Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Night of the Living Red

I've been getting ready to get back into the analog method of painting, recently, and here's my first try at watercolor (well, my first try in like 20 years). I love watercolor! Stuff happens with watercolor that you can't quite arrive at digitally. It's hard to compete with the undo button, though and I made a mistake with this one that lead me to stop before I would have. Not too shabby for an abortive effort, though. The painting is actually a blue-green. Everything was going okey until I threw the green in, though. So I scanned it and tweaked the color and settled on a nice juicy red. Anyway, I'll definitely be working with watercolors a lot more, now, even if I end up finishing on the computer. And I'll stay away from green.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Humphrey Bogart as Dr. X

A lot of people aren't aware that Bogey actually did have one bogeyman role, in 1939's The Return of Dr. X. The Original Dr. X was about the development of synthetic flesh for nefarious purposes. The main connection the sequel has is a new Dr. X (Bogart's Dr. Maurice Xavier) and the development of synthetic blood for initially altruistic purposes (but you know how that goes). It was an embarrassing role in a b movie for Bogart at a time when the actor's ship was just coming in (he was about to start on a movie called High Sierra, which would launch him to stardom) but it's interesting for it's novelties. First of all, it has Bogart in his only horror movie role. The character of Dr. X is also interesting because it seems to anticipate the Nazi mad scientist--a staple of the horror genre in the decades to come--who sees his unwilling experimental subjects as quite disposable to his ambition to live forever.

The movie is very competently shot by busy director Vincent Sherman (who lived to be 100!), with all the trademarks of what would more recently come to be known as cinema noir, but it is the protagonist's odd introduction to Bogart's unnerving bespectacled Dr. X, stroking a lab rabbit (a rabbit which has some significance in the story), that really struck my fancy. It was ripe for a Warner Bros. send-up starring Bugs Bunny as the rabbit. Due to a mysterious affliction, Dr. X has a ghastly pallor, a hand that's cold to the touch and a lame left arm. And the white streaks in his hair, which garners a probably unintended association when one character refers to him as a skunk. The movie's plot is rife with unfunny comic relief offset by chuckle-inspiring science and it's at least worth a look for fans of the genre and of famous actors in early camp roles. Curiously, the trailer for The Return of Dr. X is made from footage not seen in the actual movie and seems to play up Bogart's typical gangster persona and hints at a rather more interesting movie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barbara Steele in Black Sunday

Update! 1/4/13 I dug up the old file and saved it in a larger size. The old one was so dinky! I also tweaked the colors and resigned it.

This is genre goddess Barbara Steele in half of her dual role in the seminal Mario Bava horror film La Maschera del Demonio, known in America as Black Sunday. In this scene Steele is Ukrainian noblewoman Katia Vajda walking the dogs on the family estate, where she encounters our protagonists. I don't know if this is considered one of the iconic moments of the film but I've always liked it. I'd love to do a huge oil painting of this but for now I'll move on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

A hearty Cheers! to all of the other Countdown participants, Happy Halloween!, thanks for dropping by and may your Day of the Dead hangover be mercifully brief.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Off-ed to the Races!

No the people of Manitou Springs, Colorado aren't a bunch of chanting and gibbering deformed idol-worshipping savages out of a Lovecraft story, they just really know how to celebrate Halloween. And their Halloween spirit shines the brightest during the Emma Crawford Coffin Races, held every year the Saturday before Halloween. This years event, the 15th annual ECCR, had the fortune of falling on one of the warmest sunniest day of the month.

Emma Crawford was a lovely young woman, afflicted with tubeculosis, whose family moved to Manitou in 1889 to provide her with the believed restorative powers of the local mineral springs and mountain air. Emma asked to be buried on nearby Red Mountain and when she died, in 1891, her family had the wish fulfilled. Unfortunately, Emma's body was relocated years later by the railroad to the south side of Red Mountain where the heightened exposure to the elements caused Emma coffin to become unearthed and wash down the mountainside in 1929. Emma's poor abused bones were re-interred in a cemetery in an unmarked grave and rumor has it that Emma's ghost haunts the slopes of Red Mountain looking for her lost resting place.

So I trust you get the basic premise. Every year the folks of Manitou pay tribute to Emma's spirit with a racing competition where colorfully-costumed teams push coffin-like carts ( two at a time) to the finish line, each bearing a unique representation of the restless Miss Crawford.

Each year there is an invitation only wake at the Miramont Castle the evening before the race and the next day the public event begins with a parade in Emma honor featuring a convoy of pimped-out hearses as well as the race competitors themselves.

It's basically a Halloween event, with dazzling costumes on both sides of the parade-tape.

Prizes are given for originality of the teams costumes and coffins as well as the actual races.

The event gives Halloween exhibitionists a perfect place to flaunt their nature, such as... What's this?...

What's bugging those dogs? Some kind of remote-controlled car?

Oh, but of course...

The fact is, there were so darned many people packed onto Manitou Avenue that I gave up trying to get good shots of the races themselves. But I knew someone would have video up on YouTube by the time I wrote this post, anyway.

Ghosts from the Crawlspace

I'd almost forgotten about these old Halloween decorations that we had stored in the crawlspace. I always dug these glow-in-the-dark ghosts.

I think this one is my favorite.

A couple of them are suffering from damage.

Like this witch, which I probably helped deface at some point in my childhood.

I suspect that these last two are older than I am.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cemetery Bear

About 15 years ago I went on a trip to the mountain town of Lake City with my mom. During the trip we took a drive up to the Lake City cemetery to see my grandfather's grave. At one point during the drive up the winding dirt road I spotted a small bear. I got out of the car and took some pictures of it as it ambled off into the woods and even followed it a little. If the bear was a cub, it's mother was nowhere in sight.

Moments later, I realized that we'd found the grave. I'd unknowingly framed it in the first pictures.

Cool cemetery, too....