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Mattel Launches Monster High

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WOW. The girlification of horror continues with Mattel’s new in-house property Monster High, which looks like Barbie got it on with the entire Universal Monsters roster and these are her little tween babies! Hey, we are furthering the spread of horror anyway we can, right? Right? Ahhh … loosen up.

From the Press Release
For the first time in company history, Mattel will roll out a new intellectual property, Monster High, across a number of diverse consumer products categories simultaneously at launch. This new franchise targeting tween and teen girls brings together the hip teenage descendants of the world’s most famous monsters to brave the trials and tribulations of high school. The property delivers rich content and relatable storytelling via publishing, web, animation and live-action theatrical entertainment and launches consumer products in notable categories including apparel and accessories and toys. Mattel has partnered with best-in-class category experts including Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, best-selling author Lisi Harrison, Universal Pictures, Justice and Party City to bring this property to life.

“We know tween and teen girls need to immerse themselves in stories and worlds as they engage in new properties and trends,” said Tim Kilpin, General Manager of Mattel Brands. “With Monster High we are confident that through the development of relatable characters and clever storytelling, this property will resonate with girls of all ages.”

Grounded in a fun and humorous storyline, the frighteningly fashionable students at Monster High capture all the awkward moments that teens experience in their high school years, the powerful bonds of friendship and the challenges of fitting in – all delivered through a “monster” chic aesthetic and tone.

Monster High reaches girls via a line up of all–star products and partnerships enabling teens and tweens to discover the brand in their own way and engage with the Monster High characters and storyline through multiple points of entry.

“Understanding the need for multiple touch points to successfully engage today’s complex tween, the rich characters and storyline of Monster High made the brand the ideal property with which to launch our new franchise model – a sustainable business strategy that we believe is the future of brand management,” said Kilpin.

The robust offerings and impressive first-year partner roster for Monster High include:

Monster High Book Series by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers:

• Publishing: Fitting in is out and freaky is about to get fabulous! Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Mattel have entered into a multi-year, multi-book global partnership to publish a series of books written by #1 New York Times best-selling young adult author Lisi Harrison (The Clique, Alphas). Monster High, the first book in the series, goes on sale September 1, 2010.

Online and Entertainment:

• Live-Action Feature Film with Universal Pictures: Bringing the Monster High characters to the big screen, Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to create a live-action theatrical musical. Award-winning producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray, Chicago) will team with writing pair Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (“Smallville,” The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) on the film.

• Monster High Website: The Monster High website offers an interactive platform to further explore the world of Frankie Stein™ and all of her freakishly fashionable friends. The site features scary cool games and activities rolling out throughout 2010, as well as introduces the characters of Monster High through original animated webisodes and witty bios highlighting their personality traits, “freaky flaws” and monster heritage.

• Animated Webisodes: Mattel has developed a series of short animated webisodes which highlight the trials and tribulations of a group of monster chic teens that come face-to-face with the awkward, yet relatable, moments of high school. New webisodes rollout on monsterhigh.com each Friday through the end of July 2010.

• Animated Special Featuring Music by “American Idol” Allison Iraheta: Mattel will develop a 30-minute animated special with music from Allison Iraheta, season eight “American Idol” star, whose pop-goth style is a natural fit for the brand. Iraheta’s songs “Scars” and “Friday I’ll Be Over You” touch on the challenges of “fitting in,” a recurring theme within the Monster High property. The special is set to air this fall on a variety of mediums including online, broadcast and mobile. (Fall 2010)

Apparel and Accessories:

• Apparel with Justice®: Just in time for the back-to-school shopping season, Mattel has partnered with Justice to launch a full line of Monster High products for tweens. The edgy, fashion-forward offerings include apparel, lifestyle accessories, back-to-school items and jewelry. Justice will also feature Monster High and its webisodes on the Tween Network in-store media screens, brand ads, the Justice catazine and on the company’s website. (Available in store July 2010)

• Costumes with Party City: An exciting partnership and extremely
organic extension for Monster High, Mattel has partnered with Party City to launch tween and teen character costumes for Frankie Stein™, Clawdeen Wolf™ and Draculaura™ complete with wigs. (Available September 2010 exclusively at Party City)

• Licensed Consumer Products Partners: High IntenCity, Accessory Innovations, Ashko Group and ACI International have each designed a line of freaky chic products from fashion bags, hair accessories and jewelry to socks and slippers that mix edgy fashion with softer lace and charm accents to give tween girls killer style. (Available in Fall 2010)

Toys:

• Mattel Toy Line: Mattel introduces a multi-category toy line, anchored in a collection of drop dead gorgeous fashion dolls, which also includes Monster High-themed plush, electronics, role play and novelty items. (Available at mass retailers July 2010.)

Please visit MonsterHigh.com for more information.

Mattel Launches Monster High

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Summary

Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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