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  • 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.

  • “Which Witch?” Game, 1971 – One of my favorite vintage Halloween Toys

    Posted on October 30th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 7 comments

    witchin-good-halloweenIn earlier posts, I talked about some of my favorite Halloween toys from the 60’s & 70’s…The Mystic Skull Game, Coffin Bank, Candles, etc. I saved one of the best for last…Which Witch? from 1971!which-witch-1

    This masterpiece of cardboard fun came from an era when board games were no longer relegated to the flat world, and rose up in glorious three dimensions. Games like Mousetrap, Operation and Hungry Hungry Hippos transformed the single-layer concepts into mechanical miracles of light, sound, and moving parts. And marbles. Which Witch? is an engineering marvel that must have taken the brains at Milton-Bradley many LSD-laden hours to conjure up.

    which-witch-2It starts with a typical game board, covered in 60’s style cartoon graphics of the floors of four rooms (in what is apparently a haunted-type house infected with three witches). Next, cardboard walls rise to form the four rooms: The Broom Room, Spell Cell, Witchin’ Kitchen and Bat’s Ballroom. In the center is a chimney which (witch?) doubles as the means to the demise of snoopy little children who enter the abode. (If you pick the card that says, “Ghoulish Gerty Drops It Down The Chimney”, you have to drop the ruby red marble down the top of the roof; which-witch-chimney

    the marble can go in any of four dimensions and wreak havoc on the ill-fated children). In the Bat’s Ballroom, the final room, sets a staircase. The first meddling kid to reach the top of the stairs and land on the “Charmed Circle” (without being turned into a mouse or knocked off his keister) wins the game!

    Two young-girl pieces and two young-boy pieces (made of plastic and very 50’s Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys looking) try to make it through these danger-ridden rooms, desperately attempting to avoid the hidden traps and spells. The fear which-witch-8of being hit by a broom, pushed down the stairs, crippled on loose floorboards or plain old hit-in-the-head with a giant ruby marble doesn’t seem to thwart our intrepid explorers. They roll the die and move their spaces, pick a witch card and hope for the best.which-witch-box

    I remember playing this game with my mother (something of a witch herself) when I was a young kid. Once, I spent almost the entire game as a mouse. That’s no fun, because you don’t get to move. Another time I got knocked over like eight times in a row. The worst part about this game was that since it was made of cardboard & plastic, it didn’t last. Putting the cardboard walls together meant twisting, bending, and ultimately tearing the parts. My original game died an illustrious wrecking-ball death in the 1970s; I was lucky enough to come across one cheap a few years ago to replace it. You can still find them on eBawhich-witch-ghosty for anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on condition (and the market). These are only going to get rarer and more expensive, so if you dig this sort of thing I’d recommend finding one soon!

    which-witch-ballroomwhich-witch-kitchenwhich-witch-boardwhich-witch-stairs Happy Halloween!

  • Fun old scary movies in time for Halloween

    Posted on October 12th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    ghost-storiesIf you’re into old movies, I don’t have to speil about the wonders of the original Dracula, Frankenstein & Wolfman. You’ve probably seen them, or they’re already on your list. So here’s a few creepy flicks that may have escaped your radar…some you’ve heard of, but maybe never got around to witness. Some you’ve probably never heard of, but take it from this kat, they’re fun to watch and might even give you the heebee-geebees. I’ve included the IMDB link so you can get more info. So here goes, in no particular odor (I mean order. Damned spellchecker.)

    The Haunting (1963) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057129/the_haunting_poster
    One of the first ghost stories I ever saw as a kid, this black & white thriller sets three unsuspecting volunteers in a secluded, creepy mansion with a scientist conducting an experiment on sleep deprivation. Secretly the well-intended scientist believes the mansion to harbor spirits, and his volunteers have been selected for their apparent sensitivity to the spirit world. The spirits come. It’s krazy. A well-crafted movie from a well-written book, you’ll want to watch this one with the lights off and some spiked hot chocolate.

    The Uninvited (1944) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037415/
    Ray Milland leads this Noir thriller centering around a haunted house on the English coast. He and his sister move into the lovely old home only to find there are skeletons lurking in every closet. A well-written and well-acted movie, this one is at the top of my ghost movie list.

    Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/
    Jack Nicholson at his craziest/finest. Stephen King may have hated this adaptation, but there’s no denying this is one of the creepiest, scariest, most disturbing movies ever made. From blood pouring out of the elevators to butchered children to eerie music from a not so distant past, The Shining will leave you with chills and craving for more. The sets of the Overlook Hotel are so evil and creepy looking that the hotel itself becomes one of the main characters (as intended). Even the opening credits are scary!

    A Bucket of Blood (1959) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052655/
    Beatniks, jazz, pretty girls and ‘innocently’ unintentional murder for the sake of art. This early Roger Corman film is as dark as dark comedy can get. Creepy, BW & even an actual bucket with blood in it. This is one of those movies where you’ll be saying “They got away with THAT in 1959?”

    House of Wax (1953) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045888/
    No Paris Hilton, but plenty of Vincent Price at his best. Murder, wax and insanity. Need I say more?

    mark_of_devil_posterMark of the Devil (1970) (aka Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065491/
    Hot 60’s European chicks getting tortured as witches. Amazingly realistic and gory for the time, the plot centers around Inquisitors using their power to satisfy their sadistic lusts. Pretty damned disturbing, actually. The American version is dubbed pretty well, so you don’t have to read subtitles. Lots of torture devices, dirty villagers, and torture of pretty medieval women that borders on a snuff flick. Don’t let the kids near this one.

    Young Frankenstein (1974) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072431/
    It’s not easy to pull off a really great spoof of a really great movie, but they really nailed it with this one. Mel Brooks in his heyday with Harvey Korman, Peter Boyal, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, a cameo by Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder at the reins. Wilder plays the grandson of Victor von Frankenstein. He refuses to believe his grandfather’s work had any merit until he visits the ‘old country’ and finds his journal. When he decides to try the experiments himself, hilarity ensues. Shot in black and white with the same techniques as movies from the 30’s (and with some of the same sets as the original “Frankenstein”) this flick is timeless, with great gags, great writing, and Teri Garr looking like a real honey.

    The Exorcist (1973) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070047/exorcist_poster
    Speaks for itself. If you ain’t seen it, see it. It’ll blow your mind. Scary, evil, disturbing. Interesting note: Max von Sydow played Father Merrin, the old priest. He was only 43 at the time. He also played the role of Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), and Director Burgess in Minority Report (2002). Talk about a career!

    the-changeling-posterThe Changeling (1980) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080516/
    Probably the best Ghost Story I’ve ever seen on film. George C. Scott stars as John Russell, a music composer who moves to a secluded vintage mansion outside of Seattle, hoping for some peace and quiet. What he gets are strange noises, visions, and visitations. As he unravels the mystery he gets drawn deeper into the web of the strengthening spirit. I don’t want to give anything else away! This has been one of my favorites from when I first saw it as a kid. Even though it was released in 1980, it has that old 60’s-70’s production style that makes it even creepier than any of the newer flicks can go for. Sure, new movies have great effects, but when they’re too slick they just don’t have that gritty creep factor.

    Ghost Story (1981) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082449/
    What happens when you get Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks and John Houseman together in their retirement years? A very creepy ghost story, that’s what. Add Patricia Neal, Alice Krige and a 50 year old bloody secret and you’ve got the makings of a very spooky film. 80’s production values are laughable, but if you can get past that it’s a fun flick to watch.

    christine_poster1Christine (1983) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085333/
    “She’s Death On Wheels” was the movie’s slogan. Another Stephen King adaptation, this time by John Carpenter. Nerdy teenager finds a beat to hell ’58 Fury “That’s uglier than he is”, spends all his time fixing it up and driving it, all the time becoming possessed by the demon car. It follows the book fairly well, but the way Carpenter translated the story to the screen has become legend. There’s even a Christine Car Club dedicated to restoring and preserving ’58 Plymouth Fury Christine clones (and a few real movie cars). With no computer graphics to help them, 25 Plymouths were used in the film, with about 15 of them being destroyed (which brought car guys like me to tears). It was later said that many of the destroyed cars were junkyard dogs anyway, didn’t run, didn’t even have engines, and were just painted rustbuckets used for the shots. A little Trivia: When my family and I went to see this in the movies around Christmas, 1983, we drove to the theater in my father’s ’64 Caddy. When we came out, people were pointing at his finned car and yelling, “It’s Christine!”…even though it was powder blue and didn’t look anything like a Fury! A few years later my Dad and I bought a ’59 Plymouth Savoy (with a ’58 front end on it) with the intention of making a Christine Clone. Turns out the motor was shot, and it was too much trouble to do it so we sold it back to the guy we bought it from for the same $200 we paid for it.

  • Everything I Love About Key West

    Posted on April 15th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    It’s been too long, I can’t even remember the last time I got down to Key West. I only live 4 Hours away (Which is a lot closer than 99% of the rest of the world) and yet we hardly get down there anymore…mainly due to the economic situation these GOP morons have gotten us into. (Used to go down 8-9 times a year in 2000, 7-8 in 2001, 4-5 in 2003, you see the trend…)

    I love Key West. There’s something about…no, lots of things about it…that draws me there. Maybe it’s the history, hundreds of years of pirates’ and wenches’ souls haunting it, or maybe it’s because it’s so incredibly different from everywhere else in the world. If you haven’t been there, there’s no way to know what it feels to walk down the narrow streets, seeing some of the oldest standing homes in Florida, knowing you’re on a sandbar a mile wide by about 4 miles long.

    I don’t know if I could actually live there full time; once you get past the drinking, beach and boating, there’s not a whole lot to do there. But for an extended weekend, it’s perfect.

    One of the things I love most about Cayo Hueso is the way everything indoor is outdoor, at least in the older sections of town.  Trees grow up through living rooms. Houses and cafes open up entire walls onto wood decks or sandy patios, and it becomes unclear where the inside of the building ends and the lanai begins. Tropical plants and palm trees are everywhere. You can walk up to a bar that serves drinks inside a restaurant on one side, and on the beach on the other. It gets pretty hot down there, but nobody seems to mind. It’s not uncommon to have ceiling fans outside.

    sunset in Key WestOne of my (and my wife’s, she found it first) favorite restaurants, Mangia Mangia, ( http://www.mangia-mangia.com/ ) is down there. Italian food with a Key West twist. We always eat outside on the patio, under the palm trees. The bars on Duval Street are the best I’ve ever been too, even the touristy ones like Sloppy Joe’s. (Of course anyone who knows Key West will immediately start thinking of Captain Tony’s www.capttonyssaloon.com). We’ve done the touristy stuff too, like the Haunted Ghost Tours( http://www.hauntedtours.com , http://www.keywestghosts.com ), the Pirate Soul Museum (https://www.piratesoul.com) and the Mel Fisher Museum/Wreck of the Atocha ( http://www.melfisher.com ). But the best part is just being there, breathing the air, watching the strange people, hearing the sounds of the ocean, and applauding the sunset at Mallory Square.

    I’ve got to get down there soon.

    www.keywest.com , http://fla-keys.com/keywest, http://www.kwflausa.com/