Friday, May 10, 2024

Music To Eat Lunch By (and other classics)

If there's one thing that ALL of my Out Of Bodies brothers LOVED to do for each other - it was THIS... we LOVED to present each other with mixed tapes. Not just ordinary mixed tapes, but very often mixed tapes in which we spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME creating ridiculous cover art for. It didn't really matter what was actually ON the tape - the COVERS were the thing that would always get us chuckling.

We loved cutting out pictures... applying rub-on lettering (remember Letraset? Now THERE'S a blast from the past!)

Here's one (or two, or three) that Joe recently re-discovered while going through some things he had in storage, that I made for him years ago... and he sent me these pics.

 
 

I love the fact that he intentionally presented this one in SUCH a delightful setting...


 
Oh oh.... Freak Tunes?


 
Yeah...
I should've known THAT was going to happen!
 
- - - 
 
 



Monday, May 6, 2024

Cassette Tape Vending Machine




What? Not a single Out Of Bodies cassette?

- thanks, Mike Sargent


- - -

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Wasted: A True Story

Every now and then, just for shits and giggles, I do a search to see if any of the animated things I've done YEARS ago while I worked at Ovation Films pop up on YouTube. You'd be surprised at what I've found... long forgotten things like McGruff The Crime Dog, The Berstain Bears Play Ball, Deck The Halls With Wacky Walls... and lo and behold, someone posted a drug PSA I worked on... "WASTED: a true story" - a 30 min live action Public Service Announcement with interspersed animated segments throughout.


It's always fun to find these - keep in mind I was only 19, this was my FIRST job - and here I was working in a relatively small animation studio at 33 West 45th street that looked pretty much like what you'd expect it to look like in the early 80s - an old building a few doors over from a greasy spoon diner where a guy was flippin' burgers on a grill - just around the block from the diamond district. I'd take the subway and a bus before that, all the way from College Point in Queens - this lanky, long haired kid who didn't look all that much different from the kid I was drawing (minus the bloodshot eyes, of course!)


Ovation Films was run by Art Petricone and Howard Basis - who I met a year earlier in '79 during my senior year at The High School of Art & Design as part of an Internship Program. When High School finished they offered me a job - and although I just applied to SVA I thought... Hmm... go to SVA with the HOPES of someday working in the animation biz - or ACTUALLY working in the animation biz RIGHT NOW! (seemed like a no-brainer, eh?) I actually ended up STILL going to SVA (at nights) where I'd frequently bump into my other friends - who all seemed to be working on one thing or the other - one guy (Hi James!) was working on decapitating zombie heads at Industrial Light & Magic... another (Hi Pierre!) worked with Neal Adams... my OOB brothers (Hi Dan, Joe, Mark, Lloyd) to name just a few, were all buzzing around - these were indeed magical times!



Eventually I was approached by the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Guild, like a scene out of Goodfellas - welcome to The Animation business, kid! You're a made man now... now pay your dues! This is also when I met some unforgettable people - animators like Bill Davis, Helen Komar, Yvette Kaplan, Vinny Cafarelli and Candy Kugel - all who've taught me immeasurably valuable lessons! I remember groups of us would go to the Art Students League together to do life drawing - we'd go to the Thalia Theater to watch a Max Fleisher retrospective on Betty Boop - Oh, and did I mention on one occasion with them I had a face to face with Jim Henson (and Kermit The Frog)?


Okay, okay - but you came here for Wasted: a true story... sorry, I got carried away... Back in the early 80s PSA's were all the rage - McGruff The Crime Dog was Taking A Bite Out Of Crime and First Lady Nancy Reagan was kicking off her "Just Say NO!" anti-drug campaign. Ovation won out on the bid to the "Wasted" project and Howard presented me with the task of drawing out the scenes, depicting Tim (the real-life character of this story) in various scenarios of drug-addled decline. Tim going after his sister with a knife, Tim confronted by his mother when she notices her family heirloom candle-stick holders have gone missing, Tim smoking weed, Tim popping pills, Tim drinking booze, Tim hitting rock bottom, Tim not fitting in anymore with his friends - you get the idea.


Howard did the animation and as usual, I assisted him with the in-betweens. The ladies in the ink and paint department, which was within ear-shot of where I sat, were having a ball adding bloodshot eyes to the cell drawings when the client sent the note that Tim needs to look "more stoned". 

I actually don't think I ever got to see the completed film until now - over 40 years later! Seeing it now I was reminded how the tail-end of the film was done by another studio - I had forgotten about that - who for some reason seemed to ignore how Tim looks in the beginning of the film, as if they had never seen the preliminary drawings, and they drew him unrecognizably different - but perhaps that was the whole idea? It was, after all, meant to show how getting high changed Tim into an "old man version of himself". 

I believe the last sequence animated by Howard was when Tim is in such bad shape he sees the Devil itself - just before the animation style seems to slip into this weird, dream sequence with photographic backgrounds and a stumbling figure that appears to have been a live action segment that's been rotoscoped - very reminiscent of what Ralph Bakshi was doing in those days. Suddenly it turned into a very different film altogether.

Me, as drawn by Bill Davis


I also remember that nobody liked the pacing of the live-action segments. Tim and his sister seem to tell their stories in slow motion - the viewer begins to feel stoned just LISTENING to them - and that was when it first came out! It did not age well... recent reviews of the project have called it "cringe-inducing"... and it's prompted many reaction videos on YouTube and even a re-dub.

And yet, back during its premiere, when its prime audience was older elementary, junior and senior high school students, as well as teachers, parents, counselors and law enforcement authorities -  "Wasted: a true story" had won awards. It was part of a cooperative effort of the public school system, the American Council for Drug Education, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments - and back when they were still counting these things the project involved 7,400 teachers and 184,000 students and their families in 592 Washington-area schools. But that was then... today a staff writer at The Merry Jane warns "This Anti-Weed PSA will make you LOSE YOUR MIND."

Well - if YOU'D like to lose YOUR mind as well I've included it here below for YOUR viewing pleasure - - or displeasure - - whatever... Don't like it, you can blame Nancy Reagan. 

- - - 


- - - 


Saturday, April 13, 2024

Yu-Gi-Oh! and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - an interview with Lloyd Goldfine!

 

 

Courtesy of 4Kids Flashback Tara Sands and Steve Yurko here's an exclusive interview with my buddy Lloyd!

Anyone here would know him as a member of our band The Out Of Bodies - but did you know Lloyd was a Director and Writer at 4Kids Entertainment who worked on Yu-Gi-Oh!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Incredible Crash Dummies, Viva PiƱata and Rocket Monkeys? Hold onto your hat, 'cause its true! And for a short while here's a link to an interview that was recorded just a few weeks ago! ENJOY!!

The link below will take you to the 4Kids Flashback Podcast page - once there just click on the episode: 

A Heart Of Goldfine with Lloyd Goldfine

 

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Remembering Harry


While cleaning up in my den I came across this... my signed copy of Harry Nilsson's The Point. Nothing much to add tonight - 'cept that it took me back to this... "Meeting Harry"...

https://the-oob-blog.blogspot.com/2022/10/the-last-time-harry-nilsson-ever-sang.html

...and that particular memorable moment I had with Harry. Check it out.


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Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Beatles Now and Then, and Forever

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT...


 

Here we are in 2023 and the Beatles are chart toppers once AGAIN??! 

The abandoned third Anthology track "Now and Then", which was meant to accompany The Beatles "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" in 1995 - but shelved due to excessive tape hiss and glitches galore - has been resuscitated - CLEANED UP (using AI technology - more on this later) and COMPLETED by the last two surviving Beatles - Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

...It's also (as of this time of writing) a Top 10 Hit on Billboard's charts (at #7) and #1 on the UK's Official Singles Chart!


BUT BEFORE I GO ON

Let me just squeeze this in here - - right upfront...

The bottomless quagmire that anyone writing about the Beatles finds themselves in is that just about ANYTHING said about the Beatles has ALREADY been said - and NOW AND THEN is no exception. Since it's release the media has been inundated with opinions, reviews, praise and scorn (although not too much scorn, actually) and - dear God - those teary-eyed REACTION videos on YouTube! So let me say right off the bat - forgive me - I may be preaching to the choir (or schooling the academy?) when I state the obvious, reveal the well-known, and refry those Beatle beans... but since you're already here...


 

EVERYONE KNOWS (DON'T THEY?)

1994 was the beginning of something beautiful. At the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony where John Lennon was posthumously inducted by his widow, Yoko Ono - she hand-delivered a cassette to Paul McCartney which contained several John Lennon home recordings that he did in 1977. On the tape were the unfinished/unreleased recordings of "Free As A Bird", "Grow Old With Me", "Real Love" and "Now And Then".

"Grow Old With Me" had already been released on "Milk And Honey" in 1984 - (and again in 1998 on the John Lennon Anthology box set with full George Martin orchestration) so the three surviving Beatles (dubbed The Threetles) focused their attentions on the other three songs for the Beatles Anthology sessions, which commenced in March 1995.


It was big BIG news back then just to learn that the remaining Beatles all agreed on reuniting - and they were going to utilize home recordings of John Lennon to release "NEW" Beatles recordings! I remember watching the countdown on TV for the "Free As A Bird" video. WHAT WOULD THIS SOUND LIKE? The anticipation was met with something unforgettable - a familiar sound that resonates in our DNA. Ringo's drums, George's haunting slide guitar, Paul's suigeneris bass, John's voice which sounded both familiar and ethereal - and those Beatles harmonies... even moreso on their second song "Real Love" - we were actually HEARING the Beatles again.

COMMENCE THE NITPICKING

Now SOME would say - adding three former Beatles to a John Lennon demo - does that REALLY make it a Beatles track? Okay - what are we going to do here - call in LAWYERS? Define a Beatles track. One might say - it's not the Beatles unless they're all alive, in the same room, recording at once... and perhaps you'd be right. But others would say (aside from saying go f-yourselves) that we'll TAKE WHAT WE'VE BEEN GIVEN... for "Free As A Bird/Real Love" was the "reunion" we thought we'd NEVER live to see. Although, technically, it was three Beatles and John Lennon on cassette tape - nonetheless it was beautiful... heartfelt... and we're awfully GLAD they did it (I know I am!) 

Now, let's get to NOW AND THEN...


NOW...

Considering that the original demo of Now And Then was almost undecipherable, incomplete and somewhat depressing (due to sound quality - not sentiment) it's nothing short of amazing what Paul McCartney did with it. Okay, let's address the elephant in the room... artificial intelligence software had SOMETHING to do with it - and it was somewhat controversial.

Now let's be clear - we're not talking robot John Lennon here - what you hear is 100% John Lennon. The original recording was John Lennon singing and playing piano on cassette tape - with a TV playing in the background (yes, you read that right - a TV was playing in the background!) So what this AI software does is it learns the sound of John Lennon's voice - and then pulls every OTHER sound that's NOT John Lennon's voice (piano, TV, tape hum, clicks and ticks) OUT. That's it - plain and simple. Oh you should have HEARD the panic I heard when Paul announced that the tape was being salvaged by AI - - everyone thought the worst of it - - John's going to be artificially created! Paul's ruining the Beatles! ...Not so. Relax.

AND THEN...

This technology wasn't available in 1995 when Jeff Lynne had the production task of working with "Free As A Bird/Real Love" - which is testament to what a genius producer Lynne is, as he did a terrific job. the Now And Then demo tape - as anyone who's heard it will tell you - was a REAL MESS. George Harrison, at the time, called it "f-ing RUBBISH". They gave it a few tries. McCartney said "George didn't like it. The Beatles, being a democracy, we didn't do it." 


Listening to the Now And Then demo?

 

...AND NOW...

Present day - upon learning that they were now able to get AROUND that problem Harrison's widow issued a press release stating "George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard. If he were here today, Dhani and I know he would have wholeheartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of Now And Then."

A COMPLICATED ASSESSMENT

So... Was it good? Was it worth it? What do you THINK? First, a handful of comments sent to me by friends...

"It's a bit of a dirge. I just watched the video for the first time. It's fantastic. Much better than the song. I don't think there is any George on this. It's a shame this is the last "Beatles" song."

Another said they felt chills, "first by the song, then the video gobsmacked me again! This is the closest we'll ever get to having a religious experience. One thing's for sure - we picked a great band to love!"


 The Out Of Bodies pretending to be The Beatles

 

HIT PLAY

I too, like much of the world, heard the song first - without visuals - and, like much of the world, absorbing this as the "LAST Beatles recording" went into this ALREADY clutching a box of Kleenex. The first thing you hear is Paul's straightforward piano - playing very true to what John had done while he lived at the Dakota 47 years ago. Then John's voice comes in - as Paul had said it would be - crystal clear. .....CHILLS.....!!

I found myself straining though to hear George's presence - I wondered if that slide guitar was his (I learned later, it wasn't - it was Paul) - and then you hear the beautiful addition of orchestration added by George Martin's son - Giles (very nice, very nice!) - and what's THIS? Beatles harmony in the background? Where did THAT come from? (Turned out, as I read later, they used background singing from "Because", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Here, There and Everywhere") - - and then, before you knew it, the song shifts down in tempo, and ends. Knowing that there was no real ending on the demo I was wondering how they were going to handle this part. At 4 minutes and 8 seconds, the song ends. I was left wishing there was more.

WANTING MORE

Up against "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" which have George's slide guitar ALL OVER them - you DO notice that, even with the orchestral embellishments of Giles Martin and Paul filling in with an admirable George-like slide guitar, Now And Then DOES still seem to be... MISSING... SOMETHING... 

...that integral, unmistakable George slide guitar. He might be playing acoustic guitar on this, I'm not certain - I know there was something of George's carried over from the Anthology sessions, but you wouldn't know it. It must have been daunting enough to complete "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" without John... it must've been even harder to do "Now And Then" without George.



 

THE VIDEO

The video does a very good job at filling in some of these gaps - although to some, it also seemed highly manipulative. Intermixed with present day grey-haired Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr we see Beatle-day George Harrison in a Sgt. Pepper suit and a smiling, dancing Beatle-day John Lennon - pointing at the others - as if even HE can't believe this AMAZING REUNION.

I became instantly fascinated with this video - but I remember saying to my buddy Lloyd "Just don't do what I did... started to look at animated young John and George, frame by frame... you look too closely they start to look like marionettes." Where he answered "Yeah, no point." "I know!! I have a tendency to look behind the curtain. It spoils things. But overall, VERY NICE!!" and he answered "No... you have a tendency to enjoy hearing YOURSELF COMPLAIN!"

The video also appears to have an aim at convincing us all that George, does in fact, contribute to (and approve of) Now And Then - as it includes 1995 Anthology Session George - strumming along while Paul mouths the words. Ringo is also there, of course, playing the drums - although he decided later to re-record them.

Likewise, with the overall meaning of the song - 1977 John was probably not singing about his other half of the Lennon/McCartney partnership - but film-maker Peter Jackson, who created the Now And Then video, would help cement it forever more - that it's NOW a love song between old friends - living and departed. John Lennon, looking out across the ocean, sees four young Beatles clad in striped bathing suits circa 1963. 

I know it's true, it's all because of you,
And if I make it through, it's all because of you

None of these visual connectors are coincidental. It all appears to be carefully crafted - handpicked - to create the perfect BEATLE-FAN DREAM. And for most of us it's just what we wanted - it's just what we need - especially now.

Now and then, I miss you.
Oh, now and then, I want you to be there for me.
Always to return to me.

 


AND IN CONCLUSION

The world is a cynical place, where nothing is off limits to armchair critics and cynical types everywhere... (sometimes I find myself doing the same thing!) and I've grown tired of those who've said that Now And Then shouldn't have been done - and questioned McCartney's motives - as if he needed the money. Please - the guy is a multi Billionaire - he doesn't need the money. Maybe Ringo does but NOT McCartney (that's a JOKE folks, relax!!) I see it as a loose-end that was lovingly tied up nicely and shared with us all. It could have easily been left as a "what if" - and I'm glad that McCartney decided to give it another go.

Perhaps he wouldn't have if technology didn't make it a possibility - surely he had seen how it helped turn 55 hours of Beatles documentary footage into the critically acclaimed "Get Back" series - it made it look and sound as if it was recorded yesterday - even though it was 54 years ago. So for all of the bogey-man status AI has gotten recently, at least in this case, it's done more good than harm.

The Threetles 1995 as imagined by Mark DeGross.


AND IN THE END

With every passing day and a quick browse of YouTube - Now And Then CONTINUES to inspire discussions, demo to finished track comparisons, more reaction videos, note by note analysis and even cover bands doing versions of the song as if it was recorded circa 1964. For all the fuss and controversies surrounding Now And Then - to me it's simply a moving remembrance of four brothers who had each others backs and in spite of their problems never lost track of the fact that they truly loved each other. 

NOW AND THEN... AND FOREVER.

- - - 





Saturday, October 28, 2023

Night of the Living Dead - Revisited!

 

I had a brief encounter with George Romero, or as he's known to his fans "the Godfather of Zombies" - the creator behind the iconic "Night Of The Living Dead (1968)" and an ongoing onslaught of these shambling flesh eaters for the next four decades... "Dawn Of The Dead (1978)", "Day Of The Dead (1985)", "Land Of The Dead (2005)", "Diary Of The Dead (2007)" and "Survival Of The Dead (2009)"... 

It was at one of those comic conventions, Big Apple Con 2006? I think... not sure - where I also met Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark (Cassandra Peterson) and Major Healy from "I Dream Of Jeannie" (Bill Daily) - I would much rather had met Barbara Eden - but anyway... no doubt he's heard this a MILLION times - but as he was signing his autograph to the Night Of The Living Dead cast and crew photo you see above I said something like "You know, you scared the SHIT outta me with this movie!" and without missing a beat (as if he was taking what I just said LITERALLY) he looked at me through those big Sally Jessy Raphael glasses and apologetically quipped "Oh.... SORRY about that!!"

 

But yeah... okay, In reality I DID manage to retain bowel control - but he really DID scare me - - over and over and OVER again. And I can say with absolute certainty, and without hyperbole - he really DID create the modern day ZOMBIE. No one can argue that. Without George Romero there would be no Walking Dead comic or TV series of the same name - which in itself went on longer (and continues to go on in spin-offs) much longer than ANYONE had anticipated.


What IS IT with these zombies that captures the hearts and minds (not to mention, the brains and spleens) of so many? Back in 1967 when Romero set out with his film crew to that little farmhouse south of Pittsburgh he had absolutely no idea that HIS concept of zombies was going to be such a huge cult phenomenon - often copied, elaborated on, and cemented firmly into the eternal canon of unforgettable monster troves loved by millions.

 

PRE-ROMERO ZOMBIES

Prior to Romero's concept zombies were more "magic" than science. They were more or less, to put it plainly, arguably NOT dead at all - but helpless individuals... stripped of their free will... controlled by and repurposed to do the bidding of their captor. They were basically robots, put in their predicament by sometimes nothing more than mind control - other times via supernatural means? Ask anyone in monster circles worth their salt what the first pre-Romero zombie movie was, and they'll tell you "White Zombie" (1932)... and that's pretty much how they remained until about 35 years later.

A pre-Romero Zombie, 1932
 

ROMERO'S VISION

It's difficult to surmise if Romero set out to intentionally create a new genre of zombie - or if his "Night of the Flesh Eaters" (as it was originally titled) was just interpreted that way - and it stuck. Either way it certainly didn't hurt his career and he gladly accepted the notoriety. No matter whatever else he did he would always be known for his zombie pics.

 

ENTER ZOMBIE #1

When we're introduced to zombie #1 (as it was listed in Romero's script) it took EVERYONE by surprise. When Barbara and her brother Johnny go to the Evans City Cemetery to pay their respects to their recently departed mother, Johnny (being somewhat of a jerk to his sister) insists on scaring her by pretending the dead all around them are after her, by saying the iconic line of the movie "They're coming to GET YOU, Barbara!" In the distant background we see a figure of a man walking through the cemetery - who is, at this point, seemingly just another "visitor". "Look! There's one of them NOW!" Johnny says. She tells Johnny to "stop it!" and warns, "he'll HEAR you!" They have NO IDEA what's about to happen...


When zombie #1 comes closer Barbara is too ashamed to look directly at him - and when it lunges at her Johnny intercedes and wrestles with it - falls backwards - and hits his head at the base of a tombstone. Zombie #1 seems more interested in Barbara and pursues her - leaving Johnny behind. At this point, we (the audience) are just scared witless - who IS this man? WHY is he acting like that?  Barbara flees, loses her car and shoes - and ends up running into a nearby farmhouse - crazy man in relentless pursuit. Something is DEFINITELY wrong with that guy - but no one knows .....WHAT!??

 

 

 

Barbara finds a half-eaten corpse on the second landing and goes to run from the house - where she meets Ben, who is also running from the dead, who are now appearing in greater numbers. They discover more people hiding in the basement. No one knows WHAT'S GOING ON or WHY...  Romero plays with the audience by leaving much of the horror off-screen. We only get to HEAR about the individual encounters with the dead that these people have gone through. Then there's the radio... that radio that plays an integral part in the movie.

As my buddy Joey pointed out years ago, the eerie news reports coming in over the radio add much to the movie's sense of anxiety. To hear the confirmation that the recently un-buried dead are coming back to life and attacking (and in EVERY instance, EATING) the living was a horrifying nightmare in which to come to terms with.

Joey pointed out that when he first saw NotLD when he was just 13 years old, during the radio broadcast scenes, the network showing the movie superimposed the disclaimer "A DRAMATIZATION" that scrolled across the bottom of the screen - as if ANY ONE tuning in might actually think the news reports were REAL... and that the dead were actually COMING BACK TO LIFE! Imagine that... as if the movie wasn't terrifying ENOUGH... NOW it had us imagining what could very well be just beyond our own window blinds!

 


TEAM SLOW or TEAM FAST?

Some years after the first NotLD, with the popularity of video games and their need to keep gamers engaged, a newer rendition of zombies have cropped up - or more accurately, a different variant... zombies moving at hyper speeds - running, chasing, darting at and tearing apart their victims like wild animals. This led to debates among zombie fans everywhere, splitting into two different camps. The zombie purists (like myself) preferring Romero's original SLOW moving zombies VS the FAST moving zombies as depicted in movies like "28 Days Later" and the 2004 remake of "Dawn Of The Dead" by Director Zack Snyder. You had to pick a side. I opted for SLOW moving zombies with a multitude of reasons to back me up (and yes... I know how sad that sounded just as it came out of my mouth...)

The OOBs pretending to be zombies.

 

DEAD or ALIVE?

Firstly, I argued that fast zombies could hardly be categorized as zombies at all. To me, they weren't so much reanimated dead as they were "infected". What other explanation could be given that would make someone move QUICKER "dead" than they could EVER have moved when they were "alive"? Throughout all of Romero's zombie movies (and in most ways even throughout The Walking Dead, which for the most part follows Romero's template) there is SOMEWHAT of a logic that remains intact. 

With Romero's slow-moving zombies, once you're re-animated you come back NO physically different (aside from black rings under your eyes and perhaps a pale complexion) than you were BEFORE - most notably NO additional strength, NO added vigor - and you DON'T suddenly become Usain Bolt! Your body moves as if some force is pulling you along - you move spastically.

With the fast-moving types - one might argue that they're not dead at all... they just caught some really bad "rage virus" that turns them all into Tasmanian Devils. Face one of those, let alone a whole bunch of those, and you'll quickly be outrun and torn to pieces. Sure, that might SOUND like a scary thing - but in my humble opinion something shambling towards you with racoon-eyes is much scarier. When I first heard about AMC's Walking Dead and learned that they were following George Romero's zombie guidelines, I knew it was going to be something I could get behind. Unfortunately, Romero himself - when asked to participate in the writing of a few episodes for The Walking Dead series, respectively declined.

ANOTHER LOOK

Watching NOTLD again just before writing this brings up a few things I should mention. I've already gone through the fact that Zombie #1 played by Bill Hinzman is one of the CREEPIEST zombies I've EVER seen. It's his depiction that beautifully sets the whole creepy tone for the rest of the movie - and creates somewhat of a zombie precedent for the whole franchise. Watching it again today I realized that he's really not all that slow. He actually pursues poor Barbara with a fair amount of speed and unwavering persistence. While Barbara manages to outrun him, it's not the speed that worries you - it's that these things don't tire. They don't need to sleep and quite frankly - besides chasing you they don't really have anything else to do! He stumbles, jerks, spins about stiffly - doesn't know where the hell he is - eeshh, even thinking about him now gives me the willies. Let's move on from zombie #1, shall we?

Another thing I realized while watching this again - these zombies in the FIRST NOTLD movie - there's not a single scene where they attack anyone and BITE. You only hear on the radio about them eating their victims. There is a scene where two victims blow up in a truck as they're trying to pump gas to make their escape - and after the fire subsides the zombies can be seen reaching into the smoldering truck and pulling out pieces of them and eating - but at this point it's more or less a barbecue, isn't it? Even the little girl who dies in the basement (I'm going to assume anyone reading this has already seen the movie) doesn't bite her mother, she actually picks up a trowel and plunges it into her chest. Okay, she does eat her dad's arm off - but that's mostly off-screen.

 

FROM NIGHT TO DAWN

By the time Romero gets to "Dawn Of The Dead" ten years later you DEFINITELY see things in that film that you simply can NOT unsee. The only time I've EVER found myself feeling queasy - and I'll never forget it - is that scene in the beginning of the movie where a woman runs up to her husband (not realizing he's dead) and he takes a BITE out of her throat! I saw this in the movie theater and I remember hearing the entire audience SCREAM!

I mean the whole audience actually SCREAMED!!!

Again.... full circle back to George Romero signing my picture. I should of added he almost made me toss my cookies! But that was Dawn Of The Dead - a much gorier picture - back to Night Of...


 

It's creepy - and the creepiness doesn't happen due to any excessive in-your-face gore - because yes, there is SOME, but to today's standards it's really subdued. The zombies, aside from their behavior, and a little dark make-up around their eyes - look just like your Aunt Matilda, and George your neighbor who lives down the road. Maybe that's what makes it creepy. They're people you know...

...but they're NOT.


 

There's also lots of social commentary that people can easily read into the movie, which was in part by design but mostly happenstance - as Romero explained - the real-life assassination of Martin Luther King Jr happened just prior to the film's release. Although the script never mentioned race, the lead character, Ben, played by actor Duane Jones, is black - and there is palatable discourse between him and Harry Cooper, played by Karl Hardman, the white father of the family featured in the film - who Ben ends up shooting.

NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING

The film's ending took many audiences at the time by surprise - Ben survives the night, only to be mistaken as a zombie in the morning and shot in the head by a gun toting posse sweeping the area. The movie ends with disturbing, grainy stills of zombies (including Ben) being impaled on meat hooks and thrown on a bonfire - while a canned, echoey soundtrack plays, intermixed with the sound of walkie talkies makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end. The End.

Now.... try going to sleep.

 

THANK YOU, MR. ROMERO...

 


- - - 



Sunday, October 8, 2023

The OOBs present Monster Trivia, Vol 1: Vampira



In celebration of Halloween month here's a little random pop culture moment brought to you by The Out Of Bodies - - a little MONSTER TRIVIA I happened upon not too long ago...

DID YOU KNOW.... 

...that BEFORE Cassandra Peterson's Elvira (Mistress Of The Dark) - TV's most recognizable Horror Hostess with the Mostess... there was Maila Nurmi's Vampira - who in addition to the Elvira persona inspired the likes of other lovely creatures of the night like Lily Munster (of The Munsters - 1964) and Warner Comic's Vampirella (1969) - three of my top ten favorite vampire gals. Yes, it's true. We most likely wouldn't have these ghoul gals if it weren't for Maila Nurmi.


Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster

Forrest J Ackerman's Vampirella


Nurmi's life story was that of tabloid news. She was television's first horror host on KABC-TV.  Throughout the 50s she'd grab any appearance as Vampira in both TV and film. She starred on Broadway in the horror-themed "Spook Scandals" in which she "screamed, fainted, lay in a coffin and seductively lurked about a mock cemetery" - according to reviews. She was also a chorus-line showgirl and a frequent pin-up model posing for magazines like "Famous Models", "Gala" and "Glamorous Models".

She was stalked by creeps (both unknown and known - including the likes of famous Hollywood legends like Marlon Brando, who used to climb into her apartment via fire escape for late night booty calls - and had a baby with Orson Wells, who because he was married decided to give it away. James Dean, who had a brief relationship with Nurmi, believed she was "obsessed by a Satanic force".

She went on to hit even harder times - did odd jobs including linoleum installation, and being increasingly desperate for work reluctantly said yes to Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (dubbed the worst movie ever made - although today it's got a bit of a cult following)


 

Bad Blood...

In 1981 she was asked to revive her Vampira character for television, in which she wanted actress Lola Falana to play the title role. Producers disagreed and Nurmi ended up quitting. They put out a casting call and comedic actress Cassandra Peterson auditioned and aced the role. Unable to continue using the name Vampira (which Nurmi owned the exclusive rights for) the producers quickly renamed the show Elvira's Movie Macabre. Although Nurmi quit the project, she claimed Peterson was hired without her approval and she responded by suing Peterson for supposed similarities between the Elvira and Vampira characters. She lost... and with that, slipped into obscurity.

 

Elvira with a "hands-on" assistant, 1981 to present...

 

In her later years she would meet fans in diners to talk about the old days, and she began to write her autobiography that sadly, she never got to finish. Although married three times she was found dead alone in her North Hollywood garage apartment by her niece January 10, 2008. She was 85. Notes for her autobiography were found in shirt pockets, behind picture frames and taped to backs of calendars. Fortunately, her niece decided to gather up these bits and pieces and continue where her auntie had left off...


 So there you have it... stay tuned for MORE Monster Trivia throughout this October and as Maila Nurmi used to sign off on her show...

"Bad dreams, darlings!"


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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Haunted Barn Is Back at the Paramount Theater!

- - Joey, 9 23, 2023


 
The Creepy season is here, so come get scared with us all over again! 
 
Haunted Barn has been running round like a flying monkey without a head these past months. Come to one or ALL of our local shows!!  Ill be hosting and moderating the discussion at the first ever film series at "Castle Finklestein" in two weeks...all of your favorite classics...all month long!! Monstrous pieces from our collection included!!  Don't miss it!!!  Then the grand Paramount Theatre beckons for their annual Horror-Thon. Haunted Barn will be "haunting" the lobby with Hollywood artifacts from our 62 year old collection!!
 
Stay Up With Haunted Barn and Watch the Monsters Come Out!

 
 
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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The OOBs Win BEST SONG Alternative Pop Rock 2023 at IndieMusicPeople.com

I really need to start paying closer attention to these things... but while randomly checking in at IndieMusicPeople I discovered the OOBs have done it once again! Yes.... we've WON

BEST SONG
ALTERNATIVE POP ROCK
2023
(Watch Out For That) CRAZY BOY!!

Yes, I'm beginning to wonder if this is all LEGIT!! (no, I kid! I kid!) Well - I should contact the other fellas and let them know... and they'll probably have the same reaction as you (heh heh heh)...

I can recall this was Dan, Joe and myself - and we were probably in Dan's dusty bedroom when we recorded this on Dan's 4-Track recorder. Pity though - I don't think we did anything past a single take and I don't hear any over-dubs - so this was pretty bare bones, even for us! Joe sings lead and Dan and I sing back-up. Guitar is as usual, Dan.

The song comes from a group of unknown street performers that we caught, if memory serves me well (which it doesn't) on some local UHF channel - only God knows what show - and I vaguely remember them being interviewed before they sang and learning that they originated from Puerto Rico and called themselves "The Crazy Boyz". One guy played guitar and sang while the others played crude percussion and sang background. To our credit, we did a near carbon copy rendition of what it sounded like.

You can listen to the song from a few places, like here... here... or here...

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