Every Halloween, dozens of websites give you the "Top 10 scary movies" or "Best Halloween Movies" or some such. If you're like me, you started your Halloween binge-watching in August and over the years I go back to several time-tested essentials. Here are my top 15 go-to Halloween favorites!
Last week's The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do The Time Warp Again, which aired on FOX, is a production I've been hearing about for nearly a year now. It starred Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Reeve Carney as Riff-Raff and Tim Curry as the Narrator. I do like the original Rocky Horror, for which Tim Curry is famous for, but am certainly not a Rocky fanatic--I've never see a midnight screening with an audience. But I did see the revival on Broadway (right after 9/11 no less) and it was one of my favorite live theatre experiences. So I certainly appreciate what Rocky is and what it represents to so many people.
This new production of Rocky Horror lacks...bite. I really admire Cox's work on Orange is the New Black and loved Carney in Penny Dreadful (the first two seasons, anyway). And of course Tim Curry needs no introduction--He was fantastic even after suffering a stroke in 2013. But, it just seemed to me the majority of the cast was imitating the original film, to a large degree. However, besides lack of strong acting choices, I honestly don't fault the cast completely. I think any issue I have is with the producers and director Kenny Ortega--whose past work includes the High School Musical franchise, Newsies, and Hocus Pocus.
Let's start with the positives--It was a really pretty production. Costumes, lighting, sets were really fantastic and well thought out. However, I feel the musical numbers just didn't have the energy that they needed--especially the Time Warp. The new arrangement sucked the energy right out of the beginning of the song and it never recovered. I felt like either Ortega or the producers didn't trust the script--or us for that matter. They camped up an already very campy script, directing the actors to make sure, we the audience, "get it." I am also going to be the first to admit that I understand the B-movie and matinee actor references that are sprinkled throughout (I am a horror host after all!). The demographic (teenagers) that this was aimed at and watched this show probably didn't get many of those references--hell they may have never seen the original Rocky Horror, for that matter. I think some of the cast didn't fully get what they were conveying, either.
But therein lies the problem. Rocky Horror was raunchy, campy film that started out as a raunchy campy stage production that found an audience within gay and underground sub-culture of the 1970s and beyond. What made it so successful was that midnight communal experience. That really doesn't exist on primetime network television on a Thursday night. It also doesn't help that sex and innuendo was downplayed or eliminated altogether. What was left was over-played and didn't have a lot of layers or character development. As a result, I got pretty board by the halfway point.
I have no real problems with remakes, for the most part. Any theatre company in the world, who can pay the royalties, can do Rocky Horror or any other show for that matter. I look at film remakes in a similar way. But, I wouldn't produce Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the local high school and I think FOX may not have been the best place to air the Rocky Horror remake. The actors could have made some more interesting and bolder choices. If you are going to remake something, you have to make it your own. This production just seemed to try too hard to be like the original. Ironically, one of the most interesting characters was Tim Curry--who played his role as the narrator completely different than his predecessor, Charles Gray. The weakest link was Adam Lambert as Eddie. Lambert turned his number into his own personal American Idol--there was no connection to the material or the other actors. He sang--but there was nothing behind the lyrics.
It takes a lot of resources and talent to produce a production like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. There are a lot of moving parts. It's just apparent that the cast needed more rehearsal and liberty to make Rocky Horror their own..
Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of visiting my friend Bobby Gammonster at Gargoyle Manor and the Monster Museum! After trying to connect in person for more than a year, the stars finally aligned and I was able to make a day trip up to the foothills of Virgina so Bobby and I could spend some quality monster time together!
I was in for a real treat at Gargoyle Manor and Bobby rolled out the red carpet! First stop--Bobby and his wife Mellissa, run Gothic Charms, your one stop shop for all your witchy and Halloween needs as well as Mellisa's awesome hand-made jewelry! Inside the manor house are every conceivable monster collectable you can imagine. There were so many cool artifacts, I couldn't even take it all in. Toys, posters, model kits, collectables, statues--from ever facet of horror imaginable. There were monster toys I had as a kid back in the 1970s that I hadn't seen since, hand-made ventriloquist dummies, a mad scientist workshop, and so much more--all lovingly displayed for anyone curious enough to visit.
After the grand tour, we settled in to film a co-produced episode of Demented Features and Monster Movie Night! We screen the Anthony Perkins TV Movie, How Awful About Allan! (You can watch both versions below on July 30th).
After we wrapped filming for the day, I was given one final and unexpected treat. I was so enthralled by Bobby's vintage Cadillac Hearse, that not only did he give me a ride in it, I was given a ghost tour of the local country side. It was an awesome day and look forward to many more misadventures with my good friend Bobby and Melissa!
You can watch Bobby's show Monster Movie Night at his channel!
Long story short, 2015 was insanely busy! In addition to hosting Demented Features, I'm also an independent filmmaker and have been working on two major projects! Last September, I traveled to Germany to premiere my film, The Trials of Darksmoke. To get ready for the premiere, I spent the spring and summer getting the film edit finished and polished. In addition to this, I shot Varney the Vampire (Or, the Feast of Blood) in 2014 and have spent the last two years getting the 28 episode series finished! Varney will premiere in March 4, 2016. Film production and editing is extremely time consuming, so there wasn't much time for filming Demented Features. But don't despair! This spring we will be catching up on the tail end of Season 3 and getting back on track with where we should be in Season 4! Look for new episodes coming your way in April 2016!
Purchase the film below through Amazon and help support Demented Features!
DANVERS: Thanks Bradley for taking the time to chat with me--I love your design and illustrations! Tell us a little about how you got into graphic design.
BRADLEY BEARD: I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. For years, I’ve dabbled in Fine Art, Pop Art, and I’ve even created a monstrous children’s book. I’ve been creating old school graphic design for over 20 years using traditional methods and materials. Under the coercion of my wife and a good friend, I decided to go back to college to earn my graphic arts degree so that I could take my skills to the next level by developing the necessary computer skills required to survive in the modern world of graphic design. I studied at the College of Southern Nevada and received incredible guidance from several amazing professors, one of whom I consider to be my mentor.
D: Tell us a little about bb2design.
BB: Bb2design is my graphic design company through which I’ll do future freelance work. In my final portfolio class, my professor had each student create their own company and logo which we were to carry with us after graduation as a foundation for our artistic endeavors. BB2Design is still in its infancy as I haven’t had the time to fully develop the company yet. My logo is currently in use and can be seen on my daily Facebook art posts.
D: You’ve been working your way illustrating all the horror hosts from the classics to modern hosts. What inspired you to do this?
BB: That is an interesting story that involves a mutual friend of both you and me. When I began my art challenge on October 1, 2014, it initially began as a self imposed challenge and a way for me to present my newest horror designs to my friends and family. A friend of mine happened to share one of my portraits with her friend in Austin, TX. At that time, I just wanted anyone who liked monsters to see my work, so I contacted her friend and asked if he would mind checking it out. He wrote me back stating how much he liked it and he also informed me that he was a horror host who is better known as Professor Anton Griffin. Immediately I knew who he was and over the course of a few months, we became friends. I grew up watching Chuck Acri and have always enjoyed Horror Hosts. I put forth the proposal to design horror hosts and Prof. Griffin was all for it. He provided the inspiration and helped me to lay the ground work for what you see me doing now.
D: Ah yes! Good 'ol Professor Griffin! He's a great guy and very supportive--not to mention a bastion of knowledge! So having drawn so many horror hosts, who are some of your favorites?
BB: Are you trying to cause me trouble, Mr. Danvers? This is a very dangerous question and it could become a very slippery slope for me if I start naming names given the current project I am involved with. Let’s just say that I watch each and every host I design and enjoy watching their shows, and yes, I do enjoy some hosts more than others. There are several hosts who have helped me out greatly with this project but that list is far too long for me to name names in the event that I might leave someone out. I do appreciate each and every horror host who I have been in contact with and who have helped this project along. I don’t have to mention names because they know who they are and they know how much I appreciate them. I do have my favorite hosts but that is a highly guarded secret.
D: Of course I'm trying to get you into trouble! It's what I do! So, clearly you have of love of classic horror! If you could design a classic (or modern) film, book or story—what would it be?
BB: I would love to say Frankenstein but after Berni Wrightson illustrated it with so such mind blowing detail and precision, nobody could ever top that and I’d never think to try. If I could illustrate a classic book, I think I would have to choose Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
D: Nice! Both excellent choices! I think your style would lend itself very well to both of those stories!! You've mentioned
Berni Wrightson and his excellent illustrations, can you tell us about some of your artistic influences--classic or contemporary?
BB: When I was very young, I found Famous Monsters #103 on the newsstand with the brilliant Basil Gogos Creature from the Black Lagoon cover. It was the moment that defined me as an artist, from then on I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, and if I could design monsters, even better. As a teenager, I discovered Berni Wrightson’s illustrated Frankenstein and this defined another aspect of me as an artist. I’ve had the honor of meeting both artists and they’ve both positively acknowledged my work. I have also studied the masters and Michelangelo would be on the top of that list. Being a comic book kid, my list of contemporary influences is great; a short list would include Frank Frazetta, Barry Windsor Smith, Neal Adams, Michael Kaluta, Mike Mignola, Craig P. Russell, Simon Bisley, Alex Ross, Chester Gould, and numerous others. When you realize that I cut my teeth on comic books, you can immediately see the influence on my style. When I was very young, I would reproduce entire panels from comic books exactly as they appeared including reproducing the thickness of the lines in order to develop my hand eye coordination.
D: I've read in one of your posts that you break the face down into shapes to create the portrait. Tell us a little about that.
BB: This was a concept that was taught to me long ago. As an artist, preconceptions of what we think something should be or look like can hold us back and can influence our work in a negative way. Simply, if you are drawing a nose, don’t try to draw a “nose” but instead try to recreate the individual shapes that form each individual nose to make it unique. In order to recreate a person’s likeness, an artist must be able to break the subject’s face down into the shapes and angles that comprise the form. Every face is different so recognizing and understanding its component shapes is crucial in creating a recognizable likeness.
D: You have created so many hosts—some of which I was not actually aware of! What is your research like for finding all of these great people?
BB: I have several horror hosts who provide me with names, photos, and information on hosts that they would like to see and several few fans also do the same. I search an incredible amount of resources and continually do numerous internet searches in every imaginable way.
D: Is your goal to do every host that ever was, or will be—(laughing)—or do you have and end goal in site?
BB: What I have is a projected completion date for the project which I will not officially announce as anything could happen and I end up missing a day. I obviously can’t include every horror host but I’m trying to include as many of the contemporary fan favorites and classic Shock Theatre era horror hosts as I can. Take for example the month of April, I’m presenting mostly newer hosts in order to possibly help give them a foot up. It’s a genre which I’m very passionate about so it’s truly been a labor of love. I’ve met and spoken with the most amazing people over the past few months, it’s turned into an amazing ride. I’m planning a finale which will include a large number of well-known hosts who I’ve not yet included and I’m planning a few other surprises as well. If I can complete the project, I hope that people will be blown away.
D: I'm pretty sure people are already blown away! I know I was! Do you have other projects similar to the horror host portraits planned in the future, or is this a one-off kind of thing?
BB: I have no projects planned at this time other than taking a long nap when I’m done with all of this. The post-a-day pace that I’m doing now is definitely a one-off thing. With that being said, I plan to keep producing more portraits and begin to reveal other artistic intricacies of my mind to my audience.
D: Anything else you want to tell the audience about your work, upcoming projects, etc?
BB: My work is fan based, I’m first and foremost a fan of the genre and I want to give the audience artwork that I’d personally like to see. I have no upcoming projects in the immediate future other than just finishing this one, seeing it to through to its intended completion date. After that, anything is fair game; we’ll just have to see.
D: Do you offer works for sale or can fans make donations to you? If so, URL, etc?
BB: I currently have no works for sale but that’s something that I expect will change soon. I’ve never even thought of donations, however, I do expect to possibly do a Kickstarter later to fund publication of my work. And again, once this monstrous project is complete.
D: I know you will have monstrous support!! Bradley thank you again for taking the time for the interview!
My good friend, James Eatock, sent me this fantastic illustration of yours truly! James is THE resource for He-Man & The Masters of the Universe! Check out his Youtube Channel for all kinds of He-Man and She-Ra goodness!