The Old Year Out,
The New Year In!

Hope you all had a great holiday season, and you got all you wanted for Christmas and Hanukkah. Where to put all the new goodies is always a problem. I know it is for me. So before I hide all these new things I got (and probably where I can't find them again), I thought I'd share some of them with you.

One set of DVDs that didn't appear under the Christmas tree was some dynamic new product from the Super Restoration series that were sent to me after the Republic 75th Anniversary shindig on September 25, 2010. These serials in current release are The Green Hornet Strikes Again, The Green Archer, and Young Eagles (from the Fred Shay collection), plus a rare Houdini film called The Man From Beyond from 1922. The Man From Beyond DVD also has a newsreel featurette of Houdini doing his upside down straight jacket escape. These DVDs are mastered on Armor DVD-Rs, and won't scratch.

Warner Brothers Archives has been releasing some great titles lately. One such offering is 1965's The Third Day starring George Peppard, Elizabeth Ashley, Roddy McDowall, Arthur O'Connell, Mona Washbourne, Sally Kellerman (in her second feature film; she had appeared on The Outer Limits television show among others), Charles Drake, Robert Webber, and Herbert Marshall (in his last screen role).

This 60s film noir (1965), despite the color production, has plenty of atmosphere for fans of noir, and a twisted story line with a gallery of bizarre characters that keep the viewers on the edge of their seats for a minute shy of two hours. (At least, they were when I saw this picture forty-five years ago, at the old Hollywood Theater.) Attentive viewers should be on the lookout for legendary stuntman David Sharpe in a small role.

Speaking of David Sharpe, Alpha Video has a great double bill with a David Sharpe short film from 1934 called Crack Up, along with a Mantan Moreland feature Sign of the Wolf. What a great double feature! Crack Up stars Dave as a trick aviator who's in danger of losing his gig due to dastardly forces, and is thrills and stunt pilot chills over the then undeveloped San Fernando Valley. Sign of the Wolf is a Mantan tour-de-force. While the plot revolves around a dog show, Mantan puts on his own dog and pony show that is uniquely his own, and steals the show from the leading players in both a comedic fashion, and a dramatic fashion that only could come from a versatile talent like Mantan, who elevates this film above a "B" picture.

In the early Sixties, there was a period known as the Monster Boom. With the advent of Shock Theater a whole new generation was introduced to the classic horror films produced by Universal Pictures. Suddenly monsters from three decades past were the talk of schoolyards all over the country. Kids were bringing monster magazines to schools, comparing their favorite creatures, gargoyles, and vampires at lunch, while the jocks were bouncing their balls. The ad section was especially interesting to monster boomers. All types of novelties, like rubber spiders, monster masks, space suits, magic tricks, and parachutes, were offered for paltry sums of allowances, saved lunch money, and lawn mowing fees.

The most popular items were the Aurora Monster Models. Kids of all ages adorned their bedrooms with these plastic statues of their favorite Universal horror stars.

So, it's fitting that almost fifty years after this trend began, Legends of Film and Fantasy released this comprehensive documentary on these fright film faves. Written and produced by Cortlandt Hull, this one hundred and four minutes covers the phenomenon of these miniature marvels that enriched so many kids' lives, and produced some of the greatest film makers of our time.

Hosted by one of the most revered horror hosts, John Zacherley, Aurora Monsters takes you on a journey through the eyes of the creators of these model kits: Ray Meyers (Sculptor), James Bama (cover artist), and Andrew Yanchus (Project Developer), among others in this fantastic world of plastic fantasy. Actors Dan Roebuck and Jeff Yagher chime in with their monster kid memories of a fabulous era when all things were possible under the light of the full moon.

On another note, Publisher Mike Bifulco and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leonard Maltin for his kind words about our new book, The Legendary Lydecker Brothers (available on on his web site.

See ya next time!
Jan Alan Henderson
Titles above are available at: (Legends of Film and Fantasy)

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