Actor Jason Evers, arguably best known for his portrayal
of an obsessed scientist in the cult classic "The Brain
That Wouldn't Die," died of heart failure in Los Angeles.
He was 83. Born Herb Evers in New York City, he served in
the Army during the Second World War. He turned to acting
and landed his first screen role as a sheriff in the 1960
feature "Pretty Boy Floyd," starring John Ericson in the
title part. Soon after, Evers starred in the Western television
series "Wrangler." In 1962, still billed as Herb Evers,
he starred in the lurid sci-fi film "The Brain That Wouldn't
Die," as a surgeon who keeps the head of his fiancé,
played by Virginia Leith, alive following her decapitation
in a car accident. Evers' character cruises strip clubs
in search of the ideal body onto which he can graft her
still living head. The film has accrued a cult following
over the years. Other genre films in which Evers appeared
include "The Illustrated Man," based on Ray Bradbury's book,
"Escape From the Planet of the Apes," "Barracuda" and "Basket
Case 2." Evers worked extensively in episodic television,
appearing in such series as, "Cheyenne" "Perry Mason," "The
Rebel," "Laramie," "Surfside 6," "Adventures in Paradise,"
"Gunsmoke," "The F.B.I.," "The Green Hornet," "Combat!,"
"The Invaders," "The Wild Wild West," "Star Trek," "Mission:
Impossible," "The Bionic Woman," "The A-Team," and "Matlock"
among many others.
Actor Don Durant, who starred as "Johnny Ringo" in the 1950s
Western TV series, died following a long battle with chronic
lymphocytic leukemia at his home in Monarch Beach, Calif.
He was 72. Many cult-movie fans know Durant for his star
turn in Roger Corman's low-budget South Seas adventure "She
Gods of Shark Reef." Durant was an accomplished singer,
touring in stage shows, performing with the Frankie Carle
and Tommy Dorsey orchestras and appearing at such Las Vegas
venues as The Sands and The Sahara. He made his film debut
with a small role in "Battle Cry!," a Raoul Walsh-directed
war film starring Van Heflin and Aldo Ray. Aaron Spelling
produced the "Johnny Ringo" series for Dick Powell's Four
Star Productions. Thirty-eight episodes were filmed in 1959-60.
Durant also wrote and performed the show's theme. His co-star
was future "Lost in Space" star Mark Goddard. Durant worked
prolifically in episodic television throughout the 1950s
and '60s, appearing on such programs as "Sergeant Preston
of the Yukon," "Wagon Train," "Maverick," "Wanted: Dead
or Alive," "The Twilight Zone," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"
and "The Virginian."
Producer Debra Hill, often credited with paving the way
for women movie producers, died following a battle with
cancer. She was 54. It was reported that she was still at
work until just days before her passing. Hill broke new
ground for women in film, rising through the studio ranks
to become a successful producer. Her first major success
was the horror hit "Halloween," directed by John Carpenter.
The film cost $30,000 to make and earned an astounding $60
million worldwide. It made a star of actress Jamie Lee Curtis,
gave Carpenter studio clout and spawned several successful
sequels. "The ground that she trail blazed in the beginning
can now be followed by anyone," Carpenter told the Associated
Press. "She was incredibly capable and incredibly talented."
In 1986, Hill formed an independent production company with
friend Lynda Obst. Among the movies they produced were the
early films of director Chris Columbus, including "Adventures
in Babysitting" and "Heartbreak Hotel," as well as Terry
Gilliam's "The Fisher King." Hill also produced Carpenter's
"The Fog" and "Escape From New York," "The Dead Zone" and
several remakes of American International Pictures drive-in
classics, including "Reform
School Girl," "Motorcycle Gang," "Runaway Daughters" and
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
OF BAMBI TAKES A BREATHER
Donnie Dunagan, the actor best known to B Monster readers
as the precocious tot who appeared with Karloff, Lugosi
and Basil Rathbone in "Son of Frankenstein," has bowed out
of three convention appearances. He had been scheduled to
appear at Monster-Mania, Monster Bash and the Memphis Film
Festival. Dunagan, who also supplied the voice of "Bambi"
in 1942, has been overwhelmed by media attention in recent
months, largely owing to the long-awaited DVD release of
the classic Disney film. He's been on a whirlwind tour of
Disney-sponsored personal appearances and speaking engagements.
THREE TIMES THE TERROR!
The third Monster-Mania con gets under way May 20 in beautiful
Cherry Hill, N.J. The show will feature the usual panel
discussions, celeb Q&As, special film screenings and
an awe-inspiring dealers' room. And the Monster-Maniacs
have gone to great lengths to secure an intriguing and diverse
celebrity guest roster that offers something for just about
everyone, no matter what your specific area of horrific
interest. Heading the guest list are:
-- Jane Adams, Universal horror star of "House of Dracula"
-- Janet Ann Gallow, child star of "The Ghost of Frankenstein"
-- Robert Englund, Freddy Kruger himself
-- Heather Langencamp, also of "Nightmare on Elm Street"
-- Amanda Wyss, likewise an "Elm Street"er
-- Daveigh Chase, troubled child at the center of "The Ring"
-- Angus Scrimm, veteran of "Phantasm"
-- Elvira, "Mistress of the Dark"
-- Doug Bradley, our favorite "Pinhead"
-- The Chiodo Brothers, creators of "Killer Klowns From
-- The "Evil Dead" reunion featuring Ellen Sandweiss, Sarah
York, Betsy Baker and Hal Delrich
-- Tom Sullivan and his "Evil Dead Museum"
-- Bill Johnson and Andrew Bryniarski of "Texas Chainsaw
Massacres" two and three, respectively
-- Sid "Spider Baby" Haig
-- Ari "Jason" Lehman
-- Betsy Palmer, "Friday the 13th" and "I've Got a Secret"
-- Vincent Di Fate, award-winning sci-fi illustrator
It happens at the Cherry Hill
Hilton, May 20-22. For more info, check out:
Make a point of saying the B Monster sent you!
TIME TO REST AT WONDERFEST
Save room for a slice of Derby Pie and make your way to
this May's Wonderfest in lovely Louisville, Ky. Among this
year's highlights will be a special screening of "The Time
Machine," hosted by the machine's owner, prop-culture icon
Bob Burns. Bob will also take part in Dr. Gangrene's live
Chiller Cinema presentation, which will feature screenings
of "The Ghost Busters" -- no, we don't refer to that glossy
horror-comedy franchise. We're talking about the Saturday
morning kid-vid horror show, starring Forrest Tucker, Larry
Storch and Bob as Tracy the Gorilla. And, if you've never
seen Bob as the legendary Major Mars, it alone is worth
the trip to Bluegrass Country to view this inspired short
film. Bob will also take part in a special Sunday banquet
and tribute to the late artist, designer and filmmaker Wah
Also on the Wonderfest guest list:
-- Vincent Di Fate, award-winning artist, author and
-- Andrew Probert, production designer and starship creator
-- Pat McClung, special effects veteran of "Aliens," "Apollo
13" and "The Abyss"
-- Erin Gray, of TV's "Buck Rogers"
-- David Hedison, "The Fly" himself (Help me!)
-- Mark Goddard of TV's "Lost in Space"
-- Greg Nicotero, peerless makeup and effects artisan
-- John Goodwin, Emmy-winning makeup master
-- Artists Frank Dietz, Joe DeVito, William Stout and Mark
Schultz And more!
It's happening May 28-29 at Louisville's Executive West
Hotel. For more information, check out:
You know the routine: Tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
BRACES FOR THE BASH
Beautiful, bucolic Butler, Pa., just a stone's throw from
Pittsburgh, will once again welcome attendees of Monster
Bash, the "International Classic Monster Movie Convention
and Expo." According to Ron Adams and his dedicated crew
of conventioneers, this year's Bash, presented by Scary
Monsters Magazine and Creepy Classics Video & DVD, is
"dedicated to the memory of the vivacious actress of many
classic horror films -- Anne Gwynne." This year's program
of events includes the usual hectic schedule of cult-film
screenings and celeb Q&A sessions. And the dealers'
room is certain to be packed to the rafters with rare fright-film
memorabilia. This year's guest roster includes:
-- Legendary producer Richard Gordon ("Fiend Without a
Face," "The Haunted Strangler")
-- Bob Burns, actor, raconteur and beloved custodian of
the world's most overwhelming prop and memorabilia collection
-- Sara Karloff, daughter of horror icon Boris Karloff
-- Actress Gwynne Gilford, daughter of Universal leading
lady Anne Gwynne
-- Dolores Fuller, "Glen Or Glenda?" co-star and one-time
paramour of Ed Wood
-- Actress Susan Gordon, daughter of director Bert I. Gordon,
who appeared in her father's "Tormented" and "Attack of
the Puppet People"
-- Ben Chapman, the "Reel" Gill Man, star of "Creature From
the Black Lagoon"
-- Dee Ankers-Denning, daughter of actors Evelyn Ankers
and Richard Denning
-- Robert Tinnell and Bob Livingston, co-creators (with
Neil Vokes) of the horror graphic novel "The Black Forest"
-- Forrest J. Ackerman, "Mr. Sci Fi" himself
It's happening June 24, 25 and 26 at the Days Inn Conference
Center in Butler. For more info, check out:
Let 'em know for sure the B Monster sent you!
We note with sadness the passing of one of the Mid-South's
late night horror institutions, Watson Davis, also known
as Sivad, the ghoulish host of "Fantastic Features." Davis,
an advertising director for the Malco Theater chain, whomoonlighted
as the host of the weekly horror film showcase (which later
appeared twice weekly) on WHBQ channel 13 in Memphis. According
to a retrospective by film historian Harris Lentz, "Sivad
was a major television figure in Memphis during the 1960s
and was responsible for giving many of us in the area the
opportunity to see firsthand the numerous horror films we
had only read about in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland."
Lentz recalled that "The program opened with
Sivad emerging from a fog-enshrouded hearse to the strains
of Leigh Stevens' score from the 1950 science-fiction film
'Destination Moon.'" Sivad made his first appearance with
a screening of "The Giant Behemoth" on Saturday, September
29, 1962. The show continued in various forms until the
early 1970s. According to Davis' granddaughter, Andrea McKennon,
"Grandma would love to hear from his fans." Messages can
be mailed to Mabel Davis, 1002 North College, Stuttgart
AR, 72160. For more about Sivad and his legacy, visit the
As always, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
Many of our readers know the late George E. Turner as an
esteemed film historian, the author and co-author of such
seminal and informative titles as "Spawn of Skull Island,"
"The Making of King Kong" and "Human Monsters," among others.
George also worked as a storyboard and effects artist for
such noted filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola and Carl Reiner,
was an editor for The American Cinematographer and was a
resident historian for the American Society of Cinematographers.
In the early 1950s, Turner was a budding cartoonist with
a prodigious knowledge of America's pre-history. His diligently
researched comic strip, "The Ancient Southwest," began appearing
in 1951 in the Amarillo Sunday News-Globe and was greeted
with great acclaim. These historic strips have now been
restored, retooled and compiled by Turner's long-time collaborator,
Michael H. Price, in a paperback addition called "The Ancient
Southwest & Other Dispatches From A Cruel Frontier."
The volume also features Turner's "The Palo Duro Story,"
an epic strip chronicling the incursions of the Spanish
Conquistadors, as well as a generous sampling of vintage
cartoons published in school newspapers and sketches from
Turner's personal notebook. If you're a thunder lizard enthusiast
with an interest in America's paleo-past, you're sure to
dig this nifty compilation. To find out more, check out:
Don't hesitate to mention the B Monster sent you!
BRODY SAYS HE KNOWS JACK
Oscar-winning movie star Adrien Brody, who portrays hero
Jack Driscoll in director Peter Jackson's forthcoming big-budget
"King Kong" remake, says that his portrayal bears no resemblance
to Bruce Cabot's interpretation in the original 1933 film.
"The role actually hasn't been played before," Brody told
Sci Fi Wire. "The name has been used before, but [the character]
is actually derived from a number of other sources that
have interesting parallels to the character that I'm playing."
What is Brody bringing to the role that Cabot didn't? "I
think this [character] will have a far more realistic and
sensitive nature than the interpretation in the original
movie." Universal plans to release Jackson's "Kong" December
Attention budding B-movie impresarios: Make plans to attend
October's fourth annual "New York City Horror Film Festival."
Entries aren't due until September 15. According to organizers,
the festival "is dedicated to a genre film community and
encourages filmmakers to submit to other festivals." Like
Skriekfest, the NYCHFF has "NO restrictions on films screening
that are screening at other festivals, either past or present."
The fee for short films under 45 minutes is $25 per entry
before Sept. 1, $35 per entry before September 15th. For
feature entries 45 minutes and longer the cost is $40 per
entry before Sept. 1, $50 per entry before Sept. 15. The
fest takes place at the Tribeca Film Center in New York
City. The NYCHFF jury will present awards in the following
-- Best Feature
-- Best Short
-- Best Cinematography
-- Best Special Effects
-- Best Actor
-- Best Screenplay For Submitted Film
-- Audience Choice
Complete guidelines, highlights of past festivals and more
are available at:
You know by now to tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
SPOTLIGHTS KID MONSTER VID
Another outlet for aspiring B-movie impresarios is L.A.'s
"Shriekfest 2005." According to organizers of the Fall confab,
"Shriekfest is a festival dedicated to getting horror/thriller/sci-fi
filmmakers and screenwriters the recognition they deserve."
Shriekfest awards prizes to the best features, videos, shorts
and documentaries with horror, thriller and science fiction
film themes. There's even a category for young screenwriters
and young filmmakers 18 years and under. Cash prizes and
trophies will be presented to winners in the following categories:
-- Youngest Filmmaker & Screenplay writer categories
(Must be under 18)
-- Best Film: Feature and Short
-- 2nd place: Feature and Short
-- Fan Favorite
-- Shriekfest Award: An Award given by the festival president
-- Best Actor/ Actress Award
-- Best Screenplays: Feature & Short
-- 2nd place Feature Screenplay and 2nd place Short Screenplay
Deadline for entries is May 28. The festivities will take
place at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. For more details,
Be sure and tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
FANEX: "EMPHASIS ON "FAN"
The folks at Midnight Marquee Press are marching forward
with plans for an 18th FANEX confab. In lieu of celebrity
guests, the emphasis will be on fan-run panel discussions,
film screenings and just plain socializing. "We have decided
to keep the FANEX spirit alive and do a FANEX 18," says
the Midmar team, "with everything but guests, because that's
what really caused the stress for us." The gathering takes
place July 29-30 at the Embassy Suites Hotel Baltimore North.
For hotel info, visit:
For further details concerning FANEX, keep an eye on:
NEW ON DVD
There's a lot to like about "The Incredibles." Fluid, clear-eyed
storytelling, impeccable design work, ingratiating characterization,
cleverly staged action sequences, comedy -- you know, all
the things that are missing from most contemporary movies,
particularly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Director
Brad Bird was lauded by this critic (and many others) for
his execution of "The Iron Giant," a terrific film with
many of the same heartening attributes found in "The Incredibles."
Unfortunately, nobody went to see "The Iron Giant," largely
because its studio exhibited no faith in the property and
dumped it into theaters with little or no fanfare. (If you
haven't seen it, you should.) Fortunately, "The Incredibles"
was met with critical acclaim and an overwhelming enthusiastic
response from moviegoers who made it one of the top moneymakers
of the year. The film presents an engaging spin on comic
book iconography that I found refreshing. The comics industry
has spun itself straight into the ground in recent years,
issuing wave after wave of grim, dispiriting, nihilistic
characters and stories, alienating the young and boring
the hell out of the old. A dash of color and a jolt of fearless
optimism is just what the comic book biz needs. But I digress.
"The Incredibles" is about a family of superheroes (a
comic book movie about family! Can you imagine?) struggling
to survive in an age when people with super powers have
bowed to repeated litigation, harassment and resentment
on the part of an ungrateful society, and quietly retired.
The world has grown weary of superheroes and the havoc that
generally accompanies their escapades. The heroes take on
9-to-5 jobs and make every attempt to appear "normal." As
you might anticipate, the temptation to resume their careers
as crime busters is ever-present and ultimately irresistible.
The film addresses difficult family dynamics, intolerance
and prejudice but never bogs down in sermonizing. It shows
its characters to be resourceful, self-reliant and loyal.
I did, however trip over one scene in the film that troubled
me greatly. Mom and her two super heroic offspring have
tracked dad to an island where he is being held captive
by the villain. We see dad being tortured, which in itself
is troubling enough, but my issue concerns a cautionary
speech mom delivers to the kids as she leaves them to search
for their father. She tells them to be extra careful and
to keep in mind that the cartoon villains they see on Saturday
morning TV are just make-believe, but the villains that
inhabit the island are very real and mean to kill them!
Was this necessary? We're watching a cartoon wherein a cartoon
character tells cartoon children that cartoon villains are
imaginary, but the REAL world is filled with people who
mean them harm. This scene stopped me cold, as it seemed
so grossly inconsistent with the overall attitude of the
It seems that cult-movie fans either like or hate "Carnival
of Souls." Some find it clever and enterprising, as it attempts
to realize a meaningful theme on an ultra-slim budget. Others
consider it amateurish and silly and grant it zero points
for effort. Iconoclast that I am, I come down resolutely
in the middle. It is amateurish. It is also enterprising.
Director Herk Harvey & Co. fashioned this film, sort
of a 1962 spin on the classic story "An Occurrence at Owl
Creek Bridge," out of next-to-nothing. Its very cheapness
endeared it to a cult following that saluted this brand
of underdog, maverick filmmaking. Its reputation continues
to grow, and its star, Candace Hilligoss, continues to make
personal appearances at horror cons and autograph shows,
greeted by enthusiastic throngs.
So, do you recognize Harvey for his ambitious, budget-hampered
efforts, or do you judge the film solely on the intrinsic
merits of the finished product? Harvey and his crew did
create a few genuinely unsettling scenes, employing shadows
to disguise the paucity of funding at every opportunity.
And Hilligoss as the doe-eyed, confused survivor (or IS
she?) of a car crash, wandering a dreamy twilight world
is affecting. But I can see why many genre-film buffs are
perplexed by the film's somewhat vaunted reputation. For
one thing, in its original release, it ran 78 minutes. This
is too long. (This two-disk DVD set contains a director's
cut that runs 83 minutes.) The filmmakers don't sustain
interest in the heroine's predicament. There just isn't
enough happening. So, if you're more concerned with plot
and pacing than you are with "how'd they shoot this" or
"how'd they film that," you'll be bored.
This special edition also features a new digital transfer
of the film; the documentary "The Movie That Wouldn't Die!
The Story of Carnival of Souls," which chronicles a 1989
reunion of the cast and crew; more than 45 minutes of rare
outtakes; "The Carnival Tour," which explores locations
used in the film; an hour of excerpts from industrial films
made by the Lawrence, Kan.-based Centron Corporation where
Harvey and "Carnival" screenwriter John Clifford worked
for some 30 years; film historian Tom Weaver's print interviews
with Harvey, Clifford and Hilligoss illustrated with photos
and memorabilia; and audio commentary by Clifford and Harvey
(who passed away in 1996).
OF THE WORLD
I nearly broke my brain trying to think of something good
to say about this picture. But apparently, nobody put any
thought into making it, so why should I work so hard to
find praiseworthy aspects? It does give small, thankless
roles to actors in the twilight of their careers; Lew Ayres,
Macdonald Carey and Oscar-winner Dean Jagger. I suppose
they really needed the money. But they're hustled on and
off the screen in the blink of an eye. Kirk Scott and Sue
"Lolita" Lyon eat up whatever screen time that isn't given
over to nominal lead Christopher Lee. His role as an alien
invader disguised as a Catholic priest is nearly as embarrassing
as his star turn in "Castle of Fu Manchu." But perhaps he
and the other one-time stars were banking on the fact that
the film is so poorly lit one can hardly distinguish what's
happening on screen. Either the producers ran out of money
to pay for grips, or someone simply forgot to set up the
lights. Most of the scenes are a murky visual puzzle. And
don't count on dialog to help sort out the plot; in some
scenes it's indecipherable, particularly those featuring
a very haggard and harried-looking Jagger.
As near as I can tell, the plot concerns a NASA scientist
(Scott) who intercepts strange, cryptic messages on his
computer, which appear to be coming from space. You'd think
that this news would be world shaking. But it is precisely
then that his NASA boss (Jagger) decides to send him on
a lecture tour, speaking about more mundane NASA procedures.
It's never really explained why. In his spare time, Scott
and Lyon use some sort of NASA detector device to track
the signals. Turns out, the messages are being beamed to
a California convent. Here, the couple is taken prisoner
by Father Pergado (Lee) and his nuns who are actually aliens
in disguise. Pergado, aka Zindar, has come to steal a special
crystal from NASA, return to his planet and destroy the
earth, which, according to Zindar, is polluting the galaxy
with disease. In between these events there are many scenes
of people wandering around in the dark and mumbling such
sparkling dialog as, "Our instruments are usually very accurate,
but they are, after all, just that, instruments."
"End of the World" was produced in 1977 by the prolific
Charles Band and the Band clan, the undisputed rulers of
the direct-to-video market who usually specialize in horror
franchising. They're behind the "Witchhouse" series, the
"Puppet Master" series, the "Dollman" series, the "Trancers"
series ... you get the idea. They've made literally hundreds
of films. This one came between "Laserblast" and their erotic
version of "Cinderella."
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Michael F. Blake, whose books are available through Vestal
Press or at http://www.amazon.com
David Colton, organizer of the Rondo Hatton Awards http://www.rondoaward.com
Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
Bob Madison, founder and CEO of Dinoship, Inc. http://www.dinoship.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.dinoship.com
"One day after a million years it came out of hiding to
kill, kill, kill!!" -- Beast of Hollow Mountain