. . . . .

As I’ve stated before on this site, I have been going to horror, science fiction, comic book, fantasy, Famous Monsters, anime… even Beatles conventions since the International Star Trek Convention in NYC, in 1973. That’s going on 51 years folks. To say, “I’ve seen it all” is most likely still an understatement. So, when someone mentions the 1975 Famous Monsters Of Filmland Convention, with Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, Michael Carreras and Barbara Leigh, I get a case of the warm fuzzies inside. Same for most of the South Florida SuperCons, back when Mike Broder was running things. Man, those were some huge events. The best stories have come from the Famous Monsters, Spooky Empire, Monsterama and Monster Bash shows, But to be fair, Every Con Tells A Story… Don’t It? (Apologies to Rod for bastardizing his album title.) Most of the time, the stories are so good they almost defy believability. Sometimes the stories are so bad, they make great tales to tell friends and loved ones, on a dark and stormy night. (and they often make wonderful columns.) This year’s MegaCon, in Orlando, was one of those rare shows that did neither.

Now, please don’t take this column to be a scathing review of MegaCon. It wasn’t a horrible show. It was just a horrible show for my friend John and me. Our mission was fairly simple; I wanted five autographs and I think John wanted four. Other than that, we planned to hit that dealer’s room like it owed us money. Because it was a last-minute decision to go (I usually know months, maybe a year, in advance) we got a hotel about a mile or so away from the Orange County Convention Center. We knew parking at the Center was insane, so we parked the car at the hotel and Ubered to and from the show. Unfortunately, the Uber drop off was on the West side of the massive building, and the door to get into the show was on the East side. And without exaggeration, the walk from one end of the building to the other seemed to be roughly a quarter of a mile. Now, I’m 68 years old, at the time of this writing, and my friend is only 9 years younger than me... and neither of us are at what you’d call “fighting weight”. We both have leg problems. Specifically, there are two knee replacements, in my not-too-distant future, and he deals with some arthritis issues. So, where younger, more fit, people might have had an easier time, John and I were pretty tired when we finally got into the building. But there was still a long way to walk to Ticketing and then the Main Show Room. Then, of course, the celebrities were in the back of the room. Now, this is only a room, in that it has four walls, a floor and a ceiling. But there are literally places in that massive room where you can’t see the opposite wall. It’s that big! Now this is Friday; the day that most of America is working and not at a Con! We each got two autographs on Friday. That’s it! The wait in the lines was that long. I don’t mean we were in two autograph lines. We attempted to get into four of them. The biggest surprise was the huge line for Keith David, every minute of Friday and Saturday. Not that he isn’t bad ass. He certainly is. But at MegaCon, he was hugely popular. Over the course of two days, we were in his line three times; each time he had to do either a panel or photo shoot, they’d stop the line and you either waited for him to return 90 minutes later or got out of line. Again, I’m within sight of 70. The thought of waiting for that long, standing in one place, wasn’t working for me.

After I got two autographs, we decided to walk the massive dealer’s room floor and I was gobsmacked. Where once I would buy lobby cards, monster collectables and DVDs/Blu-Rays, stood table after table of… crafts. I’m talking about beaded necklaces, stones with painted figures on them, drawings, baked goods, perfumes, scented candles… basically what you’d find at any country craft fair. Out of the maybe three to four hundred tables, there were exactly four comic book tables and one table with a fair amount of movies. That was all I saw before I realized that I had about a thousand steps left in me… just enough to get to the Uber waiting area and back to the hotel… and we still had to go out to dinner. Dejected, we rode to the hotel parking lot, got into the Santa Fe and got some much-deserved grub.

I awoke Saturday morning feeling like I had been used as a tackling dummy by the defensive line of the Miami Dolphins. After a quick breakfast it was back to the Con. This time we hit it before the doors opened so we could get in early and we were met by a sea of fans numbering over 100 thousand. (The local News confirmed that number.) That hundred thousand was for Saturday alone. There were only slightly less attendees on Friday and Sunday. In plain words, it was a zoo. The lines were less organized on Saturday, but considering the crowd size, I think that would go without saying. Three hours after arriving and having accomplished absolutely NOTHING, (no autographs or dealer’s room swag) we left. It was time to lick our wounds and drive the four hours back home. We came, we saw and as much as we hated to admit it, we got our asses kicked. I know others who were there would agree with me when I say, MegaCon has gotten too big for people our age. I know that might surprise folks from Monsterama and MonsterBash who see me with near-endless energy. At the Bash, especially, I’m usually at breakfast by 8:00am and still going strong when mostly everyone has hit the hay at 3:00am. But MegaCon beat the creamy nougat center out of me, and I’ll be the first one to cop to it.

One more thing, neither John nor I are ever stingy at Cons; we bring more than we need and never sweat plunking down a little extra when warranted. We earned it and we don’t mind spending it. But neither of us enjoy wasting it. Because we accomplished nothing on Saturday, we didn’t need to spend the night at a hotel on Friday or spend nearly as much on food for the extra day. Especially if we had only known that out of two days, we barely got one half of one good day to show for it.

I can’t say I’m throwing in the towel on MegaCon. But I’m more than likely done. I’ve been going off and on for nearly two decades and I’ve never seen it looking so mismanaged. The guests needed to get me to put myself through that torture again would have to be of biblical proportions. Because I fought the MegaCon and the MegaCon won.

Till next time, Adios! I’m a ghost.

February 2024

MegaCon Has Gotten Too Mega For Me!

by Richard J. Schellbach

. . . . .

I have extremely good friends who, when it comes to the movies they love to watch, are locked into a certain era. For instance, they won’t watch anything made after the 1960s. They stick to what they call “The Classics” and their particular era either ends after The Creature Walks Among Us or Psycho or, if they are willing to watch the Roger Corman Poe Pictures, before the release of Night Of The Living Dead. Now, on the other side of that, I know people who won’t watch B&W movies, no matter how great those pictures are. No Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein. No Invasion Of The Body Snatchers; (Don Seigel’s masterpiece.) Now each of the horror movie fans I know are certainly entitled to their likes and dislikes. But I find myself completely perplexed by the things that go bump in the night that they’re willing to do without, just to stick with an old habit. To those classic era fans I know, I wish I could sit down with them and watch The Book of Eli, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, Renfield, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, and all of the classics done in the 70s and 80s – because there was a slew of them. That said, I can’t help but think that the other camp - the people who are familiar with the works of John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi, Tom Holland, Fred Dekker, Wes Craven and the scores of other directors whose films I adore - are missing the unbelievable volumes of work by Alfred Hitchcock, Val Lewton, James Whale, Roland V. Lee, Edgar G. Ulmer, Roger Corman and countless other brilliant Directors who paved the way for the young Directors who made their mark four and five decades ago.

My horror movie library spans just over a century. It’s not the biggest movie and television library in the world. There are people whose movie rooms dwarf mine, but it contains most of the movies I enjoy, minus the very few that are lost or unavailable or have escaped me altogether. My film library begins in the time of Nosferatu and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and ends with… that’s the thing – it doesn’t end. It NEVER ends. My collection will stop the day I can’t watch and collect movies anymore. I’m hoping that will be the day I die. With luck, I’ll never find myself in the situation where I must stop watching movies. Yes, technically, there may be too much out there for one person to see. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to give it the old college try. Hell, if I have eyes in my head and a thought in my head, there are movies to watch. Years ago, if somebody had told me that just over a century after the release of Nosferatu, I would see a movie about Dracula’s servant, Renfield that would be part classic horror, part modern horror with a liberal sprinkling of John Wick Chapters One through Four, I would have asked them what they were smoking and did they have any extra. Yet, I’ve seen such a movie, thrice, and enjoyed it more with each viewing. Great horror is constant if you’re willing to open yourself up to it.

Hey, I’ve got an idea; It's a brand-new year. Instead of resolutions that you’re not going to follow anyway, why not try opening your horizons a wee bit and stepping out of your comfort zone? I mean how much could that really hurt you? Sit down and watch an entire movie that is beyond whatever boundaries you set up for yourself. Now, I mean opening credits to closing credits. No fair getting five minutes into it and shutting down because it’s not for you. Give it a fair chance. Hell, you don’t even have to tell anyone you’re doing it, if you’re the kind that worries about your movie-watching street cred. Either strike out on your own or allow me to give just a few suggestions;

If you’re into modern horror, try the classics with a film entitled The Black Cat (1934) that stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. I can pretty much guarantee that no matter how dark you like your horror, this one will keep up with its modern-day predecessors. Be warned... it’s the dreaded black and white that you’ve heard such terrible things about.

If your movie-watching appetite ends around the time of the Kennedy Administration, why not give Hammer’s The Woman In Black, from 2012, a try? There’s no gore to speak of and it has a very classic look to it with muted colors that are made to invoke a kind of black and white feel.

If you can’t stand remakes, try 1990’s Night Of The Living Dead, expertly directed by Tom Savini. It takes the things you know about the original and gives them a gentle twist, so as to keep you guessing.

Not the type for sequels? Try Son Of Frankenstein (1939) or Bride Of Re-Animator (1990).

I think, if you’re ready to make some changes to some decades-old habits, you just might be pleasantly surprised, Go on! You’re a MonsterKid! Have a little fun.

Till next time, Adios! I’m a ghost.

January 2024

1931

2023

IN ONE ERA AND OUT THE OTHER

by Richard J. Schellbach

. . . . .

A few years ago, I suffered a health setback. I was feeling tired beyond words. After running some tests, they discovered I had four blockages in three arteries of my heart. So, it was open heart surgery for me. Some people come back from that fairly quickly. I was not so fortunate. Recovery was slow and painful. By the time I was feeling up to par, I hadn’t written a word in months... not so much as a grocery list. When you factor in the heart disease that was pre-operation and the post-operation recovery, I was stagnant for almost 18 months.

Finally, I made my way back. I was already plotting my next three columns when the person for whom I wrote, suffered a major life-changing event. I happen to be good friends with this person. So, it affected me professionally and personally. They told me a few weeks later that they were no longer interested in running the publication I was writing for. I completely understood. I told them they needed to do what was best for them. So, that was it. I was a writer without a place to write.

Although I can’t imagine I’ll ever truly retire, I began taking my Social Security benefits and started living a semi-retired life… for about three weeks. Ugh!

Feeling bored to tears and missing writing my columns more than ever, I realized that if I was going to write for someone, who better to write for than… ME! In the following months, I created and designed a website – this website, to be exact – I hired some writers who I loved and who were untethered to their own personal magazine, book or website... and got to work. About a day and a half after that, I realized that I didn’t want to be the Writer AND Editor of my own page, so I hired someone I knew I could work with but was independent enough of a Managing Editor to tell me where to get off, if I ever took myself too seriously as a boss. Richard J. Schellbach's MonsterKid Central now has a Managing Editor, four full-time Columnists, some Visiting Guest Columnists, a Movie Critic, a Literary Critic, a Video Game Critic and an Audio Critic, MonsterKid-newsworthy headlines from the worlds of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy, some just-for-fun pages, and a neat little “Today In MonsterKid Horror History” section on our Front Page that is updated daily.

Individually, we are:

Managing Editor - Kathy Bennett

Columnists – Nicholas Beal, Melissa Heyden, Rick Patterson, and Richard J. Schellbach

Guest Columnists – Bob Hagerty, John Pace, and Cale Patterson

Literary, Video Game and Film Critics – Jil Wong, Melissa Heyden and Michael Richardson

Together, we make up Richard J. Schellbach’s MonsterKid Central and I couldn’t be more proud to have these artists at my side. They are the reason we are up and running and completing our first year in existence.

So, what’s in the cards for 2024?

On the horizon, we will be hosting a few Podcasts. One will be Rick’s, one will be mine... and we will often appear on each other’s podcasts. They will each be run differently. Mine will usually end up being about 45 minutes an episode and, if I know him like I do, Rick’s will be a tad longer – like bring your hot cocoa, your favorite pjs and a flashlight – they’ll tend to be closer to all-nighters, in the best possible way.

The site will also have new Guest Columnists stopping by and new things to cover. What’s working will stay and what isn’t will go the way of the dodo.

We’ll also be hiring another full-time Columnist, to give you all plenty of that MonsterKid goodness... that's sure to keep you coming back for more.

How fitting that my “golden years” will turn out to be my busiest. I’m hoping to meet more of you at the five to seven Conventions we frequent each year. I imagine I’ll be doing more panels and touching base with many of you in 2024 and beyond. Thank you, from the depths of my soul, for visiting the site. You can drop us a line at RJSchellbachPublishing@gmail.com or MonsterKidCentral@gmail.com anytime you come up with something you’d like us to cover on Richard J. Schellbach’s MonsterKid Central. After all, we’re here to please.

Here's to our next twelve months. We’re calling all MonsterKids to come join in the fun. We promise, it'll be a real scream.

Till next year, Adios! I’m a ghost.

Happy New Year, MonsterKids! Yours grue-ly, Rich – Publisher and Columnist

December 2023

RETIREMENT, MY ASS!

by Richard J. Schellbach

. . . . .

November 2023

I returned home from Monsterama, in Atlanta, on Monday morning at around 10:30. The flight was rather routine. Per usual, no problems with SouthWest Airlines. I can’t remember ever having even so much as a slight glitch with them. And as good as it was to be home in time for lunch, it meant waking up at 4:00 AM in Atlanta. I am plenty good with going to bed at 4:00 AM. Waking up at 4:00 AM is another matter. On most days, I don’t do math before noon… let alone making sure all my stuff is packed, checking out of the hotel, calling Uber, negotiating my way through the massive Atlanta airport, etc. But make it home, I did.

The worst part of getting up that early was not being able to have breakfast with my pal, Anthony Taylor. Anthony is a grand MonsterKid and a dealer at Monster Bash and we meet for breakfast every morning and, most nights, talk into the wee hours with other MonsterKids. It’s slightly different at Monsterama. He and I still get to do breakfast, but Anthony is not only a dealer there, he runs the show with his business partner Suzanne Najbrt. And what a show it is! Monsterama has great celebrity guests, good fans, an actual theater room for showing movies, a dealer’s room that voluntarily separated me from my cash, a concert by famed composer Alan Howarth... and myriad panels. For as good as Monsterama is at doing the whole convention thing, those panels are the best. There’s nothing a geek, who’s always looking to learn, likes more than to sit in a room filled with other geeks and expand my knowledge about movies, actors and the business of television, movies and publishing. I spend hours at those panels and it always seems like mere minutes. Adding to my excitement this year, I was asked to sit on two panels. One was called, “Writing for Television” and, seeing that was what I did for the better part of the 80s and 90s, I was thrilled to be asked. The panel consisted of comic book legend Doug Murray, Anthony Taylor and me. It was expertly moderated by the sharply-dressed and keenly knowledgeable Aubrey Spivey. Doug, Anthony and I had diverse enough experiences in television writing that it almost guaranteed the questions from Aubrey and the audience members never devolved into “Me too.” answers. Each of us had our own take on pretty much every topic. I had a blast learning more about Anthony’s and Doug’s time with “the tube” and the audience was absolutely terrific.

But, that wasn’t the panel I was worried about.

My second panel was entitled, “1943: A Good Year For Monsters”. And from the second I was asked to be on that panel I wondered, with all of my being, two things:

1. Was 1943, in fact, a good year for monsters?

2. How much research do I have to do so I don’t end up looking like a simp in front of everyone?

My prep consisted of getting on the Google machine, gathering a list of 1943 horror movies and then starting to compare them through running times, color or black and white, Actors, Actresses and Directors common to each film… in plain words, things that only MonsterKids would be interested in. They were the kinds of facts that showed where the film industry and the studios were, during the early stages of America’s involvement in World War II. The other panelists, Anthony Liggins and Darin Bush (who was also the Moderator), came at the subject from slightly different directions. So, when we put them all together, it made for a wonderful thought-provoking panel. Again, the audience was fantastic – especially for a 10:00 pm panel. I had been going since 6:45 that morning and the fact that, by 10:00, I could even remember my middle name was just shy of miraculous. (For the record, it was and continues to be John.) Turns out 1943 was a great year for things that go bump in the night. All-in-all, I had more fun than anyone has the right to, at both of the panels I sat on and the other panels I attended as an audience member.

Happily, I just got word that the dates for the 2024 Monsterama are August 9-11, at the Atlanta Hilton Northeast! Featured guests include Victoria Vetri, Martine Beswick, Clint Howard, Zandor Vorkov, Elizabeth Shepherd and Sam Irvin. It promises to be their best Convention yet.

So one question remains; Have you booked yet? I met some new friends at Monsterama. Friends I can see having for life. What are you waiting for?

SIDE NOTE: The hotel restaurant has a smash burger on the menu that I’d sign in blood on the dotted line for. (And their fries are pretty damned fine, too.)

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

Check out the Monsterama websitehttps://monsteramacon.com

. . . . .

WHAT? ME WORRY?

by Richard J. Schellbach

I’ve always had an impressive memory when it comes to all things trivial. Mind you, I make that statement as a 67-year-old man who can still remember where I saw most movies, where I bought most horror magazines and books... and the exact stores where I bought pretty much all of the 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, Beta, VHS, Video Discs, LaserDiscs, DVDs and Blu-Rays I’ve purchased over the course of my movie-collecting life. No kidding! I first saw Night Of The Living Dead, with Equinox, at the Strand Theater in Hamden, CT. I bought my first issue of Famous Monsters Of Filmland at a truck stop in Georgia, while on a family car trip to Florida. I found the first edition Return Of The Living Dead paperback at Waldenbooks at the Westfarms Mall in New Britain, CT. I got the VHS of The House That Dripped Blood at a small grocery store in a tiny town called Rackerby, CA. See what I mean? And I can do that with pretty much everything movie and book related. I’m well aware that those particular sets of skills will get you absolutely zilch in the real world. But as anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in the world of the real… but I do spend a ton of my life in the world of the reel. (You know, because movies used to come on reels that… Oh never mind!)

I’m a guy who loves a great movie - no matter what the genre – but especially a great horror movie. So you, dear reader, might ask yourself from time to time, “Why in the wide blue yonder does Rich love Friday The 13th movies so damned much? I mean, what gives?” And you’d be right to ask. Let’s face it, even when we’re talking about the original 1980 Friday The 13th, you’d have to admit that it makes very few top ten lists. It’s not quite as artsy as Argento’s Suspiria or even Carpenter’s Halloween or as breakthrough as Psycho and Night Of The Living Dead. It’s more of a straightforward, down-and-dirty, solid horror flick. A really good steak at a paper napkin restaurant.

So, what’s the mad love for F13 about?

Well, let me start with a personal fact: My paternal Grandfather, the first of my family to step foot in America, left Germany on the USS Columbus, on May 5th 1927. He arrived in New York on May 13, 1927… FRIDAY the 13th!!! That’s no bullshit. Now, does that have anything to do with my unnatural love of the franchise? I have no earthly idea.

I think it’s more likely this; I have mad respect for an artistic property where people sit around a table, during the planning stages, and say things like, “Have we killed anyone with lawn furniture yet? Oh! Well then, what about a hibachi? A grocery store shopping cart? Weed Whacker? Artificial sweetener?"

I mean, THAT’s the kind of pitch meeting I want to be a part of. Let’s face it, the only things that concern them are:

1. How is Jason coming back after we ran him over with a stump grinder?

2. How many ways can he dismember and kill teens that he hasn’t used before?

And to be completely honest, if his return doesn’t make sense or if he kills with the same implement in two different movies, it’s not the end of the world for the folks signing the paychecks. Because, in almost every case, the audience is already built in. The name sells the movie.

Okay, so I realize that I’ve done very little to try and sell you on these being worth your precious movie-watching time. But maybe that’s the point. We all watch fluff. For every thinking man’s series on TV, there is an equally brilliant Family Guy, South Park, RiffTrax – comfort food that you can just mindlessly watch and thoroughly enjoy. It’s the same with books. For each Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Stephen King or Rod Serling masterpiece, there are the “lesser” masterpieces of Al Jaffe, Sam Levenson and Bob Newhart. It’s all great fun but you’re not going to find Jaffe, RiffTrax or their ilk in the CLASSICS section of the store. Sure, I think they should be there, but I don’t write the rules. I think lighthearted reading and watching has its place and my contention is that the F13 sequels are the movie equivalent, in every way, of comfort food. There are some absolutely brilliant horror films out there for you to enjoy. Some of them, like Hereditary and It Follows make you think… a lot. There’s nothing I like better, after a cranial workout, than sitting back and watching Jason X. It’s all laid out in front of you. Nothing to search for and, even if you searched, nothing to find.

So that’s it. That’s the big answer to how I, a classic horror fan with impeccable taste in books, magazines, toys, TV series and movies, can enjoy the Friday The 13th franchise almost as much as I enjoy visits from my grandkids. Yes, it’s perplexing. But not as much as it perplexes me that, for the life of me, I can’t remember which theater I first saw Friday The 13th in… And as I already established, I remember everything. I think it was the (Spoiler Alert) shock ending that jolted me out of my seat and out of my mind. And what horror fan, in their right mind, doesn’t literally want to be scared stupid? 

Till next time, Adios! I’m a ghost.

October 2023

F-F-F-F-F-F 13-13-13-13-13-13

by Richard J. Schellbach

. . . . .

Yeah, I know it sounds weird. In a lot of ways, I was a child of the eighties… except I was 24 years old in 1980 and 33 when the decade ended. So… I was, in actuality, an adult of the eighties.

When the eighties began, I had never done any professional television work. By December 1980, I was working on a fantasy project entitled The Crown Of Bogg, that would eventually land on Showtime and help to launch a small production company that I was a part of... and led to five other Showtime Specials and an hour-long show called The Moonstone Gem. I ended up doing practical Special Effects, music scoring, puppeteering and a whole list of other functions. It was a joyous learning experience, and it gave me a ton of first chances and lifelong friends. We don’t all keep in touch, but if they called tomorrow and needed something, I would do what I could to make it happen. We became family, in a lot of ways, and I really do have a deep love for each of them.

By 1984 I had sold my first teleplay to a local independent television station for a whopping $350.00.

In 1986 came ALF. I did some work, on the other coast, for the live action series in the first and fourth seasons, wrote for one of the animated series and did a whole bunch of writing for what can best be described as the merchandising end, for the ol' ALFmeister. Those gigs were each a blast and they gave me my first magazine and book writing experiences. My dear friend, Paul Fusco, was attached - in one way or the other - to all but my first sold teleplay. I’ve said it before, Paul (and the belief he had in me) was responsible for my early career and for me being able to realize many of my dreams. I don’t want to get too Dolly/Whitney on you, dear readers, but Paul, Linda, Bob, Lisa and John, I will always love you.

Let me state for the record, that when I squeal with delight over any art form from a given decade, it’s not to the exclusion of other decades. I loved the rock ‘n' roll of the sixties – especially The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. But the seventies were a big letdown to me, what with the advent of disco. In the eighties, however, with the addition of video, came a tidal wave of music and bands that I thought were amazing and my love of the music scene hit hard again. I just couldn’t get enough.

It was the same with books. I have always had a thing for the classics. My mom raised me on the literary works of Agatha Christie, M. R. James and those wonderful books of stories “hand-picked” by Alfred Hitchcock. That said, finding the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker and Joe R Lansdale, in the eighties, brought me right back to the voracious reader I had been years before.

The eighties were also extremely good for television horror/science fiction/mystery anthologies. Pretty much anytime you turned on the television, there was an episode showing of Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, Tales From The Darkside, Monsters, Hammer House Of Horror, Tales From The Crypt, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and still my favorite Twilight Zone revamp since the original. I took it all in, like I was in a bakery that passed out free samples.

But more than anything else, I loved the movies of the eighties. Home video had popped up and it gave filmmakers more outlets for their movies. And, man, we got a ton of really great stuff. Besides the big ones, like Fright Night, The Howling, An American Werewolf In London, John Carpenter’s The Thing… we got to see movies that we would have missed, if not for our local mom and pop video stores. Movies like: I, Madman, Re-Animator, The Blob, Night Of The Creeps, Pumpkinhead, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, Dario Argento's Opera, etc. I had a good friend who owned a video store and I was in there every day that I wasn’t doing the show biz thing, renting three or four movies at a time. Some really great flicks came out of an era that is now, mostly remembered as a ten-year period where some Halloween rip-off was released on a weekly basis. But to those of us who truly appreciated the creative times we were living in, it was so much more than that. My favorite movie era is still the Universal classics from the thirties and forties but, I have to tell ya, the eighties kicked all kinds of ass on the movie front. It remains one of my favorite movie-making eras and I’m still finding gems from that decade that I somehow missed.

Add to all of the above that I got married and became a father in the eighties and I hope you’ll see why the decade was so amazing for me and while I wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a child of the eighties, I was an adult of the eighties who, most definitely, felt like a kid again.

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

September 2023

I Was An Adult Of The Eighties

by Richard J. Schellbach

. . . . .

Sorry to start out this way, but I have a bone to pick with a lot of you. Mind you, it's nothing personal. I’m not looking for a fight or even an argument. I’m a pacifist by nature. I just need to explain why I’m 100% right and you’re 100% wrong.

So…

In 1985, I saw George A. Romero’s Day Of The Dead in the Cinemart Theater in Hamden, CT. I absolutely loved the film. You didn’t. I thought it was the perfect third installment, because things had gone from the bleak 1960s, with Night Of The Living Dead, to the mass consumerism of the 1970s, with Dawn Of The Dead, to the might of the military industrial complex, with Day Of the Dead. You didn’t. The make-up effects were Tom Savini’s crowning achievement, (along with Creepshow, two years earlier); the script was expertly written (or re-written, if you prefer) and the acting was top notch all the way. It made as much of a statement on the decade as its two predecessors…

And then came the bellyaching.

“Oh, there’s not enough action.” Really? Seemed like a ton of action to me, with the fifty or so never-before-seen kills that Savini and his team of wizards designed and delivered on film.

“Oh, they spend way too much time in the underground complex. It’s almost the entire movie.” Really? Unlike… say… a nearly entire movie in a farmhouse or a shopping mall?

"The ending is too bleak." Really? Did you see the same ending to Night Of The Living Dead as I did? Cause that, my friends, was the crown jewels of bleakness. Besides - and I can’t drive this home hard enough – they're end-of-the-world apocalyptic zombie movies! They're not going to have a spectacular all-singing, all-dancing, full-cast musical number, during the closing credits.

Bottom line, I immediately thought Day Of The Dead was a brilliant film, in just about every respect... and only for the past ten years or so, you’ve decided to come around and embrace it too. Now, people have nothing but praise to heap upon Day Of The Dead. Like I said before, I was right. You were wrong.

But I’m not here to talk about Day Of The Dead

No, this month I’m choosing to write about how, once again, I’m 100% right and you’re 100% wrong. How is that humanly possible that, after nearly forty years, I nailed it twice and you’re still 0 for 2? Read on.

In 2005, Land Of The Dead was released by Universal to lukewarm response. Like the three chapters that came before it, it had a message and it commented on its time in history. It was an unblinking indictment of the 1990s and early 2000s and, like the other three, hit the nail right on the head. It has, what can arguably be called the greatest and most talented cast Romero ever worked with, including Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark and Dennis-freaking-Hopper! Clark’s performance is a tour de force and he really shines. I asked him, a few years back, what it was like to be the face of a movie and he told me that it was an unexpected dream come true. The script is tight, makes a statement about its time, and the effects (this time, brilliantly handled by Greg Nicotero and crew) are dazzling, to say the least... and a precursor to the kinds of zombie effects Nicotero used a few years later on The Walking Dead TV series.

Now, I fully understand why you think George A. Romero’s “Dead” series is a trilogy and not a quadrilogy. That’s right, I know multi-syllabic (and possibly non-existent) words! Land of The Dead was certainly the longest Romero had gone between zombie movies. (Twenty years, as opposed to the eleven between Night and Dawn) and George even said that Land wasn’t a sequel. Well, exactly zero of his zombie movies actually are sequels. None of them followed the same groups of people or even the same locales. Night and Dawn took place in Pennsylvania and Day was set in Florida. Oh, and one more thing; Far be it for me to argue with the late, great George A, Romero but there was one zombie movie that brought back a character from a past film… It was Land Of The Dead! Although no attention is paid to it, Tom Savini’s biker bad-ass is in both Dawn and Land, making it kinda, sorta, oh what’s the word for movies that contain the same exact character in the same exact world? Oh, yeah… A SEQUEL!!!

I realize that those of us who were lucky enough to see Land in the theater saw an R rated movie. So, yes, I had some initial disappointment that the gore wasn’t as galore as Dawn and Day had made us accustomed to. But check out the Unrated version of the DVDs and Blu-rays and you’ll find Land Of The Dead pretty damned gory.

Romero relaunched the zombie saga after Land, with 2007’s Diary Of The Dead (Don’t even get me started on my mad hate for this film!) and the 2009 better, but not much, direct sequel, Survival Of The Dead. So, the original series ended as a foursome, which is perfectly fine with me. I think together they tell a solid story about mankind and why, ultimately, we don’t stand a chance in Hell.

I’ll read this back in a few years, after the accolades start coming in for Land Of The Dead. When this happens, you should reread this column, too. You’ll see that, once again, I was right and you… well, you know.

Till next time, Adios! I’m a ghost.

August 2023

This Land Is Your Land (Like It Or Not)

by Richard J. Schellbach

. . . . .

July 2023

Horror In The Wild - My Particular Take

by Richard J. Schellbach

As I read Rick Patterson's July column, "Horror In The Wild", I couldn't help but wonder if we had been living parallel lives. I mean, although we had extremely different upbringings, we have similar backgrounds, in that our Moms were filled with the love of cinema... and crazy into horror. And while some of their tastes differed slightly, they were more alike than not. Also, Rick and I went through the hard-to-imagine (unless you have experienced it) trauma that only the gory gift of open-heart surgery can bring... over and over (and over) again. But the aforementioned column really sealed it for me. So, although I rarely direct anyone away from my current column, if you haven't read Rick's July column, stop here and go do so. Then get your ass back here, pronto, and take a gander at this one. It's my take on, what is basically the same theme.

In 2006, I was trolling Best Buy for DVDs. Remember when electronics chains actually carried thousands of movies? Checking out Best Buy and other brick-n-mortars was a favorite pastime of mine and one I did quite often. On this day, I was perusing the DVD section and there was a guy holding the Criterion Collection DVD of Equinox, reading from the back of the case. Now, Equinox has always held a special place in my heart since the day I first saw it with Night Of The Living Dead at the Strand Theater, in Hamden, CT, in 1971. And I bought that movie the day the Criterion disc came out. It was a bit pricey, as Criterion DVDs often were. I think this one was thirty-five bucks, but the extras were well worth it to me. Because MonsterKids tend to be pretty damned friendly when out in the wild, I approached him and said, "If you're wondering if that is worth the price, it absolutely is, especially if you like the movie as much as I do. Really good quality and great extras." He turned and said, "Thanks, I was wondering whether to pull the trigger on this. I think you just convinced me." We talked for about ten to fifteen minutes longer about horror in general and all the new releases coming out and parted ways.

Around a week later, I was in my condo complex, across the street from my home, chatting with the mail carrier, Ernie. I did that from time to time and we struck up a kind of a friendship over the years. I always liked talking with him. As often happened, I heard a vehicle approaching behind me... and it came to a stop. It must be someone from a nearby building picking up their mail, I surmised. Suddenly, I heard, "You gotta be kidding me!" (Although I swear I always remember it in Kurt Russell's voice from John Carpenter's The Thing.) I whipped around to see that guy from Best Buy, seated in a Rav 4, staring at me like he had seen a ghost. To be honest, I had the same reaction to seeing him. "Do you live around here?" he asked. I pointed to my home across the street. "You?" I responded. "About six buildings away". I mean what the hell were the chances we met miles away in a Best Buy and ended up living about a football field apart from each other? We both promised to get together to check out some stores in the near future... and we sure have! That friendship has been going on for the past 17 years, and he is one of three convention buddies I go to almost every Con with. In fact, John (His name is John Pace) and I went to the Spooky Empire Convention that I covered on the Pros At Cons page on this very site. We live about 30 miles apart now, but John has remained my best friend in South Florida - through good times and not-so-good times; and even when there are no conventions to attend, we meet for lunch and hit a book store or two. But we have the best time at cons and he has made me laugh so hard that I nearly passed out. There are quite a few stories to tell about our exploits; one of which you'll be reading in the next few months. It's about the first con we ever attended together and trust me, it was far from epic.

To show you how similar (and magical) this story is to Rick's, the very last line of his column can act as the very last line of mine. So giving credit where credit is due, I'll let Rick close this one out:

"So, I say to you, dear reader... keep an eye out in your neck of the woods! There may be a MonsterKid hiding in the guise of regular, boring citizen!"

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

. . . . .

Snakes! Why’d It Have To Be Snakes?

Let me say at the outset that I’m an animal lover. I would never harm an animal unless it was attacking a loved one. So, with that out of the way…

I HATE SNAKES!

And before you take the inevitable ride on either the “They get rid of pests” or the “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them” Express, let me stop you. First off, cats, possums, raccoons, lizards, large predatory birds and the like, do the same exact thing. And don’t feed me any crap about possums and raccoons becoming pests if they hang around outside your house long enough. So do snakes! As someone who recently had some ungodly form of serpent from the depths of Hell, chillin’ just feet from my front door, I’ll state for the record that I felt pretty freakin’ pestered!

Now, I do understand that they are good for scaring audiences in horror films and even some actioners. The problem with that is that the makers of such films and TV shows don’t know how on earth to use CGI properly enough to make them look like… well… real snakes!

I mean, really! Take a look at Snakes On A Plane. Snakes are pretty much the stars of the show. If they were unionized, they would have gotten lead billing over both Samuel L. Jackson and Julianna Margulies! Every single CGI shot of a snake looks cheap as all get-out... I mean absolutely terrible! What’s that you say? “Hey, Rich, cut them a little slack! That movie was made in 2006! That’s seventeen years ago, you jerk!"

First off, I don’t think this is any place for name calling. Let’s at least try to keep things civil. Secondly, I don’t want to poo-poo on your Snakes On A Plane lovefest but I have two words for you; Jurassic Park! Jurassic Park was made in 1993 - a full thirteen years before Snakes On A Plane and thirty years ago, as of the time of this writing – and I’ll put Jurassic Park’s worst shot up against Snakes On A Plane’s very best shot, any day of the week. (And please don‘t even get me started on the snake in Hard Target. It was so bad even I wasn’t afraid of it!)

In plain words, when the CGI route doesn’t work, you’re left with bupkis for a movie. If the audience doesn’t buy the snakes, they don’t buy the premise. And the main reason for the need to use CGI is that about 89% of the American population feels exactly the same way as I do;

THEY HATE SNAKES!

The vast majority of folks flat-out refuse to work with them! And I can’t say as I blame them. They are cagey little fuckers. You can’t tell what they’re thinking. But you can pretty much bet the farm that it has to do with killing your ass. And they have some pretty impressive weapons at their disposal to do just that. They can bite you and kill you, literally, in seconds and they can crush the life out of you and then ingest you like a bowl of Fruit Loops. But there’s the hidden secret way that no one talks about; The Chest Clutcher. (Don’t bother checking. It’s so secret, it’s not even whispered about on the Google machine.) The Chest Clutcher puts me at risk all the time. Every time I tell someone I saw a snake, they ask, “Was it venomous or just a harmless snake that can’t hurt you?” I usually answer, “If I see a snake and get so scared that it stops my heart, and I die as I’m clutching feverishly at my chest, it doesn’t really matter if the damned thing is venomous or not. Now does it?”

Those creepy little bastards have made me miss horror movies like Stanley, Silent Predators, Rattlers, Fer-de-Lance, Cult of the Cobra, Sssss and about 17.8% of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. But the ultimate insult is that the ninth episode of the seventh season of the X-Files, entitled Signs & Wonders, is just chock full of snakes and it’s the ONLY episode of that show or any other show in the history of broadcast television that mentions my hometown of Hamden, CT… right there on the bottom left of the screen… and I can’t watch more than eight minutes of the freakin’ thing without crapping myself silly!!!

I’m sixty-seven years old and I’ve been afraid of snakes since I was old enough to say, “Holy fuckcicle! A snake!!!” I’m not going to change. The fear is not going to go away, like a cold sore. And since there’s no way to rectify this, at least in this lifetime, I am left hoping for some form of reincarnation situation, after I kick the proverbial bucket. If, by any chance, that should actually happen, can I please come back as someone who’s a bit skittish around bunnies?

Till next time, Adios! I’m a ghost.

by Richard J. Schellbach

June 2023

. . . . .

by Richard J. Schellbach

I have been dreading this one for a long time. If fact, I waited until I had my own website to tackle it, because it is such a divisive topic and one I hate talking about, unless it's with like-minded people.

Well, here goes.

I (long pause) collect autographs.

Wait. That's not the worst part. I pay for them. Whew! It felt good to get that off my chest. (Now if you're not either aghast or disgusted, please feel free to keep reading.)

In the beginning, God created... Wait! Not that beginning and certainly not that far back. Let's say, in my beginning; back when I began going to conventions in the early 1970s, you'd walk up to a celebrity and they'd pretty much sign anything you wanted them to sign FOR FREE! Truth be told, conventions were just an extension of a piece of fan mail - The only difference being that at a show, you actually got to meet the star you admired. It was a lovely deal and a win-win for the fan. I got the signatures of Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, Vincent Price, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Harlan Ellison - just to name a few - absolutely free of charge. You know, just like in the "good old" days. That practice continued until sometime in the early 90s. I took a five-year hiatus from conventions because I was super busy with my writing and, at the same time, helping to raise my son. I got back to them in 1996, when I saw an ad for a Star Trek con, just down the street. So, I went and discovered that the celebs were now charging for their autographs. So, being a full-grown adult, capable of making my own decisions, I thought it over for a split second and decided to pay the fee. I was happy. They were happy. Everybody wins.

That is, until I started reading autograph sites/pages on the Internet, then MySpace, then Facebook... Ugh! I have since stopped the looking part because of the few fans who travel from site to site imparting their "wisdom"; not about the celebs who charge the fee, but the fans who pay the fee. And the last thing I need is someone judging me or my actions. 

Here's my deal, in a nutshell; Since 1980, I have been in "a little business I like to call, Show". (I think that's Martin Short's line. No matter who came up with it, I love it.) I have done Special Effects, made props, puppeteered, written the music for, written the story for, written the script for, written the merchandise copy for, reported on and written about - many of the things you regularly watch on TV and the big screen. Show business has been very, very good to my family and me, and I am grateful beyond words for even getting the chance to do what I've been doing, for almost 40 years. And of all the things in the world that I care deeply about, someone's feelings that I'm an idiot for paying for autographs isn't high on the list. Instead, it makes me wonder if they feel the need to flap their gums this way because nobody listens to them in "real" life. 

Let's go back to a time when Beanie Babies were commanding high prices at shows. If I thought they were too expensive, I just didn't buy any. But what I certainly wouldn't do is join a group and each time I posted, talk about how crazy I thought the prices had gotten and the mental stability of the people who pay those prices. I mean, what's the point and why the hell should I care?

Aside from how anybody feels about celebs charging fees for autographs, what about the "fans" who walk up to the table with 15 or 20 items to sign and don't want the star to inscribe them to anyone in particular? Wanna guess what said fan is going to do with those? The answer, of course, is they're going to sell them faster than shit through a goose or, in an even more macabre scenario, wait for the star to die and then sell the autographs for even more money. So, the star gives something away for free and then, the person they gave it to, sells it for big bucks. Is that something you'd sign up to do? I didn't think so.

One last thing, because I'm getting ticked just writing about it; some of the older actors got residuals for three airings of the original episodes; after that, zilch. Meaning they have no income from being the celebrity you are excited to meet.

Now, if I sound pissy, it's because this subject is near and dear to me and the solution is quite simple. If you don't want to pay for somebody's signature;

  1. DON'T pay for somebody's signature. No one is forcing you to. 

  2. Stop giving a rat's ass if I want to pay for somebody's signature. It's my money, I earned it fair and square and I actually get to decide how to spend it.

Besides, there are many ways to get a free autograph. I use a few of them. You can either go on the web and research where to send autograph requests to your favorite celebrities or use an address site. I suggest the latter. Either way, if you want results, it's still going to cost a little bit. I use Star Tiger. It's a site that furnishes the best addresses, reports on whether those addresses got positive responses, and has a bunch of suggestions on how to get your stuff signed - all for a very small monthly fee. If I were you, instead of just writing a note with a request, make it as easy on the celebrities as possible. They do this part for free and the more they have to do to get your autograph to you, the less likely you are to get it. I send a self-addressed and stamped heavy cardboard envelope, the photo I want signed and a short fan letter, all mailed inside of an envelope addressed to one of the Star Tiger suggested addresses. Some, I never get back, most I do. But these things sometimes take a looooong time. One even took over 400 days. But it was well worth it to me.

One more thing, there are enough examples of star signatures on the web to make the obvious fakes easy to recognize. I never buy an eBay autograph without fully checking to make sure it looks like the real thing and the seller has a good feedback record. If I can't do that, I simply don't buy it. By the way, most of my in-person autographs are inscribed To Richard, or To Rich. That drops their value a ton. Then again, I didn't get them as an investment. I got them because I love my collection.

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

. . . . .

THE MONSTER OF MY OWN MAKING

by Richard J. Schellbach

Actually, I have a couple of beefs.

Now, these beefs may sound trivial to you, but I'm a Geek; and, therefore, into the minutiae of things. In plain words, the trivial matters that don't much bother most people, well... they're not so trivial to me.

Now before you start in with, "Hey, Mr. Richard J. Schellbach, riding on your high horse; The Walking Dead is a simple show about zombies. Cut it some slack, you bastard!", please consider a few things;

  • I have seen literally everything presented to the public on film/video from The Walking Dead Universe. That's right. Every episode of The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Tales Of The Walking Dead, Talking Dead, all of the Webisodes, every San Diego ComicCon panel... So you're not dealing with some half-assed lightweight, here. When it comes to Walking Dead fans, I'm the real dealio and not to be trifled with.

  • I have the entire hardcover books set - all 20 volumes - containing the comic books, from start to finish, along with many of the actual comic books, in my collection.

  • I have met over 100 actors and crew people from The Walking Dead Universe and gotten their autographs, which, along with my non-in-person TWDU autographs, has allowed me to amass a pretty sizable collection.

  • I've attended three Walker Stalker Conventions and numerous others that have cast members from TWDU.

I tell you these things, not to show you what a gigantic Geek I am, (I'll proudly cop to that) but to show you that I'm not some wanker, who ditched the series in the second season, whining that there was too much talking on the Greene's farm and not enough walkers. Those are the "fans" (and I use the term loosely) who should have latched onto Z Nation, three years later. Cause that show was all zombies/no substance - exactly what the whiners were looking for. They had missed the all-important TWDU point that, if you don't give a rat's patoot about the main characters, you're not going to care whether they live or die. I mean, did any Z Nation fans shed a tear when one of those air-breathers kicked the proverbial bucket? I'm going to go out on a limb and say, "No siree Bob!"

But I digress.

The two problems I am having with The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon are:

  1. Are you kidding me with that title? I'm hoping with all my might that The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is just a shooting title. Of course, that seems less likely, the closer we get to an airdate. I mean they're pretty heavily into production right now. Mind you, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back spent all of its production time known as "Blue Harvest". But that was more a ploy to hide the principal photography from an all-seeking public, not to mention a veracious press, and less to do with Lucas not having any idea what to call the movie. (That little oopsie would rear its ugly head with the following Star Wars installment.)

  2. The series' release date... When exactly is it? Don't get me wrong, I am a true believer in the "Shit Happens In Our Ever-Expanding Universe" theory. But these are not first-time Producers. TWD:DD has been talking about a 2023/2024 release date since Lincoln was a pup. (And I mean Abraham, not Andrew.) Yeah, I understand that AMC tends to be as non-committal as two virgins on their wedding night. But TWD Producers have myriad series under their collective belts and AMC is kind of jonesing for their next Must-Watch event. Even if the series wraps in April and post-production takes till June, that leaves an 18-month window in 2023/2024. I, for one, think that they should have the ability to zero in on an actual airdate, a baker's dozen years after they started this journey. So, my question remains, "When can I turn the TV on and watch TWD:DD???"

Or am I just spinning my wheels, here?

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

. . . . .

PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF

by Richard J. Schellbach

Contrary to what you’re seeing on Richard J. Schellbach’s MonsterKid Central and with R.J.Schellbach Publishing, I don’t like talking about myself. In fact, “me” is pretty much my least favorite topic.

Yet, around here, my name is like fly shit… It’s all over the place!

A few weeks back, I asked the Columnists who are going to be entertaining you, here, to make sure their first column got in some form of introduction. The reason being that I would like you to get to know them. And by “them”, I guess I mean me, also

So, less than 100 words after me telling you that I hate talking about myself, I’m about to write about myself. Don’t worry. I’ll make this as painless as possible.

To start, I’m old. Many would say too old to be carrying on like I do. Too old to watch movies and read books that I hope will scare me so badly that I end up in an early grave... or at least an earlier grave. You see, the movies, books, TV shows, websites, etc. that I love are supposed to scare me. That’s their job. I hate when I’m standing in line at the theater, all amped-up to see the horror flick du jour and someone says quietly to their movie companion, “I sure hope this movie isn’t too scary”. Really? Then you shouldn’t be here! You should seek out fairer fare. Instead of hoping the movie isn’t “too scary” you should be praying to the celluloid Gods that said movie is going to make you lose control of your bodily functions. (And, yes, I know celluloid isn’t a thing anymore!) I mean, really! Have you ever heard someone about to see another genre say, “I sure hope this comedy isn’t too funny.” or “It would be swell if this adventure movie isn’t too exciting.” or “Jeepers, I’m counting on this western not having any horses, six-shooters or hats in it. Because I don’t like any of those.”? Of course not! The folks in line all want, in order, the funniest, most thrilling, and most horse-and-hat heavy western movie ever made or they’re going to be as pissed as all get-out and bitch incessantly about exactly what this little night out cost them… right down to the babysitter! In plain words, if filmmakers are going to spend a shit-ton of cash making a horror film, it sure as hell better be scary and if you’re going to spend a shit-ton of your hard-earned cash watching it, they sure as hell should hope you’re going to crap yourself, like a newborn. Otherwise, it’s all for naught

But I was writing about myself, wasn’t I?

Although I’ve had almost fifty tv scripts produced and have written countless pages on horror films, most of my non-horror friends (I have a few!) can’t, for the life of them, figure out why I am writing anything horrific. I mean, my parents didn’t abuse me, they were both great parents. In fact, when my dad died (quietly… at home… of natural causes) my brother said that we wouldn’t have had better parents if we had been allowed to pick them ourselves. And he was absolutely correct. They didn’t ban me from reading or watching or listening to anything that was “the wrong kind of thing for a kid to see/hear”. I had, what can best be described as, a wonderful childhood. I’m talking about ”Leave It To Beaver” Americana. So, those who look for the kinds of depraved reasons that one would write about horror, need not waste anymore time. There’s simply no there, there.

Dad liked thinking-man’s science fiction movies and Mom loved horror. Well, Mom liked every genre of movie. But horror and mystery were her two favorites. The old stuff, the new stuff… it didn’t matter to her. A good movie was a good movie.

I fell deeply in love with all things cinematic at The Strand Theater in Hamden, Ct. (And occasionally at The Whitney Theater, when I could ride my bike the extra two miles.) I caught the writing and cinematography bug at Hamden High School.

And because we lived in CT, we got all of the NYC stations, albeit a bit snowy, at times. So, I grew up on all the good stuff; Chiller Theatre on WPIX 11, (hosted by Zacherle, in the early days) Creature Features on WNEW 5, Fright Night on WWOR 9, The CBS Late Movie on WABC 7, The 4:30 Movie… You name it, it was all there for me. Hell, we’d even get in some Massachusetts stations if the atmospheric pressure, or whatever they called it, was just right.

I’ve been going to horror and science fiction conventions since 1973. They actually knew me at the Hotel Commodore and Americana Hotel in NYC. I was there that often. I still do five, or so, “Cons” per year. They are the only places I feel 100% “Me”. And the fans and celebrities there are among the loveliest people you’re likely to meet. (I know. You wouldn’t think so, right?)

I am a father, grandfather, husband, and friend to a whole gaggle of folks; all of whom I love dearly. I'm a rabid fan of The Outer Limits, a movie collector, movie site visitor and I own complete collections of Famous Monsters Of Filmland (1.0) and Castle Of Frankenstein Magazines, along with quite a few others... Oh, and I paid to see Halloween, in the theater, fifty-six times - Not the sequels. Although I did see all of those in the theater, too. I mean I paid to see the 1978 Halloween, 56 times. (Thank God money grows on trees, right?)

And, this brings us to the end of our Richard J. Schellbach tutorial. Well, the partial end. I mean, if you don’t learn more about me in the coming columns, I’m not doing my job.

Why not stick around? There’s so much more to come.

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

. . . . .

. . . . .

by Richard J. Schellbach

I HAVE A BEEF WITH "THE WALKING DEAD: DARYL DIXON"

AND I WANT ANSWERS, DAMN IT!

February 2023

Do you remember where you were on May 25, 1983? Because I do. (I mean where I was. I have utterly no idea where you were, unless your name is Paul Fusco, Linda Fusco, Lisa Buckley or Bob Fappiano.)

May 25, 1983 was a beautiful Spring/Summer day in Boston Massachusetts. I remember it like it was forty years ago... because it was. You see, Imagicom - the company of five main players, that I was a part of - was in Boston, shooting a kid's TV holiday Special for the Showtime Network at the Century III Teleproductions facility. It was a busy shoot, but the five of us had decided that, because Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi was opening that day, we were going to take the afternoon and see the opening show. Paul, the leader of our little band, dropped me off at the theater at around 10:00am, because I had volunteered to stand in line and get tickets for everyone. By the time I got the tickets, the first show had already begun. So, I purchased tickets for the 3:25pm showing and waited for the others to arrive.

We were about four minutes into the movie when the first beer bottle began rolling down the floor towards the screen, hitting every metal seat leg, on the way down. What followed were 127 minutes of a beer bottle barrage, followed by thick cigar smoke, pot smoke, cat calls (every time a female passed their row) and loud talk about anything and everything, except for the movie the rest of us were trying to watch. Paul and I each separately went to complain to someone in charge, but no one ever came to do anything about it. They already had our money. What did they care?

That was the exact day that I decided that things had gone too far and that I wasn't going to the theater to see everything anymore. I would go for special occasions, to see special movies, to go with special friends. But that was it. The very few times I broke my own rule ended in a shitty experience. When I went, alone, to see the first showing of Halloween Resurrection (Don't you dare judge me!!!) the only other person in the theater was a woman whose phone rang during the pre-movie trailers. She answered and remained on the phone for the entire run of the film. Once the movie ended, she said "Goodbye" and hung up. Now, early on I had turned and glared at her. Then I actually shushed her. When I did that, she screamed, "Do you mind? I'm on the phone!" Dumbfounded, I just turned around and tried to enjoy the movie. I sure as shit wasn't going to tell the manager. I'd wasted that time before. That just about did it. I had only gone to the theater a few times since May 25, 1983. This didn't do anything to break my desire to stay away. The movie-going experience had always been a certain kind of magic to me. That magic was gone. Besides, a few months before seeing Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi, I had gotten my first VHS VCR. I didn't need to rely on the theater quite so much. 

Problem solved?

Not so much.

I mean, yeah, not having to put up with assholes who don't give a crap about movies and act accordingly was fantastic! And not having to wait for my favorite movies to come on HBO or Showtime was great! But it took a long, long time for the DVD, Blu-rays and 4k discs and the UHD TVs to get to where I was satisfied with the quality needed to turn my old theater experiences into new home theater experiences. 

Unfortunately, other technologies and my age caught up with my home theater. Now, I can be equally interrupted by my computer, my laptop, my tablet or my cell phone... Hell, even my Kindle Fire! They have me working the pause button on the remotes, like fucking castanets! Ask any Writer or Director on the face of the earth if they were hoping you'd pause their masterpiece 47 times, during its two-hour run and get back to me on the ones who say, "Yes!" And even if I manage to remember to shut off all of the incoming bells and whistles... I'm to the age now where, when I'm relaxed at home, for some reason, I have to piss like a racehorse, every six minutes, or so. And that's something I can't shut off.

In fact, it has gotten so bad that I have started returning to the theater. But only with my family. We sit in the back, away from everyone else, and my wife, my son, my three grandkids (Ages 16, 10 and 7) and I, act better than ninety percent of the movie-goers in the theater. Mind you, this isn't because any of us ride roughshod over the kids. They instinctively know to behave in a movie theater. They have fun, we have fun and even when the movie isn't quite what it was cracked up to be, we still manage to have a good time... and, for some unknown reason, I never have to pee there - even during the 175-minute runtime of The Batman!

Problem solved?

Still no. The answer lies somewhere in between the movie theater and the home theater. But, at least, I am a bit happier now. Besides, it's been a long time since I've wished petulance and disease on someone in the audience, who's watching the same movie I've paid to see.

Progress.

Till next time, Adios! I'm a ghost.

. . . . .

March 2023

January 2023

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

Now, if you want to talk sub-genres or special effects, atmosphere, film score, make-up, or even actors and actresses; then the decision gets a tad easier… but still far from easy.

Take, for instance, atmospheric horror movies. Nothing quite beats Pumpkinhead for spooky atmosphere… well, unless you want to add The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, The Black Cat, Hereditary, The Haunting, and a few others. They are all so rich, with the darkness of the subject matter, that just the visual impact of that type of movie is as creepy as all get-out.

It’s the same of every sub-genre under the banner of horror. I mean... do you actually count the number of times you laugh during Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, or Young Frankenstein? Of course not. Horror/Comedies are either Not Funny, Funny or Pee-Yourself Funny. And I certainly have a list of Pee-Yourself Funny Horror/Comedy flicks that goes on for a country mile. So, if I need a good chuckle, I pop one of those in the Blu-Ray player and I’m off to the races. Which one I choose depends on my mood, at that moment. It’s the same for the Zombie sub-genre. George A. Romero’s Day Of The Dead is pretty tough to beat but The Zombie Diaries, from Britain, scares me to my creamy nougat center. So, which one is better? Which one do I prefer watching? Again, it depends on my mood at the time. And that’s not, by any means, a pioneering concept. We all do that with just about anything in life that gives us a choice. Furthermore, we change favorites like we change underwear. The Rockin’ Rib Rolls at Flannigan’s were my favorite appetizer until I had the Buffalo Chicken Wraps at Bonefish Mac’s. My favorite color was blue, until I discovered sage. The celebrity I dreamt of spending the night with was Salma Hayek until… Who am I kidding? She’s still the one. I mean, come on. She’s a freakin’ goddess!

Now, I do like a good Top 25 List. (You know; the kind everybody and their mother does at the end of the year.) I think listing 25 movies that you love, gives a good representation of where your horror movie fetishes lie. And that’s great! It’s certainly better than the “favorite one” question. Well, anything is better than the "favorite one" question.

Look, I’m not telling you to stop asking the “what’s your favorite horror movie” question. I’m just asking, politely, that you… ummm… Yeah, I guess I am telling you to stop asking the “what’s your favorite horror movie” question. Because, if you ask it - even once – no dyed-in-the-wool horror fan will ever take you seriously again! And that's not the way to become anyone's favorite person.

Till next time, Adios! I’m a ghost.

April 2023

When you love books, tv series, music and especially movies, there’s a word that gets thrown at you a lot. It’s the word “favorite”. For the record, it is far from my favorite word. Read on and I’m pretty sure most of you will feel the same as I do.

“Oh! You like scary movies? What’s your favorite?” Now, even though I try not to be, I can be a bit of a dick on this topic; I usually ask, “My favorite what?” They, of course, usually follow with, “Your favorite horror movie, silly!” (For the record, the only three people on the planet allowed to call me “silly” are my grandkids!)

A quick aside: I have bad knees. The cartilage on both my knee joints is what can be best described as non-existent. Now, my father suffered from the same thing when, at age 56, during a baseball game, he slid into third base while attempting a steal. I, on the other hand, somehow managed to destroy the cartilage in both of my knees by sitting on my ass, watching movies for a living. You can imagine how proud I am of that little accomplishment! My point is, watching movies is my jam. It’s what I do.

So, what is my favorite horror movie? Psycho? The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? Night Of The Living Dead? Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat? Halloween? The answer is “Yes!” to all the above. I mean, come on! I am sixty-seven years old and I’m pretty sure my first scary movie/TV experience was when I was around four or five. Now, I’m no math whiz, but that would mean that I’ve been watching stuff that scares me for… give me a minute… carry the four… subtract two, for time served… about sixty-three-ish years. I have literally seen thousands of horror films and pretty much an equal number of movies from other genres, like Action, Comedy, Science Fiction, etc. How, in the name of all that’s holy, could I possibly have only one favorite? Do you (and I’m talking to the nimrod who actually asks these types of questions) have a single favorite food? How about a favorite child or sibling, to the exclusion of others? I’ll bet the proverbial farm that your answer is a resounding, “NO!”

by Richard J. Schellbach

"Favorite"

May 2023