Posts tagged universal horror
Posts tagged universal horror
R.I.P. Carla Laemmle (October 20th, 1909 - June 12th, 2014)
Among the guests at her 100th birthday party in 2009 were Ray Bradbury, Bela Lugosi Jr., Sara Karloff, and Ron Chaney.
This is extremely saddening. Where was I when this news broke? How come it wasn’t mentioned at all in any major news outlet?
Carla Laemmle was the daughter of Carl Laemmle, founder of a little film studio called Universal Studios. Her first on-screen role (albeit uncredited) was as a dancer in the original 1925 silent version of The Phantom of the Opera, but she became something of a cult figure by speaking the very first lines of dialogue in the classic 1931 horror film, Dracula.
I can’t say that I collect autographs, but hers was one that I very much wanted, simply because she was the last surviving link to original horror films. She’d been there since the genre’s inception, and has only watched it grow and/or deteriorate throughout the years. She’d always been insanely energetic and lively during her interviews, and even at 104 was signing autographs for fans. She just seemed really fascinating and lovely, and now she’s gone. At 104, I can’t say I’m surprised or shocked, just, again, saddened.
Rest in peace, Carla.
So Motor City Comic Con has come and gone, and, despite some disappointments, I had a great time. Sure, the lines were of biblical proportions, and, yeah, it was more crowded than Wal-Mart on Black Friday. But still, those little frustrations are all part of the con-going experience!
I made a few pretty OK purchases yesterday, but only one or two I’m really excited about. So, instead, let’s talk about the things I was forced to skip at this year’s MCCC.
10. Original Marvel Secret Wars Action Figures
Secret Wars was one of the funnest comic arcs to ever exist, not to mention one of the very first company-wide crossover events in comic book history. The story goes that Mattel wanted a toyline that would compete with Kenner’s DC line. So Mattel sat down with Marvel and basically said “Look, using test groups, we’ve determined that kids respond positively to the word ‘secret’ and like big, expensive vehicles, weapons, and fortress playsets. Make it happen, Marvel!”
So, really, Secret Wars is one big toy commercial, and it really shows. Random alien vehicles come out of nowhere, Doctor Doom transforms an old castle into his makeshift fortress, and dozens of heroes and villains come together for silly reasons to fight.
However, the comics were infinitely more popular than the toyline, and remains one of the most influential crossovers in comics. To own a piece of history like that would’ve been cool.
9. Anything from This Guy’s Stand
You know what’s great about MCCC? It’s very much a comic con, of course, but it also dabbles in horror. This guy’s booth is a pretty OK example of that.
I wish I knew who this fellow was, because he was selling some pretty ace horror stuff. He drew up classic monsters like Gill-Man, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and even Jason Voorhees, and applied them to T-shirts, magnets, posters, and buttons.
I loved the concept, really. Unfortunately, none of those shirts were things I would wear outside of the month of October, which was just a wee bit too far away. Still, by the time September rolls around, I’m gonna be kicking myself for passing up that Creature from the Black Lagoon shirt…
8. LEGO Minifigures
If there was one thing I was willing to spend too much money on, it would be the minifigures at this LEGO booth. You know how I am with LEGOs, and the second I saw them at the con, I practically shoved innocent children out of my way to get a better look.
Minifigures. Hundreds of them. Right there, little yellow hands up against the glass, begging for me to buy them.
However, when I say “I was willing to spend too much money” on these guys, I meant ten bucks. Maybe even fifteen. But thirty? Thirty American dollars for one minifigure? Sorry, old chap, but I can, and have, found those exact same bad boys for much cheaper on eBay.
Still, it was with the heaviest of hearts I passed this booth by without buying a single minifig…
7. Hush Catwoman
I’ve mentioned before my desire to find and own a Hush Catwoman figure. Not for any perverted reason or anything, but simply because she’s the best drawn and best written character in one of my favorite Batman arcs.
I’ve searched high and low before, but all of my journeys have been in vain. Until, however, yesterday. There she was, for thirty-eight bucks. Probably could’ve haggled the guy down to thirty-five.
As I looked at this treasure, however, I was forced to ask myself what I would do with her. I mean, I’d absolutely have to keep her in her box, and just leave her on my shelf, right? I guess I realized that I wasn’t the die-hard toy collector I wanted to be (contrary to everything else I post on this blog), and put her down.
The search is no longer over, however. If I can find her a little cheaper, maybe even out of the box, in the future…she will be mine!
6. Cary Elwes’s Autograph/Photo
I know character actor and part-time Errol Flynn impersonator Cary Elwes from two very different, but very good, films: The Princess Bride and Saw. I mean, sure, he was in Men in Tights and Liar Liar as well, but I personally knew him from those two other flicks.
When I found out he was going to be at MCCC, I felt excited, but forced myself to shrug it off. It’s not like he was an enormously-influential actor in my life.
Still, as I walked back to stand in the line for Stan Lee’s autograph, I passed his booth, and he was talking with a fan and seemed to really be enjoying himself. When I passed by his booth later that day, he was gone.
I dunno, it was just a bit of a bummer. I could’ve met Dread Pirate Roberts! And I didn’t. Oh well…next year promises to bring another batch of awesome B- and C-list actors, and I’ll no doubt find at least one of them to say hello to.
5. Hot Wheels Back to the Future DeLorean
By now, I don’t even need to tell you how I feel about the Back to the Future trilogy. So, by now, you should know exactly why I regret leaving this guy behind.
The stupid thing is that I swear I already own this exact Hot Wheels car. The exact same one. Was it worth ten bucks to own another?
But it would be infinitely easier to find it on eBay for a buck.
4. Daryl Dixon’s Wing Vest
Daryl Dixon is the Agent Coulson of The Walking Dead, exploding from a mere background character into one of the most beloved characters on the show. He’s made crossbows the zombie-killing weapon of the decade, and unintentionally lumped “racist rednecks” into the “sparkling vampires” and “misunderstood Norse gods” category among rabid fangirls.
He has this vest, you see. And it’s so bad in the best kind of way. If anyone else from TWD was wearing a leather vest with wings poorly sewn onto it, they would be the laughing stock of the show. But Daryl Motherfucking Dixon wears it, so it’s now the most fashionable thing ever.
I know it sounds like I’m dissing Daryl, but I swear I’m not. You all know how I feel about him. And owning his vest, even one as poorly-made and deceptively-expensive as this one, would’ve made me feel awesome, if only for a few moments.
3. Silver-Tipped Cane from The Wolf Man
Guys, this has been my holy grail for longer than I care to admit. The silver-tipped cane from The Wolf Man is as iconic to classic horror as Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory equipment. It’s the catalyst that eventually leads the innocent and good-natured Lawrence Talbot to becoming the terrifying Wolf Man.
I love it. I love it I love it I love it. I literally dropped everything I was doing and ran to this thing when I saw it being sold by some vendor specializing in canes. The price tag was a bit too pricey for me yesterday, but mark my words, I will soon own that cane. And I’ll use it all the time.
2. Amazing Spider-Man issues 121-122
MCCC was filled with so many rare and sought-after comics that it made my head spin just thinking about how much money was crammed into the building. Almost every vendor had a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1, which is insane. The first issues of Hulk were also everywhere, but nobody wanted to even touch those considering how impossibly-expensive they were.
I’m not a collector by any means. When I get a comic, I want to read it. Sure, I’ll store them in plastic sleeves, but that doesn’t mean I’ll keep them under lock and key.
I was just looking for Amazing Spider-Man issues 121 and 122, known to comic geeks as “The Death of Gwen Stacy Saga.” It’s one of my favorite arcs in all of comics, and the trade paperback version was the very first trade paperback collection I ever owned. I knew it would be expensive to find these two infamous issues, but, like I said, I’m not a collector. I don’t need a “graded” copy or anything. Give me one that has water damage and a torn page, I don’t care!
My search was fruitless yesterday, as issue 121 was nowhere to be found. I’ll check eBay one day. Maybe.
1. Beast Wars Transmetals RatTrap
This was it. The straw that broke the camel’s back. This was the one thing at MCCC that made me go “I need to write an article about things I just couldn’t buy!”
That’s the Transmetal version of RatTrap, from Transformers: Beast Wars. Also known as the version of Transformers that got me into Transformers. It hasn’t necessarily aged well, but it’s still nostalgic in all the right ways. And that’s exactly how we do it here at DJC.
RatTrap was the first and only Beast Wars toy I ever owned, and it’s a toy I’ve lost again and again. If I could just own it again, and glance at it whenever I fucking want to again, I’d be a happy man. So when I saw some cheap Beast Wars toys at a giant toy vendor (the same vendor selling the Secret Wars figures), I shoved people out of the way looking for my favorite armored, transforming, robo-rat.
And I found him. His paint was stripping, he came with no instructions, and he looked to be stuck in mid-transformation. But that was OK. Hell, that’s what my RatTrap looked like for the most part anyway.
But thirty dollars? Thirty bucks for a toy that looked like that? I wanted to do it, readers, I swear I did. But I just…couldn’t. Not like that.
So I just want to give a big “screw you” to the guy who priced a crappy RatTrap at such an expensive price, and for shattering my dreams.
I don’t want to end this article on a bad note. Here’s a picture of a guy I saw at MCCC wearing a homemade Iron Man suit:
Can we just be honest with ourselves here and admit that Universal Studios made some of the best classic horror films of all time?
We can? OK, good. Let’s continue with the article then.
Around the time Universal’s poorly-received monster mash-up Van Helsing was released, the studio decided to be extremely awesome and release “Legacy Collections” of their most popular horror franchises. And I ate them up like candy.
I only have three on my collection now, but I dare say they’re three of the best.
I’ve mentioned in passing before that I’m a huge fan of The Wolf Man. I definitely prefer him to, say, Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster, because his entire mythology is so much more fascinating. Pity the remake was a pile of wank.
The Wolf Man was written by Jewish writer Curt Siodmak in 1941, right after he escaped Nazi Germany. Obviously, the whole “Hitler wants to kill Jews” thing shook him up a bit, and got his creative juices flowing. The Wolf Man, in turn, is really a terrifying satire on the uprising of the Nazis (if you think about it). Plus, Lon Chaney Jr. Nuff said, guys.
The Invisible Man is a ton of fun to watch, simply because of Claude Rains, who plays the titular Man. His voice is booming and demands to be heard, and his dialogue is brilliant and terrifying (“We’ll begin with a reign of terror, a few murders here and there…”). Plus, the whole “he’s invisible” gimmick is done mind-blowingly well, considering this movie was finished in 1933.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon is also great fun, especially considering its two fsequels actually create a trilogy chronicling the Creature’s story, instead of just three unrelated movies starring the same monster. And as much as I love the Gill-Man, I still find him more of a sci-fi monster, like the Xenomorphs or the Predator, than a horror monster like the Wolf Man.
No hard feelings, Gill-Man.
These DVD sets would be awesome if they included nothing but the one movie by itself, but Universal went above and beyond. The Wolf Man set includes three extra films (including the phenomenal Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), The Creature set includes two, and The Invisible Man set includes a walloping four!
If nothing else, the box designs looks great, especially for Halloween. If my Mood Table wasn’t so small, I would’ve stood them up and made them month-long decorations. I guess I can settle with just watching them, of course.
I feel like once I hunt down and buy the Frankenstein set, my collection will be complete (I was never a huge fan of Dracula, and I prefer the ‘99 Mummy over the original…haters gonna hate.)
So, apparently, there’s this thing in Detroit called the “Motor City Comic Con.”
I was not aware of this until last week. I’m painfully broke, but decided to go. You know, you make friends and buy overpriced stuff I didn’t really need.
This is the result.
It was painfully hot today, and I really didn’t want to wait in the painfully long line. Fortunately, I did a little something called “bought my ticket ahead of time like a boss”, so I was able to skip all of that nonsense and walk right into…
Holy mother of crap, this place had so much stuff. Too much stuff. And all of it wanted to be purchased by me. And I wanted to purchase of all it. So badly. My wallet disagreed with me, of course. Stupid merch-blocking wallet…
There was a ton going on. I actually think this is literally what the term “organized chaos” means. There were booths and kiosks and stuff set up everywhere, but there was no particular order. There were artists trying to sketch right next to giant toy stands. It was madness, but in the best possible way (But, no, it was not Sparta).
The first thing I noticed was this huge tower made up of T-shirts. Like…dozens of T-shirts. Then I realized that the tower was hollow, and there was an entire room on the inside made up of even more T-shirts! Hundreds of ‘em! An entire room! It was crazy! And so expensive! And why was it so expensive?!
There were so many things here, and I’m so glad they only accepted cash. If they accepted credit, I would be in debt for the rest of my pathetic little life.
There was one booth in particular that just sold a bunch of wicked “Universal Classic Horror” stuff. I’m a huge fan of those flicks, especially The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Invisible Man. And there was plenty of memorabilia to go around.
There was another booth that rivaled the “Universal Classic Horror” booth. It’s a booth I like to call “The Steve Booth of Awesome”, because it seriously seemed like it was made just for me.
I’m also an enormous Ghostbusters nut. I have posters and T-shirts, but for whatever reason, I don’t have a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man toy. Why? I don’t know! And they were selling them by the truckload at MCCC! However, I quickly learned that sad, borderline tragic truth: everything at this place was way overpriced. So I was forced to say good-bye to that thirty dollar Stay Puft bank and walk away…
Speaking of Ghostbusters, they were selling action figures. But, like…legit action figures. Action figures that actually looked like their respective actors and characters. I’ve seen pictures floating around of these bad boys, but I’ve never seen them live and in person. They’re beautiful. Just look at Venkman!
That’s a legitimate Bill Murray action figure. And I want need it. Oh damn do I want need it. Unfortunately, it was thirty bucks. Again, had to walk away…
See this? This is Marty McFly Junior’s hat from Back to the Future part II. If you know me (wouldn’t blame you if you don’t), then you know that I’m an insanely huge BttF fan. In fact, it’s my favorite film trilogy of all time. So to pass up this hat…this beautiful, gorgeous hat…was almost too painful for me.
I was also forced to walk past a Slimer plush, which was chilling next to a IS THAT A CHIBITERASU PLUSH?! Yes, it is. It was. It was thirty-five dollars. I didn’t have that kinda cash to spend on a stuffed animal, even if it was the adorable protagonist of Okamiden. I’m 22-years-old, for crying out loud. I just can’t do that anymore!
Inside, I want you all to know that I’m crying.
Seriously, though, this booth had everything I could ever want, from Chestburster plushies to an action figure of Samurai Jack from the episode where he and an army of dogs just destroyed an army of beetle robots (aka, one of the best episodes of any animated show ever). And I didn’t buy either. Dammit, comic cons, for having overpriced everythings!
I will seriously always make an exception with buttons. I don’t care if I make a promise to the Pope himself and say “I will not buy a single thing at this convention!”…I will still buy at least five buttons. Which I did. And I regret nothing.
Oh, hey, this was a comic convention. I was so obsessed with the horror and toy aspect of it, though, that I barely even glanced at any of the comics. Which is a shame, because there were plenty!
Venders were selling a ton of classic Silver Age issues, and I wanted a couple. However, this being a COMIC con, I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford the ones I wanted. I found the issue where Gwen Stacy dies, selling for $150. Now, that’s a fair price, and I knew I’d never be able to afford that. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t looking at the comics? With the toys, I knew I at least had a chance at affording them.
These are glasses. Like, drinking glasses. And they were all just so rad. Retro and rad. And twenty bucks a pop. I love drinking out of glasses with Spidey’s rogues gallery on them, but not for twenty dollars.
I did end up buying a couple of awesome mini-posters though. One for Dream Warriors (Nightmare on Elm Street 3, for those of you who are new to this) and one for Evil Dead II. I like this style of movie posters, and I think I’m gonna start a collection. Because…why the hell not?
This was definitely not a place to go if you were looking for awesome cosplays. I’d say maybe only 10% of everyone there was in costume, and about 5% of those people had really awesome costumes. Case in point, this was my group:
We were awesome, but we were missing a few people to make our Scott Pilgrim group rock ultimate. Like the rest of the Evil Exes. Or, you know, a Scott Pilgrim.
Oh, and there was a dude dressed as Balloon Iron Man.
All in all, this wasn’t a bad day. I made a couple of badass friends, saw some phenomenal merch, and didn’t get killed by the mobs of crazy fanboys. I’ve experienced my first Motor City Comic Con, and I wasn’t terribly disappointed.
Next up: Youmacon.
So I had to drive about an hour away from my city to stop by very remote GameStop the other day. The reason: that was where the only used copy of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in the entire state of Michigan was located. It was a journey that tested my very humanity, but I finally had the precious game in my hands.
See, I had played Wind Waker a long time ago. Borrowed it from a friend. He took it back and I never played it again. With my brand spankin’ new used Gamecube chilling in my room, I knew that I needed a brand spankin’ new used game to go with it. Wind Waker was that game.
However, this article isn’t about Wind Waker (that will be a much longer post filled with happiness and exclamation points). Nay, this is about the Toys R Us that was right next door to the GameStop, and the pretty awesome stuff I found there.
See, I’ve been out of the loop for a while when it comes to kid toys. I have no clue what the kids are into anymore. There was this thing called “Beyblades” that was hip for a while, I think, but now it’s something called “Bakugan”? I don’t even care. It’s all silly stuff that I would’ve never played with as a kid.
However, deep within the confines of this Toys R Us were…
TOYS I WOULD HAVE PLAYED WITH AS A KID
Stinky Little Trash Monsters
I wasn’t into the Garbage Pail Kids growing up, but I was into Meanies. Does anyone remember those bad boys? They were basically spoofs of Beanie Babies, which were insanely popular at the time. They had such wonderful creatures to collect, like the “Velocicrapper” and “Floaty the Dead Fish.” This little guy is named “Preemie.”
Yup. I ate those things up with a spoon as a young, impressionable child.
My point is that I’m no stranger to the “gross/bizarre” toys that are marketed to young boys. We are, after all, made of snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails. Guys like sick stuff.
I’m not sure the Stiny Little Trash Monsters live up to their names, but they are pretty cool. They each come in their own trashcan and have stickers attached to their bellies that are supposed to represent their insides.
The “gross” factor is still there, but it’s much tamer than it was when I was a kid. I’m alright with that, though, because 7-year-old me would’ve still wanted to collect all of these guys.
Any guy who was born in the late 80s/early 90s remembers Creepy Crawlers. They were my “thing” in the family when I was young: my sister had Polly Pocket, my brother had Sonic the Hedgehog, and I had Creepy Crawlers. I made so many of those stupid sticky bugs and plastered them all over the house, constantly trying to reenact the commercial by freaking out my sister. It never really happened.
This box looks like it’s straight from the 90s, complete with the original logo and dark, colorful Creepy Crawler-making machines. This was, again, trying to cash in on the “boys like icky stuff” notion, and I played right into their hands.
My parents stopped buying me Creepy Crawlers after my fifth one got stuck in the carpet…anyways, moving on.
RETRO SONIC THE HEDGEHOG TOYS
Sonic the Hedgehog was the character that got me into gaming oh so many years ago. I played every single one of the games (Except Knuckles’ Chaotix. Even as a kid I wasn’t interested), watched the cartoon religiously, and even read the comics. However, I never did have a Sonic plushie. Lord knows I would’ve wanted one.
This is nice because, in an attempt to help sell (the rather brilliant) Sonic Generations, Toys R Us and Sega have been releasing retro Sonic toys. I’m insanely tempted every single time I see one to just buy it. Because I like my blue hedgehogs to be short, plump, and have black eyes. Modern Sonic just isn’t my Sonic…
Anyways, speaking of which, go play Sonic Generations if you haven’t yet. It’s pretty fun and filled with nostalgia.
UNIVERSAL MONSTER PLUSHIES
I wasn’t crazy into classic Universal horror as a kid, but damn am I now. However, there was no Wolf Man in sight, so I passed on these.
IRON MAN WEARING CAP’S MASK
This has nothing to do with anything. Just thought it looked funny.
KENNER STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES
As a child, I loved Star Wars. All of them, but especially Return of the Jedi. I had playsets, Legos, action figures, toy lightsabors, a ton of model ships…it was amazing.
Then Phantom Menace came out and suddenly it wasn’t cool to like Star Wars anymore. That didn’t stop me from having my B-Wing and Slave I duke it out in a dogfight to the death.
Anyways, these Kenner action figures are now being sold in the old-school packages, which delights the hell out of my inner child. Example, this guy is a B-Wing Pilot. He has no name and, aside from the fact that he pilots one of my favorite ships in the series, he means nothing to me.
But I was still tempted to buy him just to stare at the box he was in.
I figured I wouldn’t have to talk about this as much, because you can’t walk into the video game section of any store without seeing this set-up. As an adult, I can see that this is all a scheme to get parents to spend a ton of money on unnecessarily-expensive toys that really don’t add much to the game.
But as a kid…this would’ve been my new Pokemon. It’s literally perfect for kids: Kids love collecting stuff. Kids love monsters. Kids love video games. And kids love toys. This combines all of these aspects into one epic money-grabbing game.
Don’t make that face. You know if you were 8-years-old you would be begging for all of these. And if you don’t think you would, think about that time you cried because your mom wouldn’t buy you that Beanie Baby you really wanted.
Skylanders is one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen for kids in a long time. However, this list has been building up to something. A toy I saw that literally made me do a double take. I would’ve wanted it as a kid, and I want it now.
TEST TUBE ALIENS!
Guys, out of everything on this list, this is the one I wanted the most. They’re aliens that you raise in a plastic test tube. They’re like Sea Monkeys and those stupid “it grows in water” toys you see in dollar stores, only better!
But look at this box. Just look at it. The premise is so simple, but the box says “No. This is important and amazingly awesome. You need this Test Tube Alien.”
Again, there are six gruesome aliens that you can collect. However, upon further research, I discovered that there were six more you could find. And these new six aliens were “pure evil” and fought the “good” aliens.
Ignore the phallic cocoon this guy is in. Because, according to the box, once you add water, the cacoon will dissolve away and reveal an infant alien. Inside of this alien are lights in the chest and brain that will freaking glow once it’s hatched, representing a brain and a heart.
Like…there is so much more I could go into, but holy crap I need these now.
There’s a whole backstory to these guys, too. And each little alien has their own name and bio. The guy I was drawn to was a little blue dude named Spron, who, according to the back of his box, “uses his beady red eyes for human mind control.”
I dunno, this was the sort of crap I was into as a kid. Creepy monster stuff that had a backstory , like Skannerz. Anyone remember Skannerz? Talk about an epic marketing campaign! I think I even still have mine…
Aw yeah! These things were awesome!
Anyways…I’m seriously gonna go back and buy one of those Test Tube Aliens. Maybe even two, just for kicks. I’m glad that there are toys out there that still rely on and fuel a child’s imagination, and aren’t just there to sell movie tickets.
MINI MUGGS NICK FURY
Because I spent a ton of my money on Gamecube games earlier that day (I regret very little), I didn’t want to spend too much money at TRU. I settled on a little Nick Fury toy, part of the Mighty Muggs line. I’ll be honest, I never saw the appeal of the Mighty Muggs. They looked silly and weren’t as cool to collect as, say, MiniMates or the Hasbro 3 inch figures.
But I picked this fella up today, not because I’m a particularly big fan of Fury, but because I want him around in case I have a really stupid day. I can look at him and pretend he’s inviting me to be a part of the Avengers Initiative.
I’m a little pathetic, but I’m OK with that.