#TBT: The “EXXXpress Yourself, Stephen King” Edition

Happy Birthday to the KING of Literary Ho-rror, Mr. Stephen King!
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We’ve been talking about this gentleman a lot recently (but also, always because he rules ;)). With trips to The Dark Tower and visits from IT, the recent ho-rror scene has really been dominated by this man who has been in the public eye for over 40 years.  He has weaved timeless nightmares from the mundane and has created creatures that have haunted us for decades and will continue to do so. Stephen King is truly a SHINING star in terror whose words will CARRIE on through the ages… but do you know what’s truly scary?

Stephen King hamming it up in an American EXXXpress commercial!
That’s f-right, kreeps! King made a ghoulish TV appearance for American Express back in the ’80s!
Like Vincent Price in his numerous commercial appearances, King plays up his spooky persona in a deliciously campy way. Dressed as a villain in one of Corman’s Poe films, Stephen King puns his way through a Gothic mansion before promoting the credit card. It’s truly magnificent!

For some conteXXXt, here’s a groovy 1984 article from PEOPLE:

A flash of lightning, banging doors, scurrying hunchbacks, disembodied human arms…and the cameras are rolling. As fog sifts through the haunted house—an old mansion ghouled up for the occasion—horror novelist Stephen King emerges from the gloom with a flaming taper in one hand and a sinister raven in the other. “Do you know me?” he asks.

Then he gestures toward a table littered with applications for a well-known credit card. “Isn’t life a little scary without it?” asks the maestro of macabre fiction. “The next time you visit your favorite haunt, why not apply for an American Express card?”

King’s gig, which will air in late September, highlights the 10th anniversary of one of TV’s most spectacularly successful commercials. When American Express shot the first spot in 1974 of the now famous ad series, featuring a parade of high achievers whose names are often better known than their faces, only six million people owned Amex cards. Now there are some 18 million. And Amex attributes a big part of the rise to their ads—of which King’s is the 61st and most flamboyant. “We are getting more ambitious with our spots,” concedes Glen Gilbert, director of advertising for Amex. “They’re so well established now, it gives us a chance to experiment and have a little more fun.”

The pioneer flasher of the little green card on TV was actor Norman (Three’s Company) Fell, who did a modest talk piece at the check-in desk of a hotel. And Fell remains the only subject who did not say, “Do you know me?” Rather, he began with “Thanks to TV a lot of people know my face, but not many know my name.”

After Fell the ads swung into the familiar opener that has held through all the spots leading into the spectacular by King, who, like most other Amex guests, confesses he was tickled to be asked to appear. “It’s just such a compliment,” says King, whose new novel, The Talisman, co-authored with Peter Straub, will appear soon after the ad. King did the spot more for laughs than for celebrity. “Certainly it’s not going to do much for my literary reputation, although,” he cracks, “many would say that I don’t have a literary reputation to worry about.”

One thing’s for sure. King, whose writings and film versions of Carrie and The Shining have earned him millions, didn’t do the ad for money. And neither have most of the other guest hosts. The $10,000 payment, plus residuals, has not changed in 10 years.

Despite the modest fee Amex has no trouble finding subjects. Together with Ogilvy & Mather, the Manhattan agency that created the campaign, Amex selects the potpourri of known-unknowns for the spots. Though hundreds of unsolicited requests pour in each year, the agency tactfully puts off the volunteers. “I can’t think of an instance in which we chose someone who approached us first,” says an Ogilvy & Mather executive.

One of the most successful invitations went to the late William Miller, Barry Goldwater’s running mate in the 1964 Presidential election. “It was amazing the recognition he got from the ads,” says his widow, Stephanie. “He used to say, ‘I definitely recommend that before someone runs for Vice-President, they do an American Express commercial!’ ”

Another especially popular advertisement was the one in which Tom Landry, the stonefaced coach of the Dallas Cowboys, appeared in a Western saloon decked out as a cowboy and surrounded by redskins—Washington Redskins, that is, in football garb. “My reputation is sort of stoic, which is planned,” says Landry, “so a lot of people were surprised.”

Other Amex stars were themselves surprised to find that the ads improved not only their image but also sales of their products. “It helped business,” says Roy Jacuzzi, founder of the whirlpool-bath company that bears his name. In 1982 he posed in one of his creations with a rubber duck—and artfully saved the show when the whirlpool quit during filming. Roy jumped out and, off-camera, shimmied under the tub with a pair of pliers and a wrench. The bath soon whirled back to life, with the cameras rolling again and a happy proprietor bubbling inside.

Opera star Roberta Peters agrees the spots provide a business boost. “It definitely helped bring people to the opera,” she says of her 1980 commercial. Peters also admits she is recognized more often since doing the ad. While she was trying unsuccessfully to flag down a Manhattan cab one day, a woman stuck her head out of a car window and yelled, “Do it da way you do it in da cammercial!” Peters obliged. She held up her hand and launched into a soprano trill. “Taaaxiii!”

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the commercial:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEPHEN KING!!! SLEEPWALKERS RULES!!!! 🙂 xoxo

#TerrorTrailerTuesday: The “King of the Silver Scream” Edition

Beep-Beep, Fright Fiends!

2017’s been a real groovy year for The King, hasn’t it?

Mr. Mercedes, The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game, and IT… no matter where you go, King’s creepin’ up with ya! And with the gargantuan success of IT and the announcement of Suffer the Little Children, it seems like the King renaissance is going to keep on floatin’!
In ho-nor of the man who was Richard Bachman, we’ve gathered up some of the most frightful ‘n’ delighful trailers for some of our favorite King scarefests! Telekinetic creeps, ghosts, things from the grave, killer cars, werewolves, and the Devil himself… these trailers prove that King knows how to show a ghoul a good time! 🙂
Let the trailers begin!!!!!! 

and my personal favorite…

Hail to the King, Baby!

IT (2017) Movie Review

(Submitted by our own Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

To say that expectations were high for 2017’s IT would be a grotesque understatement. Based on the best-selling Stephen King novel, the film is the second adaptation of the material, following the much beloved miniseries. Before even a single frame of this latest version came to be, a thunderous jolt of anticipation struck film-goers like a circus locomotive. Thousands of think pieces, fan art, and parodies sprouted up when the very first image of “IT” was released, and that goes doubly so for the trailer. IT was a bonafide cultural phenomena before it was projected on a single screen. Living up to such monstrous adaptations seems impossible, but does IT succeed?  With a big grease-painted grin, I’m very pleased to report that IT is every bit the monsterpiece we had hoped for.

Stephen King’s novel is a massive work of fiction told through narratives alternating between two timelines, so the film wisely adapts the half of the novel that focuses on the seven protagonists as kids. The film advances the setting from the 1950s to the late ’80s, but still maintains much of the source material. In the movie, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff) are all social outcasts in their own way. United by their misfit status, they develop a tight-knit relationship and dub themselves the “Losers’ Club”. When a malevolent shape-shifting killer targets them, the unconventional heroes must conquer their fears to conquer “IT”.
IT is a lot like King’s Stand By Me, but with an eldritch abomination creeping about. It’s almost as much a coming-of-age story as it is a monster movie. Sure, the clown is a fright to behold, but the children are undeniably the heart of the story.  Their struggles, their quirks, and their interactions feel so very real that it’s easy to forget that these are actors reading from a script. They are the kind of “geeky” kids you may have known (or been) growing up, with all the flaws and idiosyncrasies that come with such children. All are incredibly lovable, making the horror (both otherworldly and mundane) that befalls them unbearable. Both their chemistry and individual charms are what elevate this film to greatness and achieve the impressive feat of making a film about a child-eating clown monster heartwarming.

Of course, even with an exceptional group of heroes, a monster movie still needs a credible monster… oh boy! does It succeed in that regard! Actor Bill Skarsgard had some big floppy shoes to fill after Tim Curry’s turn in the miniseries, but he works sorcery here as Pennywise, the clown form of “IT”.  Pennywise’s initial appearances in this film are almost inviting, but there’s always that sense that he’s plotting… and hungry. Even in his most clownishly charming moments, he can barely conceal his ghastly appetite. As the film progresses, Pennywise grows more and more demonic in a truly unsettling fashion. It’s the stuff of nightmares.


There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not the new “IT” is superior to the old one.The way I see it, Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgard are to Pennywise what Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee are to Dracula: two unique actors giving equally brilliant performances as the same monster. Bill Skarsgard’s interpretation is considerably different than Curry’s, but still magnificent in its own way. Curry was pretty darn funny as the hellish harlequin, giving him a comedic edge that makes his more violent moments genuinely shocking. Skarsgard had a more overtly diabolical quality that is still  quite effective. Regardless of which performance you prefer, I think most of us can agree that Bill Skarsgard is a worthy “IT” for a new generation. Bravo to both clowns!

Despite its cast of children, IT is a fairly disturbing movie with some wonderfully nasty bits. Some of the most beautifully wicked scares you’ll see in a big budget fright film are lurking in this film. From the gory to the surreal, there’s a shock here for every taste. There are even some scenes that have an old-fashioned Gothic flavor to them, most of which take place in what is perhaps the best “haunted house” set I’ve seen in years. If you like a wide variety of creepy things, IT’s the spook show for you.

With an already killer box office intake and fabulous reviews, there’s little doubt that a sequel based on the novel’s second half is on its way. In fact, there’s one teased at the very end of the film. While I’ll certainly miss the child actors, I have no doubt that the next one will be another sensational work of horror cinema. I look forward to seeing Pennywise dance again. As for this current installment, stop clowning around and see it as soon as you can! Beep Beep!

News Bleed: The “Mistress of the Old Dark House” Edition

Stephen King is reclaiming the rights to some of his scariest stories. Screen Rant

The fabulous The Old Dark House gets a 4K restoration and will arrive in select theaters this October. 🙂 Bloody Disgusting

Drew Barrymore is developing a new ho-rror anthology series written and directed by women. 🙂 Empire Online

The first reviews of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water are incredible! 🙂 io9

Elvira just released her own clothing line and it’s scary good! (I’ve already ordered 2 of the dresses, if you were wondering… :)) Bleeding Cool

New AHS: Cult promo has Twisty going comic-al. 🙂 Entertainment Weekly

No Recipes Required: The Kinky Kitchens Edition, Part 1

(Submitted by the always awesome Smutmaster Eric…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie. I so dig how your monstrous mind works! 🙂 xoxo)

Kitchen Samurai

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Snoopy & Woodstock

 
American Werewolf In London XXX Porn Parody (2011)

Ratatouille (2007)


Pet Sematary (1989)

Ho-stess’s PS- #TBT to my Karnal Kombat review of An American Werewolf in  London XXX. (Spoiler Alert: It’s actually rad AF!! 😉 xoxo)

The Dark Tower Review

(Submitted with utmost sincerity by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie…As a Stephen King fangirl, I didn’t want to touch this one!! 😉 xoxo)

I’ve not read a single book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  At best, I have passing familiarity with the basics. However, I am aware of the enormity of its fanbase and the lofty expectations thrust upon this particular picture. For a good many years, Hollywood had attempted to bring this towering (Pun very much intended) series to the cinema, with the project being shuffled from one filmmaker/studio to another.  With each crumb of new information offered on the project, fans expressed extreme excitement. After many false-starts and failed attempts, the film was finally made. And it is because of this wait that my heart goes out to all the Dark Tower fans. Even in my vast ignorance of the series, I can tell that this is not the Dark Tower film readers were clamoring for.

As a man simply looking for a good time at the movies, I wasn’t entirely displeased. The film had some small delights to offer and was mostly competent. Sure, it was riddled with cliche, but that’s something I can stomach. For the casual viewer, this film might be a pleasantly forgettable romp. It’s a lean, mean fantasy adventure with a few thrills and chills to offer, if nothing truly special. But audiences expected more from this material, and I certainly don’t blame them for doing so. When you’re drawing from a story told in eight volumes, a 95 minute film just isn’t  likely to do the trick.
From what I’ve gathered, the movie picks bits and pieces from various books in the series for its plot. I’ve also heard it said it that, outside of those cherry-picked elements, has very little to do with the series.  As it is, the film’s plot concerns the last Gunslinger and his quest for revenge the Man in Black,  a devilish sorcerer out to destroy existence. The Gunslinger is joined by Jake, a young man with the gift of the “Shine”, first seen in King’s The Shining. With The Gunslinger’s skill and Jake’s Shine, they must stop the mad magician before it’s too late.

The primary reason to watch this film are for the performances by the actors. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t allow them to utilize their full potential, but they’re still rather good. Idris Elba is always a fantastic addition to any film and his gruff demeanor suits the Gunslinger well. Tom Taylor as the young Jake is very likable and his performance brings to mind some of the great family fantasies of the ’80s. Matthew McConaughey steals the show with a hammy portrayal of evil that’s delicious in its daffy depiction of deviltry.

The Dark Tower is far from the epic people had hoped for. As agreeable popcorn nonsense, it’s perfectly serviceable. As an adaptation, I feel that fans will likely be disappointed. However, a TV series is still in development, so perhaps that will put the franchise back on the right trail. Let’s hope that the Gunslinger’s next ride is a glorious one.