Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rangeley robot monster attacks!

Back in early August 1960, newspapers across the nation screamed with headlines about the goings-on in Rangeley, Maine.
These were some of the superlative titles given to articles about the incident. But what happened?

Waitress Barbara Brackett had stepped into the walk-in refrigerator at Doc Grant's Restaurant on Main Street. As she moved through the cooler, she brushed up against something. The next thing she knew, she was in a scifi horror movie, with a giant, hideous monster robot grinding away a mere hairsbreadth from her. Sensibly, she ran screaming out the door, through the restaurant, and out onto the street. About 25 customers, no doubt startled by the shrieks and abrupt retreat of their hostess, followed suit. Apparently most of downtown Rangeley wanted to get in on the action, because by the time Deputy Sheriff Ronald "Pete" Durrell arrived, he was surprised to find himself tasked with enacting crowd control on a mob of about 150 people.
James Marshall and his hulking green creation!
Clearer heads prevailed eventually, and it was discovered that James Marshall was the mad inventor responsible for the behemoth that started the panic. The monster, happily described by its creator as "hideous and horrible," was in the walk-in fridge to test its ability to withstand low temperatures.

Poster from one of Dr. Evil's Rangeley
appearances, sometime in the 1960s.

Marshall had great plans for the beast, which he had spent the last couple of years-worth of his spare time to assemble. He had designed it to be featured in Dr. Evil's traveling spookshow, "Terrors of the Unknown." This roadshow made its way across the U.S. and Canada starting in 1953 and going steadily through much of the 1960s, when it lingered long into the tail end of the spookshow era. The show was supposed to go as far as Alaska, hence Marshall's determination that his monster be able to function after exposure to cold weather. It certainly worked enough to scare Ms. Brackett, and the robot's electronic machinery kept going until Marshall arrived to disconnect the wires.

The owner of the restaurant, Elmer "Doc" Grant himself, had given Marshall permission to use the refrigerator, but apparently failed to inquire closely into the exact intentions of the inventor. The newspapers quoted his reaction to the situation, as he stated, "I have never seen such a hideous creature in all my life," and he said that he never wanted to see Marshall or the monster again.

Marshall explained that he had wanted the monster to remain a secret, but it's hard to keep something a secret when it's "more than 12 feet tall, about 13 feet around the chest, with arms as big as a man... half animal and half fish." Add to that the fact that the beast had fur and hair up to the midsection,  succeeded by a layer of large green scales, topped off with a horn coming out of the top of its head. Did he really think people weren't going to take note of such a thing rattling around inside one of the major establishments of downtown Rangeley?
Doc Grant's Restaurant, Rangeley, Maine (postcard photo).
So did Marshall's monster ever make it onto the stage with Dr. Evil? The only clue I have found is this ad, run in the Biddeford-Saco Journal of August 23, 1965, on page 10. What do YOU think...?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Event: Cryptotrip film New England premier

Date below has been updated to reflect change.
WHAT: Cryptotrip's New England premier
WHEN: Sunday, March 10th. Doors open at 3:30 for museum admission, followed by the screening. The event ends at 6:30pm.
WHERE: International Cryptozoology Museum (ICM), 11 Avon Street, Portland, Maine
FMI: or

Join Loren Coleman and the the director Christopher Maloney for the first New England showing of Cryptotrip, a documentary film about the state of cryptozoology in the U.S. at a grass-roots level.

As director Christopher Maloney notes:
“Thousands of unexplained creature sightings are reported in the United States each year. What are people seeing? How does it impact them? What does this say about us as a nation? These questions are explored in a cross-country trek through America’s highways and byways, a journey that explores the phenomena and popularity of cryptozoology in the United States.”

The ICM will hold the screening on Sunday February 24th March 10th, 2013 with museum entry permitted at 3:30.

Admission for the film is $10.00 per person, regardless of age, and includes:

(1) Museum admission;

(2) Showing of Cryptotrip in a casual but unique cryptozoology setting;

(3) Q&A session with Christopher Maloney, writer and director for Cryptotrip;

(4) Your contribution to the educational and scientific mission of the ICM;

(5) Film refreshments for a small donation will be available;

(6) A chance to be one of the first to see this amazing cryptozoological journey!

The Facebook event page can be found here:

View trailer here:

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lovecraft's influence on Maine artists

Photographer Eric Pomorski surveys his fellow artists' work.
It will come as no surprise to readers that once again I and other Portland, Maine, artists (as well as a few guests from away) have fallen under the spell of Lovecraft. The result is an epic artshow, Lovecraft: A Darker Key, which is showing at Sanctuary's gallery here in Portland from Feb 1, 2013, to May 1st, 2013 (or, Candelmas to Beltane).

The show, curated by Carrie Vinette, Michelle Souliere, and Brandon Kawashima, features the works of: Eric Anderson, Tom Brown, Clayton Cameron, Brandon Kawashima, Max Leon, Marco, Christian Matzke, Corey Paradise, Eric Pomorski, Michelle Souliere, Dave Stelmok, Jason Thompson, and Carrie Vinette.

WHAT: Lovecraft: A Darker Key artshow
WHERE: Sanctuary, 31 Forest Avenue, Portland, Maine
WHEN: Feb 1 - May 1, 2013; viewing hours 11:00-7:00 Tues-Sat
FMI: Contact Carrie at Sanctuary: (207)828-8866

The artists involved range from illustrators to sculptors to photographers to painters, each showing his or her own interpretation of the elements of Lovecraft's stories. To quote Nicholas Schroeder of the Portland Phoenix, "Viewers, particularly those who haven't read Lovecraft, might look at 'A Darker Key'... as a richly involved visual glossary of profoundly alien terms."

Participants include such horror luminaries as Eric Anderson of the Shoggoth Assembly (who recently worked on effects for the local projects Ragged Isle and Hanover House), Mortimer Glum (currently working on art for Escape from Jesus Island), Jason Thompson (artist of the recently published Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath), Tom Brown (artist of the recently published Hopeless, Maine), and Christian Matzke (director of Nyarlothotep and An Imperfect Solution: A Tale Of The Re-Animator).

The classic weird fiction writing of author H.P. Lovecraft forms the dark heart of this delectable array of eldritch art. Each artist was inspired by the dreamlike vistas created by Lovecraft's pen in the brief window between the years of 1917 and 1935. The world of his fiction was one of contrast between cosmic horror and eerie beauty. The title of this show references one of the stories in his Dream Cycle, "The Silver Key." Appropriately, this art show bookends the anniversary of his early death, March 15 (1937).

Come, and peer through the eyes of artists at the vision of a master writer!

Those curious about the show will find an assortment of photos from the opening night here on my Flickr page:

Read more:
Blending Lovecraft and Modern Art, by Nicholas Schroeder, Portland Phoenix 02/07/13

“Lovecraft: A Darker Key” opens tonight at Sanctuary Tattoo [A discussion with Michelle Souliere], by Alex Steed, Bangor Daily News 2/1/2013

Explore the artists' websites:
-- Eric Anderson of the Shoggoth Assembly special effects group:

-- Tom Brown, artist of Hopeless, Maine (Archaia, 2012)

-- Max Leon, illustrator and fine artist

-- Christian Matzke of Page Street Studios and Crawling Chaos
Portland Art Exhibit Imagines Counterattack on Mars, Bangor Daily News 9/2/2011

-- Eric Pomorski, photographer

--Michelle Souliere, author and illustrator of Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State

-- Jason Thompson, artist of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

-- Carrie Vinette of Sanctuary Tattoo