Sean McCourt

Transylvania twist

Scarin' up memories with the Monster Squad's Fred Dekker

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM For many devoted fans of horror films who grew up in the 1980s — especially those who were monster kids in spirit or became one in the ensuing years — the 1987 movie The Monster Squad has a special, firmly staked place in their hearts.

Paying tribute to the icons of the classic Universal monster pantheon while weaving a modern storyline into the mix, writer and director Fred Dekker created a now-cult favorite, a film that is scary and funny, entertaining and touching all at the same time.Read more »

SATURDAY SATURDAY SATURDAY! Monster trucks, y'all!

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For many of us that grew up in the 1970s and 80s, the recent slew of TV commercials for this weekend’s “Monster Jam” monster truck event in Oakland has been bringing back a flood of fond memories, with the overly-exaggerated and amped up announcer wildly informing us about the stampede of horsepower that is about to come thundering into town — though it’s Sat/26, not SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY as it seemed most of the ads back then proclaimed.

Generations of kids have undoubtedly imagined being in the driver’s seat of Bigfoot, Grave Digger, or one of the other many colorful and burly monstrous machines over the years, going to live shows, watching them on TV, or playing with their Hot Wheels toys in the backyard.

One Bay Area native who has gone on to actually become a professional monster truck driver is Kelvin Ramer, who was born and raised in Corralitos, down in Santa Cruz County. Ramer’s retro cool custom creation is Time Flys, a monster truck based on the body of a 1934 Ford pick up, which he drives for his own family-run team, the appropriately named Living The Dream Racing.

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Forget "Deborah" -- Debbie Gibson is back!

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Despite having had a nearly 25-year (and counting) career in show business, singer Debbie Gibson is still full of youthful energy and excitement when talking about recent projects and what she has planned for the future — perhaps that is due in part to the fact that she had her first hit single and taste of fame when she was only 16 years old. The ever-vivacious Gibson is particularly excited about taking part in a benefit concert and cabaret show tonight here in San Francisco, “One Night Only: A Shrektacular Holiday Celebration,” which will also feature the cast of Shrek currently at the Orpheum Theatre, and raises funds for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation.

“Pretty much if I’m available, I can’t say no to this organization,” says Gibson, who has always been heavily involved with helping charitable groups throughout her career. “I really enjoy these intimate shows with solo theater performers, and it’s kind of a perfect fit for me — obviously I bring my pop persona to the table, but at the same time I’m part of the theater community, so it makes perfect sense really.”

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Are you ready for GWAR??

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Apparently, even the massive, all-powerful aliens and scumdogs of the universe known as GWAR have trouble with reception on their iPhones.

While conducting a phone interview before a show in Hollywood, band leader Oderus Urungus’ connection cut out twice, leaving him grumbling, “Maybe I’m clutching my iPhone too tightly!”

Perhaps it was his giant claws proving to be too much for our puny human technology to handle — either way, once the connection was re-established, the intergalactic beast that has led GWAR for more than a quarter century had no shortage of hilarious and outrageous things to say.

Having just finished taping a segment for the Fuel TV show Daily Habit, Oderus was being informed that he had revealed a bit more of himself to the television audience than he had thought. “I just did the show apparently with my balls hanging out the entire time and nobody told me! That’s not like a big thing for Oderus, my balls usually are hanging out — but to try to get on national TV, I’m willing to do the ball tuck, but apparently the ball tuck didn’t work, it was horrible, it looked like a duck-billed platypus coming out of a burrow or something!”

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Next stop Mustaine: rappin' with the Megadeth man

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Dave Mustaine has seen more than his fair share of difficult obstacles to overcome throughout his musical career due to his past drug and alcohol addictions, which famously got him kicked out of the early line up of Metallica. Even during his ensuing triumphs with his own band, long-time metal favorites Megadeth, he struggled often with his demons.

Now clean and sober, the singer and guitarist is riding high on his current successes, which include a new autobiography, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir (Harper Collins) which hit the New York Times’ best seller list earlier this month when it was published. Megadeth’s latest studio album, 2009’s Endgame (Roadrunner Records) was received well by both fans and critics, and the band is currently on the road as part of the “American Carnage Tour” with Slayer and Testament.

Mustaine and company hit the Cow Palace tonight; he also did a book signing this morning. The first-time author is happy with the ways things have been going so far during his first foray into the literary world.

“I’m very excited about it, because when I initially set out to write this thing, it wasn’t to be on the Oprah book club — although now that I know a little bit more about books it would certainly be cool to sit on the couch and tell her a little bit about my story,” says Mustaine, speaking by phone before a concert in Albuquerque.

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Gunning solo: Slash speaks!

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For more than 20 years, Saul Hudson — better known to his millions of fans around the world simply as Slash — has exuded the very essence of what it means to be a rock star. His iconic stage image, with the trademark top hat, sunglasses, and low-slung Les Paul, is instantly recognizable, as are his innumerable guitar licks and solos that are now part of the rock n’ roll canon. He plays the Warfield Sun/29.

Having made a name for himself first with the titanic sound and success of Guns N’ Roses in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then capturing lightening in a bottle yet again in Velvet Revolver, the agile axeman released his first solo album in April, recruiting some of biggest names in music to lend their vocal talents to the self-titled effort. Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Grohl, Iggy Pop, Ian Astbury, and more fill out of the collection of tracks that feature Slash’s trademark sound and style, yet explore some new territory when it comes to the sonic soundscape that he’s canvassed over the years.

Slash wrote the music, and then sent the track to the performer that he thought best fit the song, asking if they would like to participate. The approach to the record was an almost compete role reversal for the guitar slinger, who has recorded countless guest appearances and performances over the past two decades.

“That was exactly what inspired the record, really — I’ve done so much stuff on other people’s records it finally got to the point where I wanted to do a record where I get everybody,” says Slash, speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles. Read more »

Point of entry

Metal god and leather priest Rob Halford returns to San Francisco

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MUSIC Blessed with the pipes and vocal chords of an angelic opera singer but willing and able to deliver the type of piercing wail that would shock a banshee, Rob Halford has long been considered one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time. Rightfully dubbed "the Metal God" by fans, he has been making his mark in music for nearly 40 years, from his iconic role as front man for the legendary Judas Priest, through his tenure with Fight in the 1990s, and some excellent solo ventures during the last decade.Read more »

The facts of Cloris

The showbiz legend dishes on her new solo show

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arts@sfbg.com

STAGE With nearly 250 credits in film, television, and stage roles to her name, Cloris Leachman is a true entertainment icon. It's hard to believe the ever-vivacious and lively actress got her start in show business competing in the Miss America pageant back in 1946, but the now 84-year-old star has generously filled a career spanning more than 60 years.Read more »

Just "Duck"-y

Actor Ed Gale journeys from Howard the Duck to WonderCon

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CULT FILM STAR Although the mainstream Hollywood press and audiences at large may not have flocked to theaters in support of the initial release of Howard the Duck in 1986, a core group of devoted fans and successive generations of viewers have elevated the film to cult classic status, resulting in a long-awaited special edition DVD release last year.Read more »

It lives again -- Creature Features rises from the grave

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Seemingly rising from the grave like so many of the monsters and ghouls that it showcased over a 14-year run on local television, the beloved Bay Area show Creature Features is being resurrected once again to satiate fans’ undying thirst for the creepy, kooky and campy.

On Thursday night, John Stanley (who took over hosting the program from the late Bob Wilkins in 1979) will be on hand at the Balboa Theater for a recreation of what an original “Creature Features” episode would have been like circa the early 1980s, including a full feature film, interview segments, mini-movie, and even the vintage commercials that ran during the breaks. Read more »