Saturday, December 14, 2019

HAVE A LUGOSI CHRISTMAS!


Yes, my friends, you still have time to buy the perfect Christmas gift for this unholiest of seasons: my latest book, BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE (written in collaboration with the inestimable film scholar, Gary D. Rhodes)! BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE includes a perceptive foreword by Larry Blamire (writer/director of THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRADARK AND STORMY NIGHT, and THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN) and a striking cover design by Michael Kronenberg (whose work graces the cover of BACK ISSUE MAGAZINE every month).

Copies of BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE are available from Amazon right HERE!!!

PRAISE FOR BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE:

"BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE, by Gary Rhodes and Robert Guffey, critically and wonderfully examines a series of no-budget films made by no-budget Monogram Studios in the 1940s featuring Lugosi that are among the most wonderfully odd cinematic follies ever made--surrealistic, straight from the subconscious, sometimes stupid, at moments seeming to spring from the mind of Bunuel, and in the next, an idea Ed Wood would have discarded as too unbelievable. But, movies always unlike any others, and at their best seeming like fever dreams through which Lugosi calmly walks in evening clothes carrying a flaming blowtorch. I highly recommend this book." 

--JACK WOMACK, author of RANDOM ACTS OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE, LET'S PUT THE FUTURE BEHIND US, and ELVISSEY

"Gary Rhodes has become my favorite nonfiction author, while the subject of some of his writings, Bela Lugosi, has long been one of my favorite actors. Now Gary has teamed up with co-author Robert Guffey to present, for the first time, a collection of in-depth and insightful essays evaluating those lesser ‘classics’ that comprise the so-called ‘Monogram Nine.’ If you are a Lugosi fan and also a fan of old ‘B’ horror films, you will love this book."

--DONALD F. GLUT, filmmaker, Marvel Comics writer, and author of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK novelization

"An extraordinary volume. Rhodes and Guffey refract these films through the lens of surrealism, detailed genre study, auteurist-informed close readings, star studies, and vigorous historicism to name a few of the kaleidoscope of methods employed. This book provides a breakthrough model for serious work on films that have to date received very little scholarly attention.”

--MICHAEL LEE, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma), editor at the journal HORROR STUDIES


"It would require an enthusiastic writing team such as Gary Rhodes and Robert Guffey to bring respect and probing inquiry to these Lugosi films from Monogram Studios. Are the films minor miracles or minor masterpieces? This book is food for thought in that area. For too long, 'the nine' was considered throw-away entertainment. Watch it once, then forget it. The authors of this book demur [...]. I encourage every monster fan to get this book. You’ll love it. The treasure chest of Monogram classics is shown knowledgeable evaluation and context at long last."
 
--MICHAEL COPNER, MONDO CULT ONLINE


"Containing several chapters offering different variations on its subject matter, Rhodes and Guffey explore the films Lugosi made at Monogram with an open-minded approach, an intelligent appreciation, and a historical knowledge. Even those of us long familiar with these films will be enlightened by the further information provided in these essays [...]. The reader's understanding of film history, production, and promotion will be enhanced by this exceptionally intelligent text.

"BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE is a book that needs to be included in any library, research center, or personal collection that even hopes to be considered at all comprehensive. For fans of film history, of Lugosi, of the horror genre, or of B movies, BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE is an absolute must." 


--JAMES L. NEIBAUR, author of THE MONSTER MOVIES OF UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

 

Between 1941 and 1944, Bela Lugosi starred in a series of low-budget films released by Monogram Pictures. To many viewers at the time and during the decades that followed, the “Monogram Nine” were overacted and underproduced, illogical and incoherent. But their increasing age has recast such condemnations into appropriate praise: in the 21st century, they seem so different not only from modern cinema, but also from Classical Hollywood, enough so as to make the aforementioned deficits into advantages. The entries in the Monogram Nine are bizarre and strange, populated by crazy, larger-than-life characters who exist in wacky, alternative worlds. In nine films, the improbable chases the impossible. This book, in turn, chases them.... 



Friday, December 13, 2019

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER

What better way to celebrate Friday the 13th than by watching Sir Christopher Lee expound on the subject of secret Satanic rites? In the following excerpt, from an interview conducted in 1975, Lee discusses his 1976 Hammer horror film TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, Peter Sykes' adaptation of Dennis Wheatley's 1953 novel of the same name. (Coincidentally, Shout! Factory is scheduled to release the Blu-ray of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER only a few days from now.)

CHRISTOPHER LEE DISCUSSES BLACK MAGIC IN 1975:




 

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER / ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER (1976):

 


As for the author of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, Dennis Wheatley's many intersections with the world of the occult during World War II is covered by Jay Dyer in this 5-5-16 ESPIONAGE HISTORY ARCHIVE blog post entitled "OCCULT MI6: DENNIS WHEATLEY":

Wheatley was the son of a winemaking family, and he would cause some stir early in his college days for creating his very own campus “secret society.” Following his expulsion for this incident, Wheatley joined the military, fighting in World War I as a Royal Artillery Lieutenant. He was then tasked with military intelligence and covert operations in World War II, serving in the London Controlling Section. After his war activities, Wheatley worked for British Intelligence and was introduced to notorious occultist and black magician Aleister Crowley [...]. Wheatley, [Maxwell] Knight and Ian Fleming [the creator of James Bond] were the chief architects of the ruse to co-opt Crowley for the purpose of luring Nazi Rudolph Hess to parachute into Scotland [...]. Wheatley, as a high level insider in the Western intelligence elite and an associate of Crowley, couldn’t help but reveal the actual workings of the upper crust, now evident in the stories of the Franklin Coverup, the Dutroux Affair and the UK’s Jimmy Savile.

To read Dyer's entire post, click HERE.

Though never mentioning Wheatley's interest in the occult, Tina Rosenberg covers Wheatley's World War II espionage career in this DAILY BEAST article entitled "The Novelist Who Spied: How Dennis Wheatley Helped Defeat the Nazis" (originally published in August of 2012, and updated in July of 2017):

In the 1930s Dennis Wheatley was Britain’s most popular thriller writer. As the war began, he started a series of novels featuring secret agent Gregory Sallust. Before there was James Bond, there was Gregory Sallust. Sallust is ruthless and charming, a connoisseur of rare wines and rare women. Most important, he speaks German like a native. In book after book, Sallust dons a German uniform and infiltrates the Nazi machine—in one case, stealing the identity of the head of the Gestapo’s foreign section.
As happens in books like these, Sallust pretty much single-handedly wins the war. During a long, drunken night dissecting the map of Europe with Hermann Göring, Sallust steals a document that keeps Britain from surrender in her darkest days. He tricks Hitler into invading the Soviet Union. He dazzles Göring, and everyone else he meets, with his military assessments. His knowledge is encyclopedic, his strategic analysis brilliant. He is a master of deception.
Then at the end of 1941, Dennis Wheatley stepped into the pages of his own novels.
He went to work in Churchill’s bunker—the only civilian to be recruited onto the Joint Planning Staff. His mission was to deceive Hitler. Wheatley was part of a tiny group of deceivers—at one point, he worked alone—who thought up cover plans for Allied operations and ruse after ruse to make the Germans believe them. Their greatest achievement, of course, was that on D-Day, the Allied invasion of France took the Germans completely by surprise.
When Wheatley joined Churchill’s staff, he had already planted himself inside the head of the enemy—“Gregory and I had been looking pretty closely at the Nazis for quite a while,” he told an interviewer. And he had been inventing strategic deceptions for Sallust for years. But deception was familiar to Wheatley on a different level as well. Deception involves first choosing a story—story is actually the term of art—that will be your cover plan. Then you break that story into tiny pieces and draw up a schedule for spooning it bit by bit into the maw of the enemy—which morsel fed by what channel on what date. Not too obvious—give him the telling detail and let the enemy make the connections on his own. That is how to write a deception plan. But it is also how to write a novel.
The deception planners borrowed from fiction, including for one of the most celebrated operations of the war: Operation Mincemeat. A body dressed like a major in the Royal Marines was pushed out of a submarine near the Spanish coast, carrying a letter designed to fool the Germans about the coming invasion of Sicily.
The idea behind Mincemeat came from a detective story. In the 1937 novel The Milliner’s Hat Mystery by Basil Thomson, the hero, Inspector Richardson, finds a body in a barn. All the documents on the body have been forged; Richardson’s task is to find the man’s real identity. The idea stayed with a young Naval Intelligence officer who owned all of Thomson’s detective stories: Ian Fleming.
Fleming’s novels would come later—his first, Casino Royale, was not published until 1953. During the war he was a colleague of Wheatley’s, and a guest at his dinners. That James Bond greatly resembles Gregory Sallust is not an accident.
Dennis Wheatley’s books sold more than 50 million copies over his lifetime. Yet today his books have disappeared: unknown in America, largely forgotten even in Britain. What will last forever are his other fictions—the stories he wrote from Churchill’s bunker, aimed not at millions of readers, but at only one.

To read Rosenberg's entire article, click HERE.

The Pensacola Naval Base Shooting

On 12-8-19, the LOS ANGELES TIMES published an article about the 12-5-19 Pensacola Naval Base shooting entitled "Saudi Gunman Tweeted Against U.S. Before Naval Base Shooting":

The Saudi gunman who killed three people at the Pensacola, Fla., naval base had apparently gone on Twitter shortly before the shooting to blast U.S. support of Israel and accuse America of being anti-Muslim, a U.S. official said Sunday as the FBI confirmed it is operating on the assumption the attack was an act of terrorism.
Investigators are also trying to establish whether the killer, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, of the Royal Saudi Air Force, acted alone or was part of a larger plot.
Alshamrani, who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the rampage at a classroom building Friday, was undergoing flight training at Pensacola, where members of foreign militaries routinely receive instruction.
“We are, as we do in most active-shooter investigations, work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism,” said Rachel J. Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Jacksonville, Fla.

To read the article, click HERE.

Three days later, on 12-11-19, CNN.com published Nada AlTaher and Nic Robertson's article entitled "Saudi Behind Navy Base Rampage Appeared to Live a Double Life on Social Media. Why Were Red Flags Missed?":

Mohammad al-Shamrani has over 2,700 tweets under his name. While the alleged killer's motivations remain a mystery, newly-obtained information about his social media presence offers clues about his mindset before his lethal shooting spree last week at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.
The Saudi Air Force officer was killed after shooting dead three US Navy sailors and injuring eight others on Dec. 5. Until then, his apparent tweets dating back to July suggest that he was a man torn between two worlds: professionally training with Americans, while engrossing himself in radical views that would risk getting him locked up at home.
The Twitter account in his name, @M7md_Shamrani, is riddled with retweets of anti-American and increasingly religious sentiment. One thing that marks him out from other Saudis his age is the unusual absence of admiring content about Saudi Arabia's King and Crown Prince, and a consistent interest in groups and individuals considered terrorists by the Kingdom [...].
A law enforcement source tells CNN that al-Shamrani was vetted upon entry to the US and his background checked again after the shooting "with nothing of concern found".
CNN military analyst John Kirby, a former Navy rear admiral, says foreign students have to have certain military clearances.
In retrospect, it's remarkable that many of his apparent tweets went unnoticed, perhaps, by the same authorities that are now scrambling to figure out how this happened.
To read the entirety of AlTaher and Robertson's article, click HERE.
On 12-6-19, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman (author of MYSTERIOUS AMERICA and many other fine books) covered the Pensacola Naval Base shooting in a TWILIGHT LANGUAGE blog post entitled "'Haunted' Naval Air Station Pensacola's Mass Shooting," which can be read in its entirety right HERE.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

San Diego Weirdness (Ad Infinitum)

From Teri Figueroa's 12-9-19 SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE article entitled "San Diego Man Accused of Simulating Mass Shooting Faces Weapons Charges; Bail Set at $1M":

A Spring Valley man who authorities say recorded himself practicing carrying out a mass shooting from a downtown San Diego hotel room was charged with several felonies Monday, including illegal weapons possession.

The charges against Steve Homoki do not specifically arise from two short video recordings, made in March and uploaded online in September. The two YouTube videos show a man, who authorities said is Homoki, racing around inside a corner suite of the Sofia Hotel, pointing weapons at passersby three floors down, on Broadway near Front Street.

Rather, authorities charged the 30-year-old in San Diego Superior Court with illegally possessing three guns. He was also charged with three felony counts of endangering his three children after authorities said a search of his home turned up several loaded guns they say were accessible to minors.

Although the videos and the simulated shooting are not part of the charges, Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick described them at length for Superior Court Judge Joseph Brannigan.

Patrick said not only did Homoki allegedly have illegally altered weapons, and had loaded guns accessible to the children, but also acted out a mass attack.

“The simulated mass shooting makes the defendant a triple threat,” Patrick said.

According to Patrick, 14 legally purchased guns were found at Homoki’s home. Three of them, she said, had been modified to make them illegal assault weapons, thus the three weapons charges Homoki faces.

Branningan said the allegations indicate Homoki was “an obvious danger to the community” and granted Patrick’s request to set bail at $1 million.

After the hearing, Patrick told reporters that authorities “worry about copycats.”

She noted that the defendant allegedly rented the room and hauled with him guns and recording equipment.

“What he was doing in the hotel is what makes him dangerous,” she said.

The video, given that it simulates shooting passersby from a hotel room, conjures shades of the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, in which a gunman in a hotel room opened fire on an outdoor concert venue, killing 58 and wounding hundreds.


To read Figueroa's entire article, click HERE.

On 12-9-19, Alex Riggins of the LOS ANGELES TIMES covered this story as well. The L.A. TIMES article, entitled "Man Jailed on Gun Charges Linked to Videos of Apparent San Diego Mass Shooting Practice," begins as follows:


Authorities arrested a 30-year-old man Thursday after receiving a tip about Youtube videos he allegedly posted in which he appears to practice carrying out a mass shooting from a downtown San Diego hotel room.
Steve Homoki remained jailed Friday on $20,000 bail after being booked on suspicion of felony and misdemeanor counts of possessing assault weapons, possessing high-capacity magazines and child endangerment.
Homoki is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, when formal charges would be announced. The arraignment would likely be postponed if he were to post bail.
It was not clear Friday evening if Homoki had an attorney.
Authorities identified Homoki during an investigation that began Dec. 2 when the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force received a tip “concerning very distressing Youtube videos threatening firearm violence linked to San Diego,” Lt. Shawn Takeuchi of the San Diego Police Department said in a statement.
Following a two-day investigation, agents and officers with the Joint Terrorism Task Force served a search warrant at Homoki’s residence in the San Diego suburb of Spring Valley, seizing “several firearms” and arresting Homoki “without incident,” Takeuchi said.
“Just three days ago Mr. Homoki was an unknown poster of disturbing videos and is now behind bars, his threats neutralized,” Scott Brunner, special agent in charge of San Diego’s FBI field office, said in a statement. “This investigation is a truly extraordinary accomplishment.”
In a pair of Youtube videos posted Sept. 17 and 18, and which appear to be shot from a body camera, a man can be seen inside a hotel room pointing multiple weapons toward the windows of the room, which appears to be at least a few floors above ground level. Pedestrians can be seen walking below and across the street, unaware of the guns being pointed at them from behind the windows.
According to NBC7, which obtained court documents from the case Friday afternoon, the videos were likely recorded in March, when Homoki allegedly checked into The Sofia Hotel under the false name Stephen Anderson — a name similar to the one he used to post the videos on Youtube.
The Sofia Hotel is near the Edward J. Schwartz federal courthouse.
To read Riggins' entire article, click HERE.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

"OR BOOKS IS TEN" SALE!

To commemorate their tenth year in publishing, OR Books is now having a sale that will last for ten days (until the 11th of December). As a result, you can buy a print copy of my 2015 book CHAMELEO for only ten dollars. Also, you can buy any ten OR e-books for only a dollar each. To take advantage of this deep discount, click HERE!


Monday, December 2, 2019

Louis Jolyon West and the CIA's MKULTRA Project

What follows is an excerpt from Tom O'Neill and Dan Piepenbring's 11-24-19 The Intercept article entitled  "INSIDE THE ARCHIVE OF AN LSD RESEARCHER WITH TIES TO THE CIA’S MKULTRA MIND CONTROL PROJECT":

At the trial [of Jimmy Shaver], [Louis Jolyon] West made only a minimal effort to exonerate Shaver. The airman was found guilty [of murdering a three-year-old girl named Chere Jo Horton]. Though an appeals court later ruled that he’d had an unfair trial, he was convicted again in the retrial. In 1958, on his 33rd birthday, he was executed by the electric chair. He maintained his innocence the whole time.

The trial, which hinged on Shaver’s testimony, might have ended differently had the jury known about West’s past. According to newly surfaced papers from West’s archives, the psychiatrist had some of the clearest, most nefarious ties of any scientist to the CIA’s Project MKUltra. West’s files — especially his correspondence with the CIA’s longtime poisons expert, Sidney Gottlieb — shed new light on one of the most infamous projects in the agency’s history. Likely comprising more than 149 subprojects and at least 185 researchers working at institutions across America and Canada, MKUltra was, as the New York Times put it, “a secret twenty-five year, twenty-five million dollar effort by the CIA to learn how to control the human mind.” Its experiments violated international laws, not to mention the agency’s charter, which forbids domestic activity.

At the trial, West maintained that Shaver had suffered a bout of temporary insanity on the night of Chere Jo Horton’s killing, but he argued that Shaver was “quite sane now.” In the courtroom, Shaver didn’t look that way. One newspaper account said he “sat through the strenuous sessions like a man in a trance,” saying nothing, never rising to stretch or smoke, though he was a known chain-smoker.

Large portions of West’s truth serum interview with Shaver were read into the court record. The doctor had used leading questions to walk the entranced Shaver through the crime. “Tell me about when you took your clothes off, Jimmy,” he’d said. The transcript of the interview, which survived among West’s papers, also showed West trying to prove that Shaver had repressed memories: “Jimmy, do you remember when something like this happened before?” Or: “After you took her clothes off, what did you do?”

“I never did take her clothes off,” Shaver said.

The interview was divided into thirds, and the middle third hadn’t been recorded. When the transcript picked up, it said: “Shaver is crying. He has been confronted with all the facts repeatedly.”

West asked, “Now you remember it all, don’t you, Jimmy?”

“Yes, sir,” Shaver replied.

Though lawyers scrutinized Shaver’s medical history, little mention was made of the base hospital where West’s archived letters indicate he had conducted his MKUltra experiments. Shaver had suffered from migraines so debilitating that he’d dunk his head in a bucket of ice water when he felt one coming on. His condition was severe enough that the Air Force had recommended him for a two-year experimental program. The doctor who’d attempted to recruit him was not named in court records or transcripts.

On the stand, West said he’d never gotten around to seeing whether Shaver had been treated in the experimental program. Lackland officials told me there was no record of him in their master index of patients. But, curiously, according to the base’s archivist, all the records for patients in 1954 had been maintained, with one exception: the file for last names beginning with “Sa” through “St” had vanished....


To read O'Neill and Piepenbring's entire article, click HERE.

For more information about the crimes of Dr. Louis Jolyon West, read Chapter Two of my 2012 book CRYPTOSCATOLOGY: CONSPIRACY THEORY AS ART FORM (entitled "Honey, Did You Leave Your Brain Back at Langley Again?").


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Amazon's Neighborhood Watch

From Sam Biddle's 11-26-19 The Intercept article entitled "AMAZON’S RING PLANNED NEIGHBORHOOD 'WATCH LISTS' BUILT ON FACIAL RECOGNITION": 

Ring, Amazon's crimefighting surveillance camera division, has crafted plans to use facial recognition software and its ever-expanding network of home security cameras to create AI-enabled neighborhood “watch lists,” according to internal documents reviewed by The Intercept
The planning materials envision a seamless system whereby a Ring owner would be automatically alerted when an individual deemed “suspicious” was captured in their camera’s frame, something described as a “suspicious activity prompt.”
It’s unclear who would have access to these neighborhood watch lists, if implemented, or how exactly they would be compiled, but the documents refer repeatedly to law enforcement, and Ring has forged partnerships with police departments throughout the U.S., raising the possibility that the lists could be used to aid local authorities. The documents indicate that the lists would be available in Ring’s Neighbors app, through which Ring camera owners discuss potential porch and garage security threats with others nearby.
To read Biddle's entire article, click HERE.