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Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween Jewelry Spotlight-Monster Brooch from Kitschy Witch

As I've mentioned before I love Halloween and I love seasonal dressing, add to that my love of kitschy and fun accessories and it's clear why I am a big fan of Halloween inspired jewelry.  Last year I added an awesome cat brooch from Mrs.  Polly's Lucite to my jewelry collection

and this year I went a step further with the monster brooch from Kitschy Witch.

This cute brooch is made from lucite, glitter and vintage  gumball machine charms.  While the materials are plastics this is a very well constructed and sturdy piece of jewelry and the quality shows.  The charms of course are be best part.   There's the Wolf Man:

King Kong:


and Frankenstein:

All ofthe Halloween favorites in one cute and kitschy brooch that make a great Halloween accessory and looks lovely paired with black, like my Freddies of Pinewood Beatnick top.

My Halloween brooch was a one of a kind item, but Kitschy Witch makes a wide assortment of cute and kischy jewelery in her etsy shop.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Bella-Cinema Spotlight on 1935's The Raven Starring Bella Lugosi

Today marks the 134th anniversary of one of the most pivotal figures in American cinema, Bella Lugosi.

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Lugosi's name is of course synonymous with the character he created and perfected, Dracula:

Lugosi's tuxedo wearing vampire with his aura of mysterious charm and sexual attraction was a far cry from how the character was depicted in Bram Stoker's novel and in earlier cinematic versions, like Nosferatu:

Lugosi's portrayal emphasized the man, rather then the monster, and earned him a place in cinema history as well as in the hearts of thousands of female fans who would reportedly faint during screenings of 1931's Dracula.  However, it also left him hopelessly type cast and he died largely forgotten after decades spent working in B movies.  While he is remembered today most people are hard pressed to name any film other then Dracula that he appeared in.

However, Lugosi did make other films during the 1930s and several of them are excellent with Lugosi's performance being their best element.   One such film is 1935's The Raven.  

In the film Lugosi is perfectly cast as a truly sinister character, Dr. Richard Vollin, a talented surgeon with an Edgar Allen Poe fixation.

When Jean Thatcher, a beautiful dancer,

 is injured in a horrific automobile accident

her father and her fiance beg Dr. Vollin to operate.  He does and miraculously restores her to perfect condition.

 Jean is deeply greatful to Dr. Vollin and learning of his Poe obsession she attempts to thank him by creating a Ballet inspired by the Raven in his honor. The scene where Jean performs the eerie, macabre ballet, with Lugosi's Dr. Vollin lookin down from the theatre box above,  is beautifully done.

Dr. Vollin is now convinced that he has found in Jean his Lenore and is completely smitten.

Jean, for her part, seems somewhat attracted to the mysterious Dr. Vollin, but frightened of him as well, and then there is the matter of her dutiful, if dull, fiance and her father who strongly disapproves of the creepy doctor.

Jean's father informs Vollin that he is to have nothing romantically to do with his daughter and that Jean will be getting married as soon as possible.

Faced with this heart break Vollin goes completely mad and decides to enact a Poe like revenge.   

Conveniently for Dr. Vollin along comes the perfect assistant, Boris Karloff, in a rare stooge roll.   Karloff portrays Edmond Bateman, a convicted murder on the lam who wants Dr. Vollin to operate on him and make him look different.  Dr. Vollin agrees, operates, and indeed makes Bateman look very different:

Having mutilated Bateman, Dr. Vollin has him under his control.  He promises to restore Bateman's looks if he will help enact revenge on Jean, her father, and her fiance.  His house is perfectly suited for this task since he has spent his time creating replicas of torture devices from Poe's work, including a pit and a pendulum.  

Dr. Vollin invites everyone involved over to his house for the world's creepiest, and best dressed, sleepover party.

Once they are trapped in his house, Dr. Vollin begins pitiously exacting his Poe inspired revenge.  Including pendulums, pits, and walled of rooms for burying victims alive.

The Raven wasn't very popular when it was released in 1935.   Audiences found its themes of torture and revenge too dark and depressing.   Inexplicably, though Lugosi clearly had the leading role and gave an outstanding performance, the publicity for the film depicted Karloff as the star.  A move that hurt Lugosi deeply, and caused a bit of a feud between the two actors.

Despite it's failure at the time it was released The Raven is truly an excellent film that should not be forgotten by modern audiences.  It is available to rent from netflix, or to purchase from amazon as part of the Bella Lugosi collection.  Perfect Halloween viewing.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Vintage Friendships- (And a Vintage Outfit Post Inspired By My Dear Friend Jessica)

When I started Retro Rover three years ago I was inspired by other bloggers I saw sharing their love of vintage style on the internet, first among those bloggers was the lovely Jessica Cangiano at Chronically Vintage.   Jessica has an amazing knowledge of the 1940s and 50s fashion that she shares on her popular blog and she is incredibly supportive of other vintage bloggers like myself and the online vintage community in general.   Most impressively, she does it all while struggling with multiple chronic illnesses.   Even though I have never met Jessica personally I consider her a dear friend

and on ongoing source of style inspiration.

I was thinking of her when I put together this fall outfit from elements I already had in my closet.  Jessica is adept at blending eras, and often wears 1980s does 40s and 50s looks with great success, and also looks gorgeous in a pinafore.   The outfit I am wearing here consists of a 1940s repro blouse and pinafore from Jitterbuggin and a 1970s tweed jacket I found at the Salvation Army a decade ago, so it is a very Jessica look

(though I'd never presume to do a pinafore, or indeed, any vintage look as week as Jessica can.)  Like me Jessica prefers a covered up look a

and is a lover of tweed, fall, novelty brooches, and bakelite.  All elements in this outfit.


My favorite part of this outfit though is the necklace.  

It is a 1950s poodle necklace that Jessica sent me free of charge when I made a small purchase from her Etsy shop.  Jessica knows I have a toy poodle so she knew I would appreciate the necklace.  It's a testament to what a kind and considerate person she is that she sent it to me and I treasure it.  

The reason I have been thinking of Jessica particularly a lot lately is that she and her husband Tony have endured a terrible tragedy.  Their condo was destroyed in a massive fire that was started in arson incident in a neighboring condo. Thankfully Jessica, her husband and their dog Annie escaped, but tragically their beloved cat, Stella, is missing and not presumed to have survived.  All of their possessions: momentos, photographs, clothes, a lifetime of vintage collecting, and the wares from Jessica's online Etsy shop  have been destroyed.  

Jessica's sister has set up a You Caring link so that friends of Jessica can help her and Tony out.  If you know Jessica and how kind and supportive she is of her online friends please considering donating in her time of need.  Thank you.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sci Fi Saturday: Halloween Costumes from Star Trek's Mirror Universe

Every year I look forward to the Halloween season for many reasons: candy, classic horror movies, pumpkins, gorgeous weather etc, but maybe my favorite aspect of October is the opportunity to dress up my dogs (I'm not so sure they love it, but they love the treats that come along with the dressing up.) In the past they have been the Three Musketeers:

 flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz:

and Teen Wolf Pug and Puggie Krueger

to name just a few.

This year I had no problem deciding on a costume theme.  As ever Star Trek fan knows it's our favorite franchises 50th anniversary.

So Star Trek costumes where a must, but I didn't just want plain old Star Trek uniforms for the dogs, being a crazy die hard trekkie I wanted something a little more special.  I decided I wanted the costumes to  be a tribute to one of my favorite episodes of the Original Series: Mirror, Mirror.

In this iconic episode the crew gets accidentally transported into an alternate universe, where everything is a bit different.  Instead of a peace loving ship of exploration, the Enterprise is a war ship and the Federation is working to take over the galaxy.  Characters who where friends are now mortal enemies and you move up the ranks by assassinating your superiors. So none of that is great,  BUT the uniforms in the Mirror universe are fab!  I'm in love with the gold lame

I decided it would be fun to dress Weasley, Fry, Ping and Mr. Tuvok up as Star Trek Mirror Universe characters.  (Note: Bob will have none of this costume nonsense.) Since I can't sew I turned to Deb of Pug Possessed to make the costumes and despite never having watched Star Trek she did an amazing job. Here posing alongside the Star Trek Book of Costumes are the pups in their stellar costumes:

Weasley, looking manly as Mirror Universe Captain Kirk:

Fry oozing intelligence as Mirror Universe Commander Spock:

seductive Ping as Mirror Universe Lieutenant  Uhura:

and finally,  Mr. Tuvok is dressed as a personal guard.  Personal guard's are the crewman in the episode who run around trying to stop their employer from being assassinated.  Perhaps part of Tuvok's confusion and discomfort in this costume stemmed from the fact that I didn't whether he was working for Weasley or Fry.  

The whole crew:

Aren't they adorable?  Deb did such a wonderful job on these costumes I just can't get over it.   The tragedy is that the pet Halloween event we usually attend was rained out and I have yet to find an alternative event in Jersey City.  We used to go to the party at our favorite pet store Canis Minor, but it's gone out of business.  So sadly the only place the pups have to wear these fabulous uniforms is in  our home!    I guess we will have to use the costumes again next year.   Live Long and Prosper!

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