Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock presents WHY a Mystery Game

In 1958 Alfred Hitchcock "presented" a Milton Bradley board game named WHY. The premise for the game is that six people were coming home from a masquerade party one night, and took shelter from a storm in a spooky old house. They were never heard from again. Now their ghosts are haunting the house, and you need to find out "WHY." The game is similar to Clue, and if you care about how it's played you can read the instructions here.

The game has fun and cool art work. First here are the murder weapons cards...

Here are the masquerade ghost cards...

Now here's the spooky house game board. It's extra huge so you can use it as desktop wallpaper, or actual wallpaper for your home.

And last, but certainly not least. Possibly the greatest motion picture director ever... Ladies and gentlemen please give it up for Mr. Alfred Hitchcock...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Travel Brochures from the Darkside

I have a ridiculously large collection of travel brochures. I started collecting them as a kid on family vacations, and it's been a habit that has carried through to adulthood.

Here are two vintage brochures for haunted attractions near and on Mackinac Island.

First is the Haunted Fort. (To read brochure text, click photos to enlarge)

Now the Haunted Theatre...

It's interesting the that both of these attractions were advertised as a "entertainment experience" or even "educational" - not scary or terrifying.

Sadly the Haunted Fort is no longer with us, but the Haunted Theatre is still around! Check out their website, and their very, very reasonable prices. It you do check their website you'll find they're still using the pictures from their 20+ year old brochure. And weirder still, pictures from the Haunted Fort brochure are on the site too! So it looks like the figures from the Fort found a home in the Theatre.

Finally through the amazing power of YouTube I found a short little video of the Haunted Theatre. If this doesn't get you to book a trip to Mackinaw Island I don't know what will.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Animation Spectacular

Above is an honest-to-goodness fortune cookie fortune that I got not too long ago. Although I don't believe in supernatural nonsense like this, I choose to look at it as a sorta cosmic green light to do things like the holiday animation below.

Now if you're the type who likes your internet videos to feature Jackass-like stunts, or overly emotional pleas to leave Britney alone - you'll be sorely disappointed.

But if you're looking for something fun, unpretentious, and crudely animated I think you're in for a treat.

Well I hope you appreciated that just as the fortune cookie foretold.

You know, I got this honest-to-goodness ticket at the supermarket the other day. I wonder if this has any cosmic significance for my life.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My Favorite Martian

I was looking through some old files, and found this Photoshop drawing I made. I thought it turned out pretty good, but any similarities to Frankie Muniz is purely coincidental.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Gore the Merrier

With the popularity of modern gory horror films like SAW and Hostel, I bring you my small contribution to cinematic gore.

I’ve worked as a member of the VFX team for an ambitious independent science fiction film named Inzer0. Inzer0 is not a gory film at all, but I added a bit of digital gore that’s gotten a very strong reaction at public screenings.

I was given a shot from a fight scene between the good guys and bad guys. In this shot a bad guy’s face is slammed into a wall. Here’s the shot as it was sent to me before I added the effect (there is no audio)….

I’m not going to go it to any detail about how I created the effect, but I used Photoshop and After Effects. Now without further delay, here’s my gruesome handiwork (still no audio, but please feel free to make your own sound effects as you watch)…

So there you have it. I'm expecting a call from Eli Roth any day now.

If you’d like know more about Inzer0 visit the website, or MySpace page.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Mystery of the Haunted Disco

Above is a photograph of the Michigan State Fair midway taken in the late 1970’s.

That is the extent of what I know. So now the important question: what exactly is the Haunted Disco?

1. Is it a disco themed haunted house?
2. Is it a discotheque where you can dance with ghosts and monsters?
3. Is it a live show?

There’s obviously a live show of some sort going on, but I’m assuming that’s just to attract paying customers who will then go inside. Let’s examine the photo in more detail to see if it provides anymore information.

Here we see some guy in a Frankenstein-like mask doing what appears to be the robot. The two backup “dancers” look to be completely uncomfortable or disinterested. Written on the wall behind Frankenstein is, “GET DOWN TONIGHT” Is that a clue to a bigger show that happens after sunset?

“Universal Productions Alive Haunted Disco” is clearly legible. There is certainly no relation between “Universal Productions” and “Universal Studios" in Hollywood, but I’m guessing that name was selected for intentional confusion with the Hollywood Universal.

The signage on the bottom is almost completely illegible. The words “Strange” and “Horror”(or is it “Terror”?) are just barely readable.

On the right we have three haunting faces seemingly representing three generations. It’s a rather restrained and esoteric work for carnival art.

On the far left is partial shot advertising of some kind of “exorcism’. I’m thinking this could be a variation of the old girl-to-gorilla sideshow act.

Now here’s something that caught everybody’s eye. It’s awfully racy for a family event like a state fair. I’m sure there were complaints, but who wouldn't be just a little curious that there might be some hot two-headed topless chick inside. Come on, imagine the Penthouse Forum letter you could write if she was real.


I don’t think I will ever know what the Haunted Disco truly is, and maybe not knowing is more fun.

I do know this… I got about 300 words out of a single 30 year old picture.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revenge of the "Slith"

I'm sucker for a gimmick. Even if I'm not interested the product, I'm always intrigued by merchandise that's "new and improved," has a unique mail-in promotion, or comes with some little toy surprise.

I'm especially intrigued by the PR stunts and gimmicks used to promote horror movies. The king of these stunts was William Castle. He was responsible for gimmicks like fake skeletons flying over move goers heads, and buzzing the theater seats during the film.

One of the coolest sounding gimmicks ever was for the film The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies. It was shown in glorious "Hallucinogenic Hypnovision." Now prove me wrong, but it sounds so much more fun to see a movie in Hallucinogenic Hypnovision than George Lucas's THX cinema audio system.

Unfortunately I wasn't born in time to experience these wonders.

The last original horror movie gimmick I can think of came from the obscure low-budget 1978 monster movie Slithis (alternate title: Spawn of the Slithis).

As part of a PR tour the Slithis monster made personal appearances at local theaters.

Here's a UPI photo dated 5/5/78 that shows Slithis at the University of Nebraska. The students in this pic don't seem very impressed.

Besides the personal appearances, Slithis's big gimmick was an advertised "Survival Kit" handed out ticket buyers.

This was a "kit" in the very, very loosest of terms. In actuality it was a 4 inch folded card (on rather dainty pink card stock no less). When opened, on the left was an important Slithis survival warning, and then on the right was Slithis fan club info.
To complete my little Slithis Survival Kit presentation, here's a scan of both front and back.
Now if you're very clever you can print out your own survival kits. Just be sure to use pink card stock. I'm not responsible for your Slithis survival safety if you choose a different color.

If I've whetted your appetite for all things Slithis, check this guys site for an extremely long review of the film. Also here's the Slithis TV spot... Slithis... Slithis ... Slithis...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Halloween Craft Corner: Cobweb Machine

Spooky spider webs enhance any homemaker's Halloween decor. Unfortunately attempting to apply the "Bag-O-Webs" from the corner thrift store usually ends with mixed results at best.

But fear not dear reader, I'm here to save you the potentially humiliating embarrassment of shoddy webbing. If you're savvy enough (and I think you are) you to can make your very own Cobweb Machine just like the big shots in Hollywood use.

Years ago as a mere college student I drove to a theatrical supply house in search of a cobweb machine for a Halloween video project. I was told on the phone the machine cost $100, and since I had never seen a web machine before I expected it to look complex - something like a cotton candy machine turned inside-out. To my surprise it was just about at low tech as you can get, and decided on the spot I could build my own. Check this out...

On the left is a cobweb machine I found online for $99 (it's interesting to see inflation has not touched the cobweb machine market), and that's NOT including the electric drill. On the right is my homemade cobweb machine made for less than $5 (if you decide to make one for yourself your mileage may very). But whatever your construction cost, purchasing the cans of cobweb fluid will now be your biggest investment (purchased online or at your neighborhood theatrical supply house).

A cobweb machine is essentially a cup on a treaded rod with some fan blades. That's it. The trickiest thing is attaching the fan blades to the cup. My blades were made from some scraps of paneling. I used a transparent cup so I could see how much fluid was left. Now place your assembled web shooter into to your electric drill, and fill the cup about 3/4 full of web fluid.

The are no special holes for the web fluid to shoot from. You simply tighten down the wing nut on the top until the lid is tight, and then back up the nut ever so slightly. You just want the teeny tiniest hairline crack between the lid and the cup. Now give your electric drill it's all. Don't hold back, you want the machine to spin at top speed. You should now be spraying realistic webs like crazy. Gone are the days of drudgery and disappointment with those spider webs in a bag.

To demonstrate this magical web machine I set up a spooky little tableau in the above photo. On the left is the not-so-scary before photo, and the right is the terrifying cobwebbed after photo! Please click to enlarge, and experience it in spine-tingling detail!!!

Yes siree, that's some mighty fine looking webs... Oh so dramatic... Umm, are you buying this?

Okay I'll level with you, those webs in the after shot were Photoshoped. You see I had every intention of dazzling you with real fake cobwebs created by my homemade cobweb machine, but when I dug out my old can of web fluid from the basement it was empty.

Who knew that after 10 years of sitting in the can the web fluid would eat right through the side. Man that web fluid is like a really, really slow acting Alien blood!

Also it's no accident I set up my spooky little tableau outside. Cobweb fluid is basically thinned out rubber cement. If everything had gone to plan for the demonstration I'd only want shoot the webs outdoors because little droplets of fluid can spray all over. So unless you're planning to completely redo your home (new furniture, ceiling, walls, floors), I seriously suggest you don't use your cobweb machine inside.

Gee I guess we're back to buying that "Bag-O-Webs" from the corner thrift store.

UPDATE: I have a post that shows what plain old rubber cement will do if used in the cobweb machine. You can click here to check it out.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

'Tis The Season

I made the Halloween "card" above last year, and sent it out to friends and ne'r-do-wells alike. I tried to use all the classic monsters in a fun new setting. I'm working on something new this year, and we'll see what kind of fruit (if any) it bears.

Welcome and Mission Statement

Welcome Sir or Madame to Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc. We realize you have a vast choice of blog reading opportunities on the Interweb, and we're very pleased that you've dropped by to give us a look.

What is Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc.? Glad you asked!

Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc. headquarters somewhere near Detroit , Michigan

Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc. is a blog were you'll find all sorts of retro-curiosities and personal memories of pop culture. There will also be some original art work, videos and animation too.

What you won't find here is anything lewd, vulgar or obscene. Well, maybe slightly lewd, vulgar or obscene - like rated PG-13. Stuff that's just risqué enough to make your grandmother blush, but not give her a heart attack. Also this will never be a forum for political rants of any sort. Frankly, the Interweb is full of enough people standing on their soapbox, and we don't want to add to the noise.

Finally, if for any reason you're not totally satisfyied with Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc. please return the unused portion for a full refund.

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