Thursday, November 25, 2010


OWW-WOOOOO!! Hi there, culture gang! Didn't expect me back so soon, did ya? This is your favorite wolf-Grrl Harriet Von Lupin reporting for Tales From The Monster Shop, and today we're going to do a special interview with the host of the renowned late-night cult-movie show Cinema Insomnia, Mr. Lobo! This dude is like the guy to know in cult-movie and horror circles, and next year he'll be doing his tenth year of hosting Cinema Insomnia, which began on an ABC station in Sacramento, California and is now a nationally-syndicated phenomenon for fans of horror and classic B-movies.
Mr. Lobo, who is also from Sacramento and is of indeterminate age, is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, stuck in a conundrum, tied up with sudoku and... and... well, let's just say he's a really mysterious dude. (Sort of like that Rod Serling guy on that old TV show The Twilight Zone, but with these cool funky glasses.) He oversees Cinema Insomnia from a formless void that's got its own rocking chair, showing not only classic B-movies but also doing comedy skits, monster movie trailers, vintage commercials, short films from independent filmmakers, and all sorts of bizarreness! (Plus, when I heard he used to be a werewolf, I just had to talk to this guy!) So read on for all the skinny... and also to find out how you (yes, you, and you, and you, and that guy over there) can help make this the grooviest year in Cinema Insomnia's history!

Dude, thanks for giving me an audience with Mr. Lobo! Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what made you decide to be a horror host?

Harriet, it’s a personal pleasure to be interviewed by my favorite MonsterGrrl! Mr. Lobo has dated and married a few monsters, so I have a feeling that this is going to be a very stimulating conversation!

As you said, Mr. Lobo is a horror movie host and I have a nationally syndicated TV show called Cinema Insomnia which I tape here in Sacramento, California, and at monster film fests, conventions, and horror happenings across the country. It’s hard to pin down a moment where I actually really decided to be a horror host—I “decided” to be “Chewbacca” when I was 7 years old but I never got the opportunity to try it.
When I was your age, I always used to “play host” in the mirror and later I did skits with my friends who ran 16mm films as a hobby. I got a lot of encouragement and pushes from friends and heroes. Meeting my childhood host Bob Wilkins of Creature Features as an adult changed my life. He suggested that I take a stab at horror hosting. I also had a friend at a local ABC-TV station here in Sacramento, Mike, who also pushed me to do my own show. The station ran a movie at 3 a.m. that ran 20 minutes short every week. With the courage given to me by my friend Mike, Bob and others, I offered to fill the extra time and started producing Cinema Insomnia episodes… once I started, I couldn’t stop and I found I really loved it. You have to love the job and love the movies… you have to open your mind to the possibility that they are not bad movies, just misunderstood…

That is so cool! But you say that the movies you show are not "bad" but "misunderstood." Can you please explain or provide evidence?
Harriet, you are as smart as you are attractive! You know how to put your horror host in the hot seat. With films like Superwheels and Invasion Of The Neptune Men in our pen, it’s sometimes hard to stand up for Misunderstood Movies. This motto has become a guiding principle of the show. We do kid the movies—but more gently than other shows. Mr. Lobo has grown to love all the films we’ve done on the show because I now have a positive association with them.
I really hate classifying films like they’re quantifiable commodities or sports statistics. Movies are subjective; what we see in them is based on your mood and life experience. I have a theory that every movie is someone’s least favorite movie and every film is somebody’s most favorite movie. Making fun of the films, which used to be counter culture, had become the popular wisdom by the time Mr. Lobo got started with Cinema Insomnia and I like to challenge the status quo. On Mystery Science Theater 3000, their attitude toward the movies seemed like “Let’s take the ugliest girl to the dance and make fun of her.” On Cinema Insomnia, it’s more like “You know if you put a nice dress on the gal, maybe wax the uni-brow a bit, she’s probably a great date…and has some good stories to tell.” When I said “They’re not bad movies—Just Misunderstood” for the first time on the show it was a breath of fresh air for a lot of movie fans who were used to hearing their favorite films being ruthlessly bagged on for decades.

I am like so impressed with you right now--with your intelligence, your nerve, your compassion, and your willingness to stick up for the uni-brow, since that's my most charming feature! But when did
Cinema Insomnia get started?
When Mr. Lobo was your age, I was doing comedy skits on home video and audio recorders and I always desired some kind of vehicle for my artwork and comedy. In my mind, several years before the real opportunity presented itself, I had been wishing and hoping for a show of some kind as I had a friend at the local ABC-TV station who noticed my talents. I wasn’t sure if I would be reviewing movies, showing trailers or even if they would be horror films. I had been drawing the hypnotic eye and toying with the title “Insomniac Theater.”
Finally in 2001, when I also had a job at the same TV station, they had that 3 a.m. movie that I told you about. We had to change the name to Cinema Insomnia because there was an overnight movie in another town called Insomniac Theater, and also we didn’t want to be confused with Dave Attel’s new show Insomniac in the TV guide. Our first show aired July 28th, 2001 and we have been showing broken down Sci-Fi, Cult and Horror Movies ever since.

Cinema Insomnia sounds cooler, in my opinion. But let's talk movies for a minute. What's your favorite horror film, Mr. L?
Oh, Harriet—that’s like picking a favorite child! There are so many subgenres and my tastes change depending on my mood. I really love Plan 9 From Outer Space. When you watch it, it always feels like it's three in the morning and Mr. Lobo likes that feeling.

As far as films that normal folks would consider of “quality,” I enjoy Son Of
Frankenstein and the original Invisible Man. Return Of The Living Dead is my favorite zombie movie and An American Werewolf In London is my favorite werewolf movie. (I figured that you would want to know that, Harriet.)

I like that one too! Cinema Insomnia is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year. What are you going to do to celebrate?

I’m so glad you asked, Harriet. Mr. Lobo is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of my late night movie show that is syndicated on broadcast TV stations across the nation by producing a full season of 26 all new shows!

Groovy! But I'm sure all our readers know that it takes a lot of money to do a TV show, and word is that you have a project on Kickstarter to raise money for your show. Can you provide info and tell my readers how they (and them, and them, and that guy over there--HEY! Come back here or I'll punch you in the arm!) can help out?

We are hoping to boost the budget for this special 26 episode season with a Kickstarter campaign. There are
many levels of donations, all with great thank-you goodies. You can get a CINEMA INSOMNIA 10th ANNIVERSARY button, T-shirt, signed 8X10, one of my neckties, or props from the show, you can get your name in the credits of the shows or said by Mr. Lobo on the air, you can have a framed photo of you on the set, even be a co-host for an episode! To be a part of this celebration, go to: (or just click the banner below)

And all you guys who are reading this have to do is click on that link up there to make your donations now! But I've got one more question for you, and it's confession time. My sources (well, the Mad Doctor, anyway) tell me that you are actually a reformed werewolf. What's that about?

I prefer the term “Recovering Werewolf.” You stop changing on the outside--you never change anything on the inside... except for your mind and your heart.
I was in the grips of lycanthropy where all that was important for me was the next prey. It wasn’t until he found himself reeking of urine and chewing a thigh bone alone beneath the staircase of a project in a Portugese ghetto that Mr. Lobo thought he might have hit rock bottom. I had lost a lot: lost relationships, lost family, lost shoes, and was losing my home.

I decided to tell my parents everything. Not my wolf pack family--my real parents. A friend of the family,
Reverend Steve, asked me to go with him to The Church Of Ed Wood, a place where people had gone for help with problems similar to mine. They had a Werewolves Anonymous meeting and weenie roast on Tuesdays. I recognized a Wolf Man I knew from the neighborhood by the awful marks on his arm, and he told his story of how he beat lycanthropy and hadn’t changed in four moon cycles. I was like, ‘How can he be smiling and crying at the same time?’ I didn’t understand, and then it hit me that he was experiencing something that I wanted.

Reverend Steve is my sponsor to this day and on some full moon nights I call him if I feel I might slip. I have a 25 year WA chip in my pocket and I haven’t bitten anyone in years. I know how it feels to be a young werewolf and have the townsfolk call you “dog boy” “fang-puss” or “hairy butt” or laugh at your ripped clothes—but I’m here to say, Harriet…
it gets better.

And that's our interview! So if you wanna show some love to a worthy cause and do something really good for everybody, go to Mr. Lobo's Kickstarter project and post a donation! You'll pick up cool swag and help one of the greatest TV spookshows ever! And you can also click our title link on this post to go straight to Cinema Insomnia's website to get more info, find out about show times and listings and get T-shirts, DVDs and other neat stuff!

See you guys later, 'cause I'm gonna pop some corn and check out some of these cool B-movies! OOWWW-WOOOOOOO!!!!

Love to all,
Harriet Von Lupin

POST-MORTEM: Hey gang, tomorrow (November 27) is Mr. Lobo's birthday! Make it a happy birthday for him and donate to the cause!

Also, if you're already a fan and wanna show your love to others, November Fire has a cool
Cinema Insomnia T-shirt for sale. Click here to check it out and purchase! --H.V.L.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Mad Doctor
So this year was sort of a hard-candy Halloween.  I didn't get to do a lot of the stuff I wanted, and I didn't get to do treat bags and Halloween CDs like I did before.  And there was something in the air around a lot of us Halloween nutcases this year.  There's a guy in my hometown who has done a walkthrough haunt in his front yard at Halloween for quite awhile now; this year... he didn't.  And a lot of the online community was feeling it too.  It was just a weird Halloween.

But I persevered, and I cut back.  Just said I'd save it all for next year.  And oddly enough, it turned out being a really good Halloween.  Some new people came to the MonsterGrrls Halloween-A-Go-Go this year, and enjoyed themselves.  My next-door neighbors turned part of the triplex they live in into a haunted house, and invited trick-or-treating folks to walk through.

And for me, it was a year for something new, too.  I cut back from MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween to MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and while it was less, it was also more.  Because I started to do interviews.

I am a shy person by nature, and I find it occasionally very hard to blog, because I began blogging in the age where people were still doing a lot of navel-gazing and there were still people on the Net who were putting out independently-published comic books that mostly revolved around their outstandingly boring lives working at copy shops, clubbing, drinking too much, spending too much money at Starbucks, and wishing that the Cool Person(s) in their lives would Notice Them And Fall In Love Or At Least Sleep With Them.  I had begun to mature at the time that whole herds of the Immature were making their private lives almost achingly public, and I had no desire to bore anyone with the minutae of my day-to-day life.

But as I worked on MonsterGrrls stuff and looked around the Net, I started finding other monster heads who loved the same things I did, who had the same kind of geek passion I did.  And I also discovered that absolutely everyone, no matter who they are or what they like, is a total geek about something.

So this year for the Halloween blog I interviewed several people on the Net--artists, writers, producers, horror hosts, monster heads, and Halloween nuts--who all turned out to be great people, who answered my questions with thoughtfulness and seriousness (despite the fact that they work in the most unserious professions possible), and who found time to talk to me and the Grrls even in the busiest time of year for them.  And I ended up having a really great Halloween.  And I would like to demand that Universal Studios return an affordable version of a Shock Theater-style syndication package of its classic horror films to availability so that these people can show classic horror films besides the ones in the public domain.  (Plus, I think Amazing Braino ought to have his own TV show, personally.)

So here's what else is happening:

I used to run three blogs, which wasn't working.  One was The Morlock Heights Harbinger, which was the official Grrls blog and meant to be for news, reviews and whatever had to do with the Grrls.  The other two were Notes From The Monster Shop, which was supposed to be a production/personal blog where I'd just put stuff--sketches, essays, and so on.  The third, which was created because I was reviewing a lot of cartoon collection sets on Amazon, was The Powerhouse Files, which was all about my obsession with animation and Saturday morning cartoons, now in its forty-second year and showing no signs of stopping.

And all of it was pointless.  So now they've all been combined into this one, inspired by the title I gave the interview pieces--Tales From The Monster Shop.  The Grrls and I will continue to relate experiences and do news, reviews, essays, interviews (and even the Easy-Bake Coven recipes) about all the horror stuff and other stuff we love, and the Thir13en For Halloween will definitely be back next year.  (Thanks for being patient with us while we figured out how to do this.)  We're also working up some new features to put on here, since Blogger is introducing a lot of cool new stuff to use.  (Plus, we didn't want to move to Wordpress or Whatchamacallit Blog or anywhere else; we love Blogger.) And we linked to everybody we interviewed, plus a lot of the blogs we really like, just to show where a lot of these ideas we have came from.  (Besides, as far as a lot of the blogs are concerned, I've stolen stuff from these people for my own personal virtual-ephemera files on a regular basis, so I'm kind of obligated to give them some love.)

Not Marshal, Will and Holly, but more routine exposition
And as for the cartoons, that will show up in the form of our new occasional feature called Toons Of The Lost, where I'll continue to write and share about cartoons and animation.  Plus, I had worked up this cool graphic that I wanted to use somewhere, and that was also part of the impetus to combine everything.

And as for Book II... it's coming sooner than you think.  All I'll say is, just watch out for blood on the moon.

There you go...

Sunday, October 31, 2010


So today is Halloween, and this year I don't really have a new horror movie to talk about as I have in previous years.  I've not had time to watch the Paranormal Activity stuff, I'm not interested in Hollywood's desperate retreads of '80's horror (as evidenced by the recent remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street), I hate all the Saw movies (with the exception of the first one, which was just a good movie, and they should have ended it there), and Rob Zombie has (hopefully) been banned from making movies ever again.  So I think this year I shall talk about a movie that I personally own in my collection, and one that I really like despite the fact that I'm not supposed to, according to the hip and in-the-know among horror.

That movie is Van Helsing.

Van Helsing premiered on the screen back in 2004, starring Hugh Jackman in the title role, with Richard Roxburgh, Kate Beckinsale, Shuler Hensley, and David Wenham.  Directed by Stephen Sommers (who also made the Mummy trilogy with Brendan Fraser), the movie spins the tale of Gabriel Van Helsing (Jackman), a monster-hunter for a secret order within the Vatican who is suffering from amnesia: he can remember nothing of his life before he was taken in by the Church.  Van Helsing is dispatched to Transylvania with orders to help the Valerious family kill Count Dracula (Roxburgh), as they are under oath to kill Dracula before their past generations can enter Heaven.  With weapons-builder/mad scientist Friar Carl (Wenham) in tow, Van Helsing arrives in Transylvania and discovers that Dracula is not only trying to kill Anna Valerious (Beckinsale), who is a monster-hunter herself and one of the two surviving members of the Valerious bloodline, but is also trying to acquire the Frankenstein Monster (Hensley) for use in a fiendish plan to rule the world.

When this movie came out, the response to it was more that just a little ridiculous.  Horror fans (who, in my opinion, have had their sense of wonder and the supernatural stolen and dulled by years of inarticulate slasher crap and gore-laden special effects) were almost unanimous in their disapproval of this movie, despite the fact that from much of what I have read almost none of them went to see it.  This movie was the movie that forced a well-known horror magazine and my readership of it to part ways, due to the fact that their dislike of the movie bordered on the pathological: they reacted as if Stephen Sommers had gathered money, resources and actors to craft a movie for the sole purpose of torturing them.  Yet strangely enough, this same mag ran a full-page ad for the movie's release and did a double-page spread for the DVD release, which seemed at cross-purposes with the following six months' worth of lambasting this movie because they. Could. Not. Let. It. Go.

But it wasn't just them, it was everybody.  Great was the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from all sides: "Waah!  They've destroyed the legend of Van Helsing!"  "Waah!  They're showing disrespect to the Universal Monsters!"  "Waah!  It's Hugh Jackman!"  "Waah!  It's Stephen Sommers!"  "Waah!  It's not the real Wolfman, it's not Larry Talbot!"  "Waah!  The special effects are all CGI and green-screen!"  "Waah!  It's not a scary movie and no one dies horribly enough!"  "Waah!  It's like a video game!"  "Waah!  The plot makes no sense and it's too much!"  "Waah! Waah! Waa-aaa-aah!"


So let's start with the obvious first.  Van Helsing is not a horror movie, at least not in the modern or post-modern sense of the term.  It does not have slashers or serial killers, there is not a lot of graphic blood and gore, and no one dies because they slept with one another (which I have always thought was an utterly preposterous rule for selecting victims in a horror movie; what do these moron jackass filmmakers think teenagers are going to do?).

What Van Helsing is (and I've said this before to several people, including some of the movie's detractors) is an action movie with monsters.  It pays some homage and tribute to Universal's pantheon (as evidenced by its opening scene, which is filmed in black-and white, reveals how all the highjinks-to-follow got started in the first place, and ends with the Frankenstein Monster seemingly falling to his death in a burning windmill) but it draws more from the traditions of Gothic fantasy and steampunk than the original 1930's Universal Monsters films.  It is a loud, boisterous, uproarious, nonsensical roller-coaster-ride popcorn movie that was meant to be viewed by many people (as the original Universal Monsters films also were) rather than a small, select group of people.  And it can be quite a lot of fun if you allow yourself to have fun with it.  It may be junk food as a movie, but a movie about a guy who hunts monsters for the Vatican is not going to be Schindler's List no matter what you do to it.

Among its cast of monsters, the movie features Richard Roxburgh as Count Dracula, Shuler Hensley as the Frankenstein Monster (who went on from here to be the Monster in the original Broadway cast of Mel Brooks' musical version of Young Frankenstein) and Will Kemp as "The Wolfman," who is Velkan Valerious (brother of Anna) and sustains a werewolf bite early in the movie, transforming him into a werewolf and an unwilling pawn of Dracula.  Complaints arose here not only because all the actors involved chewed their scenery to bits, but because the "Wolfman" was not Larry Talbot.  Now, frankly speaking, when you've got Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster, if you want to add a third monster then it kind of needs to be a werewolf.  This dynamic has worked since Universal released House Of Dracula in 1945, and it does not seem to work well with any other monster.  People have said that if Stephen Sommers had added the Mummy then it would have tied Van Helsing to his Mummy films, but I think if you have the Mummy with just Frank and Drac it becomes like three older men complaining about arthritis and lower back pain.  The werewolf element makes the other two take off whether it's Larry Talbot or not.

Hensley and Roxburgh are especially guilty of scene-gnawing here; Roxburgh's jittery performance channels more of Christopher Lee's violent and animalistic Dracula than even a single shred of Bela Lugosi, and Hensley's Monster is the Courage The Cowardly Dog of the film, participating in the Heroic Last Stand at the film's climax while whining and crying all the way.  However, it has to be said that Hensley's Monster is probably the most accurate movie personification of Mary Shelley's original Creature; rather than a childlike and silent thug, he is intelligent, articulate, self-educated, tragic, horribly alone, and quite obviously tired of being used by absolutely everybody he runs across (even Van Helsing himself, who is Our Hero, uses poor Monster as bait to draw out Drac).  Because of this, there is a special thrill that comes for the viewer at the end when Monster is viewed escaping on a raft into the ocean: he is still alone, probably will be hunted by somebody, but for the first time in any monster movie ever made, Frankenstein's Monster gets a chance.

Auxiliary monsters appear in the form of a malevolent and oversized Mr. Hyde (a CGI creation voiced by Robbie Coltrane), the disgusting, sadistic and completely mercenary Igor (Kevin J. O'Connor) and Dracula's three Brides, Aleera (Elena Anaya), Verona (Silvia Colloca) and Marishka (Josie Maran), who slink about, transform into bat-women and generally make life troublesome for the absinthe-swigging, sword-toting, impossibly hot Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale).  The Brides, who are maniacally histrionic and serve as a sort of dark comic relief, are
mainly cannon-fodder for Van Helsing and Anna: Marishka is whacked early in the movie by Van Helsing, while Verona meets her end upon chasing a decoy carriage en route to Rome, which supposedly contains a fleeing Van Helsing and Anna but is actually full of stakes bundled to explosives.  (This was also another bit that people couldn't take: at one point in the chase, the carriage, drawn by a full six-horse team, attempts to jump a gorge.  Again, this is a movie.  In movies they do silly things like that.)  Aleera goes to the bitter end, and meets her bitter end, in a vicious catfight between herself and Anna on top of Castle Dracula.

Mr. Hyde serves as some exposition about what Van Helsing does and why he is considered a murderer by the general public; most of the raging here was because we had just seen another King-Size Mr. Hyde in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (another action movie that, like Van Helsing, received its share of undeserved colossal bitchfest).  Igor, however, is possibly the most unsympathetic realization of the character ever; in one scene, when a slightly appalled Dracula asks the reason for Igor's continuous torture of Wolfie, Igor snarls, "It's what I do."  We receive another thrill when this homicidal bastard finally meets his doom at the hands of none other than David Wenham's jumpy and unassuming Friar Carl, who is pressed into accompanying Van Helsing to Transylvania and serves as the absent-minded-inventor Q to Van Helsing's Gothic-steampunk James Bond, providing weapons, more exposition and the final catalyst for the plot.

Finally, we come to Van Helsing himself, as portrayed by Hugh Jackman.  Jackman's performance has been called no better than Wolverine in a fedora, but I have seen both this movie and all the X-Men movies, and Jackman doesn't own Wolverine like he owns this role.  In fact, he doesn't really own Wolverine until about midway into X-Men 2, but here he slips into Gabriel Van Helsing (who was named "Gabriel" instead of "Abraham" because Universal wanted copyright privileges to the movie) like a suit.  Jackman works as Van Helsing because of his own personality; he is approachable, tends to do his own stunts and can anchor himself as the pivot of the movie even when it heads out of unbelievable and gets into downright crazy.

So to close: I realize that this movie, with all its bombast and calamity, requires the suspension of a bit more belief than a lot of people think is necessary.  However, if you're accepting the existence of vampires, werewolves and dead bodies stitched together and jacked back into life by lightning, then you're probably doing that anyway.

And quite frankly, as a horror fan, I think this movie is a good starting point to figure out where we fell into this thing of horror movies having to be nihilistic and natural, with unsympathetic characters and no suspense or sense of wonder.  Let's be real, people: aren't "horror" movies supposed to be at least a little bit fun?  Aren't there supposed to be good guys and bad guys instead of all bad guys?  Isn't the nature of evil obvious and clear enough to all and sundry that we don't have to pick it apart and navel-gaze about it anymore?  I mean, how many times can one really re-make Dawn Of The Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

So since there's not a lot to go on this year, I think that instead of dark chocolate, zombie meat and witch's brew, I'm going to have a popcorn ball.  And if anybody wants to tell me I'm not cool because I like Van Helsing, fair enough.  There's plenty of time to be cool when you're dead.

There you go.  Happy Halloween, and good night out there, whatever you are...

POST-MORTEM: We would like to thank all of our participants (and the new fiends we made) in this year's Thir13en For Halloween:  Shaun and Lynne Mitchell, Eric Pigors, Ray O'Bannon, The Amazing Braino, Ghoul Friday, Ormon Grimsby, Penny Dreadful, Eerie Lee Shivers, Wolfman Mac, and Ms. Monster and her Monster Melons.  We couldn't have done any of this without you.

And we also owe a big debt of thanks to you, our readers.  May you have the best Halloween ever this year, and in the years to come!

Francesca "Frankie" Franken
Bethany Ruthven
Petronella "Punkin" Nightshade
Harriet Von Lupin

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. Welcome once again to another round of Tales From The Monster Shop, our cracking new feature on The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween. This season the other Grrls and I have interviewed various personalities who are connected with this Ghost Wonderful Time Of The Year, and as we approach the Day, I must say it's been a lovely party.

Our final interview for this year's Thir13en For Halloween is a rather interesting
young lady from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who calls herself Ghoul Friday: an artist, writer and blogger who has been featured at several art shows and horror conventions in and around Canada, including the Bazaar Of The Bizarre, the Dia De Los Muertos Festival Of The Arts, and a spot at Rue Morgue's Festival Of Fear. In addition to maintaining a blog containing personal ruminations, spooky recipes, and DIY Halloween tutorials for eager young haunters, Ghoul works in a variety of mediums to create Halloween-themed art. While "Halloween art" to some people may just mean several different ways to carve a jack-o-lantern, Ghoul Friday's artworks are not only sufficiently seasonal but also deliciously dark, combining elements of both the sinister and the warm-hearted, and I think you'll agree when I say that we saved the best for last. Below is my account of this Friday with Ghoul.

Darling, thank you so much for participating in our little Halloween soiree. Please tell our gentle readers about yourself and what you do.

My name is Ghoul Friday. I've been an avid Halloween enthusiast since a young age, ever since my mother allowed me to spray paint a tombstone on our basement wall when I was little girl for my 4th grade Halloween party. As an adult, I share my passion for the holiday and share tutorials with the public on so they can create their own monstrosities for the season.
A most delightful diversion, indeed! But you term yourself a "Halloween artist." Please explain.

Two years ago I made the move from large scale decorations for my yearly Halloween parties to making smaller, more artistic items. My main focus is Halloween-themed pieces, but I've begun branching out and exploring other darker creatures - from little minion creatures to Plague Doctors.

What mediums do you work in to create your artwork, and what things inspire you the most?

I dabble in polymer clay, but the mediums I favor are paper clays and papier-mache. Many of my pieces incorporate fabrics as well. As for inspiration, I think stumbling upon the unexpected gives me the best creative boost. Ideas for creations often come from the most unexpected sources, even the most mundane scenarios. But something triggers a thought, which triggers an image, which often leads to a story about a creature. And then they are born.

That definitely sounds like something my friend and colleague Frankie Franken could appreciate. But you are also a writer, and have written a book, Brains Vs. Coffee. Share a bit about that with us, please, and what inspired you to write it?

One dreary morning in February of 2009, I slowly shuffled over to the computer. Still groggy, I signed into my Twitter account online and typed the following statement:

"Coffee...*stumble*...coooffee...*stumble* *shakes head* COFFEE…"

I found myself starting the day addressing the same question: Brains or Coffee? What's a ghoul to do? Can coffee
really help me resist the urge for brains as I wake in a zombified state? I began posting the pros and cons of each side, examining subjects such as ease of use, storage, and disposal. At first, it was simply for my own entertainment. Slowly, others showed interest in the subject, providing feedback and even their own points for each side. Before I knew it, I'd written 100 entries. That's what you'll find in the book.
Hmm. Your predilection for brains seems to indicate an interest in zombies. What dealings have you had with these creatures, and do you have a favorite zombie horror movie?

I think I'll save my personal zombie encounters for my memoirs (to be published once I'm dead...or undead, as the case may be). As for a favorite zombie movie, that's a tough one. I'd have to say Shaun of the Dead.

An excellent choice. So let's talk about the Day that is upon us. Describe your fondest memory of Halloween.

My fondest memory was a caterpillar costume my mother made for me when I was 7. Everyone thought I was an alien or a monster. I thought they were crazy. And how I loved that costume.

Well, not so much to worry about on my end as far as costuming, since vampires are perpetually in costume. What are your plans for celebrating the Ghost Wonderful Time Of The Year this Halloween?

This is the first time in... I don't know how many years, that I'm not throwing a Halloween party. Many things have led me to taking a year off, which was a difficult decision but the best one to make. So it's the first time where I've been free for the celebratory weekend and I have had the worst time trying to figure out how to celebrate it. So far, it looks like a party at someone else's house on the Saturday, and then I plan to carve pumpkins on Halloween Sunday, followed by a tour of local haunts, an evening in a small lounge consuming martinis, and then finishing the night by watching the premiere of The Walking Dead on TV.

And I'm sure we can all agree that Ghoul should have a much-deserved (and possibly long-overdue) rest. Do visit Ghoul's lovely blogsite (merely click our title link above) and share in her ongoing celebration of the wonderful and weird, and obtain a copy of her book and perhaps even buy some of her artwork, which is on sale at Etsy from time to time.

In closing, the other Grrls and I are delighted to have been able to celebrate Halloween with you this season, and we are very grateful for your patronage. We wish that all of our readers (and the new fiends we made this season) have the most wonderful Halloween ever.

The Mad Doctor will be in soon with our last post for The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, so do stop in on the 31st. Happy Halloween to all!

Warmest regards,
Bethany Ruthven

POST-MORTEM: Ghoul Friday was kind enough to review the Mad Doctor's first chronicle of The MonsterGrrls, in addition to a fun and fanciful product from Write On Riot. View her review here. --B. R.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Hi there, children of the candy corn! This is Harriet Von Lupin with The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and I'm back with another Tale From The Monster Shop! This is the week before that big, Big Day, you know it, you love it, c'mon, dudes, give it up for Halloween! OWW-WOOOOOO!!
All this week we've been talking to all kinds of Horror Hosts, those funky,
funny, creepy, crazy dudes and dudettes who host late-night horror shows on TV, seeing you through all sorts of horror films and making them fun to watch! (Literally, in some cases!) And I'm super-psyched about the horror host I'm talking to today, 'cause he's an actual werewolf just like me! That's right, gang, I'm conversing with Wolfman Mac from the great state of Michigan, where he hosts Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In, a cool, hip and happenin' retro-horror show full of classic scares interspersed with the crazy adventures of W. M. and his gang of monster misfits! Let's grab some popcorn and sodas and see what's playing at the Drive-In!

Dude, it's so
cool to interview you for The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween! Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do!

Thanks! I am a late night B-movie horror host. Our TV show is called Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In. It's about a werewolf that owns a drive-in, in the town of Hauntington Heights. We show all the classic public-domain monster and sci-fi flicks like The Screaming Skull, The Crawling Eye, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, House On Haunted Hill, etc, etc. Our show actually has a story line each week--think of it as Seinfeld meets The Munsters.

Dude, animated body parts and haunted houses--you can't get much more classic than that! But tell us a little bit about Chiller Drive-In. Where can non-Michiganers view your stuff?

You can watch us every week on the Retro Television Network. Soon we'll be expanding to Dish, Uverse, and we'll also have all of our former episodes available to watch online.

Cool! But since you show all those classic horror films, let me ask you this: what's your take on modern horror versus classic horror?

There's something for everyone. For me, I'm not into the rape and mutilation flicks at all. That isn't scary. When I go see a movie, I wanna be scared. I tell ya, those Paranormal Activity flicks provide a pretty decent scare! I'm more into a good haunting, alien or creature flick. As far as the classic stuff goes, I love it because I feel that all those great monster flicks like Wolfman, Dracula, Creature From the Black Lagoon, are how we see Halloween and that 100 years from now, people will still watch those.

So speaking as a Wolfman, what werewolf movie is truest
to the werewolf legend?

Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Wolf Man.

Totally cool answer! Since we're almost to Halloween, what's your favorite Halloween tradition?

Cider mills, haunted houses, checking out yard haunts, decorating my loft like crazy. Actually, I keep some Halloween stuff up all year. I wanna get back to having a house party again; I miss doing those.

What's happening at the Chiller Drive-In for Halloween this year?

biggest event I have is my Devils' Night Bash at the Dearborn Marriott on October 30th. Only $5 to get in. 'Bout 1,000 people. And I'm the DJ for it!! Ha! Then, the next day, on Halloween, I'm gonna marry a bunch of people as the Wolfman at the Erebus Haunted Attraction right here in Pontiac, MI.

That sounds great, and what a cool Halloween memory for all those folks! Thank you so much for talking to us!

Thanks very much for talking to me! Hope everyone has an awesome Halloween. And as we say here in Hauntington Heights, "Stay Creepy!"

Wow! Wolfman Mac is gonna have a fantastically awesome time this year, and if you wanna see some of his cool stuff, contact him, and join his Facebook page, check out his Chiller Drive-In website by clicking our post title link at the top of this post. He was totally groovy to talk to, and here's hoping you have an absolutely groovy-ghouly Halloween this year!

See you soon on The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and dudes, the Day is almost here! OWW-WOOOOOO!!!

Love to all our Fang Club,
Harriet Von Lupin

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Hey there, y'all! This here is Petronella Nightshade, what am called Punkin, welcomin you back to The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween! Today I am doin another Tales From The Monster Shop interview, and speakin to another one of them horror hosts. He is Mr. Eerie Lee Shivers, what is from Portland, Oregon and hosts Uncle Eerie's Shiver Show. The Shiver Show has got all kind of classic horror and science-fiction movin pictures, plus Mr. Shivers and a bunch of other monster folk come in between and do funny stuff and such.

Mr. Shivers himself is an old-fashioned gentleman what is a little bit undead, but I don't hold that against him and you won't neither. Sometimes them what becomes undead can retain some of theirself because they was real strong personalities when they was alive, and Mr. Shivers is just full of all kind of personality, as you will see from this here interview. So here is me and Mr. Shivers talkin.
Howdy do, sir, and blessings be on you! Welcome to The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and thank you for joinin us! Would you please tell us somethin about yourself and what you do?

Well, that's a great question! As for who I am, Eerie Lee Shiver's the name, but most folks just call me Uncle Eerie! As for the doin', I've been a lot of things over the last century or so; grave digger, carny, snake-oil salesman, moonshiner, medical cadaver. I've also done some things I'm not so proud of... but any-howl, most folks would probably know me best by most recent career choice - as the host of Uncle Eerie's Shiver Show, Portland, HORROREGON'S premiere late-night Shock Theater show!

Well, it takes all sorts to make the world. But what inspired you to become a horror host?
Well, take a look at me! Bein' a horror host just made sense for a dashin' creature of the night, such as myself! But it was seein' all those great hosts before me that truly helped me find my calling in...ahem, "life". It was horror hosts like the great Zacherley, Ghoulardi, Commander USA, Joe Bob Briggs, Elvira, Svengoolie, and many, many more! They taught me that a life full of bad movies, bad jokes, and a heapin' helpin' of monsters could be a profession! Turned out my third grade teacher was wrong, after all. Take that, Ms. Schimmelman!

You might have somethin there, sir. But where can we see your show, in and out of Portland?

Well, you can catch me on the TVs here in Portland on TVCTV Channel 21, on Comcast Channel 22, and on Verizon Channel 11! You can also find me online on Youtube and on! And there will be even more opportunities to watch yours ghouly, very soon! Stay tuned, boils and ghouls!

We sure will!
What's your favorite kind of horror picture to show?

My favorite kinds of films to show... well, I like to mix it up, you know. Keep it freshly rotten. Particularly any kind of monster movies! But if'n I had to pick one specific type, I guess I really dig the truly wild, off-the-wall films; the weirder, the better--movies like Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter or I Drink Your Blood. Those rare kinds o' movies that make ya question the sanity of the filmmakers for making it, and your own sanity for watchin' it. In fact, I guess ya could say that I like my movies like I like my women: crazy!

Well, since you're a horror host and you see a whole bunch of them movin pictures all the time, I want to ask you somethin. How do you think horror pictures have changed over the years? Do you think modern horror is better than classic horror?

Hmmm - intriguing question, indeed! No, I don't think modern horror is better, just different. Horror's a genre of film that rather overtly depends upon changing with with the times, in some ways. What was scary to folks 100 years ago isn't what's scary to them today. But the good ones always work, are timeless, because the themes are universal. James Whale's Frankenstein may not be as terrifying as it once seemed to audiences, but it's still a great movie because the Monster is still a tragic figure, and because it's a great story. Same with a movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's still going to be scary 20 years from now, because we're also going to be wary of going into the wrong house and never coming out. Plus, big guys in flesh masks throwing around chainsaws is pretty unnerving, to most folks. I would just call it my next-door neighbor, but heck, that's why I'm a professional.

I think horror is rather cyclical, in some ways. Trends come and go, only to come back again. Right now vampires and zombies are big. A while ago it was ghosts and slasher films. Alien invasions and giant monsters seem to be on the rise again. And throughout it all, people always seem to find new ways to touch upon the fears of the ol' Collective Unconscious.

There's a few trends I'd like to see come back, though, personally. I miss the good ol' Satanic Cult stories, full of awesome men's jewelry and nubile, naked virgins--talk about yer good clean fun! And I would also like to see more mummies. Ya can just never go wrong with a good Mummy's Curse story!

That there was real thoughty, and I for one appreciate your ideas. But what would you tell anybody who wanted to become a horror host?

What would I tell 'em? Don't! I don't need the competition! But if'n they were really dyin' to do so, I'd say just go for it. Have fun with it, and also be prepared for a lot of hard work. Just remember to enjoy being as zany and silly as you can possibly be. Oh, and of corpse: be prepared to watch a lot of really, really bad movies!

Well sir, we've asked a bunch of other folk we talked to about Halloween, since it is the season. What's your best Halloween story?

Well, well! I still remember watching Night Of The Living Dead for the first time on Halloween, while a thunderstorm raged outside, and almost half a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups all to myself. Hard to get better than that.

Mighty true indeed! What's your plans for Halloween this year?

Well, to see what Everybody's Favorite Uncle is up to, you'll have to watch Uncle Eerie's Shiver Show Howlin' Halloween Special! But I can tell you it'll involve a lot of good fiends, some horror-themed highjinks, and equal parts trick and treat! Tune in, turn on, Drop Dead!

And as you can see from this here video above, Mr. Shivers is always up to somethin interestin. If you will click on our title link, you can find his Myspace page, which will tell you all about Mr. Shivers and his show. It was real fun talkin to Mr. Shivers, and I am hopin that you will go look him up on that Youtube because it is all a right smart.

So I am done here, and may blessings be on you and yours this Halloween. Don't forget to come back round for the next postin in The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and may you and yours have the happiest Halloween ever! Blessings be on all of you!

Petronella "Punkin" Nightshade

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hello, everybody, and Happy Halloween! This is Frankie Franken for The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and today I'm reporting with another edition of Tales From The Monster Shop. Today we are talking with Ms. Monster, who hosts an outrageously wacky horror show in San Francisco called Hel On Ice, which features B-movies, cartoons, shorts, and her two puppet co-hosts the Monster Melons. (I know you all think they're something else, but they're actual melons. Really.) The lovely and blue-skinned Ms. Monster gives us the rundown on it all, so here's our conversation.

Welcome, and thanks for joining us on
The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en
For Halloween! Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Ms. Monster is that blue-skinned mistress of mayhem! Together with her Monster Melons, Tit & Tat, we host the late night horror variety show called Hel on
Ice. Ms. Monster was not always blue; it was a case of accidental incantation - and her & the melons were formed. You can read about it in our origin comic book released this year at our online store!
Well, I can relate to blue skin, having green skin myself, so I'm at least half that color. But what inspired you to become a horror host? How did Hel On Ice get started?

Hel on Ice started as an anthology comic, with the characters Ms. Monster & the Monster Melons pulling the short stories together. Eventually we got a cable access spot and BAM, we created Hel on Ice with a bunch of very creative individuals. The comics & the show are a great way to distract the Melons from destroying the world. It's an outlet for them to channel their energy.

Can you tell us a little about the Monster Melons?

The Monster Melons, Tit & Tat, are little bringers of doom. Tit likes peanut butter pie and poop varieties and Tat likes to work in his science lab crossing DNA strands. They wreak havoc 99% of the time but the other 1% they'll step in to protect me, should I need it.

Who creates the comic books available at your website?

The comic books are drawn and written by Marc Nordstrom & Aaron Farmer, with occasional influence by the
Melons & Ms Monster.

Are there any restrictions about the kinds of movies you can show?

Our show is mainly online now, so we show what we want when we want, within the confines of all rebroadcast/copyright rules of course

What future plans do you have for
Hel On Ice?

The show is going to get bigger & better. Lately we have been doing our shows
live, which is a whirl of fun. We hope to incorporate more independent filmmakers into the show going forward. We have an amazing group of people that watch these movies with us at The live chat-along has changed the world of hosting forever!

What's your favorite Halloween memory?

Halloween... my favorite memory was going to the long empty street the town dump was on. There was one house with an elaborate lawn on this dark street. The owners created a Halloween haven and had people staged in all the bushes with a head witch in the main house. You had to sneak through the hedges and the lawn to get there to get to the main witch to reach in her cauldron to get candy. The lighting, the freaky mummies and goblins in the bushes jumping out and carrying you away from the main house were so
scary. It was awesome. I could never get enough.

My other favorite memory was at a haunted house in Salem, MA. My mom was in theatre and we went to visit this haunted house where her friends were working. Typically in a haunted house they aren't allowed to touch you, but as they 'knew' we were coming, this was not the case. This zombie man came running out and grabbed me and ran me into a dark room into a pit of fake insects and spiders. It was equally awesome for the scare.
And as you can see from our interview, Ms. Monster has channeled all of that wild energy to bring us Hel On Ice! Be sure to check out her website by clicking on our title link, where you'll find videos, memorabilia, and episodes on DVD!

Golly, we're almost to the day! Be sure to join us soon for more of The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween!

Francesca "Frankie" Franken

POST-MORTEM: The photos of Ms. Monster in our post are by Petrina Cooper (standing and graveyard shots) and Tristan Crane (the Vampira tribute). Click the links above to visit their websites.