Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zombies, Madmen, Cats: The Films of Val Lewton

I love Halloween. Especially the iconic images of Halloween: the gypsy fortune teller driving her cart through a forest at night, lit by a solitary lamp; ghostly women in diaphanous gowns who walk the halls of old houses at the ends of lonely roads; cackling witches; yowling black cats; grinning jack o' lanterns; and death riding a skeletal horse through a midnight sky. My idea of Halloween is, obviously, a romantic one based on the influence of a lifetime of Gothic literature, cheap, paper Halloween decorations, and old Hollywood movies.

In my opinion, the best horror films ever were made in Hollywood in the 30s and 40s and though I love Universal Horror as much as anyone else (The Black Cat, especially) my personal favorites are those kitschy, heavy-handed, offensively cliche RKO films made by Val Lewton on a shoestring budget with a repertory cast. He stole from classic literature frequently (both The 7th Victim and I Walked with a Zombie are drawn from Jane Eyre), relied on offensive stereotyping, and sometimes I'm damned if I can figure out what the point of the film is (what's with that woman in The Curse of the Cat People, anyway) but he also created fun, stylish, moody films that while not actually scary are spooky in that uniquely Halloween way. I guess I'm easy, give me an outmoded folk legend, an exotic locale, or a deserted house with subterranean waters and I'm yours.

The first time I saw them was on a cable channel Halloween marathon and I've been in love with them ever since. If the only Val Lewton film you've ever seen is Cat People, you should definitely check out some of the others. My personal favorites are:

I Walked with a Zombie - a young nurse travels to the West Indies to care for a madwoman and comes face to face with Voodoo, very evocative, very lifted from Jane Eyre.

Isle of the Dead - a group of people are trapped on an island with Boris Karloff and a dread disease. They're droppin' like flies.

The 7th Victim - a young career woman goes to the big city and gets involved with Satanists - can her little sister save her?

And, of course, last but never least, Cat People - a curse from the old country follows a young woman to her new home and destroys her life.

If you want some more ideas, read Wendell Jamieson's article from the New York Times or Bright Lights Film Journal's article on Val Lewton.

Have fun! Don't get sick on corn candy!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friends of All-Pop: Happy Halloween!

From our ALL-POP family to your family, Happy Halloween!

(And don't forget to brush your teeth...)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Product: Woven Plastic Bags

Wow! We were so excited when this shipment of woven plastic bags came in from Mexico. We just can't get enough of these fun, bright saturated colors. Very All-Pop-ish.

Plus the bags are quite sturdy and they're a great size, big enough to carry anything from schoolbooks to knitting to a child's favorite beach toys. We haven't seen them offered in too many other places, so you might want to get in on one now while they're in stock. They're going to go fast!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Los Angeles is Burning

We here at All-Pop wish the best for our fellow southlanders. We'll get through this together somehow. We always do!

Somewhere high in the desert near a curtain of a blue
St. Anne's skirts are billowing
But down here in the city of the lime lights
The fans of santa ana are withering
And you can’t deny that living is easy
If you never look behind the scenery
It's showtime for dry climes
And bedlam is dreaming of rain

When the hills of los angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And los angeles is burning

This is not a test
Of the emergency broadcast system
Where malibu fires and radio towers
Conspire to dance again
And I cannot believe the media Mecca
They're only trying to peddle reality,
Catch it on prime time, story at nine
The whole world is going insane

When the hills of los angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And los angeles is burning

A placard reads
"the end of days"
Jacaranda boughs are bending in the haze

More a question than a curse
How could hell be any worse?

The flames are stunning
The cameras running
So take warning

When the hills of los angeles are burnin
Palm trees are candles in the murder wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And los angeles is burning

Saturday, October 20, 2007

We're Not Unreasonable...

"Things have been okay for me, except that I'm a zombie now..."

This vid is meant as a hearty metal salute to those fellow angelenos who will be taking part in tomorrow's scheduled Zombie Walk in Old Town Pasadena. Maybe someday the missus and I and lil zombiette will participate.

For the rest of us, here's Jonathan Coulton's hilarious Office Space meets Dawn of the Dead opus extraordinaire, "Re: Your Brains."

"Here's an FYI, you're all going to die!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Luchador Action Figures

Imagine the hours of fun you and your friends can have staging your own championship bouts and bitter grudge matches - all with our authentic Mexican lucha libre action figures! You get 12 wrestlers per pack and many of the figures come with their own plastic cape. Don't forget: All-Pop.com is your HQ for all things Lucha Libre!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two Santo Domingos

Church of Santo Domingo, Oaxaca

Our trip to Oaxaca included visits to two churches that bear the name of Santo Domingo. The first one here is a very famous one. It's right in the middle of the city of Oaxaca and it's very big, very beautiful, and very old.

Church of Santo Domingo, Tlacolula

The other Santo Domingo (shown above) that we visited was off in the very small, humble town of Tlacolula, about a half hour or so out of Oaxaca. Like the town, the church appeared modest, but once inside... whew! It was an over-the-top masterpiece of Mexican ultra baroque church architecture. The ceiling in the old wing seemed like a single writhing mass of sculpted plaster, alive with the faces of saints and every manner of ornamentation. The photo below sort of begins to give you an idea of how ornate it is.

Tlacolula 01

Friday, October 12, 2007


Part social studies lesson meant to capture the imagination of the 10 yr old daniel boone coonskin cap set, part sentimental favorite of your local neighborhood John Bircher, the "Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton is a manly man sort of song, 110 percent hetero, yessiree... but doesn't the macho-ness seem subverted by West Side Story-style leaping and cavorting of the soldiers in the background? Just askin'.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hats at the Market

Hats in the Market

It seemed like each day a different town in the valley held its big outdoor market. On the day we rented a car, the small town of Ocotlan was holding its market. It was huge, selling everything from locally grown herbs and locally made chocolate, to manufactured items like big stacks of colored plastic containers. And hats, lots of hats.

The town's biggest church was right there by the market too - we had to check it out, of course. We bought some religious prints much like the ones here from an old lady sitting out in front. Then we had to leave Ocotlan and go buy some black ceramics and mezcal, plus visit more churches (stay tuned for those). It was a busy day!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Disco Paradox

I don't think I'll be able to top Jen's Bee Gees post last weekend, but here's some more disco, just to keep this dance train rollin'.

Kind of like Sandi and Sally's "Walkin' in the Sunshine," this uber-campy late 70s version of "Singin in the Rain" by Sheila & B Devotion demands that the viewer embrace it's unrelenting and almost fascistic optimism and good time-ism. It puts you in an impossible position: to reject it is to be coldly cynical. To embrace it is to be a drooling simpleton. Damn you, I love you Sheila!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Crucifix Store


Oaxaca, Mexico, 2003. This is one of those chance things you see while you're making your way down the narrow, uneven sidewalks in the old central part of the city of Oaxaca. You're walking along peering into all these shops, taking it in, and then whoa, what was that?! A shop selling big, BIG wood and plaster crucifixes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Check out our new Bath section full of luxurious and sweet smelling European soaps. Perfect for you or a friend.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Religious Stuff Stand

Religious Stuff Stand

Oaxaca, Mexico, 2003. The colors, the clutter! This is what we're all about. As Jen put it: "We should've bought this entire stand and brought it home to put on the site." Yep. Either that, or set it up in the living room. Down in the lower right hand corner you you might be able to see the top of a Maria Milagrosa print that we happen to sell. The plastic gold frames are pretty cool too.