Writer, artist, film director, producer and longtime B-Monster
friend Pat Boyette is dead, following a long battle with
cancer. To cult-film fans, Boyette was best known for the
low-budget shocker "The Dungeon of Harrow," which he wrote,
produced, directed and narrated. Boyette said that he'd
spent days filming, while nights were spent constructing
the next day's sets. He also directed the lesser-known "No
Man's Land" and "The Weird Ones." Boyette's script "The
Girls From Thunder Strip" was filmed by low-budget auteur
David L. Hewitt ("The Wizard of Mars," "The Mighty Gorga").
A well-read historian who loved his San Antonio home,
Boyette was a TV anchorman who began his career in the early
days of television. Following his stint as a newsman, Boyette
tried his hand at comic book illustration, quickly becoming
one of the industry's most prolific (and underrated) talents.
His work graced scads of Charlton Comics titles such as
"The Peacemaker" and "Ghostly Tales From the Haunted House,"
as well as Warren Publishing's "Creepy" and "Eerie" magazines.
"Nightstand Chillers," a collection of Boyette's horror
comic work, was published last year.
Boyette could converse intelligently on any subject, and
enjoyed long discussions on topics ranging from the mysteries
of ancient Egypt, to why ink wash looks better on Xeroxed
paper. His sense of humor rarely failed him, and, even as
his voice was ravaged by chemotherapy, his talents as a
raconteur were undiminished. Throughout the course of his
struggles, Pat never exhibited the slightest hint of self-pity.
"My bags are packed," he joked philosophically. To learn
more about this generous, versatile, and too often overlooked
talent, go to http://www.bmonster.com/profile20.html . After
you do, consider contributing something to cancer research.
Director, actor John Newland is dead at 82, following a
stroke. Newland is best known as the host of the supernatural
series "Alcoa Presents," retitled to better effect in syndication
as "One Step Beyond." The series explored all manner of
psychic and supernatural phenomenon, and was the forerunner
of such series as "The Twilight Zone," "Night Gallery" and
the "X-Files." When speaking of the innovative series, Newland
stated, "We try to emphasize hope rather than despair or
fear. We avoid the use of the word 'true.' Although all
of our stories are based on actual cases and unexplained
experiences, we do not want to intrude on faith patterns
and religious manifestations. We prefer to present a series
of events dramatically, to let the viewer make up his own
Newland began his show business career as a stage actor,
eventually breaking into films in "The Adventures of Dusty
Bates." This was followed by small roles in several films.
He later declared with good humor that "I was an immediate
failure." In 1949, Newland took the plunge into the burgeoning
television industry, emerging as one of the medium's most
prolific directors, working on series such as "Bachelor
Father," "Night Gallery," "The Sixth Sense," "Alfred Hitchcock
Presents," "Police Woman," "Thriller," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
and "Star Trek." Feature films directed by Newland include
"My Lover, My Son," "Danger Has Two Faces" and "The Legend
of Hillbilly John."
Frances Drake, the stunning actress best known as the object
of a deranged Peter Lorre's affections in the horror classic
"Mad Love," is dead at 91. Beginning in 1934, Drake appeared
in over 20 films opposite major stars such as Clark Gable,
Cary Grant and Joan Crawford. Horror movie fans will also
remember Drake for her role as the wife of Boris Karloff
in the 1936 film "The Invisible Ray."
In the bizarre shocker "Mad Love," a maniacal surgeon,
played to perfection by Peter Lorre, will stop at nothing
to win her affections. As the terrified wife of concert
pianist Colin Clive, whose severed hands are replaced by
Lorre with those of a recently executed killer, Ms. Drake
enjoyed her most memorable role. Drake retired from show
business after marrying Cecil John Howard, son of the 19th
earl of Suffolk, because he disliked the motion picture
Marquerite Churchill, the actress perhaps best known for
her role opposite John Wayne in his first starring vehicle,
"The Big Trail," is dead at 90. The cause of death was not
immediately known. "The Big Trail" was a big-budget western
directed by Raoul Walsh in 1930, but Wayne didn't emerge
as a star until his appearance in John Ford's "Stagecoach"
nine years later. Churchill, however, appeared in prominent
roles throughout the 1930s, including leads in classic horror
films such as "Dracula's Daughter" with Gloria Holden and
"The Walking Dead" opposite Boris Karloff.
Churchill married western star George O'Brien in 1933
after co-starring with him in "Riders of the Purple Sage."
She retired a few years later. Following their divorce in
1948, she came out of retirement briefly, making her final
film appearance in 1950's "Bunco Squad."
Arthur Batanides, whose face became familiar to TV viewers
during a career that spanned four decades, is dead of natural
causes at 77. Beginning with his first major TV role in
"Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers," the actor embarked on
a lengthy career in television appearing in episodes of
"The Andy Griffith Show," "Happy Days," "Mission: Impossible"
and many others. Cult-film fans will remember him best for
roles in "The Leech Woman," with Coleen Gray, and "The Unearthly"
opposite John Carradine.
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
In a debacle worthy of any horror Mary Shelley could cook
up, Universal Studios has pulled the plug on its computer-animated
retelling of "Frankenstein." Speculation is that studio
heads deemed the subject matter too dark for the youthful
audiences who flocked to animated pics such as "Toy Story"
and "A Bug's Life." The project has been in the mill for
years, and Universal has reportedly already invested more
than $10 million on scripting and test footage. What's worse,
Universal is obligated to the Lucas effects factory, Industrial
Light & Magic, to the tune of $80 million. Variety reports
that studio execs were unaware of the huge ILM contract
when the film was shelved. There is speculation that Universal
could apply the ILM debt to future projects such as an animated
"Incredible Hulk" and the "Jurassic Park" and "Mummy" sequels.
The money might be better spent developing ORIGINAL ideas
as opposed to subjecting other hallowed trademarks to cavalier
"ISLE" BE DARNED
If you were going to remake producer Val Lewton's moody,
minor masterpiece, "Isle of the Dead," who would you want
to direct it? We're guessing the name Burt Reynolds doesn't
spring to mind. Sources say producers Daniel Bigel and Michael
Mailer have hired "The Bandit" to helm a remake of the Karloff-starring,
1945 thriller. In fact, plans are afoot to remake three
of the RKO-Lewton classics. No word yet on which ones will
get the makeover.
IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, SOMEONE MAKE THEM STOP!
Director Herbert Ross ("Funny Lady," "Steel Magnolias")
will direct a remake of the Orson Welles' classic "The Magnificent
Ambersons." This is not a joke. Jude Law ("The Talented
Mr. Ripley") is in negotiations to play the role of George
Amberson Minafer originated by Tim Holt.
NO, REALLY, I'M BEGGIN' YA! MAKE THEM STOP!
The Hollywood Reporter says that screenwriter Fred Wolf
("Saturday Night Live," "Dirty Work") is currently scripting
a remake of "The Incredible Shrinking Man" for Universal.
Word is that the shrinking one will be played by -- wait
for it -- Eddie Murphy.
AN "OCEAN" TO DISMISS
"Out of Sight" director Steven Soderbergh plans to remake
the smug, 1960 "Rat Pack" vehicle "Ocean's Eleven." George
Clooney has signed on to star in the role originated by
Frank Sinatra. As Warner Bros. is allowing extra time for
the casting process, have a ball imagining who'll replace
Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis
Jr. in the new version.
MOE MEANS NO!
The idea has been kicking around for years, but leave it
to ABC to finally lense a movie-of-the-week biopic on The
Three Stooges. Filming has begun in, of all places, Sydney,
Australia! And the casting choices are as funny as anything
the Stooges ever did: -- Paul Ben-Victor, who appeared in
"True Romance," as Moe -- John Kassir, voice of "The Crypt
Keeper" as Shemp -- Evan Handler who plays Shrug on ABC's
"It's Like, You Know" as Larry -- Michael Chiklis, that's
right, "The Commish," as Curly If only Moe were around to
slap some sense into these people.
AND SPEAKING OF IDEAS THAT HAVE BEEN KICKING AROUND FOR
If you're as sick as we are of all the hubbub and haranguing
over the upcoming (maybe) "Spider-Man" movie, then it probably
won't pique your interest to hear that, according to sources,
"Evil Dead" director Sam Raimi MAY be announced as the director
of the feature. Production MAY start in the fall, and the
movie MAY be released in June 2001, but don't hold your
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INEVITABLE
"Blair Witch Project" directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo
Sanchez will executive produce not one, but two sequels
to the 1999 summer blockbuster. On board as director of
the first follow-up is Joe Berlinger, best known for the
excellent documentary "Brother's Keeper." Myrick and Sanchez
will direct the second sequel themselves. According to the
producers, neither of the new films will employ the hand-held,
verite techniques employed in the original "Blair Witch."
Production is scheduled to begin in mid-February. Is the
twin-sequel announcement an attempt to replicate the unprecedented
word-of-mouth that made the first film the 10th highest-grossing
film of 1999?
DEAR B MONSTER
Q: Three of my favorite cult-film actors are Sally Fraser
("Giant From the Unknown"), Don Sullivan ("The Giant Gila
Monster"), and John Hudson ("The Screaming Skull" -- twin
brother of "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" 's William Hudson).
Do you know what they've been up to lately, how I could
reach them, any interesting trivia about them, etc.?
A: Sorry to report that, no one, it seems, knows where
to find Sally Fraser. Don Sullivan dropped out of acting
many years ago and began selling his own line of beauty
products. Sadly, the Hudson brothers, John AND William,
passed away some time ago.
Q: Could you please answer a question regarding [producer]
Herman Cohen's "How to Make A Monster" (1958)? I am particularly
interested in learning more about the color climax, which
is conspicuously absent from television prints and the short-lived
home video edition that was issued in 1991. Will it ever
be restored for new generations to enjoy?
A: Director Herb Strock enjoys pointing out that Cohen's
idea for splicing a color climax onto a black and white
film was a pain in the neck. And there ARE video prints
of "How to Make A Monster" (as well as Cohen and Strock's
"I Was A Teenage Frankenstein") with the color ending intact
-- but odds are you won't find 'em at Blockbuster. Check
in with our pals at "The Video Vault" -- http://www.videovault.com
-- maybe they can help.
NEW ON VIDEO
STIR OF ECHOES
David Koepp may be best known as a screenwriter ("Jurassic
Park," "The Lost World") but he's a pretty fair director,
as well. 1996's "Trigger Effect" wasn't bad and "Stir of
Echoes," based on Richard Matheson's novel is pretty darned
effective. Somehow, it got lost in the shuffle of supernatural
films that came out last year and that's too bad. Kevin
Bacon is very good, the pacing is very snappy, and pieces
of it are very suspenseful. (Sharp-eyed trivia hounds can
catch a glimpse of a babysitter reading a paperback copy
of Matheson's "The Shrinking Man" partway through the film.)
THE SIXTH SENSE
Proving screenwriter William Goldman's oft-quoted maxim
that "nobody knows anything" when it comes to predicting
box-office success, this restrained, intelligent thriller
came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the year's top box-office
draws. As directed by relative unknown M. Night Shyamalan,
the mood is solemn, the acting solid (yes, even Bruce Willis!)
with darned little blood, no shock cuts, little foul language
-- and people loved it! A good spooky movie that won mass
approval? No wonder so many people were anticipating the
Wow! At last a film that has the guts to take on the Catholic
Church (yawn). When the MTVish camera stops jerking around
long enough for you to distinguish an image, you realize
there isn't much of a movie here. Dive-bombing camera work
won't make a contrived premise seem fresh. Gabriel Byrne,
who embarrassed himself as Satan in "End of Days," stars
as a Catholic priest/stigmata investigator assigned to keep
tabs on the stigmatized Patricia Arquette.
Moviegoers used their own radar-sense to avoid this thriller
in droves. "Carnosaur 3" director Louis Morneau is at the
helm, abetted by a cast that includes Lou Diamond Phillips,
Dina Meyer and Leon. The bats in question are the result
of a government experiment gone horribly awry. (Don't all
government experiments go horribly awry?)
Thanks to every B Monster reader who signed up for daily
e-mail delivery of "The Crater Kid" comic strip. The Kid
has taken the web by storm and was selected Yahoo's Pick
of the Day when he was only three days old! His adventures
have been seen over 40,000 times since his January 1 launch
and he'll make his Image Comics print debut this spring.
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
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
"Yesterday they were cold and dead. Today, they're hot and
bothered!" -- Dracula vs. Frankenstein