Thursday, January 15, 2015


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Greetings, Scared Silly fans!

I have a fun and exciting event to tell you about. Actually, I'll let the following press release tell you about it:

On January 25, comics writer-editor and pop culture historian Paul Castiglia will be the guest-speaker at the West Orange Classic Film Festival. In its 10th annual year, the eight-week festival alternates between renowned cinema classics, foreign gems, local offerings and Castiglia’s specialty, genre movies.

The January 25 screening recreates a classic movie matinee experience, taking viewers back to the days when an admission ticket not only guaranteed a feature film, but lots of fun extras like cartoons, comedy shorts, action-packed serials and more. The program includes a classic Max and Dave Fleischer Popeye cartoon, Customer’s Wanted; a thrilling chapter from the movie serial, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe and the feature film, Flying Deuces from the legendary movie comedy team, Laurel & Hardy.

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"We're delighted to have Paul Castiglia back for a second year," said Festival director Ken Mandel. "Last year's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein screening was a great family event and this year's 'classic matinee' continues our efforts to show the classics on the big screen, the way they were meant to be seen."

Castiglia, who also selected the films to be shown at the January 25 screening, has a particular interest in comedy. Castiglia has been writing and editing comic books for over 25 years, with the bulk of his work being on humor titles including Archie’s Weird Mysteries, Tex Avery’s Droopy, Looney Tunes, Cracked Magazine and more.

Castiglia has also written non-fiction about some of his favorite comedy movies, including a chapter in a book of essays on Vincent Price covering the famous screen boogie man’s comedic teamings with Peter Lorre. He is currently writing a book called Scared Silly: Classic Hollywood Horror-Comedies, which takes a look at those vintage films where kooks met spooks and fools met ghouls, such as Arsenic and Old Lace, The Ghost Breakers and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. He is also a writer and executive producer for an upcoming documentary on the Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys movie team, called Bowery Rhapsody: the Rise and Redemption of Hollywood’s Original ‘Brat Pack.

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Castiglia is no stranger to guest-speaking engagements at classic film screenings. At the Bijou Theater in Bridgeport, CT Castiglia was a guest for double-feature screenings of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein/Young Frankenstein, and Mad Monster Party/The Nightmare Before Christmas. At last year’s West Orange Classic Film Festival, Castiglia spoke to a sell-out crowd for Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. The show sold out the day before, a first in the Festival’s history.

The January 25 screening also ties in to Castiglia’s love of comics. Both Popeye and Flash Gordon began life as newspaper comic strips. Both also happen to be offerings from King Features Syndicate, William Randolph Hearst’s famous subsidiary of his newspaper empire, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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Castiglia points out that even Laurel & Hardy have comics connections.

“Bud Fisher’s popular Mutt & Jeff strip, considered the first daily strip, features a tall and short dunderheaded duo, predating Laurel & Hardy’s teaming by some 20 years, and the similarities were not lost on movie reviewers who often referred to the movie stars as a ‘Mutt and Jeff’-like pair,” says Castiglia. “There were also live-action comedy shorts of ‘Mutt & Jeff’ about ten years before Stan and Ollie’s teaming.”

Laurel & Hardy themselves became popular subjects for cartoonists’ pencils. Caricatures of the team were ubiquitous in animated cartoons of the 1930s, as well as in newspaper comic strips and political cartoons. They were featured in their own comic strip in Film Fun Magazine, and through the years starred in both comic books and animated cartoon series bearing their names. A ‘painting’ of the pair even showed up in a famous 1950s Batman story, when the Joker crashed the Gotham Museum’s “Comedians Hall of Fame” exhibit (a moment echoed on an episode of the 1960s Batman TV show, the painting replaced by statues).

“The biggest comics connection in Laurel & Hardy’s Flying Deuces is the wonderful caricature of the duo by fellow comedy legend, Harry Langdon,” adds Castiglia.

Langdon, a co-writer of Deuces was a major silent film star and enjoyed cartooning behind the scenes when he wasn’t buffooning in front of the cameras.

The screening takes place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at the Essex Green AMC Dine-In Theater at 495 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, NJ. Tickets can be pre-purchased at the theater box office, or at Fandango when you click on this direct link.

A trailer for the screening can be viewed right here:


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