Believe it or not, on occasion, The B Monster is taken
to task for his views on varying topics. As Independence
Day approaches, I'm moved to respond with the following
declaration: I'm sick and tired of people disagreeing with
me. And I'm equally tired of having to remind you that every
word, every fact, every date, every opinion, every digital
utterance emanating from the B Monster is accurate and inarguably
true. The nerve of anyone in our audience disputing our
evaluation of a film. Don't you understand? Don't you get
it? Diversity is bad. That's why this country was founded
-- as a safe haven where we MUST all agree on everything
at all times! And none of this namby-pamby, "It was OK,
I guess." As evidenced by our voluminous mailbag, every
horror or science-fiction film, without acception, is either
"absolutely, totally, lame" or "the most totally friggin'
awesome movie ever made." End of manifesto.
Former child star Harry Watson died following a stroke at
his home in Tajunga, Calif. He was 79. Watson was one of
Coy and Golda Watson's nine children who grew up not far
from the Mack Sennett studios. Coy found work for himself
and several of his children in films. (There were six boys
and three girls). Bobs Watson was perhaps the best known.
The Watson kids appeared in over 1,000 films. Harry had
roles in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "A Damsel
in Distress," "Love Is News," and others, appearing opposite
such stars as James Stewart, Fred Astaire and W.C. Fields.
Watson's final film role was in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
In the early days of television, he was a cameraman at a
Los Angeles station.
Movie stuntman Russell Saunders died in a nursing home in
Los Angeles. The cause of death was not immediately known.
He was 82. As a youngster, he'd excelled at acrobatics,
diving and gymnastics. Legend has it that, as a boy, he
leapt from the roof of a barn, a chicken under each arm,
hoping they would enable him to fly. Saunders performed
stunts in the 1951 classic "The Thing From Another World,"
"Shane," the 1948 version of "The Three Musketeers," Alfred
Hitchcock's "Saboteur" and many others. He also played small
roles in films such as "The Veils of Bagdad," "Singin' in
the Rain" and "Spartacus."
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
We told you months ago that this "War"
was in the offing. Pendragon films is now casting their
big-screen version of H.G. Wells classic "War of the Worlds."
According to Film Threat, they're presently pursuing Academy
Award-winner Sir Michael Caine ("Jaws 4: The Revenge"),
Charlize Theron ("Mighty Joe Young"), and Matthew McConaughey
(Does anyone know why this guy is famous?). Director Timothy
Hines seems to be going to great lengths to distance his
production from the George Pal/Byron Haskin version. "I
intend to cut the film as NC-17 and resubmit until the ratings
board allows an R. This won't be from gore and violence,
which goes along with the territory in 'War of the Worlds,'
but from the sheer psychological terror that the script
invokes." Hines seems indifferent to public expectations
of his film. "I'm enjoying watching the world trying to
figure out how we are going to handle modern Earth technology,
versus Alien technology conceived in the mind of a Victorian
genius." (We weren't aware that this was one of "the world's"
primary concerns. Mass starvation in Somalia, AIDS and the
situation in the Middle East might occupy higher places
on the list.) From his throne high atop Mount Olympus, Hines
continued, "Nobody has even come close to figuring out how
we will make it work." Let's hope HE has.
FORGOTTEN HORRORS: PRICE ON THE PRICELESS
Over 21 years ago, film scholars Michael H. Price and George
E. Turner released "Forgotten Horrors," a compendium of
obscure fright films dating from the early 1930s. (An updated
version, "Forgotten Horrors: The Definitive Edition," was
released shortly before the death of Turner in 1999.) It
opened the eyes of many a jaded monster fan who thought
that Universal's crop of creatures were the beginning and
end of screen horror. Coming your way this month from the
folks at Midnight Marquee Press is the long overdue follow-up,
"Forgotten Horrors 2: Beyond the Horror Ban." According
to Price, the sequel "picks up where the prior edition left
off, at 1936-37, and continues its survey of the low-budget,
independent-studio, weird-mystery movies on into the WWII
years." Price will officially unveil the book with a mini-filmfest
at the Fanex Convention in Baltimore, July 6-8. Among the
obscurities to be screened are "Phantom Killer," "Up In
The Air," "Lucky Ghost" and "The Shadow Laughs."
A third volume with the working title "Forgotten Horrors
3: Dr. Turner's House of Horrors," is slated for release
in 2002. A fourth (!) will be co-authored with novelist
John Wooley. Price, director of motion-picture programming
for Sundance Square Entertainment District in Fort Worth,
Texas, says of the featured titles, "Weird westerns abound.
Genre barriers are not considered sacred. If we confined
ourselves to the Known World of this genre or that, things
would get awfully boring." For the hardcore, cult-film enthusiast,
these volumes promise to be anything but. For more information,
Heartening news for classic Universal monster fans! A slew
of double-feature DVDs showcasing some of the best of Universal's
Golden Age of Horror are due for release this August. According
to the DVD Drive-in Website, the lineup of double bills
includes: "Son of Frankenstein"/"Ghost of Frankenstein"
"Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man"/"House of Frankenstein"
"Werewolf of London"/"She-Wolf of London" "Dracula's Daughter"/"Son
of Dracula" "The Mummy's Hand"/"The Mummy's Tomb" "The Mummy's
Ghost"/"The Mummy's Curse" "Abbott and Costello Meet the
Mummy" will be released as a single disc.
SON OF DVD DELUGE
Cinema Dementia has struck a deal with newbie DVD label
Marengo Films to provide masters struck from their collection
of genre films to be issued in DVD format. "Dementia 13,"
double-billed with "Carnival of Souls," will be the first
Marengo release. According to the folks at Cinema Dementia,
"The prints are hand-cleaned then digitally scrubbed on
a fully-digital Rank telecine. The sound is then processed
and cleaned to take full advantage of DVD's audio capabilities."
Other Cinema Dementia/Marengo double-features to watch for
this summer: "Attack of the Giant Leeches"/"Bucket of Blood"
"Amazing Transparent Man"/"Bloodlust" For more info check
out: http://www.cinemadementia.com or http://www.marengofilms.com
As always, be sure and tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
THE RETURN OF DVD DELUGE
While we're on the subject of DVD availability, the folks
at Englewood Entertainment recently unveiled the list of
titles they're offering in DVD format. Among the genre films
featured: "The Astounding She-Monster" "Beast of Yucca Flats"
"Brain From Planet Arous" "Cat-Women of the Moon" "Destination
Moon" "Frankenstein's Daughter" "Giant from the Unknown"
"Hideous Sun Demon" "Kronos" "Missile to the Moon" "Phantom
Planet" "Project Moonbase" "Robot Monster" "Rocketship X-M"
"She Demons" "Teenage Monster" "Teenagers From Outer Space"
And a bunch more. For information, visit: http://www.englewd.com
That's right, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
TESTING THE "LIMITS" OF AUDIENCE TOLERANCE
Scrape, scrape, scrape -- that's the sound of Hollywood
digging through its hope chest of 1960s television series.
They've found at least three more they'll render into feature
films in the near future. "Hogan's Heroes" -- that's
right, "Hogan's Heroes" -- will get the big-screen
treatment. What better way to honor the 1,100 WWII vets
who die each day than with a feature film about those hilarious
Nazis? More relevant to our audience is a feature film treatment
of "The Outer Limits." How it will be handled is anyone's
guess, but Variety says MGM has signed a deal with Victor
& Grais Productions to turn the classic sci-fi series
into a movie.
And speaking of things that are just fine the way there
are and don't need to be resuscitated, director Simon "Tomb
Raider" West plans to make a feature film based on the 1960s
cult-TV series "The Prisoner." West is waiting on a final
draft screenplay before proceeding. For 30 years, they've
been trying to launch a big-screen treatment of the British
series that starred Patrick McGoohan as an intelligence
agent confined to a quaint, seaside village. Somehow, a
feature never materialized. One reason might have been that
only a handful of people understood the TV show to begin
JEWISON BLASTS "ROLLERBALL"
Director Norman Jewison is ticked off by the remake of his
1975 sci-fi film "Rollerball." Jewison recently told the
New York Post that the update, directed by John "Die Hard"
McTiernan, glorifies the violence that was the object of
satire in the original version. "They sent me a script to
see if I was interested in directing," said Jewison. "But
I passed on it, because it was clear they were embracing
the violence, which I used in the original to comment on
the activities of multinational corporations." Jewison was
invited to a screening of the remake, which opens next month.
"I'm not sure I even want to see it," he said.
We suppose you could label the big-budget remake of H.G.
Wells "The Time Machine" a "troubled" production. Simon
Wells, great-grandson of H.G., was forced to step down as
director due to exhaustion, according to one report. His
successor, Gore "Mouse Hunt" Verbinski, has gone over schedule
reshooting many of Wells' scenes.
"REMAINS" TO BE SEEN
The B Monster has gotten many inquiries regarding top-notch
movie tough guy, William Smith. We refer you to the latest
issue of Worldly Remains, which features an exhaustive and
enlightening one-on-one with "The King of the Bikers," chronicling
his career in detail from a pre-pubescent part in "Ghost
of Frankenstein" to the present. There's even a sampling
of poetry from "The Toughest Man In Hollywood." Worldly
Remains is an entertaining slick that manages to catch darned-near
everything that might otherwise slip through the pop-culture
cracks. For more info, check out: http://www.worldlyremains.com/
Need we remind you? Tell 'em the B Monster sent you.
STOKERS RECOGNIZE KNEALE
Screenwriter Nigel Kneale was awarded the Bram Stoker Lifetime
Achievement Award by The Horror Writer's Association. The
Bram Stoker Awards, named for the author of "Dracula," were
presented May 26. Kneale is the writer of the classic Quatermass
films, (known in the States as "The Creeping Unknown," "Enemy
From Space" and "Five Million Years to Earth") and "The
Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas," as well as screenplays
for "First Men in the Moon," "Look Back in Anger" and "The
LIPPERT'S LEGACY LIVES ON
Betcha didn't know there was a Robert L. Lippert Foundation.
That's right, the producer who gave us "King Dinosaur" and
"Rocketship X-M" created a foundation benefitting charities
such as The Alameda Meals on Wheels, The Alameda Boys and
Girls Clubs, The Alameda Historical Museum and The Boy Scouts.
College scholarships are also awarded. At the official Robert
L. Lippert Foundation Website, you'll find further details,
as well as a complete listing of all 245 feature films produced
by Lippert. That includes "Lost Continent," "Squad Car,"
"I Shot Jesse James," "Rockabilly Baby," "Desire in the
Dust," "Jungle Goddess" -- my God, it's overwhelming!
There's also a listing and locations of the 162 indoor theaters
and drive-ins once owned by the prolific producer. Check
it out at: http://www.robertlippert.org
GUESS YOU GOTTA PAY THE BILLS SOMEHOW
The Internet Movie Database is charging actors and actresses
to display photos accompanying their listing. This caught
our attention when a shot of "Planet of the Apes" star,
Linda Harrison, was featured on the site's front page accompanied
by the following text: "This lovely actress is one of the
many actors and actresses who has added her headshot and
gallery to our ever growing selection of IMDb Headshots.
With our Platinum Package you can send us your photos, we'll
scan them for you and we'll add the headshot to your IMDb
page. If you're a little more web-savvy (or know someone
who is) our Gold Package (see details) is the best option,
allowing you to send us your .jpg or .zip files. Whichever
package you choose, IMDb Headshots makes sure that your
page stands out among the humans." In lieu of the Platinum
and Gold pricing, we suggest a sliding payment scale for
photo placement. Jim Carrey pays $1 million per mug shot,
and I'll pony up the buck-fifty for Skelton Knaggs myself.
NEW ON VIDEO
Sam Raimi capably directs this thriller from a script by
Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. There are moody moments
and a palpably Bayou-Baroque atmosphere, and although most
of the cast is top-notch, but the end result is disappointing.
There are two reasons for this, one is rather ironic: A
story about a woman gifted with extra-sensory perception
shouldn't be quite so predictable. The other is Keanu Reeves.
He plays the bullying spouse abuser we're supposed to be
frightened of. Keanu Reeves is not frightening. He's just
barely an actor, and that undermines good performances from
Cate Blanchett as the single-mom psychic, Giovanni Ribisi
as a slow-witted victim of child abuse, Hilary Swank, Michael
Jeter and smarmy Greg Kinnear as smarmy Greg Kinnear. Raimi
is good at this stuff, it's just a shame he's let down by
a predictable script and a weak, key performance.
Did we really need another half-baked Dracula movie? We
won't even review the film. We will instead focus on this
question. The Guiness Book says that, among fictional characters,
only Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on screen more times
than Dracula. Gerard Butler, a most unintimidating choice
for the role, deserves special recognition as the one SQUILLIONTH
actor to play the part! And executive producer Wes Craven
is no stranger to exploiting the reputations of existing
properties (check out his "Carnival of Souls" remake if
you're feeling particularly masochistic). Director Patrick
Lussier was an editor on Craven's lucrative "Scream" series
and had directed "Prophecy 3: The Ascent" (yes, there were
"Prophecies 1 and 2"). So, a non-threatening vampire, a
producer with a taste for the tasteless and a newbie director
all beg the question: Did we really need another half-baked
Dracula movie? Yes, to make us appreciate the good ones.
NEW ON DVD
TERROR IN THE MIDNIGHT SUN/INVASION OF THE ANIMAL PEOPLE
Producer, director Jerry Warren has caught a lot of flack
over the years for his practice of securing foreign-produced
films, splicing in chunks of needless exposition shot in
his own backyard and releasing the resulting concoction
as his own, new film. He deserves the flack, and then some,
and here's an egregious example laid bare. Admittedly, there
wasn't much that even Jerry Warren could do to hurt "Terror
in the Midnight Sun," a Scandinavian, sci-fi fiasco directed
by Virgil Vogel whose legacy includes "The Land Unknown"
and "The Mole People." This 1958 alien-invasion opus involves
a spaceship crash-landing in the Nordic snow carrying a
distinctly unmenacing beast that takes a liking to American
figure-skating champion Barbara Wilson. Warren got hold
of the film and turned it loose in the states, but not until
after he'd tweaked the plot a bit by hacking in grainy shots
of his favorite actor, John Carradine, explaining things
we don't care about. This "special edition" includes voiceover
by the film's original producer, Bertil Jernberg, a gaggle
of bizarre trailers and shorts ("Swedish Teens Run Wild")
and an episode of the Swedish TV show "13 Demon Street,"
directed by Curt Siodmak, and starring Lon Chaney, Jr.
TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN
Call it a crash course in the history of fiction's most
enduring man-made monster. "Tales of Frankenstein" is a
compilation of clips, trailers and assorted short subjects
celebrating the legacy of filmdom's favorite collection
of body parts. The classic Universal Frank is here, as is
the Hammer version in "gorious" color. There's the half-hour
pilot for the "Tales of Frankenstein" teleseries produced
by Hammer in 1959, and directed by Curt Siodmak. There are
clips from Lon Chaney Jr.'s turn as the shambling monster
on the sci-fi anthology series "Tales of Tomorrow," as well
as segments showcasing the monster's romp with Abbott &
Costello. The package is topped off with audio and filmed
interviews with Boris Karloff, Glenn Strange, Peter Cushing
and Hammer producer Michael Carreras.
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
"Bring your date and watch her tingle!"