James has been fascinated with monsters and all things scary since the age of three. Growing up in Toronto during the ’70s and ’80s, he fed his insatiable appetite for horror with a steady diet of Hilarious House of Frightenstein and Saturday afternoon TV matinees of Universal, Hammer and Amicus flicks – all while eating too many bowls of Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry. An avid collector of monster figures, model kits, vintage board games, books, records, comics and movie posters James spends his spare time searching for that next item to add to his eclectic and ever-growing collection of horror ephemera. He is the recent recipient of a 2010 Rondo Hatton Award for his interview with genre legend Christopher Lee for Rue Morgue’s 100th Issue.
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A little while back, writer/director Cortlandt Hull (Aurora Monsters – The Model Craze That Gripped The World; RM #105) released a great new DVD documentary detailing the literary, stage and screen history of that masterpiece of gothic horror, The Phantom of the Opera. Here’s my review of it.
In this month’s issue of Rue Morgue, there’s a piece by yours truly on the resurrection of General Mills’ two long deceased Monster Cereals: Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy. In addition to the products’ reintroduction to the marketplace, fans can also pick up all five Monster Cereals – which of course also include Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry – in both contemporary and retro-styled packaging.
If you’re a Hammer Horror fan, you’ll definitely want to take a look at a new series of custom-made collectible figures that are just being made available for sale. The figures – which are produced by an independent company named Distinctive Dummies – are part of a line dubbed “Mego Style,” and are made in the vein of 8-inch tall figures released by iconic toymaker Mego during the 1970s and early ’80s.
I’m a huge fan of the 1979′s Alien. To me, Ridley Scott’s classic shocker is the perfect marriage between sci-fi and horror and I still remember being memorized as a seven-year-old by the film’s pulse pounding television ad spots when they aired during the film’s original theatrical run. I was finally able to watch the film a few years later when it was broadcast on pay TV station First Choice-Superchannel back in the early 1980s. And I’ve been enamoured with it ever since.
So, it’s no wonder that I’m happy to have stumbled across news (of which I unfortunately missed out on when it was first announced a while back) that California-based toy and collectibles company Super7 will be marketing a line of retro-styled, 3 3/4-inch Alien action figures sometime this year. What makes this series so special though is that the figures will be styled exactly like the prototypes created by legendary toy manufacturer Kenner back in the late ’70s for an unrealized Alien toy line. Adding a nice touch is that the figures will come packaged on retro-styled blister cards featuring vintage 1979 Kenner artwork.
With the third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead now upon us, there’s probably no better time to post a few images from the soon-to-be released second series of TWD action figures from McFarlane Toys. Due to hit stores at the end of this month, this new wave consists of Deputy Rick Grimes, a shaved-headed Shane Walsh and three walkers: the memorable Bicycle Girl Zombie, the bloated Well Zombie and the RV Zombie.
Back in 2008, Emce Toys released the first wave of retro-styled action figures based upon characters from George A. Romero’s immortal 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead. Comprised of Ben and the “Graveyard Zombie,” the 8-inch tall figures were created in the style of classic Mego dolls from the 1970s, and featured articulated bodies, cloth outfits and nicely sculpted rubber heads of actors Duane Jones and Bill Hinzman. They were even packaged in resealable clear clamshells, featuring artwork by Harold Schull, who originally created the beautiful illustrations for such classic Mego offerrings as its Star Trek and Planet of the Apes lines.
Now, after a delay of several years, the series’ second wave of figures is finally being made available: terrified Barbra and little zombified Karen Cooper.
In addition to my Dark Shadows coverage for this month’s issue of Rue Morgue, I was fortunate enough to be able to write a piece on the obscure Canadian TV series Strange Paradise – a program which was actually created to take advantage of the success of the monster-filled DS. A fantastically offbeat show featuring supernatural elements like voodoo, reincarnation, witchcraft and demonic possession, it ran here in Canada weekday afternoons (on the CBC, believe it or not) from October 1969 to July 1970. Though never to enjoy the same level of popularity as Dark Shadows, Strange Paradise did spawn a few pieces of memorabilia, some of which I thought I’d showcase here.
Though it’s been 41 years since the cult daytime drama Dark Shadows originally left the airwaves, the coffin never really remained shut on vampire Barnabas Collins and the show’s cast of other creepy characters. Between spinoff movies, syndicated repeats on television, yearly fan conventions, a 1991 remake series, merchandise and numerous home video releases, interest in the gothic sudser has remained strong throughout the decades.
To celebrate the May issue of Rue Morgue and our coverage of both the original 1966-71 television classic and the soon-to-be released film version from Tim Burton (out this Friday, May 11), here is a look at some of the various Dark Shadows collectibles that have been produced over the past 46 years.
Okay, so you’ve seen The Raven when it opened this past weekend and were so impressed with John Cusack’s performance as Edgar Allan Poe that it made you feel like perhaps picking up a new item to add to your collection of Poe memorabilia. If so, might I suggest the new Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead from Funko.
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