Saturday, October 27, 2012


Not long back I posted a You Tube recording of Louie Armstrong's hit "Ole Man Mose Is Dead." I was planning on telling the origins of this great Halloween oriented song. When it was released in 1935 it became a big sensation not just musically but in pop culture as well. It inspired jokes in movies, cartoons and radio (Bob Hope always brought up "Ole Man Mose"). In 1938, there was an Ole Man Mose character introduced in the Lil Abner comic strip, who unlike the character in the song "wouldn't kick the bucket" (It was right next to the opening of the cave he lived in).

I could not find any thing on why Louie Armstrong wrote the song or where he got the idea for the song. The closest thing I could find was that it may have been a parody or answer song based on another popular "scary" song called "The Mysterious Mose." Don't worry. Even after Halloween is over, I'll keep looking for the info.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012


The hottest phenomenon with teenagers in the past few years has been Twilight.  Most teenagers will tell you if they are Team Edward or Team Jacob.

Of course, if kids or teenagers like it, the Springfield News Leader and the Lebanon Daily Record will run several letters to the editor by magot-brained adults, who don't allow their kids to read, view or own anything Twilight because they feel it is "evil." Yes, these idiots are proud of being abusive parents, who tell their kids what they can or can't read or watch. Would Ozarkers be more receptive if you created a Twilight story that took place in the Ozarks?

Let change the main character to a male high school student, who moves from southern California to small Ozarks town called Spoons, Missouri. He falls in love with a girl named Velda. He is drawn to Velda even though he suffers from strange pains and feels disoriented while he is around her. It turns she is a witch.
He is told by another student, Wiley, that he can't be in love with Velda because she is dating Blaine Alucard, a rich spoiled vampire boy. His father is president of the bank and chairman of the local Republican party. When Blaine doesn't get his way, he tell everyone how much money his father makes. "The Alucards are a pioneer family. My daddy owns most of the builds in this community." He wears Izod sweaters and Dockers.
I should mention that Wiley is a werewolf or as he pronounces it "war-woof." He wears a straw cowboy hat, drives 4x4 pickup truck with a "Nobama-You can keep your change" bumper sticker and a confederate flag in the window, listens to Hank Williams Jr and Lynard Skynard, wears t-shirts that say "I'm a American (he pronounces it "Muricun") by birth, but a werewolf by the grace of God." If he gets into a fight, the first think he does is take off his shirt. He and his werewolf buddies drink Keystone Light and chew Red Man.
Velda had previously dated Tagg, a "patchwork" zombie, who plays football. If he gets hurt on the playing field, they just replace the injured part from another corpse.
This is just a rough idea, so far. 

Friday, October 19, 2012


We learn in this clip that future author Christopher Cerf and Kill Bill 2 star Larry Bishop were fans of Zacherle. We also learned that Dorothy Killgalen doesn't look good in a blonde wig.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This may be one of those post which will get me into big trouble with a large group of people or may just cause an ugly debate between horror fans and aging monster kids. I have been watching some of the great and not-so-great horror films as I write these post and work on another horror related writing project. For quite some time, I have held a position about myself and, possibly, many of my generation. I prefer Christopher Lee's Dracula over Bela Lugosi's Dracula and other vampires.

Yes, I know this is blasphemy to many horror fans. Bela Lugosi is the first and to many the best Dracula/vampire actor. He set the standard by which all others are judged. He also created the archetype of what vampires are like. Lugosi gave Dracula and vampires a widow's peak hair, arching eyebrows, a tux and a thick Hungarian accent. He moved spoke slowly and moved silently into his victim's room (Dark Shadow's star Johnathan Frid described Lugosi's Dracula as "like ballet"). The truth is Lugosi only played Dracula in two films, but played vampires in a hand full of other movies.

In the mid 50's, Christopher Lee began playing Dracula in the films produced by the Hammer Studios. His Dracula had the cape and evening clothes, but Lee's Dracula was different. Instead of a thick Hungarian accent, Lee had a low bass voice. His hair was brushed back over his head. When he attacked his victim (who usually had huge breast that barely fit into a her blouse), he eyes turned red and began spurted blood, his face turned a light blue and he hissed like a panther. If the hero pulled a cross (that glows) or garlic, Lee's Dracula would exit by smashing through a window. That would scare horses (This is a Hammer Studio trademark. It was so prevalent in their Frankenstein series that Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder incorporated it into Young Frankenstein) and cause the music to burst into a frantic crescendo. When Lee's Dracula died at the end it was a epic production. He would burn into ashes in the sunlight, fall through the ice into a frozen pond, get impaled on a large, silver cross or waggon wheel or caught in hawthorn bushes.

Lee tends to be scarier thanks to special effects and the sexual overtones. However, what may have caused Lugosi scariness to diminish may have nothing to do with Lee and the folks at Hammer Studios. The blame for Lugosi losing his fear factor could be laid at the feet of both General Mills and Sesame Street.

I would say may people of my generation would agree that Christopher Lee is the Dracula of our nightmares with his hissing and spurting blood. When we see and hear Lugosi, we immediately thing of either Count Chocula cereal or Count Von Count of Sesame Street. Many authors on vampires and horror films note that small children are not scared of Bela Lugosi's Dracula. It could be because from a small age the Lugosi-type of vampire sells cereal and teaches us how to count. Bela Lugosi scared an older generation because he was first and not yet turned into a child friendly caricature. My generation waits for Lugosi to count or say, "Part of a nutritious breakfast."   

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Louis Armstrong - Old Man Mose


This is one of those small independent productions made for exhibition at regional drive-ins, but became more famous thanks to late night television.
This film and another horror film, the Giant Gilla Monster, were co-produced by Texas media mogul Gordon McClendon. McClendon was a radio pioneer. Along with the Storz brothers, he help create Top 40 radio in the 50s. Later he created one of the first easy listening formats. After the assassination of JFK in Dallas, he created the first 24 hour all news format, which was the first radio station to feature traffic reports. Ted Turner is said to have used McClendon's news format as a model for CNN. McClendon also owned drive-in in Texas. He decided in the 50s to make some horror films to attract younger audiences. First was the Giant Gilla Monster. The second was Killer Shrews.
When you get down to it, Killer Shrews is not bad little horror film. Many reviews and historians have pointed out that the plot and theme of claustrophobic entrapment is similar to Night of the Living Dead.

The film also benefits from two good actors, James Best (Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazard) and Ken Curtis (Festus on Gunsmoke).
The reason the movie has a reputation as a bad horror film comes from the title creatures. In the days before CGI or other great effects, you had dress up a man as a monster or an animal as a monster. In this film, the mouse-like shrews grow into (what appears to be) German Shepherds with big plastic fangs, plastic bulging eyeballs and furry bath rugs. That was the films legacy in the pre-MST3K era. If you see It Came From Hollywood, the late Gilda Radner, narrating in her Judy Miller character voice, says that one of shrews (Pictured above) looks like her dog Sparky.
When MST3K got a hold of this, they pointed out a few other things to poke fun at. While the characters are trapped in this house together, they spend most of the time smoking and drinking. There is also the slight un-PC portrayal of  Capt. Thorne Sherman's African-American first mate and the Mexican manservant of the scientist. When Sherman mentions that many modern boats have automatic piloting systems, the first mate says that an automatic pilot "Can't play no Dixie land jazz." Both the first mate and servant die violently at the mouths of the killer shrews.
Another thing that is only funny after James Best years on the Dukes of Hazard, he refers to his pistol as "Roscoe," which was his character's name on that show. Now this tough-guy dialogue becomes an unintentional sexual reference.
Sherman and Jerry or Roscoe and Festus
It is also great to see both Best and Curtis play character so different than the TV characters that made them famous. Best's Capt Sherman is a tough, cock-sure adventure, who takes action at the drop of a hat. Curtis plays Jerry, who is the ultimate weasel in a movie about shrews. Now that is saying something. At one point, he tries to kill Sherman and leave him for shrew munchies.
Gordon McClendon also acts in the film a Prof. Radford Baines. The only disappointment in McClendon is that fact that he was in radio and the sound on this movies is horrible.
Killer Shrews is a film which holds your attention enough, even though it is not a masterpiece. It is not really a bad movie, just flawed. Those flaws are what makes it great.

BTW: There is now a sequel staring James Best, John Schneider, Rich Hurst, and Bruce Davidson. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I was watching a documentary on the history of Dracula last night, when I remembered something from my horrific childhood in Lebanon, Missouri.

In the third grade, my teacher's name was Mrs. Torquemada (Okay, that wasn't her real name, but I changed so I don't get complaints from her family and friends). SHE HATED ME! She also told my mother that I was "worthless." Even the other children in class knew it, because one of them told my mom, "Mrs. Torquemada hates Desdinova."

It didn't help that I went to a really bad elementary school, then called Mark Twain Elementary School (now called Boswell Elementary). The only thing about Mark Twain that was even represented at the school was the fact that the principal and many of the teachers treated kids the way Aunt Polly treated Huck Finn. Principal Betty Moore threatened everyone with a spanking from a large board she kept in her office. It was kind of a Republican/Baptist gulag. Other schools the kids got to dress up on Halloween, but only kindergartners were allowed to dress up on Halloween at Mark Twain Elementary. This was because Halloween was a "man made holiday" and dressing up for Halloween was is "immature." I really wished I had grown up in a community with more respect for its children. One of those communities where every child is given an award just for participating and nobody gets spanked. Unfortunately, I had to grow up in this nightmarish Hell-world known as the Ozarks...but I am off the subject.

We were told we would have to pick out a person a historical figure to write a report about. I had read in an Electric Company magazine and seen on the TV show In Search Of that there really was a person named Count Dracula. I even knew what he looked like because there were pictures of him (Above) and what was left of his castle in Transylvania, which had only recently been discovered.

Unfortunately, one of the rules to this assignment (Mrs. Torquemada and Mark Twain Elementary were BIG on rules) was that you could only use the World Book Encyclopedias that were in the class room. If your subject wasn't in those World Books, you didn't get to write on the subject you wanted. Apparently, the jugheads at World Book Encyclopedia didn't think that Vlad Tepes Dracula, the 15th century Romanian prince, who impaled people and inspired a famous literary vampire, was worthy of inclusion in their precious little encyclopedia.

To make this situation even worse, old Mrs. Torquemada said I was making the whole thing up and that there wasn't a real person in history named Dracula. She said I couldn't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. I was forced to write a report on a "real" historical figure. I can't remember who I wrote that report on, probably someone boring and unimportant like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

Vlad Tepes Dracula III
These days you can find anything on the Internet and more than likely there would be information in the World Book (If they still have them) on Vlad Tepes Dracula. You might even find him mentioned in a section on "Cruel Heartless Dictators." Next to his name would be Mrs. Torquemada, my third grade teacher from Mark Twain Elementary.

Of course, Halloween post, like this one, is why I'm considered the Super Villain of the Ozarks!!! Mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! 

Turhan Bey Dead at 90: Starred in Technicolor ‘Easterns’

Detroit Lions/Blazing Saddles/Webster star Alex Karras dies

"Mongo only pawn in the game of life."
‘Blazing Saddles’ star Alex Karras dies

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


If I could nominate a movie for Best Overlooked and Underrated Horror Film of the 70s. It would be Messiah of Evil from 1972. Directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who were friends of George Lucas. They later wrote the screenplay for American Graffiti.

This film has a Lovecraftian story line with elements of Night of the Living Dead and a stylish Italian art film look. The film stars Marianna Hill, as a woman looking for her missing father played by Royal Dano, of Twin Peaks and just about every Western every made. She travels to a small, sea side community to find him.

She falls in with a handsome arts patron and ladies man named Tom, played by Michael Greer (Above). Interesting fact about Michael Greer, he was an openly gay actors/comedian in the 70s. His first major movie role was in a movie called The Gay Deceivers. After that some the trailers to his next few movies referred to him as "the fairy godmother" and "fairy queen." As far as I know, Stepin Fetchit didn't have to deal with this kind of infamy. He is great as Tom. One critic says he looks like the fourth Bee Gee in this stylish 70s suits. He kind of gives off a Peter Fonda vibe to me.

Tom has two girlfriends living with him. One is the cute Joy Bang (there is a porn name if I ever heard one) and sexy Anitra Ford, who was a Price Is Right model at the time. Also in the mix is Elisha Cook Junior as a creepy servant (Did the man play anything else?). Also I should mention Bennie Robinson, an African- American Albino, who plays a truck driver, who leads the zombies. His great scene in the film is when he eats a live rat while listening to Wagner.

This film has some effective zombie scenes such when Joy Bang is killed in a movie theater and Anita Ford is killed in a Ralph's Supermarket, after discovering a group of zombies eating raw meat from the meat case. For retro fans, this scene is great in that it features an automatic door with a rubber mat, that doesn't open when Anitra Ford stomps on it repeatedly. Also she dies to the strains of bad, syrupy supermarket music.
Another great scene is when cops trying to disperse an attacking mob of zombies realize that another officer is a zombie.

The look of the film is interesting because some of the pop art Tom collects. It is of life-sized, gray scale photos of people, which seem to be watching in disapproval in the background of every scene. The film also uses bright colors and bright lighting rather than dark tones and underlit scenes.

This film has turned up in several Mill Creek horror movie collection as well as other cheep public domain DVDs. It can also be watched for free on You Tube. It is a great film that you will not be disappointed in. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012


This is a 1970 hard back edition of October Country by Ray Bradbury. It was with drawn from the O'Fallon Branch of the St. Charles County Library. I'm not sure where I got it. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Click to enlarge
These are a series of cartoons by Stan & Jan Berenstain from an October 1967 McCall's Magazine. Maybe because I was never a big fan of the Berenstain Bears books, I don't find very many of these panel cartoons funny. These first few panels are the best. I intend to spread them out over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I'm a day behind but yesterday was the 53rd anniversary of the first Twilight Zone episode, "Where Is Everybody" staring Earl Holiman (pictured above).

Monday, October 1, 2012


It is time once again for the Countdown to Halloween and I will be participating again this year. I'm participating in Countdown To Halloween for these reasons:
  1. I had fun doing it last year.
  2. It will be more enjoyable to read than my opinions on the upcoming election and not get me blacklisted (still looking for a new job).
  3. It will upset Ozarkers. Maybe someone will mention my blog in one of those anti-Halloween articles or Letters to the Editor that the Springfield News Leader and other local newspapers run at this time of year.
Let's get the Jack O'Lantern rolling.
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