10/29/21

SCARY TALES Featuring John Zacherley (Parkway Records, 1962)

 

I've been saving this one! Several months ago, I was in a Game XChange store that was out of town, and I decided to look through their used vinyl...and there was this, opened but still in its original plastic, even.  So, the moral is, you just never know!

This is a super-rare LP by one of THE original horror hosts (you can see some rare footage of him on YouTube if you are so inclined; it's good stuff).  He made a few records--including the Halloween staple "Dinner with Drac"--and all of them are equally scarce. 

This record is super-cool for yet another reason, though!  The first track (which is the title cut) actually has three sets of parallel grooves going, meaning there are three different versions of the song that you might randomly get...and he doesn't even hint at this possibility anywhere on the sleeve! I imagine it caused more than one buyer to doubt their sanity! How cool is that?

As it turns out, this rare record is on YouTube, but mine sounds a lot better, as you will see (and also includes all three versions of the title track)!

Happy Halloween!

Link:  SCARY TALES Featuring John Zacherley

10/27/21

Ladies and Gentlemen.............Hugh Monster.

 





"You can call me Hugh...Hugh Monster."  Believe it or not, this is from one of the old Ken Films 8mm films!

10/22/21

GODZILLA by Ian Thorne (Crestwood House Monsters Series, 1977) PART TWO

In this post, we will look at variations that there simply weren't room for in Part One, as well as show you some comparisons.  

First up, here is the paperback version of the book, which seems to originate from those classroom sets we saw in the last post (notice it shows the original six titles on the back):


According to the scholarly article at Sicko-Psychotic that we referred to last time, all but the last three of the original 15 books had paperback editions.

Most famous is the first hardcover version, because it's the one many people remember their libraries having:


Here, we will take the opportunity to do a little comparing and contrasting.  On the left, the 1978 printing, and on the right, a later one from 1982.  

I'm not aware of any textual differences, but the real difference is that by this time, the series was complete at 15 books:
Also, the other major difference is, the spine of the 1982 edition is yellow, and not orange.  At first I wondered if this were due to fading, but as you can see, the black of the titles isn't the slightest bit faded:

Now, let's move on to super-rare hardcover library variants!

Perhaps your library had hardcover copies that looked like these:

If so, you should've swiped them! No! I'm not sure how that got in there...as I was saying, these special library editions are the rarest of them all! It's my theory that only the original six were reprinted this way.  Here is a better look at this new jewel of my collection:

Interestingly enough, I'd read where some folks think these editions were later printings, but as you can see from the photo above, mine is from 1978! We may never know the exact details of how these editions came to be.
Also, these editions have blank back covers!

Amazingly, there is an ADDITIONAL hardcover library variant that was only glimpsed until now:
As you can see, this hardcover has a completely different layout for the front cover.  This photo was the only example available for a long time, but unbelievably and amazingly, I lucked into one recently, so  now more details can be seen! It's possible this version is even rarer than the orange one.  The answer lies inside the world of vintage library binding.  Was one done by the printer, and one by a third-party entity, or even library?

Here is the front cover of my copy, and as you can see, the titles are closer to a reddish-orange than in the photo above:


Inside, we learn that this copy is also a 1978 printing...


...which means the series featured the original six books at the time:


Like the orange variant, the back is blank, but here utilizes a textured pattern like so many vintage library-bound books did:

Another difference is the spine text, which, as you'd expect, looks different!

Finally, we end today with one more variant--there was a second, later version of the give-away bookmark that listed all 15 titles in the Monsters Series!


We hope you've enjoyed this blast of nostalgia (or at least introduced you to an important collectible)! In closing, we keep referring to all 15 of the original titles in the Crestwood House Monsters Series, so here they are, listed out, in case you ever run into any:

KING KONG
DRACULA
THE WOLF MAN
FRANKENSTEIN
GODZILLA
MAD SCIENTISTS
THE MUMMY
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS WOLF MAN
THE BLOB
THE DEADLY MANTIS
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
THE INVISIBLE MAN
THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Beginning in 1985, Crestwood also issued a further series of blue-fronted books called "Movie Monsters" that that included  THE MOLE PEOPLE, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, TARANTULA, GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE RAVEN,  WEREWOLF OF LONDON, and that perennial monster favorite, HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES!


10/21/21

GODZILLA by Ian Thorne (Crestwood House Monsters Series, 1977) PART ONE

 

It's hard to believe, but in the years this blog has been around, we haven't yet covered this important (even crucial) item on the list of vintage American Godzilla collectibles.  The timing is providential though, because I just added the "grail" version of this book to my own collection, which we will see better in Part Two, where we will look at variants!

The Crestwood House Monster Series began as a set of six books that were available to elementary schools in 1977.  The first books came in a boxed "Monster Reading Center" that included softcover copies of the titles, a teacher's guide, audio cassettes, and bookmarks for the class.




[ABOVE:  from the Richard Olson Collection (note original shipping box at left!)unattributed photo found on Google quite a while back.]
[first version of bookmark with original 6 titles.]
Here is an uber-rare example of one of the "refill packs" for the classroom reading center!

Were you surprised to read the words audio cassettes in the last paragraph? Lots of fans don't even know they exist, and apparently they were only made for the first six books.  (If you would like to hear one, don't miss the Bibliography section of links, below!)

[collection of Sean Linkenback]

Promotional posters were also offered for teachers to put in their classrooms.  Two of them include Godzilla (via his book cover):  the very early Dracula poster seen below, and the Mummy poster, issued when the series included 10 books.

[LEFT: unattributed image; RIGHT: Sicko-Psychotic blog (link in Bibliography).]

If your classroom didn't have the paperback editions, it was much more likely that your school library contained the hardcover one, which you could check out and take home! And many of us did, creating lots of fond memories that have resulted in steadily rising prices for all of the Monster Series books!


On the left is the hardcover most people are familiar with, but there was also a special "colorful" library edition that was made, which is extremely rare.  As I mentioned, I just obtained one, which we will see much more of next time.

And now to the book itself! As it turns out, "Ian Thorne" was a pen name for prolific author Julian May (1931-2017).  Unfortunately, the book is as famous for her factual mistakes as it is for its dearness to many schoolkids! (See links below for a thorough list of these errors).  

But of course, it was 1977, a time when there was precious little accurate Godzilla-related information to be had, and the book served as an important introduction to many young fans.  It also included lots of great photos, including some pretty rare ones, and even some of Toho's infamous paste-ups (Some of them were even provided by Famous Monsters' Forrest Ackerman!).


One particular page that was mind-blowing to young me was the diagram above, showing how kaiju films were made!

But enough talk about the book, you really should read it for yourself:


Meet back here next time, where we will look at variations, because they just wouldn't fit in this post.  Oh, and have a book report ready to present to the entire class!

Bibliography & Links of Interest:
Branded in the 80s (info on Monster Series and a look at the FRANKENSTEIN book).
Toho Kingdom (a great review of the GODZILLA book that lists out the many errors).
Classic Movie Monsters (one of the promo posters we didn't feature here).
Sicko-Psychotic (excellent article on Crestwood House with tons of info & photos).
Bits, Bytes, Oddities and Audio (this site has the DRACULA cassette for download and it's amazing!)

10/14/21

Vintage Halloween Sound Effects LPs Mega-Pack!

 

For your enjoyment, here is some vintage Halloween fun:  vintage Halloween Effects LPs! You may have owned some of these as a kid, or if you're lucky, you still do (I have three of these in my own collection), and if you are REALLY lucky, you may even have memories of these being used in your vintage trick-or-treating! I can recall that there was always that "special" house in each neighborhood that went the extra mile...here meaning that they would not only decorate hugely, but also that they would set up their stereo speakers in the windows, and make use of one of these records, to scare the crap out of any kids brave enough to approach!

Here is what's included.  Even for the rips that weren't mine, I spent several hours cleaning them up for presenting here!

1) CHILLING, THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1964)  Going back to a time when the D*sney name represented quality, here is one of the original LPs of its type.  Side One features a narrator presenting 10 spooky scenarios, while Side Two showcases the sound effects by themselves, for your own use.  This LP is dear to many collectors and stayed in print for years--I even own two copies, one of which (from 1973) includes a two-sided sleeve of SPOOKY PARTY HINTS, which is also included here!

2) GHOSTLY SOUNDS (Power Records, 1974)  This is one of the best in this pack, and is a great contender for blasting from your windows on Halloween! Power Records rules.

3) SOUNDS TO MAKE YOU SHIVER (Pickwick, 1974) Another really good one.  Side One is one long track called "A Night in a Haunted House," while Side Two are lots of the individual sounds used in that track, plus more!

4) MONSTER MASH SOUNDS OF TERROR (Pickwick, 1974) The actual title of this strange record is "Sounds of Terror," but the unfortunate cover layout means that it ends up in lots of places being called by the longer name.  Side One, subtitled "Famous Monsters and Ghouls" begins with the worst cover of "Monster Mash" that you've ever heard--for some reason--and then proceeds to present nine vignettes about different monsters.  [For purposes of this blog, I should point out that the King Kong one is quite interesting, and makes reference to "a prehistoric sea monster that surfaced off the coast of Japan" who "challenged" him until "the victor pounded his massive chest."  Huh.] At the flip over to Side Two, "Man's Inhumanity To Man," the album becomes "Faces of Death: The Home Game," and features some pretty gruesome re-enactments of death, an exorcism, and even a couple of left-over monsters, of which "The Incredible Giant Crab" has to be heard to be believed! A super bizarre record.

5) CHILLING, THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1979)  Wait, didn't we just...? No, because this is a completely different version on the same label, that uses the same title! This one isn't as well-known as its counterpart, but is packed full of quality sound effects.

Enjoy! I hope that you find not only a flood of nostalgia, but also a great use for these this Halloween!

LINK:  SPOOKY MONTH LP PACK

10/6/21

GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND Radio Spots (Cinema Shares, 1977)

 

We are proud to unveil yet another Sphinx exclusive (and also a little disappointed; we will get to that in a minute) that can't be found anywhere else! The contents of a 5-inch reel-to-reel tape, containing the long-lost radio ads from Cinema Shares' 1977 presentation of GODZILLA vs. GIGAN...GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND!


This incredibly rare tape contains one 30-second and one 60-second radio ad.  While it's entirely possible that these ads were also issued on a 45 rpm record, one has certainly never surfaced that I know of.  When the practice of issuing pressbooks slowed to a halt in the mid-to-late 1970's, it took away a valuable resource, because they were the best way to know what items were produced to promote a film.  Over the decades, ads were more often issued on vinyl, at all speeds and sizes of disc, so if one exists, I still have hopes that someone will come forward and share it...and here's why......


Unfortunately, it turns out that this tape had degraded over the years.  While the 30-second ad is extremely listenable, the 60-second one was really garbled, with lots of artifacting between the two channels, and not even staying in sync.  My excitement was instantly deflated as soon as I heard it.  Upon further study, I realized the recording was of course mono, so it didn't matter if I separated the channels.  Getting down to just the right channel was an immediately improvement, and I realized that lots of the missing bits from that minute-long ad were found on the left channel, and had to be re-assembled like an unholy jigsaw puzzle.  Several hours later, I again had an intact, nearly-complete ad (which, if you are wondering, again comes out of both speakers).  While I can't do anything about some of the occasional interference from tape damage (think "Whole Lotta Love"), it's really a large improvement, although it's far from perfect.  Now, it's basically gone from a "garbled mess" to "being slightly in between FM radio stations."  
Due to the extreme rarity of this tape, I had already planned to share it on YouTube simultaneously.  Because of the issues with the second ad, it made more sense to add titles to the video, so that everyone can follow along, since it may be the only way we are ever going to hear what this ad sounded like. The video is below, as well as the download link which includes it AND the audio files! Enjoy!


10/4/21

Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster VHS (Mountain Video, UK)

 

I decided a long time ago to limit my Godzilla home video collecting to items produced and sold in the USA (see our chronological list of all Godzilla Beta and VHS page for more information), and that decision has saved me a fortune.  However, this particular tape from England is so absurd, I wanted to share it here!

Not only is it incredibly goofy, but they stamp that giant FOR KIDS ONLY, and that's just the icing on the cake for me.  
Stay tuned, because some good stuff is coming up, now that we are officially in "Spooky Month."