LETTERS  PCR #385      (August 6--12, 2007)

  • Fantastic Films Magazine Contacts Andy Lalino (and Andy Lalino responds)
  • Reader and Andy on Midnight Movies (and Andy Lalino responds)
  • Actress From "Blood of Dracula's Castle" Makes Contact!

    Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


    Dear Andy,
    What a nice tribute to Fantastic Films magazine :). (Likely Re: Odds, PCR #275 --Nolan) I was the editor/publisher and co-owner of FF with Mike Stein from 1978 til its demise in 1985, though Mike took over those responsibilities after a few years. Mike is still publishing FilmFax, I think.

    Anyway, it was a nice tribute to what was to us a labor of love every issue :) Of course, the great graphics and layouts were entirely due to Mike, a brilliant art director. All I have done lately is publish a spiritual fantasy adventure tale about the Sufi path called Master of the Jinn. Also a labor of love :)

    Best regards,
    Irving Karchmar


    Hello Mr. Karchmar,
    Wow! It was a thrill to receive your e-mail, and I'm glad you liked the coverage of Fantastic Films I did for the Crazed Fanboy website!

    Let me take the opportunity to thank you for many years of great reading. I loved FF during the time it was published, and though I do not own every single issue, I have many, and enjoy taking them out for a spin now in 2007 and revisiting all the great articles, editorials, interviews and photographs.

    Both you and Mike sure did an amazing job producing FF back in the '70s and '80s. I can even vividly remember where I purchased some of the editions. FF came along at a time when science-fiction, fantasy, and horror were a perfect storm of cinematic entertainment, and the magazine always refected the respectfulness and quality such an era richly deserves.

    Thanks for the link to your "Master of the Jinn" website - it looks like a really good novel. To a fan, it's always interesting to discover what creative endeavors the key players in the genre have been doing. I also visited your Wikipedia entry.

    I hope to do more retrospectives on individual issues of FF for Crazed Fanboy, and in light of your letter, I'm sure I'll be doing one soon. Incidentally, I'm a FilmFax fan as well.

    Would it be okay with you if Nolan Canova, the creator of Crazed Fanboy, published your letter on the website? Thanks in advance, and it was a pleasure meeting you, and I hope we can stay in touch!

    -- Andy Lalino
    Clearwater, FL


    Hello Andy,
    I am currently writing a book and making a DVD documentary about Steven Arnold., San Francisco multi-media artist. I was in San Francisco in 1969 and met Kenneth Anger when I was art directing an underground magazine. I also came met The Cockettes who did their first onstage at the Palace Theater (North Beach) where Steven Arnold had been hosting Midnight Movies there for over a year. He showed the Freaks top audiences that included Janis Joplin, Truman Capoted, Tennessee Williams, John Waters and Divine.

    In my chronology about Steven (stevenarnold.net), I am saying that he was the first to host Midnight Movies. In fact he also showed Midnight Movies at his studio on 17th Street in the Mission a year before that. So I was wondering if you had any input that I might want to acknowledge.

    Please let me know when you have a moment if you have anything more I would want to know.

    Thank you,
    Stephanie Farago
    Director: Steven Arnold Archives
    Haiku, Hawaii


    Hello, Stephanie,
    Thanks so much for writing and reading Oddservations on Crazed Fanboy. Sorry it’s been a few days getting back with you, but I wanted to take the time to research a few of the things you mentioned in your e-mail.

    First off, congratulations on your upcoming book and documentary about Steven Arnold. Here in Tampa Bay in the early ‘90s, a local avant-garde theater/gallery (The Beaux Arts - no longer in existence) exhibited a Kenneth Anger film screening series, which was my formal introduction to his work. They screened most of his short films: Fireworks, Eaux d’ Artifice, Lucifer Rising, Inauguration of the Pleasuredome, Rabbit’s Moon, and others (on Halloween, no less!). Previously, I had heard of Anger via mentions in film theory periodicals, but was only aware of his more notable works, such as Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kommandos. I later learned Anger was a co-founder of the Church of Satan (presumably started in San Francisco in the 1960’s) with Anton Szandor LaVey and author of “Hollywood Babylon”.

    Very interesting to note that Arnold hosted Midnight Movies at North Beach. Yes, Tod Browning’s Freaks was a popular Midnight Movie offering. It’s amazing when you consider how enthusiastic ‘70s movie fans were to see movies made in the 30’s (Reefer Madness and Maniac are other examples). It wasn’t unusual to have celebrity appearances at Midnight Movies; in NYC it is documented that John Lennon attended a screening of El Topo, as did many other noted actors/musicians/filmmakers of the time.

    My personal experience in viewing a true ‘70s-era Midnight Movie is limited, as I attended most of my midnight screenings in the early/mid ‘80s (I wasn’t old enough to see a rated R movie in the ‘70s), but they came very close to the outrageous spirit of the real deal. I’d have to say in defense of the early 1980’s, both independent and chain theaters made a noble effort to host midnight screenings by exhibiting ‘70s standbys (Flesh Gordon, Equinox, Rocky Horror, Eraserhead) as well as the new breed (Heavy Metal, Liquid Sky, Pink Floyd: The Wall).

    That being said, however, midnight events were a staple in the movie exhibition business for a long time, most notably being the midnight Spook Shows that were extremely popular from the ‘30s to the ‘60s. Influential credit can also be attributed to horror films broadcast at midnight (complete with horror host) on TV, roadshow cinema, and underground gay cinema midnight screenings in the mid-‘60s (Warhol, Flaming Creatures). It’s my belief that in the ‘70s, avant-garde/exploitative Midnight Movies replaced the Spook Show, for all intents and purposes. According to most sources, El Topo was the film that kicked off the Midnight Movie craze in 1970, but that is debatable. Steven Arnold is actually credited in Wikipedia (look under “Midnight Movies”) as one of the possible originators of the phenomenon (with Michael Wiese), and cites his “Dali-esque’ film Messages as the film that sparked interest. Wikipedia states Arnold’s screenings were in 1968; two years before El Topo was released as a Midnight Movie. I would not be surprised if Arnold screened Salvador Dali’s 17 minute Un Chien Andalou or Anger’s bizarre shorts as well.

    Interesting to note that, presumably in 1969, Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother played midnight screenings at the Elgin Theater on the other coast in New York City. Again, this screening pre-dates El Topo. That’s not surprising, however; typically many phenomenons have a “lead in” before they become popular, in this case it seems like it was largely due to Arnold’s efforts, as well as those of Jonas Mekas of the Elgin.

    So, it’s looking very much like Arnold actually pioneered what we know as the Midnight Movie, and I thank you so much for bringing this artist to my attention. Curiously, Arnold is not mentioned (nor is Messages) in what I consider to be the ultimate reference on the subject: “Midnight Movies” by J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, nor in Kenneth Anger’s biography “Anger” by Bill Landis, so it was a little tough trying to track down info about him outside stevenarnold.com and Wikipedia. You may also want to look out for “Midnight Movies: From Margin to the Mainstream” an excellent two hour doc on the Midnight Movie craze of the ‘70s.

    Thanks again Stephanie, I hope I was some help, and may your Steven Arnold book and documentary enjoy much success!

    -- Andy Lalino
    Clearwater, FL


    Re: Blood of Dracula's Castle. I was one of the girl's hanging in the castle's dungeon. I am the one with the long dark hair, torn black dress, who screams, "Look Out!"

    Had no idea that Al Adamson's films had a following or had become part of pop culture, until I checked the internet the other day and found so many web sites.

    Tricia Anderson

    Dear Tricia,
    Hello and thanks so much for writing! I am delighted you stumbled upon us and extremely honored you took the time to write.

    We are all fans of yours and Al Adamson's, definitely. I hope you are doing well.

    Please check back with us, we talk about these kinds of movies all the time!

    Yours in fandom,
    Nolan B. Canova
    Tampa, FL

    To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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