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Red Meet
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Monster Rally 2020
A Hitch in Time
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Stocking Suffers
The Phantom Minus
Slash and Burn
Breach Bum
Button Holes
Doxing Day
Ornamental Breakdown
Alabama Quakes
Hardy Horror
Booking the Cooks
WHAT NOT 2014-2016
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WHAT NOT 2006
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WHAT NOT 2005
EDITORIAL

Red Meet

A political Masquerade party for Halloween and Election Day 2020 with a dress-up Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty horrified by: Nancy Pelosi as Harley Quinn, Mike Pence as a Skeleton, Kamala Harris as Wonder Woman, Joe Biden in a Top Gun jump suit, Mitch McConnell as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Lindsay Graham as the White Rabbit and Donald Trump as the Red Death from the Phantom of the Opera.

The hoariest cliché (she really is cheap) is that this year has been like a horror movie, so what more appropriate time to summon E. Basil St. Blaise –– our expert on the evil of banality –– from his mobile HQ to review some trite and true scarefests? We asked if he had a theme for his annual orgy of fright flicks this year.

"Well, yes and no," he replied while sipping a cocktail inspired by a 1988 slasher film. "Oh, I call this spicy-sweet concoction featuring rye, apricot juice, cointreau, nutmeg, and ground candy corn a Pumpkinhead and, like the movie, it rates a 'Gourd damned.' I also sometimes refer to it as The Burnt Orange Heresy homaging the Charles Willeford art-world mystery novel ((1971) –– Umber class.) not the 2019 brown-out of a film adaptation with Mick Jagger (I judged that one 'Muddy ochre.')

And while we're in that region of the color wheel, I note the editors have affixed a political cartoon above, based loosely on the masquerade scene in the Lon Chaney version of The Phantom of the Opera which echoes the Edgar Allan Poe tale The Masque of the Red Death ((1842) –– Better dead than Red.). I've already paid 'tribute' to Roger Corman's costumed ball in a previous Halloween post, as well as the various Phantoms of the Opera, but couldn't resist a dig at an awful version of Masque from 1989, but wasn't sure which to choose. I remember wishing I was wearing a mask when leaving the theatre for a debacle toplining Patrick Macnee, who had of course starred with the recently deceased Dame Diana Rigg in the sparkling British spy series The Avengers ((1961-1969) –– Lemon Peel. or Steed off.) and dubbed it a 'Macnee slapper.' But it was the second, utterly risible one starring Frank Stallone (yes, you read right –– don't make me type that name again) which politely retained the The in Poe's title that most richly deserved the designation 'Masque hysteria.'

There's been lots of time in lockdown to go dumpster-diving in my VHS collection and endless hours to consider people's delight in watching people cover their faces on screen, but not in real life. I decided to revisit my favorite dangerous egomaniac, he who dared to meddle in Creation with patients that had pre-existing conditions (they were quadrupeds), and took in the three versions of H.G. Wells' sci-fi novel The Island of Dr. Moreau ((1896) –– Animal kinkdom.) The hammy triumvirate of leads –– Charles Laughton, Burt Lancaster and Marlon Brando –– all chewed the scenery more vociferously than the Panther Woman and provided lots of laughs in my House of Pain. But only Brando played a portion of his role in Kabuki makeup reciting lines to an Ur Mini-me. Around those devolutionary nightmares I sprinkled a grab bag of gruesome goodies I hadn't seen in years."

The Island of Lost Souls (1932) –– Worsen Wells.
The Wicker Man (1973) –– Rattan to the core.
It’s Alive (1974) –– Meany baby.
The Devil’s Rain (1975) –– Singein’ in the rain.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) –– Borer borer.
Teen Wolf (1985) –– Wolfman jock.
The Crow (1994) –– Daw prize.
The Prophecy (1995) –– Deadman Walken.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) –– Moreau less.

St. Blaise continued, "I know I've told the tale of how I named my Affenpinscher, Josef, who's splayed here wearing a General Ursus costume, after the eccentric auteur Von Sternberg. I must also admit to a simian forbear for my monkey dog –– Mr. Joseph Young. Ray Harryhausen was inspired by the crude, but magical stop-motion animation of Kong Kong ((1931) –– Goes ape's hit.) to forge a career of playing with dolls. Very, very slowly. The offical sequel was Son of Kong ((1933) –– Ape'll not fall far from the tree.) This sorta semi-sequel was his first solo effort under the supervision of Willis O'Brien (Kong's papa) who was handed the first Oscar for Special Effects for Harryhausen's efforts. It led to a long line of painstakingly produced puppet shows.

These naive fantasies, often done on a shoestring –– I believe that's what held the models together –– are the sort of cinematic comfort food that evoke memories of the hobby-happy days of one's childhood. I can almost smell the Duco cement as I glued together that T-Rex model which was only slightly less convincing than Harryhausen's. Or is that the neighbor's boy in the RV next door huffing his way through online classes?"

Mighty Joe Young (1949) –– Joe’s bar and gorilla.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
(1953) –– Deep sea fission.
It Came From Beneath the Sea
(1955) –– Octopushy.
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
(1956) –– Limp dish rage.
20 Million Miles to Earth
(1957) –– Venus flight trap.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
(1958) –– Sails pitch.
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver
(1960) –– Swift of desperation.
Mysterious Island
(1961) –– Joes stone crab.
Jason and the Argonauts
(1963) –– Fleece spec.
First Men in the Moon
(1964) –– Lunar eek! clips
One Million Years B.C.
(1967) –– F’Raquel rock.
Valley of Gwangi
(1969) –– Dinotsuris.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
(1973) –– Pee fairer.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
(1977) –– Sin average.
Clash of the Titans
(1981) –– Olympus hack fallen.

Listen to E. Basil St. Blaise on his Critic's Corner Podcast.

10/28/20