The weather cools, the leaves fall, and we at B Monster
Central hunker down for the autumn semester. Enjoy the following
scintillating syllabus of fact, fun and ephemera!
Actress Rose Hobart, whose film career was curtailed by
the Hollywood blacklisting of the late 1940s, is dead at
94. Although she had signed documents stating that she had
never been a communist, and maintained that signatures on
documents purporting to prove otherwise were forged, her
movie career stopped cold. She had been on the board of
the Screen Actors Guild and took part in the Actors Lab,
which was considered a subversive organization by Sen. Joseph
Hobart's striking eyes and dark hair are familiar to genre-film
fans from her appearances in "Tower of London," "The Mad
Ghoul," "The Cat Creeps," and, most notably, the classic
1931 version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring Frederic
March (who won an Academy Award) and directed by Rouben
Mamoulian. Over the next two decades, Hobart appeared in
an interesting mix of "A" and "B" pictures including "Mr.
and Mrs. North," "Who Is Hope Schuyler?," "Soul of a Monster,"
"The Brighton Strangler" and "Conflict," opposite Humphrey
Bogart. Her final feature film was 1949's "Bride of Vengeance."
Her television appearances included guest roles on series
such as "Gunsmoke," "Night Gallery," "Cannon" and "The FBI."
Ms. Hobart maintained that she was not bitter over the
blacklisting, and believed that she was targeted, not for
communist leanings, but for her efforts to secure better
working conditions for actors. "We were militant about the
working conditions," she said. "We wanted an eight-hour
day like everybody else."
Prolific film and television director Don Weis is dead at
78. The cause of death was not reported. Weis' television
credits include episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "The Night
Stalker," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Perry Mason," "Burke's
Law," "M*A*S*H," The Love Boat" and many others. He received
six Best Director awards from the Directors Guild of America.
Among the feature films directed by Weis were "A Slight
Case of Larceny," "I Love Melvin," "Just This Once," "Remains
To Be Seen" and "Pajama Party." Cult-film fans are sure
to remember the beach/sci fi/comedy curio "Ghost in the
Invisible Bikini," which Weis directed in 1966.
THE B MOVIE MONTH IN REVIEW
TUNES FROM THE LAGOON
The good folks who gave us "Monstrous Movie Music," two
CDs of lovingly reconstructed classic science fiction scores,
have released "Creature From The Black Lagoon (and Other
Jungle Pictures)." The CD contains previously unreleased
music from the 1954 Universal-International classic. The
35-minute suite contains 21 cues available for the first
time! This landmark score by Herman Stein, Henry Mancini,
Milton Rosen, Hans Salter and Robert Emmett Dolan conjures
both the beauty and horror of the Gill-Man's Amazonian world,
and this suite offers practically every second of music
previously unavailable on disc.
The CD also contains much of the music written for MGM's
Tarzan films of the 1930s and '40s by such well-known composers
as Herbert Stothart, William Axt and Daniele Amfitheatrof.
Rounding out the package is a 16-minute suite from "The
Alligator People," a brilliant, swampy score written by
Irving Gertz, complete with that '50s staple, the electric
violin! Also included are bonus tracks, music cut from the
films, and a state-of-the-art 40-page liner book, complete
with never-before-released photos, music scores and information.
To order yours, write: Monstrous Movie Music P. O. Box 7088
Burbank, CA, 91510-7088 or phone (800) 788-0892 or (818)
886-8863 or fax (818) 886-8820 or e-mail email@example.com
or visit the website at http://www.mmmrecordings.com/
"VAMPIRE OVER LONDON:" LOST LUGOSI
Longtime "Cult Movies" scribe Frank Dello Stritto and Andi
Brooks have collaborated on an interesting tome addressing
Bela Lugosi's abbreviated 1951 stay in the British Isles.
"Vampire Over London - Bela Lugosi in Britain," published
by Cult Movies Press, is set for an October debut.
With horror out of fashion, 68-year-old Lugosi went to
Britain hoping for a comeback. For months, he played Dracula
on stage across England, Scotland and Ireland, delivering
flawless portrayals in well over 200 performances, despite
his declining health. He thrilled audiences in the British
provinces, but the comeback he sought never materialized.
Dello Stritto & Brooks have retraced Lugosi's footsteps
through a period of his career that's been largely overlooked,
interviewing his co-workers and associates, uncovering documents
and long-forgotten reviews, and recording the memories of
audience members. According to the authors, "What emerges
is the moving story of a fading star's last grasp at greatness,
his last chance to rekindle the legend that both consumed
and sustained him."
The book also includes behind-the-scenes accounts of Lugosi's
three British films ("Mystery of the Mary Celeste," "Dark
Eyes of London," and "Mother Riley Meets The Vampire"),
and the story of Hamilton Deane, the often overlooked actor-playwright
who first dramatized Bram Stoker's novel.
Copies are available for $29.95 plus $3.00, and can be
signed if you so desire. Send check or money order to: Cult
Movies Press 644 East 7th Street Houston, Texas 77007
WILSON HOSTS WALCOTT FESTIVAL
We told you a while back about "The Gregory Walcott Film
Festival," built around the star of Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From
Outer Space." Now, we'll make good on our promise to provide
more detail. The festival begins September 22 at The Boykin
Center located in historic downtown Wilson, NC. There will
be a "Star's Reception" at the lakeside home of Mr. and
Mrs. Ed White. Attendees can take part in a silent auction
and have their photo taken with Mr. Walcott.
Movie screenings include "Sugarland Express," starring
Goldie Hawn, "Prime Cut," starring Gene Hackman and, of
course, "Plan Nine from Outer Space" starring Mr. Walcott.
There will be opportunities to meet the star, a Q&A
session and plenty of videos and memorabilia for sale. For
more information, contact The Arts Council of Wilson at
124 East Nash Street, Wilson, NC, 27893 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit http://www.wilsonarts.com
ON THE BILL AT "CHILLER"
This Halloween's "Chiller Theatre" con boasts a guest lineup
that's sure to pack 'em in (not that that's ever been a
problem for the festival in the past -- it's always wall-to-wall).
Of special note this time around is a rare public appearance
by Patricia Neal, the acclaimed film star best known to
genre-film fans for her role in "The Day the Earth Stood
Still." Billy Dee Williams, James "Scotty" Doohan and Gary
Busey will also be on hand, and it should be great fun to
meet the two-man team who brought the "Lost In Space" robot
to life -- Bob May, who inhabited the steel suit and Dick
Tufeld who provided the voice. Also attending are Andy Robinson
of "Dirty Harry" and "Hellraiser" fame, Nora Hayden of "Angry
Red Planet," Don Stroud, Richard Lynch and, of course, Zacherley.
All this plus the gigantic dealers' rooms, monster modelers,
the "Willy Wonka" kids and the usual assortment of scantily-clad
vixens and steel-plated swordsmen. It all gets started October
27. For more info, check out http://www.chillertheatre.com
50 FEET OF FUN AT THE EGYPTIAN
The American Cinemateque will sponsor a special showing
of "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" at Hollywood's historic
Egyptian Theater. Scheduled for September 8, the festivities
include personal appearances and Q&A sessions with Yvette
Vickers, well known for her performance as homewrecker Honey
Parker in the film. Word is that the film's director, Nathan
Juran, may also be on hand. "It'll be the first time I've
ever seen it on the big screen," says Vickers. "It's very
THE WORD FROM "THRILLVILLE"
Film buff, scribe and self-styled lounge-lizard (and we
mean that in the best sense) Will "The Thrill" Viharo and
company continue to do a bang-up job of preserving the nation's
kitsch heritage at Oakland's Parkway Theater. Located in
beautiful Oakland, Calif., The Parkway is a restaurant/moviehouse
with sofas, beer, pizza and an outrageous lineup of films
and live guests. For instance, "Elvis Day 2000" featured
a screening of "It Happened at the World's Fair," with The
KIng's co-stars, Yvonne Craig and Gary Lockwood in attendance.
The Parkway also hosted "An Evening with Ray Dennis Steckler,"
highlighted by a mind-boggling triple-bill of Steckler cinema:
"Rat Fink a Boo Boo," "Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters"
and Blood Shack." There's even a "Thrillville Nursery" at
Tuesday night "Thrillville Theater" showings for parents
with infants 1 year old and under.
Viharo also sends out a nifty newsletter each month. "Parkway
Planet" is filled with coming attractions and cult-movie
news. To learn more, call The Parkway Hotline at 510-814-2400,
or visit http://www.picturepubpizza.com -- or you can drop
Will a line at: email@example.com Be sure and tell
'em The B Monster sent you!
"HOLLOW MAN" FILLED WITH LAUGHS
The blockbuster summer comedy you've been waiting for has
arrived, and it's a rib-tickling parody of the sci-fi and
horror films we love. No, we're not talking about the Wayan's
brother's "Scary Movie." I'm referring to director Paul
Verhoeven's "Hollow Man." All of the sci-fi cliches are
dragged in for lampooning, just as "Airplane" did with the
disaster films of the 1970s. Who'd have thought that the
director of "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls" would emerge
as one of Hollywood's sharpest satirists. There are knee-slapping
scenes of exploited women being groped, fondled -- even
assaulted! What a hoot! And you'll be in stitches as a puppy
is smashed to death by the film's protagonist. Move over
"Chicken Run," finally there's a summer film we can all
enjoy. In our book, Verhoeven is Dutch for laughs!
AND SPEAKING OF ...
Here's what Washington Post columnist Joel Achenbach has
to say about "The Cell:" "Perhaps I'm a fuddy-duddy, no
longer culturally relevant as I transition to increasingly
less desirable demographic categories. I simply don't like
extremely graphic disembowelment scenes, period ... In "The
Cell," the bad guy uses a barbecue spit to wind the entrails
from his screaming victim's body. It's all explicitly depicted.
As I recall, in the old days that kind of thing was merely
implied. Violence in movies is not inevitably bad or offensive
... but we ought to pause when a movie lavishes its talent
and skill -- its technical virtuosity -- on depictions of
violence against women ... it would have done no violence
to the First Amendment to excise some of [the film's] 24
scenes of violence. Editing is not the same thing as censorship."
For the record, the Post's reviews of the film contained
the following warning: "Contains nudity, graphic gore, torture,
corpses, imaginary bogeymen, obscenity, drug use and child
FULLER'S FAN AFFECTION
Our good friend Robert Fuller was recently honored with
an award at "The Knoxville Film Festival." The star of "Brain
From Planet Arous" and the TV series' "Laramie," "Wagon
Train" and "Emergency!" demonstrated why he's so highly
regarded by fans. According to "Western Clippings," upon
taking the podium, Fuller pointed out a dedicated fan in
attendance, decked out in full western regalia. "I don't
even know his name," Fuller began, "but he's in the audience
and I would like to dedicate this trophy to him and give
it to him." Fuller then left the dais, embraced fan Kenneth
Shipley and presented him with the award.
THE RETURN OF WYNTER
For anyone wondering whether actress Dana Wynter ("Invasion
of the Body Snatchers") was forced to cancel her appearance
at "Classic FilmFest 2000" due to ill health, have no fear.
Ms. Wynter made a rare appearance at the aforementioned
"Knoxville Film Festival." She shied away from photo ops,
even though, according to observers, she looked lovely.
Universal Studios will be sponsoring several monster stock
cars bearing the likenesses of their most horrific stars
at various races this fall. Cars covered with graphics depicting
Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and the Mummy will be
among those racing in Charlotte, NC, and Memphis come October.
Universal is also sponsoring monster funny cars to be featured
at the NHRA drag races in Dallas this October 19. Matchbox-size,
diecast collector monster cars will be available shortly
thereafter, and some retailers are reportedly taking advance
WILLIAMS IN A WALK
TV "Zorro" and "Lost In Space" Dad, Guy Williams, earned
a spot on the Bronx Walk of Fame, the only inductee to receive
the honor posthumously. Williams, originally from Bedford
Park, died in 1989 at age 65. The actor's son, Guy Williams
Jr., took part in the induction and the parade that followed.
A GORY GUIDE TO THE GENRE
Our pals at "The MonsterClub.com" are poised to unleash
"The Monster Club.Com Guide To Horror," featuring a foreword
by our buddy, The "Reel" Gillman, Ben Chapman. The club
mascot, Tomb Creeper, leads readers through the best in
horror from the silent era to the present: Horror posters,
radio, comics, toys, magazines, profiles of TV horror hosts,
monster moviemakers, the superstars of horror and a review
section that includes a look at vintage TV shows and 100
of our favorite horror movies. The book is available for
advance order at a special pre-publication price of $10.95
+ $1.75 for shipping. You can send a check or money order
to: JoNa Books P. O. Box 336 Bedford, IN 47421 For more
about the folks behind this terrifying tome, check out http://www.themonsterclub.com
NEW ON VIDEO
MISSION TO MARS
How did so many good actors end up in what is inarguably
one of the dumbest films of the year? Cloying dialogue,
clumsy exposition, glaring predictable plot points and ham-fisted
direction that swipes from the better films in the genre,
most embarrassingly Kubrick's "2001." This mega-dud was
helmed by Brian De Palma, the Rich Little of film directors
-- he's done Hitchcock, Antonioni, even Eisenstein -- why
The "adrift in space" sequence is supposed to be a nail-biter,
but generates zero suspense (the audience I saw it with
erupted in chuckles as the astronauts did their little "bunny-hop"
toward Mars). The CGI is impressive in spots, but the animated
cave men -- a key sequence near the film's conclusion --
look distressingly Gumbyesque. A dopey, TV-movie-like flashback
also drew audience guffaws, and product placement has never
been so shameless -- dilemmas integral to the plot are resolved
with Dr. Pepper on one occasion, and M&Ms on another!
Perhaps the thinking was that any audience plied with enough
M&Ms and Dr. Pepper would have no trouble swallowing
the tired storyline.
Dedicated to digitally remastering esoteric films, the folks
at Englewood Entertainment have released a crisp video version
of this 1935 visionary fable. Rugged Richard Dix stars as
an optimistic engineer who's devoted his energies to tunneling
from London to New York, no matter what the cost. Originally
a German film ("The Tunnel"), writer Curt Siodmak brought
his original script to Britain where this remake was lensed.
Nifty "state-of-the-art" effects (the state they were in,
in 1935) and Dix's agreeable brio make it happy viewing.
FIRST A GIRL
Only from Englewood. This gender-bending musical starring
Brit songstress Jessie Mathews as a cross-dressing cabaret
warbler was based on a German play and subsequent film.
It later served as the inspiration for director Blake Edwards'
NEW ON DVD
A SIX-PACK OF SHEMP
Prepare yourself for the most controversial, incendiary
statement of the new Millennium -- Shemp is The B Monster's
favorite Stooge! There, we've said it! Don't get us wrong,
we love Curly -- but it's time we stood up and made our
preference clear. We know, we're in the minority, but political
correctness be darned!
Having said that, we're happy to announce that Columbia
Tristar is releasing six of Shemp's best Stooge shorts on
DVD. Most of them have a supernatural theme, however tenuous.
-- "Spook Louder" -- "Mummy's Dummies" -- "Shivering Sherlocks"
-- "The Ghost Talks" -- "Hokus Pokus" -- "Fright Night"
(Shemp's first Stooge short following Curly's debilitating
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
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
"They planted the living, and harvested the dead!" -- Invasion
of the Blood Farmers