Dr. SeussLove. No wait—Dr. StrangeSeuss

drt-big-sculpted-faceOr, How I Made a Misguided Kids-Flick and Poked Fun at the Fear of the BOMB
A multimedia examination of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.—the only live-action film Dr. Seuss had a firsthand hand-in—with kid’s book artist/author Ted Enik

Date: Thursday, March 8
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society

There are a few choice examples of pop cultural relics that reach such squirmingly exquisite depths that they—like the shaggy-dog “dig through the core of the planet to China”—improbably invert their critical standing and ascend to an unstable pinnacle of flashing-popping brilliance.

With its stream-of-consciousness plot, Escher and Dalí-influenced sets, and hands-down freaky musical numbers, Dr. Seuss’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. is the champeen.

Ted Geisel was inspired to write this (no other term for it) revenge fantasy by recalling the piano lessons he’d endured as a boy “from a man who rapped my knuckles with a pencil whenever I made a mistake… I made up my mind I would get even with that man.” Enter the foppish and maniacal Dr. Terwilliker, an authoritarian piano teacher who seduces willing moms to entrust their sons to him, imprisons them in his barb-wired “Institute,” then forces the boys to play his Seussian, snake-shaped piano—his “5,000 Fingers.”

As a dreamscape-essay on adolescent angst, Dr. T. is unsparingly incisive, foaming with Oedipal weirdness and dysfunctional gender-bending. The film is virtually pounding “Chopsticks” with subterranean, assbackwards sexual energy. As a “laugh till you get it” metaphor for Eisenhower’s America, the film mines the public’s hot-and-getting-hotter anxieties about a second Hitler, an aggressive Russia, and the omnipresent Bomb. It sneakily tickles the ivories with a Stravinsky-like darkness.

Miles from being an “innocent” fantasy romp, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. is a Cubist gene-splice of Never Never Land and internment camp. Tonight—employing stills and clips from the film, reviews, analysis, and primary colors—we’ll tour both terrifying alternate realities.

Ted Enik—of “Cutegsam!,” “Parallel Botany,” “Wonderland’s Cutest Couple,” and “Where’s Ahab?“—does a few credible impersonations: Hannibal Lecter, Tom Waits (singing), and the extraordinary Hans Conried—the actor who plays the fantasy-fascist Dr. Terwilliker (Dr. T). If you ask nicely, and the wine has been flowing amply, he might be persuaded to embarrass himself. Ted is a caramel-centered member of the Hollow Earth Society. You can find out more about his kid’s book work at tedenik.com.

With comments piquant and assessment Tabasco
Ted Enik will autopsy Seuss’s fiasco.
Its celluloid entrails
content and style—
Our boy will compare n contrast, all the while
Pointing out its extreme and assorted humdingers.
He’ll deconstruct Dr. T.’s 5,000 Fingers!

The Witch’s Dungeon

Cortlandt Hull with figure of his great uncle, Henry Hull, "The Werewolf Of London"

Cortlandt Hull with figure of his great uncle, Henry Hull, "The Werewolf Of London"

An illustrated lecture and show and tell with collector, artist, and proprietor of “The Witch’s Dungeon” Cortlandt Hull
Date: Friday, May 20th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Part of
Out of the Cabinet: Tales of Strange Objects and the People Who Love Them, presented by Morbid Anatomy and Evan Michelson

Friday, May 20th may be a dark and stormy night. Brave souls normally catch the coach at midnight from the Borgo Pass to access the lawless and far off lands of Bristol, CT, spoken about in hushed tones as the home of the Witch’s Dungeon. But on this rare occasion the stars have aligned and like the Baba Yaga’s chicken-footed cabin, the Witch’s Dungeon is coming to Observatory!

Tonight, Cortlandt Hull will be speaking about his life’s work: the creation and evolution of The Witch’s Dungeon, a museum consisting of life size reproductions of classic film monsters. Growing up during the 1960′s monster boom, Cortlandt began construction of the Witch’s Dungeon 45 years ago in the back yard of his parent’s house. Over its near half century in existence, the Witch’s Dungeon has continually creaked open its doors, striking chords with patrons, becoming a true piece of Americana, and attracting many of the actors and filmmakers commemorated in the museum.

Cortlandt will also be screening clips of his multiple documentary films, providing a visual history of the actors & makeup artists who created the classic films. Original head props from fantasy films will be on display along with samples of Cortlandt’s work from the Witch’s Dungeon.

Cortlandt Hull–artist, museologist, and film historian–began “THE WITCH’S DUNGEON CLASSIC MOVIE MUSEUM” when just 13. in 1966. It is now considered the longest running tribute to the makeup artists & actors from classic horror films. Featuring accurate life-size figures of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and many others. Many of the figures are made from the actual life casts of the actor’s faces Cortlandt has produced documentaries on the history of classic horror & fantasy films. Actor, Henry Hull (“Werewolf of London”) was Cortlandt’s great uncle, and Josephine Hull (“Arsenic & Old Lace”) was his great aunt, so fantasy & horror is “in the blood”! He has lectured at universities, and film festivals, across the country, and has written for books and magazines.