APRIL 2000


Charles Gray
Character actor and screen villain Charles Gray died March 7. Cult-film fans will recognize Gray as the criminologist in 1975's "Rocky Horror Picture Show," but he is perhaps better known for his role as James Bond's archenemy Ernst Stravros Blofeld in the 1971 007 feature "Diamonds Are Forever." Hammer-film enthusiasts know Gray for his role in the 1968 feature "The Devil Rides Out." He also appeared as Sherlock's brother, Mycroft Holmes, in "The Seven Per-Cent Solution," and assumed the same role in the TV series featuring Jeremy Brett as the eccentric sleuth. He also appeared in such television series as "The Invisible Man," "One Step Beyond" and "Out of This World."

John Colicos
Character actor John Colicos has died in Toronto at 71. He had suffered a heart attack. Colicos was perhaps best known as Count Baltar in the 1978 sci-fi series "Battlestar Galactica," and for his role as Kor, a Klingon, on the original "Star Trek" series. He reprised the role in several episodes of the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" series in the 1990s. He also appeared as Allan Quatermain in the 1978 film "King Solomon's Treasure," and had parts in "The Changeling," "Phobia" and "Shadow Dancing." His television credits include appearances on "Mission: Impossible," "Night Gallery," "Starlost," "Wonder Woman," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "War of the Worlds."

Lothrop Worth
Cinematographer Lothrop Worth has died at 96. Worth's career began in the silent era and lasted well into the 1960s. In addition to pioneering the process that led to the short-lived, 3-D film craze, Worth photographed such cult classics as director Herb Strock's "Gog" and "I Was A Teenage Frankenstein," and William Beaudine's "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula" and "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." Lothrop and his late wife donated generously to the Motion Picture Home where he died, and a wing of the facility was dedicated in their honor in 1989.

The film and horror cons of 2000 will soon be upon us, and the guest lists are evidence that more and more genre-film vets are being bitten by the nostalgia show bug and are taking the convention-circuit plunge.

"Starsky & Hutch" star David Soul along with Antonio (Huggy Bear) Fargas from the same series. - TV's "Dennis the Menace," Jay North - David Naughton ("An American Werewolf In London") - Richard Eyer ("The Invisible Boy") - The "Lost in Space" gang, featuring Bill Mumy, Mark Goddard and Angela Cartwright - Celeste Yarnell ("Beast of Blood") - Producer Sid Pink ("Angry Red Planet," "Reptilicus") - Lou ("Incredible Hulk") Ferrigno - Haruo Nakajima from "Mothra" and the original "Godzilla" - And what would a Chiller con be without TV's trendsetting horror host, Zacherley? The usual modelers, dealers and scantily-clad ladies will also be in attendance. It all kicks off April 14 at the Meadowlands Sheraton in New Jersey. Check out http://www.chillertheatre.com for more info.

Billed as a "Ray Gun Blast from the '50s Past," the folks at Monster Bash have lined up an impressive array of guests. True to the billing they include: - Kenneth Tobey ("The Thing From Another World") - Beverly Garland ("It Conquered the World") - The "Reel Gill Man," original "Creature From the Black Lagoon," Ben Chapman - Ed Wood regular, Dolores Fuller ("Glen or Glenda," "Bride of the Monster") - Film historian and 50s creature creator Bob Burns Scads of screenings and star Q & As round out the bill. It gets under way June 30 at the Four Points Sheraton in Greenburg, Pa. Visit http://www.abulsme.com/creepy/bash.html for more.

The Midnight Marquee folks have likewise assembled an impressive guest list for this summer's bash, noteworthy for an American International Pictures reunion: - Director Roger Corman - Producer Sam Arkoff - Betsy Jones-Moreland ("Creature From the Haunted Sea") - Jonathan Haze ("Little Shop of Horrors") Plus - Janet Leigh ("Psycho") - Stars of the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter - "Carnival of Souls" star Candace Hilligoss - Former child star Margaret O'Brien And the usual, jam-packed schedule of panels, presentations and awards. It begins July 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Va. Check out http://www.midmar.com for details.


Q: I have an odd question concerning the film "Giant From the Unknown." What's the deal with Bob Steele's bleached-out complexion? Steele, who portays the town sheriff, appears strikingly pallid, while everyone else in the film seems to photograph normally.

A: According to director Richard Cunha, Steele insisted on wearing the pasty, pancake makeup. On the other hand, "Giant" co-star Ed Kemmer thinks it may have been because Steele wore no makeup at all. Either way, Steele stands out in the crowd.

Q: At the beginning of the movie, "Dementia 13", a man and wife are in a rowboat on a dark lake. They turn on a radio, which is playing a catchy "rockabilly" type song. Do you have any idea who is singing the song and the title of it?

A: That's a tough one. Ronald Stein ("Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," "Spider Baby") scored the film, and unfortunately, he's no longer with us to answer questions. The singer sounds a bit like Tommy Spurlin, a somewhat obscure American rockabilly artist whose "best-known" tune was a little thing called "Hang Loose." He would have been active at the time of the film's release. However, that's a very tentative guess. Anyone out there have a definitive answer?


Director John Huston once proffered the following parable: "Two producers are lost in the desert, dying of thirst. They come across a beautiful oasis, with cold, sweet water. As they are about to drink the water, one producer stops the other and says, 'Wait! Let's piss in it!' "

You knew the day would come. New Line Cinema has officially secured the rights to remake "Forbidden Planet." I guess the buzz is true -- there simply are no new ideas left, so they'll continue to pick over the carrion of the classics.

The TBS Superstation, the dark side of Turner Classic Movies, has announced that their remake of "High Noon" will begin shooting in Calgary in April. Look for a premiere sometime in August 2000. Signing on to portray lawman Will Kane, the role for which screen legend Gary Cooper won an Oscar in the original, is Tom ("Alien," "Picket Fences") Skerritt. Rod Hardy, whose credits include "Two For Texas" and "Buffalo Girls," will direct. It was also John Huston who once said, "Don't remake good movies, remake BAD ones." But what did he know?

Director John Carpenter is latching on to the caboose of the Mars-movie bandwagon with "John Carpenter's Ghost of Mars." Reportedly cast are Whoopi Goldberg and Courtney Love. As co-writer Larry Sulkis told The John Carpenter Web Page, the protagonists disturb the "ruins of an ancient Martian civilization and unleash a kind of spiritual doomsday defense system that will relentlessly destroy any alien presence." Sounds like "Forbidden Planet" meets any one of 15 Ray Bradbury stories. Wouldn't it have been more fun to film "John Carpenter's Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars?"

The folks at Marco Polo Music have two forthcoming releases that belong on the shelves of every genre-movie maniac. The first features the work of Universal composers Frank Skinner and Hans J. Salter. Salter's lavish score for "Ghost of Frankenstein" and tidbits of music from "Son of Dracula," "Black Friday" and "Man Made Monster" are also here. Rounding out the disc is a sampling of Frank Skinner's music for "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror."

Arguably the more interesting of the two CDs is "Webb of Horrors," which focuses on composer Roy Webb. Webb provided scores for most of the classic Val Lewton-produced horrors, and generous portions from "Cat People," "Bedlam," The Seventh Victim," "The Body Snatcher" and, perhaps most impressive, "I Walked with a Zombie," are featured. Atmospheric music played an integral part in the success of these pictures, and John Morgan has done a masterful job of reconstructing these scores. Particularly interesting is the "Chant" from "Zombie," as Morgan and company have even managed to replicate the baleful song of the fishermen that haunts the start and finish of the film. (I'd love to have heard the voodoo ritual songs reconstructed!)

If you're not familiar with the Marco Polo folks, they've issued indispensable soundtracks focusing on composers such as Max Steiner ("King Kong"), Alfred Newman ("Hunchback of Notre Dame") Victor Young ("The Uninvited") and Hugo Friedhofer ("The Lodger"), as well as Skinner and Salter's scores for "Son of Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man," "House of Frankenstein" and more. If you love these movies (and who in their right mind doesn't?), you'll want these loving reconstructions. Visit http://www.hnh.com for more info.

While we're on the subject of CD's, cult-movie babe Yvette ("Attack of the Giant Leeches") Vickers has just released her own. "A Tribute to Charlie and Maria" features songs composed by Yvette's parents. Vickers, backed by a light-jazz combo, sings two of the numbers, while the remaining vocal chores fall to Scott Wojon. Yvette promises her next release will feature her singing exclusively. Vickers' mother was a classically-trained pianist, and her father, Charlie Vedder, was a top-flight tenor sax man who once played with the legendary Jay McShann jazz orchestra in Kansas City. (The same band spawned Charlie Parker, Lester Young and many others.) Write to P.O. Box 2606 Beverly Hills, CA. 90213 for info.

Director Jonathan Mostow ("From the Earth to the Moon," "Breakdown") is likely to direct a remake of the 1966 John Frankenheimer thriller "Seconds." The original film starred Rock Hudson as an aging businessman who undergoes a scientific transformation and assumes a new identity. No word as yet on casting for the remake.

Beginning April 4, Court TV will begin coverage of the Forry Ackerman vs. Ray Ferry case. Ferry owns the rights to Forry's creation, "Famous Monsters of Filmland." Forry maintains he was unfairly booted from the enterprise by Ferry not long after they'd teamed up to revive the classic mag a few years ago. Since then, Ackerman has been forbidden to use the funny monikers (Dr. Acula) and trademark puns for which he's known. Ferry claims Forry was ousted because he missed deadlines and delayed production. Monster fandom is in an uproar. Stay tuned.

The Golden Raspberry Foundation has announced the winners of their celebrated "Razzie" awards. Cited as the worst film of 1999 was "The Wild, Wild West," a remake of the classic 1960s TV series, which starred Will Smith in the role originated by Robert Conrad. The film also won "Razzies" for worst director, screenplay, song and screen couple (Smith and Kevin Kline). Word is that Conrad plans to attend the official ceremony.

The sequel to last summer's so-so "Mummy" remake is taking shape, and you can add wrestling star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to the cast list as "The Scorpion King." Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo and John Hannah will be reprising their roles from the summer blockbuster, which made tons of money for Universal, a studio desperately in need of another hit.

One of director Edgar Ulmer's most idiosyncratic and oddly disturbing little movies is getting the royal DVD treatment. 1944's "Bluebeard" provided John Carradine with one of his finest vehicles, and there is no better example of Ulmer's ingenious, penny-pinching brand of film making, "Detour" notwithstanding. Released by Allday, digitally remastered from a positive print provided by the Cinematheque Francais, the film is worth a second look on it's own merits. But the extras included are an even greater incentive. A photo gallery displays rare production stills, while the documentary, "Bluebeard Revealed," includes interviews with the director's widow, as well as the puppeteer who devised the title character's puppets. Best of all is a booklet reproducing original promotional material. Theater owners were entreated to "Hire a man and make him up to look sinister with a bright blue beard as his distinguished characteristic." Who could resist?

The B Monster gets the occasional query concerning the availability of certain "sword-and-sandal" films, and we're here to tell you that Trimark Home Video is set to unleash an Olympic-size stash of chariot operas. "Hercules vs. The Hydra," featuring Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Hargitay as the son of Zeus leads the pack. (I may not be up on my spaghetti spear flicks, but wasn't this one originally called "The Loves of Hercules?") Also being released are "Hercules vs. The Moloch," "Hercules vs. the Sons of the Sun," Medusa vs. the Son of Hercules," "The Triumph of Hercules" -- in short, enough Herc to stuff a Trojan Horse with. Oh, yeah, "The Trojan Horse" is also among the forthcoming releases.

Director Joe Chappelle ("Phantoms," "Takedown") will begin shooting "Dracula: A True Story," which, according to Variety, will star Rudolf ("Beggars and Choosers") Martin as Vlad, the Impaler. Also in the cast are Who lead singer, Roger Daltrey and Peter "Robocop" Weller.

Anchor Bay is releasing a barrage of vintage British sci-fi titles, including:

THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN Always one of The B Monster's personal favorites among Hammer flicks, this one features Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, and one or two genuinely nail-biting scenes, as an intrepid band of Himalayan explorers stalk the enigmatic Yeti. Lots of chills, broad acting and outright fun, the only disappointment being the climactic scene where the Yeti's wizened face is partially revealed. Director Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale provide commentary.

Burly American Brian Donlevy is all wrong for the part of the erudite British scientist, but I still like him as Quatermass. This sequel, arguably superior to the initial Quatermass feature, centers around a cloistered government facility, possibly controlled by alien forces. Once more, director Guest and writer Kneale provide audio elaboration.

An unstoppable blob oozes from the Earth's core every 50 years or so, and thank heaven the Brits have American scientist Dean Jagger on board to keep the globual from devouring the surrounding countryside. Jagger ain't bad, but he's no Quatermass. Look for Leo "Rumpole" McKern and Anthony "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Newley in small roles.

Once more, an American tops an otherwise British bill in this snoozer about love and cloning and the ensuing hijinks. Barbara Payton is the U.S. export this time, a buxom B-movie actress better known for her private life (the infamous fight for her affections between Franchot Tone and Tom Neal) than her screen accomplishments.


If even "Star Wars" purists were disappointed by George Lucas's plodding prequel/sequel, why did it make a gazillion dollars at the box office? What happened to the power of word-of-mouth? Aside from the fact that Jar Jar Binks is annoying and insulting (what was Lucas thinking?) and that, as revealed in this film, the impetus for the three "Star Wars" films, which have become an indelible part of American culture, stems from the fate of Liam Neeson's inconsequential character -- it's just plain boring. All the technical gewgaws in the universe are no remedy for leaden pacing and characters no one gives a hoot about.

Of the spate of "Satan" movies that came out last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger's is easily the worst. The Apocalypse is coming, and Satan, in the person of Gabriel Byrne, must father a child. As the calendar has been changed umpteen times over the centuries, there's a lame explanation as to why midnight, December 31, 2000, is the Devil's deadline, but it's embarrassing. Director Peter Hyams ticks off the cliches in workmanlike fashion (Arnold's a disillusioned cop. He's lost his family. His partner is killed. He's tortured by memories), and Rod Steiger and Kevin Pollack are both wasted. It's entirely predictable and the ending is a ripoff. It's the "Exorcist" with car chases and explosions.


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

"Likely to upset your stomach!" -- Mark of the Devil

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