1/15/19

FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD Pressbook ["Campaign Manual"] (American International, 1966)

It's been pretty quiet at The Sphinx, but all of that changes today, as we take a look at the "Campaign Manual" for FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD.  Some people don't like pressbooks, but I always point out that not only are they entertaining, they also help the collector to know exactly what items were made to promote certain films...past the usual poster and lobby cards, that is.  For that, they are invaluable.

This first page has some oddities:
1) In the middle of the page, in the credits section, somebody forgot to add the rest of the film title's logo, so it only says "FRANKENSTEIN."
2) Even worse, where the cast is listed, only Nick Adams is correct.   His two Japanese co-stars (Toho regulars Kumi Mizuno and Tadao Takashima) are listed by their character's names only.  In fact, I saw no mention of their real names anywhere in the book...apparently, nobody bothered to learn them.  Also, director Honda's name is again incorrectly given as "Inoshiro," as it is in several other films.
3) The "Synopsis" brings out some odd points about the film.  Then again, I bet if you had five people watch the film and write a synopsis, they would give you different answers....anyhow, as a younger person seeing the film for the first time, I remember getting the impression that the boy had eaten the Frankenstein heart somehow, and not that the heart had grown into a child on its own.  

It's possible that it's left vague intentionally, but that brings up another question.  In Japan the film was called FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON, as we all know, but at what point was Baragon even first named? Watching the subtitled Japanese cut over the weekend, I only saw one place he was even mentioned:  when Dr. Bowen (Adams) yells "Baragon is about two miles away!" and everyone seems to know what he is talking about.  Kaiju films have two usual methods for naming their monsters:  either it's an existing/ancient creature that is historically known (or named after such a creature), OR, somebody in the course of the film gives them a name.  It's just strange.  But, we'd better move on:


The "Publicity" page of the book isn't always very interesting, but here we get not one, but two articles with Boris Karloff quotes, as Adams had previously worked with him (on DIE, MONSTER, DIE!) while deciding to accept the job(s) he was offered in Japan.  Interestingly, Karloff advised him that he should take the role(s), saying "Monsters are an actor's best friend...look at me!" At top right is an article purported to be written by Adams himself, where he quotes Karloff as also saying, "Don't let them make the monsters too lovable or they will upstage you."  Well....
Hate to tell you, Mr. Adams, but you have been upstaged.......
The entire middle of the book showcases various ads for the film:


But as good as that is, the part where we really need to spend some time is my favorite, "EXPLOITATION".....

Here is the whole page, but we will look at a few of their suggestions more closely:


That first sentence is amazing. It defines the term "ballyhoo," doesn't it? I still am left wondering what they intended for the average theater-owner with a budget of seven dollars to do, when Disney Imagineers would be needed to accomplish their suggestions!


The "Midnite Show" thing is actually quite sound...it even seems like it would be fun. That may be the most practical suggestion I've ever read in a pressbook! Now, the "Street Ballyhoo," mind you, is a horse of a different color.  Just read that paragraph and let your mind wander.
Even if you find a flatbed truck...where will you find a "giant"??? And, isn't that a bit rude, parading him through town on the back of your truck? Is that even legal? Or...maybe tall people are still a class that can be expoited? I have questions.

If I went to the theater to see "Lawrence of Arabia," and there were travel agent cards laying around, or even a random sign that said "Visit Arabia Today," I don't think I'd make the connection.


Now, we have seen this one before, where we were told to go and "get a smashed car from a wrecking service."  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the wrecking service is just taking destroyed vehicles [that don't go to a police impound lot] to--oh, I don't know--a junkyard, and they would be pretty surprised if you interrupted them and tried to hijack their quarry before they had delivered it.

And then we are told to "get a supply of log chains, the bigger the better."  You know, log chains.  Like the ones laying around your grandmother's house.
"Get a supply of extremely potent uranium, the more flesh-melting, the better."

And then there is the admonition to make your own signs to "label" street repairs or construction sites with.  You would end up popular with the work crews...and probably, arrested.

Finally, another old chestnut that we have seen before:  we are told to "enlist" the National Guard (doesn't that usually work the other way around?) to "supply" you with tanks and military equipment! Again, arrested!

I know I said this before, but did anybody ever even come close to trying any of these things?


12/6/18

Toho Champion Festival Winter 1972 Program Book


Have you have ever seen Godzilla posters that feature anime characters, or even Ultraman(s)...Ultramen? If so, then they are from Toho's Champion Festivals, which were held from 1969 to 1978.  At first, they were three times a year, and included marathons of different products (some that Toho only distributed rather than produced), along with a Godzilla film that was edited down to be more action and less talk! 
DAIGORO vs GOLIATH, which has been something of a "lost" film for those of us in the West.
In fact, these edits are the reason there was never a good copy of KING KONG vs. GODZILLA for years and years: some dolt did the edits on the master copy of the film.  


The delightful, and highly recommended, PANDA! GO PANDA! which began the independent career of Hayao Miyazaki!
By the end of their run, these festivals were down to once per year.  If you want the full story on them, and a list of content for most of the festivals, I direct you to this scholarly article on Toho Kingdom.

PANDA! GO PANDA! was so good, so pure, and so popular, that a sequel was made for the following year, as Japan was currently in the grip of "Panda-Mania"!
What we have here, then, is one of the souvenir books from the 1972 Winter festival, where the entertainment was DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (edited), the great PANDA! GO PANDA!, and the brand new DAIGORO vs. GOLIATH.  DAIGORO is something of a rarity in the West, in that it was never dubbed for distribution, and has remained unseen to a great part of fans.  It's an enjoyable kiddie film, all about a baby monster who has to face bullies and learn to potty train.  Yes, you read that correctly:  it's Japan.

I feel sure that this pristine book that I recently purchased is a replica, but all that means is that I have a better source to make these excellent scans! Below is the full DESTROY ALL MONSTERS section of the book:

This title actually says "GODZILLA: THE GRAND BLITZ OPERATION," as Toho was fond of giving their edits their own titles.  (Again, thanks to Toho Kingdom for this information.)
This is one of those amusing, and completely trippy, paste-ups that Toho made to promote the film.  The line of humans (and Kilaaks) in the bottom right is just far out.
Two-page spread!
What's more, this book also includes a pull-out section with 24 one-sided monster cards! Here they are:


And finally, inside the back cover is a Coloring Page, which was sort of a tradition in these books:


Print and color, or drop into your favorite art program and knock yourselves out!

12/4/18

Pocket Shots (Amazing Bootleg Pinball Game, circa 1990) !

I will treasure this forever and always.
Once your eyes have met this incredible sight, there's little more I can add, but I will try!  From the heyday of NES/SNES, here's what I see: 

Bowser (that nobody even tried to disguise a little bit) is being swatted away by Godzilla (or maybe Gamera?), who has a prisoner in his mouth, which is covered with bars, which are serrated like housekeys.  The imprisoned man is yelling "HELP," while a policeman (anyone ever play MAPPY?) threatens the monster with his truncheon.  

It's a lot to take in, really.


11/30/18

Godzilla / Dr. Pepper Store Display Poster (Dr. Pepper, 1986)

Here is a quick post for a Friday afternoon.  I haven't even had a chance to take my own photographs of this jewel, but I need to get it on the site, so here we go swiping the seller's Ebay pics:


This amazing piece is a store display poster, measuring the unusual size of 13 x 28 inches.  This is from the fondly-remembered Dr. Pepper ad campaign during the time of GODZILLA 1985.  If you aren't familiar with the TV ads from the time (I believe there are two, with a cinema version of one that is slightly longer), they are on YouTube! Check them out; you won't be sorry!

Love, American style.
Even stranger, a new character was created for the ads--which, you have to believe, took Toho approval--which was a girl Godzilla called only "Newzilla."  Far as I know, she hasn't been heard from since [insert your own jokes about chemicals in diet soda here].

11/28/18

Star Wars Trilogy - 10th Anniversary VHS (CBS Fox, 1987)

I made a cool find the other day.  Here is the order that things became apparent to my brain:

1) Star Wars on VHS
2) The entire trilogy on VHS
3) Still sealed
4) With 10th Anniversary labels? Wait, STILL SEALED? 

Unfortunately, still in the original shrink wrap, but they had been opened from the bottom [If they hadn't, they would be worth some coin!].  However, the tapes are in brand-new condition, and the copies each contained a postcard discussing things that were available for the 10th Anniversary (the front of which is at the top of this post).

If you don't remember, or weren't there, in 1987, Star Wars was dead.  Dead, dead, dead.  [We can argue about whether it should be now....here's a hint, I lean toward "yeah, probably."] The movies were done, and so was the classic line of Kenner toys and the long-running Marvel comic.  There had been little new product, other than Saturday morning cartoons that under-performed, some sequels to the Ewok TV movie (that under-performed), oh, and also a failed 3-D comic from a different publisher (that also under-performed) that lasted 3 whole issues.

When you read the list of merchandise that was available, you can sort of form an understanding of the state of things:
Pins, jewelry, and...Hamilton plates.  Yes, now you could hang your tacky Star Wars plates next to your entire series of plates about the "Charles and Diana" wedding.  I'm sure there are folks that fondly remember the role-playing game, but it was incomprehensible to me.  We can probably agree that the STAR TOURS ride is the coolest thing on this list, even though it can be viewed as a precursor of impending doom.  And, note that you have to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive catalogs from each manufacturer! That was just the way things worked then, kids.

Here are the tapes themselves; essentially the 1984 releases in 1987 shrinkwrap, but lovely specimens of pure, unadulterated OT:
That's cool...wait, THIRTY BUCKS?! Oh yes, friends...anyone else around here remember that the first movies released to VHS were over a hundred dollars?





11/26/18

Brumberger - Morse Code Instruction Course (undated)


Not doing anything today? Maybe you'd like to take a few minutes, and learn Morse Code? Here is an undated 45 that I recently found, credited only to "Brumberger," and contains two beginner's lessons.  


Really, that's about all that I can say about this disc.....other than, by the time you get to Lesson 2, and they start showing you examples of letters and numbers, it struck me that they all start to sound the same.  I toyed with making a joke edit where each and every example was followed by the same couple of beeps.  In fact, the beeping they use on the record is pretty weak, and could have been a much more effective sound! The only other observation I can make is that I feel like Morse Code would be pretty difficult to learn, and even harder to keep up with once you were using it! What do you do when you are in the middle of a long sentence, and lose your place? 

LINK:  Morse Code Instruction Course

11/21/18

Canary Training Record / Training Your Parrakeet To Talk (1952)

A double-shot of helping people, which is what we do here...well, if you own a small and ridiculous bird, that is.  This is your one-stop shop for training your small and ridiculous birds.

First up is the well-titled "Canary Training Record," Featuring "The Hartz Mountain Master Canaries."  Take a moment to appreciate this.  These aren't just any run-of-the-mill padawan canaries; they are on the Council!
When I was young, my mother owned a parakeet, so I don't know much about canaries, but I do know this:  you can teach canaries to sing.  It's what they do.  I thought the purpose of this record was to teach them THESE SONGS, as in, the ones that are on the record.  The two sides of this record contain six classical songs (for want of an appropriate category) performed on organ and, for some strange reason, marimba.  
Well, if that is possible, it won't be with this record, because it sounds like the organist (and marimba-ist) are set up in a pet store.  There is random canary singing--several at once--going during the entire time each song is playing.  And no, it's not following along.  It sounds like complete chaos.
Maybe the point of this record is just to teach them to sing, randomly, and hearing other birds causes this? I don't know; I'm not a canariologist.
This record is undated, and the back shows you that you need approximately 25 different Hartz products to keep your one-ounce bird alive, so good luck!

Next on our agenda is "Training Your Parrakeet to Talk," from 1952.  You will notice right away that they use the archaic spelling of "Parrakeet," which my spell-correct keeps underlining, because today we (meaning "we" in the bird-training-record-posting field) use the more common "parakeet."  
Also right away, you will see that the "bird" featured on this record is named "Peter Parker."  Now, this pre-dates AMAZING FANTASY #15 by a good 10 years, but is it possible that Stan Lee's (or Steve Ditko's) wife had a non-talking parakeet, and he needed to go out and buy her this very record, which ended up inspiring the name of the alter-ego of his newest super hero? As Hong Kong Phooey would say, ".......Could be!"
This record has instructions, but also has an announcer, who reads you the instructions, which takes up half of the first side.  Now, I said "bird" in quotes earlier because I'm not 100% sure that the recording of the actual animal talking isn't faked.  As I said, having lived with a parakeet, I am aware of what they sound like.  Maybe I am just hearing him repeat his owner's weird voice, and that's what sounds strange to me, but I keep getting the suspicion that the talking passage isn't real.  Judge for yourself, though! It is interesting that as smart as he's supposed to be, he can't count correctly!
There is a second side to this record, but unfortunately, it's the "teaching" side, which means it's just a woman repeating a few phrases over and over (one of which, oddly enough, is "take a bite." I don't know why you would want your bird to say that.)  If all of this sounds familiar to you, it's because we have visited an entire LP of bird-training before, a couple of years ago.  You may still bear the scars.  
Here, for your listening torture, are both records, in one convenient place!

LINK:  Double-dose of Bird Training 45's

11/19/18

Boris Karloff - Tales of Mystery & Imagination (Cricket, 1959)

It has been a long time since we offered any audio around here, and I've had a pile of vinyl on my desk at home for some time.  I am glad to report, I addressed the entire thing this past weekend, and we have several surprises coming up in the next five or so posts!
First up, this.  An entire album where Boris Karloff reads Poe? Wait, though...it's not Poe.  It's actually two stories by Washington Irving.  But, it uses a Poe title, even though the two Washington Irving stories are often published together...okay.  It's a bit confusing.  So: an entire album where Boris Karloff reads Washington Irving? Yes, but there is still a downside.  He is constantly interrupted by kitchy 1959-ish songs by "The Cricketone Chorus & Orchestra."  (Cricket, by the way, actually being Pickwick, who would go on to crank out an endless supply of children's records for years.)  Just so you know what you are getting!
The good news is, this is the most "normal" item that is going to appear in our upcoming audio offerings!

LINK:  Karloff