Character actor and screen villain Charles Gray died March
7. Cult-film fans will recognize Gray as the criminologist
in 1975's "Rocky Horror Picture Show," but he is perhaps
better known for his role as James Bond's archenemy Ernst
Stravros Blofeld in the 1971 007 feature "Diamonds Are Forever."
Hammer-film enthusiasts know Gray for his role in the 1968
feature "The Devil Rides Out." He also appeared as Sherlock's
brother, Mycroft Holmes, in "The Seven Per-Cent Solution,"
and assumed the same role in the TV series featuring Jeremy
Brett as the eccentric sleuth. He also appeared in such
television series as "The Invisible Man," "One Step Beyond"
and "Out of This World."
Character actor John Colicos has died in Toronto at 71.
He had suffered a heart attack. Colicos was perhaps best
known as Count Baltar in the 1978 sci-fi series "Battlestar
Galactica," and for his role as Kor, a Klingon, on the original
"Star Trek" series. He reprised the role in several episodes
of the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" series in the 1990s.
He also appeared as Allan Quatermain in the 1978 film "King
Solomon's Treasure," and had parts in "The Changeling,"
"Phobia" and "Shadow Dancing." His television credits include
appearances on "Mission: Impossible," "Night Gallery," "Starlost,"
"Wonder Woman," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Alfred Hitchcock
Presents" and "War of the Worlds."
Cinematographer Lothrop Worth has died at 96. Worth's career
began in the silent era and lasted well into the 1960s.
In addition to pioneering the process that led to the short-lived,
3-D film craze, Worth photographed such cult classics as
director Herb Strock's "Gog" and "I Was A Teenage Frankenstein,"
and William Beaudine's "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula" and "Jesse
James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." Lothrop and his late
wife donated generously to the Motion Picture Home where
he died, and a wing of the facility was dedicated in their
honor in 1989.
The film and horror cons of 2000 will soon be upon us, and
the guest lists are evidence that more and more genre-film
vets are being bitten by the nostalgia show bug and are
taking the convention-circuit plunge.
"Starsky & Hutch" star David Soul
along with Antonio (Huggy Bear) Fargas from the same series.
- TV's "Dennis the Menace," Jay North - David Naughton ("An
American Werewolf In London") - Richard Eyer ("The Invisible
Boy") - The "Lost in Space" gang, featuring Bill Mumy, Mark
Goddard and Angela Cartwright - Celeste Yarnell ("Beast
of Blood") - Producer Sid Pink ("Angry Red Planet," "Reptilicus")
- Lou ("Incredible Hulk") Ferrigno - Haruo Nakajima from
"Mothra" and the original "Godzilla" - And what would a
Chiller con be without TV's trendsetting horror host, Zacherley?
The usual modelers, dealers and scantily-clad ladies will
also be in attendance. It all kicks off April 14 at the
Meadowlands Sheraton in New Jersey. Check out http://www.chillertheatre.com
for more info.
MONSTER BASH 2000
Billed as a "Ray Gun Blast from the '50s Past," the folks
at Monster Bash have lined up an impressive array of guests.
True to the billing they include: - Kenneth Tobey ("The
Thing From Another World") - Beverly Garland ("It Conquered
the World") - The "Reel Gill Man," original "Creature From
the Black Lagoon," Ben Chapman - Ed Wood regular, Dolores
Fuller ("Glen or Glenda," "Bride of the Monster") - Film
historian and 50s creature creator Bob Burns Scads of screenings
and star Q & As round out the bill. It gets under way
June 30 at the Four Points Sheraton in Greenburg, Pa. Visit
http://www.abulsme.com/creepy/bash.html for more.
CLASSIC FILMFEST 2000
The Midnight Marquee folks have likewise assembled an impressive
guest list for this summer's bash, noteworthy for an American
International Pictures reunion: - Director Roger Corman
- Producer Sam Arkoff - Betsy Jones-Moreland ("Creature
From the Haunted Sea") - Jonathan Haze ("Little Shop of
Horrors") Plus - Janet Leigh ("Psycho") - Stars of the original
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers," Kevin McCarthy and Dana
Wynter - "Carnival of Souls" star Candace Hilligoss - Former
child star Margaret O'Brien And the usual, jam-packed schedule
of panels, presentations and awards. It begins July 28 at
the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Va. Check out http://www.midmar.com
DEAR B MONSTER
Q: I have an odd question concerning the film "Giant From
the Unknown." What's the deal with Bob Steele's bleached-out
complexion? Steele, who portays the town sheriff, appears
strikingly pallid, while everyone else in the film seems
to photograph normally.
A: According to director Richard Cunha, Steele insisted
on wearing the pasty, pancake makeup. On the other hand,
"Giant" co-star Ed Kemmer thinks it may have been because
Steele wore no makeup at all. Either way, Steele stands
out in the crowd.
Q: At the beginning of the movie, "Dementia 13", a man
and wife are in a rowboat on a dark lake. They turn on a
radio, which is playing a catchy "rockabilly" type song.
Do you have any idea who is singing the song and the title
A: That's a tough one. Ronald Stein ("Attack of the 50
Foot Woman," "Spider Baby") scored the film, and unfortunately,
he's no longer with us to answer questions. The singer sounds
a bit like Tommy Spurlin, a somewhat obscure American rockabilly
artist whose "best-known" tune was a little thing called
"Hang Loose." He would have been active at the time of the
film's release. However, that's a very tentative guess.
Anyone out there have a definitive answer?
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
Director John Huston once proffered the following parable:
"Two producers are lost in the desert, dying of thirst.
They come across a beautiful oasis, with cold, sweet water.
As they are about to drink the water, one producer stops
the other and says, 'Wait! Let's piss in it!' "
"FORBIDDEN" COMES TO FRUITION
You knew the day would come. New Line Cinema has officially
secured the rights to remake "Forbidden Planet." I guess
the buzz is true -- there simply are no new ideas left,
so they'll continue to pick over the carrion of the classics.
AND SPEAKING OF REMAKES WHOSE TIME SHOULD NEVER COME .
The TBS Superstation, the dark side of Turner Classic Movies,
has announced that their remake of "High Noon" will begin
shooting in Calgary in April. Look for a premiere sometime
in August 2000. Signing on to portray lawman Will Kane,
the role for which screen legend Gary Cooper won an Oscar
in the original, is Tom ("Alien," "Picket Fences") Skerritt.
Rod Hardy, whose credits include "Two For Texas" and "Buffalo
Girls," will direct. It was also John Huston who once said,
"Don't remake good movies, remake BAD ones." But what did
MARS MANIA CONTINUES
Director John Carpenter is latching on to the caboose of
the Mars-movie bandwagon with "John Carpenter's Ghost of
Mars." Reportedly cast are Whoopi Goldberg and Courtney
Love. As co-writer Larry Sulkis told The John Carpenter
Web Page, the protagonists disturb the "ruins of an ancient
Martian civilization and unleash a kind of spiritual doomsday
defense system that will relentlessly destroy any alien
presence." Sounds like "Forbidden Planet" meets any one
of 15 Ray Bradbury stories. Wouldn't it have been more fun
to film "John Carpenter's Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter
MARCO POLO SCORES BIG
The folks at Marco Polo Music have two forthcoming releases
that belong on the shelves of every genre-movie maniac.
The first features the work of Universal composers Frank
Skinner and Hans J. Salter. Salter's lavish score for "Ghost
of Frankenstein" and tidbits of music from "Son of Dracula,"
"Black Friday" and "Man Made Monster" are also here. Rounding
out the disc is a sampling of Frank Skinner's music for
"Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror."
Arguably the more interesting of the two CDs is "Webb
of Horrors," which focuses on composer Roy Webb. Webb provided
scores for most of the classic Val Lewton-produced horrors,
and generous portions from "Cat People," "Bedlam," The Seventh
Victim," "The Body Snatcher" and, perhaps most impressive,
"I Walked with a Zombie," are featured. Atmospheric music
played an integral part in the success of these pictures,
and John Morgan has done a masterful job of reconstructing
these scores. Particularly interesting is the "Chant" from
"Zombie," as Morgan and company have even managed to replicate
the baleful song of the fishermen that haunts the start
and finish of the film. (I'd love to have heard the voodoo
ritual songs reconstructed!)
If you're not familiar with the Marco Polo folks, they've
issued indispensable soundtracks focusing on composers such
as Max Steiner ("King Kong"), Alfred Newman ("Hunchback
of Notre Dame") Victor Young ("The Uninvited") and Hugo
Friedhofer ("The Lodger"), as well as Skinner and Salter's
scores for "Son of Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man," "House
of Frankenstein" and more. If you love these movies (and
who in their right mind doesn't?), you'll want these loving
reconstructions. Visit http://www.hnh.com for more info.
VICKERS' MUSICAL TRIBUTE
While we're on the subject of CD's, cult-movie babe Yvette
("Attack of the Giant Leeches") Vickers has just released
her own. "A Tribute to Charlie and Maria" features songs
composed by Yvette's parents. Vickers, backed by a light-jazz
combo, sings two of the numbers, while the remaining vocal
chores fall to Scott Wojon. Yvette promises her next release
will feature her singing exclusively. Vickers' mother was
a classically-trained pianist, and her father, Charlie Vedder,
was a top-flight tenor sax man who once played with the
legendary Jay McShann jazz orchestra in Kansas City. (The
same band spawned Charlie Parker, Lester Young and many
others.) Write to P.O. Box 2606 Beverly Hills, CA. 90213
Director Jonathan Mostow ("From the Earth to the Moon,"
"Breakdown") is likely to direct a remake of the 1966 John
Frankenheimer thriller "Seconds." The original film starred
Rock Hudson as an aging businessman who undergoes a scientific
transformation and assumes a new identity. No word as yet
on casting for the remake.
FORRY V. FERRY
Beginning April 4, Court TV will begin coverage of the Forry
Ackerman vs. Ray Ferry case. Ferry owns the rights to Forry's
creation, "Famous Monsters of Filmland." Forry maintains
he was unfairly booted from the enterprise by Ferry not
long after they'd teamed up to revive the classic mag a
few years ago. Since then, Ackerman has been forbidden to
use the funny monikers (Dr. Acula) and trademark puns for
which he's known. Ferry claims Forry was ousted because
he missed deadlines and delayed production. Monster fandom
is in an uproar. Stay tuned.
THE WILD WILD WORST
The Golden Raspberry Foundation has announced the winners
of their celebrated "Razzie" awards. Cited as the worst
film of 1999 was "The Wild, Wild West," a remake of the
classic 1960s TV series, which starred Will Smith in the
role originated by Robert Conrad. The film also won "Razzies"
for worst director, screenplay, song and screen couple (Smith
and Kevin Kline). Word is that Conrad plans to attend the
The sequel to last summer's so-so "Mummy"
remake is taking shape, and you can add wrestling star Dwayne
"The Rock" Johnson to the cast list as "The Scorpion King."
Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo and John Hannah
will be reprising their roles from the summer blockbuster,
which made tons of money for Universal, a studio desperately
in need of another hit.
One of director Edgar Ulmer's most idiosyncratic and oddly
disturbing little movies is getting the royal DVD treatment.
1944's "Bluebeard" provided John Carradine with one of his
finest vehicles, and there is no better example of Ulmer's
ingenious, penny-pinching brand of film making, "Detour"
notwithstanding. Released by Allday, digitally remastered
from a positive print provided by the Cinematheque Francais,
the film is worth a second look on it's own merits. But
the extras included are an even greater incentive. A photo
gallery displays rare production stills, while the documentary,
"Bluebeard Revealed," includes interviews with the director's
widow, as well as the puppeteer who devised the title character's
puppets. Best of all is a booklet reproducing original promotional
material. Theater owners were entreated to "Hire a man and
make him up to look sinister with a bright blue beard as
his distinguished characteristic." Who could resist?
The B Monster gets the occasional query concerning the availability
of certain "sword-and-sandal" films, and we're here to tell
you that Trimark Home Video is set to unleash an Olympic-size
stash of chariot operas. "Hercules vs. The Hydra," featuring
Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Hargitay as the son
of Zeus leads the pack. (I may not be up on my spaghetti
spear flicks, but wasn't this one originally called "The
Loves of Hercules?") Also being released are "Hercules vs.
The Moloch," "Hercules vs. the Sons of the Sun," Medusa
vs. the Son of Hercules," "The Triumph of Hercules" -- in
short, enough Herc to stuff a Trojan Horse with. Oh, yeah,
"The Trojan Horse" is also among the forthcoming releases.
VLAD TO MEET YA
Director Joe Chappelle ("Phantoms," "Takedown") will begin
shooting "Dracula: A True Story," which, according to Variety,
will star Rudolf ("Beggars and Choosers") Martin as Vlad,
the Impaler. Also in the cast are Who lead singer, Roger
Daltrey and Peter "Robocop" Weller.
NEW ON DVD
Anchor Bay is releasing a barrage of vintage British sci-fi
THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN Always one of The B Monster's personal
favorites among Hammer flicks, this one features Forrest
Tucker, Peter Cushing, and one or two genuinely nail-biting
scenes, as an intrepid band of Himalayan explorers stalk
the enigmatic Yeti. Lots of chills, broad acting and outright
fun, the only disappointment being the climactic scene where
the Yeti's wizened face is partially revealed. Director
Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale provide commentary.
QUATERMASS II aka ENEMY FROM SPACE
Burly American Brian Donlevy is all wrong for the part of
the erudite British scientist, but I still like him as Quatermass.
This sequel, arguably superior to the initial Quatermass
feature, centers around a cloistered government facility,
possibly controlled by alien forces. Once more, director
Guest and writer Kneale provide audio elaboration.
X: THE UNKNOWN
An unstoppable blob oozes from the Earth's core every 50
years or so, and thank heaven the Brits have American scientist
Dean Jagger on board to keep the globual from devouring
the surrounding countryside. Jagger ain't bad, but he's
no Quatermass. Look for Leo "Rumpole" McKern and Anthony
"What Kind of Fool Am I?" Newley in small roles.
Once more, an American tops an otherwise British bill in
this snoozer about love and cloning and the ensuing hijinks.
Barbara Payton is the U.S. export this time, a buxom B-movie
actress better known for her private life (the infamous
fight for her affections between Franchot Tone and Tom Neal)
than her screen accomplishments.
NEW ON VIDEO
STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE
If even "Star Wars" purists were disappointed by George
Lucas's plodding prequel/sequel, why did it make a gazillion
dollars at the box office? What happened to the power of
word-of-mouth? Aside from the fact that Jar Jar Binks is
annoying and insulting (what was Lucas thinking?) and that,
as revealed in this film, the impetus for the three "Star
Wars" films, which have become an indelible part of American
culture, stems from the fate of Liam Neeson's inconsequential
character -- it's just plain boring. All the technical gewgaws
in the universe are no remedy for leaden pacing and characters
no one gives a hoot about.
END OF DAYS
Of the spate of "Satan" movies that came out last year,
Arnold Schwarzenegger's is easily the worst. The Apocalypse
is coming, and Satan, in the person of Gabriel Byrne, must
father a child. As the calendar has been changed umpteen
times over the centuries, there's a lame explanation as
to why midnight, December 31, 2000, is the Devil's deadline,
but it's embarrassing. Director Peter Hyams ticks off the
cliches in workmanlike fashion (Arnold's a disillusioned
cop. He's lost his family. His partner is killed. He's tortured
by memories), and Rod Steiger and Kevin Pollack are both
wasted. It's entirely predictable and the ending is a ripoff.
It's the "Exorcist" with car chases and explosions.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Michael F. Blake, whose books are available through Vestal
Press or at http://www.amazon.com
Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
Bob Madison, whose books are available through Midnight
Marquee Press or at http://www.amazon.com
Bryan Senn, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
and at http://www.midmar.com/books.html
Tom Weaver, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
and at http://www.midmar.com/books.html
"Likely to upset your stomach!" -- Mark of the Devil