December 19, 2015

Unforgettable: Part IV

R.L. Ryan (1946-1991)

If you are a child of the 80's and grew up on a steady diet of “mom and pop” video stores, Garbage Pail Kids, Pizza Hut and USA Up All Night then it’s likely you’ve seen R.L. Ryan before.

Ryan (also known as Bob Ryan, Robert L. Ryan or Pat Ryan, Jr.!) is most recognized for his role in the Troma Entertainment “clas-sick” The Toxic Avenger (1984) where he played the vile Mayor Belgoody.

Between bossing around his thugs Cigar Face, Nipples and Knuckles and eating gargantuan subway sandwiches, the Mayor plots to destroy “Toxie”, Tromaville’s superhero savior. A couple of years later, Ryan returned to Tromaville as the sloppy nuclear power plant owner, Mr. Paley, in Class of Nuke Em’ High (1986).

In both films, Ryan is perfectly cast as the ridiculous heavy (pun intended). He’s obscene, outrageous and outstanding! Only someone like R.L. Ryan can deliver a line like, “I don’t give a dry fart, get your ass in gear!”

The Troma-esque comedy, Eat and Run (1986) featured R.L. in what would be his only real starring role – that of Murray Creature, a man-eating extraterrestrial. The movie is goofy fun and Ryan is unforgettable...especially while dressed in an oversized Cub Scout uniform!

Sadly, most of R.L. Ryan’s screen appearances were very brief and his last big role onscreen was in 1987’s Street Trash where he played the lecherous owner of a junkyard – a wonderfully tasteless role that has to be seen to be believed!

Check out the R.L. Ryan (Bob Ryan) Facebook page where you can see various photos and memories posted by his friends and family.

Fiona Lewis (1946- )

This red-headed English beauty popped up on my television a lot during my childhood. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, growing up in front of the television – specifically with HBO – inadvertently educated me with an early recognition and fondness for unusual performers and background personalities.

One film from this period that has been etched in my mind is the 1983 oddity, Strange Invaders. An homage to 1950s science fiction movies, Fiona Lewis played an alien undercover in human form.

As she put it, “I played an alien who, daintily disguised as an Avon lady, preys upon the residents of a small town, a current of molten green lava bubbling beneath my replicant skin, which before the film’s denouement spectacularly exploded, a geyser of ooze, as I screamed myself to sci-fi death.”*

A pretty memorable scene made all the more interesting by Fiona’s elegance: a gorgeous juxtaposition of large, icy blue eyes and thick auburn hair.

The next role of hers that stuck out to me was in Joe Dante’s Innerspace (1987). Her performance as the evil scientist (alongside the impeccable Kevin McCarthy) was perfect, once again combining sensuality and deadliness but more overtly tongue-in-cheek.

Her most famous role - that of the doomed Dr. Susan Charles in Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978) – was a performance I didn’t see until I was a teenager. It’s an interesting, tragic role where her character meets a really gruesome demise that is very mean-spirited and unpleasant to watch. But it is an unforgettable scene that has made her a part of cult film history forever.

Other important contributions she has made to the world of cult movies include bits in Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) with Vincent Price, Ken Russell’s Lisztomania (1975) and the Jaws rip-off, Tintorera: Killer Shark (1977). My favorite appearance of hers, however, was in Strange Behavior (1981), another offbeat horror film where she sported an extreme, Joan Crawford-style hairdo and brandished an enormous hypodermic needle as the doctor who eagerly experiments on the local teenagers. Again, a perfect spotlight for her unique brand of sinister seductiveness.

Sadly, Fiona Lewis has more or less retired from acting but I was quite surprised to learn that she is actually an exceptional writer, having written several articles for the Los Angeles Times as well as a novel in 1995.

In 1998, she wrote a terrific article for The New Yorker called “Daring All” where she discussed her films, career and adventures in 1970s Los Angeles. An excellent and introspective storyteller.

*Quote courtesy of Lewis, Fiona (1998) “Daring All” The New Yorker – February 23, 1998. Page 72.

Don Calfa (1939- )

Here is another wonderful face that was imprinted on my movie-going memory during those formative HBO years of my youth.

His terrifying bit as “Scarface” in Foul Play (1978) was my first introduction to Don Calfa. Here he had a memorable scene threatening the sweet and lovable librarian, Gloria Mundy (Goldie Hawn), meeting a rather nasty fate in the process.

His wide, surprised eyes were instantly recognizable so I was excited to see him appear in a much larger part in The Return of the Living Dead (1985), his most famous role. His performance as Ernie the mortician was hilarious with great dialogue and a bizarre look (dressed in a maroon jumpsuit with bleached white hair).

I quickly decided he was one of my new favorite faces so I began poring through my copy of "Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide" for any mention of Don Calfa in the listings.

Let me explain. Before the internet, I used to go through books to find out all of the information I could on certain movies and actors. One of my most invaluable resources was the annual Leonard Maltin guide, dictionary-thick compendiums of movie reviews. Fortunately, the entries were incredibly detailed when listing out the performers – even the most obscure actor was included in the cast.

Combining that with my strange ability to quickly skim text and pinpoint certain words, I was able to find all kinds of movies that my favorite people were appearing in. Oh, look…The Rose (1979)…Don Calfa. The Star Chamber (1983)…Don Calfa. The Presidio (1988)…Don Calfa. It went on and on. As I mentioned in an earlier post, these searches introduced me to movies that I would have never normally watched.

Don Calfa was also incredibly prolific on television, appearing on practically every single series ever made. From "Murder, She Wrote" to "Twin Peaks", "The Bionic Woman" to "Beverly Hills, 2010". He appeared on "Barney Miller" seven times as seven different characters!

One of Don's best roles is in the goofball classic, Weekend at Bernie's (1989), where he played Paulie, a hitman who slowly goes crazy as he learns that his assassination attempts on Bernie (Terry Kiser) keep failing.

Be sure to check out Don’s Facebook page!

Helen Hanft (1934-2013)

My thoughts on Helen can be read here, a previous post I wrote shortly after she passed away in 2013.

December 14, 2015

Unforgettable: Part III

Vincent Gardenia (1920-1992)

I can just about guarantee that I was the only kid in the universe that wanted to be Vincent Gardenia when he grew up.

In 1986, at the age of 12, I became obsessed - and I mean Star Wars-level obsessed - with Little Shop of Horrors. It's obvious that the film would have a lot of appeal to a child. The music was fun, the monster was fantastic and there were some fun cameos. However, for some inexplicable reason, I was really drawn to the character of Mr. Mushnik, the crabby owner of Mushniks's Flower Shop. I memorized all of his dialogue and, while alone in my room, would act out the scene where he confronts Seymour about his suspicious behavior..."little red dots all over the linoleum, little red spots on the concrete outside".

Now, I had always been particularly fascinated by the grouchy, usually villainous, characters in TV and film - from Grumpy Bear and Skeletor to Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday, Gremlins) and Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey, The Goonies) - so, perhaps, it wasn't really that much of a stretch to be interested in Mr. Mushnik.

Plus the actor had a really neat-looking name: Vincent Gardenia.

After seeing Little Shop, I began going on searches for other Vincent movies at the local video store. This introduced me to a variety of films that I wouldn't have normally watched - like Carl Reiner's insanely dark comedy, Where's Poppa? (1970) (I didn't get it), The Last Flight of Noah's Ark (1980) (snooze), and Heaven Can Wait (1978) (another snooze) among others.

Regardless of whether I liked the film or not, I always perked up when Vincent's part came along. I loved his role as Detective Frank Ochoa in the Death Wish films - here he displayed that same humorous and curmudgeonly demeanor that I had fallen in love with in Little Shop. His appearances added a rich flavor to scenes - and, in most cases, were much more interesting than the lead players themselves.

Imagine my excitement when, in 1987, Vincent Gardenia was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Moonstruck (which, by the way, is an amazing treasure trove of character actors). Stories about him began to pop up in the media, so I started collecting the newspaper and magazine clippings and, for the first time in my life, found myself actually interested in watching the Oscars.

He didn't win, but that was all right. I know he was probably thrilled to be nominated and I was happy to see that there were others out there who appreciated and enjoyed him as much as I did.

Rosalind Cash (1938–1995)

I spent a large part of yesterday reading about actress Rosalind Cash, one of my favorite faces.

I didn't know anything about her background so I was fascinated when I found several interesting articles and a couple of interviews. From what I was able to discover, Rosalind was a born performer, finding a knack for impersonations at an early age:

"I could be anybody. I could sing like anybody. I used to imitate Billy Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, and I could do them right to the tee. I imitated people's little mannerisms and I think that was the beginning."*

Rosalind was also extremely aware of and concerned about the depictions of the black experience being represented on stage and screen. She was a member of the innovative Negro Ensemble Company, an award-winning troupe dedicated to exploring and performing material that focused on honest portrayals of black life. She struggled with the roles being offered to her, flat out rejecting anything that indicated stereotypes. This defiance often led to criticism, not just from producers and directors who viewed this as "difficult", but from her audience as well:

"I've had people - a black woman from Brooklyn - come up to me and say, 'You know, you and Cicely Tyson just make me sick.' I said, why? She says, 'You're so picky. You don't want to be on this and you don't want to be on that. We don't care what we see you in - we want to SEE you.'"*

A double-edged sword.

Despite these conditions, Rosalind assembled an impressive and wide-ranging list of credits. She appeared in almost every television show known to man - from "Mary Tyler Moore" to "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" - playing strong characters, including doctors, academics, judges and members of law enforcement.

My awareness of her began when I first saw The Omega Man (1971). I was instantly mesmerized by her wide, beautiful face and strength. I always think about the scene where Charlton Heston first glimpses Lisa in the department store posing as a mannequin. I wish the whole movie had been about her instead! Can we please have a "last WOMAN on earth" story?

I also enjoyed Rosalind's bit as the jealous snake woman in From a Whisper to a Scream (1987) and her last film role as the mysterious doctor in Tales from the Hood (1995).

One role of hers that I have yet to see, and one I'm incredibly curious about, is her appearance in the notorious Death Spa (1989)! This particular title really stands out from the rest so I can't imagine what attracted her to it!

*Quotes courtesy of Cash, Rosalind and McClaurin-Allen, Irma (1986) "Working: The Black Actress in the Twentieth Century," Contributions in Black Studies: Vol. 8, Article 6.

 G.W. Bailey (1944- )

Taking a page from my post about Vincent Gardenia comes another love letter to a similarly curmudgeonly actor that I hoped to emulate in adulthood – the one and only G.W. Bailey.

Once again my attraction and curiosity towards a unique supporting performer began at a young age. Thanks to HBO and lenient parents, I watched the R-rated Police Academy (1984) at roughly the age of 10 or 11. I loved it. Rather than root for and enjoy the sassiness of Steve Guttenberg or the sound effects of Michael Winslow, I found myself much more amused and impressed with the actor playing the mean and irritable Lt. Harris. There was a bitchiness and arrogance to his character that I found really, really hilarious. Plus I really enjoyed his voice with its twang (G.W. was born in Texas) and tendency to suddenly start shouting. Typical to any cartoonish authority figure, it was fun to watch him get one-upped and foiled by Mahoney and his friends.

And, for some strange reason, I wanted to BE this type of personality. I have no idea where that desire came from or why I aspired to act like a grumpy old man, but when my friends and I played superheroes or make-believe in the backyard, I wanted to be a Lt. Harris-type. Maybe it just stemmed from wanting to make people laugh. I mean, it’s much more fun to play the villain, isn’t it?

A few years later, in 1987, a magical event occurred – Mannequin was released to the joy of millions. I noticed a familiar face in the commercials. It was Lt. Harris! Once again G.W. was playing a comic and cranky authority figure, though a bit dumber this time. As before, I loved it and found that I had an actual name to place with this particular brand of character.

G.W. was really busy in the 1980s applying his distinctive style of crabby authority to a variety of films like Runaway (1984), Short Circuit (1986) and Burglar (1987). I was delighted when he returned to the Police Academy franchise in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987). FYI - G.W.’s best and funniest performance is in the fifth installment, Assignment: Miami Beach (1988) – here he’s able to break away from the rigid institution of the academy setting and be humiliated in bars, hotels and on the beach.

My favorite role of G.W. Bailey is in the underrated Western spoof, Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985), directed by Hugh Wilson of Police Academy fame. It’s here where he was able to make a departure from playing the grump to having the opportunity of being the friendly and loyal sidekick to Tom Berenger. A great and really funny movie that I wish more people were aware of.

For more info on G.W. Bailey, please check out this fantastic interview from A.V. Club.

Jennifer Coolidge (1961- )

Whenever I think about today’s character actors I realize that there are actually precious few that I hold in the same league as my old favorites. There just aren’t that many who hold the same appeal as a Mary Woronov or a Paul L. Smith.

Sadly, most of the performers I’ve enjoyed have passed away and there is really only about five or six left that I really consider part of my “list”.

However, there is one unique actress that pops up whenever I start to examine this topic – the incredible Jennifer Coolidge.

Jennifer is like one of those voluptuous Fellini goddesses – extreme, wild and otherworldly.

Not afraid to appear grotesque or bizarre, her appearances in the films of Christopher Guest helped her demonstrate to audiences that she was especially adept at playing a variety of comic characters.
As much as I love her playing the ridiculous and exaggerated roles, I was excited to see her play a dramatic role as the alcoholic stepmother of Nicholas Cage in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009). Comedians are so good at playing bleak roles that I knew Jennifer would be great in something more serious.

My dream role for her would be in something along the lines of The Honeymoon Killers, something really dark, tragic and disturbing. I know she would be amazing and it would be a great way of keeping her fans and the audience on their toes.

How about Jennifer in "Extremities"? Or "Medea"?

December 11, 2015

Unforgettable: Part II

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)

Ernest Borgnine is an important example of a character actor who had the opportunity to play not just supporting parts but also leading roles. In Marty (1955), a film that won him an Oscar for Best Actor, you had a film where the character actor was promoted to a starring role. Here was an actor who looked like a typical, everyday guy and he was the lead for a major Hollywood film.

Borgnine had a wildly varied career that ranged to all points of the spectrum, from starring on television series like "McHale’s Navy" and "Airwolf" to voice-over work on animated films like All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996) and Joe Dante’s Small Soldiers (1998) (a film in which he voiced an action figure alongside his Dirty Dozen co-stars George Kennedy, Jim Brown and Clint Walker) to classics like Johnny Guitar (1954), Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Wild Bunch (1969) and, what is probably his most famous role, that of Mike Rogo in The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

This is when I loved Ernest the most – when he played the loud, blustery bear that screamed and shouted and threw his hat on the ground. You aren’t turned off by his characters (no matter how repugnant), because you can just tell that Ernest was having a great time playing the role. He really got into it.

Just one flash of his gap-toothed smile and you can see in his face an exclamation of "God, I love my job!"

Delphine Seyrig (1932-1990)

I first saw Delphine in the incredibly haunting and hypnotic Daughters of Darkness (1971), where she played the Countess Bathory, a mysterious and exotic vampire who seduces a young couple at a Belgium hotel. I was struck by her beauty, which reminded me of a 1930s glamour along the lines of Marlene Dietrich, and her wonderful voice, which, like Joan Greenwood and Carrie Nye, was slightly husky and topped off with a bored, aloof delivery.

I then watched her in the strange and exhausting film, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) – 201 minutes of Delphine playing a housewife going about her daily chores (all of which is filmed in real time). You would think this would make a viewer go insane (depending on their patience), but Delphine in the role made it a completely watchable and fascinating experience. Her subtle touches of showing the gradual unhinging of this woman was beyond beguiling. Watching her go about her day-to-day chores and then suddenly see her skip a beat as she slowly began to unravel was chilling.

She also appeared to have a good sense of humor that was evident in the surreal Donkey Skin (1970), in which she co-starred with Catherine Denueve. Other notable roles of hers include the puzzling Last Year at Marienbad (1961), The Day of the Jackal (1973) and several films with director Marguerite Duras, including India Song (1975), a film John Waters said is "so posed, so formal and so glamorous that it almost isn’t a movie at all - it’s like watching a chic performance piece."

With Delphine as the star, I truly believe she could make anything, no matter how absurd or bizarre, completely and utterly watchable. Now if only she could have starred in something that is completely inaccessible to me, like Gone with the Wind or "Sex and the City".

Godfrey Cambridge (1933-1976)

My first awareness of the force known as Godfrey Cambridge was when I was about 9 and saw Watermelon Man (1970) on television.

I didn't quite understand the film. Godfrey played Jeff Gerber, a white, bigoted salesman who awakens one morning to find his skin turned dark. His life is turned upside down as he finds himself on the receiving end of the same rotten behavior he himself had been guilty of. My naivete didn't pick up on the irony or the overall satire on display - I viewed it largely as a sort-of cartoonish, Twilight Zone-type story. However, there was an anger there that perplexed me, something my young age was unaware of...or perhaps sheltered from?

In the middle of this puzzle was a performance that remained with me for years to come. Cambridge's character ran the gamut from cartoonish to confident as his character ultimately accepted and embraced his new persona. Pretty powerful stuff for a child to digest.

As the years went by, I began to notice Godfrey Cambridge pop up randomly - be it a guest appearance on reruns of "The Dick Van Dyke Show", a weird cameo in Beware! The Blob (1972) or his bit as a gay nightclub owner in Friday Foster (1975). There was something about him that I really liked - a great smile, a mischievous glint in his eye and an infectious giggle.

Besides his rather varied film roles, Godfrey Cambridge is probably most famous for being a fairly groundbreaking stand-up comedian. However, it's his role as Grave Digger Jones (perfectly cast alongside Raymond St. Jacques as Coffin Ed Johnson) in Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and it's sequel, Come Back, Charleston Blue (1972) that remain my favorite performances. Distinctive and unique.

For further reading, check out this great article about Godfrey from the October 1967 issue of Ebony.

Joan Greenwood (1921-1987)

This is an actress I first noticed on the British sitcom, "Girls on Top" (1985-1986) - a sort of all-female version of "The Young Ones" which was created by and starred Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Joan played Lady Chloe Carlton, the bizarre landlady to the four main female characters. Lady Carlton was a romance novelist who appeared to live in her own world and was kept company by her beloved and stuffed pet dog. The thing that struck me the most about her was her smoky voice and slow articulation.

I did some further research on Joan and discovered that she was in a film that I absolutely adored - Ealing Studios’ 1949 revenge comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets. I re-watched the film specifically to see her and was captivated by her feline beauty and, again, by that voice - sly and throaty with each line spoken through precise and perfect enunciation.

Cult film fans may recognize her voice as The Great Tyrant, Black Queen of Sogo in Barbarella (1968). Greenwood, for whatever reason, was chosen to dub actress Anita Pallenberg. Although there is speculation as to whether or not it actually is Greenwood (since the voice over is uncredited), I can totally hear Ms. Greenwood when The Great Tyrant purrs such lines as, "Do you want to come and play with me? For someone like you I charge nothing. You’re very pretty, Pretty-Pretty."

Other film roles of note include another Ealing Studios’ comedy, The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), Mysterious Island (1961) and Tom Jones (1963). A quiet, secret beauty who always appeared to have a slightly devilish gleam in her eye has been a mainstay on my list of favorites for years.

Give yourself a treat and seek out her work. You won’t be disappointed.

December 9, 2015

Unforgettable: Revisited

About five years ago I started profiling different character actors that I was particularly fascinated with. It was a fun project, but I quickly stopped after a few entries.

I decided to pick the idea back up again and write some new thoughts about my favorite performers.

I've posted these articles on my Facebook and Instagram pages, but decided to share them here, as well. The first few entries originally appeared on my blog back in 2010, but have been tweaked and updated slightly.

Glenn Shadix (1952-2010) 

I first noticed Glenn (as I'm sure most people did) in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988), where he played Otho, the snotty interior designer. It was a funny and memorable role and he got to deliver some great lines. The famous quote, "Don't mind her. She's still upset because somebody dropped a house on her sister", was his own and he was thrilled that Burton let him use it in the famous "Day-O" dinner scene.

Soon after, I began seeing him in more films, like his bits in Heathers (1989), Meet the Applegates (1991), Sleepwalkers (1992) and his second most well-known role, as Associate Bob in Demolition Man (1993). I loved his role in this film - he was like an outrageous Buddha with his flowing, heavy robes and that sneaky, smarmy gleam in his eye. It reminded me of a 1960s Batman villain. In addition to numerous voice over roles in a wide variety of animated series - and, most notably, in his third most famous role, the voice of The Mayor in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Glenn was also an amazing photographer and overall champion and supporter of the arts.

Rafaela Ottiano (1888-1942)

The second I saw this actress appear in Tod Browning's impressive The Devil-Doll (1936), I fell hopelessly in love. Playing Malita, the damaged assistant to Lionel Barrymore's revenge-seeking, escaped convict Paul Lavond (who, in his effort to elude the authorities, disguises himself as an old woman), Ottiano's first appearance is a bit startling. Sporting a shock of unruly hair that includes an artistically arranged white streak (perhaps inspired by the Bride of Frankenstein?) and hobbling around on one crutch, I was reminded of two current actresses that I also admired - Grace Zabriskie and Diane Salinger.

Perhaps a bit too stylized in an attempt to let the viewer know that she was the villain of the piece, her performance is fun and her facial reactions and wild eyes are put to great effect in a truly suspenseful scene where Lavond and Malita try to hide some stolen jewelry from a police officer. Plus Ottiano's ultimate intentions and madness come through when she declares, "We'll make the whole WORLD small!" - referring to Lavond's scheme of shrinking down his victims using a serum developed by Malita's deceased scientist husband.

After seeing her in this role, I looked into other films that she had appeared in and was surprised to see that she had quite the interesting career which further endeared me to her. A stage actress who eventually played opposite Mae West in the hit Broadway play, "Diamond Lil" (which led to the two actresses reprising their roles for the 1933 film version, She Done Him Wrong), another notable role for her was as Greta Garbo's maid in Grand Hotel (1932).

A line from Ottiano's Wikipedia entry made me laugh; "Throughout the 1930s, Rafaela Ottiano would often specialize in roles as sinister, malevolent, or spiteful women."

This, of course, means I need to see every single film she has ever been in.

Ernest Thesiger (1879-1961) 
I recently watched James Whale's 1932 film, The Old Dark House and was immediately taken by the appearance of actor Ernest Thesiger who played Horace Femm, an incredibly effeminate and grotesque old man who's amazing, emaciated skull-like face was used perfectly in his role as the snotty and nervous host to a group of stranded motorists. His delivery of dialogue was impeccable - try not to smile when he articulates the line, "Have a potato".

Thesiger would reunite with director Whale for his most notorious role - that of Dr. Septimus Pretorius (best name ever?) in Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

All accounts appear to indicate that Ernest was as much a colorful character in real life as he was on film and stage. Openly gay, Thesiger was originally intent on being an artist before focusing on acting. He continued to paint watercolor throughout his life and also enjoyed needlepoint. So much so that he even wrote a book called Adventures in Embroidery.

Unusual and clearly fabulous, Ernest Thesiger was one of a kind...and definitely ahead of his time.

Check out the incredibly well-researched for lots of great info and photography.

Diana Browne (?-?)

Probably THE most obscure actress I've ever been interested in. Basket Case (1982) features what is most likely the only role she has ever played on screen. Diana plays the evil Dr. Judith Kutter, a ruthless veterinarian who separates an unfortunate set of conjoined twins. They are on a mission of revenge and she is not pleased about it.

The thing that immediately drew me to her was her wacky, Ruth Buzzi-on-steroids appearance and her persistent nastiness. Plus she meets a memorable demise at the hands of the monstrous Belial in a truly unforgettable example of amazing, low-budget special effects makeup.

I asked director Frank Henenlotter about her, asking "Who was that incredible lady?" Turns out she was a friend of a friend and he ultimately lost touch with her. What a shame. I would have loved to have seen her in other films. I could have seen her playing parts like The Evil Judge, The Evil High School Principal or The Evil Department of Motor Vehicles Lady.

March 18, 2015

Happy 70th, Susu...

Today - March 18, 2015 - is my friend Susan Tyrrell's 70th birthday. A milestone that I'm sure would have made her absolutely crazy.

Here is a snapshot of some of my correspondence with her. I started writing to her in 1998 and we continued to talk on the phone and email for over ten years. 

As I've stated over and over, she was an amazing person and I think of her every single day.

Happy Birthday, Susu, wherever you are. You will never be forgotten.

November 30, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Thirty

Day Thirty: Creepshow, Stephen King. Art by Berni Wrightson, cover art by Jack Kamen.

Since I finished off my October 31 Days of Horror with my favorite movie, Creepshow, I figured I would finish off Novel-ember with the illustrated tie-in. 

I got this book when it came out (I was 7 or 8) and I was horrified by the monsters and gore. I naturally assumed the movie had to be the scariest, grossest thing ever created. I was so scared of this book that my parents actually took it away from me, not unlike the film! I eventually had to re-buy it when I was older and it is now a nostalgic glimpse back into my much-missed childhood. 

That concludes Novel-ember - Happy Reading, Kiddies!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 29, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Nine

Day Twenty Nine: Black Christmas, Lee Hays.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking horror classic which has enjoyed an incredible resurgence over the past fifteen years or so. A few years ago I was shocked to find this novelization on eBay. 

It's a very short read and is based on the original screenplay so certain scenes are slightly different. There is some expanded character development and some brief perspective from Billy's point of view! It's about that time of year again for a visit to the Kappa Gamma house.

This book is pretty hard to find, but it appears on eBay every now and then.