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.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Hey, y'all, this here is Petronella Nightshade, what am called Punkin, and I am doin another interview for Tales From The Monster Shop. Today I am speakin with Mistress Penny Dreadful, what hosts one of them horror-picture shows called Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers, and I was interested in interviewin her as she is a witch like myself. I been told that she is actual someone name of Danielle Gelehrter and that she is just playin a witch on a television show, but she is from New England and that is where the town of Salem, Massachusetts is, and them of you what knows your American history knows that at one time a whole bunch of witches got up to didoes up there. And y'all know that ever now and then people mention that reincarnation, what is people dyin and then comin back as somebody else, and that ain't that far from that quantum theory which says that there ain't just one universe but a bunch of universes and that there is somethin different in ever one, and so everythin everwhere is all kind of goin round and round again, so it is not so much of a much to say that she is a witch named Penny Dreadful. And so since she is a witch and I am a witch, I was interested in talkin to her, so here is our interview what we done.

Blessings be on you, Mistress Dreadful, and thank you a bunch for joinin us on our Thir13en For Halloween. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I'm a television horror hostess and a 700-year-old witch. Each week, I present films from the grave on my program Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers. I'm adept at all manner of esoteric sorcery and can play a mean kazoo.

Well, Mistress Dreadful, I put it to you that you do not look a day over 250 and so therefore you are livin right. But I am curious: how does bein a witch make you qualified to host horror pictures? Does your knowledge of all kind of arcane and mystical whatnot help you choose the movin pictures you show?

Surely. As a centuries-old sorceress, I've taken a peek at the mystical nether-regions of this world, if you will. I know of the true supernatural terror that is woven into the very fabric of the world's greatest horror films. Unfortunately I can't afford to show those films, so I show public domain movies instead.

Well, them movin picture studios do take a bite when it comes to them royalties. But we all like them horror pictures round here. What was the first horror picture you ever saw?

The first horror film I can distinctly remember watching is the 1931 Dracula.

Now that's a right smart. I have read up on you some, and you show a lot of them classic horror pictures on your television show. Tell me, do you think that modern horror done got too serious about itself?
This is a broad question and it's difficult to answer unless we define "modern horror." By "modern horror" do you mean anything made in the post-Vietnam era? Or do you mean horror films made in the past 10-20 years - stuff like Hostel and Saw? You see, there's a lot of modern horror I really don't like. I'm not sure that it's because it takes itself too seriously. Most of the great classic horrors took themselves seriously as well. To some extent, these films must take themselves seriously if we are to completely suspend our disbelief as viewers. Part of my issue with "modern horror" is its incessant "need" for naturalism, its shoddy stories, and its bland nihilism. Gone is the sense of wonder. Gone is the sublime feeling of the supernatural. There is little suspense, the pacing is frenetic, and, worst of all, we are often presented with unsympathetic characters. There are no heroes in these films. It's all rather depressing, and I quite honestly don't derive any pleasure from these types of films. Now, to clarify, I'm absolutely not referring to "all horror films made in the past 30 years" here. There are many wonderful horror pictures I've enjoyed from the last three decades. I'm referring to a specific strain of horror that has permeated the mass consciousness.

And you have spoken a truth, cause I don't like them old nasty horror pictures neither. But tell me about your werewolf friend Garou. How did you meet up with him?

Garou is my werewolf husband and henchbeast. He speaks in snarls and growls and is quite the excitable fellow. Garou actually brought me back from the grave a few hundred years ago. It was sometime in the 1600s as I recall. One night he found an old portrait of me. I had been burned at the stake and was dead at the time, you see. Well, that lycanthromantic Garou fell madly in love with my painting, and howled mournfully at the moon every night after finding it. After much searching, Garou learned of a forbidden rite. He proceeded to initiate the strange ritual and his actions resulted in my return from beyond. It was love at first fright. We had a mad monster party of a wedding. It was a lot of fun until King Kong showed up and... well, let's just say I'm still annoyed at the big ape.

Now that there will show that true love will find a way. But since it is the season, let me ask you somethin about Halloween. What does Halloween mean to you?
Halloween is a time of wonder and mystery. It's a time when dead leaves blow in the wind and the smell of autumn fills the night. It's a magical time when jack o' lanterns leer at passersby and the scent of candy is all around. Halloween is a spooky time when kids run around in scary costumes to hide themselves from the spirits of the night. I love, love, love All Hallows Eve.

That's awful pretty. What happened on your most memorable Halloween?

My most memorable Halloween was the one where I had to join forces with fellow horror host Dr. Gangrene in order to save the holiday from ruination!

Well, ain't that somethin! You have got up to some didoes before, I swan. But what will you be doin for Halloween this year?

Well, I'll be celebrating with the other witches and warlocks in the dark forests of Haunted New England, of course. After that, I'm dressing up as a ghost and giving out candy to the kiddies. Lastly, I'll make my annual broom ride across the night sky. It's going to be a busy night for fright!

Well, thank you for speakin with me, Mistress Dreadful. Blessings be on you, and Happy Halloween to you!

Happy Halloween!

So that there is my interview with Mistress Penny Dreadful, who is a good horror hostess and a good witch to boot. And if you will click on the title link of this here postin, it will take you to her website where you can find out more about Mistress Dreadful, her feller Garou, her television show, and ever kind of thing. I am hopin you will all be joinin us soon for what shall happen next on The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and that you are preparin to have the best Halloween ever. See you next time, and blessings be on you!

Petronella "Punkin" Nightshade

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. Bethany Ruthven here, and I welcome you back to The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween. This time I am reporting with a new edition of Tales From The Monster Shop, where my Grrl-friends and I interview those who are doing their own parts to make this Halloween season special.
This evening's interview is with someone a bit unusual: Master Ormon Grimsby of Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Grimsby describes himself as "an undertaker for the already undertaken" but he also seems to function as the host of a TV program called Monster Creature Feature, which reports on horror happenings in and around Raleigh as well as showing late-night horror films. I made the journey to Raleigh recently and was received by Mr. Grimsby in the elegant squalor of his funeral parlor, where we sipped hemlock tea and held the following conversation.
Darling, thank you for receiving me this evening, and for joining us on The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween. Would you please inform our gentle readers about yourself and what you do?
Why, certainly. My name is Ormon Grimsby, and I am an undertaker for the already undertaken. You see, some of my monster friends like... adjustments, shall we say, from time to time, just like the living.

I find that most interesting, because my sources tell me you are the host of a program called Monster Creature Feature, which shows horror films and reports on horror-related events and media. When did you decide to become a horror host, and what was your earliest influence towards this end?

Horror host... what's that? I do broadcast a transmission from my parlor out in the back woods of North Carolina. But you see, this is because some time ago during a freak storm, the transmission tower for the station next door was struck by lightning. The cables for the tower were downed and somehow landed in the swamp next to my 'workshop'. Ever since then I have had a direct link to the TVs of Raleigh and occasionally visit the fine folks in their homes and show a little home movie from my library.

...I see. Well, may I ask, what is your favorite horror movie? Do you like supernatural or sci-fi horror films?
Favorite horror movie... that's a toughie. But I do like the classics; I would have to say its a three-way tie between Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Fearless Vampire Hunters, and John Carpenter's The Thing.

Delightful choices all. Your biography on your website describes you as medically talented and a gifted mortician. How would you create your own Frankenstein monster?
Frankenstein was an amateur. He had no vision for his creation. He just wanted to animate life; why not start with a squirrel if that is your only aim? I would start with, "What are my needs?" A tall red head, fully loaded, able to destroy a torch wielding mob with heat vision, not afraid to pick up scraps around the house, and enjoys pina coladas and formaldehyde. Sounds like my personals ad...

Well, someone's anyway. But let's return to horror films. Which do you think is better, classic horror or modern horror?

Modern horror means different things to different people depending on age. I just like good movies, old or new.

A good answer, that! Can you tell us your future plans for Monster Creature Feature?

Our own cable station that runs 24/7 from the Ormon Grimsby Ice Scream Parlor. But until then, it's public access and the web, interviewing as many interesting folks involved with monster pop culture as possible.

Well, all great entrepeneurs must start small and work up. But let's discuss our mutual holiday. What's your favorite Halloween memory?

My fondest Halloween memory... boy, another toughie. I loved the days when you could go out door to door alone, with a pillowcase with hundreds if not thousands of other children and hit as many houses as your little legs could get you to. I remember one year having to come back home to empty my pillow case because it was too heavy a couple of times, and then going back out. You would get all kinds of stuff back then too: small toys, popcorn, apples, candy, and the dreaded stack of pennies. That feeling as a small kid that it was a special night, monsters could really be out and about because it was Halloween, and because you were alone or with a small group of friends you paid attention to every crackle off of the sidewalk. We also used to make our own costumes the week of Halloween, and that was a great part of it as well. What could you come up with in a week or two's time? Of course there were the years of the store-bought fire-retardant costumes. It is tough to pick one memory. It's easier to pick out when it stopped being all of the above.

Why, Mr. Grimsby, I do believe you've just encapsulated a most proper Halloween spirit indeed. What will you do for Halloween this year?

This year I am hosting The Halloween Hullabaloo in downtown Raleigh, where we will have The Straight 8's, The Tremors, and the surf instrumental band The Atomic Mosquitos from DC all playing in a night of pure Halloween entertainment. We have a bunch of the show with Ormon pre-recorded in old school 3-D and all guests will be given 3-D glasses to view the show. It's going to be an amazing night for all!

It sounds like a lovely time. Thank you very much for visiting with me, and participating in our own Halloween party!

No problem. Thanks for asking the old moldy monster to be a part of your Halloween!

As you can see, Mr. Grimsby is a most personable if slightly odd fellow, and one would do well to view his broadcasts, so do click our title link above and visit the Monster Creature Feature website, where one may find out more about Mr. Grimsby and company, as well as observe media and purchase collectibles from the show.

Do return soon for more frightful delights from The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and pleasant screams and Halloween dreams to all our readers!

Bethany Ruthven

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Welcome back to The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, and here's another Monster Shop Bulletin fresh from the slab--the WB Shop, Warner Bros' online store and video outlet, is making three spooky Hanna-Barbera cartoon classics available just in time for Halloween!  Produced as made-on-demand DVDs, these three toons have been wanted for years from a number of interested fans and cartoon completists, but have not warranted enough interest for a full-on DVD release.  However, Goober And The Ghost Chasers, The Funky Phantom, and the 1973-74 animated series of The Addams Family are now being released.  These titles will only be available from the WB Shop, and only in the United States.
"Who's afraid'a ghosts?"
Goober And The Ghost Chasers premiered on the Saturday Morning schedule in 1973, boosted by the popularity of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!  Filled with spooks, scares and slapstick, the series was about Ted, Tina and Gilly, a trio of intrepid reporters from Ghost Chasers Magazine who set out on assignment every week to prove the existence of various ghosts, accompanied by their snarky and chicken-hearted dog Goober, who had the ability to become invisible (showing only his red stocking cap) when frightened by ghosts.  While the series' dynamic was quite obviously lifted from Scooby-Doo, several major differences were present, such as Goober's disappearing act, team photographer Gilly's unrelenting obliviousness to danger (which often provided much of the comedy), and the fact that the ghosts featured in each weekly mystery were usually real.  There was also the added appeal of the then-popular Partridge Family Kids, who appeared often on the show and were voiced by their real-life counterparts Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Brian Forster and Suzanne Crough.  Goober himself was voiced by ventriloquist Paul Winchell, who had already made a name for himself to Saturday Morning fans back in 1968 and 1969 with his work on Wacky Races and Dastardly And Muttley In Their Flying Machines.

"It's the Spirit Of 1776, even!"
The Funky Phantom materialized back in 1971, also inspired by Scooby and Co.  This series followed the adventures of three teen friends named Skip, Augie, and April, who ventured inside an old house one night with their faithful dog Elmo to escape a storm and found a distended grandfather clock.  When the hands were set to twelve midnight, the clock released the ghosts of one Jonathan Wellington "Mudsy" Muddlemore and his pet cat Boo, two Revolutionary-War-era patriots who had hidden inside the clock from British soldiers and, unfortunately, were unable to get out.  Mudsy and Boo accompanied the three teens (who, conveniently, had a mystery-solving bent) and Elmo on their adventures, and despite the fact that Mudsy was something of a coward, he always helped the gang out when they were in trouble.  Mudsy was voiced by Daws Butler, who had previously voiced the bon-vivant lion Snagglepuss on Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear, and Mudsy's voice is a dead ringer for Snagglepuss (even).

Travels with Charlie
1973's animated rendition of The Addams Family also has ties to Scooby-Doo.  Before receiving their own cartoon series from Hanna-Barbera, the Family guest-starred on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which led to a demand for their own series.  With original Addams actors Jackie Coogan and Ted Cassidy (who had also voiced Frankenstein Jr.) reprising their roles as Uncle Fester and Lurch, this series found the Addamses traveling the country in an RV version of their creepy Victorian manse (which dug its own moat with a built-in automatic excavator wherever it stopped), and helping out some of the folks they met along the way.  Drawn to the specifications of Charles Addams' famous characters, this series lasted for three years of Saturday Mornings before retiring, but the Addamses would eventually receive another re-animation from HB in a 1992 series, due to 1991's successful Addams Family movie.

All of these DVD sets will consist of 4 discs encompassing all episodes in each series produced from the best quality masters available, and will not be specifically remastered for these releases (in other words, they're bare-bones--no featurettes and such).  The Addams Family is available right now, while Goober and Funky Phantom will be available on October 26th (just click our title links to order).

We'll be back soon with more Halloween happenings on The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween, so don't forget to check back at our crypt...