Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monster Bummer

"An unpredictable and unpleasant bummer...", demonstrated with the tried-and-true visual metaphor of having a hapless teen transform into a monster.

Feeling suddenly introspective. Think I'll stare in the mirror...

It's a window into my hideous soul!

Drug-induced monster hallucinations... bet you can't have just one!

From Marijuana (1968, Avanti Films). Buy it here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Fernando Fernandez, 1984)

I really love this graphic novel adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula by comic artist Fernando Fernandez. Originally created for the Spanish version of Creepy magazine in 1982, then printed as a hardcover graphic novel in the U.S. two years later (the softcover reprint scanned below is from 2005), the artwork is simply magnificent. Almost any frame could be blown up and mounted to the wall. And although it's been a long time since I've read the original novel, this comic seems fairly faithful to that text, including details that are often omitted in other adaptations, such as the scene where Dracula delivers a whimpering infant to the women vampires.

I'm not sure how I managed to miss this when it was first published back in 1984, but I can tell you that if I had found it the first time around, I would have had to keep it somewhere safe, out of the eyes of prying parents, because of some partial nudity. (This is, after all, a graphic novel.)

Click on any of the scans below to enlarge.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival

Nothing breaks up the monotony of a long road trip like stopping off at those quaint little local roadside attractions. Speaking of...what are those wagons and tents up ahead? Let's pull over!

Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival. Their motto: "Creatures of Night, Brought To Light." No refunds? Well, what the heck. When are we ever going to be in this neck of the woods again?

There's Mommy Fortuna herself! Did you get her picture?

Our guide will be Ruhk. He's a little rough around the edges, but adds that much needed splash of quirky local color.

Do you think we have to tip him? Oh never mind...the tour is starting!

"This here is the Manticore. Man's head, lion's body. Tail of a scorpion. Creatures of night brought to light!"

Keep away from the bars, folks! Mommy Fortuna L.L.C., will not be held liable for any lost articles.

"Here is the dragon. He breathes fire now and then. Mostly at people who poke it. Its insides is an inferno. But its skin is so cold, it burns!"

I can't see a thing with everybody crowding around. Oh well, better keep moving.

"The Midgard Serpent. Its got the whole world in its coils."

A Satyr... is it real, or is this whole tour just a bunch of illusions... deceptions... mirages?

Calaeno, the harpy. That cage doesn't look very sturdy.

And the grand finale of the tour. Gather 'round... don't be shy!

It's a unicorn, said to be the last of it's kind. I don't know, though. That horn looks kind of fake.

That's the end of the tour. It was worth stopping, wasn't it? Now according to Ruhk, there's a special after-hours tour, for an additional fee, in which you get to personally feed some of the animals...

...but I've heard bad things.

Buy The Last Unicorn here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Superstition (Kung Fu, 1973)

When you think of scary TV shows, Kung Fu probably doesn't leap to mind. But there was a moment in a Season 1 episode, "Superstition", that gave me plenty of chills when I first saw it in reruns as a (very young) kid.

It happened during one of the many flashbacks to the young Kwai Chang Caine as he goes through various trials and tribulations at the Shaolin monastery on his long road to manhood. Young Caine was portrayed by Radamas Pera, who also starred in one of my favorite Night Gallery episodes, "Silent Snow, Secret Snow".

In this episode, Master Po (Keye Luke) senses fear in his young student as they stand near a door that leads to an area of the monastery that is no longer used.

"Before I came here, a boy in the marketplace whispered of a corridor of death. He said the place at the end holds the bones of many who entered." Caine says. Master Po assures him there is nothing to fear, but Caine doesn't seem too convinced.

Later, Master Po tells Caine he must practice walking along a balance beam mounted to the floor. When Caine asks why this is important, Po reveals that in a week, he will be required to walk the same beam across a pool of acid.

The week passes and Caine is taken through the door that he feared, down the "corrider of death", to the acid room. To demonstrate that it can be done, Po (who is blind) quickly navigates the beam across and back.

Now it is Caine's turn. As he steps onto the beam, he looks down into the green, bubbling acid...

...and sees a skeleton, presumably of a schoolmate that lost his footing.

"Why do you delay?" taunts Po.
"I see where others have fallen." answers Caine.

Psyched out by fear, Caine stumbles off the beam, splashing into the acid bath.

Now as I watched this episode for the first time, I knew... KNEW... there was no way they were going to kill off Young Caine like that. After all, these scenes are merely flashbacks--we know Caine lives to adulthood. And besides, they simply don't do stuff like that on television. Yet in that moment, all logic and common sense were lost to the shock that I had just witnessed a kid die a horrible death due to his own clumsiness and the sadistic curriculum of a pitiless teacher.

But sure enough, Young Caine soon hops out of the pool, which was only filled with warm water after all. And what about the skeleton?


My fear was soon replaced by the strong desire to have an indoor pool, some water-proof skeleton decorations, and a balance beam, so I could play the same trick on my friends. (Though I never put much thought into how exactly that would've played out even if I had all that stuff. "Hey guys, want to come play at my house? I filled the indoor pool with acid. We can practice walking across it on a beam. That skeleton is some kid who tried it last week. You wouldn't know him--he went to a different school.")

That Shaolin monastery must've been a real hoot around Halloween...