Thursday, 28 November 2019

Happy Horror-day! ThanksKilling (2008)

Here we go again- another Holiday themed film that centres around an American holiday I wouldn’t normally celebrate... either way, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there that do celebrate it!  
So, ThanksKilling the 2008 horror/ black comedy shot on a budget of $3,500 in the summer of 2007, and released on DVD in 2009. What can I say? ...When I set myself this challenge at the start of the year I drew up a rough list of movies that would feature and this one made the list right away, although I had never seen it I knew of its existence and two factors, 1) that it was generally regarded as a terrible movie and 2) It featured a wise cracking killer turkey- So with those two factors in mind watching it was inevitable and now having just finished watching it I can now confirm that it was indeed a terrible movie and yes, it does feature a wise cracking killer turkey, A possessed, wise cracking turkey in fact, that terrorizes five college students during Thanksgiving break repeating what he had done at the very first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Now, I try not to be over critical of any movie, I’ve never made one- and I know it’s not easy to do and commend anyone that accomplishes it and I try to look deeper, this one was indeed a challenge and to be honest, my interest waned right after the first pilgrim died before the opening credits, although the film did get one chuckle out of me. By all accounts it was written by the director Jordan Downey, Brad Schulz, Tony Wilson, Grant Yaffee, and Kevin Stewart, a group of friends, and this is apparent- and I will go out on a limb here and assume that they are fans of South Park? so let’s leave it at that. The film has garnered a cult following, believed (in part) to it being one of the movies available for streaming during Netflix’s early days and there is a sequel, ThanksKilling 3... Perhaps I will do that one if I ever do another of these challenges but let’s finish this one first! 
So join me next time for Friday the 13th... wait! What?

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Happy Horror-day! Halloween (1978)

Due to a technical issue (I think it was a Blogger schedule issue) I’ve had to re-upload this post originally posted on October 31st but anyway, Halloween, directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill the movie stars Donald Pleasence along with Jamie Lee Curtis who makes her film debut. A mental patient who was committed to a sanatorium for murdering his teenage sister on Halloween night fifteen years before escapes and returns to his hometown, where he stalks babysitters while his psychiatrist and the local sheriff try to find him. 
This is where it all started- the holiday based slasher movie, and basis of this challenge. Yes, Black Christmas from 1974 is technically the first but it was Halloween that grossed $70 million, making it the most profitable independent film ever that kicked off the holiday themed horror movie, I would go as far to say it was also responsible for every horror movie centred around a escaped mental patient and harassed babysitters as well. Enjoyed by horror purists and casual horror viewers alike I once again find myself asking what can I say that hasn’t been said about this movie? I can’t, so I’ll just leave it there. Happy Halloween!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Tenth Anniversary Recap: 3. a: The Nintendo Game Watch

Christmas 1992, and I like most kids at this time am heavily into the home gaming consoles! It has been an entire year since receiving my Master System II- it would be another whole year before I would receive a Game Boy and until then I needed something that appeased my craving for gaming on those tediously long, boring bus journeys to school. The solution, my new Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Watch!  
Produced by Zeon this was one of three Nintendo LCD format watches with the other two being Tetris and Zelda. It was a simple enough game, considerably far removed from its Super Mario Bros. 3 namesake but with all the elements one had come to expect Mario, Princess, Boswer, Goombas, Koopa Troopers and pipes with some musical notes and a super leaf thrown in to make it feel a little more Mario Bros. 3’ish’. Game play: move along the course defeat Bowser, save the princess, then go back and do it again, just a little bit faster... Wasn’t a revolutionary game but it certainly whiled away those before mentioned bus trips (with its ‘blips’ and ‘bloops’ muted so as to not draw attention) it satisfied my need for platform gaming and not only that but it told me the time and alerted me when it was time to watch Bad Influence! on Children’s ITV
Although being a reliable time piece was it’s primary function, it certainly served its secondary function as a games device to the max and even when I wasn’t playing it I would remove it from my wrist so that my friend Gwynfor could have a go!  Countless games were played and its battery did Zeon proud, but inevitably, it died and it was put aside with every intention of taking it to our local watchmakers to get a new battery for it, but it never happened and as Christmas 1993 came round I now possessed that before mentioned Game Boy along with a new Batman the Animated Series watch effectively sealing the Game Watch’s fate and it remained in the drawer for 27 years, a relic from the past with no real place within my collections in the studio, more so when I started wearing a pocket watch instead, and so last week Omnibot put this much loved Christmas gift up for sale on our eBay store. Yes, the Nintendo logo had worn from the strap and there was a slight scratch to screen but never the less there it was on offer to the world in all its “sold as seen” splendor, a truly reluctant sale as it seemed to represent my love of this era in gaming that I never really left, having never really taken to the Play Station revolution days and beyond. 
I recently looked over some home movies and saw my younger self back in 1993 showing this watch off to my 85 year-old grandmother who was somewhat bewildered but amused at the notion of a plumber jumping over toadstools and tortoises. But funds are always required for the studio, far better for it to be part of someone else’s collection and for the money raised be put into my latest project pushing me ever closer to re-enacting other gaming activity I participated in when I wasn’t in my room playing a home console.... the arcade!   

Coming soon: Tenth Anniversary Recap: 3. b: The Polybius Project

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Happy Horror-day! Friday the 13th (1980)

Some well meaning counsellors decide to reopen Camp Crystal Lake, supposedly cursed since 1958 after some camp counsellors were murdered there after a claim of negligence the previous year that resulted in a young boy drowning in the lake. Despite numerous requests not to do so, work begins on preparing the camp for its first batch of campers before the counsellors are picked off one at a time by an unseen killer before the killer is finally revealed at the end...  Much like The Wicker Man entry before and the upcoming Halloween one what can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said by fans, buffs and scholars alike since 1980? Although created to cash in on the success of Halloween in 1978 it seemed to become the most synonymous of all date themed and summer camp themed slasher films making it the most successful achieving ten sequels, a remake, a television show, novels, comic books, video games and a slew of merchandise! In fact the films alone have grossed over $529 million at the box-office worldwide and remained the highest-grossing horror franchise in the world until the release of Halloween (2018) last year and it all started with this one.  Friday the 13th has always had a ‘fun fact’ regarding the killer of this particular movie and how many forget who the actual killer is, but I will not go over that here, as I have vowed to keep all reviews spoiler free. Yes Halloween was the first, but if it hadn’t been for Friday the 13th I doubt I would have been able to do the previous eleven entries of this challenge (or my previous marathon challenge for that matter). Of course, the other thing that sets this movie apart from all the others is that I should essentially watch it again on the 13th of December as it will be another Friday the 13th... so if anyone is actually following this challenge let me know in the comments what I should do? Watch it again? Watch one of the sequels? (If so which one?) or the remake? Until then, I will see you again where it all started.... Halloween.

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Tenth Anniversary Recap: 2) Halley's Comet Society Tie

Following on from my mission to revisit previous blog posts from the past ten years we return to April 18th 2013 when I uploaded a post devoted to the history of the now defunct Halley's Comet Society ofLondon and how it had all came about after I had noticed Sir Patrick Moore wearing a blue Halley's Comet Society tie with the society’s '1986' logo embroidered on it in an episode of the Sky at Night from 1982. This society fascinated me and as there was very little about it online I made it my mission to correct this, resulting in a fairly comprehensive post (confirmed by numerous people who have reached out to me since uploading it) and I was so taken by the society that I decided I would like to own my very own society tie and thanks to my creative friends Barry McCabe and Iris Hung I was able to create one bearing the 2061 logo (the year Halley's Comet returns) I have since worn it to astronomy related events and gatherings ever ready to explain what the 2061 stands for! Since uploading I have only ever encountered two 1986 Halley's Comet Society tie owners but discovered that the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich have one in their collection along with thirteen of the '2061' variants! So, what else has happened since uploading that post?

Sir Patrick sporting his 1986 Halley's Comet Society tie
In 2015, Dr Brian May announced the sad news that despite all efforts, plans to convert Sir Patrick Moore’s former home Farthings in Selsey into museum (as Patrick had hoped) the idea had been abandoned due to impractical reasons and so the effects housed within had to be divided up and the house put up for sale and so Patrick’s professional possessions, observations and collection were donated to the Science Museum to be permanently available to scholars along with the promise of a permanent monument dedicated to Sir P. Other items were (quite rightly) donated to the Chichester Planetarium (of which I have also mentioned before on this blog and highly recommend you visit) because as Dr May explained, “This small but busy planetarium is one of the best possible living monuments to Patrick’s lifelong commitment to Astronomy. Every year it gives thousands of young students their first taste of the wonders of the Universe – and doubtless at this very moment is inspiring the next generation of Astronomers – as Patrick himself did for over half a century.” Some of the most salable of Patrick’s possessions were consigned to Christie’s, in London (his trademark monocle sold for £688) with all remaining items to be auctioned off at HenryAdams Auctions in Chichester on the 7th and 8th of October 2015.

Auctioneer Andrew Swain with one of the ten memento boxes

at Henry Adams Auctions, Chichester. October 2015 
Spot the Halley's Comet Society tie?

Many of the effects on offer at the Henry Adams Auction seemed to represent the great man such as his beloved xylophone (which sold for £1,005) his typewriter, orreries and Hawaiian shirts. At the auction 10 limited edition memento boxes were created containing a selection of Patrick’s belongings offering fans the opportunity to acquire their very own keepsake, as I looked through the catalogue there was one box that was of particular interest to me lot: 717. Not only did it have the Hawaiian shirt that he wore during our book launch in 2009 and the evening I proposed to Beth, but also a pewter mug, purse, pipe, paperweight, letter opener, four shot glasses and there among it all was a blue tie with '1986' embroidered on it...   His official Halley's Comet Society tie! I am delighted to say that I was the successful bidder at the auction and I now have my very own Halley's Comet Society tie, the very tie (if not THE tie) that prompted me to research into the society in the first place. Being able to say that I finally have one is fantastic, to know that it once belonged to Patrick makes it all the more special to me, I am delighted with it. Now if I can just figure out what that tie clip he wore was...

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Tenth Anniversary Recap: 1) Omnibot,Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With!

This will be the tenth anniversary of starting this very blog and we are just 30 posts shy of reaching the 400th mark so in the run up to that tenth anniversary 400th post milestone I thought I would recap some of the popular posts of the past 10 years. 
When things had become rather hectic for me in the studio I enlisted some help and that help was Omnibot! Having always wanted a robotic sidekick Omnibot (full name Omnibot 5402 RX also known as the “state of the FUN robot”) he did not disappoint. Although he had been in my employ since February that year (after some minor repairs), I devoted a blog post to him on the 5th of September 2018 mentioning how he carries and retrieves objects, answers the phone, sends faxes, brings refreshments and leaves birthday greetings for friends on social media along with the mammoth task of excavating and cataloging my extensive collection of collectibles and memorabilia for our Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out series before listing them on eBay to raise funds for projects and of course not forgetting playing back archival cassette tapes for the YouTube channel
Omnibot gathering my Honey Monster merchandise collection 
As for future updates, not much to tell really he’s still archiving my collection and listing on eBay (time of writing this he is rounding up my collection of Honey Monster merchandise as requested by Kid (right) along with my collection of Snoots cards) but following on from our staff outing to Hooters last December we hope to see him out and about more, so keep an eye out for that.  On a personal level, I have derived great pleasure from this ‘seemingly’ forgotten robot range and always relish discovering more about them, for instance- did you know that Omnibot once appeared in the Beano

On May 16th, 1987 in issue number 2339 Omnibot did just that, appearing with Dennis the Menace in this strip that coincided with the comic’s Tomy competition! Although the cover promotes a "free competition", with Omnibot as first prize (and R.A.T.S. action figures or a Knitting Machine as runners up prizes) the contest would not officially launch until the following issue. In the story drawn by legendary Beano artist David Sutherland we find Dennis, jealously watching Walter the Softy with his robot (planting flowers) wishing he had enough brains to build an Anti-Softy robot when he receives a phone call from the Beano editor- Sure enough, the editor wants Dennis to test out the new Omnibot robot! Dennis makes full use of Omnobot’s remote microphone system having him declare “Out of my way Softy!” before knocking Walter’s robot into the fish pond and loudly blaring a cassette of Dennis and the Dinmakers! We also learn that not even Gnasher’s sharp teeth can make a dent to Omnibot’s outer casing before Dennis’s father intervenes, snatching the remote from Dennis and getting Omnibot to fetch him a glass of milk. The strip was nothing more than a promotional tool for the competition but still a lot of fun never the less!

My sincere thanks to Gavin Williams for bringing this to my attention. 
© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

New Video: 'Gentlemen of Horror' Time-lapse Painting

Trying out something different on my YouTube channel, a time-lapse of painting done back in May entitled 'Gentlemen of Horror' a tribute to Vincent Price, John Carradine, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing whose work I have always admired and the now seemingly lost tradition of the late night movie. Every week, growing up, I would seek out their movies located at the very bottom of the TV listings (the TV listings serves as the backdrop of this piece) I hope to feature this painting in my upcoming, self published/ biographical book devoted to my monster memories from the 80’s and 90’s someday- but in meantime here it is as a video, offering an inside into my creative process. I hope to make many more of these videos so click "like" and subscribe and ring that bell to me notified of the next one!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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