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  • Plan 9 from Outer Space, 1958 and Ed Wood, 1994 for Mod Movie Monday’s Creature Double Feature

    Posted on October 29th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    plan-9-from-outer-space-one-sheet

    It’s Halloweekend at the Tiki Bar! From one of the worst directors to one of the best, on this week’s Mod Movie Monday we’ll look at two kats who changed the way we look at movies forever.

    Let’s start with our favorite bad director, Ed Wood, Jr. Ed brought us some of the most poorly written, directed and produced films of all kind, with the zenith (or basement) of his work being Plan 9 from Outer Space. I feel bad for this kid. He just wanted to make movies that people would enjoy. Unfortunately for him, nobody really dug his stuff until years after his alcohol-soaked death. Now, we can love these lowest-budget flicks for what they are: So incredibly bad they are great. Fun to watch, fun to make fun of, fun to imagine yourself on the set 50+ years ago as walls shook and gravestones fell over.

    Plan 9 is actually an interesting premise. Originally entitled “Grave Robbers from Outer Space”, the title was deemed too gory for the film’s religious backers. So it’s about space aliens who come to earth and resurrect dead people to do stuff like slowly walk into people, killing them. Or something. Actually, I’ve seen this movie several times and I’m still not sure what it’s about. Maybe because I can’t get through it sober.

    plan9zombiesEd Wood extensively used free, stock footage to fill in the holes in his films. Scenes of cattle stampeding, WWII footage, and people walking around get spliced in at the strangest places. Add Bela Lugosi, who died during filming, Tor Johnson and Vampira to the cast. Then add in a stand-in for Bela, a guy who had the same shaped head, skulking around with a cape over his face for the rest of the flick. Tin pie plates on strings attacking California. Car chases where the cars change to different models when showed in different angles. A shower curtain in the cockpit. Are you confused? Wait’ll ya see the movie.

    edwoodposterBut it’s fun to watch, for certain. So much fun that one of Hollywood’s top weirdos, Tim Burton, made a film about Ed Wood, Jr. and his repertoire of canned junk. Shot in black and white and starring Johnny Depp (of course), Ed Wood is a thousand times better-made movie than any of Wood’s movies ever were. Martin Landau steals the show with his Bela Lugosi character. Vampira looks and acts like the original Vampira. And Ed Wood is so goofy, so much fun you have to wonder if he was really like that, or if that’s how Burton envisions how he must have been.

    Either of these films is great on its own. Back to back, they’re a riot. And speaking of Bella Lugosi…

    Dracula, 1931

    Turn this duet into a trio this Halloweekend with one of the movies that started it all, the original Bela Lugosi Dracula from 1931. Still scary and creepy today as it was 70 years ago, no vintage-style ‘ween is complete without this master of horror flicks. dracula_1931_poster

    Your Halloweekend Drinks!

    So here’s a few drink ideas for Hallowe’en Weekend, to sip with your movies or push at your party…

    Vampire’s Blood Martini

    1.5 oz Russian Vodka
    1 oz orange juice
    1 oz  cranberry juice
    1 small scoop raspberry sorbet
    seltzer

    Shake vodka, OJ, & cranberry in shaker with ice until well chilled. Strain into a large martini glass, add a small (about a teaspoon) scoop of sorbet and top with seltzer. You can add a few drops of red food coloring to make it really bloody.

    plan9The Zombie (Frozen)

    There are a few variations on the Zombie Cocktail. This one, close to the old version but frozen, is probably my favorite:

    1/2 oz 151 rum
    1 oz pineapple juice
    1 oz orange juice
    1/2 oz apricot brandy
    1 tsp sugar
    2 oz light rum
    1 oz dark rum
    1 oz lime juice

    Blend all ingredients with ice except the 15. Pour it into a tall Tiki mug and flloat the 151 rum on top. Garnish with a fruit slice, sprig of mint, and a cherry. To give it a real kick, add a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper into the mix. Yow!

    The Michael Myers Halloween Cocktailedwood-scene

    Yep, made this one up at the Tiki Bar. Not really an exotic drink, as there’s no rum, but it’s strong and will probably tear your guts out, so…

    2 oz Jack Daniels (or Jim Beam, which will be a little sweeter)
    1 oz Goldschlager or Cinnamon Schnapps
    1/2 Orange Curacau
    1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
    2-3 drops Bitters (optional)
    Apple and pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
    Cinnamon stick

    This can be served over the rocks, or warmed up in a mug. Stir all ingredients together. float small cubes of apple and pumpkin on top and garnish with a cinnamon stick stirrer. Like I said, strong as hell but krazy fun!

    plan9sceneWell kids, that’s all for this week. I know I haven’t posted much lately (This is my busiest time of year) and probably won’t get to another post until Monday, so Happy Hallowe’en to you kool ghouls!

    -Tiki Chris P, in ghost form floating around Haunted Tiki Island Resort. Reporting for Tiki Lounge Talk, the Tiki Culture Tiki Blog for retro lovers and Tikiphiles all over the world.

  • Murder on Tiki Island Coming Along Nicely

    Posted on August 4th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 5 comments

    retro-fun-stuffThe much anticipated “Murder on Tiki Island” by Tiki Chris Pinto (me) is more than half finished. My goal is to get it laid down by the end of September. Then will come the re-writes and edits. With luck, it will be ready to pub by the Christmas Season.

    Murder on Tiki Island takes place in 1956, on a private resort Island off the Florida Keys. Detective Bill Riggins (from Murder Behind the Closet Door) takes a vacation from his NYC cop job only to get caught up in a murder that goes beyond mystery, beyond our own plane of existence into the realm of the paranormal. Hot dames, steamy nights, fast cars and tropical cocktails come together like rum and lime juice in this vintage-style noir thriller. If you dig what you read here, kids, you’ll dig this tome.

    Murder Behind the Closet Door by Chris Pinto

    Murder Behind the Closet Door by Chris Pinto

    If you can’t wait for December then check out Murder Behind the Closet Door, my first novel now available at Amazon.com. I’ve gotten all great reviews on this book (and not just from my pals). Again, it’s a book for people who dig the past and like to relive it through their minds. Set in Wildwood and Ocean City, New Jersey in 1978-79 with flashbacks to 1938, Murder Behind the Closet Door is a 600 page journey through the lives of ordinary people who find themselves thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Read more about it here at StarDust Mysteries, or at Amazon.com

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the library under the coconut tree,
    Tiki Lounge Talk is THE Tiki Culture/Retro Culture blog for kats and kittens who dig it all, baby. Yeah.

  • “Murder on Tiki Island” – A New Novel in the Works!

    Posted on May 8th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    Tiki Bar Talk at Tiki Lounge Talk I’m officially announcing that I’m working on a new murder mystery/ghost story, aptly entitled “Murder on Tiki Island.”

    Since getting a great response and nice reviews on “Murder Behind the Closet Door,” I’ve decided to go on with another story idea I’ve had. This one takes place in 1956, and features Detective Bill Riggins from MBTCD, back when he was a young detective on the NYC vice squad. It also swings back to 1935, the action taking place on a little private island tiki-torchesoff the Florida Keys, Tiki Island. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you it will have that Noir feel of the old 50s murder mysteries, and will include some kool era stuff, from the Overseas Railway to the music of time, slinky dames, seedy bars, Tiki torches and Mai Tais. Tiki lovers, you’re going to dig how I weave original early and mid-century Tiki Culture into the plot. Retro lovers, you’ll dig the Mike Hammer-style action, cars, women and grit.

    “Murder on Tiki Island” is in the baby stages right now. With any luck, it’ll be ready in about a year. But just for fun I’ll give you kats and kittens updates as it goes, and will even post a few paragraphs now and then to get your opinions!

    Thanks for stopping by the Tiki Bar and digging the kool stuff we talk about. Catch a copy of Murder Behind the Closet Door online at www.createspace.com or on Amazon.com.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto, aka Mack, from the Tiki Bar

  • Mike Hammer…They Don’t Build Tough Guy Detectives Like This Anymore

    Posted on February 3rd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 22 comments

    juryI am sitting at the Tiki Bar on the lanai, sipping a Jack and Ginger and enjoying the cool South Florida evening breeze. This is my favorite time of year, when it’s warm and sunny by day and crisp at night. It’s evenings like this when I remember the old days, before I moved to Florida; how it’s icy cold and dark and gray and morbid in the North East, how everything is dead up there and everything is green and lush and full of life here. It’s evenings like this when I like to crack open a Mike Hammer novel, and remember the past.

    When I read Mike Hammer, it takes me back to that other time, that other place. That dark, rough time in the city, when the nights were full of alluring dames and cheap booze and the weight of my .45 kept dragging me down, reminding me that there were big, tough wiseguys that needed a lesson in respect, beat into them the right way, with a crowbar. That other time, long ago; that dark, evil time in the rain-soaked, soot-streaked city.

    Phillip Marlow was tough. Sam Spade knew his way around a .38. Even Sonny Crocket could pull a trigger on an Uzi without blinking an eye. But in the tough guy department, none of them came close to Mike Hammer.

    I’m not talking about the watered-down-for-TV Mike Hammer, played by Darrin McGavin in the ’50s and Stacey Keach in the ’80s. I’m talking about the real Mike Hammer, the borderline-psychopath detective dreamed up by Mickey Spillane in the late 1940’s through the ’50s, the .45 automatic-toting ex-army special forces operative who learned how to track and maim and kill in the jungles of World War II, the big tough street mug with a fist of ice cold steel and a soft spot in his heart for the dames. That Mike Hammer.

    If you’ve read Spillane, you know what I’m getting at. If you haven’t, you should, on the double. Just the fact that you’ve read this far clues me in that you’re gonna like it something big.

    Of all the great (and not so great but nevertheless popular) detective stories that came out of the last 80 or so years, from Marlow to Veronica Mars, from Ellery Queen to Tony Rome, from James Bond to Batman, only one really stands out as something darker, something almost horrifying…the original down and dirty streetwise gumshoe, the hardcore dime-store private eye who did things his own way and got away with it, his way. Many copied his style down the line, but they never hit on the real difference, the one thing that made Hammer stand a couple of blocks away from all the rest.

    You see, Mike Hammer was a murderer.

    Sure, he had a private dick’s ticket, a little card stamped by the State of New York that gave him the legal right to carry a heater and arrest bad guys. But to Hammer, it was nothing more than a ‘get out of jail free’ card. A convenience when it came to court time. A slip of paper that gave him the right clean up his beloved city, to wipe up the back alleys and dimly-lit tap rooms with the faces of the city’s scum, and then to go a step further…because he’d been around the block few times, and he knew the score…arresting the bad guys didn’t do nuts. They’d get off; sure as hell they’d get sent up for a short stretch and be back on the streets mugging and robbing and beating up dames and little guys for spending cash and kicks. Jail wasn’t enough for this filth. They needed to be punished.

    The small-time hoods got off easy with a beating they’d remember for life. A couple of cracked ribs, a broken jaw and brain damage usually did the trick with Horse-pushers and lowlife pimps, two-bit gamblers and croocked politicians. But for the killers…well, that was another story. An eye for an eye. If they lived as killers they needed to die as killers, by an equally evil and screwed-up killer. Mike was the self-appointed jailer, judge, jury…and executioner. And he always found a way to make his story stick, make it legit…one way or another, he would kill, he would need to kill; he would justify it as ridding the world of evil and he’d get away clean.

    Don’t believe me? Think I’ve gone off the deep end? Set your peepers on this little bit of insight, taken from the first few pages of One Lonely Night, the fourth book in the Mike Hammer series. Published in 1951, the story gives an inner view of Hammer’s mind, the way he thinks, and what he thinks about the world he’s been forced into. To me, these few paragraphs sum up his character, the whole series, and the darker side of life in “the good old days”. It’s what made me really appreciate Mike Hammer when I first read I, The Jury at age 12. It makes me appreciate all the Hammer novels for what they are: The real diary of a madman.onelonelynight

    (talking about a judge who wanted to throw the book at him, but could not) “…I was a licensed investigator who knocked off somebody who needed knocking off bad and he couldn’t get to me. So I was a murderer by definition and all the law could do was shake its finger at definitions.”…”maybe he thought I should have stayed there and called the cops when the bastard had a rod in his hand and it was pointing at my gut…” “He had to take me back five years to a time he knew of only second hand and tell me how it took a war to show me the power of the gun and the obscene pleasure that was brutality and force, the spicy sweetness of murder sanctified by law. That was me.” “…There in the muck and slime of the jungle, there in the stink that hung over the beaches rising from the bodies of the dead, there in the half-light of too many dusks and dawns laced together with the crisscrossed patterns of bullets, I had gotten a taste of death and found it palatable to the extent I could never again eat the fruits of a normal civilization.”…”I was a killer. I was a murderer, legalized. I had no reason for living. Yeah, he said that!”*

    Mix that insanity in a shaker with a Colt .45 Combat Commander and an insatiable appetite for serving justice. Throw in a couple of ice cubes and a busty brunette secretary named Velda. Pour it in a tall chilled glass, frosty with the blood of a hundred hoodlums and garnish it with a peel of the city at night, and you’ve got a Mike Hammer Manhattan.

    There are 13 books in the Mike Hammer series, plus the TV scripts and screen plays. But with the passing of Spillane a few years ago flew any chance of ever hearing Mike’s voice say anything new again. Others may try, some may come close. But no one can dole out the imagery or lay down the style that Mickey gave to his fantastically flawed unsung hero, Mike Hammer.

    (Read the books, start from the beginning with I, The Jury and follow Mike all the way through to Black Alley. If you dig reading about real mid-century American culture through the eyes of an author who was writing these books at the time, as the present, you’ll absolutely enjoy Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.)

    -Original Content by Christopher Pinto for Tiki Lounge Talk.
    *Passages from “One Lonely Night” written by Mickey Spillane, ©1951, 1979, used for informational/educational purposes only.

  • Coffee at the Diner: Living the Retro Life

    Posted on January 21st, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 7 comments

    diner-hat-coffeeMan, it’s been way too long since I parked it in a diner booth. All day long I had a brain pain for a Bamburger and grease rings. So when I hit the door, I grabbed the ole Lady and we swung the Caddy down to Lester’s Diner on 136th Avenue.

    Not the least bit disappointed in my grub. A big old Cheeseburger with bacon and fries, rings, slaw and a cup’a Joe. A shake would have topped it off, but it would have broke the bank so I quit early.

    Joints like this used to be my hang out, back in the days before I had my own little Tiki Bar, back before the Mai Kai was a short drive away. Diners, all kinds of diners when I swung back in Jersey. Jersey is, after all, the diner capital of the world. You couldn’t swing a bat without hitting a neon sign that said “open 24 hours”. Not so much down here in the land of Mai Tais and Palm trees. There’s one diner in 8 miles, and it shuts down at midnight. Thank God the Tiki bars are open late…

    point-dinerThere were a few haunts I made my mark at. The Point Diner in Somers Point, NJ is where I spent many a night and many a paycheck. Coffee and a burger at 2 am? Why the hell not? All my gang hung out there too…in fact, I remember one particularly kool New Year’s Eve that we wound up there around 3 am…and who was there, but this really hot swingin’ chick that I went around with in high school. It was a very groovy meeting, that night. Never forget it.

    blue-dinerThen there was the Blue Diamond Diner in Pomona, NJ. This was a 1950’s rail-car style stainless steel masterpiece, with the original guts still intact. They had the old 70’s style jukeboxes filled with stuff from Sinatra and Elvis. And one of my favorite songs to play at a diner, just before leaving, Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny. Yeah, those were the days. 50¢ cup of strong Greek coffee and I was good for hours.

    Back when I had my Dinner Theater Company, Stardust Productions, after every show I’d take the cast to a diner and buy them all dinner. We’d wind down and talk about the show, how much fun it was, how to make it better. It was around then I picked up the nickname Mack, after a gangster character I played in a show.

    Me during a performance of "The Mysterious Presto" with StarDust Theater. The beautiful blonde is my wife, Colleen

    Me during a performance of "The Mysterious Presto" with StarDust Theater. The beautiful blonde is my wife, Colleen

    I miss those old diners. I miss the smell of grilled onions in the middle of the night, the taste of good diner coffee and breakfast at 4 am. I miss the feel of those old places, the scratchy records in the jukebox, the neon lights. The diner we hit tonight was good but not quite right. There’s something unhip about a diner that has a 34″ plasma TV mounted on the wall, that plays nothing but commercials. There’s something un-groovy about a CD jukebox that’s filled with riffs by Jenny Lopez and Matchbox-20, but doesn’t have a single Elvis tune. Sure, the burger was good, the java was good, and the company was great…even motoring there in the old Cadillac was fun. But these new joints just don’t have the same feel, the same atmosphere, as those old stainless steel diners held together with apron strings and grease that I grew up with.

    -Mack (aka Tiki Chris)