Thursday, July 03, 2008

Would You Believe... MORE Vacation Pictures?

Friday, June 27 -- It's the KALEIDOSCOPE Kids!

Lunch with Joe Dante, his partner Elizabeth Stanley and charmin' Charlie Largent at Musso & Frank's Grill on Hollywood Boulevard -- just a stone's throw away from the Monkees' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (We have photos of Donna's visit to that sacred shrine, too, if you're interested.) They make a terrific corned beef sandwich there, an open-faced job so big I couldn't finish it. I remember Joe taking home half a club sandwich, come to think of it.

I wish Joe was prepping Charlie's and my Roger Corman biopic script, THE MAN WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, but the budget still isn't in place. He's currently in pre-production on two new horror movies, BAT OUT OF HELL and THE HOLE (which I told him will be called ONIBABA in Japan). Joe and Elizabeth aren't giving up on our project, though; they say they have never heard any complaints about the script, but the general (incorrect) feeling is that the story is too Hollywood-inside to be a commercial success. As we all know, it's only insiderly because it happened to famous people like Roger and Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and Nancy Sinatra (quite a cast of characters, wouldn't you say?); the movie's message is as benign as it is universal. At the very least, it's a future cult comedy waiting to happen, the kind you'll watch again and again as you surf it up on one of your cable movie channels. A major Oscar-winning actor-director has expressed interest in playing Corman, too. If you're looking to invest in a terrific film project, let one or all of us know.

Next on that day's schedule was a long-planned pilgrimage to the Ennis-Brown House on Los Feliz. This fabled location, best-known as the unforgettable exterior of William Castle's original HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959), has been suffering some signs of age and erosion in recent years, but we found it everything we ever hoped it would be. One side of the structure, the side overlooking the city, has been shored up along its lower hillside -- but what haunted house doesn't have its signs of decrepitude?

The guests will soon be arriving...

Here's one now. Isn't she pretty?

Donna couldn't resist ringing the doorbell to see if Frederick or perhaps Annabelle might actually answer. She also once touched a Van Gogh self-portrait at the Chicago Art Institute, knowing full well that it might set off every alarm in the place. She's so amusing...
We felt stangely at home here at the gates of the House on Haunted Hill. After all, we've been haunting it for many years.

You can't get this close to the house's "front" door, but a camera with a nice zoom lens, pushed through one of the gaps in the ironwork gate, affords a better view than can be obtained in person.

By the way, Charlie Largent took these photos of Donna and myself. Compositionally and in terms of our expressions, this is one of the best pictures ever taken of us. Seeing these pictures for the first time, Charlie told me, "You look like you know the secret to the House on Haunted Hill, and you ain't tellin' anybody" -- but I really can't comment.

This photo was taken on the side of the house that has begun to slip down Haunted Hill. It might be that very room, judging from the leading of the window, where the interiors of Eldon Tyrell's abode in BLADE RUNNER (1982) were shot. It didn't occur to me to take photos of the repair work underway; perhaps, unconsciously, I didn't want to reveal this grand old building's infirmities.

I was there.

I was never here, but we passed it several times in our rent-a-car and I finally grabbed this shot of it. This eye-catching sign of a Los Angeles tailor shop reads like a Zen koan in comparison to the witticisms found on some of the churches we drive by locally here in Ohio ("CHRCH -- What's Missing? U Are!").

Later in the day, David J. Schow took Donna and me to the famous Dark Delicacies bookshop in Burbank. Here I am in the clutches of the store's mascot, who stands guard outside the front door.

Here I'm making the acquaintence of the store's proprietor, Del Howison, whom I once noted in a review is the only actor to have played Renfield in more than one picture. Del told me that he's now played the role four times, in different movies directed by Don Glut. Anyway, as the author of THE BOOK OF RENFIELD: A GOSPEL OF DRACULA, shaking Del's hand was like shaking the hand of my own character. He's the only Renfield actor I've ever met. We were also charmed by Del's wife Sue, who also runs the store and is camera-shy. She agreed to pose for a picture with us only if I agreed not to post it on the Internet, so I must honor my word. If you want to see Sue Howison, you'll have to troop out to Burbank in your best black clothes.

Earlier in our visit, my friend Lucy Chase Williams (author of Citadel's THE COMPLETE FILMS OF VINCENT PRICE) and her husband Gibby Brand hosted a party for me at their charming house in Glendale -- the approach to which, a blankety mountain range beyond an aisle of skyscraping palms, was literally breathtaking. I left my copy of her book behind for personal inscribing and returned with Donna and David J. Schow on Saturday, June 28 (our last day in town), to retrieve it. It was also an opportunity for two local authors, Lucy and David, to finally meet. I had to smack myself when I got back home and found we had no picture of Gibby... or their excitable mastiff, Ranger. Lucy's a wonderful hostess and friend and it was good to put my arms around her twice this trip. (Although David's doing it here.)
Trivia note: See that uniform set of books just above Lucy's head? They're a set of Robert Browning's poems and they belonged to Vincent Price when he was still a student at Lucy's alma mater, Yale University. Each endpaper is signed "V.L. Price, Jr. '31."

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