The actor best known for his portrayal of FBI man Eliot
Ness in television's "The Untouchables," Robert Stack died
at his Los Angeles home. He had a heart ailment and had
been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was 84. Although
Stack was not considered a B-movie actor, we couldn't let
his passing go unnoticed in our newsletter. Early in his
career, he became famous as the man who gave rising Universal
star Deanna Durbin her first screen kiss. (According to
one account, it was Universal makeup man Jack P. Pierce,
creator of the Frankenstein Monster, Mummy and Wolf Man
makeup, who urged Stack to dye his blond hair brown). Stack
became a teen heartthrob and appeared in heroic roles throughout
the 1940s and '50s. One notable early part was in the Ernst
Lubitsch classic "To Be or Not To Be," which starred Jack
Benny and Carole Lombard. One of Stack's personal favorites
was "The Bullfighter and the Lady," a film produced by his
friend John Wayne. In 1952, he starred in director Arch
Oboler's "Bwana Devil," the first 3-D feature. In 1956,
Stack was Oscar-nominated for his role in the Douglas Sirk-directed
drama "Written on the Wind."
But it was as Eliot Ness that Stack truly made his mark.
Beginning in 1959, "The Untouchables" series was a sensation.
The program's violence was controversial at the time, featuring
brutal depictions of the mob-controlled Chicago of the 1920s.
Stack won an Emmy for his portrayal of the no-nonsense FBI
man. The show ran for four seasons including a feature-length
telemovie, "The Scarface Mob." Stack later appeared in other
TV series such as "The Name of the Game" and "Most Wanted."
In 1980, he played his tough-guy image for laughs in the
smash comedy "Airplane," lampooning his macho reputation
in deadpan fashion. A World War II veteran, Stack was a
champion skeet shooter and expert marksman. Once named Hollywood's
most eligible bachelor, Stack had been married to actress
Rosemarie Bowe since 1957.
Model/actress Suzy Parker, considered by many to be the
first "supermodel," is dead of undisclosed causes. She was
70. A favorite model of famed designer Coco Chanel and Revlon
cosmetics in the 1950s, Parker was the first model to earn
$100,000 a year. She was also a favorite subject of such
acclaimed photographers as Richard Avedon and Milton H.
Greene. Her film career was somewhat less auspicious, beginning
with small roles in such films as "Funny Face," "Ten North
Frederick" and "Kiss Them for Me." Genre fans may recall
Parker from episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery."
Her last acting assignment was in director Hy Averback's
1966 thriller "Chamber of Horrors" with Cesare Danova, Wilfrid
Hyde-White, Jeanette Nolan and Marie Windsor. Parker wed
actor Bradford Dillman while filming "Circle of Deception"
in 1961. They remained married until her death.
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
"MONSTER KID," "CRATER KID," BOTH AT "THE BASH"
Just as "a good cast is worth repeating," an exciting news
item is worth recounting: Bob Burns and Tom Weaver will
introduce "Monster Kid Memories" at this year's Monster
Bash. This revealing volume by perhaps the two finest chroniclers
of cult-movie history extant will be an invaluable addition
to the library of every sci-fi and horror film fan. With
heartfelt introductions by Leonard Maltin and Joe Dante,
the book is filled with hundreds of rare photos (and designed,
incidentally, with impeccable panache, by the B Monster
himself!). Unlike most of the authors of myriad reviews,
anthologies and retrospectives, Bob was there, behind the
scenes before he was in his teens, looking on and taking
part as movie history was being made. From an early visit
to the wondrous lunar set of George Pal's "Destination Moon,"
to the dogged search for the Time Machine (which now resides
in Bob's basement), the authors clearly relish the details
when recounting Bob's close friendships with Pal, three-time
Universal Frankenstein Monster Glenn Strange, Republic serial
"stars" Dave Sharpe, Roy Barcroft and the Lydecker brothers
special effects team, Charlie "ape man" Gemora, legendary
makeup man Jack Pierce, gimmick movie maestro William Castle,
Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and many more. Bob's youthful
encounters with such genre-film giants makes for compelling
reading, offering unique insights into the character of
the people who made the films we love. This amazing trade
paperback is available only from Dinoship, Inc. For more
info, check out: http://www.bmonster.com/mk.htm
Bob, Tom and the B Monster will ALL be at Monster Bash,
introducing the book to attendees before it moves into nationwide
release. (Cue up for an autographed copy!) Marty and Dinoship
will also be presenting "The Crater Kid Collection," featuring
every daily adventure of the award-winning artist's retro
space hero, new material and a truly unique and touching
illustrated introduction by legendary Mad and EC comics
artist Jack Davis!
For more info, check out:
AND YOU'D BETTER BE THERE, TOO!
Here's another, somewhat more detailed plug for the fabulous
"Monster Bash," the International Classic Monster Movie
Convention and Expo presented by Scary Monsters Magazine
and Creepy Classics Video & DVD. Okay, we know you're
coming to see Bob, Tom and the B Monster, but if you don't
see yours truly at his appointed station, it's because he'll
be first in line to greet the Creature's leading lady, Julie
Adams. This is a rare public appearance for Ms. Adams, so
run, don't walk, to see her once again paired with her gilled
paramour, the Creature himself, big Ben Chapman.
Rounding out an impressive guest roster are:
Kevin "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" McCarthy
Sara (daughter of Boris) Karloff
Yvonne "Brides of Dracula" Monlaur
The original armature skeleton of King Kong (courtesy the
staggering collection of Bob Burns)
Late-night horror hosts such as Dr. Gangrene and Chilly
The man who operates a real-life "House of Wax," Cortlandt
Hull (along with life-size figures from his Witches Dungeon
Monster Kid webmaster, illustrator extraordinaire and genre
buff without peer, Kerry Gammill
Filmmaker Robert Tinnell
Special effect wiz Tom Savini
Artist, screenwriter Frank Dietz
Author Frank Dello Stritto and many others
In addition to myriad screenings of classic films, there's
a not-to-be-missed "'King Kong' Show and Tell" with Bob
Burns, Q&A with Kevin McCarthy, a 3-D screening of "It
Came From Outer Space," and a Sunday morning monster mass
(no kiddin'!), "for those Catholic Monster Bashers, so you
don't have to go out looking for a church. All denominations
welcome." And we're happy to reassert the conventioneer's
claim that "this is a family show with kids under 12 admitted
FREE with adult. There will be Monster Kids at events and
programming!" It all starts June 20 at the Days Inn Conference
Center in beautiful Butler, Pa., (just north of Pittsburgh).
For more info, check out:
Tell 'em, without hesitation, that the B Monster sent you!
ATTACK OF THE GIANT PREACHERS!
It's the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon's American Family Association
vs. ... the Make-A-Wish Foundation?! That's right. The AFA
has organized a mass e-mailing campaign against, of all
things, an organization that grants the wishes of children
with life-threatening illnesses.
The trouble started at the Pittsburgh Comicon. (When a
paragraph begins with those words, you know that what follows
is going to be ridiculous.) As has become the norm with
such conventions, comic books were but one part of this
pop-culture extravaganza. In addition to actors, wrestlers
and such, there were appearances by former Playboy Playmates
-- fully clothed -- and the sale of back issues of Playboy
magazine. A benefit auction and all-ages casino night at
an adjoining hotel helped raise proceeds for the local Make-A-Wish
chapter. This association is apparently what has Wildmon's
AFA up in arms. "Make-A-Wish defends chapter's porn convention
proceeds," says the AFA Website. As of this writing, Make-A-Wish
had received more than 1,500 nasty digital condemnations
from the Wildmon mob.
Comic books, girlie mags, horror films and heavy metal
all congealed into a big pop-culture stew some years ago.
This is not necessarily a good thing. But in what other
country will you find King Kong Bundy and a "fetish model"
at the same public gathering? Whether or not my kid is exposed
to both the Fantastic Four AND Ivy Blue (the aforementioned
model) is a decision I make as a responsible parent. (Personally,
I believe that Spider-Man AND Ms. Blue should NOT be appearing
at the same venues.) But in a free society these disparate
entities can co-exist. At times, it's a struggle for parents
to navigate these murky waters, but isn't your freedom worth
it? This event raised $27,000 for desperately ill children.
Does the American Family Association really want them to
give it back?
GANGRENE GROWING ON NASHVILLE FANS
Congrats go out to the "Physician of Fright," Dr. Gangrene,
whose shocking show has been picked up by the local Nashville
UPN affiliate. His "Chiller Cinema" now airs on UPN 30 each
Thursday evening (actually Friday morning) at 1:00 a.m.
The program is sponsored, fittingly, by Outer Limits Comics
and the Franklin Drive-in. The good doctor boasts that "the
show also features a new introduction with a new original
theme song written and performed by The Exotic Ones (who
take their name from the "classic" Ron Ormond film). The
doc's ongoing cable access version of "Chiller Cinema" will
continue airing Fridays at 8 p.m., with repeats Saturday
at 9:30 p.m.
For further details, check out: http://www.chillercinema.com
BLUE GRASS AND GREEN MONSTERS
Lovely Louisville, Kentucky will once again host the WonderFest.
Billed as "THE annual expo for model and toy collectors
of s-f, horror & comics subjects -- especially plastic
kits & garage kits," this year's fest welcomes guest
of honor, legendary stop-motion animation genius Ray Harryhausen.
Also on the bill are Hammer glamorette Caroline Munro, special
effects ace Greg Nicotero, artists William Stout, Mark Schultz
and Frank Dietz, Starship designer John Eaves and author
of "The Dinosaur Filmography, Mark Berry. In person seminars
and Q&A's include:
"The Lost Worlds of Ray Harryhausen"
"Beauty and the Beasts: A Conversation with Caroline Munro"
"Enterprise Incidents: The Starship Design and Model Work
of 'Star Trek's' John Eaves"
"Greg Nicotero: "The Monster Man Cometh Back!"
"The Prehistoric Times: A Celebration!"
"Guitars, Cadillacs, Barbarians and Babes: The Fantastic Art of Mark Schultz
& William Stout"
"Frank Dietz: The 7th Voyage of Sketchy Things"
And be sure to visit the Lizard Lounge for "special displays,
how-to demos and the make & take!" The latter activity
includes a model kit provided free by the Polar Lights company,
which kids of all ages can construct and keep for their
very own. There will also be a special screening of "The
Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," and an early Harryhausen effort,
"The Tortoise and the Hare," at the nearby Baxter Avenue
Theater. "After hours" events include a "Drive-In" screening
of Harryhausen's "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" hosted by
It all happens at Louisville's Executive West Hotel, Saturday
June 7th and Sunday June 8th 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days.
Adults pay $17 for a single-day ticket, $22 for a 2-day
pass. For kids 12 and under it's $5 for a single-day ticket,
$7 for a 2-day ticket. For more info visit: http://www.wonderfest.com
And by all means, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
SCREAMING IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
The party doesn't start until a week after Halloween, so
you've got plenty of time to plan for Screamfest 2003, billed
as "south Florida's best horror, sci fi, rock 'n roll, toy
and film convention." (Horror, sci fi, rock 'n roll, toys
and films? What else IS there?) The show starts November
8 at the Plantation, Fla. Holiday Inn. According to the
promoter's hype, "Screamfest 2003 is the ultimate Horror
Convention Spectacular. It is a two-day event for horror
fans to gather and enjoy all things horror related. There
will be celebrity guests from the movie, music, and TV industries
[and a] huge dealer room with some of the best vendors in
the United States, with rare collectibles." The special
guest roster is still being filled out as of this writing,
but so far includes:
Godfather of Gore Herschell Gordon Lewis, director of
"Blood Feast," and "2000 Maniacs"
Kenny Miller, co-star of "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," and
"Attack of the Puppet People"
Glenn Shadix, featured in "Beetlejuice," and the "Planet
of the Apes" remake
Reggie Bannister of "Phantasm" fame
Vernon G. Wells, featured player in "The Road Warrior,"
and "Billy Frankenstein"
The B Monster applauds the show's assertion that "this
is not just for adults, but is open for all ages and the
whole family." The two-day fest is open from 10 a.m. to
For more info and updates, check out: http://www.screamfest2003.com
Naturally, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!
MANCHESTER FEST HELPS INDY FILMERS MAKE THE SCENE
The latest in a seemingly endless agenda of British genre-film
celebrations is "The Festival of Fantastic Films 2003,"
which takes place this August 29-31 in Deansgate, Manchester.
This is the 14th time promoters have held the fest, billed
as "The UK's Celebration of a Century of Amazing Cinema."
Promoters promise, "three programme streams containing a
terrific range of movie-related events that include guest
interviews, discussions, panels, auctions, dealer room,
themed dinner [ed. We'd love to hear more about THAT cuisine],
parties and of course an AMAZING number of movies ... the
old and the new." The focus seems to be on indy films of
all kinds, with honors doled out to amateur features and
shorts. A sampling of titles includes "Hells Highway," "Incredibly
Strange People," even "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde," so clearly
horror and fantasy themes pervade. But this year's festivities
also include a science-fiction film retrospective and salutes
to 3-D and CinemaScope.
For more info visit: http://fantastic-films.com/festival/
Be sure and give them The B Monster's regards!
TAKE THE SFX/B MONSTER CURMUDGEON CHALLENGE
One of Great Britain's Geek Bibles (and we mean that in
the best possible sense), SFX Magazine, has announced nominations
for their annual readers poll. The categories are many and,
as we've never heard of most of the nominees [ed. If they
were born after 1960 they're probably off the B Monster's
dusty pop-culture radar], we've chosen only selected categories.
To make it interesting for B Monster readers, give yourself
10 points for each nominee you've never even heard of, and
20 points for each nominee who is at least 10 years younger
than you. Add up the points. The total is how old you feel.
Best SF or Fantasy Film
Attack Of The Clones
The Two Towers
Best SF or Fantasy Actress
Best SF or Fantasy Actor
Best SF or Fantasy Director
M. Night Shyamalan
Best SF or Fantasy TV Show
Best Actress in an SF or Fantasy TV show
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Best Actor in an SF or Fantasy TV show
Anthony Michael Hall
Best SF or Fantasy Novel
The Salmon Of Doubt (Douglas Adams)
Lost In A Good Book (Jasper Fforde)
Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
Hollow Chocolate Bunnies Of The Apocalypse (Robert Rankin)
Night Watch (Terry Pratchett)
Best SF or Fantasy Author
Best SF or Fantasy Comic Book
Sexiest Woman in SF and Fantasy
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sexiest Man in SF and Fantasy
The Minority Report Award for the person who should be
stopped for committing future crimes:
George W. Bush Jr. (What? No Tony Blair? And how 'bout that
Sci Fi Channel
Hall Of Fame
Christopher Lee (Only one nominee? I'd say the old grouch
is a shoo-in!)
And perhaps our favorite category:
Who would you use as the basis for your Clone Army?
Sarah Michelle Gellar
You can find out more about SFX and their London con at:
HOWL ABOUT THIS
According to The Hollywood Reporter, rapper/actor (or is
it actor/rapper?) DMX (which we always thought was a pesticide)
will produce a horror film called "Werewolf" for Phoenix
Pictures. The supernatural thriller written by Marshall
Todd, who scripted the sleeper smash "Barbershop," will
feature DMX as an enigmatic bluesman/werewolf hunter whose
mission is to rid the world of its last lycanthropes, most
of whom dally with either the idle rich or Hollywood's seamy
drug-addict underground. (Hey, wouldn't it be cool if a
werewolf wandered into the "Barbershop"?) Anyway, Italian
director Dario Piana hopes to begin filming in Montreal
later this year. I don't know that there's anything new
they can do with the werewolf theme, but the very thought
of DMX as a bluesman is truly frightening.
Two big screen projects based on the comic strips of Lee
Falk are in the works. Josh Oppenheimer and Tom Donnelly,
who recently adapted Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder,"
have drafted a script based on Falk's "Mandrake the Magician."
Meanwhile, Crusader Entertainment announced that "Die Hard"
scriptwriter Steven De Souza is hard at work on another
movie version of Falk's "Phantom" comic strip featuring
"The Ghost Who Walks" in a contemporary setting. The 1996
version starring Billy Zane was a box-office dud.
Am I just getting old, or this whole business of making
everything "extreme" gone WAY past ridiculous? The answer
to both questions is "yes." Artisan Home Entertainment is
soon to release still another version of "Terminator 2:
Judgment Day, T:2 Extreme." Killer robots from the future
shooting, clawing, ripping and burning each other's skin
off -- how much more "extreme" can it be? And aren't there
about 36 versions of this movie in release already? The
director's cut, the producer's cut, the key grip's cut.
Enough, already! 20 years from now, how will we know which
one was the real movie? This version is supposed to feature
a "remastered" print of the original movie with 16 minutes
of new footage, and it includes a high-definition version
for those of you fortunate enough to own high-definition
equipment. The B Monster, for one, is holding out for the
version that actually beams the actors themselves into his
living room. Now THAT would be EXTREME, dude!
NEW ON DVD
ISLE OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE
Okay, quick history lesson. The tortured genesis of this
movie, one of four made back-to-back by ostensibly the same
group, is as strange as the finished film. Director Jack
Hill, best known for "Spider baby" and a raft of blaxploitation
classics, found himself out of a job. "I came to work [at
Universal] one day and somebody else's name was on the door,"
he told the B Monster. Casting about for opportunities,
Hill learned of a Mexican financier who wanted to back low-budget
horror movies. "A Mexican producer had engaged Boris Karloff
to do four pictures, back-to-back -- which was a totally
insane idea." Nevertheless, Hill needed the gig. He developed
four scripts virtually overnight, and sold them, landing
the director's job in the bargain. Immediately the situation
began to unravel. "Boris Karloff's doctors would not let
him go to Mexico. He had emphysema and was dying. I had
to write the scripts in such a way that all his scenes could
be shot in Hollywood, with the minimum of actors brought
from Mexico, with sets that wouldn't have to be duplicated
in Mexico. We'd shoot all his scenes in Hollywood and finish
the rest of the picture in Mexico. It was a disaster right
from the beginning." Then, the Mexican actors that turned
up for the shoot were NOT the ones Hill had hired. And the
producer, who was supposed to oversee filming, headed for
Disneyland instead. "I was supposed to go to Mexico to finish
the picture," said Hill, but [the producer] just took off
-- disappeared and I never heard any more about it. Eventually,
he had a heart attack and died trying to scrape up the rest
of the financing." Hill didn't even see the films, which
were completed by a Mexican director, until years later
when he caught them on television. "It just broke my heart
to see what they'd done to it."
Hill's sentiments are understandable. The film is muddled,
uninteresting, and worth your time only if you're a Karloff
completist studying his career. But was Karloff EVER bad?
Even on oxygen, aged and wheelchair-bound, he's good 'ol
bravura Boris. Hill was impressed with the actor's stamina
and professionalism. "He was a great guy. I loved working
with him." Karloff told Hill, "I want to go out in harness."
The old pro's spirit is admirable. These Mexican turkeys,
on the other hand.... In case you're confused, "Isle of
the Snake People" turned up under the alternate titles "Cult
of the Dead," "Isle of the Living Dead" and "Snake People."
I'd attempt a plot synopsis in order to help you determine
whether or not you've seen the film, but the movie is so
jumbled and distracting, I'm sure it would only compound
the confusion. Bear in mind, of the four Mexican-Karloff
pictures, this is the BEST one!
HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM
After "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," this is arguably producer
Herman Cohen's best-known film. It's burned into the memories
of many baby boomers by virtue of a single scene: The "binoculars"
scene! Even mainstream, non-genre film fans, who likely
can't name the film, recall with a shudder the outlandishly
gory "binoculars" scene. Perhaps they caught it on the late,
late show or a big brother or sister described it in vivid
detail in an attempt to gross the bejesus out of them. It's
great campfire stuff -- and if you're not familiar with
it, well, then, you just haven't watched enough B movies.
This DVD release is your chance to atone. Don't get us wrong,
the film doesn't succeed or fail based on a single scene.
It's a grisly corker with much to recommend it.
Producer Herman Cohen's contributions to B movie history
are -- well -- let's just say that B movie history would
be a good deal less interesting without Herman Cohen. Old-fashioned,
innocently exploitative thrillers like this one are the
reason he's remembered so fondly. The plot centers on mystery
writer Edmond Bancroft as portrayed by Michael Gough. Gough
did the smug, effete psycho bit as good as anyone, and he
was generally the actor Cohen turned to when filming in
the U.K. Bancroft hypnotizes his assistant into committing
gruesome crimes that he, Bancroft, then incorporates into
his "fictional" paperbacks. Which brings us to "Hypno-Vista,"
the film's marketing gimmick. In a prologue, a "renowned"
specialist describes the process to the audience. (Scaredy
cats are given a moment to excuse themselves.) Apparently,
this reputable expert is there to lend credence to the premise,
even though popular theory holds that a person would never
do anything against their will under hypnosis. In any event,
it doesn't detract from the nifty, twisted story Cohen and
Aben Kandel have concocted. A cast rounded out by June Cunningham,
Graham Curnow and Shirley Anne Field help Gough, at his
unctuous best, to sell the lurid premise.
This DVD package includes a pamphlet paying tribute to
Cohen featuring a picture, dates of birth and death and
a list of credits. Unfortunately, the notes refer to him
as Herman Cohen (II), hinting that, perhaps, someone cribbed
from the Internet Movie Database, where he's listed as Herman
Cohen (II) (meaning that there's more than one Herman Cohen
listing on IMDB).
PUPHEDZ: THE TATTLE-TALE HEART
What the heck are Puphedz? We'll answer the question with
questions: What if Herschell Gordon Lewis was really into
marionettes? Or what if Wes Craven directed episodes of
"Stingray?" If you can imagine such hybrids, you'll have
a rough approximation of the Puphedz zeitgeist. They're
a slightly demented theater troupe that composed of wooden
puppets -- Woodrow J. Larchbottom, III, Peter Feidwood,
Douglas "Chip" Fir and Leif Applebaum -- who wander a Bergmanesqe
medieval landscape staging gory Grand Guignol-like plays
from the confines of a mini-theater that sits atop an ox
cart. (Sound strange? I don't know how else to convey the
essence of this very strange premise.) The tongue-in-cheek
take on the Poe classic is initially amusing and more than
a little innovative. There are sly references to Hitchcock
and German expressionism (in the accompanying documentary,
the filmmakers acknowledge their debt to "The Cabinet of
Dr. Caligari" for the film's visual appeal), and the slasher
sub-genre is grotesquely ribbed. (There are two versions
of the film on this DVD. The gooey fake blood and gratuitous
violence are covered with censor's signs in the shorter
version.) And the protagonist's voice sounds just enough
like that of character actor Frank Nelson to raise a knowing
The Puphedz are primarily the creation of producer, director,
writer, puppeteer Jürgen Heimann, associate producer,
writer, puppeteer Jim Kundig, associate producer, puppeteer,
prop man and set dresser Ryan Vaniski and director of photography
and digital imager Mark R. Leins. Heimann has worked with
makeup ace Rick Baker and the Jim Henson Creature Shop on
projects including "Men in Black," "The Grinch" and the
"Planet of the Apes" remake. Kundig worked for Disney and
the Henson Shop on films such as "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"
and Independence Day." "Puphedz" began as something of a
sideline for these experienced technicians who are already
planning sequels that are sure to be highlights of animation
festivals around the country. (They copped a Best Animation
award at the 2002 Los Angeles Screamfest.) They achieve
remarkable results, constructing and moodily lighting their
miniature sets, maneuvering their marionette creations into
amusing predicaments. Your enjoyment of "The Tattle-Tale
Heart" will depend to some degree on how much you like puppets
and how much of the outlandish black humor you can tolerate.
Should sequels ensue, perhaps a deluxe edition featuring
three or more Puphedz takes on horror classics will follow.
THAT LITTLE MONSTER
Just as the Elite DVD release "Puphedz" is difficult to
describe, so too is producer/director/actor Paul Bunnell's
quirky 1994 short film (53 minutes), "That Little Monster."
It's influenced in equal measure by Ed Wood, Luis Bunuel,
Rod Serling and David Lynch, and served up with more than
a little caustic, over-the-top, decidedly dark humor. Bunnell
and his team succeed admirably in stirring a Lynch-like
queasiness. Misty, expressionistic scenes are punctuated
by seemingly unrelated (and unsettling) shots of doll parts,
grotesque statuary and kitschy bric-a-brac. Selected scenes
go on and on, testing the viewer's patience, tolerance for
truly of-the-wall characters, and appetite for surrealism.
Longtime genre buffs will either appreciate or repudiate
a canny reconstruction of the "warning" issued by Edward
Van Sloan in the prologue to the '31 "Frankenstein." Standing
in for Van Sloan is an eerily-lit Forry Ackerman. In the
accompanying commentary track, Bunnell points out that Ackerman's
wife Wendayne had only recently passed away prior to the
filming of his scene. Stranger still is the presence of
Bob Hope -- yes THE Bob Hope. Not only does Hope turn up
in a clip from his 1934 screen debut, "Going Spanish," he
peppers the closing credits with one liners shot in 1994
expressly for "That Little Monster!"
The story concerns an exchange student who takes on a
babysitting gig in a truly strange household. The mop-topped
husband croons country western tunes, mom slathers on the
mascara and blows obnoxiously huge bubble-gum bubbles, and
the toddler, well, he's "That Little Monster," an aggressive,
goo-gooing grotesque who makes Chucky seem well-behaved.
Director Bunnell says in an interview that the film was
originally conceived as an episode for a TV horror anthology.
His story could easily have been told in half an hour. At
53 minutes, he's milking the surrealism a tad. But Bunnell
is adept at synthesizing his influences and at ease indulging
his twisted passions. Also a part of this DVD package is
Bunnell's 1981 short, "The Visitant," which is arguably
more intriguing, but certainly not as well executed.
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, founder and CEO of Dinoship, Inc. http://www.dinoship.com
David J. Schow http://charon.gothic.net/~chromo/
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 a 6 ft. astronaut shrink to 6 inches before your
very eyes!" -- The Phantom Planet