Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Shadow Man (The New Twilight Zone, 1985)

While I never felt The (New) Twilight Zone (1985-1989) ever reached the heights of the original, I watched it faithfully each week, and some episodes stayed with me into adulthood.

"The Shadow Man", for example. Directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Matinee), its a short and shivery little spook yarn in the tradition of those classic tales told 'round the campfire (like the ones I previously posted here.)

Despite being thirteen-years old, Danny Hayes (Jonathan Ward) is still afraid of the dark and can't go to sleep without the lights on.

When his Mom finally insists on turning off his bedroom lights after scolding him for clinging to childhood fears he should have long outgrown, we find those fears aren't entirely unfounded.


Something rises up from under his bed: the tall, thin silhouette of a mysterious figure. Danny is terrified by the ominous spectre towering at the edge of his bed, who introduces himself in a raspy voice:

"I am the Shadow Man, and I will never harm the person under whose bed I live."

With that, he turns and hovers quietly out the bedroom window.

Danny is so frightened he abandons his room for the living room couch. We'll learn later, when he relays the story to his best friend Peter (Michael Rich), that he heard the ominous Shadow Man return to his room just before dawn.

Peter isn't convinced Danny's "Shadow Man" is anything more than the product of an overactive imagination. But at school that morning, there is talk of a dark, thin stranger that attacked two kids in the park overnight.

The following evening, the thing appears again, rising up from beneath his bed, and reciting:

"I am the Shadow Man, and I will never harm the person under whose bed I live."

..before slipping eerily out the window. This time Danny is armed with a camera to capture the evidence, but the flash fails and his photos are useless.

A week passes and the dark stranger who has continued to terrorize children that dare to be caught outside after dark has become the talk of the school.

At this point, Danny is starting to get accustomed to his unusual roommate, even daring to ask him one evening, as he makes his way out the window, "You'll never hurt me, right? Promise?"

To which the Shadow Man repeats:

"I am the Shadow Man, and I will never harm the person under whose bed I live."

When the bully Eric (Jason Presson), picks a fight with him at the local burger joint, Danny, hoping to impress a girl and perhaps put an end to Eric once and for all, challenges Eric to fight him later that night, at the park where the murdering maniac has been seen the most.

Eric, not wanting to look cowardly in front of the other kids, agrees.

That night Danny waits until the Shadow Man makes his nightly exit, then heads to the park for his rendezvous.

Eric arrives ready to fight, but Danny stalls until the Shadow Man arrives, appearing out of the darkness behind him.

Eric runs for his life and yells for Danny to do the same.

Danny, confident that he won't be harmed, dawdles in the park at the foot of the Shadow Man, even encouraging him to pursue Eric, who shouldn't be too hard to catch.

But instead, the looming Shadow Man seizes him by the neck and lifts him into the air. Gasping in fear, Danny protests: "You said you'd never hurt me! You promised!"

The Shadow Man hisses a chilling response:

"I am the Shadow Man, and I will never harm the person under whose bed I live...

...but I am a Shadow Man from under someone else's bed!"

The Shadow Man can be found on The (New) Twilight Zone Season 1 DVD.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Disneyland is my bag, baby

Here are some wonderful graphics, depicting various attractions and lands, from a 1986 Disneyland shopping bag (the bag is very thin plastic, so you'll see plenty of crinkles in these scans)

I'm posting them in order of awesomeness! Feel free to challenge my judgment.

The Haunted Mansion
I rode this at a very young age, and it became my own personal archetype of what a haunted house was, against which all others would be compared.

Pirates of the Caribbean
Skeletons, explosions, drunken debauchery... what's not to love?

Jungle Cruise
Shrunken heads, cannibals, giants snakes and spiders... every boy's dream.

Space Mountain and Rocket Jets
A perfect example of Disney magic--take your typical amusement park rollercoaster, put it in the dark with some effects lighting, and it becomes an otherworldy experience that excites the imagination. I also loved the elevated Rocket Jets and hope to see them make a comeback (replacing that Renaissance-era solar-system model that is currently choking the entrance to Tomorrowland).

Monorail, Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn
The Matterhorn, with its howling Yeti, and the original submarine ride through "liquid space", where you encounter sharks, a giant squid, and a sea-serpent, is Disney at its best. And the Monorail sure looks cool zipping overhead every few minutes.

Peter Pan's Flight
The best of the Fantasyland dark-rides. Seeing the London traffic moving way down below you as you circle Big Ben is pure magic.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
A perfect mix of theme and thrills. Is it my imagination or do they speed this ride up after dark?

Autopia, Skyway, and Peoplemover
I loved the old primary-colored Corvette-styled Autopia cars. Skyway and Peoplemover both offered tours of the park from a unique vantage point.

It's A Small World
I suppose its fashionable to bash this ride, with its repetitive music and earnest theme, but I always loved it, especially the rainforest section.

Swiss Family Robinson TreehouseI managed to get through childhood without having ever seen the film this attraction is based on, but I always enjoyed trekking through the treehouse just the same.

Mark Twain
When the lines get too long and the crowds get too overbearing, stroll over to the Mark Twain and take a relaxing 14-minute vacation from your vacation.

Dumbo, The Flying Elephant

Mad Hatter's Tea Party
It seems like they deliberately tightened the steering wheels on these teacups so you can't spin yourself stupid anymore.

Country Bear Jamboree
An ambitious and grand Audio-Animatronic showcase. I can't believe they tore this out to put up a mediocre Pooh dark-ride. Hopefully these bears will resurface again at the park in some capacity.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey
Probably my least favorite of all the Fantasyland dark-rides, but an enjoyable 3 minutes, nonetheless.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle
I always loved the walk-through diorama that's hidden in the castle. It was recently restored to its original greatness after being shuttered for several years.

New Orleans Square
New Orleans Square is home to the two greatest attractions in the park. Add a pair of characters from an animated feature that the Disney studio has buried deeper in the vault than their WWII anti-Nazi propaganda shorts, and you've got a winner.

Main Street
Here's a rare sight--Mickey on Main Street and he isn't being swamped by a gang of kids!

Storybook Land
I know this leisurely float past miniature cottages and castles was one of Walt Disney's personal favorites, but beyond the initial foreboding entrance through Monstro's gaping mouth, the ride never did much for me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monster S-I-Z-E Monsters!

From a dog-eared pile of yellowing comic books found in an old box at the back of The Haunted Closet.., a collection of comic book ads that both tantalized and intrigued me, then and now.

This Frankenstein's monster is "...so lifelike, you'll probably find yourself talking to him. Won't you be surprised if he answers?" I would, as this "7 ft. tall monster" is just a poster. Also available: "Boney" the skeleton.

And some variations of the same ad...

Boney gets his own ad, too!

These ghost puppets claim to be "life-size"!

This ad cross-promotes the ghost puppet with a scary sound effects record, conveniently available to order on the same page.

But why settle for merely "controlling" a monster when you can become one?

And if you're going to be prowling around the neighborhood all night in one of those masks, you better take a flashlight!

If you're in the market for vampire blood, we've got two kinds: regular and fake.

Here's the usual assortment of classic pranks, gags and novelties..

I bet you never thought there'd be a way to make cigarettes smell and taste awful!

A sneezing party? I don't want to know.

How to wind up on the Dept. of Homeland Security's watch list...

This magic card deck claims to have been "a sensation at the World's Fair!"

I just like the image of the guy leaning up against his newly inflated 10-foot balloon, waiting for the neighbors to come by and gawk.

Half these X-ray specs ads seem to be emphasizing the possibility of seeing through a ladies dress...I guess they knew their readership.

Same goes for these secret spy scopes. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: ogle.

These hypnosis gimmicks also seem to emphasize their potential use on the fairer sex...

And now, from the animal kingdom... live worms, flesh-eating plants, and the noble sea-monkey ("head like a horse, tail like a monkey"....so like us.)

And if you're not up to the responsibility of caring for a real animal, how about a life-like rubber vampire bat? (Note the small print--order this blood-curdling bat and you also get a Flying Fish Monster, Chattering Skeleton, Pre-Historic Animal, Black Widow Spider, Shrunken Head, and a Magnetic slimy creature[?])

How about a giant "evil" snake? (Evil is in quotes because he's not really evil, just misunderstood.)

Why is the lady pictured so horrified by this fake chicken?

Tired of being mistaken for a girl on the telephone? There's someone you should talk to: Eugene Feuchtinger!

Now that Eugene has you talking like a man, let's do something about that puny frame of yours. Tall-up!

Now we need to do something about that baby-face of yours with some quick-change facial hair. If you're not quite sure what color "Deluxe Van-Dyke" will match your own hair, you are invited to include a hair trimming with your order form, to be matched by their "experts". I'd hate to be the janitor in that receiving department.

Now that you've got some new facial hair, you'll need to groom it. This comb looks like a switchblade to me, but the ad copy says "Pull out what looks like a hunting knife." (?) What exactly would I be hunting with a switchblade?

Perhaps you'd like to order a new customized T-shirt, like your friends Steve and Lion.

Or stay cool with this Fonzie iron-on shirt instead.

Ah, the "surprise package". Just send in your 75 cents or dollar, and trust them not to send you some cheap peice of junk that doesn't do what it promises.

A variation of the surprise gift aimed at the monster kid...

Why are you sitting around reading comic books...

...when you could be selling $285 mink coats at a mark-up to friends and family?

Or make money and earn prizes, like "shoe skates" or a pitch-back, by selling seeds to your friends and neighbors!

I love these personal endorsements from successful associates Chipper and Dan...

But if you really want to make money, there's the "money maker". I love how the first ad depicts the typical user: not as a kid, performing a feat of magic for his friends or parents, but as a slick, smirking businessman cranking his way to financial independence.

Now that you've got some money, you'll need to keep it somewhere. Here are two different versions of a great little mechanical bank, where a spooky hand reached out to snatch your coin.

Speaking of coins, coin collecting is exciting! Don't believe me? Just check out this artist's rendering. (I'm not sure if the seated adult is the boy's father, or a coin-collecting instructor, but it's all very exciting.)

Here's one for your collection. The "I Love You" penny...because nothing gets the ladies swooning like The Great Emancipator.

This next ad challenges you to imagine what it would be like owning an 88-page book of miniature repros of black-light posters.

Did you imagine yourself strolling confidently around campus, head cocked back in bemusement, draped in three adoring babes, while an idolizing underclassman cheers you on?

How about inviting the ladies back to your pad to watch a movie on your new 8 MM projector? As illustrated below, you can "stop to enjoy a particular frame..." Stag loop not included.