All of us here at B Monster Central hope you're enjoying
the same sweltering summer we're experiencing. Sit back,
chill out and recharge your electrolights with the following
cocktail of B-movie ephemera!
Actor and House of Commons member Andrew Faulds died at
a nursing home in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He was 77.
Cult-film followers may recognize Faulds from his roles
in "The Crawling Eye," "Blood of the Vampire" and "Jason
and the Argonauts." He was also known to British radio audiences
as Jet Morgan, star of the radio series "Journey Into Space."
Faulds was born in Tanzania, the son of a Presbyterian
missionary. After appearing in nearly three dozen films,
he was elected to Parliament in 1966. He was blunt and outspoken,
staunchly supporting the Palestinian cause, and calling
for the execution of white Rhodesian leader Ian Smith after
the nation gained its independence from Britain. He also
opposed Britain's military campaign to retake the Falkland
Islands from Argentina in 1982. Faulds retired in 1997.
British character actor David Tomlinson has died in a Buckinghamshire
Hospital following a series of strokes. He was 83. Tomlinson's
acting career began in 1940, and lasted nearly four decades.
He appeared in dozens of British productions including "Fame
Is The Spur," "I See A Dark Stranger," "Sleeping Car To
Trieste" and "Tom Jones." He was perhaps best known for
his roles in the Disney films "Bedknobs and Broomsticks,"
"The Love Bug" and, most notably as the stuffy family patriarch
in "Mary Poppins." Cult-movie watchers will recall Tomlinson
from "War Gods of the Deep," the Jacques Tourneur-directed
fantasy starring Vincent Price, Susan Hart and Tab Hunter.
His final film was 1979's "The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu,"
opposite Peter Sellers.
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
WALCOTT FILM FEST IN THE WORKS
A film festival headlined by Gregory Walcott, the star of
Ed Wood's beloved and infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space,"
is planned for early autumn. In the actor's own words, "'The
Gregory Walcott Film Festival' is in high gear in my home
town of Wilson, N.C. The enthusiastic committee is pulling
out all the stops with lots of effort for the event this
Sept. 21-22. I am very impressed. "Plan Nine" is one of
their feature screenings with me there to answer questons
after the showing. It is going to be quite an event."
A SPANKING NEW SITE GUIDE
CyberAge Books, an imprint of Information Today, Inc., has
a nifty new tome we'd like to recommend: "net.people, The
Personalities and Passions Behind The Web Sites." Every
imaginable type of site is profiled -- comics, sports, dating,
doctors, travel, horse breeding -- and, of course, movies.
Authors Thomas E. Bleier and Eric C. Steinert include a
lengthy, lavishly illustrated (not to mention flattering)
profile of The B Monster. We salute their noble effort to
turn the spotlight on some of the Web's unheralded heroes.
Pick up a copy from your local bookseller or look 'em up at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com
AND YOU THINK WE'RE TOUGH!
He's a sampling of what syndicated columnist Tom Shales
had to say about the Sci Fi Channel's new "Invisible Man"
series: "A couple of set-piece action sequences have some
zip, but otherwise it's a zipless dud. It's also something
of a cheat, because it's much more "fi" than "sci," with
special effects kept to an economical minimum. ... This
time the invisible man is a rotten louse. He should get
lost altogether, which shouldn't be difficult for him. .
. . Spend 10 minutes with this imbecile, whose name is Darien,
and you'll wish he were not only invisible but nonexistent
as well ... executive producer Matt Greenberg has made
a huge miscalculation in an effort to give his show an "edge"
and to make the invisible man a tough, cool, macho antihero.
... Though they stint on special effects, the producers
pour on plenty of violence and gore. ... To which Greenberg
adds acres of corn. He writes some of TV's hokiest dialogue
ever. Perhaps it's supposed to be self-parody, but it comes
off as just laughably bad. ... As an angry retort to his
brother, [Darien] barks, 'Would you star-69 reality, man?'
... snarling and sputtering obnoxiously and grabbing [people]
when he gets angry, [Vincent] Ventresca as Darien is a boob,
a boor and a bore." Ouch!
ROY WEBB'S LEWTON CUES
The folks at Marco Polo have recently released "Roy Webb:
Music From the Films of Val Lewton." John Morgan has lovingly
reconstructed Webb's scores from such cult-classics as "Cat
People," "Bedlam," "The Seventh Victim," "The Body Snatcher"
and "I Walked With a Zombie." These reconstructions, as
performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, are proof
that Webb, who passed away in 1982, was an underrated craftsman
and an undeniably talented composer. For more information
on this and other Marco Polo offerings visit http://www.hnh.com
STEINER'S "KONG" AND "GAME" SCORES
Also coming from reconstructionist John Morgan and conductor
William T. Stromberg are faithful replications of Max Steiner's
scores for "Son of Kong" and "The Most Dangerous Game."
Truth be told, Steiner's music may be the best thing about
the well-intentioned, but limp, sequel to the big daddy
of all adventure movies. Of particular interest is the redo
of the Tin Pan Alley ditty "Runaway Blues," belted out by
Helen Mack in the film. As many fantasy-film buffs already
know, "Game" was an economical thriller utilizing Fay Wray
and the "Kong" sets, and a more compact, energetic hour
you're not likely to spend in front of the tube. This is
due in no small measure to Steiner's relentless score. Look
for an early 2001 release.
Kim Newman's new book, "Apocalypse Movies: End of the World
Cinema," is available from St. Martin's Griffin with an
insightful intro by author, screenwriter, "Black Lagoon
Bugle" publisher and world's foremost authority on "The
Outer Limits," David Schow. Newman is the author of "Bad
Dreams" and "Judgement of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959," among
others. Topics tackled in this concise collection include
"Monsters & Mutants," "Norms vs. Mutates" and "Learning
to Love the Bomb." For more details, check out Schow's personal
site at http://www.gothic.net/~chromo
REASON TO REVISIT "THIS ISLAND"
There's an audio book version of "This Island Earth" in
the works. Producer and creative consultant Don Long has
lined up the star of the sci-fi film classic, Rex Reason,
to read the Raymond F. Jones novel, which served as the
inspiration for the film. Production is scheduled to begin
in July with an eye toward an autumn release. Stay tuned
LINKING WITH LEE
Fans of the "Tall, Dark and Gruesome" Christopher Lee can
now keep up with the Brit horror king via his recently launched
fan club Web page. As Lee himself points out, "This site
is for the benefit of each and every person who has faithfully
supported my work over the years, for now and in the future,
and I hope will answer some of the questions that you would
like to put to me. I shall also keep you informed of current,
recent and future projects." As of now, the site is a little
thin on content, but ambitious, nonetheless. There's a list
of Lee's current projects, a biography, an abbreviated photo
gallery, filmography, a list of other Lee links, books for
sale and a merchandise page that, for now, is limited to
a single poster. The actor's personal comments are also
given ample play: "I do hope you enjoy the website and happy
film going for many years to come." Check it out at http://www.christopherleefanclub.com
INFLATION STRIKES REMAKE-MANIA
If you thought we could go a whole newsletter without mentioning
yet another Hollywood retread, think again. Those rascally
Farrely Brothers ("There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself
& Irene") are reportedly in talks with comic Chris Rock
to star in their production "The Six BILLION Dollar Man."
It's unclear whether the title refers to the actor's salary
or the character he'll play. And before you ask, yes, Lee
Majors, star of the original "Six MILLION Dollar Man," plans
to make a cameo appearance.
DEAR B MONSTER
Q: I've heard that only half of the footage for the climax
of "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" was actually used, the
other half ending up on the cutting room floor. Does any
of this lost footage still exist?
A: The ending of the original script does differ from
the movie. The climax as written has William Hudson brandishing
a gun and shooting Allison Hayes in the face as she carts
him away. But, to our knowledge, these scenes were never
Q: Who's the middle-age guy in the business suit who steps
up to sing a little number called "Tongue Tied" during the
party sequence in "Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow?"
A: That's Jimmy Maddin, who's credited as the film's musical
director. Maddin also wrote and sang the classic "Lead Foot,"
which was used as the theme of another AIP gem called "Roadracers"
(which, incidentally, was released as a double feature with
Dick Contino's "Daddy-O.").
NEW ON VIDEO
THE DEVIL BAT
We confess, this is among our very favorite Lugosi films
-- which is not to say it's an outstanding example of filmcraft
-- but is it ever fun! Lugosi stars as Dr. Paul Carruthers
(?), a scientist employed by a major company that cheats
him out of the profits accruing from his inventions. To
exact his revenge, Lugosi breeds gigantic, electro-charged
bats, which are attracted to a shaving lotion he's been
developing. He convinces his enemies to splash it on, they
step outside and, whammo, a giant bat swoops in for the
Directed by B-movie workhorse Jean Yarbrough ("House of
Horrors," "The Brute Man"), there are definitely rough patches,
but the script is punched up with the occasional clever
line. In fact, it contains one of B-moviedom's most entertaining
exchanges: Lugosi offers his lethal lotion to an unsuspecting
victim, quipping "I don't think you'll ever use anything
else." Dave O'Brien ("Spooks Run Wild," "The Spider Returns")
is on board as the nominal hero, ace reporter Johnny Layton,
who stumbles onto Lugosi's vengeful scheme.
As you might expect, this gem comes our way via the good
folks at Englewood Entertainment, who are also the distributors
of the following entry:
All you really need to know is that Lou Costello plays Stanley
Livingston (get it?) -- that's probably the funniest thing
about this lame chapter in the Abbott & Costello canon.
There's a threadbare plot about books and diamonds and lion
tamers -- in fact, real-life animal tamers Clyde Beatty
and Frank Buck appear as themselves (which is probably of
little cultural relevance to a generation more familiar
with Siegfried and Roy). Shemp Howard works hard to wring
a few laughs out of the proceedings, and both Max and Buddy
Baer are on hand as Boots and Grappler, respectively. Director
Charles Barton saw A&C through "Buck Privates Come Home,"
"Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (arguably their best
big-screen outing) and others, but their combined talents
simply can't overcome the material.
THE NINTH GATE
Johnny Depp loves to take chances. Few stars have been so
daring in their choice of material. Sometimes it works out
("Benny & Joon," Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man,"), sometimes
it doesn't ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "The Astronaut's
Wife"). This time it doesn't, but Depp isn't entirely to
blame. A batch of half-baked Devil movies such as "Stigmata"
and "End of Days" came out at around the same time, and
there's just nothing to distinguish this one from the Satanic
Depp plays Dean Corso, a researcher of rare books hired
by sinister Frank Langella to find the two remaining copies
of the ancient "Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of
Darkness," which supposedly contains the key to conjuring
up Satan himself. We've seen it all before, but this time,
with Roman Polanski at the helm, it should have been better.
It just isn't. It's pretentious and predictable and, in
the end, just another Devil movie.
NEW ON DVD
BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION #2: Ape Man / Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla
/ White Zombie
A more mixed bag of Bela you're not likely to find, from
the ultra-cheap "Ape Man" to the execrable "Brooklyn Gorilla"
to the melodramatic and altogether unnerving "White Zombie."
If you have a friend in need of a Lugosi crash-course, this
package from Slingshot is the perfect primer.
SCREAM GEMS #1: House On Haunted Hill/ The Bat/ Horror
Likewise, this Slingshot set could well serve as a novice's
introduction to the best and worst of Vincent Price. "House
on Haunted Hill" may well be our favorite Price film, while
"The Bat" is a stone bore. Rounding out the package is Amicus
Studios' maiden offering, the atmospheric 1960 chiller "Horror
SCREAM GEMS #2: Teenagers From Outer Space/ First Spaceship
on Venus/ Killers From Space/Phantom From Space
One final offering from the folks at Slingshot. True, these
titles all involve aliens and outer space in one way or
another, but how did the distinctly European "First Spaceship
on Venus" slip into the mix? It's sandwiched between that
evergreen camp classic, "Teenagers From Outer Space," and
two of W. Lee Wilder's bizarro sci-fi shockers.
THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF
We don't claim to understand the appeal of director Jesus
Franco's films, but it's our duty to inform you that Image
Entertainment has released this, his first film to gain
any international recognition, on DVD. One generous critic
points out that the movie "[strikes] a genuine chord of
Gothic horror reminiscent of the great classics of Universal,
and the silent masterworks of Germany's UFA." That's what
we call an overstatement.
ARMY OF DARKNESS: SPECIAL EDITION
Anchor Bay's deluxe edition of the third (and many think
best) of Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" trilogy comes with all
the trimmings. -- Production stills and storyboards -- A
director's cut incorporating 15 minutes of additional footage
and an alternate ending -- Deleted footage not found in
the director's cut or the original theatrical release --
Running commentary from director Sam Raimi and star Bruce
With the buzz about Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" remake
steadily building, Fox Home Video will release a 150,000-copy
limited edition "Planet of the Apes" boxed set. The special
edition collects "Planet of the Apes," "Beneath the Planet
of the Apes," "Escape From the Planet of the Apes," "Conquest
of the Planet of the Apes" and "Battle for the Planet of
the Apes." A sixth disc containing interviews, behind-the-scenes
footage, conceptual art, storyboards and a two-hour documentary,
"Behind the Planet of the Apes," is part of the package.
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
"See the lost city of love-starved Cat-Women!" -- Cat-Women
of the Moon