High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Price Gory? A Salute to My Favorite Horror Ham ------ Part 2 Tingling Sensation!

50 years ago today...this was shocking you!

The release of House on Haunted Hill in the first half of 1959 was followed later that same year by another William Castle classic, The Tingler, which also starred Vincent Price.

According to the movie's scientific premise, the tingler is a parasitic creature inhabiting the human spine.

Extreme fear makes the cute little critter grow into a powerful organism that can attack and kill the host.

Here comes the good part. The only way to destroy the tingler is with loud and continuous screaming. (I must have been playing hooky the day that was covered in health class.)

Print campaigns and theatrical trailers for The Tingler claimed that this latest Castle caper was filmed in Percepto.

The special effects challenged among us should not confuse this academy award winning technical achievement (a joy buzzer under a seat) with Emergo ...the groundbreaking cinematic technique introduced in House on Haunted Hill (a fake skeleton on a wire).

It's shocking but true! To add more tingle during the screening of The Tingler...

...Castle equipped several theater seats with large joy buzzers that were activated during a scene in which the tingler runs amok in a movie theater.

50 years of gimmicks...
50 years of fun...
thanks to innovative spook movie director William Castle!


...and on the same bill
its blood curdling, side splitting terror twin...


...and for half a century my favorite thriller...


They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

Have a Shady Halloween!

Now there are nine. There’ll be more...many more.
They're coming for me now.....
and then they'll come for you!


Friday, October 23, 2009

What Price Gory? A Salute to My Favorite Horror Ham -------- Part 1 Ain't Nothin' But a Hearse Party!

50 years after its release...

House on Haunted Hill
remains my
all time favorite
horror movie.

Directed by William Castle...
a master of tongue-in-cheek horror...

House on Haunted Hill starred my favorite spook flick actor, Vincent Price.

The movie provided
the ideal
showcase for
Price's priceless
campy acting style.

With crackling dialogue and snappy one-liners...

House on Haunted Hill prompted as many chuckles as screams.

Everybody sing along!

Oh, they're hangin' from the ceiling

they're screamin' on the floor!

Hairy paws are comin' through the door.
Gurl, you need to bust some moves
If you don't your life you'll lose
Ain't nothin' but a party, baby
Ain't nothin' but a hearse party!

Meet Watson Prichard...

a drunken sot
who rambles
on and on
severed heads
and ghosts.

Is it demon rum doing the talking?
Or would we be wise to take Prichard seriously?

Very seriously!

Frederick Loren: It's almost time to lock up the house and then your party will really begin.

I wonder how it will end...

Frederick Loren: Remember the fun we had when you poisoned me?
Annabelle Loren: (laughs) “Something you ate,” the doctor said.
Frederick Loren: Yes...arsenic on the rocks!

Frederick: Don't let the ghosts and the ghouls disturb you, darling.
Annabelle: Darling, the only ghoul in the house is you!

Watson Pritchard: These (guns) are no good against the dead. Only the living.

Pritchard: Six hours…six of us. Time enough.

Pritchard: Rooms? Guns? I tell ya, it doesn’t make any difference. They aren’t through with us yet.

At last you've got it all...

everything I had...

even my life.

But you're not going to live to enjoy it!

Come with me, murderess...

Come with me!

A promotional genius, director William Castle turned his low budget B movies into box office hits by using a variety of gimmicks. The publicity package for House on Haunted Hill, for example, asserted that the picture was filmed using a technique called Emergo. To transform the movie into an interactive experience, Castle distributed a promotional kit to each theater screening the movie. The kit included an inflatable glow-in-the-dark skeleton.

During the movie's terrifying climax a skeleton emerges from an acid-filled wine vat to exact revenge on villainess Annabelle Loren. Simultaneously, the skeleton in the theater was rigged to spring from the stage and sail on a wire above the audience. As word spread about the movie's bare bones special effects, rambunctious teenagers couldn't resist the urge to pelt the poor skeleton with candy boxes, cups and anything else they could get their hands on. It was not the audience reaction Castle had anticipated; nevertheless, it was an encouraging sign that a good time was had by all.

Good night, doctor. Good night, Annabelle. The crime you two planned was indeed perfect; only the victim is alive and the murderers are not. It’s a pity you didn’t know when you started your game of murder…..that I was playing, too.

Hold on, folks. Don't leave your seats just yet. This is a double feature!

In my next post, Vinny's back and he's trying to get something off his back. Hint: It ain't his mother-in-law. This flick's a real spine tingler, so stay tuned!

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lloyd Thaxton's Greatest Hits, Pt. 4

Let's continue now with more great songs that I remember being played and performed on The Lloyd Thaxton Show.

(December 1964 thru February 1965)

“The Name Game” – Shirley Ellis

Shirley Ellis, the focus of a blog article last December, recorded a string of hits in the novelty vein, just the type of fodder that wacky Lloyd Thaxton liked to use in his lip-syncs and comedy bits.

Here's Shirley's biggest hit, "The Name Game," a record that entered the chart two weeks before Christmas 1964, vaulted into the top 5, and remained popular most of the winter.

(January, February 1965)

“Paper Tiger" – Sue Thompson

Along with the Newbeats, its popular male trio, Nashville-based Hickory Records was also home to the successful female soloist Sue Thompson. Sue scored several hit singles on the label beginning in 1961.

Novelty ditties like "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)," "Norman," and "James (Hold the Ladder Steady)" were Sue Thompson's stock-in-trade and her best chart performers; but she didn't get me to sit up and take notice until I saw her on Thaxton in early 1965 performing "Paper Tiger."

"Paper Tiger" was sexier and more sophisticated than Sue Thompson's novelty numbers. A tongue-in-cheek girl power anthem, "Paper Tiger" was the type of material that sassy songstress Nancy Sinatra would take to the next level the following year.

With her little girl voice, big hair, and youthful looks, it's hard to believe that Sue Thompson was nearly 40 years of age when "Paper Tiger" was on the chart. According to Sue's bio, radio audiences and record buyers assumed that she was another teenage singing idol, and she wasn't about to burst their bubble.

"Paper Tiger" became the last significant hit of Sue Thompson's career, reaching #23 on Billboard. Sue is now 84 years of age! Yeeeeeow! We're all getting old!

(January thru March 1965)

“The Birds and the Bees” Jewel Akens

The Lloyd Thaxton Show helped sell a lot of popcorn, and “The Birds and the Bees” was a fine example. Featuring the sparkling production quality that I favor, “The Birds And The Bees,” a pop soul recording by Jewel Akens, soared up the chart at the beginning of 1965 and wound up at #3, no easy task with the Beatles and their wannabes as competition.

(February, March 1965)

“Yeh, Yeh” Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames

I became a fan of Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames by regularly watching Hullabaloo London. "The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde" might have been Georgie's biggest money maker, but it was his lesser hit, "Yeh Yeh" that rocked my world in the early months of 1965.

March, April 1965

"Peaches 'N' Cream" - Ikettes

During the mid 60s, the Ikettes went from background vocalists for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue to recording stars in their own right. "Peaches 'N' Cream," a feel good teen pop/R&B dance tune, went top 40 nationwide and was pressed into service to boost the fun factor on Thaxton.

More great 60s songs coming up in Part 5 of my salute to Lloyd Thaxton. Stick around!

Have a Shady Day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lloyd Thaxton's Greatest Hits, Pt. 3

We continue now with more of my favorite songs related to The Lloyd Thaxton Show!

(November, December 1964)

“Mountain of Love” – Johnny Rivers

I remember watching Johnny Rivers’ guest appearance on Thaxton in the autumn of 1964.

My first exposure to Johnny Rivers had come earlier at my cousin's house when he invited me to listen to three of Johnny's albums that were recorded live at the famed Whisky a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

I loved Johnny Rivers’ soulful voice and his energetic interpretations of blues and country standards. The albums featured a distinctive hook – a chorus of squealing go-go girls that sang along in the background and cheered at the end of each song. Nice touch! I enjoyed the three LPs so much that I soon bought my own copies.

I have never been a big fan of live albums. The producer in me usually prefers studio recordings because of the artistry involved in the mix down; yet, those Johnny Rivers albums won me over and to this day I never tire of hearing them.

When Johnny Rivers performed on Lloyd Thaxton, he lip-synced to his newly-released recording, “Mountain of Love,” an excellent cover of the Harold Dorman hit from four years earlier.

Harold Dorman's 1960 "Mountain of Love" single did well on the national chart, finishing at #21.

Johnny Rivers’ version of the song surpassed Dorman's achievement, breaking into the Billboard top 10 and halting at #9.

(November 1964 thru January 1965)

“Thou Shalt Not Steal” – Dick and DeeDee

My mom turned thumbs down on “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” asserting that it was wrong to quote the bible in a secular song. My mother’s protests did not prevent me from groovin' to the sound of Dick and DeeDee. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" began climbing the Billboard chart as I was turning 15. I found it to be one of the freshest, most exciting sounds to emerge domestically since the start of the British invasion.

Since I watched Lloyd Thaxton religiously (pun intended) I was especially thrilled when I tuned in one day to find the Los Angeles pair on the show lip-syncing to "Thou Shalt Not Steal," a rousing rendition of singer/songwriter John D. Loudermilk’s composition. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" was the most soulful recording Dick and DeeDee ever released, and became their second biggest hit, reaching #13 on the chart.

Dick and DeeDee also appeared in the pilot of Where The Action Is, the music television series created by Dick Clark.

Although they sang love duets, Dick and DeeDee were not a romantic couple, merely singing partners who had met in school. Dick St. John’s original name was Richard Gosting. During the act’s 60’s recording career, DeeDee was Mary Sperling. When Mary retired in the 1970s, Dick kept the act alive by touring with his wife Sandy who took over as DeeDee.

Dick died tragically in December 2003 after suffering head injuries in a fall from a ladder at his home near Los Angeles. Three of my other favorite recording artists died around that same time, all within the span of one year: Edwin “Agent OO-Soul” Starr (April 2003); Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers (November 2003); and Jan Berry of Jan & Dean (March 2004). If there’s a rock & roll heaven you know they’ve got a hell of a band!

The Newbeats also recorded a version of “Thou Shalt Not Steal” in 1964. The recording session actually predates by a few months the release of the Dick & Dee Dee hit version. Oddly enough, the Newbeats rendition was not released as a single until five years later during the summer of 1969. Perhaps the delayed release was intended to allow the song to blend in with the new Age of Aquarius, sunshine pop, and Jesus rock movements. A fine recording that sounds similar to Dick & DeeDee's, "Thou Shalt Not Steal" by the Newbeats was nevertheless somewhat of an anachronism on the late 60s record charts. The song bubbled under at #128 but failed to make the Hot 100.

Stand by for more Lloyd Thaxton gold coming up in my next post!

Have a Shady day!