Ready or not, another holiday season is upon us, and the
B Monster's got his perforated stocking hung by the hearth
with care. Whether you're trimming a tannenbaum or minding
a menorah, we wish you the happiest holiday possible and
humbly offer the following effluvium of genre-film epherma
in an attempt to enhance your yule.
A NOTE OF THANKS ...
to all who took part in the Rhino, B Monster, Crater Kid,
"Brain in a Box" Trivia Challenge. Winners hailed from both
coasts of the U.S., England and Australia. We'd also like
to point out that, while the "Brain" package is a terrific
overview, die-hard devotees of sci-fi soundtracks should
check out the terrific "Monstrous Movie Music" collections
at http://www.mmmrecordings.com , not to mention the many
Marco Polo soundtrack reconstructions (see item below).
Tell 'em the B Monster sent you.
Doug Benton, a producer of the "Thriller" television series
hosted by Boris Karloff, has died following a battle with
cancer. Though officially credited as the associate producer,
it seems Benton did the lion's share of the work on the
series. Very much a "hands-on" producer, Benton pored through
hundreds of copies of "Weird Tales" and other pulp magazines
in search of story material. He cited "Pigeons from Hell"
as his personal favorite of many memorable episodes. Benton
also worked as a producer on shows such as "Magnum, P.I.,"
"Police Woman," "Hec Ramsey" and "Columbo," for which he
received an Emmy Award.
Film historian Tom Weaver recalls Benton as, "One of my
all-time favorite people. He was one of the nicest people
-- and most informative interviewees -- I ever had the pleasure
of talking with. I spoke with him just a week [before he
passed away], when he must have known he had just days to
live." Though facing death, Benton continued to regale Weaver
with backstage "Thriller" stories. "The guy had an endless
supply," says Weaver, "and encouraged me to call him back
for even more, even though death was staring him in the
face." Benton was justifiably proud of one of the most consistently
entertaining suspense series in TV history.
Frederick S. Clarke
The founder and publisher of "Cinefantastique" magazine,
Frederick S. Clarke, is dead at 51. "Cinefantastique," covering
fantasy, science fiction and horror films, was started by
Clarke in 1970, and Clarke took pride in its serious approach
to a genre he felt other magazines covered in a juvenile
fashion. According to Clarke's assistant, Lisa Coduto, "In
addition to his loving family, he left behind an office
staff of seven, not including the many writers that also
worked for him. We will miss him very much and will continue
his work just as he did ... the magazine will continue
to publish." Clarke is survived by his wife, Celeste, and
L. Sprague deCamp
Science fiction and fantasy author L. Sprague deCamp is
dead at 92. While he spent much of the past 50 years writing
over 100 science fiction and fantasy novels, his prolific
career included stints as a teacher, engineer, patent expert
and publicity writer. He wrote several historical novels,
definitive biographies of authors H.P. Lovecraft and Robert
E. Howard, and nonfiction works including "The Ancient Engineers,"
"The Day of the Dinosaur," "The Great Monkey Trial" and
others. He also edited and contributed to several volumes
featuring Howard's barbarian character, Conan, many in collaboration
with the late Lin Carter.
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
RUFFY TO RAY RAPHNE?
According to the "Hollywood Reporter," Sarah Michelle Gellar
("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is likely to play Daphne in
the upcoming live-action Scooby Doo film. Also in talks
to join the production are Freddie Prinze Jr. and Christina
Ricci, who would take on the roles of Fred and Velma, respectively.
(Since the idea for a live version of the Saturday morning
cartoon first surfaced, it's been said that Michael Myers
would portray Shaggy.) The film will be directed by Raja
AND SPEAKING OF MICHAEL MYERS AND POINTLESS REMAKES ...
"Variety" says that MGM is anxious to have Myers portray
Inspector Clouseau in the studio's upcoming remake of "The
Pink Panther." Why are they remaking "The Pink Panther?"
I dunno. Why can't Scooby Doo remain a cartoon?
Guy Pearce ("L.A. Confidential," "Rules of Engagement")
will star in a big-screen adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The
Time Machine." The DreamWorks/Warner Brothers co-production
is scheduled to begin filming in February. "Prince of Egypt"
co-director Simon Wells -- who just happens to be the great-grandson
of H.G. -- will be in the director's chair.
LOVE, HONOR AND E-BAY
Sooner or later, EVERYTHING (excluding human organs and
serial-killer momentos) will turn up on e-Bay. For instance,
the rubber appliance worn by Lon Chaney as part of his Wolf
Man makeup in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" was
recently up for grabs. Sculpted in 1948, the appliance covered
Chaney's brow, nose and upper lip. The auctioneer invited
potential bidders to "check my other auctions for movie
mold (sic) "Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Revenge of
the Creature," "Hideous Sun Demon," "Star Trek" Vulcan ears
and other items from movie molds." The Chaney prosthetic
KING AND MELLENCAMP TAKE THE 'GREAT WHITE WAY'
Books, movies, the Internet -- what's left for Stephen King
to conquer? Broadway, of course! The literary horror-meister
is teaming with '80s rock star John Mellencamp on a "haunted
musical" that's bound for Broadway. The show tells the story
of estranged brothers and their father stranded in a cabin
that is haunted by the ghosts of their relatives. Reportedly,
the show was Mellencamp's idea, but, when approached, King
was quick to sign on. As the author told "Billboard" magazine,
"It was kind of a ghostly thing, which is why he thought
of me, I guess."
MARCO POLO'S LATEST 'OBJECTIVE'
The good folks at Marco Polo are poised to release yet another
beautifully reconstructed film score. Well-known for their
sci fi and horror soundtracks, this time around reconstructionist
John T. Morgan tackles Franz Waxman's stirring score for
the Errol Flynn WWII epic, "Objective Burma." (Flynn always
maintained that it was the one film in which he starred
that he took pride in.) The Moscow Symphony Orchestra performs
13 rousing cues -- some not found in the final edited version
of the film. For more information, visit http://www.naxos.com
WARM UP TO THE 'BASH'
It's never too soon to plug the summer monster cons, beginning
with "Monster Bash 2001." The party starts June 22 at the
Days Inn Conference Center just north of Pittsburgh. This
year's guest list includes Bela Lugosi Jr., Dwight D. Frye,
Jane ("House of Dracula," "The Brute Man") Adams and peerless
fright-film historian Bob Burns. Burns will discuss his
close friend Glenn Strange, and the boots and headpiece
worn by Strange in "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein"
will be on display. The usual assortment of authors, publishers
and special effects folk will also be on hand. Among the
films to be screened: "Mark of the Vampire," "White Zombie,"
"Son of Frankenstein," "House of Dracula" and more. For
details, visit http://www.abulsme.com/creepy/bash.html
FIRECRACKER FANEX 15
And hot on the heels of "Monster Bash" comes another killer
con: "Classic Filmfest 2001, Fanex 15" gets under way July
6 at Baltimore's beautiful Hunt Valley Inn. (Attendees are
invited to check in early to catch the Inner Harbor fireworks
display.) This year's show is sponsored by Midnight Marquee
Press, "Cult Movies" magazine and It's Alive. The guest
list includes director Blake Edwards ("Peter Gunn," "10"
"The Pink Panther"), Barbara Shelley ("Dracula: Prince of
Darkness," "Quatermass and the Pit") Jonathan Haze ("Little
Shop of Horrors," "Not of This Earth), Veronica Carlson,
Yvonne Monlaur and, of course, Forry Ackerman. The usual
awards ceremonies and opening night festivities will no
doubt be presented in the time-honored, intimate Fanex fashion.
(But will Blake Edwards talk about his star turn in "Strangler
of the Swamp?") For more info, check out http://www.midmar.com/filmfest.html
THE THRILL IS ON!
He's a lounge lizard with a heart of gold. Our Bay-area
buddy, horror host Will "The Thrill" Viharo, recently staged
a special show for underprivileged children where he gave
out free "Crater Kid" comics. Will's sci-fi fest, including
screenings of "Battle in Outer Space" "Earth vs. the Flying
Saucers" and "It Conquered the World," begins in January.
The "Thrillville" nursery, where parents can drop the kiddies
while attending the festivities, will be giving out free
"Crater Kid" comics and T-shirts throughout the festival.
Visit http://www.picturepubpizza.com for more information.
DOES TV LAND KNOW JACK?
Superman expert nonpareil and publisher of "The Adventures
Continue" newsletter, Jim Nolt, points out an interesting
snafu on the part of the TV Land Website. According to Nolt,
the site did alter their reference to Robert Shayne's Communist
sympathies when corrected by the late actor's daughter,
but they continue to insist that Jack "Jimmy Olsen" Larson
appeared on the "Dick Van Dyke Show" in 1963, when it was,
in fact, a different Jack Larson. More egregious is the
fact that a photo of Phyllis Coates accompanies the site's
biography of Noel Neill. When Nolt pointed out the mistake,
TV Land replied, "As for your concern regard (sic) the photos
of Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates, they come directly from
the distributor with each actress named on the print. We
will not be amending them." Jim asked them to reconsider
and received a second response. "Unfortunately, with the
case of the photos, we do not believe you to be correct
and the change will not be made."
When The B Monster broached the subject with TV Land,
we received the following response: "We looked into this
some time ago, when another fan of the show wrote in with
a similar observation. We went back to the source of the
photo (the actual distributor of the show). We have been
assured that while the actresses bore some resemblance to
each other, the photo is in fact labeled correctly. It is
an original photo from the original owners of the show,
reproduced at the time of the show's production. It does
make for interesting debate, though." When informed that
the distributor was mistaken, TV Land countered with the
following: "What you fail to understand is that no matter
how much documentation you claim to have unless you are
the owner of the image (meaning the holder of the copyright
on it) you can not verify it for us. While you are clearly
a fan of the show, you are not a "principal" in this matter
legally and so, though we will investigate what you have
said, we are bound by contract to use only images which
we own ... as for Miss Neill, we have already put a call
out." C'mon guys! Even neophyte film buffs know the difference
between these two ladies. http://nickatnite.com/tvretro/shows_tvl/superman/act3.tin
Visit Jim's nifty site at: http://www.jimnolt.com/
NEW ON DVD
This just might be the schlock film that goes in the time
capsule for future generations to decipher. Wendell Corey
(poor Wendell Corey), Tura Satana and John Carradine are
the human attractions in this bizarro, grade-Z curio. It's
got a mad scientist (an "ASTRO"-scientist), killer zombies,
commie spies and, according to the publicity, it's "a high-powered
fusion of Ed Wood, Russ Meyer and George Romero!" Whew!
Director Ted V. Mikels' other credits include "The Doll
Squad," "The Corpse Grinders" and "Blood Orgy of the She
Devils." There's probably not an AFI salute in the works,
but man, could this guy cook up titles! Incidentally, "Astro-Zombies"
was co-produced by M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers.
MESA OF LOST WOMEN
Okay, THIS just might be the schlock film that goes in the
time capsule for future generations to decipher. The soundtrack
alone will drive the citizens of the future to murder. The
relentlessly turgid flamenco guitar and piano score (also
used in Ed Wood's "Jail Bait") will send you right up the
wall. Ron Ormond ("Untamed Mistress," "The Monster and the
Stripper") shares directing credit with Herbert Tevos. The
cast includes Jackie Coogan as a demented doctor bent on
breeding women with spiders -- or something like that. George
Barrows, Richard Travis and Lyle Talbot (poor Lyle Talbot)
are along for this ride into tedium. Don't get us wrong
-- it's fun so long as your finger is never far from the
fast forward button.
Arguably the best film of the British horror cycle of the
1960s takes place in Massachusetts. Filmed at Shepperton
Studios by Vulcan productions (later known as Amicus), director
John Llewellyn Moxey wrings every fog-drenched drop of atmosphere
from this shadowy saga of a college student who travels
to New England at the behest of professor Christopher Lee
to research a term paper on witchcraft. (Moxey later launched
the "Night Stalker" teleseries). Extra features unique to
DVD releases often include theatrical trailers and production
art, but this release has one truly bizarre addition. Aim
your remote arrow at Lee's face on the menu screen, and
you get several minutes of the haughty Brit putting down
Ed Wood alum, Conrad Brooks and Forry Ackerman, of whom
Lee says, "he's a weird guy, he really is. Not an unpleasant
man, but he's strange." You gotta wonder: Is Lee aware that
his candid comments are part of this package?
Now THIS is an exploitation movie -- and nobody exploited
the exploitable quite like director Richard Cunha. This
one's got it all -- Irish "Sheena" McCalla, Tod "Captain
Neptune" Griffin, Victor "No. 2 Son" Sen Yung, Nazis, zombie
chicks, an active volcano. The whole shebang is accompanied
by peerless B-movie maven Tom Weaver's lucid liner notes,
which include, among other invaluable arcania, Cunha's take
on working with McCalla: "We just had a TERRIBLE time! It
was like she was doing a porno or something! Everybody had
to hide, we had to get the guys off the set -- we had pasties
on her and everything else." Just imagine, lucky audiences
in 1958 got to see "She Demons" on a double-bill with Cunha's
"Giant From the Unknown." Those were the days.
NEW ON VIDEO
We write about exploitation films all the time -- (see above)
but none of them masqueraded as high art the way this pretentious
Ultra-violent, ultra-graphic, ultra-manipulative, cheaply
sensational and one of the ugliest films in recent memory.
We're not talking about blood and gore (though God knows,
it's got that), we're talking about prolonged scenes of
agonizing physical and mental torture directed at women.
Its labored attempt to shock us seems desperate and pathetic.
We don't believe that 40 years from now "The Cell" will
be regarded in the same way "She Demons" is today -- a horror
show with no other agenda but to send an innocent chill
up your spine. We strongly believe in this irresponsible
filmmaker's first amendment rights -- but you'd better keep
this crap away from my kid.
TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET
The latest in Englewood Entertainment's "Atomic Television"
series is this three-episode set featuring a landmark American
space character. You don't have to be a geezer to realize
that "Space Cadet" and "Space Patrol" were part of our pop-culture
fabric for years -- books, comics, lunch boxes, badges,
buttons, clothing, rayguns -- these small but significant
signs of our faith in the future were everywhere! The titles
contained in this sampler of the "Cadet" series should be
enough to make you pick it up, pronto: "The Asteroid of
Death," "Target: Danger," "Assignment: Mercury." All feature
Frankie Thomas, Jan Merlin, kooky space suits, cardboard
rockets and unabashed fun! You can revisit their optimism
via these videos or rent "The Matrix" and brood your life
Wipe the befuddled look off your face -- there's no reason
you should be familiar with this offbeat title, a British
sci-fi farce from 1944 that never saw a U.S. release. It
stars English radio comic Tommy Handley as an investor in
a haywire time machine that accidentally sends he and his
pals back to Elizabethan England. Englewood has once more
resurrected a film for eccentric tastes and digitally remastered
it "for the most discriminating film aficionado." Handley's
brand of comedy may be difficult for a contemporary audience
to embrace, so let's politely put it in the "acquired taste"
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 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.htm
"Teenage Hoodlums from another world on a horrendous ray-gun
rampage" -- Teenagers From Outer Space