural reactions that make us howl at the moon. Spooky is being wild and untamed and the Cramps were about that.

Lux Interior (singer) and Poison Ivy (guitar) were the founders and firebearers for the band, surviving the many band members that come and go. Husband and wife. Pulse and throat. A wild combo, whether it be the sight of the rock goddess belting out licks on a sexy hollow-body guitar or the wildboy rolling around in skintight pants and high heels. Together, they made beautiful music. ‘Songs the Lord Taught Us.’ ‘Bad Music for Bad People.’ ‘Smell of Female.’ Goodness, gracious. Great balls of fire.

My recruitment came, like it did for other musicians I’ve come to enjoy, too late. I only knew of the brightness of the person’s light when it was extinguished. Lux Interior passed away this past February, leaving behind his wife of thirty-seven years and a legacy that continues on. For those in the horror rock community, Lux’s passing at 62 was the death of rock and roll. He didn’t die young, nor was he too old. He died from aortic dissection, a terrible condition that might be easy to romanticize if it wasn’t so fatal. Finding that Ivy and Lux were married that long was, for a newcomer like me, something as astonishing as their music. Rock music is hard on a marriage, but to see two people maintain their relationship for so long clues anyone in that these two individuals were clearly made for each other. As lucky as fans of the Cramps are for the music they made, Lux and Ivy were much more fortunate to find such another that they could live, work and thrive like they did.

This Halloween will be a season that needs your Cramps records. Things are a little bit colder this year. It’s going to be a string of nights to bundle up the best you can, though if you can bust out the black leather and high heels, do it. Light a candle, light a fire. Wear the sunglasses. Blast the music. Tell all that you can.

Throw back the coffin lid – and RISE!

(or, “Straight out of Massachusetts”)

Holy smokes, has it been a year since I last wrote something? Pretty much. Mad props to Weird Jon for keeping this undead account alive and going, even though I foolhardily put a DEAD sign on it. Blah.

How I spent Halloween 2008: handing out candy.

How I spend the day after Halloween 2008: I was in Salem, Massachusetts.

Sweet bleeding pumpkins. I haven’t had the fortune of travelings this world but damned if Salem isn’t one of the weirdest, weird-not-in-a-good-way places around. I went up to Salem to see a Crimson Ghosts show, right before a showing of ‘DIE! You Zombie Bastards!’

Being that this was a strange pilgrimage to the land of the Pilgrims, I went for the whole day, figuring I’d take in the sights. There was a planned Zombie Walk to the theater, one that would only attract three shambling corpses (the organizers of the even, a pair in a wife/groom combo that was nicely done, and this individual guy who’s use of the fake blood was impressive. At least, I thought it was fake.) The show was awesome. It was one of the best performances by the Crimson Ghosts I’ve seen. They worked their new ‘Earth E.P.’ into the set, along with references to Link Wray and Dick Dale.

But. Man, fuck Salem if you don’t have any money because that place is Disney Rides the Tall Ship to New England to an outsider like me. Pirate Museums. Witchcraft Museum. Haunted Houses everywhere. And you can’t walk twenty feet without smacking your face on a Psychic Booth, Tarot Shop or some itchy Palm Reading, cosmik debris spouter in a Sears black velvet poncho.

Of course, it makes sense that such a tourist town should amp up the spooky qualities and get every cent possible out of Halloween, its most profitable holiday. And every place was doing it – a bookstore was running a ‘Dark Shadows’ marathon with a well proclaimed ‘rumor’ that one of the Cast members would show up. It was only a rumor and expressed with a shrug from the clerk but yet he took time to say ‘Well, maybe one of them will appear.’

Salem has this conundrum of rocking the spooky at level 13 while trying to maintain a sense of reverence for the real life government sanctioned murders of those accused of witchcraft. This is a town that has walking tours with hosts in period costume but also a statue of Barbara Eden as ‘Samantha’ from TV’s ‘Bewitched.’ It was a crazy experience to see all these folks, still celebrating Halloween, walk around in costume while the cops had patches on their motorcycle jackets featuring a broom-riding witch against a full moon. If you go down to Orlando to catch a cop wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, waving his full authority at you with the cartoonish stamp of the Board of Tourism in your face, how would you react? For me, I just got a headache.

This year should be even more crazy as Halloween falls on a Saturday. Tourists will flood the place and things should get crazy, I imagine. I’m sitting it out unless someone offers a ride. We can document the thing but damned if I’m going to be responsible for driving myself home after experiencing that place when it’s all dressed to the nines.

The Ghoulies are good enough

 

[This is where I’d put a publicity picture of W.A.S.P’s Blackie Lawless posing with one of the Ghoulies if I had the time to dig it up.] 

I realized something very interesting about the Ghoulies series while watching the tail end of Ghoulies II on cable: It’s the only horror franchise I can think of where the number of monsters actually decreases with each sequel!

There are multiple versions of certain Ghoulies in the first movie,which gets cut down to just the “main Ghoulies” in the sequel. Well, sort of. All I can say without spoiling anything is to go watch the movie to see what I mean. By the time Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College came around, the cast had been reduced to three Ghoulies. Perhaps this is the reason why said three were larger in that film than they were in the earlier ones. Amazingly, Ghoulies IV didn’t have a single Ghoulie in it! Sure, the film wants you to believe that two “little people” in makeup count as Ghoulies, but it’s wrong. A Ghoulie just isn’t a Ghoulie unless it’s accomplished with puppetry or sto-motion animation. Some might even argue that Ghoulies IV doesn’t count as a real movie since it’s just a handful of new scenes wrapped around stock footage from the first movie and 976-EVIL II. It’s a damn shame, as even murderous hellbeasts deserve better than that.

Finally, it’s Fall!

Although leaves were falling and the air was crisp much earlier in September, it wasn’t until September 22nd that autumn had officially arrived. Perhaps that’s why it took most of the stores I’ve visited this month waited until about now to put out their Halloween merchandise. It’s funny how they feel it’s okay to display the Halloween candy (complete with Halloween-themed packaging) out in August, but everything else is a no-no. I say if you’re going to put out stuff early, you might as well go full tilt. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the dollar stores putting out their stuff before everyone else.

Similarly, Music Choice’s “Sounds of the Seasons” channel finally started playing music related to a holiday. Granted, they’re focusing on Oktoberfest, but at least they’re actually playing something fall-related. Something tells me they won’t wait as long to play Christmas music in November as they will to play Halloween music in October.

Remember Record Store Day? Well, it turns out that it has a movie-themed sequel: Record Store Day Filmfest. The filmfest runs from October 21st through October 27th, so head on down to your local record store for all kinds of cool contests and DVD deals. While I don’t know if this is that case for a participating stores, but Newbury Comics is having 20% off used DVD sale in addition to putting discounts on select “new” titles. To see which stores are taking part, check out the official website.

Why didn’t I write about this sooner? I’m afraid some issues that’ve arisen over the past two weeks have been keeping me away from the blog at a regular basis. Since I don’t know when I’ll have everything straightened out, I thought I’d post the final GdL post for September a bit early than I’d originally planned. Hopefully I’ll be able to get everything resolved in time for the Halloween countdown. See you then!

Viva Naschy!

According to my calendar, September is Hispanic Heritage Month and I feel there’s no better way to celebrate this occasion than to profile Spain’s Sultan of Scare, Paul Naschy. Mr. Naschy is often referred to as the Spanish Lon Chaney, presumably since both Lon Chaney Jr. and he portrayed men tormented by their lycanthropic transformations (Naschy played Waldemar Daninsky and Chaney played Larry Talbot). Another potential source of this comparison is that Naschy, like Lon Chaney Sr., has portrayed numerous horror characters throughout his body of work.

Despite being born as Jacinto Molina in 1934, Naschy adopted his stage name after transitioning from the world of bodybuilding to the world of acting. Although he appeared in several non-horror films prior to making La Marca del Hombre Lobo (which translates as “Mark of the Wolf Man”) in 1968, the film is considered by many to have been when he had truly “arrived” in the industry. The film was also the first of Naschy’s horror films to be shown in America, where it was retitled as Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror. The reason for this was due to the American distributor having promised a film called Blood of Frankenstein to theaters and not being able to produce it due to financial difficulties. In a desperate attempt to keep their promise, an animated prologue was added to the film. This sequence quickly explained how the Frankenstein clan eventually turned into a family of werwolves known as “Wolfstein.” A little more on the matter can be found in an interview with Sam Sherman in Brian Albright’s Wild Beyond Belief!

Speaking of editing, some modern horror fans might forget that Spain was still under the dictatorship of Franciso Franco during the time in which several of Naschy’s horror films were created. As a result of this, many horror films were subject to hastily-made edits and use of alternate takes for the Spanish release in order to comply with censorship laws. Although the uncut nudity and violence were offered in the “international” prints of the films offered to foreign distributors, their removal from the original negatives (and the differing quality of the footage from other prints) has made of mess of modern efforts to release the definitive versions of those films onto DVD. In fact, it is not unheard of for hardcore Naschy devotees to import old VHS tapes (and DVDs) from other countries in order to see every last frame of film missing from their domestic versions. I cannot help but wonder if that censorship is the reason why the portrait of Naschy villain Alaric de Marnac in 1982’s Latidos de Panicos(aka Panic Beats) bears an uncanny resemblence to a painting of Franco’s ancestor, Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII Count of Lemos. You can see a screenshot of the Marnac picture here (some images there are NSFW).

I am happy to report that Paul Naschy is still doing horror films today. In fact, he was given the Spanish Gold Medal in Fine Arts in 2001 and his IMDB profile indicates that there are two new Naschy films on the way. To learn more about Señor Naschy, please visit his Wikipedia entry and the Mark of Naschy fansite.

Happy Birthday to us!

It’s hard to believe that it’s actually been a year since Gravedigger’s Local 16 first started. I know this sounds like a cliché, but it really does seem like it was only yesterday when Strange Jason set up the layout and made the first post on this blog. In celebration of this event, I thought I’d share the other names that were considered for this blog before we settled on the name we all know and love:

Frightmare Manor
The Evergraves
The Screamatorium
Deadwood Heights
Nightmare Fuel
The Night Shift
Dead Martha’s Vineyard
Gravedigger’s Local 113

The “Screamatorium” idea was the first of the names to be dropped. Although it sounded cool, we thought it best to do something original rather than just use a reference from The Simpsons. As you can see, we initially tried going for haunted attraction-style names and gradually shifted toward less location-specific names. Actually, now that I think about it, the never-used “Night Shift” name was a predecessor of sorts for GdL due to both names suggesting strange goings-on at night. In the end, the “Gravedigger’s Local” name won out, but we ran into a bit of a snag when Strange Jason discovered there was a group using a similar name. I randomly picked a new number in order to avoid any confusion and, well, you know the rest.

DRAMA (Of the Free Audio Variety)

Double your pleasure...

It has recently come to my attention that a British company called Big Finish Productions has re-released an audio drama called UNIT: The Coup as a free download on their website. From what I can tell from its Wikipedia entry, it was originally released on a CD given away with an issue of Doctor Who Magazine in order to promote an upcoming spin-off of their Doctor Who audio plays.

For those not in the know, Doctor Who is a long-running British science fiction television series about the adventures of a time-traveling alien who saves the Earth (and other planets) from monsters and alien invasions. The Doctor sometimes aids (or is aided by) the British branch of the Unified Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT for short), an organization dedicated to combating unusual threats to global security. There’s a note here that UNIT was originally called the “United Nations Intelligence Taskforce,” but the producers had to remove the reference to the UN from the name in 2008.

I’m afraid I can’t comment about the quality of the audio play, as I’m not a fan of Doctor Who and didn’t bother listening to it. I only know that it involves a race of reptile-people from prehistoric times called the Silurians. However, I thought that both fans of the series and monster fans in general might be interested in such a freebie. Enjoy!

UPDATE: UNIT: The Coup is now available in both streaming and download form at Big Finish’s official SoundCloud page, along with its companion piece Silver Lining (and other Doctor Who audio dramas).

Special thanks to Big Finish Productions for use of the image!

Free D&D

So I was looking for information about an old horror comic book when I stumbled across the Wikipedia page for Tomb of Horrors (link contains spoilers). Instead of containing information about a comic book, it was devoted to a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Said adventure is apparently infamous the its sheer number of deadly traps and reputation as a player-killer. Despite its apparent lack of monsters, I thought that some readers might be interested to know that Wizards of the Coast has put up a version (revised for 3.5th Edition rules) as a free download.

After poking around Wikipedia some more, I managed to find two other monster-related free downloads: a never-published supplement for the horror-themed Ravenloft campaign setting and the monster-filled adventure, White Plume Mountain (also revised for 3.5th Edition rules). I should note that I personally haven’t downloaded or opened any of these. As is the case with all links to downloadable content, open them at your own discretion.

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 or streaming from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Some downloads may not work in certain regions. We make no guarantees about the future availability of the material listed above, so get them while you can. Blah blah blah…

Deep(ly Odd) Thoughts

So I was watching From Dusk ’til Dawn recently and was surprised to see that the staked vampires in the movie stayed dead even when their stakes were removed. Having been raised on movies where removing a stake meant a vampire would rise again, I was initially against the idea, but further consideration had me rethinking my position. Think about it, if rupturing the heart of a vampire killed it, then it wouldn’t matter if the stake was removed or not. On the other hand, if the material the stake is made of is what kills the vampire, then removing it could potentially let a vampire “live” again. After all, a vampire theoretically wouldn’t need organs to function and something that would permanently kill a human being might not work the same way for them. There’s also the issue of how, in the original folklore, driving a stake through a vampire’s chest only pinned them in their coffins so they couldn’t escape. Do we factor that in and make the whole argument moot or do we ignore it like most depictions of vampires in popular culture?

This actually reminds me of a conversation Strange Jason and I once had. For some reason, he had started thinking about vampires having a divorce and how the process would work. The big question on his mind was whether or not alimony and/or child support have to be paid for all eternity, while I wondered if being undead would create any loopholes. If a couple is married “’til death do [them]” part, does it mean the marriage is invalid if both parties are undead?

Speaking of bizarre monster-related conversations I’ve had, one of my cousins came up with an interesting series of questions about zombies: Do they simply eat until their stomachs rupture or are they able to somehow digest the flesh they consume. If they do digest their “food,” then would they poop? If they do, would they just soil themselves or would they have a basic memory about things like using a toilet or going behind a bush?

Come to think of it, would vampires have to urinate after they’ve digested blood (assuming that’s what they do with it) or would they have really bad diarrhea?

The (Vincent) Price is Right

The personification of class.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Onion AV Club recently posted an article devoted to Vincent Price, and the films starring him that were most likely to make viewers devoted fans. I link to this both because I agree with the movie choices they list and because the users comments offer a wealth of trivia about the man. For example, I learned that he made a cameo in the movie Beach Party for the sole purpose of plugging The Pit and the Pendulum and that he provided vocal work on Alice Cooper’s album, Welcome to My Nightmare (long before Price did his “rap” for Thriller). Price also appeared in Cooper’s TV special, Alice Cooper: The Nightmare. Said special’s VHS release has some hilariously cheesy (albeit intentionally so) cover art that I doubt anyone would try doing nowadays.

Inspired by these discoveries, I decided to visit his Wikipedia entry. My favorite factoid has to be this quote:

“In an often-repeated anecdote from the set of Batman, Price, after a take was printed, started throwing eggs at series stars Adam West and Burt Ward, and when asked to stop replied, “With a full artillery? Not a chance!”, causing an eggfight to erupt on the soundstage.”

How can you not love that man?

Saving the best for last, check out vincentprice.org for a treasure trove of Vincent Price-related trivia, pictures, sound files and much more. Trust me, you’ll be glad you visited.

UPDATE: The Price may be right, but it turns out that Beach Party trivia was incorrect. Although Vincent Price did appear in the movie and made a The Pit and the Pendulum joke, his appearance was done to plug The Haunted Palace. Had I bothered to look up the release dates prior to making this post, I would have realized that The Pit and the Pendulum was made long before Beach Party went into production.

The above PD photograph was created by Carl Van Vechten

It Came From Wikipedia

Even Wikipedia isn’t the most accurate source of information in the world, I still find myself browsing through when I’m bored and need to kill a little time online. I checked the information found in the links below using other resources and can guarantee that they’re all true.

Even though I’m not a fan of the Saw franchise, I’m fascinated by the licensing decisions surrounding it. Not only does the soundtrack for the European version of Saw III have a Dethklok song in it, but there are also an amusement park ride and video game based on the series.

Speaking of odd choices for video games, it turns out that there was a Plan 9 from Outer Space computer game! What’s even weirder is that the game is about recovering the film’s reels (stolen by Bela Lugosi’s double) rather than it being a playable adaptation of the game.

I find it odd that, despite J. J. Abrams’ claim of coming up with the idea for Cloverfield out of a desire to create an American monster, there’s a (currently) Japan-only manga prequel.

You might know John Agar from movies like The Brain from Planet Arous or Tarantula, but I bet you didn’t know that he is connected to a theme park called “Land of Kong” that featured a forty foot tall King Kong statue. Sadly, the park (which had since changed its name to “Dinosaur World”) closed in 2005. As noted on in these blogs, the massive King Kong statue’s blinking red eyes and roaring sound effects (along with the now-outdated dinosaur statues) couldn’t compete with the thrill-rides and realistic animatronic effects that can be found in modern theme parks.

It’s a rare treat to get some insight the creation of the horror movie posters of yesteryear. The late Tom Chantrell, who designed the posters for Star Wars and many Hammer horror films, apparently only used a basic plot description and a few publicity stills (along with pictures of himself and others posing) in order to create his masterpieces.

Japan’s first giant monster movie might have been a lost 1938 film called King Kong Appears in Edo. I say “might have” because there are some allegations that the film is a hoax and it’s been theorized that the film was actually called King Kong and the “Appears in Edo” was merely the tagline. You can find an alleged publicity picture here.

When I first read that Viras (and other monsters from the Gamera franchise) had an animated cameo on the children’s television series Franklin, I was convinced it was just a joke. Then I saw a screenshot…

Speaking of giant monsters, I was surprised to learn that the 1977 novelization of The Creature from the Black Lagoon changed the Gill-man into a thirty ton, hermaphroditic monster.

Finally, Poltergay. I honestly don’t know what else to say about this.

Christmassacre in July

Despite my lack of understanding about the whole “Christmas in July” concept, I figured that I’d hop on the bandwagon anyway. Anyway, here are several hilarious (and NSFW) clips from Silent Night, Deadly Night II:

You’re curiously attractive for a fish-man…

A discussion with a friend of mine regarding Monster Force led to us talking about Darkstalkers. Not to be confused with the Japanese OVA series Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge, (although both were based on the same Capcom fighting game) Darkstalkers was an American animated series infamous for its poor quality and unintentional comedy. To learn more about it, check out Rage Quitter 87’s episode reviews, complete with screenshots and humorous sound files.

If you’re wondering about the title of this entry, watch this:

Come to think of it, the werewolf character in the show kind of ties into the the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing…

UPDATE: The running gag that serves as this entry’s title appears to be a direct reference to a prophecy of Nostradamus involving Oannes.

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