FYI, last night’s Vermont Monster Guide event in Bellows Falls went well, we had a packed house.
Our slide lecture and Q&A went a little long — 90 minutes! — but everyone seemed to enjoy it, the questions flowed afterwards, and we moved a few books for the bookshop. I also ended up giving an impromptu how-to-draw-hands lesson to a young aspiring artist (hope it made sense; you never know), and a young fellow named Will bought his first-ever Swamp Thing collection, which I graced with a sketch and signature. Hope he enjoys it! Special thanks to Pat and Alan at Village Square Books for hosting such a terrific venue, and to all who attended. A tip of the hat to Mark Nelson and Cricket (of Saturday Fright Special and the SFS Spooktaculars) for making the drive up from southern New Hampshire — it was great to see you!
Note: Village Square Books is one of the few bookstores anywhere in the world to carry almost all of my books — not only The Vermont Ghost Guide and Vermont Monster Guide, but also the complete run of Swamp Thing collections, all five volumes of Blur, the Dark Horse Godzilla collection, Green Mountain Cinema and more! I signed all their copies, and will keep them stocked — so if you’re in Vermont, stop on by and pay them a visit!
Joe and I have one more Vermont Monster Guide lecture/signing coming up in mid-December; hope to see some of you there! More on that as the time approaches…
The Ugliest Movie Ads
Could It Happen?: Rymdinvasion i Lappland aka Invasion of the Animal People (1959/62)
Cowled Grays & Abominable Snowman Lackey Lick Lapland!
It’s difficult to believe that any movie could be as dreadful as this 1962 double-bill ad art, but Invasion of the Animal People truly was and is. In fact, looking at this just now, I think I was wrong about the ugliest sf ad art: I think this is hands-down the worst-ever sf ad art for any American theatrical rollout.
I’ll happily stand corrected if someone knows of a worse one, but it’s mighty stiff competition.
Cheapjack indy producer/director Jerry Warren‘s original co-feature Terror of the Bloodhunters (1962) is astonishingly the better of the two movies, anachronistic and grueling as its painfully talky 60 minutes of escaping-from-Devil’s-Island-to-faux-Brazil jungle movie antics were (and remain) — it, at least, makes linear sense.
Invasion of the Animal People was a Jerry Warren import from Sweden. It used to pop up on broadcast television late late shows, which is where I caught it as a kid. Its imagery obscured by static and poor reception (in the days of antennae-only TV reception) — obfuscating what I later discovered was an already murky print — the movie was damn near impenetrable.
Per usual, Warren hacked the original film down, rendering it utterly incoherent, then tried to remedy the lobotomy with insert footage of John Carradine prattling absolute nonsense for what seemed hours on end. This was a typical Jerry Warren tactic, which I later endured via late-night broadcasts of Attack of the Mayan Mummy (1964 Warren re-edit of the 1957 Mexican opus La Momia Azteca), in which beefy Bruno VeSota managed the interminable narration duties.
One-upping even this madness, Warren also shot and inserted another lengthy expositional sequence into Animal People: in a bare-boned office, a scientist (???) blathered on and on about hearing (yes, our ears — hearing) using a prop skull to demonstrate I-still-don’t-know-what-the-fuck. This putz makes Carradine seem eloquent by compare, and he goes on until you’re ready to take a screwdriver to your own eardrum.
Eventually, things happen. Well, some things happen. Not much, but something. We’re outdoors, people are skiing around, there’s a crashed UFO, and then oh-thank-God a giant Yeti-kinda-guy appears.
I dug the big hairy Yeti-like monster that seemed to be servant to the barely-seen alien invaders. It’s not clear, but that’s what he seems to be.
It reminded me of my favorite Jack Kirby pre-Marvel Atlas giant monster comics, and prompted me to sketch the toothy yak-haired yeti in my earliest sketchbooks, inventing far better adventures for him than the film featured.
See, like the typical Stan Lee/Jack Kirby big hairy monster, this yeti guy doesn’t really do much: he kills some reindeer (offscreen), trashes some igloos, teepees and huts, totes the heroine around in his fuzzy mitts, and is eventually pursued and surrounded by torch-wielding skiers, who set big ugly on fire and he plunges off a cliff to his apparent death.
This sends his alien masters packing — cleaning up their snow skidmarks as they go — just like in an Atlas giant monster comic.
So, really lame movie, cool monster.
He struck a nerve for me, anyhoot, even if the film itself struck out and left me dazed, blurry and bleary-eyed and frustrated.
Though I can’t recommend the movie, I still have a soft spongy spot in my skull for it. I sat through it more than once on the late, late show just to see the monster again, and bought it on video when it was first available via Sinister Cinema 20-something years ago.
Thankfully, Mike Vraney and Something Weird Video & Image copackaged Warren‘s aborted fetus of a movie with the original unedited Virgil Vogel Scandanavian feature Rymdinvasion i Lappland on DVD, allowing me to at last see the real McCoy.
It’s… well, to be honest, it sucks. Let me put it this way: Denmark has Reptilicus, and Sweden has Rymdinvasion i Lapland, and all is right with the world of giant monster movies that they each have only the one.
But it is atmospheric and weird and damn it all I love it for the mongrel dog it is, and per usual Mike‘s crew added special bonus features, including footage from a genuine celebratory Lapland reindeer festival that boasts women gelding reindeer with their teeth.
I kid you not.
This, of course, makes for essential viewing.
I went looking online to see if there’s a Swedish DVD release of the film, out of curiosity, and didn’t turn up anything as yet. Hell, I’m still aching to see Erik Blomberg‘s shapeshifter movie Valkoinen Peura / The White Reindeer (1952), but that’s yet to turn up, either. (If you know where/how I can get a copy, please, let me know ASAP!)
Well, we have the Something Weird DVD, so no need to go looking for Rymdinvasion i Lappland, as we have it.
Among the images Trash Can Dance posted was this British quad poster for the UK release of the same film under the title Terror in the Midnight Sun — it’s not much better than the Jerry Warren ad art, but it at least does justice to the mighty Yak-Yeti dude. Well, OK, maybe not: he looks like a curly-furred koala bear kinda monster with ‘Wacky Teeth’ inserts — and he can fire rays from its eyes. All right, so it is mighty dopey. Still, it’s better than the Jerry Warren US release art, and it isn’t ugly ad art. Just stupid movie ad art.