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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 recipient of the 2010 Rondo Hatton Award for Best Interview for his in-depth conversation with genre legend Christopher Lee, which appeared in Rue Morgue's 100th Issue.
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One of the most iconic of British horror films, 1973′s The Wicker Man tells of a police sergeant who travels to a remote community to probe the disappearance of a girl, but finds his investigation hindered by duplicitous locals, who we later discover partake in pagan rites and sacrificial murder.
The film has been highly praised on a number of levels, including its script by noted playwright and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer (Frenzy, Sleuth). But Shaffer also took inspiration from a 1967 novel titled Ritual by a young author named David Pinner, from whom he and star Christopher Lee had purchased the book’s film rights.
Now, nearly 40 years later, Pinner has released a follow up to Ritual, titled The Wicca Woman.
As a lifelong collector, I’ve come across some pretty nifty items over the years. Among the more unusual horror collectibles I’ve seen recently have been two books of paper dolls: Great Horror Movie Villains Paper Dolls: Psychos, Slashers & Their Unlucky Victims! and Vampire Paper Dolls, both released by Dover Publications, Ltd.
If you’re a Stephen King and John Carpenter fan (and who isn’t?), then there’s a recently-released model kit that will look great on your shelf beside those Michael Myers figures: the titular terror on wheels from Carpenter’s 1983 film adaptation of King’s novel – Christine.
Though it manufactures a variety of merchandise, including board games, masks, stationary, replica props items and “Head Knocker” bobblehead figures, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) is perhaps best known for putting out fantastically detailed and ultra-realistic action figures derived from various film, television and video game properties. The company has made horror collectors very happy over the years with plastic renderings of such iconic characters as Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface, the Tall Man, Chucky, Ash, Pinhead, Ghost Face, Jigsaw and his puppet, Billy, The Exorcist’s Regan, Hannibal Lecter, Bubba Ho-Tep, and many others.
Now, NECA has tapped into the very hot retro toy market with its recent release of 8-inch tall horror film-themed figures created in the same vein as the classic Mego dolls of the 1970s and early ’80s.
A little over a year ago, I posted a piece here about an upcoming set of retro-styled Alien-themed action figures. Now, while Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 film has spawned numerous figures and other collectibles through the years, what made these particular items noteworthy is that they were based upon prototypes created by iconic toy manufacturer Kenner in 1979 for a proposed Alien toy line that was never produced.
Well, these “lost toys” have now since been released, and they are pretty darn fantastic.
First introduced to audiences in the 1989 direct-to-video hit Puppet Master, the film’s living, lethal marionettes – which includes the knife and hook-handed Blade, the drill for a head Tunneler, the poisonous leech-vomiting Leech Woman, super-strong Pinhead and Jester – have been featured in a multitude of sequels and also turned into action figures and other collectibles over the years.
Now, fans of the diminutive but deadly puppets can pick up some new Puppet Master collectibles, including bobblehead figures, plush dolls, statues, limited-edition full-sized replica dolls and more, courtesy of the merchandise division of Charles Band’s Full Moon Features.
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.
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