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I have a strong dislike for reality television shows in general. It is very rare for me to find a reality series that I actually can get into. However, the SyFy Channel had my number with its Face Off TV series. The show pits FX makeup artists against each other in competitions that showcase their talents. I can't get excited about singing or dancing competitions, but show me a group of people trying to beat the clock to create foam or silicon appliances to make actors look like monsters and apparently I'm on the edge of my seat. It's rejuvenated my interest in makeup FX. The show reminds me of reading about young up-and-coming FX artists like Steve Johnson, Screaming Mad George and Greg Nicotero in the pages of Fangoria magazine back in the 1980s when I was a teenager with dreams of one day becoming the next Tom Savini (I wound up going a different route, but have still dabbled with doing makeup for the occasional film short or micro-budget production).
One of my favorite artists featured on SyFy's Face Off is Tom Devlin from 1313FX. Unfortunately, he was eliminated from the show this week in a move that seemed more motivated by reality show politics than by judgment of talent. Fortunately, Devlin was shrewd enough to create and star in his own reality series American Nightmare which he premiered on YouTube the very next night following his elimination on Face Off. While Face Off follows an American Idol-type model as a reality show approach to makeup FX artistry, American Nightmare is closer in spirit to shows like Pawn Stars or LA Ink. Devlin's new series chronicles the exploits of him and his team at the 1313FX studio in Alhambra, California.
The first episode, Meet the Family, introduces viewers to the people who work for Devlin in the 1313FX shop: Cary, a former member of the rock band Pretty Boy Floyd; Andrea, who I can forsee more than a few horror fans developing crushes over her subdued makeup-geek charm; and Roger, Tom's dad who has taken enough of an interest in what his son does to come work for him. The opening credits also feature a woman named Jaime, but the show has yet to properly introduce her. After the initial introductions, the first episode focuses on the father/son work relationship between Roger and Tom. Roger seems to be something of a fish-out-of-water in dealing with his new work environment as he scratch-builds a machine to make vacuform molds. There is some tension within this son-as-employer dynamic, but it is easy to pick up on the pride Roger has in his son's accomplishments and feels for himself when the machine finally works as intended. The other thing that comes across strongly in the first episode is the satisfaction the 1313FX crew finds in their work. When many folks out there find themselves working jobs primarily to earn a paycheck, it can be inspiring to see a workplace in which the employees truly enjoy what they are doing for a living.
At less than 9 minutes in length, the show could easily be expanded into a full-length reality series for television with more of an in-depth explanation of the devices being used. It caused me to look up how-to guides for building vacuform machines online. I can see American Nightmare generating interest in the art of makeup FX among a new crop of fans.
[Edit: The first episode of American Nightmare is no longer available to the public on YouTube. Let's hope this is for a happy reason, such as the show getting a television deal. The promo for American Nightmare is still online and is now what is embedded below.>
On January 14, Ohio television personality Barry Hobart passed away at the age of 68. Hobart served as the host of channel WKEF's Shock Theatre (also called Science Shock Theatre and Saturday Night Dead at various points during its run) from 1972 through 1985 under the name "Dr. Creep." If you were a kid growing up (or just a fan of horror movies) in the Dayton, Ohio area during the '70s or early '80s, you are likely to have heard Dr. Creep's signature "Hoo Ha Ha Ha Ha!" laugh as he hosted whatever horror movie was being featured that week. Dr. Creep was also a regular on WKEF's children's show Clubhouse 22.
Shock Theatre intro from the late '70s:
Hobart's show was resurrected in 1999 as The New Shock Theatre and aired on Ohio Public Access Television until 2005. It was during this time that I met Dr. Creep at a horror convention (hosted by another Ohio horror host A. Ghastlee Ghoul) in Ohio in 2004. He and his manager Rick Martin introduced themselves to me following the presentation of my short Lovecraftian martial arts comedy film Enter the Dagon. We hit it off and I spent a good deal of time at the Shock Theatre table, discussing horror history with them. When I left to head back home to New York, I had a DVD of The Best of Shock Theatre in my luggage. I am watching it as I write this and enjoying the silly antics of Hobart and his co-stars (some of which were puppets). It makes me wish there had been a host for the horror and sci-fi movies I watched in the Rochester, NY area as a kid during that era.
A variety of clips from the first decade of Shock Theatre:
I was pleased to read that despite his failing health and limited mobility, Dr. Creep was able to attend the HorrorHound Weekend convention this past November as the guest of honor. A classy move on the part of the convention. Hobart is remembered also as a mentor to a younger generation of horror hosts and the co-founder of the Project Smiles charity. Project Smiles, which collects toys for Dayton area children in need during the Christmas season continues to this day.
Opening Up with A Walk On The Spiritual Side.
A very special night at a very Spiritual Location.
Saturday - May 16th / 8pm - ???
Annette, a High Priestess
Ed Shanahan, a Spiritual Feeler.
This will be a night at the Indiana Dunes area (20 minutes from IL
border), that Annette and I will assist individuals in opening up their
ability to feel and sense Spirits, while walking through a wooded area
known for it's spiritual side.
We will be walking through the historic woods along the Ft. Dearborn
Trail in NW Indiana. Along our path we'll visit the site of the first
trading post established in the area where the local Native American
tribes dealt peacefully with the settlers.
We'll see the actual home and outbuildings of that trader's family as
well as their elevated private cemetery featuring an over 20' cross at
it's center. This cemetery is believed to have originally been a Native
American burial ground to which the family was invited to lay their dead.
Come learn the history of these early residents and become entwined
in their spirit as we open ourselves to them and their lands.
This area Annette knows very well, as it is in the area that she lives in
and is no stranger to the location or it's history.
Those who sign up for this May 16th night, will receive directions to
Annette's home as that is the location that we will meet and more
information on this special location. Also Michelle may be joining us
on this night.
This night is reserved for only 12 individuals,
and some have already signed up. We will set
another date once this one is full.
I'm really into ghosts and hauntings. I have been since I was a kid and I've done alot of research on the subject. Of course I'm also a big Ghost Hunter fan and would love to have the chance to investigate with TAPS someday. Actually I would like the chance to go on a paranormal investigation with anyone someday. I give alot of credit to the legit groups like TAPS that are out there trying to give the field some credibility. As for the skeptics out there, I'll be honest if you take the time and look at some of the evidence and read some of the material that is available on the subject it is very difficult to completely dismiss the possible existence of ghosts or spirits. Anyways this is my first blog on the cabinet but I wanted to say that I live in Iowa and there doesn't seem to be any paranormal groups around my neck of the woods but I do like to crawl around on the internet often and see what other groups are out there and what there up to. I recently found a site by a group that goes by the name of Toledo Haunted Occurrences Research or T.H.O.R. for short and although it might not have as much substance as some other sites I've run across, I have to admit they have one of the slicker looking sites I've seen. They've even gotten some press by a local paper. They have a song on their home page that I don't recognize but I think is quite good. If anyone knows who it's by would you let me know. The site has an almost t.v. show type feel to it. I don't know if there are any networks who are looking for ghost hunting teams to make a show about; but this team seems to have a style that might go over well on t.v.. Here is the link if you want to check it out href="http://www.toledohauntedoccurrencesresearch.com"> I hope I did that right. If not you can probably google it. Anyways, I just thought they had a really cool web site and I thought I'd give them some props for it standing out from the crowd. Check it out and see what you think and don't forget to tell me the name of that song if you know it. And just by the chance that any of the members from T.H.O.R ever read this blog. If you guys ever line up an investigation in Iowa could you give me call. I even know of some places you could check out by me.