Monday, 13 August 2018

Monster Memories: Frank-N –Stein Bar & Grill

Scream Queen Brinke Stevens as an “Elvira-type mascot” for 
Frank-N –Stein Bar & Grill, 
Femme Fatales magazine, Spring 1994.
Not really a monster ‘memory’ as such as it seems it never actually existed but I was intrigued by this article which featured in the spring 1994 edition of Femme Fatales magazine featuring scream queen legend Brinke Stevens and a proposed restaurant called Frank-N –Stein Bar & Grill.  Writer/actor Delbert Winans is the founder of the Frank-N –Stein Bar & Grill, “A restaurant that serves as a historical overview of horror and science fiction films.” Winans negotiating for Burbank location, intends to “decorate the facilities with classic posters and authentic film props. The more graphic stuff- Things from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and likeness of Linda Blair, hanging from the ceiling in a re-creation of The Exorcist- Will be limited to the bar area. Life-size wax figures will be sculpted by Henry Alvarez, whose work has surfaced in The Witches of Eastwick, The Thing, and three Robocop movies.” Brinke Stevenshas  has been brought in as an Elvira-type mascot. Fans who would like an illustrated brochure should send a sase to: Wolf’s Head Productions, 1540 West Gaylord, Long Beach, Calif. 90813-1233.” This place sounded amazing! I hadn’t heard of it before and so I turned to the internet, and yes, you guessed it... Nothing! Well, not much at least as it seems it never actually got off the ground, a real shame as I think this place would have been fantastic!  The only thing I could find was an article on the New Jersey Real-Time News website written by Donald Wittkowski posted on March 5, 2011 entitled, Atlantic City may get horror-themed wax museum and restaurant and it mentions, A development group hopes to capitalize on the public's fascination with the lifelike qualities of wax figures by combining a wax museum with another public obsession — eating. The waxworks-themed restaurant concept is being pitched to casinos in Atlantic City as the developers narrow their search for a location.” A gentleman called Joe Camarota, an engineer and former casino construction official was part of the development group said to have been working on the idea of melding the horror genre with a restaurant to create something called the "Hollywood Horror Cafe" since 1995 having teamed up with renowned West Coast wax sculptor and special effects expert Henry Alvarez and movie fine arts collector Delbert Winans to pursue a similar concept. What is particularly interesting about this partnership is that this group had formed after they were all introduced to each other through Sara Karloff, the daughter of Boris Karloff and as if that wasn’t enough their legal assistance was provided by Bela Lugos’s son, Bela Lugos Jr  a California attorney! It seemed that both Sara Karloff and Bela Lugosi Jr. had also agreed to help the group through their entertainment industry contacts and with licensing deals for horror memorabilia from the Karloff and Lugosi estates! Sadly Winans passed away in 2009 before seeing his vision become a reality but Alvarez and Camarota were continuing the partnership. The article explains how during the project’s development the company had originally been called  Gothic Entertainment Group and explains that before settling on the name "Hollywood Horror Cafe it had also been called " the "Gothic Grille" and "Frank-N-Stein Bar and Grille" (I believe ‘Monster Beastro’ was also used). It seemed that Alvarez was convinced that a waxworks-themed restaurant would be a popular with tourists in Atlantic City believing that a multimedia attraction would help pull the city out of its four-year economic slump, "For me, it's a big tourist area. They're trying to regenerate interest there. People are always interested in going to a wax museum to see celebrities." So how are they getting on? Does anyone out there know how this project is progressing? People are missing out on an amazing attraction here! Comment below or e-mail arfon@arfon.net if you have any additional information!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

NEW! Sutekh the last of the Osirans figures!


I’ve wanted to share this project with you all for some time! One of my all time favourite Doctor Who adventures is the classic 4th Doctor story ‘Pyramids of Mars’ from 1975 so when I was invited by my good friend Brian Ugor in collaboration with Etc Toys to provide the backing board artwork for a limited edition Sutekh the Destroyer figures I was delighted! I’m sure you will agree that the finished product looks amazing!  Handmade and individually produced, even Gabriel Woolf, Sutekh himself approves and the first batch is all set! 
E-mail Brian for more information at 
themaster78@optonline.net 
and tell him Arfon sent you!

Glows in the dark!

Sutekh himself Gabriel Woolf!
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Sir Patrick Moore's Wax Figure

Clearing out some things in the studio I found a London Planetarium visitor guide from 1996, sadly not from actually visiting there but from a charity shop... I had always wanted to but the opportunity never presented itself to me, so I had to make do with the visitor guide. I read through it a fair few times and found it to be a great source of reference for my work but there was one photograph in particular that intrigued me, located at the bottom of the pages 2 and 3 was a photo of Sir Patrick Moore with a waxwork likeness of himself, which he had unveiled at Madame Tussauds back in April 1992 to be displayed at the Planetarium. I’m not even sure why this particular image stayed with me but for ten years I vowed to make visiting the London Planetarium a priority but alas it was not to be and by 2006 it was too late, when the London Evening Standard announced Madame Tussauds‘s plan to stop showing astronomical presentations as it had done continually since 1958. Instead replacing it with a show devoted to the world of celebrity! Schools and astronomical organisations (myself included) despaired when Diane Moon of the Planetarium said that the newly named London Auditorium would be transformed into a show that would "get into the heart of celebrity”.
It seemed that despite the Planetarium’s upgraded to a full-colour Digistar 3 system back in 2004 it had failed to attract the public’s interest. Patrick himself concerned that London was now the only major city in the world without a Planetarium spoke out about the announcement to the BBC saying it was, “most regrettable" while Madame Tussauds attempted to smooth things over by permitting free entry to the Planetarium during its penultimate week offering one last hurrah before it would be replaced by a show about celebrities made by Aardman Animations. Although I missed out on experiencing the ’Laserium’, the Digistar II or III I did however get to see that wax figure in 2006, not in London but 89 miles away in Chichester, West Sussex. 

The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre in Chichester,is an educational facility run by both volunteers and astronomy enthusiasts and it was opened to the public on the 30th July 2001. Patrick had been a keen advocate of the project, serving as one of its patrons while working at having a star theater constructed and installed.  It contains a Viewlex-Minolta S-IIb star projector (dating from 1977) that had been retired by the Armagh Planetarium (where Patrick was served as director). The projector had not been used for some years but Dr John Mason (a former president of the British Astronomical Association) was able to put it back into working order and it’s well worth a visit!  Professor Brian May once described this building as, “one of the best possible living monuments to Patrick’s lifelong commitment to Astronomy” and I very much agree with this statement as it inspires the next generation of Astronomers each year just as Patrick did for over half a century and I very much urge you to visit. As you walk in, there to greet you is Patrick’s wax figure! So, I might have been robbed of my chance to visit the London Planetarium, but I got to see a star show and Patrick’s wax figure courtesy of the South Downs Planetarium.
With the wax figure at the South Downs Planetarium, 2006.
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Arfon’s Sponsored 24 hour Shark A-thon: CONCLUSION

Well my Sharkathon has been and gone and I am happy to report that just like the previous ‘Friday the 13th Movie Marathon’ it was a massive success, more so as twice as much was raised for charity this time! The marathon started at 6 am on Wednesday the 25th of July and finished on the 26th at 8 am I watched all 17 of the listed movies, breaking my previous record! My sincere heartfelt thanks to everyone that sponsored me via the website or through the sponsor forms we raised £467 and all of it goes to the Alzheimer’s Society a worthwhile charity that helps advance research and improve the lives of people with dementia some of you may know this was a personal mission for me as I lost both my grandmother and grandfather to this horrible condition this year. I would also like to thank everyone that helped spread the word be it through the media or by simply pressing the ‘share’ button it’s not easy to raise awareness for these charitable events and a big thank you to all the encouraging messages I received throughout the day!  I would like to thank my mother for helping to raise additional funds through our sponsorship forms and Beth for being by my side for (most) of the day making coffee and replenishing popcorn! As promised, I posted photographs of my progress during the day on Facebook, login the start time of each movie here they are as they happened!


06:00 Ghost Shark (2013) “Dont. Get. Wet.
07:25 Dinoshark (2009) “Frozen for 150million years- now he’s hungry...
09:05 Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus (2010) “Death has a new set of teeth
12:55 Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017) “The apocalypse has teeth!
14:25 Shark Exorcist (2016) “Satan has Jaws
15:20 Megalodon (2002) “History’s most fearsome predator has resurfaced!
16:40pm Swamp Shark (2010) “Fresh water. Fresh meat.
18:10 Sharktopus (2010) “50% shark. 50% octopus. 100% deadly
19:40 Sharktopus Vs Pteracuda (2014) “Time for the shark to hit the fan"
21:20 House Shark (2018) “You’re gonna need a bigger house!
23:30 Sharkenstein (2016) “Man’s greatest monster is back!
00:50 Jurassic Shark (2012) “Dinosaur from the deep
01:55 Raiders Of The Lost Shark (2015) “Even Indiana Jones can’t get out of this one!
02:51 Ice Sharks (2016) “As the ice melts, the danger comes to the surface
04:15 Sand Shark (2011) “Just when you thought you were safe out of the water...
05:45 Super Shark (2011) “Bikinis, bullets & big bites
07:05 2-Headed Shark Attack (2011) “1 body, 2 heads & 6,000 teeth!”
Now some of the more astute of you may be asking, “Hang on 26 hours? I thought the challenge was to be 24 hours?” Well you are quite right, during the day I was visited by a camera crew filming a segment for Heno (Welsh word for Tonight) a Welsh language television magazine show for S4C and so to make up for lost time I pushed the challenge along 2 hours! I was interviewed by singer and regular Heno presenter Elin Fflur, the episode can be found on the S4C Clic page but for the benefit of you non Welsh speakers here is the transcript for you!

S4C’s Heno presenter Elin Fflur joined me for the Sharkathon! 
Introduction by presenter, Angharad Mair, “During the show tonight we heard about the Kraken, a creature from the sea, thankfully sharks have not been sighted on the shorelines of Wales, despite the recent warm weather but there is a guy from Nefyn holding a ‘Sharkathon’, where he will be watching shark movies for 24 hours and Elin went along to watch a few with him!
Item starts with a shot of Nefyn Beach, then stock footage of a great white!   
(Voice over)  “When I think of sharks in movies naturally the first one that spring to mind is Jaws, a film that terrified me many years ago. But this is the kind of film that Arfon Jones from Nefyn delights in watching and to be honest he is rather obsessed with these horror and sci-fi movies.
Cut to various shots from around the studio.
(Voice over) “And in his home in Nefyn I had I had quite a surprise, seeing that he had devoted an entire room to movies and comics!
Arfon: “Here’s the studio come on in
Elin Fflur: “WOW Arfon! (Laughs) I don’t know what to say! It’s absolutely unbelievable! The term in English is ‘Film Buff’ someone who is obsessed with movies, I think I can say without doubt you are a film buff aren’t you?
Arfon: “Oh yes! I can’t deny it look around me! Yes, I am obsessed and I am a film buff I adore horror and sci-fi. When I was 13 I had a summer job at a business that sold vintage comics and I started collecting them myself. I have all manner of comics, Batman, various Marvel comic titles, Topper, Beezer and I collect the annuals as well.
 (Voice over)  “Arfon is a full time illustrator and he creates, yes you guessed it Illustrations relating to horror, sci-fi movies and comics.
 Arfon:” I have made contacts throughout the world, commissioning comics and books. I illustrated the comic series called ‘Slaughterhouse Farm, a comic that was made in Wales, I once illustrated a book for Sir Patrick Moore and I also illustrated the poster for Zombies from Ireland a movie which was filmed here in North Wales.
Elin:” And throughout your career you have met many of your heroes.  You have an interesting wall here in the house”
Arfon:” Yes, I have my ‘Wall of Fame’, people such as Stan Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elvira, Bruce Campbell and Buzz Aldrin the second man on the moon.
(Voice over) “But today he is in his element watching movies through the day to raise money for charity.
Elin:”This challenge of watching movies straight through for 24 hours is something you’ve set yourself before.
Arfon:” Yes, last time I watched all 12 of the Friday the 13th movies for Children in Need”
Elin:” And you have set yourself the same challenge this year, so what is the theme this time Arfon, and why are you doing it?"
Arfon:”Sharks, and I am collecting money for the Alzheimer’s Society in honour of my grandparents whom we lost this year.
Elin:” Ok Arfon so I am going to watch a movie with you this afternoon, so what have you chosen for me?
Arfon:”Sharkenstein! From 2016
Elin:” ....Ok it sounds horrible, is it horrible?
 Arfon:”I hope so!” *Arfon offers her some popcorn
Elin;”But there is popcorn.
 *Elin puts on a shark hat and Arfon puts the film on.     


Once again, my sincere thanks to all that sponsored the event! 

FIN

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: The greatest live show I (sorta got) to see!

You will recall previous post The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: The greatest live show I (didn’tget) to see! Well this is a follow up because I have since (as the title suggests) ‘sorta’ seen it.  As a UK JoeBob Briggs fan I had hoped to watch his triumphant return live via a live stream on Shudder but alas this was not to be, legal issues regarding some of the movies he covered meant it was only available to US customers, but Shudder UK was finally able to drip feed a few to us a week later, OK it wasn’t live and in its entirety BUT at least we did get to see some of them!  His appearance on the channel was such a huge success (it broke the internet!) that they have since announced that Joe Bob will be returning to our screens later in the year! 
Well, American screens for sure but  this Shudder customer hopes that the channel, now armed with all this additional information regarding the Joe Bob fan base will provide ALL its customers the opportunity to experience his live show LIVE! And in its entirety! As I said we are still waiting on the remaining episodes Tourist Trap (1979), Sleepaway Camp (1983),Rabid (1977), Daughters of Darkness (1971) Pieces (1982) and The Prowler (1981) I e-mailed Shudder UK on the 21st of July to ask if we will actually get them the reply I got was “We hope so!” so until it happens I thought I would share some of my highlights from The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs we have been able to watch...
  • Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988) Joe Bob Briggs saluted the 80’s/90’s Scream Queens Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer. 
  • Blood Feast (1963) He was not only able to shed further light on the history of the first ‘slasher’ but also pay tribute to the great Herschell Gordon Lewis! 
  • Basket Case (1982) provided both an insight into the making and promotion of the movie/his involvement in getting it recognized. 
  • Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) Not only did he celebrate this great movie and provide an interesting theory about the monster but also led a sing-along of “Nobody Sees the Flowers but Me” (Hey Travis Crabtree)
So come on Shudder, get it sorted and let us see the rest of this show!


© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 2018 Experience: Part 2. The Mads!

Having met Mike Nelson, Crow and Tom Servo back in February the opportunity to now meet the Mads (the mad scientist in the show) become available to us via an Indigogo campaign, offering “UK fans of MST3K - join Frank & Trace at the 18th SCI-FI-LONDON festival for a live riffing show!!! Spend some time with the guys, laugh your arse off and generally curl up in an event that will be comfort-rated to 10” Amongst the various perks on the Indigogo page there was one on there that appealed to both Mrs Jones and myself  Ok, how about lunch with the guys? Limited to 15 people, Sun 6th may 2018. We meet Trace & Frank at the London Eye then take a trip down the River Thames to Greenwich. Followed by a lovely lunch. Boat trip, food and drink included. 4 Pin (badge) set and show ticket included. Very special limited edition perk” we did just that and the campaign was a success! So it was back to London on the 18th of May to SCI-FI-LONDON to meet Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff!

Dr. Forrester (full name Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester) the man, with the “vision” to send a man into space and forcing him to watch the worst 'B' movies ever made is one of my all time favourite Mad Scientist. So when we arrived at SCI-FI-LONDON which was celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein I couldn’t think of a more fitting setting to meet him and his assistant TV’s Frank! Once again we joined a line of fellow British MSTies as we made our way to the front to meet them, awkward, “errr...err... your my favourite mad scientist muah-bla blu-blah!” out of the way  we took to our seats for the show, I was delighted that they also picked an Ed Wood movie perhaps not as popular as Plan 9 from Outer Space but an important piece all the same, Wood’s personal piece from 1953 Glen or Glenda a documentary disguised as an exploitation film about a subject matter close to his heart cross-dressing and trans-sexuality. Trace and Frank took to their seats at the front and the riffing commenced, much like before it was a surreal experience hearing familiar voices but seeing them in person before you, oh and it was very funny! They followed with a Q&A afterwards with host, Bunny Galore not even prizes they gave out for each question was enough to break my shyness, no matter I thought- tomorrow we would be meeting them at the London Eye I will ask them then!

Trace Beaulieu, (TV’s) Frank Conniff and Bunny Galore

A very hot day followed and we made our way to the London Eye to meet the Mads, spirits were high (despite British Rail making us ride by bus!) as soon as heads were counted we boarded the ferry and sailed down the Thames and I had a really pleasant chat with Trace and fellow fans about the show, robots, Frankenstein movies and Sci-Fi in general before we arrived in Greenwich. Stopping briefly to admire the Cutty Sark we went into a restaurant for lunch. As we awaited our meals conversation continued along similar lines in relaxed surroundings, we had a blast. A nice meal and pleasant conversation with like minded people about comedy, Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Frankenstein, This Island Earth is one thing but to do so with the Mads was fantastic! We then made our way onwards to Greenwich Park for a look around, some photos and we educated Trace and Frank in the ancient British custom of the’ 99’(for those of you also in the dark about such matters a 99 is an ice cream cone with a Cadbury flake inserted in it) and that was it, it was time to go home, but we had an amazing time doing something we never thought we would get to do, and we thank Emm Ledsam for making it happen and of course Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff for coming over to visit us let’s hope it happens again very soon! Well, unless they all decide to come over again this year with Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl and Josh Weinstein I think it’s safe to say that, that was our own little MST3K 30th anniversary event! 
Thanks to all involved, until next time....


© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 2018 Experience: Part 1. Rifftrax Live!

Continuing the trend of up-beat posts, this post is devoted to two adventures Mrs Jones and I embarked on a few months back, BUT first a back-story...Back in the day Mrs Jones told me about a movie I had never heard of called, Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie which seemed to follow a simple enough premise, a mad scientist sends a man into space as part of an experiment, forcing him to watch the worst 'B' movies ever made, aided by a group of robot friends they can be seen in the bottom right of the screen while the movie plays as they heckle or 'riff' (“A monologue or spoken improvisation, especially a humorous one, on a particular subject”- oxforddictionaries.com) the movie. “You’ll love it!” she said, “They make fun of This Island Earth!” well, being rather fond of This Island Earth I went into this movie rather apprehensively but by the end of it I can honestly say that I hadn’t laughed so hard during a movie in my life! It didn’t really make fun of the movie, if anything there was love there for it and the humorous observations and references added an extra layer to an already great movie. Shortly after that I astutely discovered that the reason it was called 'the movie' was because it had in fact started out as a TV series which ran from 1988 to 1999 clocking up an impressive 197 episodes! Created by/ starring comedian, Joel Hodgson it first ran on KTMA in Minneapolis, Minnesota before moving to Comedy Central and ending its days on The Sci-Fi Channel. Then after 100 episodes Joel left the series and was replaced by Michael J. Nelson (he also starred in the movie, essentially where we came in) The show was produced by very (very) funny people such as Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, Paul Chaplin, and Bridget Jones Nelson but being a cult show in America it's was largely unknown here in the UK but I urge you all to do as we did, seek out these episodes! The program is certainly one of my all time favourite television shows and it features some of my all time favourite robots and mad scientists and it introduced me to countless movies that would have otherwise been unheard of or forgotten (some of which might have been for the better) and suffice it to say this show has been a large feature in my life these past 14 years! Although the show had ended in 1999 most of the cast remain in contact and continue to “Riff” in some form or another in live shows across the US and during the past 14 years all we could do was look on with envious eyes.... hoping that one day, in the not too distant future, we would get to experience the MST3K experience.

2018, the 30th anniversary year was that year! RiffTrax started back in 2006 and it’s a very clever idea, Mike J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett sell audio MP3 file voice tracks of themselves making jokes (much the same way as they used to do on the show) once you have downloaded the track you find a copy of the movie they were watching on disc or streaming service and sync the two together and you get a hilarious commentary track on all the big budget movies with no legal issues for them, and they are hilarious! Equally hilarious and popular are their live shows and when we saw that they were going to riff Plan 9 from Outer Space and Samurai Cop live and for one night only at the Prince Wales Cinema, London on February 15th we couldn’t believe our eyes! Valentine’s Day was sorted! Having booked well in advance we showed up at the cinema to pick up our tickets before going around the corner to China Town for a meal at the Gourmet Kitchen we were giddy with excitement, we would finally see these guys live and when we joined the line you could tell that we were not alone on this! Mrs Jones tugged on my arm when she spotted Mike Nelson in the foyer and then Kevin Murphy, Tom Servo himself came outside to shake hands and thank everyone for turning up, we were both “geeking-out” at this stage.
When the doors opened at 6:30 we took our seats and they took to the stage to a great round of applause before starting the show with an educational short entitled The Calendar: How to Use It before going headlong into a colourised version of Plan 9 from Outer Space a movie, another move that I am rather fond of, I am a big Ed Wood Jr. fan and unfortunately Plan 9 is often cited by lazy journalists as “the worst movie ever made” trust me, it’s not and these chaps concurred (they have made a career of watching bad movies so they would know!) the show was hilarious! I have been to several comedy shows over the years but I don’t think I have ever heard so much laughter at one before. The show was over before we knew it, and it was a surreal experience, having listened to these guys for over 14 years and to finally see them on stage, in person was an experience.

We got up, stretched our legs and took to our seats again for the second part of our double bill Samurai Cop from 1991 starring Robert Z'Dar, Matt Hannon and Mark Frazer which I hadn’t seen before, which was excellent as its quite an insane film in itself and so combined with the riff it was hilarious! As we made our way out of the cinema I wandered over to the main desk and enquired if the RiffTrax guys were signing autographs? The girl just waved me away and dismissed me with a “no” we shrugged and thought that was it, at least we got to see them live and on stage but when we walked through the door onto the street there they were! The three of them signing autographs, meeting greeting and taking ‘selefies’ so we got to go up, shake hands and thank them for their humour, their talent and for all the years of laughs in person, and they didn’t disappoint, they were as friendly and humble as we had been led to believe. The show (as I stated before) was hilarious and IF they should come back to the UK again I urge you to check it out! That was it, we got to finally meet the crew of the satellite of love and we wandered off smiling, quoting various lines to the Tube station. But that wasn’t the end, oh no. The cogs at Gizmonic Institute were turning, we would soon be returning to London for phase 2...

Meeting the cast of the Satellite of Love Mike J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy
slightly overwhelmed as you can see!

Onward to part 2! The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 2018 Experience: Part 1

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

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