In 1965, Forrest J. Ackerman hired legendary movie make-up artist Dick Smith to produce a Famous Monsters of FilmlandDo-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook. Smith (1922-2014) was the guy who did the award-winning make-up for movies like The Exorcist, Little Big Man, The Godfather, Taxi Driver and Ken Russell’s Altered States. Smith’s special edition illustrated magazine presented a 100-page step-by-step guide on how to get the look for some of cinema’s best-known movie monsters. Using a range of everyday objects—from crepe paper and breadcrumbs to ping pong balls—Smith shared some of his best-kept secrets of the trade.
In his introduction to the handbook, Smith wrote:
Make-up is an exciting hobby, but it has been enjoyed by only a few young people because learning how to do it was very difficult. It was my hobby when I was a teenager, so I know both the difficulties and the excitement. I enjoyed make-up so much that I became a professional make-up artist, and after twenty years, I still love it.
What I want to do with this book is to provide you young amateurs with the information you’ll need to make it easy for you to understand and enjoy this art. The book begins with very simple make-ups and ends with some complicated ones.
Any kid who grew up on black & white Universal and RKO monster movies would have dug Smith’s book. Nearly every kid loves the thrill of making themselves into monsters and scaring the bejesus out of grown-ups. It’s all the fun of growing up. And Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook certainly offered the young and those old enough to know better that chance.
A good imagination beats any psychedelic drug. Take a look at these drawings by 17th century Dutch artist Arent van Bolten featuring weird, grotesque hybrid creatures—part human, part cat, part dragon, part demon, part who the fuck knows….?
The last part is a fair description of what we do know about Arent van Bolten—which is little more than birth, marriage and death:
He was born about 1573 in Zwolle. In 1603 he there married Brigitta Lantinck. They had eight children. Some of them established themselves as solicitors in Leeuwarden where Brigitta Lantinck’s sister had married but remained childless so that the children of van Bolten became her heirs. Arent van Bolten must have died about 1625, for he is still mentioned in 1624, whereas in 1626 we read only of his widow.
Even his death date is uncertain as some put it up as far as 1633—which may have come as a surprise to his wife if she was already a widow in 1626. Apart from this slim entry we know he was a silversmith by profession, was in Italy 1596-1602, and left behind “a great deal of silverware and plaquettes.”
He may well have been one of those craftsmen who themselves made both the model and the finished article and perhaps even the original design which was not the normal practice at this time.
Van Bolten sculpted religious and rustic scenes and knobbly weird bronzes of “squat, ponderous” mythological beasts. It is for the latter that he is now best known—in particular his 400+ drawings of surreal and grotesque creatures compiled by an unknown collector circa 1637 which are currently held by the British Museum.
It’s unknown what Van Bolten’s intention was in creating these rather fabulous beasts but the drawings do reveal the eye of a man who was a sculptor rather than a painter. His line relishes building up the layers, curves, depths, and organic growths rather than just offering a mere representation. Van Bolten’s grotesques have a solidity that makes it appear we could actually touch them.
More of Arent van Bolten’s beasties and grotesque creatures, after the jump…
Ubagabi—the ghost of an old woman that appears as fireball.
There’s an ancient Japanese legend of the one hundred yōkai—monsters, ghosts, apparitions and demons—who parade through the streets on hot summer nights. If anyone is unfortunate to see these creatures—or to be caught up in it—then they will perish away or worse be taken captive for the twisted pleasure.
If you’ve ever watched the enjoyable trilogy of movies Yokai Monsters—One Hundred Monsters (1968), Spook Warfare (1968), and Along With Ghosts (1969)—then you’ll have a good idea what these demons look like—ogres, goblins, ghosts, sprites, spooky umbrellas and dangerous women with ever-extending serpentine necks.
All of these incredible monsters have long been a part of Japanese folklore. They were first codified in the supernatural bestiary—Gazu Hyakki Yagyō (The Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons) by artist and scholar Toriyama Sekien in 1776. It’s a kind of fabulously illustrated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but far, far more beautiful and eerie.
In 1881, artist Nabeta Gyokuei updated this incredible volume when he produced a picture book or e-hon of Sekien’s 100 demons. The Kaibutsu Ehon or Illustrated Book of Monsters features beautiful woodblock prints of each of the yōkai and its special powers.
Theodor Kittelsen was the man who painted trolls. He spent his life drawing and painting pictures of these beastly supernatural giants.
According to Scandinavian folklore trolls live in caves, woods or mountains far from the plague of humankind. Trolls eat humans. They especially like young humans whose flesh is juicy, sweet and soft.
Understandably, humans don’t like trolls—that’s why they steer clear of these slow-witted beasts—or if need be hunt them down in packs.
Kittelsen was born in Kragerø, Norway in 1857. He was one of eight children. When his father died, Kittelsen was apprenticed to a watchmaker. He was just eleven years old. He wanted to be an artist but the family’s desperate need for money meant he had to work. In his spare time, he sketched and painted. His drawings brought him to the attention of a patron who paid for Kittelsen, now aged seventeen, to attend art school in Oslo and later one in Germany. When his patron’s money ran out in 1879, Kittelsen eventually returned home to work as a draftsman for newspapers.
But fortune was still on his side and Kittelsen won a scholarship to study painting in Paris in 1882. Five years later, he returned once again to Norway where he started his career as an artist. Originally he was painted landscapes and romantic rustic scenes. But through time and by commission, Kittelsen was hired to illustrate Norwegian folktales. So began his career painting and drawing trolls, monsters, witches and supernatural creatures.
Sadly, Kittelsen never made much money out of his troll artwork during his lifetime. Today, he is a star in Norway. Everywhere else—not so much. There is a museum dedicated to his life and work and his paintings and drawings of trolls and the Black Death have featured on numerous album covers by Death Metal and Heavy Metal bands—all of which can be seen here.
‘Skogtroll’ (‘Forest Troll’) 1906.
‘The Water Troll Who Eats Only Young Girls,’ 1881.
More hellish trolls, beasts and plague, after the jump…
“The Magic Lens is the secret of its action!” With this sentence the Abby Finishing Corp. lured kids to purchase its amazing set of 24 lenticular monster trading cards in around 1963. For the most part, we think of the pop culture artifacts from that time as being pretty cheesy, but these cards are anything but, incorporating a bold use of color and crude, arresting compositions. I’d love to see one of these take up a full wall in my house!
The lens seems really simple, just a plastic rectangle really. The instructions were simple: “Place the magic Lens ROUGH SIDE UP on picture, and wiggle both together; or place Magic Lens ROUGH SIDE UP on picture, and slide Lens only.”
As the 3D Review online magazine asserted about these cards, “When using the Magic Action viewer, the cards would come to life showing a flying monster’s wings flapping or the tail of a giant lizard whipping up and down or people fleeing.”
Morgan Loebel is an artist and dental technician who makes creepy, monstrous and downright scary phone covers out of polymer clay.
Loebel calls his gruesome designs Morgan’s Mutations. Each hand-sculpted phone cover is features a twisted, tongue-lolling, toothsome, fleshy aberration. Mostly monophthalmic, these creatures look set to lick and bite the hapless phone user.
The quality of the flesh-shredding teeth on display are evidence of Loebel’s twenty years’ work as a dental technician crafting realistic detailed crowns, bridges and other dental prosthesis. This experience was fundamental in Loebel creating his life-like mutated creatures.
I love creating beings that have realistic features, from the eyes, teeth and the wrinkles in its flesh.
If you want to scare the bejesus out of friends and colleagues then check out the full range of Morgan’s Mutations here or on Facebook.
“Doro-ta-bō” - the “muddy rice field man.” Anatomical features include a gelatinous lower body that merges into the earth, a ‘mud sac’ that draws nourishment from the soil, lungs that allow the creature to breathe when buried.
In 1960, the great manga artist Shigeru Mizuki took on the task of illustrating anatomical versions of over 80 monstrous members of the yōkai—a group of monsters who, according to Japanese folklore, inhabit the countryside of Japan.
“Makura-gaeshi” - the “pillow mover” who can only be seen by children. Anatomical features include an organ for storing souls stolen from children.
“Yanagi-baba” - the “willow witch” is the spirit of a 1,000-year-old willow tree. Anatomical features a stomach that supplies nourishment directly to the tree roots.
“Bisha-ga-tsuku”—a soul-stealing creature. Anatomical features include feelers that inhale human souls and cold air, a sac for storing the sounds of beating human hearts, and a brain that emits a fear-inducing aura.
Mizuki’s monsters first appeared in a Japanese magazine as a part of a series of manga comics called GeGeGe no Kitarō but was deemed “too scary” for kids. Adapted from traditional Kamishibai tales (the art of storytelling using paper scrolls) from the early 1930s, Mizuki’s stories that center around the adventures of a ghost-boy named Kitarō, have gone on to become the subjects of long-running television series, films and of course a video game.
Long considered a master when it comes to yōkai-style storytelling as well as pioneer of manga animation, the prolific and much loved Mizuki passed away last year at the age of 93, leaving behind a massive body of influential work that is well worth exploring. Especially if you dig the strange anatomical illustrations in this post which can be found in the 2004 book, Yōkai Daizukai.
More after the jump, including Mizuki’s black and white cartoon, ‘GeGeGe no Kitarō’ from the early 1960s…
Actor Haruo Nakajima taking a break from being Godzilla
Actor Harou Nakajima (pictured above) spent nearly 25 years inside the rubber Godzilla suit that he gleefully trampled over mini-Tokyo in for various Godzilla or monster-themed films from the early 50s through the 1970s.
Harou Nakajima having tea on the movie set
According to an interview Nakajima did back in 2014 (who will turn 87 this January) the Godzilla suit he wore weighed 220 pounds, and could reach a staggering 140 degrees while shooting scenes. There were many other brave actors that donned famous rubber monster suits over the years like Masaki Shinohara (who often played Rodan in the Godzilla films), Kenpachiro Satsuma who played Godzilla from the mid-80s to the mid-90s as well as Gigan and Hedorah, and Schoichi Hirose who played Godzilla’s sworn enemy, King Ghidorah and King Kong in 1962’s super-schlocky King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Harou Nakajima taking a smoke break on the beach with Godzilla
I don’t know too many people who don’t have fond memories of growing up watching these over-dubbed, poorly acted monster flicks, and I (and I know I’m not alone) still enjoy catching them on the tube from time to time.
In honor of my Godzilla themed nostalgia that I hope you also share, I’ve pulled together some cool and amusing images captured behind the scenes of various Godzilla films such as the original from 1954, Godzilla (or Gojira) Godzilla vs Mothra (1964), Godzilla vs Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), as well as many others for you to check out after the jump.
Fortunio Liceti (1577-1657) was an Italian philosopher, doctor and scientist. He studied medicine and philosophy at the University of Bologna before becoming a lecturer of logic at the University of Pisa and then a professor of philosophy at the University of Padua. Liceti was omnivorous in his interests writing books on mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, genetics and disease. He was friends with Galileo and the mathematician Bonaventura Cavalieri, who once remarked that Liceti was such a prodigious scholar that he produced a book a week. It’s certainly true that Liceti did have a rather impressive output of scientific and philosophical texts during his life ranging on subjects as diverse as the immortality of the soul, gem stones and the causes of headaches (which he thought were the microcosmic equivalent of lightning).
His most famous work was De monstrorum causis, natura et differentiis (Of the causes of monsters, nature and differences) that documented the many “monstrosities” and deformities reported in nature. The book chimed with the public’s interest in “monsters” and “freaks” and Liceti documented all of the stories of man-beasts, mermaids, wolf children as well as the physical abnormalities he had witnessed (co-joined twins, multiple-limbed children, hermaphrodites and alike). Liceti did not consider these “monstri” as abnormal, but rather as attempts of nature to fashion life as best as possible, in the same way an artist would create art with whatever materials were available.
It is said that I see the convergence of both Nature and art, because one or the other not being able to make what they want, they at least make what they can.
He was also the first to posit the idea that fetal disease could lead to abnormalities in children.
De monstrorum causis, natura et differentiis was first published in 1616 without illustrations, a lavish illustrated second edition was published in Padua in 1634, with a further edition De monstris (or what you might call the mass market edition) was produced in Amsterdam in 1665. It is from the last edition that these incredible images are from.
This story is do distasteful, twisted and nasty, it’s hard to know where to begin…
There was a piece on Anderson Cooper 360º last night that was so shocking to me, I was simply dumbfounded by what I was seeing. It’s sad. Oh, is it sad. And infuriating. It’s that in spades.
Fundamentalist Christian leader, anti-gay activist and infamous hirer of male prostitutes, Dr. George Rekers, who foundered the Family Research Council (with Dr. James Dobson) was the lead in the grotesque mind-rape of an innocent child—not just one child, several—in a bizarre psychological experiment at UCLA in the 70s called the “Feminine Boy Project.” Boys as young as 4-years-old were trusted with this creep by parents who were worried that their sons would turn out to be “sissies,” looking for a “cure” for this behavior.
When you watch this, you’ll want to cry. It was child abuse, pure and simple, under cover of “science” and administered by a self-loathing gay man with severe psychological issues of his own. When Rekers was caught in his “rent boy” scandal, with male prostitute Jo-Vanni Roman in 2010, Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote: “Thanks to Rekers’ clownish public exposure, we now know that his professional judgments are windows into his cracked psyche, not gay people’s. But…his excursions into public policy have had real and damaging consequences on a large swath of Americans.”
Like young Kirk Murphy, whose life was ruined by Rekers’ sick Pavlovian “therapy.” From CNN:
Kirk Andrew Murphy seemed to have everything to live for. He put himself through school. He had a successful 8-year career in the Air Force. After the service, he landed a high profile position with an American finance company in India.
But in 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life.
A co-worker found him hanging from the fan of his apartment in New Delhi. His family has struggled for years to understand what happened.
“I used to spend so much time thinking, why would he kill himself at the age of 38? It doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Kirk’s sister, Maris Murphy. “What I now think is I don’t know how he made it that long.”
After Kirk’s death, Maris started a search that would uncover a dark family secret. That secret revealed itself during a phone conversation with her older brother Mark, who mentioned his distrust of any kind of therapy.
“Don’t you remember all that crap we went through at UCLA?” he asked her. Maris was too young to remember the details, but Mark remembered it vividly as a low point in their lives.
It’s a pity Kirk didn’t live long enough to see Rekers’ disgrace, downfall and the complete discrediting of his life’s work by the scientific community. He is a pariah now, even in the Christian conservative community, something he so richly deserves, but. humiliation isn’t enough for a guy like George Rekers. Humiliation is too kind for a monster of his caliber.
Imagine what it’s like to Google your own name and see yourself compared to Josef Mengele THOUSANDS of times? I hope that more of his victims and their families come forward like the Murphy family has and publicly denounce this evil man. He should be investigated, his degrees should be stripped from him, and I sure hope that he’s wrapped up in expensive lawsuits from his victims that will ruin what is left of his time on this planet.
Perhaps it’s impolite to say this, but it’s too bad that Kirk didn’t take George Rekers with him when he killed himself, but I doubt that I was the only one thinking it, watching this.
Maris Murphy, said it best:
“The research has a postscript that needs to be added,” she said. “That is that Kirk Andrew Murphy was Kraig and he was gay, and he committed suicide.”
“I want people to remember that this was a little boy who deserved protection, respect and unconditional love,” his sister said. “I don’t want him to be remembered as a science experiment. He was a person.”
This is some powerful reporting. Anderson Cooper and his team did a great job with this explosive story.
Therapy to change ‘feminine’ boy created a troubled man, family says (CNN)