Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spook Show Week Day 2: Spookmasters Book


Welcome creeps to Day 2 of the Midnite Spook Show Monster Mask Week here at the Blood Curdling Blog of Monster Masks!

It would be a crime to continue the week with without mentioning the definitive book on the subject of Midnight Spook Shows, the 1994 book Ghostmasters written by Mark Walker.


For those looking for info on the book, it has been reviewed many times, including this write up here at the Skull Pumpkin Blog. I will say that I found the book to be a fascinating read, and it's well worth the cost for the amazing photos that grace it's pages. Initially I bought the book as contains some golden glimpses of early monster mask history. I present them here in order of appearance...

The first master mask photo appears undated as an aside on page 57. The photo depicts the Frankenstein Monster and Igor entangled in battle during one of Dr. Silkini's Asylum of Horrors show which ran from the early 1940s through the mid 50s...


The next appearance of rubber monster masks can be found in the chapter featuring Ray-Mond who toured the country continually from 1946-1953. Ray-Mond would stage an elaborate lobby display that featured a mummy in a coffin. The "mummy" was actually a dummy wearing a Bayshore Zombie mask. The photo also contains what appears to be an early Don Post Frankenstein Monster mask, as well as a Hunchback mask too...


Here is another photo of the Dr. Silkini show from pages 81-82. It's difficult to say whether this shot depicts a Frankenstein mask or not. According to the book, Art Dorner, an accomplished make-up man, would transform himself into the monster for the show. "Dorner was a fantastic make-up artist in the days prior to the time when rubber masks were commercially manufactured... he transformed himself into the man-made creature using vaseline, white talcum, and the top off an old coffee can that he covered with black fur."

Page 140 presents what might be the biggest monster mask mystery of the book. Pictured below is a photo of Don Brandon and a Frankenstein Monster from his "Tomb of Terror" show. The Monster appears to be wearing a Don Post Studios "Smooth" Frank mask which was produced for a short time in 1965-66. However, according to the book, Brandon played his Tomb of Terror from 1947-1952. It is mentioned that actor Glenn Strange worked a string of dates with Brandon, and the DPS Frank mask was based on a life cast of Mr. Strange. Could it be that the photo below is actually of Glenn Strange in make-up? A mix-up of dates, or even another mask altogether could be the answer.


Here's a close up of the photo next to a smooth Frank for comparison. It's a tough call, but certainly fun to speculate...


In a chapter on Joe Karston, on Page 152, a nice photo of Don Post Sr can be found...


The book  mentions that Karston's show "...had an unprecedented finale whereby he obtained licenses from motion picture companies to present a series of famous movie creatures... as a result Don Post Studios was contracted to custom make over-the-head masks. It should be noted that mystery artists from coast to coast were ecstatic when Don Post of Hollywood obtained a license from Universal Pictures in 1949 to introduce the first three-quarter rubber false face of the Frankenstein Monster". The book goes on to say that "By 1955, a version of the the Frankenstein character was released, featuring crepe wool hair and a zipper at the back of the mask. Other silver screen creatures were released by Don Post Studios, and these too suddenly found their way into countless spook show programs".

It's certainly worth mentioning that one of the final performers highlighted in the book is Philip Morris, who would tour the nation as Dr. Evil, and also go on to form Morris Costumes, the largest costume, make-up, and mask supplier in the country. We'll pick up Day 3 of Midnite Spook Show Monster Mask week here tomorrow with an in depth article on Philip Morris.


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