Monday, September 24, 2007

Fee Fi Fo... Fiorilla!

Well ever since I first met Steve he has illustrated for books and magazines (Heavy Metal, Video Games and Computer Entertainment, High Times), T-shirts, small press journals (Eegah!, Magick Theatre, Moody Street Irregulars), catalog covers (Gregg Press), fanzines (Horror from the Crypt of Fear) and mini-comics (City Scenes). One of his 1985 sculptures was featured 12 years later on a cover for the magazine Bloodsongs (1997).

He created numerous drawings and product designs for Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, including a belt buckle, T-shirts, caps, ads and catalog illustrations. Fiorilla sometimes works in tandem with illustrator Jim McDermott, such as their collaboration for Stephen J. Spignesi's The Complete Stephen King Encyclopedia (1991)

Here is one or the last color illustrations I completed with Steve
Fiorilla in 1998. Steve did all the creature pencil designs for the
art, and I finished with the remaining pencils and ink/color. Click
to see some of Steve's fantastic Pencil details on this.

-- Jim McDermott
Fiorilla has illustrated for books and magazines (Heavy Metal, Video Games and Computer Entertainment, High Times), T-shirts, small press journals (Eegah!, Magick Theatre, Moody Street Irregulars), catalog covers (Gregg Press), fanzines (Horror from the Crypt of Fear) and mini-comics (City Scenes). One of his 1985 sculptures was featured 12 years later on a cover for the magazine Bloodsongs (1997).

Fiorilla's work for films includes sculptural designs for Boston's Olive Jar Animation. The short film Things Never Seen (1989), with creatures designed by Fiorilla, received multiple showings on MTV during the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to special effects makeup for videos (Tennie Komar and the Silencers) and films (Winterbeast, 1991), he has designed masks for Death Studios and horror films, including Saturday the 14th (1981) and Till Death Do We Scare (1982).

The MTV animated logo "Guillotine" featured a sculpted horror by Fiorilla, and he also created the customized skeleton guitar writhing in a popular 1987 Dokken video seen on MTV.

EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines owned one of Fiorilla's latex masks depicting EC's Old Witch (The Haunt of Fear). In the second season of HBO's Tales from the Crypt anthology television series, a photo of this Old Witch mask was a prop in the June 26, 1990 "Korman's Kalamity" episode, adapted from the EC story "Kamen's Kalamity." Illustrated by Jack Kamen, the original self-satirical story is set in EC's offices where the EC editors have a meeting with Kamen about his artwork.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Throughout his career, Fiorilla has emphasized the grotesque and surreal in illustrations, sculpture and fine art. As a sculptor, he has produced a variety of bizarre, malformed creatures.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Peter Cushing (1913-1994)

Trained at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Peter Cushing began his career in prewar Hollywood in The Man in the Iron Mask (US, d. James Whale, 1939) and made several films there before starting in Britain with Hamlet (1948), as a vividly exquisite Osric.

In the early 50s, he worked mainly in the theatre (he was in Laurence Olivier's 1951 St James Theatre season), had a TV triumph in Nineteen Eighty-Four (d. Rudolph Cartier, 1954), and was very moving as Deborah Kerr's cuckolded husband in The End of the Affair (d. Edward Dmytryk, 1954).

His film career took off when he played the eponymous over-reacher in Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein (d. Terence Fisher, 1957), establishing him at once as a cult hero of the horror film aficionados, with Christopher Lee as the monster. These two names, along with director Terence Fisher, now evoke the output of this most successful British studio. As well as playing the Baron half a dozen times, he also memorably incarnated Dr Van Helsing in several reprises of the Dracula myth, including the wonderfully stylish The Brides of Dracula (d. Fisher, 1960).

His chiselled features, refined, even ascetic speech and bearing, his intense belief in the scientific mumbo-jumbo he was given to say, are now so firmly embedded in the public mind that it is an effort of will to remember that he played many other roles, including Sherlock Holmes. It is arguable, though, that his most incisive performance is as the thin-lipped bank manager under fearful strain in the excellent B thriller, Cash on Demand (d. Quentin Lawrence, 1961).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Peter Lorre

As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk, and after stage training in Vienna made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for seven years acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast as the psychopathic child killer in M (1931). After several more films in Germany, Lorre left as the Nazis came to power, going to Paris, London and, in 1935, Hollywood. He played Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1935/I) and a series of Mr. Moto movies during the late 1930s. He began his pairing with Sydney Greenstreet as Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941), continued in Casablanca (1942) and seven other films during the early 1940s. In Germany he wrote, directed and starred in Verlorene, Der (1951). After that, somewhat heavier, he played in a string of not-so-stellar efforts, one exception being his role as a clown in The Big Circus (1959). He died the year he made his last movie, playing a stooge in Jerry Lewis' The Patsy (1964).

Monday, September 17, 2007

John Carradine

John Carradine was born Richmond Reed Carradine in New York City, the son of Genevieve Winifred (Richmond), a surgeon, and William Reed Carradine, a correspondent for the Associated Press.[1] He originally planned a career as a painter and sculptor. He began his career in show business as a Shakespearean dramatic actor and made his cinematic debut in 1930 under the name Peter Richmond. He adopted the stage name "John Carradine" in 1935, and legally took the name as his own two years later.
Carradine's four sons all became actors: David Carradine, Robert Carradine, Keith Carradine and Bruce Carradine. David's show, Kung Fu, featured his father John and half-brother Robert in the episode Dark Angel. John would appear as the same character, the Reverend Serenity Johnson, in two more episodes: The Nature of Evil and Ambush.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lon Chaney Sr. In West of Zanzibar

West of Zanzibar is a 1928 film directed by Tod Browning about the vengefulness of a cuckolded magician (Lon Chaney) paralyzed in a brawl with his rival (Lionel Barrymore). The supporting cast includes Mary Nolan and Warner Baxter.

Barrymore was the elder brother of Ethel and John Barrymore "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and the uncle of John Drew Barrymore, and the grand-uncle of Drew Barrymore. His parents were Maurice Barrymore (né Blythe) and Georgiana Drew. He was married to actresses Doris Rankin and Irene Fenwick.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Art of Alfred Hitchcock

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock KBE (August 13, 1899 – April 29, 1980) was an iconic and highly influential British-born film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres. He directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades, from the silent film era, through the invention of talkies, to the colour era. Hitchcock was among the most consistently successful and publicly recognizable world directors during his lifetime, and remains one of the best known and most popular of all time.

Famous for his expert and largely unrivalled control of pace and suspense, Hitchcock's films draw heavily on both fear and fantasy, and are known for their droll humour and witticisms. They often portray innocent people caught up in circumstances beyond their control or understanding.

Hitchcock was born and raised in Leytonstone, London, England. He began his directing career in the United Kingdom in 1922, but from 1939 he worked primarily in the United States and applied for U.S. citizenship in 1956. Hitchcock and his family lived in a mountaintop estate known as Cornwall Ranch or "Heart o' the Mountain" at the end of Canham Road, high above Scotts Valley, California, from 1940 to 1972. He died of renal failure in 1980.[1]

Rebecca was the only one of his films to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, although four others were nominated. However, Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for Best Director. He was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in 1967, but never personally received an Academy Award of Merit.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Art of Vincent Price

Price was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Vincent Leonard Price and Marguerite Willcox. His father was president of the National Candy Company. His grandfather, Vincent Clarence Price invented "Dr. Price's Baking Powder", the first cream of tartar baking powder, and secured the family's fortune.[1] Vincent Jr. attended St. Louis Country Day School. He was further educated at Yale in art history and fine art. He was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity and the Courtauld Institute, London. He became interested in theater in the 1930s, appearing professionally on stage from 1935.

He made his film debut in 1938 with Service de Luxe and established himself as a competent actor, notably in Laura (1944), opposite Gene Tierney, directed by Otto Preminger. He also played Joseph Smith, Jr. in the movie Brigham Young (1940). During the 1940s, he appeared in a wide variety of films from straight-forward drama to comedy to horror (he provided the voice of The Invisible Man at the end of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948). In 1946 he reunited with Gene Tierney in two notable films Dragonwyck and Leave Her to Heaven. He was also active in radio, portraying the Robin Hood-inspired crime-fighter Simon Templar, aka. The Saint, in a series that ran from 1947 to 1951.

In the 1960s, he had a number of low-budget successes with Roger Corman and American International Pictures (AIP) including the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963)

Price was married three times and fathered a son, named Vincent Barrett Price, with his first wife, former actress Edith Barrett. Price and his second wife Mary Grant donated hundreds of works of art and a large amount of money to East Los Angeles College in the early 1960s in order to endow the Vincent and Mary Price Gallery there.

Price's last marriage was to the Australian actress Coral Browne, who appeared with him (as one of his victims) in Theatre of Blood (1973). He converted to Catholicism to marry her, and she became a US citizen for him.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Art of Boris Karloff

Actor. Born William Henry Pratt in Victorian England, Boris Karloff was a truly gentle person who nevertheless left us a memorable legacy of screen horrors. After more than 70 unremarkable films, he was tapped to play the "monster" in "Frankenstein" in 1931, and made the character his imperishable own. In 1932 he was "The Mummy;" in 1935, he returned to his earlier role in "The Bride of Frankenstein," possibly a greater movie than the original. He went on to roles in innumerable films, plays and television programs; capped, perhaps, by his narration of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" in 1966. He was well loved not just by his fans, but by all of Hollywood, for his greatest character - his own.

Boris Karloff's most famous role as the monster in Frankenstein (US, d. James Whale, 1931) made him a legend but it did little - or perhaps too much - for his career; he is far more memorable as Ned in The Criminal Code (d. Howard Hawks) earlier the same year.

The actor (born William Henry Pratt in London) began his screen career in the US in 1916 with The Dumb Girl of Portici (d. Lois Weber) and, in all, made 164 feature films, mostly American. The British-made The Ghoul (d. T. Hayes Hunter, 1933) was no doubt influenced by his US success in the horror genre, as were some later UK appearances.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Art of Lon Chaney Jr.

In 1941, Chaney starred in the title role of The Wolf Man for Universal Pictures Co. Inc., a role which would typecast him for the rest of his life. He maintained a career at Universal horror movies over the next few years, replaying the Wolf Man in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Frankenstein's monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein, Kharis the mummy in The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse.

Creighton Tull Chaney in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Lon Chaney, Sr. and Cleva Creighton Chaney, a singing stage performer who traveled in road shows across the country with Lon. His parents' troubled marriage ended in divorce in 1913 following a scandalous public suicide attempt by his mother in Los Angeles. Young Creighton lived in various homes and boarding schools until 1916, when his father (now employed in films) remarried Hazel Hastings and could provide a stable home. Many sources report that Creighton was led to believe his mother Cleva had died while he was a boy, and was only made aware she lived after his father's death in 1930.

It was only after his father's death that Chaney started acting in movies, beginning with an uncredited role in the 1932 film Girl Crazy. He appeared in films under his real name Creighton until 1935, when he began to be billed as "Lon Chaney Jr." (and would appear as "Lon Chaney" later in his career). He first achieved stardom and critical acclaim in the 1939 feature film version of Of Mice and Men, in which he played Lennie Small.

Monday, September 3, 2007

KwMonster's rejected lawsuit painting

This is a rejected Big-Eye Kid painting from the 70s. Painter KWMonster says, "In the image, an alien mongrel has relieved itself, so now it's owner must put it to death with a space pistol. This makes them both very sad."
Although it has the all the requirements needed to be a bigeye-kid painting, it didn't fly with the head honchos. "Test audience" parents called and reported the image to the manufacturers and said lawsuits would soon follow. Apparently children who viewed the image immediately wet themselves in horror, and then became fearful that they too would soon need to be put to death. Long story short, creator KWMonster was instantly fired from the company.

K.W.Monster is a man that spends most of his time devising evil plots in his secret villian's lair, underground. He pride's himself in his wonderous ability to commit advanced acts of devious and demonic trickery without guilt.


I'll take your Adam's apple
And the Apple of your eye
I'll mix them both together
And have an apple pie

There once was a guy named Jim
Dastardly evil and grim
His friends saw his drawings were ever so grand
And then they would all gladly give him a hand
But he'd rather they give him a limb