Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Vista Theatre in Hollywood

The 400 seat Vista Theatre in Hollywood is best known by locals but not your average tourist.  The Vista Theatre was opened in 1923 as the Lou Bard Playhouse.  It's an extremely historic location.  D.W. Griffith filmed the silent epic Intolerance on the exact location in 1916. 

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is best known for the hand and footprint of Hollywood celebrities.  However, the Vista also has celebrity hand and footprints.  A variety, from, Sarah Jessica Parker and Martin Landau from Ed Wood.  Elvira is there as is Bud Cort and Ryan and Tatum O'Neil, even Karen Black is there.  It's well worth a visit.

  The Vista is located at 4473 Sunset Drive, Hollywood.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Vintage Halloween Time

 With Halloween approaching I'm not one for gore, body parts, zombies or flesh eating clowns.    I'm into fun, vintage, retro stuff.  I'm not really a fan of comic books.  I do, however, have a fondness for comic book covers.  No super hero stuff either!  Just your Gold Key/Whitman vintage fun stuff.  So here's nine spooky covers to whet your Halloween whistle.  Three covers from, The Little Monsters, Mr & Mrs J Evil Scientist and Hanna Barbera's Addams Family. Have a Happy Halloween everyone!  Boo!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Lost NYC reappears (or at least it did)

If you've seen Alfred Hitchcock's, Psycho on DVD or BluRay, you've no doubt seen the Electronic Press Kit.  I was instantly in awe of this billboard.  It's in Times Square and was the NYC billboard for Psycho.  Pretty impressive!  It still stands today, however, no longer advertising Psycho but four different Broadway shows. Well...I'm pleased it's still there in some form.  

So...Psycho was shown at the DeMille and they show crowds lining up and you get to glimpse some store signs in the background.  Imagine my delight when I was in NYC and noticed some advertising that features in the Electronic Press Kit!!!  I know!  I was thrilled too.  It's been hidden away since the Sixties only to be covered up by some plastic banner.

Ironically, the DeMlle lobby is now a gift store and I couldn't help but wonder how exciting it must have been to be seeing Psycho back then.  If I couldn't see Psycho seeing the bottom half of a long lost sign with a vague Psycho connection was good enough for me!

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Spirit Is Willing is coming to DVD & Bluray

The William Castle comedy, The Spirit Is Willing, is finally coming to DVD & BluRay for the first time!  Ever!  Never has this been released in a home video format, not even on VHS.   I'm thrilled!  The film stars, Sid Caeser, Vera Miles, Barry Gordon and just about anyone who had success in a 1960's television.  Mary Wickes, Doodles Weaver, John McGiver, John Astin (yes, Gomez from The Addams Family) appear as supporting cast.
The film has a score by the brilliant Vic Mizzy (think Addam's Family & Greenacres) which only highlights the movie. I remember seeing this on television in the early 1980's a few times and then it disappeared.

The plot is simple to follow, when Ben and Kate Powell (Sid Caesar and Vera Miles) rent a haunted New England house by the sea, their son Steve (Barry Gordon) gets blamed for the destruction caused by three unruly ghosts.

It's fun, it's nostalgic, it's another wonderful time capsule of the 1960s's.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark Locations

Let’s take a trip back to 1988 and visit the town featured in the motion picture, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. For a few weeks in January 1988, Midwest Street at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank was portrayed as Fallwell, Massachusetts.

If you’ve never seen the movie you’ve certainly seen the street before. It featured as Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls and before that it’s been seen in The Music Man, The Dukes of Hazzard, East of Eden and even home to killer bees in Irwin Allen’s The Swarm.

When her Great Aunt dies, famed horror hostess, Elvira, heads to the uptight New England town of Fallwell to claim her inheritance of a haunted house, a witches cookbook and a punk rock poodle. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark stars, Cassandra Peterson, W. Morgan Sheppard, Edie McClurg, Susan Kellerman and Daniel Greene.

Firstly, much of the movie takes place on Mid West Street at Warner Studios in Burbank, however a few establishing shots were filmed on location. One such view was a home (where the reading of the will takes place) seen in such films as Willard and Ben. Obviously using the exterior was a nod to those movies. Also a nice homage was on the Welcome To Fallwell sign, population 1313 (of course the number of the house on The Munsters). All the interiors of Elvira were filmed at Raleigh Studios on Melrose Ave.

Mid West Street seen in Elvira

(above and below) The same street in 2010

The building with the red frontage was seen as the Men's Hairdresser, the building with the grey roof was Patti's Tidy Bowl Lanes Bowling Alley, the building with the awning was "Cindy's" and the building behind the tree was the local cinema. The office of Vincent Talbot is to the far left.

After Elvira arrives in Fallwell she's directed to the Cosy Cot Motel. The Cosy Cot exterior still exists. It's actually the side of one of the house facades at Warner's. In fact, it's the rear of the home seen on the TV series Growing Pains.

The Cosy Cot exterior in 2010.

After the reading of Morgana Talbot's Will, Elvira is driven to her new inheritance. Elvira mistakenly thinks this is her new residence. Wrong! This exterior still remains exactly as looked in 1988.

The same home in 2010 (just with a different coat of paint)

The actual home Elvira does inherit still exists on the Warner Lot. It's now hidden by a huge tree in the front yard and I've taken many trips to Warner's to try and get a good photo of it. I'm still not happy with what I've got but you can see it does still resemble the house from the movie. Although the tower has been replaced.

Vincent Talbot exits this building to be confronted by Fallwell's resident busy-body, Chasity Piriah.

The same building in 2010 (the building to the right was seen as Fallwell's local cinema)

Elvira mixes up some 'pot luck' at the local fete with an hysterical outcome. I have to say that this scene is one of my all time favorites and I often quote dialogue from this, "remind you of anything?". This scene was filmed inside Warner's in their lagoon section. The area has been seen in ER and even Jurassic Park (where the T-Rex chases the jeep). Note the transportable gazebo that normally sits in the town square at Warner's.

The same building in the background is still there in 2010.

Poor Elvira is about to burnt at the stake (that's technically not a spoiler since the movie poster featured Elvira tied to the stake and Chastity Piriah holding a lit match).

Photo © Warner Bros Studio

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a fun movie. It's made tongue-in-cheek and is currently available on DVD. Let's hope we can see a BluRay release with commentary, outatakes and a making of. It would also be nice if Elvira could return to Fallwell as a bonus feature.