Thursday, October 29, 2009

universal on demand: treasure island, part deux

Our friends at Turner Classic Movies have sent us word recently that this was going to happen, and today we received the official word and press release. As part of their ongoing Vault Collection series- TCM and Universal have entered into a partnership to bring to classic film fans more titles from Universal's library. These films are all digitally remastered, and will produced, akin to the Warner Vault Series, on a on a made-to-order basis. What is being now referred to as MOD (Manufactured on Demand), started with TCM's release of the RKO Lost Titles Collection earlier this year.

From the Official Press Release:
"Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) have entered into an extensive new partnership to offer classic movie fans rare vintage films, all digitally remastered, on DVD on a made-to-order basis. The TCM Vault Collection Presented by Universal marks USHE’s first foray into the manufactured-on-demand (MOD) arena. TCM began offering MOD featuring lost titles from the RKO library.

TCM and USHE are working to remaster a number of great titles never before available on DVD, with several never available on home video at all. The first titles made available include five chilling horror films, three early Cary Grant pictures and the unsung 1940 holiday classic Remember the Night, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray and scripted by the great Preston Sturges. The films will be made available by request on DVD via for the first time during the fourth quarter of 2009. TCM host Robert Osborne will provide introductions for selected titles, which will also include supplemental materials compiled by TCM and extensive material from the TCM archives. In addition, TCM will present exclusive premieres of the movies over the next six months.

“Many terrific films have been unavailable on home video for far too long, especially the holiday classic Remember the Night,” Osborne said. “It’s wonderful that today’s movie fans will be able to enjoy these rare movies. TCM and Universal have worked hard to restore them digitally and provide historical context, bonus content and behind-the-scenes information, something DVD collectors are sure to appreciate. I’m proud to be part of this great project with TCM and Universal.”

For Universal, the agreement is a great way to reach avid film fans. “Universal is very proud of its prestigious collection of Hollywood screen gems,” said Craig Kornblau, president, Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “Like us, TCM is deeply dedicated to honoring Hollywood’s golden age. This collaboration presents the perfect opportunity to share Universal’s rich cinematic legacy and celebrate vintage works with classic film fans.”

This is welcome news, and should be to classic film fans, as this process seems to be a way to bring more titles out and available to fans - as we have discussed before. The MOD may have some drawbacks, but we at The Shelf still believe it is a great opportunity to be able to have titles in our collections that wouldn't be released otherwise.

The great difference here with TCM, is that the films will be digitally remastered, and select films will include introductions by erstwhile TCM host and all around great guy Robert Osborne, and many titles may also have extras and supplemental material from the TCM archives and library (shorts? documentaries? perhaps!) This is a great step in the right direction and classic film fans should celebrate. Word behind the scenes is that other studios may be trying to do something along the MOD lines as well- so TCM and Universal have stepped up to the plate to give us the goods, as only TCM can. TCM will also premiere some of these films on Turner Classic Movies channel, which adds them to their ever increasing library. The prices for the individual titles seem to be right around $19.99- following the bar set by WB. We hope that as this MOD system continues to prove reliable and as film fans order the sets, these prices will come down. The good news is, as opposed to WB Archive- Many of the TCM titles will include extras and bonus content- which goes a long way toward making the price more palatable.

The Universal Cult Horror Collection will be available to order Oct. 31 (the TCM website actual shows it as available for order now) and includes the following titles (description from the Press Release):
"This collection will include five rarely seen horror gems from the Universal vault, most appearing on home video for the first time. Special features include over a hundred photos, posters and lobby cards, trivia, articles and more.

Murders in the Zoo (1933) – Censors had a heyday with this horror film about a zoologist and sportsman who uses his zoo animals to kill his wife’s lovers. Lionel Atwill plays the villain, with Kathleen Burke as his wife, a young Randolph Scott as the hero and the ever lovable Charles Ruggles providing comic relief as the zoo’s press agent. Among the men playing Burke’s doomed lovers is John Lodge, who later left acting to enter politics, becoming governor of Vermont.

Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942) – Lionel Atwill plays a mad scientist who places people into suspended animation and then revives them. When he is accused of murder following the death of one of his subjects, he flees on a ship, becomes stranded on a tropical island and soon becomes revered as a god by the natives. Una Merkel, Nat Pendleton and Claire Dodd co-star.

The Strange Case of Dr. RX (1942) – A mysterious killer bumps off acquitted murderers who have all been represented by the same lawyer, played by Samuel S. Hinds. Lionel Atwill, Patric Knowles and Anne Gwynne co-star, with Shemp Howard (on hiatus from his work with The Three Stooges) providing comic relief.

The Mad Ghoul (1943) – This creepy tale follows a mad professor, played by George Zucco, who has discovered an ancient Egyptian gas that turns anyone who sniffs it into a heart-eating zombie. David Bruce plays the doctor’s assistant who gets dosed with the gas and goes on a murderous rampage. Evelyn Ankers and Robert Armstrong co-star.

House of Horrors (1946) – The legendary Rondo Hatton, whose acromegaly deformed his face and made him a frequent Hollywood villain, marked one of his last roles with this offbeat film. Martin Kosleck plays a mad artist who, after saving Hatton and making a bust of his face, uses the disfigured hulk to murder art critics. Hatton died of a heart attack the year this film was released."

The Cary Grant Titles will be available January 2010 and include (descriptions from the press release):
"The Eagle and the Hawk (1933) – This vivid World War I drama stars Frederic March as a disillusioned but fearless squadron leader and Cary Grant as his bullied gunner-observer. The gripping interpersonal drama, anti-war sentiments and outstanding aerial dogfights give this film an impact that remains vital today. Carole Lombard and Jack Oakie round out a top-notch cast. The great director Mitchell Leisen, who is billed as associate director, is believed to have directed most of this film.

The Devil and the Deep (1932) – This melodrama is headlined by Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and Charles Laughton. The setting is the northern coast of Africa, where submarine commander Laughton is stationed and where his wife, Bankhead, is splitting her time between suitors Cooper and Grant. This marked Laughton’s first American film and one of his most underappreciated performances.

The Last Outpost (1935) – Cary Grant plays a British officer saved from a Kurdish tribe by fellow officer Claude Rains. But when Grant unknowingly falls in love with Rains’ wife, tragedy looms. Gertrude Michael and Kathleen Burke co-star under the dual direction of Charles Barton and Louis Gasnier."

And finally, what I suspect will be welcome news to many classic film fans, including myself, the long awaited DVD release of Remember the Night with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck! It is available starting Nov. 22, 2009, digitally remastered and with lots of bonus features!! (again, from the Press release):

"This heart-warming holiday romance – penned by Preston Sturges – marked the first of four on-screen pairings of Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck and came four years before their iconic work in Double Indemnity. MacMurray plays a prosecutor who finds himself falling in love with a shoplifter (Stanwyck) during a court recess at Christmas time. The atmospheric film co-stars Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson and Sterling Holloway and was directed by Mitchell Leisen.

Remember the Night is rarely seen and received a brief home-video release on VHS. It is being now remastered and brought back to life so it can take its rightful place as a signature holiday classic. Special features on the DVD will include an introduction by Robert Osborne; still galleries, including behind-the-scenes photos; never-before-seen interview segments on the work of director Mitchell Leisen from the TCM Archives; and the original movie trailer, trivia, biographies and more."

Now the best news of all is that as this new MOD series from TCM and Universal rolls out, they have stated "Future Universal collections and titles for rollout on DVD and TCM include vintage films from Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, Deanna Durbin, director Douglas Sirk and many more."

It looks like an early Halloween treat for Classic Film Fans. And the more that we support efforts like these, the more we will be rewarded with more titles and more access to the films we love! The Treasure Island that started with Warner Archive is getting bigger, and as we suggested- it looks like more studios are finding this to be a great way to use their libraries and reach fans. I believe more studios will soon follow. (FOX! I am looking at you!)

Stay tuned for more Classic film news and of course, more Shelf Halloween Madness 2009!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Now there's nothing as dangerous as a square shooter. If all men were like you there wouldn't be any nice girls left.

Friday, October 23, 2009

weekly halloween cartoon special: double bill

Well Shelfers, one more week til All Hallows Eve, where ghosts and goblins roam the earth in search of full size Milky Way and Butterfinger Candy Bars. And though we have been, and will continue to do so, posting favorite posts from Halloweens past, today we have a new weekly Halloween cartoon feature!

Today's feature is a double bill. First off is a favorite, not created as a Halloween special, but it fits so well- Scaredy Cat with Porky Pig and Sylvester. Here's a bit of tricky trivia as an extra treat: Bob Clampett paired Porky and Sylvester for three shorts in which Sylvester is the mute pet who sees all of the imminent threats that could befall them, while Porky is the clueless owner who thinks Sylvester is just a "fraidy cat". The series includes our short, Jumpin' Jupiter and Claws For Alarm. Our 1948 short is the first short where Sylvester receives his official name.

Retro Commercial Break!

Next up is another classic, perhaps one of my all time favorites, this time with Donald and his nephews: Trick or Treat!

Well folks- we hope you enjoyed our double feature for Halloween fun! Stay tuned for more Shelf Halloween Madness 2009!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Monsters lead such interesting lives.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

repost: nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see...

Moving went well, but as we are still unpacking and living out of boxes, we are still running some of the Shelf Halloween classics of the past few years as a special treat for our Shelf Halloween Madness 2009 celebration. Today's Shelf classic is our look at some of our favorite Halloween animated classics. Keep in mind that since this was originally posted, some more Halloween animated specials have finally been released on DVD! Enjoy!

This is very sad. Look away-please! In the last thirty years Halloween has become a major Holiday. Before the 70s, or so I'm told, Halloween was pretty much a one night celebration for kids. The major event consisted of kids going out trick or treating and maybe a school or some other organization would have a Halloween party or carnival. That was it. Then came along the animated Halloween special. And Halloween exploded until it gradually became the money drain and month-long obsession for overgrown kids that it is today. I jack o'latern you not. After the holiday specials became popular, advertisers started soaking the kids' parents for candy, costumes, holiday themed Happy Meals, food, juice drinks, and accessories. A related trend of the increased popularity of horror movies combined with the more kid oriented television and retail experience and combined to form the perfect storm. Today adult costumes near in retail sales to children costumes. Halloween is the 2nd largest holiday for candy and food retailers. In fact, dollar for dollar, Halloween is the biggest money maker, second only to Christmas. "How is that possible Mr. Loophole?" the kid in the back asks. Well, I'll tell you. See how that works? Ask and you will receive. Sit back my children, and you will hear the tale of the animated holiday special.

In the mid-60s, following the success of "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown"and "Rudolph", network execs wanted to capitalize on this new trend. The animated specials were a ratings AWWWWW- YEAH!boon and were starting to bring in some advertising bucks. The next kid-friendly holiday that seemed viable was Halloween. So in the grand tradition of striking while the iron is hot- the CBS network commissioned a Halloween special. Charles Schulz, Lee Mendelson, and Bill Melendez brought the hammer down with "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" in 1966. It was a hit, and the animated holiday special became a mainstay of network programming til the 90s. Others followed, and other holidays got the same treatment. If you were a kid in the 70s and 80s- ya know what I'm talking about. Every holiday, animated goodness descended from the great living room oracle that was the family television. You eagerly waited for the time when you could maybe stay up a little later to watch Rankin-Bass specials, Charlie Brown and the gang, Fat Albert and the Cosby kids, or any other of the numerous holiday jaunts that were available. And it wasn't just the heavy-hitters, everyone from Saturday morning series like the Smurfs and obscure one-shot specials were joining the prime-time party.

Unfortunately the same thing that influenced the networks into treating kids to this kool-aid of the airwaves, was the same thing that spelled their diminished presence in the 90s: capitalizing on trends. In the late 80s, Saturday morning just wasn't what it used to be. Networks noticed Under the influence...parents - don't let your kid eat and buy!that revenues were down. Saturday morning was always a bit of gamble for them anyway. Something they continued to do, hoping that parents would go out and buy whatever toy,cereal, or other product their sugar-addled kid begged them for. However, the dollars weren't being heavily invested. The hot marketing trend was that teens and young adult were the next dollar demographic. Traditionally, this demographic was treated as having no disposable income. The 80s changed that. Older kids and 20-something adults had some money. I didn't. My friends didn't. But the marketing gurus smelled it somewhere. Today, that mind set still affects television and advertising. Hence, the saturated presence of Taco Bell commercials, The O.C., extreme sports, and the WB prime time lineup.

This new "trend" caused the networks to scale back Saturday morning and introduce "teen" oriented programming like Saved By the Bell. Yeah. Saturday morning's death knell was started by Screech. Riiight. Oh it started innocently enough, but the networks so little adverse effects, money-wise, and continued the trend. That spilled over into prime-time. Holiday specials began to go MIA. Kids had to go to Blockbuster to try and find at least a tape, if it existed. By the mid to late 90s, the animated special was pretty much a relic except for the few perfunctory airings of Charlie Brown and Frosty. Then, the kids began to fight back.

Kid-oriented networks like Nickolodeon and Cartoon Network became increasingly popular in the late 90s. All of the sudden there were Rugrats stuff everywhere. Blues Clues became a phenomenon. Scooby Doo revived on Cartoon Network and even a feature film was made. Old and new holiday specials were finding their way to cable television. Soon the cable networks began to discover that those kids in the 70s and 80s were having kids or headed in that direction, and the kids AND the parents eat this stuff up. What's my evidence, you boldly ask?
Look at the surge in animation since the late 90s for one thing. But perhaps the biggest piece of evidence is the DVD market and the internet. The fact that I, a 30-something adult, is sitting here extolling the virtues of Charlie's Brown is prima facie evidence. But you just take a moment and try to google, "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" or look on Amazon or the Barnes and Noble website and see how many animated special DVD's are out there. Check out Ebay to see how much people are paying for old VHS copies of long forgotten specials. Go ahead, check it out. I'll wait right here until you get back.

Back already? I hope you get my point now. You have seen for yourself. Now, the major networks are still somewhat reluctant in putting more effort into showing the specials, but the effort is beginning. Just this year I have seen more advertisements for the airing of the "Great Pumpkin" than I can remember. And last Christmas, the number of animated specials increased Oh, the price we paid!than in years previous. And these are specials that have already been made. Did you catch that. It's a rerun! Put the show on, slap some new commercials in, and Whammo! More revenue. One catch for the networks, though. Since they scaled them back, the big nets have lost or sold the airing rights to most, except for the biggies like Charlie Brown, Garfield and a handful of Rankin -Bass specials. Now, the cable networks and DVD have the licenses. Oppsie! Lemmie ask you- was Screech really worth it? And that, kids, is the tale of the animated holiday special. Hopefully, they will continue their comeback. In the meantime, in honor of the season, we decided to mention a few of our favorites.

Now, we couldn't possibly include all Halloween specials in our review list, but today, we at the Shelf, present to you our top animated Halloween special picks, in no particular order. I have asked Wolfie to join me in today's "Top Shelf picks" list. So without further ado - here we go:
Top Shelf picks- Animated Halloween Special Edition.

Looney Tunes Howl-Oween Special
Disney's Halloween Treat
Fat Albert's Halloween Special
Garfield's Halloween Adventure
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Looney Tunes Howl-Oween Special (1978)
Hocus PooocusThere are quite a few critics of this special, if indeed this sort of thing generates critics. A splicing of old animated shorts that have something to do with Halloween, monsters, indeed, even fright- are blended with a sort of meta-narrative conducted by Bugs Bunny himself. What is particularly galling about this mis-mash is the newer animation as blatantly worse than the old stuff. Well- it doesn't particularly bother me, like the way a hangnail doesn't bother me unless I pick at it. I love Looney Tunes- so I overlooked it. It was great to see Bugs and the gang getting in the Halloween spirit. And it was a special that returned year after year ... for a while. It only exists on VHS now. A sad little relic of a forgotten time. Now that Looney Tunes are available on a glorious DVD collection it's nice to see the originals in their full glory. This one gets a sentimental vote.

Disney's Halloween Treat (1984)
The original MOTLEY crew.This special is a cartoon medley that covers a lot of years of Disney animation to bring you some of their more "Halloween-ish" moments. I say "Halloween-ish" because there are several cartoon clips in the collection that offer only suspense or "cartoon fear" as their Halloween qualification. Example: Cruella DeVille chasing the 101 Dalmations - Though Cruella's face should be scary enough to allow it in the group, the scene itself never made me think of Halloween. There's a scene from "Peter Pan" and one from "Lady and the Tramp" as well ,but over all the film stays with the theme. My son and I have found a favorite in the clip where a gorilla (Ajax as he is called) is on the loose and pays a visit to Donald Duck and the nephews while Don is reading some scary stories. Another great moment comes later when Pluto dreams that he is sent to a "hell-like" location where he faces a jury of cats for his crimes against felines. The crowning scene of the whole film that really gets me in the Halloween mood is the section taken from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow where we follow Ichabod Crane from a dinner party ( where we enjoy the singing talents of Bing CrosbyBuh-buh-buh-boo! putting a warning to music) to the fateful ride across the covered bridge. That clip is also narrated by Bing Crosby who is a well loved favorite here at The Shelf. As a child, I watched a copy of this that my father taped off of T.V. right after "Private Eyes" which was in our movie count down. Every year it helped to put me in the mood and it will do the same for you. Overall this is a must watch.

Trivia Tid-Bit: There are two versions of this. One has a talking pumpkin hosting the film and the other has the magic mirror from "Snow White" as M.C. They both have the same cartoon clips but in different order. (I'm partial to the pumpkin myself.)

Fat Albert's Halloween Special (1977)
Homemade costumes were the bestFat Albert's Halloween Special didn't run for too many years, but if you watched the Cosby kids you loved the specials. Fat Albert and the gang dress up for Halloween and go trick or treat around the hood. They end up going to the movies but get kicked out for their nutty hijinks. The decide to hit up some houses for candy goodness, but end up getting stiffed and robbed by an old geezer who eats all their candy. They try to hit a spooky house, owned by an equally spooky lady. The gang freaks out and takes off, but one little sister How does Mush Mouth eat through that mask?stays behind, and it's up to the gang to save her. Do they learn about judging others? Is the lady really the meanest lady in town? Check it out and find out. I loved this special when I was a kid and it's great to see it out again on DVD! Bill Cosby does some great voice work as always and his close association with the show is apparent. I believe that you should watch this show. But you don't have to take my word for it. (Cue Levar Burton)

Garfield's Halloween Adventure ( 1985)
Orange-beardGarfield's Halloween Adventure is one of those essential cartoon specials to watch every year, much like "The Great Pumpkin". It is not a spectacular feet of cartoon writing but bears the must-haves of any Halloween special: Costumes, Ghosts, and Trick-or-Treating. Halloween is the perfect set up for Garfield because candy is being passed out like......well......candy. Once Garfield is informed of this sugar orgy he starts off by finding the perfect costume. After donning the Halloween duds, he and Odie go trick-or-treating only to get the bright idea of rowing a boat across a river to a bigger neighborhood. Of course this plan is stymied and dog/cat cartoon hilarity ensues. The pair wind up on an island with a spooky looking house and an even spookier looking old man inside who tells them tales of ghosts and buried pirate treasure before The one thing I'm not is a scaredy cat!leaving the island in the animals domesticus' boat. Needless to say, our heroes witness the ghosts and dive into the river to get away from them. We discover that the orange fat-cat can't swim so Odie pulls him to shore ( Odie should've left him for all the abuse that Garfield swings towards him). Like all of these specials, there is a happy ending and it accomplishes it's goal: putting you in the Halloween mood. (That's Helloween to you Baravelli.) It's a classic that my kid enjoys, allowing me to engage in some cartoon nostalgia every year. Last but not least, as always Lou Rawls sings a couple of songs and if you are a fan, that's always a plus. Definitely a must-watch.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Tom Cruise, eat your heart out.This is the mac daddy of all Halloween specials. It’s almost like it wouldn’t be Halloween without the candy, the costumes, or Charlie Brown telling everyone that he got a rock. It starts off pretty sweet for old Chuck, because everyone’s focus is on Linus and his ravings about the Great Pumpkin like Tom Cruise making the rounds about Scientology. For once, Chuck feels like he’s part of the crowd. Of course, that doesn’t last long. Once he hits the Trick or Treat circuit it's all downhill. In fact the whole Halloween Party scene where Lucy, Violet, Sweet revengeand Patty submit Charlie Brown to even more humiliation. Is it his fault they didn't have Rogain in the 60s? They way these girls treat him is like watching an animated version of Heathers. Luckily, Christian Slater, uh...ahem, I mean Snoopy, does invade the party for some justice on Lucy, who subsequently tells us that she is not into "dog lips." Whatever gets you through the night, Lucy.
Later that night, the gang returns to find that Linus has gotten bubkus. In fact, Linus fainted when he thought the Great Pumpkin was rising out of the patch. Of course it was Snoop. Linus discovers an important life lesson- don't tick off the little lady. She got cheated out of treats, Linus; she ain't gonna let you forget that anytime soon, sweet baboo or not. He sticks to his guns, and it's up to Lucy to go out in bring him in from the cold. The next morning, Linus is pretty down, but definately not going to a psychiatrist- cause thats against the L.Ron Great Pumpkin A women scorned, Linus. Pay attention.way of life. Charlie Brown tells him not to worry about it, because he has "done some stupid things in his life." Not a way to convince the kiddies, Chuck. Linus then goes off the deep end, as if he was sitting on Oprah's couch. Despite everything, Linus stays the course. He's a true believer. Now, come on. You know this is the classic of classics. It is a must-see ever year. My kids and I take in at least three or four viewings. Sometimes Mom even joins us. Family classic all around. Do yourself a favor and pass it on to your kids.

Well that's it, shelfers. Let us know what you think in the comments section. Did we miss one of your favorites? If so, let us know. And stay tuned for more Shelf Halloween Madness 2009!

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception

i've learned there are three things you don't discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

classic candy review: jolly rancher creepy pops

The Shelf HQ is moving this week, and while we are otherwise engaged, here is the first in a series of reposts of some classic Halloween candy reviews from the past to keep our Shelf Halloween Madness 2009 going strong. Gotta say, I still like these Jolly Rancher Creepy Pops.

I am a Jolly Rancher fan from way back, but suckers aren't always my favorite. So there needs to be a little extra jazz, if you will, to make them something I wouldn't pass over in the Halloween Candy Bowl. I saw some Lifesaver Halloween Suckers- and even though the packaging was Halloweeny in nature, that was about it. Then I saw the Jolly Ranchers. They went the extra mile- packaging, theming, flavors and shapes. Now this is something I can proudly hand out to the little ghosts and goblins in the neighborhood. I've got a reputation to maintain, you know.

Eerie Apple, Ghastly Grape, Wacky Watermelon, and Spooky Blue Raspberry. Four flavors, four shapes. Great stuff. Are they really...creepy? Well, not in the scary way, but it the cartoony way. A lot of Halloween Candy these days just goes too much in the gross factor or too much in the other direction- plain jane, just in smaller packaging. Creativity is appreciated. Sure, these are just Jolly Rancher suckers, but there is no mistaking what Holiday these are for.

If you see these in a Christmas stocking, you know that Santa is just recycling candy. And that ain't cool. So what do have here?
Shapes: Grinning Ghost, Vampire, Jack O'Latern and Skull
Flavors: Eerie Apple, Ghastly Grape, Wacky Watermelon and Spooky Blue Raspberry.
The flavors are great; just good old Jolly Rancher goodness. Once I got past a little weirdness of putting a pumpkin in my mouth and tasting watermelon, everything else is just fine. All of the suckers are individually wrapped, as you would expect, and so there isn't any reason why you shouldn't proudly dump these in the old candy bowl and hand them out to your own neighborhood beasties. And sneak a few for yourself, of course. Thumbs up and kudos to Jolly Rancher for some fun creepy treats.

Stay tuned for more of 2009 Halloween Madness at the Shelf!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Double double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Eye of needle, tongue of shoe, hand of clock that points at two... This is the real thing you know, right out of Shakespeare.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

haunted mansion

Welcome foolish mortals to another installment in the 2009 edition of The Shelf's Halloween Madness! Today we feature a look at the history of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion featuring interviews with creators and Imagineers. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:

And it wouldn't be Halloween with surprises and extra treats! I used to have the Fisher Price Movie Viewer with the hand crank- and the cartoon cartridges. Among others I had the Disney Lonesome Ghosts cartoon cartridge! Anyone else remember this sweet little item? I had fun making the ghosts and the surfboard scene go backwards and forwards over and over again. I was easily entertained. I guess nothing changes.

So here is your bonus treat: Lonesome Ghosts!

Stay tuned for more of the Shelf's Halloween Madness 2009! This week- the best of our classic candy reviews and a new one or two!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Oh I'm brave, but I'm careful.

Monday, October 05, 2009

shelf classic: lights out

As we roll on in this year's Shelf Halloween Madness 2009, we take a trip in the Wayback machine to a classic Shelf Halloween post- this one is about Old Time Radio, and the creepy, eerie, Halloween fun that was often heard in these shows. Enjoy!

It's that time of year again kiddies... that time when you turn down the lights, cuddle up with someone to hold on to, grab some goodies and turn on...the radio? Yes, I said the radio. Well, it could be the computer, your ipod, a cd player- any audio player will do really. You see Halloween is one of those times when you can really get the willies by listening to a scary story. Sure, I guess you could watch a slasher film and all that, but as I've said before those gore-fests are not for me. No sir, I prefer watching the classics and the animated classics. But what really gets me in the Halloween spirit is listening to Halloween -themed old time radio shows.

Nothing beats the theater of the mind for scaring the beejeezus out of yourself. Think back to all the times when you were alone in your room or your house on a quiet night. The sounds that you heard, or thought you heard, created all kinds of images and possible scenarios that ran through your mind. What you imagined was more frightening than anything you could see on television.
If you are an old hand at old time radio, you probably know what I am talking about, if not, and you are interested, a whole great world will open up to you.

What follows are some of the things that make Old Time Radio great at Halloween and some links to some of the shows and a couple of sites that have a much larger comprehensive collection of shows that you can sample. Zoot Radio is still a favorite site, and you can register as a member and find many of the shows mentioned in the post there. Also be sure to check out OTR Perk, Radiolovers, Old Time Radio Fans and The Internet Archive and more sites for lots and lots of Old Time Radio.

For this article, we asked the gang at Zoot Radio to give us some of their favorite old time radio Halloween moments. Here is that list with some of our own favorites; these are the great things that make old time radio a hit at Halloween. Some are shows, series, or even special effects or actors. Check them out

Sound effects: Absolutely essential. One of the most famous special effects is, of course, the creaking door from the series Inner Sanctum. Serial shows like Lights Out!, Inner Sanctum and Suspense predate the Twilight Zone and other popular early television shows but have an anthology feel to them. Very creepy. Some recommendations from Zoot Radio include the above plus Fear on Four. As Zoot Radio member Smokie stated : "I'd like to listen to "Fear on Four" or one of the scarier shows in the dark this year, with only a lighted pumpkin in the window. OTR is best for Halloween because of the storytelling in the dark."

Creepy Heroes: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows. How about The Whistler? "I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, many secrets hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes, I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak." The writing on these shows was first rate and sometimes quite macabre. This ain't your daddy's Batman. Trust me.

Ghoulish hosts: Did you know that actors like Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff hosted their own shows for a time. I particularly liked Peter Lorre in Mystery in the Air (that announcer that you hear is Henry Morgan, from Dragnet and Col. Potter from M*A*S*H).

Ghastly guests: One of the members at Zoot, Papajoemambo, recommended one particular show: Bela Lugosi on the Abbott & Costello Show (the Haunted House episode - 'You Vhant I should get de Harrt-bouuurne??')." While Fess64 told us "My favorite Halloween show is Jack Benny's 1941 episode with Basil Rathbone. Good Stuff!" Comedy shows did particularly well in this vein as they could either do a parody of a movie or other suspense show, or even invite a movie star like Boris Karloff, to poke a little fun at themselves and the image Hollywood had created for them. One of my favorites is an episode of The Jack Benny Show where they did a take off on The Whistler in an episode entitled: "The Fiddler".

Movie/book adaptations: Some radio shows adapted films to radio, sometimes featuring the original stars. Films like Dracula, The Ghostbreakers and others have been featured on shows like Lux Theater or Screen Guild Players. The novels Dracula and Frankenstein have also been adapted to radio shows. Perhaps the most famous instance of a radio adaptation of a book is Orson Welles and Mercury Theater's production of War of the Worlds. An absolute Halloween must that you can listen to The Mercury Theater on the Air website.

Well, guys and ghouls - I hope this little look at old time radio might encourage you to do something a little different this Halloween. Click on some of the links we've provided above and try old some old time radio this Halloween. Turn the lights down, break out the cider, nab a little candy from the kid's baskets (don't even pretend you don't- besides they are in bed, right? Right?!) and curl up with some frightening friends from the past. And when you're ready - toss in Young Frankenstein, just for good measure.

Stay tuned for more Shelf Halloween Madness 2009!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

If you're blue, and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go where fashion sits...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

that frightening feeling....

Yep, it's in the air for sure- Halloween 2009 is upon us, and we at the Shelf would like to jump into the season by sharing some classic Shelf Halloween posts from the past and some new chilling and thrilling Halloween posts for The Shelf's Halloween Madness 2009!
Today's entry is a great educational cartoon from Disney called Haunted Halloween. Do you remember the Disney educational cartoons you used to watch in school? (I keep hoping these and other Disney ed cartoons like the ones with Jimmny Cricket will make it to DVD one day) This is one that explained the origins of Halloween with a little help from Goofy, Donald and a talking Pumpkin. Full of fun clips from classic Disney cartoons, this stroll down nostalgia lane is a great way to kick off the season. Enjoy!

Halloween Madness 2009 has begun!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Once you're in the mood to be scared, almost anything can make your hair stand on end, especially if you already have an over-active imagination.


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