By TOM WEAVER
Q: How long did it take to
shoot Beast of Yucca Flats?
ANTHONY: We shot over a period of probably a year,
or something like that. We shot weekends, 'cause I was working.
not every weekend.
ANTHONY: No, no, no. But for about a year, in '59.
In fact, that's a funny story: Besides playing the Kremlin
agent, there's another scene I'm in in the picture. At the
end, when you see all the people chasing the Beast and looking
for the kids, one of them is me -- a big fat guy. A year
went by and I was hangin' around with Tor Johnson, and I
gained all that weight!
you play the skinny Kremlin agent at the beginning of the
ANTHONY: And a big fat guy at the end [laughs]!
did Tor Johnson's makeup?
ANTHONY: Larry Aten, who played the sheriff. The
"scars" were toilet tissue that we wrinkled up and then
pasted onto Tor. Then powder was put on, to make it look
like he was really burned from the atomic blast. That atomic
blast was, of course, the real thing -- stock footage. And
it was hard to get at that time -- that was government footage.
I forget where we acquired it, but we got it! The big flash
that Tor Johnson reacts to -- we did that with the lens.
We just flashed it open real quick.
only had two interiors in the movie -- a bedroom scene,
with Larry Aten and the women in bed ...
ANTHONY: That was shot in Saugus, in a house almost
diagonally across from the cave. Marcia Knight played the
wife. And, actually, I played her husband in that scene.
The actor who was supposed to come never showed up, so I
played it. That's why the shot's so brief. So I played three
parts in the movie.
other interior is that very strange pre-credits sequence
of a nude girl walking around her apartment and then being
killed by the Beast. Why was that shot?
ANTHONY: Uh ... Coley liked nudity. That's it!
[Laughs] Her name escapes me; she was an Italian girl from
New York. I saw her that one time there, and that was it.
She was choked by a guy who doubled for Tor Johnson. (That
was obvious, right?) That scene was shot in an apartment
in Van Nuys.
the Beast rape the women -- didn't you worry that that was
a little "much" for the time?
ANTHONY: No. Nah. Even though I know the [Production
Code people] were down on stuff like that. It was kind of
mild, because we didn't really show anything.
the most "ambitious" shot in the movie is the moving camera
shot of the airplane chasing Douglas Mellor.
ANTHONY: We did that at the Saugus Airport. We put
a camera in the back of a little tiny Ford pickup truck.
a 1964 interview, Coleman Francis said the picture cost
ANTHONY: To be honest with you, I forget how much
I spent. (Remember, it was my money, and a few other people
that I got involved with it.) But it was probably about
$34,000 -- that's pretty damn close. Because we had to make
prints up -- I had 75 or 77 prints made of it. But back
then, you could buy 'em cheap.
taught you how to edit?
ANTHONY: I started learning how to edit and everything
through a couple of editors, Lee Strosnider and Austin McKinney
-- they were the two editors of Beast of Yucca Flats.
to the Beast of Yucca Flats credits, the editors
are Lee Strosnider and "C. Francis."
ANTHONY: Coleman Francis? Why, he never edited one
bit, he was off when I was toiling with these guys! I worked
with them -- every bit of time that I had, I would go right
over there from my job and work with them. They edited it
in a house in Hollywood, on Fountain Avenue. We finished
the picture, edited it at that house, and then we booked
it ourselves in San Diego, at a couple of theaters there.
The Navy guys just loved that thing over there -- San Diego
is a Navy town. We packed the house with sailors, and they
just loved it. Well, I think they liked the gal in it, Marcia
Knight. They just went crazy. Coley and I made personal
appearances with the picture and signed autographs and everything.
It went over good!
to The Hollywood Reporter, Tor Johnson was going
to be there in person too.
ANTHONY: He never showed up! Tor did no touring.
But Coley and I did.
you got those bookings yourself. Did you ever try to get
an established film company to distribute it for you?
ANTHONY: I showed it to Mr. [Spyros] Skouras at
20th Century-Fox. And his favorite scene was the scene at
the end when the rabbit comes up to Tor Johnson during his
death scene. And do you know that that was a wild rabbit
that came up to Tor? That wasn't a trained rabbit, it was
a baby jack rabbit that came out of nowhere, a bunny. It
was like a miracle -- he came over to Tor while we were
shooting, and he was lying on the ground dying. Tor opened
his eyes and saw it and kissed it. Can you imagine that?
Isn't that an amazing scene? And that was Spyros Skouras'
favorite scene in the movie. He said it reminded him of
All Quiet on the Western Front! [Laughs]
showed him the movie in hopes of getting a Fox releasing
ANTHONY: Right. We had a lot of guts!
wasn't gonna say that, but that's just what I was thinking!
ANTHONY: Of course, they turned it down. Later I
showed it to AIP -- I showed it to Sam Arkoff at the Charlie
Chaplin Studios on LaBrea Avenue. He got halfway through
it and he said, "Oh! I forgot! I have to catch a plane."
You know what that meant! [Laughs]
Yucca Flats got
better reviews than it deserved. You really lucked out!
ANTHONY: A guy by the name of Tube reviewed it for
Variety. He was a very nice guy. He used to rake
the majors over, but he liked independents. He should have
been an actor himself -- he looked kind of like Tyrone Power.
The Hollywood Reporter liked it, too. There was something
in it that they liked.
kind of a guy was Coleman Francis?
ANTHONY: Basically, he was a nice person. People
said he drank, but I never saw him drink a drop. Not even
a beer, in all our years together. He liked aspirins and
Coca-Cola -- he said it gave him a lift! [Laughs]
and Coca-Cola together?
ANTHONY: Yeah. He said it kept him going, kept him
you had a good partnership?
ANTHONY: Yeah. After Beast of Yucca Flats,
we made The Skydivers  and then we made another
one, Night Train to Mundo Fine .
did you break up?
ANTHONY: Well, it got to be a little too much. I
was doing most of the work of editing and trying to sell
the pictures; he just wanted to write and direct, and that's
IT. It was just too much on me. I had a wife and
two kids, and still working in a factory.
Doing pictures and working in a factory -- I said, "Wait
a minute! Something's wrong here!" So I said that's it
and I got out of [the picture business] for about two, three
years. Then I saw these biker pictures coming out in '66,
'67, and I had a story treatment called The Hellcats
that James Gordon White had written -- it was about this
lesbian gang on motorcycles. I changed it around and made
them undercover motorcycle gals, I wrote with a couple other
guys on it, and I produced it. The Hellcats 
was my first real hit after getting away from Coleman. It
became a smash hit -- it made about $12 million the first
year for Crown International. And that's when tickets were
a buck, buck and a quarter, buck and a half.
did you retire as a welder?
ANTHONY: The doctor made me quit welding in 1963.
I had to get out because of my eyes. I was welding and making
movies at the same time, and [from the welding] I got chalazia
-- little bumps under your eyelids. A doctor on Van Nuys
Avenue cured it for me, but he said, "Don't go back to welding.
You've had too many 'flashes.' " When somebody else is welding,
and you get a flash of it in your eye -- well, that takes
all the fluid out of your eye. So I had to quit.
seeing someone welding takes the fluid out of a person's
ANTHONY: If you're welding, and you lift your hood,
and then another guy's welding a booth over and you catch
his flash in the corner of your eye, that takes the
fluid out of your eye. And that causes chalazia.
was your last encounter with Coleman Francis?
ANTHONY: The last time I saw him, he was about
Tor's weight. After being only like 200 pounds, he went
up to about 350. He was on a bus bench with an overcoat,
and he looked like he was gone ... three sheets to the wind.
I don't know what happened to him. I was driving by and
I saw him on the bench and I couldn't believe my eyes. I
felt sorry for him, but at the same time ... you know ...
you gotta take care of yourself and your family.
was told that he later died under strange circumstances.
ANTHONY: Coleman Francis' body was found in the
back of a station wagon at the Vine Street Ranch Market.
it natural causes, or...?
ANTHONY: Nobody knows. I don't know, he doesn't
know -- he's dead! [Laughs] Nobody seems to know. There
was a plastic bag over his head and a tube going into his
mouth or around his throat. I don't know if he committed
suicide, or ... I have no idea. Never looked it up because
we were on the outs at the time.
parting shots do you want to give me on Beast of Yucca
ANTHONY: Well, for a cheap movie, and considering
how we did it, I think it stands up. It's played on Mystery
Science Theater and people pirate it, so SOMEbody's
got to like it! I think it holds up pretty good. We worked
hard on it. Mostly my money! I did all the raising of money
and all the paying. I paid and paid and paid [laughs], using
my welding salary. It was a learning process, and it became
a cult classic. I think it was a little bit better quality-wise
than Ed Wood's movies! Laughs] But I don't knock Ed Wood
and I don't knock Coleman. When I started, I didn't know
beans about movies. So I have to praise them. If Ed Wood
had the money and backing behind him, he would have been
a top-notch producer-director.
how about Coleman Francis?
ANTHONY: Would you say the same thing about him?
Yeah. If he had the money behind him and everything, sure.
WITH ANTHONY CARDOZA
Tom Weaver is the author of I Was a Monster Movie Maker:
Conversations with 22 SF and Horror Filmmakers, Science
Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and
Filmmakers and many others available from McFarland