2001! Where's my flying car?! Are we on the way to Jupiter,
yet? According to Kubrick, I should be transforming into
the ubermensch any minute now. As I await the transition
to starchild status, enjoy this monolith-sized, data-packed
post, dished up with the inimitable B Monster panache.
One of the big screen's most intimidating tough guys, Leo
Gordon, is dead at 78. The cause of death was not reported,
but the actor had been battling several ailments in recent
years. He was widely recognized as one of Hollywood's premier
heavies but also produced an impressive body of work as
a screenwriter and novelist.
As a veteran, Gordon utilized his G.I. Bill funds to study
acting. A prominent role in the stage production "Darkness
at Noon" caught the eye of a Hollywood agent, and Leo moved
West to break into the movies. "They asked me could I ride
a horse," Gordon recalled. "I said 'Yes. If I can't ride
it I'll carry it.'" His first significant part was opposite
John Wayne in "Hondo," but the actor secured his reputation
as a movie bad guy with a definitive role in "Riot in Cell
Block 11." He worked steadily as a heavy from then on, mostly
in westerns, appearing in films such as "Santa Fe Passage,"
"Johnny Concho," "Man With A Gun" and "Black Patch," a western
starring George Montgomery, which Gordon also wrote. Beginning
with his script for "Cry Baby Killer," starring a young
Jack Nicholson, Gordon began an association with Roger and
Gene Corman writing B-thriller classics such as "Attack
of the Giant Leeches," "The Wasp Woman" and "The Terror."
Gordon recalled for the B Monster the nonchalant manner
in which the Roger Corman productions came together: "[One
day] he asked me if I had anything with a castle in it.
I said no. He said, 'That's too bad. I've got this set over
at Producer's Studio -- an interior of a medieval castle.
I have it for a week and I've got Boris Karloff for a week
but I have nothing to shoot.' So, over the weekend, I wrote
"The Terror", fifty-some pages of interiors in screenplay
form. He was shooting it the following week."
Gordon worked extensively in television as an actor and
writer, appearing in episodes of "Cheyenne," "Bronco," Maverick,"
"Rawhide," "The Rifleman," "The Andy Griffith Show" and
"Lassie" among many others, and writing 21 episodes of "Adam-12."
Two of his screenplays, "Tobruk" and "You Can't Win "Em
All!" were made into big-budget, action-adventure films
starring Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis, respectively.
Leo Gordon clearly enjoyed his reputation as a heavy:
"You get more recognition, I think, as a bad guy than a
lot of these guys who've played heroes on long-running television
shows." Upon receiving the Golden Boot Award he quipped,
"Thank God for typecasting." He is survived by his wife,
actress Lynn Cartwright, to whom he had been married since
The actress hailed by many as the unchallenged queen of
B-movies, Marie Windsor has died of congestive heart failure.
She passed away Dec. 10, the day before her 81st birthday.
She appeared in films of every description but will be remembered
best for her roles in movies that she affably maintained
she would rather forget. Best-known of these camp classics
was "Cat-Women of the Moon." Windsor once told the B Monster,
"I wasn't that particular, shall I say. I never asked who
the costars were or anything like that. I just asked when
it was and how much money."
In the early 1940s, Marie Windsor left her Utah home and
landed work in Hollywood posing for legendary pinup artist
Alberto Varga. While working as a cigarette girl at Hollywood's
Mocambo nightclub, she was spotted by producer Arthur Hornblow
Jr. She was soon appearing in westerns, dramas, comedies
and, most notably, some of the finest examples of film noir
ever produced. "I didn't even realize what a film noir film
was at that time," she said. Marie scored with critics in
juicy roles as dangerous dames in "Narrow Margin," opposite
Charles McGraw, "Force of Evil," with John Garfield and
"The Killing," directed by Stanley Kubrick. No one played
the femme fatale better than Marie Windsor.
In addition to fantasy fare such as "Abbott and Costello
Meet the Mummy" and "The Jungle," Windsor appeared in her
fair share of "A" pictures including "Critic's Choice,"
with Bob Hope, "Support Your Local Gunfighter," with James
Garner and "Cahill: U.S. Marshall," opposite John Wayne.
When asked to name her personal favorites, she cited " 'Hellfire,'
a western with Bill Elliott, and then there was 'The Killing'
and 'Narrow Margin;' they're all my favorites." The last
time the B Monster spoke with Windsor, she was surrounded
by a stack of cards and letters from fans around the world
-- all of which she intended to answer.
Character actor-turned-producer Don Devlin is dead at 70.
He had cancer. Devlin began his career as a B-movie bit
player appearing in films such as "Rumble on the Docks,"
"Escape From San Quentin" and the Herb Strock-directed shocker
"Blood of Dracula." He turned to screenwriting with the
1961 thriller "Anatomy Of a Psycho," and collaborated with
a young Jack Nicholson on the screenplay for "Thunder Island"
in 1963. As a producer, Devlin's credits include "Harry
and Walter Go To New York," "My Bodyguard" and "The Witches
of Eastwick," which starred Nicholson. Devlin's son is actor-turned-producer
Dean Devlin, who produced such big-budget blockbusters as
"Independence Day," "Godzilla" and "The Patriot."
The cartoon composer who supplied the soundtrack for a generation
of TV-addicted baby-boomers, Hoyt Curtin, is dead at 78.
The cause of death was not disclosed. After writing commercial
jingles for a time, Curtin went to work for the Hanna-Barbera
animation studio in 1957. There, he composed themes and
soundtracks for classic programs such as "The Flintstones,"
"Yogi Bear," "Huckleberry Hound" and many others. His themes
for "Johnny Quest" and "The Jetsons" particularly showed
off the jazz-informed flair that Curtin brought to his compositions.
Curtin once modestly referred to what is perhaps his best-known
theme, "The Flintstones," as "a catchy little tune ...
just a simple thing arranged for jazz and singers."
Actor George Montgomery has died at 84 following a heart
attack. He began his acting career as George Letz but after
several film appearances, he began using his middle name
as his last. Montgomery appeared in numerous B movies, the
majority of them westerns, including "The Lone Gun," "Battle
of Rogue River," "Fort Ti," "Gun Belt," "Indian Uprising"
and "Black Patch," a horse opera written by actor Leo Gordon.
He portrayed characters both real and fictional, from Davy
Crockett to Bat Masterson. He may be best known to cult-film
fans for his portrayal of tough detective Philip Marlowe
in "The Brasher Dubloon." He starred in the television series
"Cimmaron City" and later in his career tried his hand at
directing and producing films. His marriage to singer Dinah
Shore ended in divorce.
3-foot-10-inch screen actor Billy Barty is dead at 76. He
had a heart ailment. The diminutive actor appeared in dozens
of classic films throughout the 1930s including "Nothing
Sacred," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Footlight Parade." He
may be best remembered by cult-film fans as the imp in Roger
Corman's claustrophobic B-shocker "The Undead," and for
his many TV roles in series such as "The Alfred Hitchcock
Hour," "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" and "H.R. Pufnstuf."
He appeared in a pair of Elvis Presley vehicles and worked
extensively in film and TV until recently. Other big-screen
credits include roles in "Foul Play," "Masters of the Universe"
and "Willow." Barty founded Little People of America in
1957 and later started a non-profit foundation bearing his
name that sought to improve the lives of little people.
The foundation's website bears the following greeting: "The
name of my condition is Cartilage Hair Sydrome Hypoplasia,
but you can just call me Billy."
The actor known around the world as the bumbling German
officer, Colonel Klink, of the long-running comedy series
"Hogan's Heroes," Werner Klemperer, is dead at 80. He had
cancer. Ironically, Klemperer was himself a Jewish refugee
from Nazi Germany who fled to the United States with his
father, Otto, a renowned conductor and composer. In fact,
three of the show's stars, Klemperer, John Banner (Sergeant
Schultz) and Robert Clary (Corporal LeBeau) were Jews who
had fled the Nazi regime. (Clary had been imprisoned in
Auschwitz.) Klemperer undertook his role as Klink on one
condition: that the character never be depicted as anything
but a fool. If ever a script called for Klink to appear
as anything but an idiot, the actor said he would leave
the show. Even so, the character proved to be strangely
appealing, and Klemperer one two Emmy Awards for his portrayal.
Prior to his television success, Klemperer had appeared
in supporting roles in films such as "Flight to Hong Kong,"
"Istanbul," and "5 Steps to Danger." In 1961, he portrayed
Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann in "Operation Eichman." One
of his earliest roles was as a scientist on the trendsetting
sci-fi TV series "Captain Video."
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
KING KILLS "PLANT"
After posting several chapters to the Internet, author Stephen
King has pulled the plug on his web/shareware publishing
experiment. King had been serializing his novel, "The Plant,"
trusting readers to pay for the chapters with their credit
cards after downloading them. When fewer than half of those
who downloaded the latest installment failed to pay, King
decided to fold his tents and return to paper full time
-- for the present, at least. Why didn't the King of horror
lit publish one or two chapters free, hook his loyal readers,
and THEN commence charging for the installments? The devoted
fans who followed King's honor system are now left high
and dry. On his website, King outlined what he saw as the
three large problems facing Internet publishing: "One is
that most Internet users seem to have the attention span
of grasshoppers. Another is that Internet users have gotten
used to the idea that most of what's available to them on
the Net is either free or should be. The third -- and biggest
-- is that book-readers don't regard electronic books as
"WESTERNS WOMEN" II IN THE WORKS
Author and western-film authority without peer, Boyd Magers,
has completed the second volume of his comprehensive "Westerns
Women," due to be published by the folks at McFarland soon.
The initial collection, a definitive tribute to the cowgirls
and lady gunslingers of the movies, boasted scores of informative
profiles. The upcoming collection will feature Phyllis Coates
and Noel Neill, among many others.
THE RUNDOWN ON REMAKES
Also coming from the good people at McFarland is "Cinema
Sequels and Remakes, 1903-1987." It makes us wonder why
nobody came up with a book like this before. Thank goodness,
Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan have written
this scrupulous compilation of release dates, casts, credits,
descriptions of the original films and comparisons with
their progeny. it doesn't surprise us that this baby weighs
in at 966 data-packed pages!
HARDLY HEAVENLY HOSTS
A 256-page study of the late-night horror movie host phenomenon
by -- you guessed it -- McFarland and Co. presents "Television
Horror Movie Hosts: 68 Vampires, Mad Scientists and Other
Denizens of the Late-Night Airwaves Examined and Interviewed."
The title says it all. It's a fun and fact-filled volume
devoted to chronicling the sinister segment hosts who followed
the ghoulish trail blazed primarily by Mala "Vampira" Nurmi
in the mid-1950s. Originally published in 1991, the late
Elena M. Watson's tome, packed with photographs, filmographies
and discographies is now available in paperback.
BEACH AND BIKER BABES REDUX
Okay, last plug for a McFarland book, we promise -- but
you'll have to agree, anything entitled "Fantasy Femmes
of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker,
Beach, and Elvis Movies" is worthy of mention. This volume
profiles such mini-skirted exotics as Celeste Yarnall, Lana
Wood, Linda Harrison, Pamela Tiffin, Deanna Lund, Diane
McBain and Judy Pace. It celebrates these women as the only
true virtues of films that would otherwise be sorely lacking
any: "Teenage Millionaire," "The Girls on the Beach," "Dr.
Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine," "Paradise, Hawaiian Style"
-- you get the idea. Tom Lisanti is the author with a forward
by Chris Noel. Check out the McFarland site at: http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
Be sure and tell 'em The B Monster sent you!
THE RETURN OF "INCUBUS"
Tony Taylor, producer of the 1965 Esperanto horror film
"Incubus," is putting together an all-the-bells-and-whistles
DVD special edition, which will include an audio commentary,
interviews with "Incubus" star William Shatner, Conrad Hall,
William Fraker, film historian and "Incubus" fan David Schow
and, of course, Taylor. The producer is also trying to get
the distributor to include the French version, wherein the
subtitles aren't superimposed over black bars. Taylor is
also hoping to compile a short film, "Curse of Incubus,"
about all those related to the project who died, were murdered,
killed themselves, or had family members mysteriously die.
"YOU RE-DID IT! YOU FINALLY RE-DID IT!"
Charlton Heston, "The Omega Moses," told Entertainment Weekly
that he's personally flattered by Tim Burton's upcoming
"Planet of the Apes" remake. "I remade both 'The Ten Commandments'
and 'Ben Hur,' " Heston pointed out, "so there's no law
against remakes. It's indicative of the popularity with
audiences the original film had. It's a compliment." The
equivalent of Heston's role in the original "Planet of the
Apes" is being assumed by Mark Wahlberg. Others in the cast
(simian and homo-sapien) include Helena Bonham Carter, Michael
Clarke Duncan and Kris Kristofferson.
WHO IS DICK PROFANE?
Fans of brooding, nail-biting film noir should take heart
at the return of pulp and paperback scribe Rance Turley.
Turley is collaborating with Marty Baumann on "The Dick
Profane Mysteries," a free, Internet-syndicated detective
comic strip. Hard-boiled mystery buffs will remember Turley
as a contributor to magazines such as, "Men," "True Men,"
"All-Man," "True All-Men," and "Truly Manly Tales of Men."
He's also the author of "Dial M for Homicide," "Kiss My
Deadly Sweet Lovely" and "Thursday, the Rabbi Had a Really,
Really Stale Knish." Check out "Dick Profane" at http://www.dickprofane.com
NEW ON DVD
DRIVE-IN DISCS #1: THE SCREAMING SKULL, THE GIANT LEECHES
This Elite release, available through Image Entertainment,
employs lots of kooky extras in its heartfelt attempt to
recreate the 1950s drive-in experience. The dynamite double-feature
includes a countdown clock, ads for concession stand goodies,
a selection of coming attractions, cartoons -- even an intermission.
Also unique is an optional audio track that replicates the
scratchy, drive-in speaker sound! All this in addition to
two of the best 1950s drive-in features extant. "The Screaming
Skull" is slow-going in spots, and the day-for-night shots
are certainly lacking in atmosphere -- but there are plenty
of superimposed skulls. Besides, what do you want for one
low admission price? And if you don't already own several
copies of "The Giant Leeches," aka "Attack of the Giant
Leeches," this nifty double-bill is an absolute must. Yvette
Vickers trampy turn as lustful Liz is unforgettable, as
is sweaty Bruno Ve Sota as her cuckolded husband, not to
mention the squad of extras in hefty bags as the eponymous
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE
This just might be the most effective of producer Richard
Gordon's 1950s British shockers. No kid ever walked away
from this flick without the image of those slobbery, hopping
brains, spinal cords trailing behind them, burned into his
adolescent brain. American transplant Marshall Thompson
is the nominal hero of this unique film, which attempts
to combine subtle, implied horror with flat-out gore. It
works! "Fiend Without a Face" is genuinely scary in spots.
The rampaging-brain attack is hard to beat. This special
edition boasts an informative audio commentary by Gordon
and top-flight film historian Tom Weaver, and is subtitled
for the hearing-impaired. Other extras include production
stills, original trailer and an Illustrated essay on British
sci fi films by author Bruce Eder.
NEW ON VIDEO
This sadistic turkey sickened us when we saw it on the big
screen, and all we can do is warn you again. Women are degraded,
a puppy is killed, and every shock-film cliche you can imagine
is trotted out and exploited to little effect. Truly embarrassing.
A hollow film in every sense. Did we mention that a puppy
Make that DISNEY'S "Dinosaur." That means the animation
is sumptuous, the characters well-realized and the voice
talent top-notch. But it's the one thing a film about dinosaurs
shouldn't be -- boring! The plot is so linear it barely
exists. There are mean dinosaurs and nice dinosaurs and
they have to travel from one place to another for safety.
That's it. The cuddly primates that get tossed into the
mix won't keep the kiddies from noticing that next to nothing
happens. The theatrical screening we attended last summer
was filled with squirming toddlers asking to go home.
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.html
"See men swallowed in treacherous planet pools of acid!"
-- Women of the Prehistoric Planet