Some days the Internet can be very, very generous when it comes to discovering cool stuff that you never knew existed. Such as these insanely cool LED lights that are made from vintage VHS tapes.
The lights are the invention of Hayley Summers who runs the UK-based Etsy shop, NancysJars. As a horror nerd, I’m partial to Summers’ excellent horror film-themed VHS lights which are a scream. Summers will also customize her VHS tape lights to your exacting specifications. Due to a massive influx of orders, the shop has closed down temporarily but will reopen just as soon as Summers can catch up with the demand for her fantastic lights. In the meantime, I’ve posted photos of some of my favorites below and after the jump…
A promotional image for the Japanese horror film ‘Jigoku’ from 1960.
Also known under its alternate title of “The Sinners of Hell,” Jigoku was directed by Nakagawa Nobuo. An idiosyncratic man who was often referred to as “the Alfred Hitchcock of Japan,” Nobuo was known for wearing traditional wooden Japanese footwear (or getas) which are supported by horizontal platform wooden slabs on the soles, around the set of the film, which while a bit strange paled in comparison to the terrifying, gory and very weird things that happened on screen.
Jigoku takes a cue from the real life murder case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The pair were two rich white college students who murdered a fourteen-year-old boy after planning what they referred to as “the perfect crime” for months. The case was also used as a plotline for both Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope and Richard Fleischer’s 1959 film Compulsion starring Orson Wells and Dean Stockwell. Though the title of the film seems somewhat straightforward, it is anything but. At its heart, it is a sordid tale of guilt and remorse and how our actions in life may well be predictors for what will be waiting for us once we’ve passed into the great beyond. Nobuo’s narrative also follows along with the various regions and consequences associated with the multiple levels of the Japanese conception of Hell, which is an incredibly complex topic to try to explain on its own. One of the reasons I love this movie so much is the fact that it plays out much like a classic horror film. You know, bad things happening to bad people after they do bad things. There’s even a scene that had me recalling one of my favorite horror films, 1980’s grossly unappreciated Motel Hell. Other Japanese horror films that would also take notes from Nobuo’s Jigoku include the 2002 film Ju-On: The Grudge.
Jigoku was the ninth film in a series by Nobuo with Shintoho, one of the largest film studios in Japan. Shintoho’s primary source of revenue was producing genre specific exploitation films. In a strange twist, the studio found itself almost completely broke during the filming. Although shooting was expedited to help cut costs, some of the actors were actually enlisted—or forced—to dig holes on the set for themselves (!) for an unsettling scene that will stick with you like the fake, red gore that gets slung around throughout the film. By the time Jigoku was released, Shintoho had gone bankrupt. This fantastically gross and frightening film was the subject of a great documentary from 2006 titled Building the Inferno: Nobuo Nakagawa and the Making of ‘Jigoku’ which I highly recommend you seek out after first successfully seeking out Jigoku. I’ve included a number of remarkable stills from the film below. Pretty much all of them are NSFW. YAY!
Remember those holes that the actors had to dig for themselves on the set of ‘Jijoku?’ Here’s one of them with the actor inside having his makeup done.
In 1984 Kurt Cobain was 17 years old and bursting with creative adolescent energy. He was already friends with Krist Novoselic and Dale Crover, who a year earlier had formed the Melvins with Buzz Osborne and Matt Lukin, best known today as the bassist for Mudhoney.
One of the things they liked to do together was record footage in a horror movie style—it’s doubtful that they had any concrete designs to put a movie together; more likely they were play-acting as much as anything else. It’s not a “horror movie” as much as a bunch of unconnected shots cobbled together into a kind of “horror home movie.”
The two most memorable moments on the video are a few shots of Cobain wearing a Mr. T mask and worshiping in front of a pentagram, and another handful of shots in which Cobain pretends to slash his own throat and wrists, fake blood and all. That last section has earned the tape an alternate title of “Kurt’s Bloody Suicide,” which as you’ll see below is rumored to be Kurt’s own title, but Dale Crover dismisses the notion. If not, it’s of questionable taste given Cobain’s actual demise in 1994 by his own hand.
Mike Ziegler, once described as possessing “an arsenal of Nirvana recordings that goes unparalleled by any trader in the universe,” once asked Crover about the “horror movies.” Here is the substance of that conversation:
Ziegler: Do you happen to remember what the title of the movie was called? I’ve heard rumors from people that Kurt said the movie was titled “Kurt’s Bloody Suicide.” Crover: I’m sure that there was no title. We were just fucking around with a camera. Ziegler: So… what the hell is up with the Mr. T scene in the beginning. Whose crazy mind thought that one up? Crover: The Mr. T Idea just developed as we shot it. Krist filmed while I held the lights. Kurt made the satanic altar and played Mr. T. I think I manned the vacuum cleaner for the coke snorting scene. We were going to do more but never finished. Ziegler: What did you use to record it? Crover: Novoselic’s super 8.
Paul Naschy as ‘Father Adrian Dunning’ in the Spanish riff on ‘The Exorcist,’ 1974’s ‘Exorcismo.’
Hailing from Madrid, Spanish actor Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Álvarez) had the distinguished honor to be affectionately nicknamed “The Spanish Lon Chaney” as like the illustrious Chaney himself, Naschy has played nearly every single movie monster to ever grace the silver screen.
Naschy is a fascinating cat whose career spans the course of at least 60 years during which he not only held the role of actor, but also writer (including authoring many bawdy Spanish pulp novels under the name “Jack Mills”) and illustrator for various Spanish music albums. Naschy’s behind-the-scenes life was full of interesting gigs including holding the title of champion lightweight weightlifter of Spain in 1958. Looking at the build of the beefy-looking Naschy, this is perhaps not all that surprising.
According to other Naschy folklore, the aspiring actor once met another famous horror icon, Boris Karloff, back in the mid-60s while he was working as an extra on the television showI Spy which was shooting on location in Spain. Karloff was 79 at the time and was cast as a scientist in the episode though he was barely able to walk even with the assistance of leg braces. According to Naschy (a story that is reflected in the title of the posthumous 2010 documentary film on his life, The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry) he observed the elderly Karloff weeping while waiting in the bitter cold for a ride after finishing up his work on the set. Naschy would later say about the heartbreaking scene that he believed that he was one of the only people (perhaps the only person) who ever saw Frankenstein’s monster cry.
Launching his horror film acting career in the late 1960s, Naschy ended up playing the role of “Waldermar Daninsky” (one that Naschy would reprise a dozen times in the “El Hombre Lobo” series of films) the wayward Spanish Wolf Man after Lon Chaney Jr. turned the role down (or according to some sources was passed over due to the fact that he was “too old” as Chaney Jr. was in his 60s at the time). Spain’s own “king of horror” would earn both that title and the loving homage to Chaney Jr.‘s famous father by portraying the following villains and monsters in various films—Dracula; Frankenstein’s monster; the Mummy; Fu Manchu; the Devil; Mr. Hyde; Quasimodo; the Phantom of the Opera; and of course a werewolf (which Naschy played a whopping sixteen times). So popular was Naschy’s role as the Wolf Man that there is even an action figure based on his “El Hombre Lobo” character made by the Spanish branch of the MAGE toy company.
A fantastic movie poster for ‘The Werewolf VS. Vampire Woman’ (aka: ‘La Noche de Walpurgis’), 1971.
Naschy acted in more than 100 films many of which have been remastered much to the delight of Naschy’s fans (like yours truly) who appreciate the combination of half-dressed female victims (many of Naschy’s films included a fair amount of nudity) as well as tons of blood and good-old B-movie vibes. Plenty of them are worth watching if you dig vintage Euro schlock horror cinema, such as 1974’s Exorcismo, a Spanish riff on director William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist in which Naschy not only starred as the tormented character of “Father Adrian Dunning” but also penned the screenplay along with some help from the film’s director Juan Bosch. Others such as Naschy’s 1977 “comeback” Curse of the Devil, his early portrayals of werewolf “Waldemar Daninsky” (especially 1971’s La Noche Del Walpurgis), and the gory 1973 film Hunchback of the Morgue also rank as a few of Naschy’s best when it comes to his massive body of work.
If any or all of this has piqued your interest there is also a fantastic 1200 page book from 2012 that details Naschy’s long career Muchas Gracias Señor Lobo: Paul Naschy Memorabilia by author Thorsten Benzel. Eighteen years in the making, the publication contains a dizzying array of memorabilia some of which had never seen the light of day until the book’s release. And if that is not enough to convince you to check out Mr. Naschy’s films then perhaps consider the fact that other admirers of the multi-talented Spaniard include luminaries such as Quentin Tarantino, fellow actor and forever vampire Christopher Lee, and director John Landis. I’ve included some fantastic Naschy artifacts in this post from publicity stills and far-out posters, as well as a few trailers for Naschy’s movies which would make for perfect viewing on Halloween
Naschy in chains as the Wolf Man ‘Waldemar Daninsky.’
Dennis Hopper (dressed as his character ‘Lt. Boude “Lefty” Enright’) and director Tobe Hooper on the set of the 1986 film, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2’.
As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers are also fans of movies that curdle even the blackest of blood-types, I’m sure that you will enjoy ogling these “behind the scenes” shots from some of my favorite horror films like Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the second installment of Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw franchise, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (that features a chainsaw-wielding Dennis Hopper, pictured above), and the films of the great John Carpenter, among others.
Dario Argento goofing around on the set of his 1977 film, ‘Suspiria.’
Images of Dario Argento not being laser-serious for a change on set (pictured above), to candid photos of actors hanging out during their downtime still dressed like their gory characters, as well as amusing shots of FX master, Tom Savini in action happily creating fiends that have frequented your nightmares for the last few decades, follow. That said, some of what you’re about to see should be considered NSFW. But you knew that the minute I said “chainsaw massacre,” right?
Director John Carpenter with P.J. Soles and John Michael Graham on the set of ‘Halloween,’ 1978.
Playing almost like a particularly claustrophobic Dario Argento film produced by Roger Corman, but starring Hammer’s two most notable leading men, the gory low-budget—but totally wonderful—Horror Express is one of those films that we of a certain age saw repeatedly on “Chiller Theater” type TV shows in the mid-to-late 70s. When I was a ten-year-old kid, this film absolutely scared the shit out of me.
In Horror Express, which is almost a horror comedy, a supposed “missing link” is discovered in Siberia, but the frozen creature is merely the vessel for an extraterrestrial “spirit of pure evil” that can hop from victim to victim turning them into zombies that bleed from their eyes. It stars Christoper Lee and Peter Cushing as two competitive archaeologists. Telly Savalas has a great supporting role as a brutal Cossack officer who’s a nasty piece of work and there is even a weird Rasputin character milling about. It was written by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet, the same (one-time blacklisted) screenwriters who penned the “undead biker” cult classic Psychomania. It was directed by Eugenio Martín. Like many European films of the time, this Spanish production was shot without sound and the actors dubbed their voices in later so it’s got that loopy sort of feel.
Horror Express has been in the public domain for years and crappy quasi-bootleg copies have been making the rounds at 99 Cents Only stores and the like for a while now (I have one that has the film reels out of order). In 2011, Horror Express fans were treated to a deluxe 2-disc dual DVD/Blu-ray release from cult meisters extraordinaire, Severin Films. Created using the original camera negative, the DVD extras include a recording of an extensive 1973 interview with Peter Cushing. (Cushing’s wife died right before filming on Horror Express commenced. He almost backed out of the film entirely).
Horror Express makes for great campy “Midnight Movie” viewing. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s big fun.
I first read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” during library class at the local Catholic school I attended in Edinburgh. I was about nine or so, and had this devilish love of horror stories, detective adventures and science fiction. Each week our class was told to bring a book we liked to help encourage our reading—this was the one subject for which I needed no encouragement, my only problem was having enough time to read all the books I wanted to read. It was really a free period and usually a cinch for the teacher.
It was nearing Christmas holidays—the first snow had fallen and the trees were blackened fish bones against the sky. Our teacher, a florid Christian brother with squeaky shoes wandered round the class checking-up on what we were reading. He stopped at my desk, and pushed back the book’s cover for approval.
“Edgar Allan Poe? Edgar, Allan, Poe.” It didn’t sound like a question—more like a terminal diagnosis to an unsuspecting patient. “What would the Holy Father say?”
I had no idea the Pope was a literary critic, and so brightly enquired—what did the Holy Father think of Poe?
“Don’t be impudent, boy. That’s the kind of talk that will get you six of the best,” he said, meaning six wallops with a belt, “And this,” holding the slim paperback aloft between finger and thumb, “isn’t the kind of thing you should be reading in class. It’s unsuitable, far too macabre. I’ll have to confiscate it.” The book quickly disappeared into one of his pockets. “Now next time, bring in a proper book. I don’t want to see this sort of thing again.”
I was supposed to feel chastened, but didn’t. If anything I felt his whole response absurd, and for the first time realized books could be dangerous, and reading subversive.
Undaunted, the following week, I chanced my luck with an Algernon Blackwood, which only merited a tut and a sigh.
In 1953, esteemed actor James Mason narrated an animated version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which was the first cartoon to be given an “X” certificate by the British Board of Film Censors. It’s a rather splendid animation which was nominated for an Academy Award—though sadly lost out to Walt Disney’s Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. It’s a creepy and highly atmospheric little film that fully captures the terror and madness of Poe’s classic tale.