Sunday, December 04, 2011

Donny Osmond Brings Xmas Delights

Okay PopCerealites, commence to squealing in delight and flinging Tiger Beat mags all across your bedrooms.  Donny has offered up a free brand new Christmas song, still in its Christmas wrapping, all ready for you to download.  Go here!

Here's some old school Osmonds for you to enjoy while you wait for Donny's email reply...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Movies That Made Me a Monster Kid #4: Trilogy of Terror

Let me first confess that Dan Curtis is my hero.  Dark Shadows made a huge impact on my monster kid life (more on that another time), but his TV movies were also a great influence on the kinds of movies and programming that I would grow to love, as well as on the kinds of stories I would like to write.
Welcome to My Nightmare!

Trilogy of Terror, as a whole, is burned into memory, but it was one particular segment in the movie that was particularly seared into my monster kid psyche -- "Amelia."

Each of the three stories starred the incredible Karen Black.  Black was a mainstay in my childhood.  One of the few actors for who I recognized being there throughout my life.  I was always impressed with her -- mosty because of this very movie, in which she plays the eponymous character in each of the three segments.  In "Julia," Black plays a homely English teacher who becomes the target of one of her student's advances.  The boy is looking to find new territory to conquer, other than the usual cast of female students.  So, he sets his sites on the "she must be hot under those glasses and librarian clothes" teacher.  It turns out,  she is a lot more wild than anyone expected.  In "Millicent and Therese," Black plays sisters -- one meek and mild, the other crass and wild.  The last, and most widely talked about, is "Amelia" (sometimes referred to as "The Zuni Fetish Doll").  Black plays Amelia, a grown woman who is trying to cut the apron strings to her overbearing mother.  Eve though she's moved out, and has her own career, her mother still has a strong hold on her.  After a day of shopping, Amelia decides to brush off her usual dinner with Mom, for a night of solitude.  As if triggered by her guilt for lying to her mum, a Zumi fetish doll, that she's bought as decor for her new apartment, comes to life and attacks Amelia.  I remember being riveted, watching this segment, not only because the Zumi doll was so freakishly scary, but mostly because the attacks were terrifyingly brutal.
Waiting for Mum to visit

The image of the Zumi fetish doll would soon become iconic for 70s TV horror movies.  But the image that slayed me was that of Karen Black, crouched down on the apartment floor, stabbing a large butcher knife into the floor, the insane look of the Zumi doll cast across her face

True story -- this insane pose was mimicked, one dark and scary night, by my sister, who bore more than a resemblance to the young Karen Black.  Ruined me for life!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Films that Made Me a Monster Kid #3 - The Bad Seed (1956)

This was the movie that got me to be frightened of creepy little kids.  Heck, I was just a kid when I saw it, so the damage has been long standing.  It also gave me an appreciation for chilling movies that didn't dabble in th supernatural.  Little Rhoda Penmark (played superbly by Patty McCormack) was just what the title says -- a bad seed.  She didn't have the devil in her.  She wasn't swarmed by demons.  She was just the world's most insane little brat.

Some trivia:  The song that little Rhoda plays on the piano was the very first song I ever learned to play.  Us siblings would play the song with a blank stare in our eyes, to creep other people out.  It worked...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Film's That Made Me a Monster Kid #2: 13 Ghosts (1960)

This movie showed me the sweet sweet joys of being terrified.  Oddly enough, I watched this movie on a quiet, tranquil Sunday morning.  Sunday morning TV, when I was a kid, was very laid back.  We'd watch the local morning show, called Shhhhh, and then some Laurel & Hardy, and Davey & Goliath.  This one morning, for some reason, the wiseguys at the local TV station decided they'd put a creepy, ghost story on, for all the kiddies to watch, before their moms and dads got up for church.

I was mesmerized!

Until that cobwebbed covered ghost squished a victim in the killer canopy bed!!  The unique look of those ghosts was never really duplicated in other films -- I'm not sure why.  The corpse-like features and cobwebs, sometimes cloaked in the traditional clothe.  I thought they were creepy then, and still do!  The Zemeckis/Silver remake of 2001 was a fairly unfrightening, overindulgent, effects-laden attempt to bring horror into the big budget blockbuster world.  After seeing that flop, I was really wishing that Ghost # 7 would drop the dynamic producing duo into a hole filled with acid.  Sizzle!


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Films that Made Me a Monster Kid #1 - The Tingler

BadRonald here, popping in for a visit on this festive Halloween Season.  I'd like to share with you some of the movies and shows that helped shape me into the freakazoid that I am today.  Props go out to the likes of Vincent Price, William Castle, Dan Curtis, the Hammer gang, and so many others.  Lemme start with a real creeper...

The Tingler, no doubt, is my earliest movie memory.  I don't remember what age I was, probably 4 or 5.  However, I remember sitting there in front of the old Black&White, completely scared out of my trousers.  The most vivid memory is the scene with the deaf, mute girl in the tub (hot dog!), about to be attacked by the huge killer bug.

You see, the premise -- as set up by Mr. William Castle in his preamble -- was that if you see the Tingler coming at you, you just scream, and that will chase it off.  Well, Miss Prettylady couldn't scream, so all she could do was leave me with the terrifying image of her and her gap-mouth silent scream!  Thanks lady!  Now naked ladies in tubs make me scared and silly willy.

This film was the very start of my life as a diehard horror fan.  And it also introduced me to my first favorite movie star -- Vincent Price.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Saturday Morning Review: Sigmund and the Sea Monsters - Season One DVD

Talking about friends, friends, friends...

It's oft been said that today's kids demand more from their entertainment.  This usually comes from producers and promoters, and all the others who profit from children's' entertainment... as well as the parents who consume it.  They would have us all believe that our little Dakotas and Skylars and Hunters would never be caught watching the stuff we used to watch, because it's so simple and booooring. Truth be told, kids are gonna watch what ever catches their eye, be it a black and white cartoon of Popeye, a Punch and Judy puppet show, or a flip book cartoon.  And truth be told, it's the parents who are demanding more from their kid's entertainment.  They want to see stuff in the programming that they can relate to, or that makes them laugh.  And the producers are all too obliging, because they know who's buying the stuff --it's the parents, not the kids.

I like to prove the theory of theirs wrong.  I regularly my li'l Pop Cereal flakes with a good dose of retro kid fun.  And truth be told... they love it.  Sure they love their My Little Pony and their Little Bear and Yo Gabba Gabba.  They also love them some Groovie Goolies, and Double Deckers.  And now their latest demand is for more Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
Whattaya mean I can't watch Hannah Montana!

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters was an early 1970s gem from those boys of Saturday Morning weirdness Sid & Marty Kroftt. It told the story of a young sea monster named Sigmund Ooze (played by the legendary Billy Barty), who ran away from his cave, because his family disowned him for not being mean enough.  He befriends two California boys, Johnny and Scott (Johnny Whitaker and Scott Kolden), who he attempts to scare as they play out on the beach.  The boys hide Sigmund in their cool backyard clubhouse, not only from their nosy housekeeper Zelda (the fabulous Mary Wikes), but from the dysfunctional Ooze family.  It seems that every time Sigmund's family get themselves into a bind, Big Daddy and Sweet Momma send out their remaining bumbling boys, Blurp and Slurp, to go fetch Sigmund to help straighten it all out. 
Has Selena Gomez gotten a good look at my hair do?

The stories are simple and the dialogue is fun and unoffensive. The adventures are straight forward and loaded with silly slapstick action.  A lot of the acting is corny, but that was the style of the Saturday morning program back in that era.  It was all just plain fun.  However, there was the right amount of cultural referencing to make it contemporary.  Like Big Daddy's parodying Archie Bunker with the voice and mannerisms -- and a good ol' Stifle it!" every so often.  The comic action is absolute fun for the kids, and there are little tidbits of frights every so often, to make it exciting. 
Zelda's cooking seafood tonight.  Better hide!

All this simple fun has made this DVD set a "demand" for my kids.  They ask to watch it several times a week.  They make up their own li'l Sigmund toys to play with, alongside their store bought Little Pony's, and they've even announced that they'll be Sigmund for Halloween (but then again, they've changed costume ideas like five times since). 

Monday, August 29, 2011

PopCereal Press: Peanuts Returns

For Immediate Release:



August 24th, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA – Happiness is a monthly comic book series, Charlie Brown! PEANUTS debuted at BOOM! Studios' all-ages imprint KABOOM! this past spring with the first PEANUTS graphic novel HAPPINESS IS A WARM BLANKET, CHARLIE BROWN. Now, thanks to a recently signed partnership with Peanuts Worldwide, Snoopy and the gang are back in a monthly comic book series kicking off this November with a special #0 — for only a buck —featuring a new original story and supplementary material that will provide a sneak peek at the series launching in January!

“We were honored to publish the first PEANUTS graphic novel HAPPINESS IS A WARM BLANKET, CHARLIE BROWN this past spring and now we are doubly honored to publish a new PEANUTS monthly comic series,” BOOM! Studios Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ross Richie said. “The team at PEANUTS have entrusted us with these characters and we aim to do everything we can to honor the memory and the characters of Charles Schulz.”

"It's a daunting task to follow in the footsteps of a master," BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon said. "But with the team we have assembled and the guidance of the folks at Peanuts Worldwide and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, we're confident that we'll be delivering to fans the best PEANUTS monthly comic book series anyone could imagine."

Launched this past spring, KABOOM! is the brand new name for BOOM! Studios’ three year old all-ages imprint previously known as BOOM Kids! This year has seen KABOOM! launch with the premiere of the PEANUTS graphic novel, followed closely by an all new original series by fan-favorite Roger Langridge entitled SNARKED, and this month will see the release of Scholastic’s WORDGIRL.

Friday, August 26, 2011

PopCereal Remembers... Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (TV 1973)

Don't Be Afraid of the Marketing Schemes!

The remake phenomenon has taken another, odd twist this week.  It used to be that older films were remade to try and bring the classic story into a more modern age, making accessible, once again, to a new generation.  Lately, tough, the remake has become more a marketing scheme, trying to get the audience who grew up with the original movie or TV program to crawl back into their childhood clothes and enjoy another romp with their favorite characters (albeit a newer trendier, more adult oriented romp).  But with Guillermo del Toro's newly produced remake of the TV Movie of the Week classic Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, the original audience for this movie are way way out of the standard money-spending target audience range of 15-35 year-olds.  But, even with that said, I'm not sure the original audience is even much interested in seeing this movie remade.

But, maybe that's just me.  The plot of the movie is surely a creepy one: young bride in a new home starts hearing and seeing little creatures after opening a sealed up fireplace.  The movie was truly frightful for me when I saw it at 12 years-old.  And truth be told, it still was fairly chilling having seen it a few times as an adult.  But, do I need to see it remade?  No, not really.  Especially, seeing the trailers which make it look like so many of the other spookers about houses possessed.  The trailer actually looks like the American remakes of some of the better Spanish thrillers.

The fun part about the original Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, as well as many of the TV thrillers of that era, is that the setting of the story was decidedly ours.  The world was that of the everyday.  And the people who lived in them were all people who were familiar to us.  When the creepy things came out, they came into our world.  In the original TV movie, Sally Farnham (played by Kim Darby) was just like any other young newlywed, with the same joys and troubles any of the viewers would experience.  That is, until she dabbles in places where she shouldn't.  And then, the creepers come into her world... our world.  This is what made it so frightful -- that these little unseen creepy creatures, who no one knows of, and no one sees, could somehow come get us.  It sent shivers down our spines to think that one day, when all is fair and bright, that suddenly we are sneaked up on by the unknown.  What's worse is, who would ever believe you when you try and explain?

All of this "our world" stuff seems to have been drained from today's thrillers. The world we enter in today's horror is their world -- the world of the creepers.  The contemporary setting in these films are not so normal anymore, but ripe for sorrow and hurt, and the players seem resigned to the notion that misery is just around the corner. Contemporary horror seems so filled with dark and dankness that when the thrills and creepers finally arrive, the audience is already so overwhelmed with dread that the madness needs to be escalated by use of loud noises, thunderous clashes of music, and explosive violence.  Yes, many times that recipe has proved effectual, but more than often it hasn't. 

For me, however, I think the horror works better when our world of everydayness is suddenly invaded by the creepies.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

PopCereal Remembers... Winter of the Witch (1969)

Have yourself a tasty helping of blueberry pancakes.  Magical blueberry pancakes!!
If this looks familiar, you're a PopCereal Flake

If you were a television nut in the 70s, like I was, then you may remember this childhood treat -- Winter of the Witch.  It's a tale of  a boy who moves to a new house with his mother, only to discover they much share it with a crabby old witch.  The witch makes life miserable for the boy, until he learns about the one thing that will make her happy... making blueberry pancakes.  And not just any blueberry pancake -- they're magical (or rather, trippy!)

Many have seen this in school, maybe in their Social Studies class, but I remember it as one of my beloved afternoon/weekend specials.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

PopCereal Blogger Alert! Freckled Derelict

Holy Batsnap!!  I came across this blooger by way of a link from Vintage Books My Kid's Love (who, by the way, you should be following too!) and went bananas poring over the fantastic collection of retro reads and oddities.

On her Golden Gems blog, there is a catalog of golden olden illustrated kid's books.  Not just discussed, but for full viewing!  There are also brilliant scans of vintage paper product, like Valentine cards and record albums. What a treat.

Over at Plenty 'O' Fun, there's more retro fun... and plenty of it, just as promised.  I love the groovie collection of romance comics, and TV related goodies.  Then at Fresh Meat, the Freckled Derelict displays her own works of fab vintage style works -- which is an unsquare treat for PopCereal kids!
Now, go have fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011

PopCereal Remembers... Taco Flavored Doritos

Do you remember when Taco flavored Doritos where the ONLY Doritos?
If you remember that, then you probably get called a dinosaur or old fogey... like I do.

Like any PopCereal family, we loved our snacks.  Popcorn was the ultimate TV time treat, but potato chips sure hit the spot on Sunday afternoons with the football games.  Being from western NY, we got addicted to Bison Sour Cream and Onion dip with our chips -- so, when flavored chips came about, we dug in as fast as we could.  [Not sure if Bison reaches out past the East Coast, but you folks are sure missing a treat, if'n you haven't tasted it.]

I'm not gonna lie when I tell you that I remember the moment I was introduced to a bag of Taco flavored Doritos.  My Dad bought them for our weekend treat.  And more, he introduced them as a chip that didn't need a dip!  Trust me, this is a big thing, because the only variety of chips in these days were plain or krinkle cut!!

A few years later in the early 70s came the Nacho flavored Dorito.  It was like gold had struck!!  Bags of Nacho Doritos couldn't stay on the shelves long enough -- which was fine with me.  I still loved the Taco chips.  Oh, I learned to love the Nacho, but the taco still had my heart.  Apparently, I wasn't among many, because the Taco flavored Dorito became all but extinct.  It came back in various recipe changes, or as part of special mix bags.  But, it looks as thou the silent legion of my youth has called out, and demanded the return of the Taco!!

I can only hope that this "limited" batch becomes a regular item.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

POPCEREAL NEWS! Planet of the Apes back on comic stands!

Boom Studios has been putting out a number of great titles.  But this one blasted me off to outer space!!!

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