Year: 1974 Director: Jim Clark Writers: Ken Levison, Greg Morrisson, and Robert Quarry Music: Douglas Gamley Starring: Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry, Adrienne Corri, and Linda Hayden. Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone receive billing as well but they are merely featured in clips from previous American International Pictures.
Favorite Quote: “Everybody thinks I’m dead, including myself.”
First of all before I begin with the review of Madhouse proper I would like to say that I can’t believe I fell for the Retroist’s trick like this…again. He invited me over to his Retro Mansion for a friendly game of Mr. Do! and leaves me this note:
“Vic, glad you could make it! I had to step out and fetch some things at the store, I’ve left you some beef jerky in the basement.”
With visions of dried and salted beef dancing in my head I headed downstairs but no sooner did I open the basement door and step inside…when the door slammed shut behind me and I was treated to the Retroist’s maniacal laughter. In the room with me was this computer and a large stack of films to review for the month of October. But to be fair there is a rather large supply of beef jerky down here…so I guess it’ll work out okay.
Madhouse was the last film made by Vincent Price for the AIP studios, he had appeared in various films for the studio since the 1960s and most of them are shown as clips throughout this film, most of them his work in the Edgar Allen Poe film adaptations.
The plot of Madhouse revolves around a horror actor named Paul Toombes (Price) who is most famous for his portrayal of an Abominable Dr. Phibes like character called Dr. Death, and at the beginning of the film we are introduced to the main cast of the picture at a Hollywood party celebrating the latest Dr. Death release. There is Toombes’ best friend and fellow co-creator Herbert Flay (Cushing) who was once an actor but gave up the life after realizing he could be paid better at writing the films. We also meet a former love interest of Toombes, Faye Carstairs Flay (Corri), who is most certainly jealous of Toombes rising star and as we learn betrothal to his new leading lady. And lastly we meet Oliver Quayle (Quarry) a producer of ‘artsy’ adult films, some of those films we learn from the smug producer just happen to have starred Toombes new fiance, a fact that causes the actor to succumb to a fit of rage that he verbally takes out on his fiance. Distraught and rightly so she retreats from the party and heads upstairs to her bedroom. As the party continues downstairs, Toombes wrestles with feelings of guilt over his actions…but does he really? For we see someone dressed as his character of Dr. Death sneak into his fiance’s bedroom and dispatch her ruthlessly…it’s been said you sometimes have to do things to get ahead in Hollywood but in this case it’s literal as she is decapitated.
The film beings proper many years after the scandal at that Hollywood party of Toombes and while he ended up in an asylum, he was merely a suspect in the murder case but never convicted. He is contacted by his good friend Flay and learns that he has an opportunity to be an actor once again if he will play the part of Dr. Death not in films but this time for a TV series. A TV series that just happens to be produced by Quayle. But there is a problem…since Toombes release murders begin anew and it seems that all clues point to the aging actor. Can he find the culprit behind all of the bloodshed before it’s too late…or does he already know the killer he seeks?
I’ll end the minor spoilers there as this all happens within the first minutes of the film. To be brutally honest this is not that great of a film. It’s got a stellar cast and they do give it their best shot, it’s just that the story has plot holes you can drive a semi truck through and a third act that is almost laughably nonsensical. Still this is a film that features the actors who brought to life such characters as Dr. Phibes, Van Helsing, and Count Yorga and at the very least will give you an hour of half of something to watch to help get in the Halloween spirit. It is currently available on Netflix streaming.
So for Madhouse I bestow three pumpkins out of five!
Before I get to my first Unboxing video, let me tell you why I’m doing this video in the first place. This afternoon I received a knock on my porch door from the mailman, when I picked up the package he had left I was a little perplexed. The box had clearly been burned or I should say it looked to have been scorched more than a bit. On the outside of the box it was labeled as coming from Haddofield, IL and from someone called “Carl”.
As I stated in the video, I was pretty excited at first because I thought this might be a goodie from our friends over at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando but as soon as I opened the box up…those hopes were dashed. But getting a box full of VERY foul smelling popcorn and some film (It was part of the trailer to the 1970’s King Kong!) is kind of exciting…though I really hope that film wasn’t original.
Here is a picture that I found for the “Starlight Starbright Family Drive-In” burning down. The only other bit of information I was able to dig up was that one of the employee’s of the place sadly died in the fire. It’s kind of weird because there just isn’t that much information about the place at all.
Here is that video the handwritten note directed me to:
I’ll update with information as I get it. I’d like to point out again…that popcorn just reeked!
Hey gang! It’s been a while and I apologize for not bringing you your weekly dose of the truth about nostalgia! But today I make my comeback! In an attempt to make my return in the most stylish way possible, I looked to classy career renaissances in the past and decided to model mine, as I do most of my life, after Doctor Dre! When Dre decided to produce an album after years of working on “bidness” he choose to partner with Eminem, so I decided to write this week’s blog in partnership with Eminem as well! To my amazement, Mr. Shady was unavailable so I decided to write the blog while eating a bag of M&M’s. It might not be exactly the same thing but I think you’ll find this blog will still be dope!
This week I wanted to bring you an in-depth, hard hitting and most importantly, information packed article about all of our favorite series of interactive fiction…Choose Your Own Adventure! I set out to conduct the kind of focused rewarding research you have all come to expect from every issue of the Claymation Werewolf! After completing my studies, however, I began to consider another angle. You see, more often than not the truth lies in the journey rather than the destination. Perhaps sometimes instead of taking a look at where we want to end up, rather than just painstakingly unfolding every detail and nuance, surrounding the history of the popular book series…maybe this time it might be more interesting to tell you about the things that happened during the research. When I also considered the fact that I hadn’t learn any information whatsoever, about Choose Your Own Adventure, I decided that was definitely the way to go.
As anyone who knows me will attest, I‘ve always loved choosing things. Especially my own adventures so it was a no-brainer that I would fall in love with that concept in book form. I became acquainted with CYOA from a very early age and even into adulthood, their stories of people faced with things like undersea monsters, ancient resurrected spirits, creatures from another world and of course Good vs. Evil in a fight to the death against seemingly insurmountable odds!… These lighthearted tales have always helped me to find escape from the REALLY bizarre perils that I have to face in my life on a daily basis.
As an experienced traveler and adventurer I knew that to have a successful trek, you first have to pack for success. I entered my junk roo…er I mean supply facilities to gather all of the equipment I might need, and I found myself with a decision to make. I could bring….
A. a list of Choose Your Own Adventure authors with phone numbers and addresses included. (turn to page 38)
B. a backpack with rope, a compass, a tent survival gear and emergency rations. (Turn to page 3)
C. a teleportation device that allows users to actually travel into the book world. (turn to page 88)
D. a knapsack containing 12 pairs of fresh underwear and 5 jars of peanut butter. (crunchy) (turn to page 12)
Gathering the underwear and peanut butter knapsack I walked out my front door and pointed myself in the direction of adventure!
About three hours into my journey I came to an amazing conclusion. I didn’t have the slightest idea where I was going! I found myself wandering the streets of a major and strangely-named metropolitan area. It appeared as though I was in a jam. I was in the heart of Downtown BigCity yet I wasn’t any closer to finding out the truth about Choose Your Own Adventure. I knew I needed help and I knew that old saying…if you can’t find help in BigCity, you can’t find help anywhere. As I was standing in the middle of Rogues Gallery Square, the odds of finding a wise and noble mentor seemed pretty good. I saw several strong candidates to give me the help I would need during this dangerous adventure. But who would I choose?
A. Edward Packard; creator of the Choose your own adventure books. (turn to page 11)
B. Mike McChoosy; world renowned expert on Choose Your Own Adventure and writer of the book “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About CYOA, If For Instance, You Were Writing a Blog About It”. (turn to page 31)
C. Cliff Hanger; fiction adventurer and highly equipped explorer extraordinaire. (turn to page 41)
D. Vic Sage; a shadowy figure leaning against the wall of an alley… wearing a trench coat and fedora, the glow from his cigarette illuminating the betrayal in his eyes. (turn to page 35)
E. King George the 8th; a thin shirtless and barefoot man mumbling and stabbing feverishly at a trash can with an ice pick. (turn to page crazy)
I chose King George, after all, who better to provide you the kind of leadership and guidance than actual royalty! The Claymation Werewolf would never settle for anything less. I approached my new found mentor, and after dodging a few of his slashes with the ice pick, I was able to ask his advice. I approached his highness and asked where to begin. Where would I find the answers that I sought? He mumbled for a moment, screamed a couple of times and then with a faraway but wise look in his bloodshot eyes he replied “The zoo the zoo hyenas go moo they laugh they tell you everything they laugh at me and you and meeeeeeee!” he then began to laugh hysterically and he ran away into the night knocking over boxes and pedestrians. Never one to question leadership, much less a famous and respected king, I made my way to the local zoo. I had to deliver a Vulcan neck pinch to the guards but I was able to break in. I battled fierce lions. I swung on ropes across alligator filled pools as their deadly jaws snapped beneath me, hungry for more than the typical zoo food. None of this was in any way necessary but hey if your gonna have a zoo adventure then you should have a zoo adventure! Finally I made my way to the hyena enclosure and picked the lock on the gate. Inside were 20-30 hyenas, the light of my flashlight making their eyes glow and their laughter sending chills up my spine. I walked to the center of the crowd of cackling canines and began to read from my list of prepared questions. Was there a secret meaning to the books? Were they a symbol for our own lack of control over our daily lives? Could any of us REALLY choose our own adventure? The hyenas responded by closing in and then ripping me apart in a painful and gory death. Ever one to believe in fair play I turned back to my last choice and started over with a different mentor. With the option of a royal guide gone there was only one choice that made sense. The seedy and obviously untrustworthy Vic Sage.
Fitting me with a headset that contained a two way communicator and something that he assured me wasn’t a remote controlled explosive device, I set out on what was sure to be a grand adventure! With the guiding voice of Vic Sage in my ear I set out to get to the heart of Choose Your Own Adventure. I was sent to the publisher’s headquarters; the building loomed before my like a tower stretching from the ground to the gathering storm clouds above. I stepped through the door driven by the storm that brewed within me, a storm fueled be curiosity, a storm hungry for knowledge. With all the power and authority that comes with writing a weekly retro pop culture blog I approached the security desk. I needed to get inside the offices. I needed to find the truth…but how?
A. Politely ask the security guard for an appointment. (turn to page 6)
B. Arrange for a raver/bicycle courier to distract the guard while I sneak into the building. (turn to page 43)
C. Point behind the yard and yell. “Look! It’s Sheena Easton!” and then run to the elevators. (turn to page 87)
D. Chloroform the guard, put on the guard outfit, talk to everyone who passes using an exaggeration of the personality that you randomly attributed to the fallen security guard and eventually start living his life. Coming to work everyday. Earning a paycheck. Going home to his wife every night, a wife that for some reason never questions the fact that her husband is suddenly a completely different person. I mean nobody at all seems to question it, and what the hell ever happened to the ACTUAL security guard? I mean you chloroformed him, you didn’t kill him, yet he just seems to have vanished…just walked away. Maybe he hated his job, his wife, his nine kids, or maybe…just maybe you were the security guard all along! You created this entire persona just to feel special and I mean what’s it all about? Blogging? Sneaking into a publishing company? Just who do you think you are? I mean…(turn to page 92)
You pull the old Sheena Easton trick, and the guard falls for it hook, line and Sheena. Incredibly Ms. Easton happens to actually be standing behind the guard at the time making it all the sweeter. She had been there to sign a contract for her book “I Was Relevant; The Sheena Easton Story.” So, with the guard distracted, and a clear path into the heart of the gruesome rabid beast known as the Sunshine Smiletime Publishing Company, I just need to plan my next move. Vic was singing to himself (the rapping theme to the Super Mario Brothers Super Show) and was currently of no help to me, so I was on my own this time. Should I
A. make a run for it, hoping to find my way blindly to the rooms with the information I needed. (turn to page 19)
B. steal the guard’s map of the building taking the time to carefully plan my movements using my own common sense and the wisdom of my mentor to solve this riddle once and for all. (turn to page 93)
C. try to get Sheena Easton’s autograph and maybe join her high powered entourage. (turn to page 71)
D. ett ready for adventures and remarkable feats. Meet the Koopas, the Troopas, the Princess, and the others, hangin’ with the plumbers, and be hooked on the Brothers. (turn to page 1up)
I did the Mario a little bit but then decided to run blindly into the corridors of the publishing company. Vic had begun to guide me again but surprisingly wasn’t sending me to the planning offices, or the historian archive department, not even the president’s office. Mr. Sage was guiding me straight to the warehouse facilities. As it was somewhere between the hours of 11 and 3, the warehouse workers were on some sort of break leaving the entire place deserted. Using secret schematics that he had gained access to, Vic guided me through the process of operating the forklift (it involved turning a key and then pressing the gas peddle) and I was soon carrying out a task. A task that would give me all of the deep down dirty secrets of the publishing world, and the truth behind choosing my own adventure or yours! I began, under my mentors instruction to remove pallet after pallet of books that had been waiting to be shipped I placed each load of books into the back of a truck that, for the purposes of this part of the story was waiting at the dock with keys in the ignition. I placed book after book until VS told me that phase one was complete. All that was left was phase two. You see, Vic had one more pallet in mind for me to remove and what a pallet it was. A large stack of tightly wrapped bags with dollar signs on them behind a label that read “all of the money for payroll” I added the loot to the rest of my ill-gotten shipment and leapt from behind the wheel of the forklift sliding across the hood of the semi truck and jumped in, slamming the door behind me. I sped away in a rush of adrenaline, wondering where this would all lead, wondering what would happen when my guide put all of the pieces together for me. Waiting for him to drop a bomb. A bomb called knowledge. Vic sent me coordinates to a dock in the port city of Portcity. Night had fallen by the time I arrived and there were no lights whatsoever at the pier. A red lantern lit an isolated boat, docked and waiting. The only sign of life was the ever present glow of a lit cigarette. I placed the merchandise and the money on board and began to prepare to climb onto the deck myself. Suddenly the stillness of the dock was shattered by sirens and I found myself surrounded by police cars. The familiar voice of Victor Von Sage echoed across the black water. As the dark ship drifted into the distance his words hung in the salty sea air. “So Long Sucker!” I was left with nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide. I had to think fast, should I:
A. go along quietly and resign myself to my fate. (turn to page 17)
B. jump in the water and swim into the distance. (turn to page 22)
C. disappear into the night, go into hiding and plan. Plan revenge against the one they call Vic Sage. And someday bring him the justice he deserves…my own brand of justice. (turn to page 48)
D. do what I do best. Survive. (turn to page 42)
So to make a long story short. Sage was never interested in helping me get to the bottom of my research. He was the president of a company called Luper Industries and had found an opportunity to hit the big time. Millions of dollars in stolen payroll money, and more importantly a huge shipment of books that had never been shipped. Books who‘s orders had been cancelled by every known retail outlet, books which had not been published in 12 years. He gets the books, the money, and I get handed over to the coppers on a silver platter. What Luper wanted with them who knows, but I would find out and when I did there would be hell to pay. So that‘s my story…It might not be real…it might not be pretty…but it is…um… I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and in closing I sincerely hope that you will:
A. leave a flattering comment (turn to page 5)
B. write a letter of complaint asking The Retroist to dock my pay and place me on probation (turn to page 9)
C. donate generously to Retroist.Com (turn to page 7)
D. have a great day (turn to page 11…and see ya next time!)
Friends, here is another video I created a few years back, unlike the one I posted yesterday this video was made on the very same evening that they shut down the Malco Razorback Theater for good. Almost every single movie that I hold dear I watched at this theater as I was growing up.
Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tron, Predator, The Goonies, Back to the Future, The Black Hole, Gandhi, Fiddler on the Roof, Rambo, Lethal Weapon, Krull, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, The Fox and the Hound, Jurassic Park, and these are just 1% of the films I enjoyed every weekend sitting next to my Father as I was transported from my neck of the woods to where ever the filmmakers wanted to take me. I ended up working at the Razorback Theater for many years in my youth and I feel ever so lucky to have been able to do so.
I created this video and married it to Elton John’s dedication to the late John Lennon, Sir Elton John’s words were the closet thing I could use to describe the sadness of losing a building, that I had come to see as something more. I was called by an assistant manager on the last day, the home office in fact had decided to close the theater a few days earlier than originally intended. I was also allowed to ransack just a little of the old theater and thanks to my Father, in my living room at this moment, there is a theater seat that I use when watching my movies at home. My wife and I took as many photos of the place as we could, and the assistant manager even let me lock the auditorium doors for the ‘last’ time.
I used some of the video and photos I had from my time working at the Razorback as for kind of before and after shots, but sadly this was before I owned the Pinnacle software that I do today, so…the ‘special effects’ on this are…limited. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this bit of personal history with you, friends, because you’ll see me without my famous hat and mask in these photos. There is a bright spot by the way, the Razorback Theater lives on in an impressive state of the art movie theater…but I still miss the old place anyway.