Back in the late 1980s, producer/director Charles Band shot an anthology film called Pulsepounders for his company, Empire Pictures, but it was never released. Pulsepounders was comprised of a handful of stand alone shorts that were all sequels/tie-ns to other Empire features. One of these, The Evil Clergyman - a nifty H.P. Lovecraft adaptation starring the leads from Re-Animator and From Beyond, Jeffery Combs and Barbara Crampton - finally got a DVD release a year or so ago.
Now it looks like another segment - a sequel to the studio's Trancers, with Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt - is also making its way out of limbo, and I couldn't be happier. I have a soft spot in my heart and head for that series; not so much for the plots, but for Thomerson's characterization of future cop Jack Deth. His film noir-inspired, wry, tough guy portrayal balances precariously on the fine line between parody and pastiche, but the talented (and perfectly-cast) Thomerson walks that line with assurance. It's a great character and performance, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the role again.
The DVD is only available (I believe) through Band's current company, Full Moon Entertainment. I hope to order myself a copy soon.
Anyway, as the photo above testifies, I stopped by my local Target store on Friday night to buy some new shoes and a pair of warm slippers for the winter, and while there, I picked up one box of each variety (well, actually, I got two boxes of Count Chocula). While the cereals are available through numerous retailers, only Target has them in reproductions of their original "retro" packaging.
For the record, I did eat the Count Chocula this weekend (while watching 70s cartoons on DVD, 'natch). As for the others, well, they probably will not be fully consumed... but then, I really just wanted the boxes, anyway.
Count Chocula was one of five monster-themed cereals manufactured by the company. The most popular one, after Count Chocula, was the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry, followed by the blueberry-flavored Boo Berry. I never cared for those berry-flavored cereals, but I seem to remember my sister sometimes ate Franken Berry. Two more fruit-flavored cereals were introduced later - Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute (immortalized in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction), but I don't recall those being sold in my area, and in any case, they didn't last long. Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry were manufactured for decades, but in recent years, those three products have only had limited distribution, and only during the month of October.
Anyway, I recently stumbled across this half-hour video compilation of vintage monster cereal television commercials. Man, these really bring back memories! I had just about every single toy/premium shown in the video! I don't know who voiced these characters, but the Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre impressions (for Franken and Boo, respectively) in the early spots are terrific!
The third season was - as I recall - the best, with college students Clark Kent (Gerard Christopher) and Lana Lang (Stacy Haiduk) going to work as interns for a government agency known as the Bureau For Extranormal Matters. The tone (and cinematography) of the series got a lot darker (probably influenced, like the prime-time Flash series of the same vintage, by the success of Tim Burton's Batman the year before), and the stories were a lot more interesting, including a few where Superboy travels to alternate Earths and discovers different paths he could have taken - in one, he's killed Lex Luthor (Sherman Howard) and in another, he rules the Earth as the tyrannical "Sovereign." He also encounters an adult version of himself, played by Ron Ely (TV's Tarzan and the big screen's Doc Savage)!
The picture quality on the DVDs is pretty good, but suffer from the late-80s production methods of shooting on film, but transferring the footage to video for editing and post-production special effects. This results in an unavoidably soft image overall. Still, it's great to see these shows again, since, due to a bunch of legal wranglings in the 90s, these shows never aired in U.S. after their original run.
One hundred years ago, Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu made his American debut in Collier’s, a five-cent weekly. “The Zayat Kiss” ran in the February 15, 1913 number. Nine more stories featuring Rohmer’s “devil doctor” would appear in Collier’s through June 28, 1913. In September of that year, McBride would release The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, collecting all ten tales into novel form.
Although Sax Rohmer did not create the “yellow peril” genre of pulp fiction, his Fu Manchu stories would greatly influence the bloody pulps. From writers as diverse as Dashiell Hammett, Carroll John Daly, Walter B. Gibson, Norvell W. Page, Arthur J. Burks, Philip Nowlan, H. P. Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard, pulpsters delivered many a story inspired by Rohmer’s evil genius. Even Robert J. Hogan’s flying spy, G-8, battled oriental evildoers in the author’s fantasy version of the First World War.
At 8 PM on Saturday, July 27th, PulpFest will salute the American centennial of Dr. Fu Manchu with a panel exploring Sax Rohmer’s character and his influence on the pulp fiction of the early twentieth century. Moderated by Blood ‘n’ Thunder editor and publisher, Ed Hulse, the panel will consist of pop culture experts Gene Christie, editor of three collections of Rohmer’s fiction and a leading authority on early American science fiction and fantasy; Win Scott Eckert, known for his work on literary crossovers and chronologies, including Marvel Comics’ Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu, a classic series concerning the son of Dr. Fu Manchu; Nathan Madison, author of Anti-Foreign Imagery in American Pulps and Comics, 1920-1960; William Patrick Maynard, authorized by the literary estate of Sax Rohmer to continue the Fu Manchu series; and Will Murray, author of the Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and one of the world’s leading authorities on the pulp era.
The Page of Fu Manchu represents an ongoing effort by scholars and readers around the world to create a definitive Sax Rohmer bibliography, reference and archive. It is edited and maintained by Dr. Lawrence Knapp, an English Professor at Thomas Edison State College, located in Trenton, NJ.
Joseph Clement Coll’s Collier’s cover for April 12, 1913, illustrating “The Call of Siva,” Sax Rohmer’s fifth Fu-Manchu story to be published in the United States.