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Scary stories and super creeps: The illustrated nightmares of Stephen Gammell


A catchy tune and one of Stephen Gammell’s illustrations from Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy, ‘Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.’
 
If you look at the unassuming photo used by publisher Simon and Schuster of illustrator Stephen Gammell, you will, in no way, perceive the smiling, white-bearded and spectacled man was responsible for creating images which have terrorized the minds of children since 1981. But he is, and I hope this helps reinforce the golden rule one should never judge a book (or a person) by their cover. Unless one of those books happens to be Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. In this case, I’d recommend you let your initial impressions be your guide because Stephen Gammell’s instantly recognizable artwork is as sinister as the tales of terror spun by author Alvin Schwartz within the pages of the three-book-series.

Gammell has led a private life during his career which started in 1972, and is notoriously humble about the impact his insidious illustrations have had on generations of people. Gammell’s father was an art editor for a major magazine and would bring home art supplies for his son to help feed his appetite for art and develop his distinctive, entirely self-taught style. Here’s Gammell expounding on his very early days tapping into his gift growing up in Des Moines, Iowa:

“Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of lying on the floor in our old house in Des Moines, books, and magazines around me, piles of pads and paper, lots of pencils…and drawing. Just drawing! I was four at the time thinking that I really didn’t want to go to school next year…I just want to do THIS.”

As I mentioned, Gammell is a private person and historically has scarcely spoken about his most notorious work with Alvin Schwartz—the word-writing creep behind the trilogy Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. Starting in 1981, the spine-tingling tales of Scary Stories hit the shelves with Gammell’s terrifying cover artwork. Schwartz’s inspiration for much of the trilogy was found in vintage books archived by the American Folklore Society (housed at the Library of Congress). They were, of course, a runaway hit, especially with kids. And being popular with “impressionable” kids seemed to be the number one reason Gammell and Schwartz collectively became public enemy number one with parents and educators. When Schwartz passed away in 1992, his books were already being submitted to the Office For Intellectual Freedom (OIF) in the hope they would be added to the list of “challenged books” maintained by OIF and eventually banned. Complaints regarding Schwartz’s tales accused the writer of being cool with various nefarious activities including cannibalism, necrophilia, and the occult. An article from 1993 published by the Chicago Tribune notes one particularly angry parent likening Schwartz to the serial killer and actual cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer because of the short story “Wonderful Sausage” where a butcher converts his wife into a bratwurst. Here’s a quote from the article by Sandy Vanderburg, a mother of two, and one of Schwartz and Gammell’s biggest haters:

“If these books were movies, they’d be R-rated because of the graphic violence. There’s no moral to them. The bad guys always win. And they make light of death. There’s a story called `Just Delicious’ about a woman who goes to a mortuary, steals another woman’s liver, and feeds it to her husband. That’s sick.”

 

An illustration by Gammell for Schwarzt’s short story “Wonderful Sausage.”
 
For the love of Sweeny Todd and those meddling kids, Hansel and Gretel, get a fucking GRIP, Sandy. Given the outrage over Scary Stories, it’s important to be clear about the Schwartz/Gammell/Scary Stories success story. As nutty as Schwartz’s fables were, what any “reader” remembers most are Gammell’s illustrations of ghouls materializing through the mist, and unfortunate characters like Harold—the impaled scarecrow. Gammell’s impact on Scary Stories fans was magnified in 2011 on the occasion of the series’ 30th anniversary when Harper’s Collins decided to replace Gammell’s original artwork with toned-down images drawn by artist Brett Helquist. With respect to Helquist, the publishers’ actions made absolutely no sense, seeing that their support of the books never wavered despite consistent, decades-long efforts to have them banned. In 2017 Harper’s came to their senses and re-released the series with all of Gammell’s diabolical illustrations intact.

2012 saw a television adaptation of the books, and in 2017 a documentary on the legacy of Scary Stories was released. In April of this year (2018) director, Guillermo del Toro confirmed he had the backing to make the film version of the trilogy, and plot details of the flick finally were revealed in early August. In addition to his chilling work for Scary Stories, Gammell’s art has appeared in 50 other non-nightmare inducing children’s books, the most recent of which tells the story of a kid who loves mud. Right on.

I’ve posted Gammell’s eerie illustrations below from the Scary Stories series. Maybe keep the lights on until you’ve seen them all (some are slightly NSFW).
 

 

 

 
Many more macabre illustrations from Stephen Gammell, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.13.2018
07:51 am
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‘The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels’: TV movie trash done right!
08.10.2018
08:28 am
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Behind the Camera DVD
 
Back in 2004, I watched the original airing of the TV movie, Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels, with a couple of friends. Expecting it would be mostly terrible, we were surprised to find it was actually trashy good fun. I liked it so much I later picked up the DVD, which I watched again recently. I still found it highly enjoyable—it was certainly better than it needed to be.

The movie was the second in a series of NBC productions that focused on the behind the scenes drama surrounding popular ‘70s TV programs. The first centered on the sitcom Three’s Company, while the third was about the show that made Robin Williams a star, Mork & Mindy. But don’t bother searching them out—like I did—as neither are worth your time (we told you how much the Mork & Mindy one stinks).

Charlie’s Angels was a surprise hit for ABC during its first season in 1976, and made one of its three female leads, Farrah Fawcett, a massive star. It was slammed by many critics for lacking substance and exploiting women (one reviewer called the program “family-style porn”), but there were others who viewed it as a groundbreaking show centered around three strong female characters.
 
Angels in Chains
A publicity still for the infamous ‘Angels in Chains’ episode, 1976.

Behind the Camera explores the controversial aspects of the show, but there’s also a lot of interesting details regarding how Charlie’s Angels got made, and examines how its stars, especially Fawcett, handled their fame. But the movie never gets too heavy, keeping things light in a knowing way. Lines like, “We must stop nipple protrusion on ABC,” and “We’re private dicks, not purring pussies,” are a total riot and deliberately trashy. Forced camp almost never works, but it absolutely does here.

Some of the casting is noteworthy. It’s remarkable how much Christina Chambers (Jaclyn Smith) and Lauren Stamile (Kate Jackson) resemble the actresses they’re portraying, as they not only look just like Smith and Jackson, but nail their cadences, too. On the other hand, Tricia Helfer doesn’t look that much like Farrah Fawcett, but she still does a fine job. Then there’s Dan Castellaneta (best known as the voice of Homer Simpson), who’s a tour de force as the legendary pipe chewing producer, Aaron Spelling. He shoulda won an Emmy!
 
Dan C as Aaron S
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.10.2018
08:28 am
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Manic Street Preacher: Neil Diamond gets evangelical on ‘The Johnny Cash Show,’ 1970


Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash.
 
One of Brooklyn’s finest, Neil Diamond, was 29 when he joined one of his heroes, 38-year old Johnny Cash on Cash’s short-lived variety program The Johnny Cash Show, which aired on February 7th, 1970.

After leaving Brooklyn for a short stint (Diamond’s father Kieve was in the military), the family ended up in Cheyenne, Wyoming where Neil would discover “singing cowboy” movies, exposing the young Diamond to the genre of country music. Later when the family returned to Brooklyn, Neil’s folks gave him an inexpensive acoustic guitar for his birthday. Diamond was already performing with his high school chorus along with another Brooklyn native, Barbra Streisand. A talented fencer, Diamond’s swordplay (not with Babs) got him a college scholarship where he would enroll as a pre-med student. Though “Dr. Neil Diamond” has a nice ring to it, Diamond, already a rabid songwriter, succumbed to his passion for music and dropped out to make it as a musician.

When Diamond appeared on The Johnny Cash Show, he was basking in the glow of his success as a songwriter and a solo artist. In 1966 he penned the monster hit “I’m a Believer” for The Monkees and also had a smash of his own the same year with “Solitary Man.” Interesting Cash/Diamond side note; 34 years later, Johnny Cash would cover “Solitary Man” on his deeply moving album, American III: Solitary Man. For Cash’s show, Diamond chose to perform a gospel-inspired number called “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” from his 1969 album of the same name. The invigorating single irritated evangelical southerners, due to Diamond’s twist of recording and performing it in the style of a proselytizing evangelical preacher. At one point during the three-minute jam, Diamond does, in fact, deliver the song’s lyrics with some preacher-on-the-pulpit fire and brimstone. I’m sure at this point you may be wondering how this went over with Johnny, a religious man to say the least. Well, he loved Diamond and considered him, as we all should, one of the era’s greatest songwriters and performers.

I can’t imagine anyone not being a fan of Neil Diamond, and even if you think you aren’t, just try to NOT sing along to “Sweet Caroline” the next time you hear it. Diamond was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in January of this year, he announced he would be retiring from touring. This did not stop the 77-year-old Diamond from putting on a special show (which you can see here), this past Saturday for firefighters battling the horrific Lake Christine blaze in Colorado which has been burning for almost four weeks.

I’ve posted footage of Diamond’s appearance on The Johnny Cash Show below which includes a short interview segment between the pair of musical gods. Now, go turn on your heartlight, then turn this one up.
 

Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash chatting on the set of ‘The Johnny Cash Show’ in 1970.
 

Neil Diamond joins Johnny Cash on ‘The Johnny Cash Show.’ The show originally aired on February 7th, 1970.

Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.01.2018
08:48 am
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A merry Iggy Pop talks drugs, blood, and Bowie in obscure 1980s TV profile
07.31.2018
08:08 am
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Poster
 
The other day I came across an entertaining Iggy TV segment from the ‘80s that I had never seen before. The clip had recently been uploaded to YouTube, and as I couldn’t find an instance of it streaming anywhere else on the web, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a rarity.

This Iggy profile aired on the French music program Les Enfants du Rock (The Children of Rock). It includes interview footage with Iggy that was shot in New York City during the time he was living there. This comes at the end of a period that, thanks to royalties earned from David Bowie’s hit version of one of their collaborations, “China Girl” (from Bowie’s hugely successful album Let’s Dance), Iggy was able to take a break from the album/tour cycle and reassess his life. He subsequently got sober, moved to Manhattan, and got married. The Ig was happy and healthy—and it shows in the interview.

Les Enfants du Rock aired this piece in 1988, though the interview footage was taped well before that. I would guess it was recorded in the fall of 1986, as there is talk of Iggy’s upcoming tour for Blah-Blah-Blah—his first album in four years—which would begin in late October.
 
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German picture sleeve for a ‘Blah-Blah-Blah’ era single, 1987.

Iggy is his usual charming self here, totally comfortable in front of the camera. The questions are presented in French, but I don’t think it will matter to non-French speakers (and that includes me). Subjects covered include coming to the realization that he was turning into a rock star phony—thanks to drugs and other vices—and what helped change all of that; writing with David Bowie and how he thinks Bowie views him; and whether or not we’ll see him vomiting and bleeding on stage this time around.

The non-interview bits might be the best parts, as they include shots of Pop merrily frolicking through the streets of New York, mocking the staged b-roll shot for TV pieces like this.

That’s our Iggy!
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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07.31.2018
08:08 am
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Big Bollocks & Rude Kids: The hilarious vulgarity of UK comic magazine Viz
07.25.2018
07:51 am
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David Bowie kicking back while having a laugh at UK comic Viz.
 
For nearly 40 years British comic Viz—sometimes referred to as Britain’s “funniest” magazine—has been putting out pages full of satire poking fun at various UK institutions and celebrities by a cast of offensive fictional characters. Illustrated ingrates such as Buster Gonad, Sid the Sexist, Terry Fuckwitt, Sweary Mary and the Rude Kid would all make regular appearances in the comic along with ridiculous profanity-laced dialog mixed with the region’s colorful slang. A few of the comic’s vulgar characters, like Sid the Sexist, The Fat Slags and Roger Mellie also made their way to television in the UK as adult-oriented cartoons. 

One of Viz’s calling cards was their craftsmanship of fake ads. Fictional (sadly) products for chastity pants for altar boys, and its companion product, “Father Begone,” a priest-repellant spray, delighted its readers. Viz was very much inspired by MAD Magazine and the images of legendary MAD illustrator and contributor, Sergio Aragonés. What made Viz stand apart from MAD was the belief you could never go low enough for a laugh. In fact, one could say Viz lowered the bar for low-brow humor lower than anyone else in the adult comic game. If you are fond of the word fuck and appreciate the art of toilet humor, then Viz is for you. If you still have any doubts regarding Viz’s wide appeal, David Bowie was apparently a big fan of the comic magazine.

If you’re already a fan of Viz, or a new one after reading this post, there are a few books which may interest you, such as Viz: Sid the Sexist—The Joy of Sexism, and one based on Viz’s Big Fat Slags. As I mentioned at the top of this post, the magazine is still publishing issues today, and back issues can also be obtained over at their official site, as well as other merchandise. I’ve posted images from Viz’s comics below—some are slightly NSFW.
 

A funny fake ad from UK magazine, Viz comics.
 

 

 
More Viz after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.25.2018
07:51 am
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The Gun Club, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer on ‘Art Fein’s Poker Party’


Art Fein, Bull Moose Jackson and Paul Body, 1985 (via Another Fein Mess)
 
You know what they say: “Ain’t no YouTube rabbit hole like an Art Fein’s Poker Party YouTube rabbit hole, ‘cause an Art Fein’s Poker Party YouTube rabbit hole goes deep into the bowels of the internet for a very great distance.” It is whispered in some corners of the web that there are as many episodes of Art Fein’s Poker Party as there are stars in the universe.

Fein, the onetime manager of the Cramps and author of The L.A. Musical History Tour, hosted a freewheeling talk show on public access during the eighties, nineties and nothings. Art Fein’s Poker Party was broadcast from sea to shining sea; John Peel watched it. The show presented its guests—Arthur Lee, Nick Lowe, Brian Wilson, Al Kooper, Peter Buck, Randy California, Willy DeVille, Tav Falco, Dion, Pearl Harbour, Willie Dixon, Chris Spedding, P. F. Sloan, Peter Case, Ike Turner, Mojo Nixon, Carlos Guitarlos, Jerry Cole, Peter Holsapple, Dr. Demento, Dwight Yoakam, Brendan Mullen, Harvey Sid Fisher, Steve Allen, et al.—as you might have encountered them over a meal or a drink, telling jokes, obsessing over favorite records, trying to one-up each other’s road stories. They sang and played real pretty sometimes, too.

Below are clips from appearances by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Joe Strummer. Art Fein, please upload the Arthur Lee episode of Poker Party to your luminiferous YouTube account.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Paul Body:
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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07.24.2018
08:28 am
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Exercise with Iggy Pop and Nash the Slash on cable TV, 1982
07.19.2018
08:46 am
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All these years listening to Iggy Pop’s 2 Record Set—the brilliant New Values LP plus bits of Soldier and Party—I just assumed Iggy was singing about Nash the Slash because he thought it would be neat to mention the bandaged Canadian multi-instrumentalist and Murph the Surf in the same song. But I shortchanged the relationship. Nash the Slash was Iggy’s opening act on a 1982 tour, and the two lunatics visited the set of Calgary’s music video show, FM Moving Pictures, for a frank, candid, no-holds-barred discussion of farting through bandages and assembling Mansonoid dune-buggy armies to rule the deserts. Let’s not rule out the possibility that Nash and Iggy enjoyed an aperitif in the green room beforehand.

The sound is glitchy, but this version of the video, courtesy of the FM Moving Pictures YouTube channel, is like way better than any previously uploaded copy. Longer, too.

A little past the seven-minute mark, they rise from their seats to demonstrate some of the exercises that comprise “the Osterberg method” of physical fitness. This workout is 100 percent about giving you a solid core and toning your whole body. NSFW, except it be a fuckword-friendly workplace.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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07.19.2018
08:46 am
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Comedy God Rik Mayall talks ‘The Young Ones’ with co-writer Ben Elton from 1985
07.17.2018
01:41 pm
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rik.jpg
 
Has God seemed distant recently? Does He no longer return your calls? Did He forget your birthday? Does He no longer go down on you?

Well don’t lose faith kids, just say a prayer to Rik Mayall.

Comedy God Rick Mayall may have died in 2014 but he is now up there in Heaven making Jesus laugh with his fart jokes, impressing Moses with his humungous willie, and drawing cartoons for Mohammad.

I tell you, I often say a prayer to Saint Rik of The Young Ones. And you know, most times I get a reply. It could be a merest waft of noxious gas, a childish burp, a disdainful snort, or just the usual disembodied hand waving two-fingers at me.

If people pray to saints and what-have-yous who have been dead for hundreds of years then why not Rik who has hardly been dead at all and brought his penis, I mean happiness to millions of people.

I first came across Rik accidentally when I hit the remote button during a porn movie (ahem) suddenly the screen was filled with this bug-eyed loon reciting poetry about theater and Vanessa Redgrave. Who was this juicy hunk of mammal? What was he doing? Why was he so angry? Why was he so funny?

Mayall was one of those “Alternative Comedians” who had established themselves through London’s pub rock circuit before finding residency at the Comedy Store in London in the late 1970s. There was a whole bunch of them: Alexei Sayle, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Andy de la Tour, and Mayall’s comedy partner Ade Edmondson. And if the press were to be believed (which generally they’re not) these young people were taking over everything. To be fair, it was very difficult to see any one of these acts in the late seventies early eighties on TV. Yes, yes, they did, of course, pop up on late night chat shows like Friday Night, Saturday Morning, or the strange one-off hybrid series like Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights—which mixed traditional and alternative comedy, or sketch shows like the hugely popular A Kick Up the Eighties. But a five minute blast here or a half-hour there wasn’t exactly storming the Crystal Palace.

At the time out of the Alternative Comedians, it was between Mayall and Sayle who appeared the most on TV. Sayle had been the compere at the Comedy Store who changed his style of stand-up after seeing Robin Williams. He performed his Marxist-inspired routines on a variety of what might be loosely termed traditional shows—most surprisingly on O.T.T. an adult version of kids cult show Tiswas—kids, Sayle once remarked, loved him, but he wasn’t exactly fond of the little critters. Mayall, meanwhile, appeared in adverts for candy bars, sketch shows, music shows (reading his poetry, of course), and then established himself in the nation’s psyche as the investigative reporter Kevin Turvey in A Kick Up the Eighties.

So far so good. But it was when he wrote and devised The Young Ones with Lise Mayer and Ben Elton circa January 1981 that the world was about to change and a Comedy God appear unto nations.
 
03younuns.jpg
‘Once every lifetime…’
 
Nine o’clock on a Tuesday night, November 9, 1982, The Young Ones were unleashed onto the world. Though the series followed a traditional sitcom format of four people in a room with a TV, The Young Ones managed to divide a nation and started, for want of a better word, modern comedy. This was a time when there were just four main channels on British TV: BBC 1 and 2, ITV, and the newly launched Channel 4—which some areas of the country didn’t yet receive. Television hadn’t changed much over the previous decade or two. Monty Python and Spike Milligan’s Q series had made some inroads but their shock value had gone. The Young Ones horrified an older generation who believed these four selfish, nasty, incompetent, and odious characters Rik, Vyvyan, Neil, and Mike would corrupt their offspring and lead to the downfall of civilization. Some wanted the show banned. Others wanted the BBC Licence Fee stopped. But, for a younger generation who were starved of any television programs they could relate to, The Young Ones was like a hand grenade going off at a church service.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.17.2018
01:41 pm
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Groovy photos of Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi & more on the set of all three ‘Evil Dead’ films
06.26.2018
07:25 am
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Actor Bruce Campbell and his childhood pal director Sam Raimi.
 

Yeah, you know my kids, fortunately, have seen enough of my working life that they know it’s not all blowjobs and limousines.

—actor Bruce Campbell on the reality of being Bruce Campbell

The last week of April was a sad time for fans of Bruce Campbell after the veteran actor (and author) broke the news he was “retiring” from portraying the chainsaw-wielding Ashley Joanna Williams from the trifecta of awesomeness that is the Evil Dead film series. The story of how Ash and The Evil Dead came to be is a pretty sweet one when it comes to Hollywood folklore beginning when director Sam Raimi and Campbell came across each other in high school. When they first met, Campbell thought Raimi was a “creepy weirdo” and he tried hard to avoid him until they found themselves paired together in the same drama class in 1975. Campbell agreed to be Raimi’s assistant for magic shows he had put together for the class and the academic venture would inspire the teenagers to start making movies. According to Campbell, he, Raimi and four other aspiring drama kids joined forces spending as much time as possible making Super-8 films sharing the responsibilities of actor, director, scriptwriter, and camera operator. A short six-years later Raimi would release his first full-length film, The Evil Dead starring his buddy Bruce as Ash Williams—a role Campbell reprised in 2015 for the television version of the film series Ash vs. Evil Dead, 34 years after the wisecracking character came to be in 1981. Before the somewhat surprise cancellation of the show, Campbell said he would pull the plug on Ash himself if cable network Starz yanked the show. Once the ax fell on Ash vs. Evil Dead, Campbell confirmed his days playing Ash were over.

Cambell, aka The Chin, as he is often affectionately referred to, celebrated a birthday this past Friday—his 60th—hanging out in Sacramento, California while the Fandemic Tour dropped in for the weekend. To date, he has at least 125 acting credits to his name and many of Campbell’s fictional alter-egos, such as Ash and his portrayal of an elderly, infirm Elvis Presley in the 2002 cult film, Bubba Ho-Tep have helped to further mythologize Campbell as an actor with the ability to create characters so believable they become one and the same. Much like their days making Super-8 flicks in high school, filming The Evil Dead was a collaborative effort in every sense of the word, Campbell, Hal Delrich/Richard DeManincor (Ash’s pal Scotty in the film) and other actors routinely did their own stunts which regularly sent them off to the emergency room after being injured on set. Bruce Campbell lost a couple of teeth in a freak accident involving a cameraman and actress Betsy Baker (Ash’s girlfriend Linda in The Evil Dead) lost all of her fucking eyelashes after having a prosthetic mask removed from her face. Raimi would elude to this occupational hazard at the film’s premiere by hiring ambulances to park in front of the theater helping to build the hysteria around the blood-drenched flick. After filming principal scenes during conditions so cold it froze cameras and wiring, many actors bailed never to return The remaining crew—thirteen to be precise—took up residence in the cabin in Morristown, Tennessee where the movie was being filmed. There was no running water, no heat and as filming came to a close, the crew took to burning furniture to keep warm. The Evil Dead was a hit as was the follow-up, 1987’s Evil Dead 2, and the final film in the series, Army of Darkness.

So, in honor of Mr. Campbell reaching his seventh decade of being undeniably groovy, I thought it would be fun to take a look at photos taken on the set from all three Evil Dead films. Remember, all of this is possible thanks to a bunch of 20-somethings brave enough to go into the woods with lights, cameras, and a shit-ton of fake blood—hell-bent on creating horror history. Pretty much everything I’ve posted below is NSFW. Bow to the King, baby.
 

Bruce Campbell taking a look at Bad Ash with director Sam Raimi on the set of the 1992 film ‘Army of Darkness.’
 

Campbell in full prosthetics with cameraman James Fitzgerald on the set of ‘Army of Darkness.’
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.26.2018
07:25 am
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‘Hey, Hey we’re the Grungies’: Pitch-perfect ‘Ben Stiller Show’ sketch skewers 1990s Seattle


 
As the son of Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller—both alums of Second City—Ben Stiller was an early inheritor of the improv tradition that today is a key element of all big-budget comedies. Stiller’s career got an early boost after he wrote, directed, and starred in “The Hustler Of Money,” a remarkably dead-on and suitably high-octane takedown of Martin Scorsese’s 1986 movie The Color of Money, which appeared on Saturday Night Live when Stiller was just 21 years old. It took only a few years for Stiller to be running his own sketch show on Fox, a show that more than any other can be said to contain the originating DNA for the coming generation of comedy (which is now entering its dotage). The writing staff of The Ben Stiller Show featured not only Stiller but also Judd Apatow as well as Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, who would spearhead their own daffy sketch intervention called Mr. Show, which HBO fitfully supported for several years in the late 1990s.

In January 1992 Nirvana played Saturday Night Live, in a moment that cemented the status of grunge as the sorely needed generational response to the calcified pop scene in which the likes of C+C Music Factory, Paula Abdul, and Bryan Adams could dominate the charts. The first season of The Ben Stiller Show began in the autumn of the same year, and sure enough, it aimed its satirical eye at Nirvana and its Seattle cohort of Gen-X rock bands.
 

 
In “The Grungies,” the eponymous quartet, occupants of a single Seattle apartment, has the imprudently uncommercial practice of destroying its instruments onstage. Wearing flannel and Doc Martens (of course), Stiller’s “Jonsie” has the goatee of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and (eventually) sings like Kurt Cobain, while the fellow playing the wordless goon “Tork” is assigned the task of adopting Cobain’s trademark blond mop of a hairdo. Stiller and Co. brilliantly adapt the Monkees TV template to land its barbs; the conventions of that show are mimicked with such loving perfection that one suspects the presence of a ringer—a hunch confirmed when Micky Dolenz himself materializes promising a pile of major-label cash.

Watch it after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.20.2018
10:37 am
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