Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Where did I get this photo? I curse myself for not tagging the source for some of the Photos I use. My deepest apology to the original poster.  I hope he'll identify himself so I can make the proper attribution. Anyway that's Milt Gross showing off a theatrical curtain design he made for Spike Jones. How does that relate to Halloween? 

Well. lots of people have front doors that are recessed into an alcove that forms a small front porch. Imagine two curtains like this covering the alcove, so a trick-or-treater has to go through the parted curtains to get to the front door.  Imagine the frightened kid having to trek through a dark (or bottom lit) alcove, through a gauntlet of recorded hideous laughter, to the front door. Aaaaaaah! That's a thought to savor!

Yikes! I can hardly make out anything in this frame blow-up (above), but you get the idea. Of course you can simplify things by using a black marker on a white sheet, though sheets are pretty absorbent, and the black may turn out to be gray when it dries. If a color sheet is used I think you'd have to paint an undercoat of white where the characters are going to be. 

Aaaaargh! I don't know why I'm posting about porch curtains now, on the morning before Halloween night. There's no time to make that sort of thing now. Well, there's always next year. Wait a minute...I have an idea that might take only a couple of hours to execute...a porch dog!

Yeah, a big, dumb dog dummy that looks like the Clampett dog above! The body could be a stuffed laundry bag with a beach ball on the bottom. You give it shape with bulldog clips that are out of site on the side where nobody can see them. The arms and legs could be rolled-up newspaper. The head? Hmmmm...that's a tough one. You might have to paint it onto flat cardboard and cut it out. 

How about a cardboard dog (above) going down the front steps?

"Porky in Wackyland" has a bunch of characters that would work as cardboard sculptures.

How about large framed pictures of cartoon characters to hang outside near the door? Here's a caricature of Veronica Lake. Boy, Clampett delivers!

I stole this picture (above) from John K's blog:

How about a large, framed picture of Marie Dressler? That's pretty scary.

I suggest a nearby portrait of her husband, Mr. Meek.

You've gotta have Peter Lorre!

And  Marlena Dietrich...what about her?

Maybe a lawn sculpture made of a card table with ragged tablecloth and dummies sitting all around. Their heads would be distorted print-outs like the ones above.

I love paper bag masks. You can make a bunch of them in all sizes and put them out on the porch on broomsticks. Here's some more elaborate paper sculptures (above) for inspiration. Thanks to commenter Joe Crawford for identifying the artist: Andres at Nice Paper Toys.com:


Monday, October 29, 2012


Three girls who are going to the same Halloween party might try something like this...The Three Bored Beatnik Girls. It's important to look bored and aloof if you're going to be a beatnik. 

Geez, I wish I hadn't shaken the camera when I took this. Thanks to Mike for revealing his p....to Theory Corner readers. Oh, "P" is for porcelain. I had to look up the spelling.

Here are the same girls, only in color this time. How do you like "Darn-Old Duck" in the background at the top?

That's all I have on beatniks, but I do have more pictures. What do you think of this painting by Carl Barks?  I stole this from Michael Sporn's site. Michael says its his favorite Barks Painting. It's one of my favorites too, along with the "Scrooge in the Klondike" pictures.

Michael's site: http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/

Above, old crones from a dark ride that I can't identify. I have a great idea for a dark ride. Maybe I can work it into a story.

Where would Halloween be without spiders?

This (above) looks like an amusement park ride that takes its passengers straight to Hell then returns for more victims.


Can't think of a costume?  Maybe a hat is all you need.

Sometimes (above) it's only necessary to cover the back of the skull. 

For outdoor work on hot, sunny days I could actually see having a hat like this. 

Thanks to TCM we have lots of Halloween movies to choose from. Here's a still from "The Innocents." 

This (above) is from my favorite horror film, "Burn Witch, Burn." It's based on a terrific book by Fritz Leiber, "Conjure Wife," and a wonderful screenplay by Richard Matheson.

Then there's the wordless underground classic (above), "Dementia."

Can you find the face in this Baroque wall detail?

Here's a couple of my favorite sequences from James Whale's "Old Dark House." Start at 49:00 and end with 106:00. I'm a big fan of the The eccentric/elocution-acting style that preceded modern acting styles and that method is vividly on display here. 

Watch for it in the character of Sir Robert (The old man in bed, played by a woman) and the in character called Saul. Melvyn Douglas was one of the finest practitioners of the smooth elocution style that replaced the old style so we have a clash of acting styles that produces lots of fireworks. 

Friday, October 26, 2012


"I guess I leaned too far over the edge of the boatrail. I don't think anybody saw me when I fell into the churning water."

"Of course I shouted and thrashed about, but in the back of my mind I was fairly confident that someone along the rail would see me. How could they not? I was shouting and waving like a madman.

The problem was I couldn't shout and breathe at the same time, so I had to stop yelling. And I couldn't wave and tread water at the same time, so I had to stop waving, too."

"What an absurd situation! What I needed to do to survive, was the exact opposite of what I needed to do to get attention. I'm not a good swimmer and all that thrashing was exhausting. I felt myself slipping inexorably lower and lower under the water."

"Down, down....I thought the human body was supposed to be buoyant, but it wasn't in my case. Every move just hastened my descent toward the bottom. I held my breath for as long as I could stand it then, when I felt I would burst and could take it no longer, I breathed water in. It was painful at first and I flailed wildly again, but after a time I began to feel almost peaceful.

I remember thinking to myself, 'So this how it ends: mellow and dreamy.' I still wanted to live, but I began to believe that the whole problem would be so much easier to solve if I could only close my eyes and get a minute of sleep. Just a minute. I shut my eyes and felt the soothing darkness wrap around me."

"And that's when I heard it."

"It sounded like muted circus music. I opened my eyes and there was...I kid you not...an elephant! He was swimming in the water as calmly and gracefully as could be, as if he were on his way to a Sunday picnic. It was so funny that I would have laughed if I'd been able. 'My God,' I thought, 'I must be hallucinating!'"

"Then, on a ledge, I saw something else...."

"....a dancer! She smiled and waved to me then went back to dancing, as if............. Wow! I thought, 'I can't wait to tell the guys at the office about this!' "

"I sunk lower and lower. There were all sorts of odd formations in the rocks. I didn't know the bottom of the sea looked like this.  It's not what I expected."

"I briefly thought of writing a book about the weird things in the sea that nobody knows about. I'd be great at book signings and it would be an excuse to buy a new suit."

"Finally the bottom was in sight. In dappled sunlight, in a clearing in the middle of undulating seaweed, I thought I could see what looked like people holding hands in a circle. Rock people...they were made out of rock...and they were absolutely motionless."

"A rock man seemed to preside over it, but he was motionless too."

"There was a space in the circle and out of curiosity I entered it and took the rigid hands of the people next to me. I only intended to stay there for a moment."

"Strange, though. Standing still there I was once again overcome with the need to sleep. Just a few minutes. Just long enough to clear my mind. I felt little fish nibbling at something in the coral that had grown on my body, and it was infinitely soothing."

 "I lost my desire to move. I slowly drifted off into the most peaceful sleep I've ever had, helped along by the gnat bites of tiny fish and the friendly movement of the warm sea."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Whaddaya think!? This (above) is the bottom of the Halloween Tree that causes so much trouble in my house every year. I think it's a thing of beauty but my wife hates it. She refuses to eat at the table while it's there. 

If you agree with me, a note reprimanding my wife for her lack of culture would be appreciated. If you hate it as much as she does, well.....keep your silly opinion to yourself!

Here's (above) a reprint of Theory Cornerite Joel Brinkerhoff's superb Halloween picture. Joel and his co-creator could make tens of thousands of dollars off this photo if they chose to sell it to Hallmark (Hint! Hint!). It's copyrighted by Joel and his friend.

Halloween is right around the corner and there's not much time to make something for the porch. Maybe large box sculptures a little bit like the tiny ones above would be quick to make....or not. Probably a lot of thought went into these.

I could put poster-size frame blow-ups near the door. How do you like the one above? Sigh! It would be even better to do the giant fly head as a 3D sculpture...but who has the time?

Have you been to Steve Worth's "Animation Resources" blog lately? He just put up an interesting post about Mario Bava, the Italian director who inspired Hammer and Roger Corman.

Bava had to make films like "Black Sunday" on the cheap but you'd never know it. He had an art director who could make a bare bones set look like it cost a million bucks. It was all done with lighting.

By way of an example, take a look at the picture above. That's a set-up from Black Sunday, the way it looked when lit for shooting.

Here's (above) the same set with the house lights turned on. A big difference, eh? The pillars are painted and the plastic shrubbery looks like it came from The 99 Cent Store. Like Steve says, it looks like a set done for a high school play.

For more info on Bava: http://animationresources.org/

On a different subject, I like to do symmetrical paper cutouts. I got the idea from Hans Christian Anderson who's said to have carried paper and scissors with him at all times.

I'm flirting with the idea of doing a sort of 1' or 2' tall fence around part of my inner lawn made up of white paper sections like the one above. Inside the fence would be a paper haunted castle. How hard could it be to make something that's just boxes and paper turrets? Groan!...probably harder than I know.

I was also flirting with the idea of making a giant, yard-long pistol. It would be similar to the one in the video above, but much, much simplified. I still have a 6' funny paper girl that I made a couple of years ago. If I had the gun, I could have the girl wield it facing the street. I'd hold her and the gun up with thread tied to a tree branch.

Of course, if it rains, I'm dead.

Boy, this kid's (above) really ambitious! Watch out. He'll be your boss someday.