Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Clara Chandler Takes On: Eddie Allen’s Haunted Memories

I discovered Haunted Memories portraits after clicking a link at The Horror Channel’s web site. I’m a huge fan of ancestral photographs and collect old portraits that I pick up for pennies at yard sales and at thrift stores. I’m the family’s official Keeper of the Photographs, so the first time I found Eddie Allen’s Haunted Memories site, I cruised around for over an hour.

Haunted Memories portraits metamorphose as the viewer’s point of view or perspective changes. Much more than a mere unsettling “eyes follow you” effect, Eddie Allen’s Haunted Memories really change. Some photographs change from a prim old lady to a vicious vampire; in another, an innocent little girl morphs into a wicked werewolf.
Each portrait has its own back-story. Here’s the verse for “Little Ruthie”:

Little Ruthie, so untoward
Played with Grandpa's Ouija board
Since that night I must confess
Ruthie seems a bit possessed!

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Most of that first enjoyable first hour on the Haunted Memories web site was spent viewing films that demonstrate the effect of each portrait. You can’t experience the phenomenal effect Allen has achieved except by viewing the portraits’ transformation in person, but you get a simulated experience by viewing the films. I provide a link at the end of this article so you can check out the film clips and get an idea.

Truly amazed at the high quality of the products (and their amazing effect), I contacted creator and artist Eddie Allen to ask for an interview. He graciously agreed. ~~Clara Chandler

Image hosting by Photobucket Who knew this sweet little boy would delight the world with his devilish designs?

Clara Chandler: Hi Eddie, and thank you for agreeing to this interview. First off, tell me a little about your background in horror. Surely Haunted Memories can’t be your first horror venture?

Eddie Allen: Actually, this is the first horror-related business I’ve ever had. Prior to this I was just a Halloween fanatic who always went all-out to decorate the house for the trick-or-treaters. My inspiration came more from a love of Halloween in general than from being a fan of horror films.

CC: What are your favorite monsters and scary movies?

Zombies and vampires definitely rank at the top, but I am also fascinated by ghosts and specters. I tend to prefer movies that scare you on a psychological level rather than relying on tons of gore. It doesn’t always have to be a visual that frightens the audience – just having the right sound effect at the right point can send chills down your spine!

Image hosting by PhotobucketMy favorite scary movies include the aforementioned “Salem’s Lot” (1979 Version), “The Haunting” (1963 version), and a little-seen, made-for-television film called “The Woman in Black.” It came out on the BBC in 1989 and has one of the most cringe-inducing scenes you’ll ever see in a scary movie. It is a slowly-paced ghost story but if you stick with it, it has a great payoff!

CC: Present company excepted, who’s your favorite horror writer?

EA: My favorite horror author is Stephen King and my favorite horror book is (you guessed it) "Salem's Lot." It made a huge impression on me when I was a young boy.

CC: You obviously delight in the fun side of Halloween and all things scary. Tell us about Eddie Allen. How do you occupy yourself when you aren’t creating masterpieces?

Image hosting by PhotobucketEA: I manage an old one-screen movie house in Seal Beach, California. It’s called “The Bay Theatre” and it’s been there since 1947. I get to make the schedule for our Classic Film series and I try to feature horror films whenever possible. The theatre lobby features a gallery of my portraits during those screenings, just to make it a bit more creepy for our guests. (Learn more about The Bay Theater:

CC: Although I love antique photographs, I think most people feel a little creeped out by them. Who is “Granny Glick” and how did she inspire Haunted Memories portraits?

EA: “Granny Glick” is the first changing portrait I designed. Her name is a tribute to Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot,” which featured a boy named Danny Glick who later became a vampire. I gave her the same kind of glowing yellow eyes and curved incisors that the vampires had in the original “Salem’s Lot” mini-series from 1979. That show scared the hell out of me for years!

CC: Whose portrait was your very first Haunted Memories sale? Do you remember who purchased it?

EA: I offered my first two portraits for sale on eBay simultaneously. They were “Granny Glick” and “Grandpa Esbat.” Two different customers won them and they are both going to receive a nice gift in the coming weeks.

CC: Describe for my readers how the portraits “behave”?

EA: The portraits change depending on your perspective. For example, if you stand still, they do not change at all. But when you walk past them, either left to right or right to left, you will see them transform into hideous creatures of the night or macabre apparitions! It is a truly amazing effect which must be seen in person to be truly appreciated (or un-appreciated if you weren't expecting it!) No batteries, electricity, or special lighting is required.

CC: As compelling as your artwork is, I have to admit the verses are what kept me exploring your site my very first visit. How did you come up with the clever back-stories for each of your creations? (And if you don’t already, you should definitely attach a copy of the poem to each portrait).

EA: Thanks for the compliment! You’re absolutely right about including the verses with each character. I will do that at some point, but I guess for now keeping them on-line will provide incentive for people to continue visiting the website.

Image hosting by PhotobucketFrom an early age my father instilled in me a love of the English language. My mother was a poet, as was my grandfather. In college I majored in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I guess it finally came in handy! For this project, I suppose I was most inspired by Edward Gorey’s “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” – a macabre book of verses and illustrations which cleverly depict the impending deaths of 26 children – each one named for a letter of the alphabet. If you like my back stories, you’ll love that book!

CC: How many different portraits are currently available?

EA: There are currently 33 different character portraits available for purchase. I just re-released “Cousin Claudia,” who turns into a cat creature. She was available for about a month in early 2004, but I wanted to work on her a bit more. Now I am happier with the way she looks, so she’s back on the site.

CC: Do your customers tend to prefer certain types of monsters over others? I find the skeleton portraits especially compelling.

EA: It’s always different, but I know that the child characters always get a strong reaction - one way or another! I tend to like the kids because they are supposed to represent “innocence” and thus it is even more creepy when they turn monstrous.

CC: Do you normally gravitate toward creating one type of creature over the others, or do particular portraits lend themselves more naturally to, for instance, vampires over werewolves?

EA: I am partial to vampires simply because they were my first real fear as a young boy. Zombies are also extremely disturbing to me. I tend to like monsters that are still clearly humanoid with their human facial features still visible, as I think they are much scarier that way.

CC: I know you love the whole “family,” but between you and me, who are your favorites?

EA: It’s hard to choose one because they are all my “babies,” but I am especially proud of “Uncle Harry” (the man who gets an axe embedded in his noggin). He is my most recent portrait and I think he turned out very well – for a corpse! I also had a lot of fun changing Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” into a vampire. I enjoyed making her hands more “veiny” and bony, as well as turning the background into a creepy moonlit nightscape. You can almost feel the chill night air when you look at it!

CC: I’ll bet Haunted Memories portraits hang in some interesting venues. What are some places where your art is displayed?

Image hosting by PhotobucketEA: Well, I’ve lost track of how many haunted house mazes have my work, but my portraits are featured in Hollywood’s exclusive magician’s club, “The Magic Castle.” They are also featured in “Jekyll and Hyde” – a spooky-themed restaurant in New York.

CC: As far as you know, where’s the farthest away a Haunted Memories portrait hangs?

Image hosting by PhotobucketEA: In addition to being scattered all over the U.S.A., my “Haunted Memories” hang in Sweden, Japan, England, and the Ukraine. I’m sure there are other places, but I can’t remember them all.

CC: Are all your Haunted Memories portraits sepia or black-and-white, or have you created any full-color masterpieces? Do you have plans to produce color portraits?

EA: I have two color portraits available. There is an evil clown painting called “Terrible Timmy” and there is my scary version of the Mona Lisa titled “The Da Vinci Corpse.” I have also done one full-color photo based image, but that was for a private custom job. I do hope to do more with color painting-based images in the future.

CC: Where can folks purchase your work?

EA: You can purchase my work on-line at and I also offer them on eBay from time-to-time.

CC: Do you offer package deals of entire families or multi-generational collections?
EA: I have not done so as yet, but that is a good idea! Aunt Polly, Uncle Percy, and Little Thomas all go together as husband, wife, and son, but the collection is really one large family – the Esbat clan.

CC: I read on your site that you no longer offer frames. Do you endorse or recommend a particular company that creates/provides antique-looking frames to compliment your artwork?

EA: I usually get my frames at Aaron Brothers, a California-based store. I think Michael’s is nationwide and they have some good frames, as well. There is another place called I heard that they have some good deals on antique-style frames.

CC: Do you take your art “on the road?” Can folks go to, say, a horror convention or similar-themed show and see your work in person? (I can’t imagine you showing up to a convention and having to take anything back home!)

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EA: I try to do several conventions each year. My next one is the World Horror Convention in San Francisco, which runs from Thursday May 11th through Sunday May 14th, 2006. I will also be displaying my work at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention in Burbank on June 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. There is also the huge Comicon event in San Diego July 20th through 23rd, 2006.

CC: Are there other devious products cooking up in that fertile brain of yours? What’s on the horizon for 2006?

EA: I have recently released 10 of my characters as 5x7 collector’s cards and I am very pleased with how they turned out. They were produced on a very fine lens that preserves all of the spooky details and they look just great! I sell them for $14.99 each and for a limited time I will offer a special discount for those who purchase the entire set.

CC: Eddie, thank you for your cooperation. I think you create terrific art and it’s been a pleasure picking your brain. I look forward to “meeting” your latest relatives!

EA: I want to thank “The Horror Library” for interviewing me. I hope it has been interesting and informative. I know I enjoyed it immensely!

Clara Chandler: Oh, one final question… if Cthulhu exists, what would you say to him when he reawakens?

Eddie Allen: "You're much better looking in person!”

Eddie Allen’s Haunted Memories Site:

Other Links:
The Bay Theater:
Jekyll and Hyde’s Club & Pub:

© 2006 Clara Chandler - All Rights Reserved

Which Tarot Card Are YOU?

I Am

Which tarot card are you?


Suspended decision. Initiation, divination, prophecy. Turning point in psychic powers. Trust in inner voice.
Suspension, change, reversal, boredom, abandonment, sacrifice, readjustment, improvement, rebirth

He usually represents a time of feeling in limbo, being stuck or being prevented from moving forward. He's usually depicted hanging upside down with his hands tied - that's just what it feels like! We need to remain flexible and willing to let go of things, it's probably a time for sacrifice. Like the man in this card from the Murciano Tarot, don't sweat it, take some time out and be patient.

The Hanged Man

External Meaning: Spiritual awareness and the happiness and assuredness it brings. Sacrificing for a noble purpose. Reversal of one's current way of life. Inner peace. Developed intuition and prophecy.

Esoteric Meaning: The spirit of the mighty waters. Reversing false images. Sacrifice.

Energys: Water

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Clara Chandler Takes On: Monsturd

Title: Monsturd
Tagline: Don’t get caught with your pants down!
Genre: Horror/Comedy/Spoof
Written & directed by: Rick Popko & Dan West
Production company: 4321 Productions
Distributed by: Elite Entertainment
Runtime: 81 minutes
Rated: R

First, let me say that I’m not a movie reviewer although I played one on the Internet, um, just now... I had to give it a shot after viewing Monsturd at the Revenge of The Midnight Movies on The Horror Channel.

This past Friday night I had the pleasure to chat with co-writer and co-director Rick Popko during a free viewing of his 2003 debut film “Monsturd.” I admit I was dubious whether I wanted to watch it. How could a movie about a mass of killer fecal matter be fun? I took a deep breath and gave it a chance.

I’m glad I did.

I even watched it twice…

Image hosting by PhotobucketMonsturd is a spoofy, “Twin Peaks”-y cult classic kind of film. It’s horror-comedy. If you despise scatological humor, you won’t enjoy Monsturd. It is politically incorrect and has no redeeming social value. It’s gross but not as gross as – well, actually it’s pretty gross, but the humor more than outweighs the disgust factor. Think of it as “Jack Frost” meets “South Park.” If you giggle at fart jokes (whether you admit it or not) and enjoy puns -- you’ll give it two thumbs up. I laughed so hard that by the end, tears dripped off my chin.

The Story
Serial killer Jack Schmidt (see, the puns roll in from the beginning and never stop) falls into a batch of evil Dr. Stern’s super-duper flesh-eating bacteria. Jack and the bacteria combine and mutate into Monsturd, a seven-foot-tall killer poop-man who stalks the townfolk. The action takes place in fictional Butte County, California, where the annual chili cook-off – “a really big blow-out” – is scheduled to take place in two days!

Written and directed by Rick Popko and Dan West, “Monsturd” was shot on miniDV using a CanonGL-1 camcorder and has a very nice film-like quality. I was amazed to learn Rick and Dan made this movie on a $3,000 budget. Blockbuster liked it so well they purchased 4,000 copies! The score and visuals are excellent. The soundtrack is first-rate and the original song written for the movie (which plays at the end as the credits roll) is clever as hell. (Note: Theme songs for Monsturd and its sequel RetarDead are available in MP3 format to download and share with your friends. Link.

Image hosting by PhotobucketMonsturd (itself) was created out of foam insulation. The original song "Number 2 -- The Ballad of the Monsturd" was written by Kip Phillips, Dan West, Rick Popko, and Lisa Rein; and performed by Kip Phillips and Lisa Rein. Rick Popko plays Deputy Rick and Dan West plays Deputy Dan. In a nod to a favorite, there’s a character named Johnny Waters.

Some of my favorite dialogue (at least the ones I am willing to quote):

  • “Daddy, don’t go. The number two will get you!”

  • “A giant #2 killed my daddy!”

  • Police sketch artist asks eye witness to describe the monster: “Did it look something like… THIS?”

  • Sketch artist: “Any other distinguishing marks?”

  • How can a turd kill someone?

  • ”We don’t even know if bullets will be able to stop this thing…”

I won’t spoil the ending because it is priceless; the writers are totally cracked. I will tell you the hapless Butte County sheriff’s deputies and intrepid FBI agent confront Monsturd with riot gear and weapons funnier than Ghostbusters ever dreamed of!

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“This is the thriller that does for toilets what Psycho did for showers. Come along if you dare. Just don't get caught with your pants down!”

Tell your spouse you’re buying it for your thirteen-year-old nephew if you must, but buy this movie! It’s a steal at $9.98. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it becomes a collector’s item ten years from now.

Check out the production company’s web site at to view a trailer, read more about “Monsturd,” and check out 4321Films’ second flick RetarDead (tagline: “They’re not so special any more”). You haven’t seen the last of Rick Popko and Dan West.
© 2006 Clara Chandler

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Clara Chandler Takes On: Leprechaun Infestation

Here's something just for fun in honor of St. Patrick's Day. ~~CC

Image hosting by PhotobucketA year ago I discovered a rotten banana in the cat food container. The children threw up their hands.

“We don’t know how it got there, Mom.”

My husband scratched his head. “Sure beats me.”

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe cats lack opposable thumbs so I knew they were innocent. At the time I figured the banana was due to gorillas in our midst, planning to take over the world. For a year I felt safe as long as I didn’t spot long hairy arms or spy large primates swinging from tree to tree.

Then something happened to shatter my false sense of security.

Image hosting by PhotobucketWhile gathering outdated magazines, newspapers, and other objects to be tossed, I came across a long brown paper bag, the kind used to cover an elongated bottle of spirits. Since we don’t imbibe, my curiosity was piqued. I peered inside and found a receipt dated five months previous. Stranger still, it came from the WSLCB store on NE 78th Way in Vancouver, Washington. The receipt further states “Terri thanks you.”

Image hosting by PhotobucketIt’s slight less than 2,500 miles from my house to Seattle so this paper bag didn’t just waft in on the autumn breeze and land in my living room. Of course, no one in the family knows anything about the bag or the receipt. It’s doubtful any of them traveled 5,000 miles roundtrip to purchase a fifth of whiskey given all the liquor stores in close proximity to our house. I can’t see anyone in my family falling off the teetotaler wagon and making the leap to Irish whiskey right out of the chute.

Now I fear a leprechaun is behind this mysterious receipt.

Image hosting by PhotobucketIt makes sense. We all know leprechauns hide pots of gold at the end of rainbows, and they have an affinity for Irish whiskey. Legend says if a person is lucky enough to see and then capture a wee, six-inch-tall leprechaun – a Herculean task in itself – the small creature is beholden to grant a wish, up to and including revealing where his gold is hidden. A little-known secret is that he may buy you off with a gold piece to release him. As soon as he’s free, your coin will turn to dust. How tricky leprechauns are!

Image hosting by PhotobucketTo further complicate matters, the species is split into two distinct groups, the leprechaun and the cluricaun. Leprechauns are shoemakers and guardians of ancient treasure. Cluricauns are for lack of a kinder word, thieves. They will steal or borrow nearly anything under cover of darkness. One source I checked said they raid wine cellars and larders. I wonder if a cluricaun went to the liquor store in Vancouver and gave Terri a magic gold piece for the fifth of whiskey, knowing all the while the coin would turn to dust as soon as he left? Even worse, these leprechaun cousins sometimes harness domestic animals and ride them throughout the countryside at night. Image hosting by PhotobucketMakes me wonder if perhaps our poor hamster Henry’s untimely death resulted from one too many midnight joy rides beneath a cluricaun.

Image hosting by Photobucket This could explain several family mysteries. We could blame Henry’s death on the cluricaun(s). The reason we can’t find our keys? A cluricaun took them. The disappearance of the children’s homework, pencils, odd socks, and even that one pair of tennis shoes are all understandable once we realize evil leprechaun cousins exist. Same with the pizza box discovered under the living room chair last year and the chicken bones I found behind the sofa.

I feel a bit guilty blaming everything on the cluricaun and I still have my doubts. But what better explanation than that a cluricaun traveled 2,500 miles lugging a fifth of Irish whiskey so he could wreak havoc in my home?

Image hosting by PhotobucketSure explains all the blarney around here.

© 2006 Clara Chandler - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Clara Chandler Takes On Dante's Divine Comedy: Inferno

By Dante Alighieri
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe Divine Comedy was written by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) over a fourteen-year period from 1306 – 21. It takes place between Good Friday and Easter Sunday in the year 1300.

Nine Levels of Hell

From Purgatory to Cocytus, Dante travels through the Nine Levels of Hell in search of redemption and his beloved Beatrice. For an excellent breakdown of each of the nine levels, click here.

The Movie

Image hosting by PhotobucketHollywood cashed in on Dante’s Inferno with a 1935 film starring Spencer Tracy as a carnival barker who travels the rungs of Hell. Rita Hayworth dances (credited under the name Rita Cansino. IMDB link.

Art and Literature
Image hosting by PhotobucketArtists and writers alike have been inspired by The Divine Comedy for nearly seven hundred years. This painting, "Dante in the Underworld," painted by Anselm Feuerbach (1829-80) represents the Inferno itself.

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe text, available in many languages, remains a best seller. Written originally in Italian and translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dante’s Inferno is a classic that appeals universally across generational and situational striae.

Image hosting by PhotobucketWilliam Blake drew several renderings of aspects of the Inferno. One such drawing of Lust remains a favorite.

Web Sites
I found an informative site here. “For The Hell Of It” provides a fairly comprehensive overview of both Dante’s life and his work, and a general description of the Inferno and levels of Hell described within.

Another site shares photos the web mistress took of The Duomo in Florence here. I was able to get a real sense of the complexity of this artwork by reading her descriptions and viewing the photos. Good stuff.

Video Games
Image hosting by PhotobucketDante couldn’t have imagined the extent of marketing available based on his poem. I found a board game based on The Divine Comedy. There was even an early Playstation game loosely based on The Inferno. It’s in its third edition by now.

Dante's Divine Comedy: Inferno
Image hosting by PhotobucketDante has successfully captured the heart, soul, and imaginations of millions through this one epic poem. Within the verse itself he acknowledges that literary works have the power to preserve the memory of individuals for all time. Some characters within the Inferno beg Dante to mention their names so they won’t be forgotten. Some he mentions; others he relegates to obscurity.

Don’t underestimate the power of the pen.


What inspired this column on Dante and The Divine Comedy was a test I took this week. Simply enough, it’s the Dante Inferno Test. I invite those of you brave enough to peer into your own souls and learn how you rate to take The Test and post your results in the Comments Thread below by copying and pasting the chart you’ll receive with your results.

Here are my results:
The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Moderate
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Extreme
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

I’m damned to the Seventh Level of Hell which is, the site says, “Guarded by the Minotaur, who snarls in fury, and encircled within the river Phlegethon, filled with boiling blood. The violent, the assasins, the tyrants, and the war-mongers lament their pitiless mischiefs in the river, while centaurs armed with bows and arrows shoot those who try to escape their punishment. The stench here is overpowering.

“This level is also home to the wood of the suicides- stunted and gnarled trees with twisting branches and poisoned fruit. At the time of final judgement, their bodies will hang from their branches. In those branches the Harpies, foul birdlike creatures with human faces, make their nests.

“Beyond the wood is scorching sand where those who committed violence against God and nature are showered with flakes of fire that rain down against their naked bodies. Blasphemers and sodomites writhe in pain, their tongues more loosed to lamentation, and out of their eyes gushes forth their woe. Usurers, who followed neither nature nor art, also share company in the Seventh Level.”

Image hosting by Photobucket…I guess it could have been worse. I could have been relegated to the Tenth Level of Hell where editors constantly reject your work and give conflicting advice on how to improve it. Oops, I’m already there.

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Come back next week when Clara Chandler Takes On – well, you didn’t think I’d actually TELL you what, did you?? Be prepared for a treat. And if you haven’t read this month’s story yet, click to read “The Sugar Blues” to learn which level of Hell Sally Ann goes to. Tell her Clara sentcha.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Slogan Generator/The Horror Library

Stumbled across a fun site. You type in your name or any other text you wish, and out comes a silly slogan. When I entered "Clara Chandler," the Slogan Generator spit out:

Clara Chandler with the Less Fattening Centres.

Just for fun, I entered "The Horror Library" and the Slogan Generator spit out:

He Who Thinks The Horror Library Drinks The Horror Library.

I think that's excellent advice. Go drink some Horror Library. Tell 'em Clara sentcha.