Fearsome, fabulous, retro-tastic, Jack Davis B Monster collectibles! Posters, shirts, sweats, mugs, mousepads and more, all graced by the B Monster brand and the lurid, lovely artwork of the cartoon dean of the monster scene, illustration legend, Jack Davis! Get yours NOW at the B Monster's decidedly reasonable prices, or risk the day when e-Bay mercenaries artificially jack the prices beyond affordability! As always, the B Monster donates a portion of his proceeds to Childhelp USA:


Jerry Goldsmith
Prolific, multi-award winning film composer Jerry Goldsmith has died following a long battle with cancer. He was 75. Goldsmith studied music theory and composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and learned film composition from Miklos Rozsa at the University of Southern California. In the early 1950s, Goldsmith got a job as a clerk at CBS, which eventually led to his first assignments scoring radio and television programs. Genre-TV fans will recognize Goldsmith's work from "The Twilight Zone" and "Thriller" series.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he broke into feature film work, supplying scores for such movies as "Black Patch," "City of Fear" and "Lonely Are the Brave." Goldsmith assisted composer Alex North on the 1965 film "The Agony and The Ecstasy." When North turned down the job of scoring "The Sand Pebbles," citing the film as too violent, he recommended Goldsmith. The big budget film starring Steve McQueen and directed by Robert Wise was Goldsmith's big break.

Among the many subsequent films with Goldsmith soundtracks are "In Like Flint," "Planet of the Apes." "Bandolero!" "The Illustrated Man," "Patton," "Rio Lobo," "Chinatown," "The Omen," "Alien," "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," "Poltergeist," "Gremlins," "Total Recall," "L.A. Confidential," "The Mummy," "The Sum of All Fears" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action." In all, Goldsmith scored over 300 film and television programs. He was nominated for Academy Awards 18 times. His score for "The Omen" won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Score of 1976. He also won four Emmy Awards and was nominated for nine Golden Globes.

Said film historian Bob Burns, "I lost one of my real heroes. Jerry Goldsmith was the best. I feel like I lost one of my best friends." Director Joe Dante offered the B Monster the following tribute to Goldsmith:

I really can't put into words what Jerry Goldsmith meant to me, both professionally and personally. If I could write music, maybe I'd do a sonata.

Simply put, Jerry was probably the most talented individual I have ever worked with. His mile-long list of credits is astonishing in both its complexity and variety, from his early TV scores through his feature compositions and concert music. I used to kid him about "Black Patch," his first feature score, which I first heard when it was new in 1957, because it contains signature orchestrations and themes that run throughout his work.

We developed a sort of aural shorthand over the years in regard to which parts of a movie needed and didn't need music; where the music should come in and where it should go out. I would track in a lot of very eclectic temp music (never by Jerry) and he would glean exactly what I was looking for, responding with sonics that completely erased the memory of the temp track despite the fact we'd gotten so used to it.

I learned the severity of his illness at the first scoring session on "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," a problem-plagued project which required a great deal of mathematically precise music which would not have come easily even if Jerry had been in normal health. His dedication and exhausting work on this, his last score, was nothing short of courageous. His last days were painful and frustrating because he could no longer do what he loved best, compose music.

Whenever things got a little rocky during the shoot, I'd always say, "Don't worry, Jerry will save it." I'm sure I'm not the only director who ever said it. But now I'm the last. And the world of movies has lost one of its greatest artists. But we still have the music. And we always will.

Irvin S. Yeaworth
Director Irvin S. Yeaworth, best known for such cult-film classics as "The Blob" and Dinosaurus!," died in an automobile accident in Jordan. He apparently fell asleep at the wheel, according to his wife. He was 78. Born in Berlin, Germany, Yeaworth began his entertainment career in radio, singing (at age 10) on the first commercial radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pa. He later became a radio and TV producer. His first feature film, "Twice Convicted," was shot in Chester Springs, Pa., in the early 1950s. He directed three sci-fi films in the late '50s/early '60s ("The Blob", "4D Man" and "Dinosaurus!"), then went back to his first love: making religious movies (including some with Billy Graham). Yeaworth made more than 400 films with religious or social themes. He went on to a career designing World's Fair and theme park displays and pavilions.

He was in Jordan completing work on the Jordanian Experience at the Aqaba Gateway, an entertainment complex that Yeaworth hoped would help bridge the cultural gap between Arabs and Israelis. For more than 25 years, the deeply religious Yeaworth led Bible tours of the Middle East. According to his wife, he hoped to bring more attention to Biblical sites of historical significance in Jordan. The Jordanian Experience was scheduled to open next month. Just a week before Yeaworth's death, promoters staged the annual "BlobFest" at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, Pa., where the scene of screaming moviegoers fleeing the oozing "Blob" was shot. Though it had been years since his days a sci-fi filmmaker, and he had accomplished much through his missionary wok, Yeaworth told his wife that "the Blob is going to follow me to the grave."

Jackson Beck
Voice-over artist Jackson Beck, perhaps best known for the classic "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!" radio introduction, died from complications that followed a series of strokes suffered five years ago. He was 92. As the spokesman for such products as Sugar Frosted Flakes, GI Joe, Pepsi, Brawny paper towels, Combat insect killer and Aqua Fresh toothpaste, Beck's voice was ubiquitous to radio and television audiences. The son of silent film actor, Max Beck, he not only introduced and narrated the classic "Superman" radio show, but played various villains and supporting characters, as well, including Beany, the Daily Planet copyboy.

Beck also served as the announcer for the pioneering "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" television program. According to "Space Cadet" co-star, Jan Merlin, "Jackson became a fine friend, and was a regular at card games with various radio and TV folk. His laughter and jokes were traded with all the other well-known comedians, such as Arnold Stang, Henry Morgan and Minerva Pious. He was gracious enough to help me unload some kittens of mine to homes filled with show folk like himself. I most enjoyed working with him when he'd add to his announcement duties on the 'Tom Corbett, Space Cadet' TV and radio shows by playing roles in a few of the episodes, sometimes doubling by changing his voice for an additional role in the same episode. We had the pleasure of seeing one another after forty years, when we did an original cast re-creation of a 'Space Cadet' radio episode for the 1993 SPERDVAC Old Time Radio convention in Newark, N.J."

Beck was also the voice of Bluto in more than 300 "Popeye" cartoons. He later performed voice-over for the Woody Allen features, "Take the Money and Run" and "Radio Days," and was heard on "Saturday Night Live."


The queries have been many and the answer is "yes." There will be "Monster Legacy Collections" for the Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy and The Invisible Man. Universal Home Video is set to release them October 5. The Mummy collection will include the "The Mummy," (the Karloff original, of course!) "The Mummy's Hand," "The Mummy's Tomb" and "The Mummy's Curse." The Invisible Man collection will feature the James Whale-directed Claude Rains original, along with "The Invisible Man Returns," starring Vincent Price, "Invisible Agent" and "The Invisible Woman." The Creature Collection will feature the "Creature from the Black Lagoon," "Revenge of the Creature" and "The Creature Walks Among Us." Film historian and invaluable B Monster correspondent, Tom Weaver, accompanied by star Lori Nelson and Creature authority Bob Burns, only recently recorded audio commentary for "Revenge," and, with actor Gregg Palmer, taped an audio track for "Walks Among Us." More details to come. Stay tuned!

Heritage Movie Poster Auctions recently auctioned off a portrait of Bela Lugosi that "hung in a place of honor in Lugosi's home for many years, until his death," according to auctioneers. The 47" x 61" oil on canvas portrait was painted by Hungarian artist Geza Kende in the early 1930s, and depicts the actor as a young, swarthy, nattily dressed man with a bit of a sneer on his face. "On the back of the canvas," reads the description, "Bela Lugosi has signed his name in pencil with an illegible inscription above the signature. This painting, which is offered in its original frame, has had some expert conservation work performed upon it, and is beautifully preserved. It will make a marvelous centerpiece to any film aficionado's collection." Offered along with the painting is a funeral plaque that was on view when the actor was laid to rest. "We expect the painting to bring close to $100,000, or more," said Heritage director, Grey Smith. There were 14 bids in all. The painting sold for $86,250.

"Space Patrol" historian and cadet emeritus, Jean-Noel Bassior, reports that "Space Patrol," published by McFarland & Co., "is on track for publication this fall." Says Bassior, addressing fellow "Space Patrol" enthusiasts, "I want to thank everyone once again for your incredible input into this book. Without your comments, it wouldn't be complete, particularly the last chapter, 'Where Have All the Heroes Gone?,' about what TV was like when we were growing up and how it has changed." Subtitled "Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television," Bassior's nostalgic, informative tome recounts "a time when the compassionate hero was still revered, when kids and adults alike drew inspiration from role models such as The Lone Ranger, Captain Video, Hopalong Cassidy and Commander Buzz Corry of the Space Patrol. It's a book about live television, when just about anything could happen -- and did -- before millions of viewers." In assessing the show's impact, Bassior points out that after more than 50 years, star Ed Kemmer still receives fan mail from adoring viewers who were inspired by his portrayal of Buzz Corry. For more information, visit:
Tell the McFarland folks the B Monster sent you!

James Doohan, known and loved the world over as "Star Trek's" Scotty, is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, according to the actor's wife, Wende. "With Jimmy it's the loss of words," she said. "He is not so sick yet that he doesn't know people. And there are times when he is sharp as a tack. But it's the older memories that stick. What he had for breakfast might be an iffy thing, but by golly he could tell you all about how he got the part on 'Star Trek.' " Only recently, the 84-year-old actor announced his retirement from the convention and personal appearance circuit. A special convention event advertised as "Beam Me Up Scotty, One Last Time," was held in his honor. Doohan also suffers from Parkinson's disease, lung fibrosis and diabetes.

Final casting choices have been made, and production is under way, on NBC Universal Entertainment's "Dean Koontz's Frankenstein" which will air on the USA Network. Thomas Kretschmann, whose showiest role to date was as a sympathetic Nazi officer in director Roman Polanski's "The Pianist," will portray Dr. Frankenstein. Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg and Michael Madsen will co-star. Marcus Nispel (the 2003 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre") will direct, and Martin Scorsese and Tony Kranz will executive produce Koontz's modern spin on Mary Shelley's classic. Kretschmann was also added to the cast of director Peter Jackson's "King Kong" remake. The German actor's previous genre-film credits include "Blade II" and Dario Argento's "The Stendhal Syndrome." I know, you're waiting for the B monster to come down hard on yet another remake/update/rehash/patchwork project, but having seen "Van Helsing," I had to ask myself, "could it get any worse?" They might surprise me.

Backlot Pictures is currently preparing "Senor Dracula," a film that takes place amid the shooting of the 1930 Spanish-language "Dracula," which was shot concurrently with the Lugosi version using the same sets. The Spanish-language cast included Lupita Tovar as Eva and Carlos Villarías as Dracula. According to Variety, the film depicts an off-screen romance between a Hispanic actress and an American actor. Cheech Marin -- yes THAT Cheech Marin -- will direct.

We alerted you some months back; now, the time draws near. The Hilton Hotel in beautiful Cherry Hill, N.J., will host the Monster-Mania convention this August 27-29. Billed as "three days of sheer terror," the con is in its second year and boasts an impressive and diverse guest list including:

Candace Hilligoss of "Carnival of Souls" fame
Robert "Count Yorga" Quarry
Ben Chapman, the Creature by land
Ricou Browning, the Creature by sea
Robert "Freddy Kruger" Englund
Ken "Jason" Kirzinger
Sid "Spider Baby" Haig
Betsy Palmer, whom you may remember fondly from "I've Got a Secret"
Ingrid "Vampire Lovers" Pitt
Caroline "Dracula A.D. 72" Munro
Hazel "Curse of Frankenstein" Court
Robert Tinnell, Todd Livingston and Neil Vokes, co-creators of "The Black Forest"
Vincent Di Fate, master sci-fi painter and historian
Ted "Deadly Spawn-meister" Bohus
Plus myriad supporting players and assorted victims.

Special event seminars include:
"Hammer: The Studio That Dripped Blood" with Ms. Pitt, Ms. Court and Ms. Munro,
"Legends of the Silver Screen, hosted by Tom Weaver," featuring Ms. Hilligoss, Mr. Browning and Mr. Chapman
"The Women of Modern Horror" with Ms. Palmer, Danielle Harris and Lisa Wilcox
A special tribute to Vincent Price called "Remembering the Master" And much more.
For more info, check out:
Leave no doubt as to who sent you!

Our old pal Dr. Gangrene's live Chiller Cinema Spookshow at Nashville's Bongo Java After Hours Theatre was such a triumph, it may become a regular haunt for the eerie MD. "It was a big success ... the owners of Bongo Java [a happenin' mid-south coffee emporium] want to have us back again for another show as soon as we're ready!" crows the macabre medico. While several details are yet to be ironed out, the next shows are scheduled, appropriately enough, for Friday, August 13, and Saturday August 14, both commencing at 10:00 pm. "Mark your calendar," says the Doc, "and come prepared to be scared out of your wits as we present a classic horror film and monsters tear through the audience!" For more info regarding this swingin' Tennessee venue, check out:
For more about the Doc and his ongoing monster movie missionary work, visit:
By all means, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

A brand new issue of "B-Movies Quarterly" is now available. Produced by the same team of pop-culture wags responsible for the "Stomp Tokyo" Website and the print collection, "Reel Shame," issue No. 4 features a one-on-one with Larry Blamire, director/star of the campy sci-fi homage "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra." The cover also promises "Expanding Universes," "Robot Lobsters" and "Psychotic Santas!" (How's that for fright-film esoterica?) Copies are available pre-ordered for $3 postpaid ($5 international) from the Website:
Don't hesitate to mention that the B monster sent you!

Spooklight Entertainment's short film, "FLiP," has been making the rounds of film fests and monster cons and has been greeted warmly by members of the "Monster Kid" generation. According to producer Todd Knowlton, "FLiP" chronicles "the exploits of eight-year-old Flip, a little boy with a big imagination, who must decide how best to spend a birthday dollar which arrives in the mail from his grandmother. Being a child of the late 1960's, and a fan of monster movies and comic books, Flip decides his money is best spent on one of the novelties found in the back of an old comic. 'Six to eight weeks later,' what he receives in the mail is a far cry from what he imagines during the course of the short film."

As of this writing, "FLiP" has been named an official selection of five festivals; The Florida International Children's Film Festival, The San Diego Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, The Dallas Video Festival, and The 2004 Fayetteville Film Fest, where it was cited as an "Audience Choice" winner. The work of first-time director Kirk Demarais, "FLiP" originally debuted as a "Web Toon" on the director's Website. Knowlton later optioned it for a live-action short. According to executive producer, Scott Alan Kinney, "This film was written, filmed, and produced by comic book and monster fans." With that in mind, you can find out more at:
Make a point of saying the B Monster sent you!

Professor Griffin aka Joseph Fotinos, is the deep South's pallid presenter of "The Midnight Shadow Show," hosting classic horror pictures for terrified Texans. Described as "a journey back to the fright filled late-nights of horror shows," Griffin's creature features air Fridays at 11:00 pm on Time Warner Cable Channel 16 in Austin, and Sundays at 11:00 pm as part of the Austin Music Network on Time Warner Channel 15. According to Website hype, "The Shadow Show brings its viewers face to face with the monsters, spectres, phantoms, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and creatures that thrill and chill us." The Prof recently sold Forry Ackerman on the idea of providing the voice of Griffin's "boss," Prof. Bruno Lampini. "He was overjoyed to read this opening that I wrote for him which was then taped out in California," Fotinos told the Austin Chronicle. "Basically I'm just using the voice track and then I'm going to put it over this sleek new opening that we've got going." For more information concerning the gruesome Griffin and his cadaverous cast mates, check out:
Let the Prof know that The B Monster sent you!


Justin Humphreys, author of a forthcoming book on the life and films of George Pal, offers the following review:

One of the most integral -- and criminally neglected -- elements of George Pal's films is their musical scores. Pal was, in many ways, an extremely musically inclined man, and that interest permeates each of his films. Even his lesser productions -- "Atlantis, The Lost Continent," "The Power," etc. -- have scores bespeaking a grandeur that the films themselves almost entirely lack. Particularly in his Puppetoon shorts, Pal distinguished himself at choosing exceptional music, and, again, at melding it with images. (I reiterate, ESPECIALLY in the Puppetoons.) At their best, Pal's films' scores rank among the finest in fantasy film history.

La-La Land Records has reissued several outstanding tracks from Pal's films in their new album, "The Fantasy Film Music of George Pal." A select few of these cuts -- hitherto, incredibly rare -- are cause for celebration. Among them are Leigh Harline's wholly unique Chinese/Western theme to Pal's "7 Faces of Dr. Lao," and the madcap "Pan's Dance," from the same film. Another high point is Miklos Rozsa's soaring, desperate theme for "The Power," which never sounded better, its Gypsy cymbalom chords pounding in gorgeous stereophonic sound.

More common, but equally welcome, tracks include Russ Garcia's excellent, nearly interchangeable music for "The Time Machine" and "Atlantis," which are represented well with choice selections, as well as the cheery, appropriately European theme to "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm."

The CD comes highly recommended, but with a few caveats. Its liner notes reveal little new information about Pal or his films (with the exception of some unusual comments by composers Garcia and Rozsa.) This album also has an excess of cuts from the dismal "Doc Savage." The disc would have been infinitely better served with excerpts from Leith Stevens' immortal "Destination Moon" and "War of the Worlds" scores. However, considering the Byzantine rights and source material issues that go into discs such as this, the producers can't be faulted but so much.

My final suggestion to La-La Land Records: Why not follow this up with an album of Pal movie SONGS? His films are splitting at the seams with marvelous tunes, begging to be released.

This album, whatever its slight flaws may be, is one of the finest releases of Pal's film music yet to come down the pike. For genre aficionados and soundtrack collectors alike, it is a reminder that Pal was as gifted an impresario, as he was a filmmaker.


Historians, critics, fans and friends, can we all now reach consensus and admit, after all of the hyper-criticism and retroactive psychological tea-leaf reading, that "Freaks" just isn't a very good film? Which is not to say that it isn't significant. It is. Director Tod Browning made a film about circus freaks starring real circus freaks, mainstreaming what was typically hidden behind sideshow curtains, and people have been arguing for nearly 75 years over whether or not he sought to engender sympathy for them, or simply exploited them. That the argument is in its eighth decade is significant. The film was banned in many areas for years. Its scarcity added to it an undeserved cachet, a "classic" status it may not have earned.

"Freaks" certainly contains some genuinely chilling moments. The rain-soaked climax showing the vengeful freaks stalking their victim, slithering and sliding between muddy wagon wheels, is truly memorable, and ranks among the creepiest sequences of the early sound period. Other than this rather Gothic, shadowy climax, it's a film made seemingly of whole cloth. It doesn't bear the hallmarks of any studio or "school" of filmmaking. It is decidedly "non-Hollywood." The cast is made up predominantly of circus sideshow performers. Not a lot of mainstream studios -- in this case, MGM -- were putting them in starring roles in those days. The plot, based on Tod Robbins' "Spurs," is a spurned-lover's-revenge tale that functions pretty much as an excuse to show ... freaks! It's a very thin premise and barely sustains the brief 64-minute run time.

Who did Browning think would want to see this picture? Those truly concerned with the inner natures of disfigured circus performers and their yearning for acceptance? Those who might re-examine society's doctrinaire standards of outer beauty? Or those who simply want to gawk at freaks? In the final analysis, it all comes back to this. Scholars more enlightened than I will continue debating whether or not Tod Browning was strangely drawn to deformity and physical abnormality (after all, his best films were his silent features displaying Lon Chaney's gallery of grotesques), whether he simply enjoyed the company of carny folk and wanted us to understand them better (if so, why the decidedly freakish scene at the dinner table, the freaks mindlessly chanting "gooble, gobble," over and over to the horror of the "normals?"), or, whether we were just supposed to leer at some unfortunate people who'd found a way to survive with what nature gave them.

I doubt that this disk will be marketed as "The Worst of Boris," but it's an accurate description. This double-bill will make Karloff completists happy, all others, well ...

Between filming "Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "The Hindu" (both 1953) Karloff managed to squeeze "Il Mostro dell'isola" (American title "Island Monster") into his schedule. He shouldn't have bothered. The film is trivial in every respect. And, there are no monsters, no supernatural or horror elements of any kind. Karloff is the symbolic monster living on an island off the coast of Napoli, Italy. There, he's bamboozled the locals into thinking he's a kindly pediatrician. His children's hospital, however, is a front for his drug-smuggling operation. This is what makes him "monstrous." Filmed under the aegis of Italy's Paolis Studios, it was reportedly released in the U.S. only to Italian-language theaters. (They have Italian-language theaters?) This English-language version may just be the most poorly dubbed film I've ever seen. It's as though the voice actors weren't even watching the film they were looping. The dubbing work on Mexican wrestling pictures is far superior. One of the central characters is a kidnapped girl, who is obviously voiced by an adult woman forcing her larynx into a high-pitched, shrieky register. Worse, it isn't even Karloff looping his own dialogue! It sounds like Bobby "Boris" Pickett of "Monster Mash" fame executing a sloppy imitation. The plot (as it will be charitably called) is a muddle of disjointed chases and misunderstandings involving an undercover narcotics agent, his wife and a buxom lounge singer.

And then there's "The Fear Chamber," aka "Chamber of Fear," one of that ill-fated batch of Mexican-financed shockers directed by Jack Hill in the late 1960s. Lurid? The ad blurb says it all: "In the name of science he created ... The Torture Zone!" It's exploitative and degrading right from the opening titles. The storyline involves living rocks that thrive on human hormones, or something like that. Pity poor Hill who was delighted to work with the seriously ailing Karloff, but saw the handful of films they made together butchered into incoherence by the Mexican side of the production and editing team. "I had to write the scripts in such a way that all [Karloff's] scenes could be shot in Hollywood," Hill told the B Monster, "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." While Hill had the fondest memories of Karloff, who was then in a wheelchair and breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank, he recalled that, years later, he "finally saw one [of the films] on tape and it just broke my heart to see what they'd done to it in Mexico."

David Koepp may be best known as a screenwriter ("Jurassic Park," "Spider-Man," "Panic Room") but he's a pretty fair director, as well. 1996's "Trigger Effect" was interesting, "Secret Window" was predictable but entertaining and "Stir of Echoes," based on Richard Matheson's novel (sharp-eyed trivia hounds can catch a glimpse of a babysitter reading a paperback copy of Matheson's "The Shrinking Man" partway through the film) is pretty darned effective. Somehow, it got lost in the shuffle of supernatural films that came out around the end on the millennium, and that's too bad. Star Kevin Bacon is very good, the pacing is very snappy, and stretches of it are very suspenseful.

Bacon plays an average Joe named Tom Witzky who is dubious on the subject of psychic phenomenon in general and hypnotism in particular. After a few beers, he defies his sister-in-law, a great believer in the power of the subconscious, to hypnotize him. She plants a post-hypnotic suggestion that pierces Bacon's skeptical mindset, and unlocks his hyper-perceptive id. Before long, he's picking up paranormal signals like a shortwave antenna, some of them decidedly violent and unsettling. When he sees the ghost of a neighbor woman who went missing, he becomes obsessed with deciphering the meaning of the visions and determining the whereabouts of the woman's body. Bacon is quite good at conveying this frenzied desperation. The supporting cast, including Kathryn Erbe and Illeana Douglas are likewise convincing.

The "Special Edition" features a short film on hypnotism, a special effects featurette, screen tests, deleted scenes and audio commentary by Bacon, Erbe and Douglas.

At last count, Jesus Franco has directed roughly 6,000 films under about 2,000 aliases -- which in an odd coincidence is also the number of films about mad surgeons who mutilate innocent women in an attempt to restore the beauty of their dead, dying, comatose or disfigured wives -- which is what Franco's 1962 shocker, "The Awful Dr. Orloff," is about. We don't claim to understand the appeal of Franco's films. We can overlook their cheapness, tenuous continuity and wooden acting. But the majority of them are also pandering, sex-obsessed and sadistic. One generous critic points out that "The Awful Dr. Orloff" "[strikes] a genuine chord of Gothic horror reminiscent of the great classics of Universal, and the silent masterworks of Germany's UFA." That's what we call an overstatement. Also known as "Gritos en la noche" (and about 20 other titles), it warranted a 1964 sequel, known in America as "Dr. Orloff's Monster." Also directed by Franco, the follow-up features the somewhat less intimidatingly named Dr. Fisherman, a demented disciple of the late Dr. Orloff, who stimulates a kill-crazy zombie into action with the aid of a high-frequency signal. This set also includes "Orloff and the Invisible Man," (no kiddin'!) and "Revenge in the House of Usher," a low-rent, Euro-horror take on the Poe classic. Diehard Euro-horror completists are sure to add these Spanish- French- German- Italian- Dutch- Romanian- Latvian- Lichtensteinian- Luxembourgian co-productions to their collections. Non Euro-horror buffs beware.

Originally released in 1980 as "Harlequin," this Australian horror/political drama might be described as "The Manchurian Candidate" meets "The Omen" meets "Jesus of Nazareth." In fact, star Robert Powell holds the singular distinction of having played both Jesus and Dr. Frankenstein, the former in Franco Zefferelli's "Jesus of Nazareth," the latter in a 1984 TV movie co-starring Carrie Fisher and John Gielgud. He appeared in the original "Italian Job" and the remake of Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps," and, for reasons that are lost on me, Powell won the best actor award at the Paris Film Festival for his role in "Harlequin" aka "Dark Forces." It's not that it's a particularly bad performance, but the film is so muddled and turgid, it's difficult to see why any panel of judges, no matter how lenient, would bother to search for virtues in the film.

David Hemmings plays a compromised politician whose marriage is on the rocks, and whose child is dying of leukemia. A mysterious stranger, Gregory Wolfe (Powell), endowed with magical powers appears out of nowhere, heals the child, and is welcomed by the politician's wife to live with the family. He becomes a Rasputin-like character, counseling the wife, nearly seducing her. He's given total freedom to care for the child, who may or may not be falling under his influence. Powell assaults and later murders the housekeeper -- at least I think he does. The movie attempts to be artfully oblique and mysterious. Well, it's oblique, all right, to the point where I gave up trying to decipher who was being killed and why. Director Simon Wincer ("The Phantom," "Operation Dumbo Drop," "Free Willy") trifles with all manner of artsy farsty camera trickery. It's distracting, to say the least.

Broderick Crawford, in one of his last roles, plays Doc Wheelan, the political power broker with a stranglehold on Hemmings' career. He's the only one in the cast without an Aussie or Brit accent, even though, based on several political references in the dialogue, the film would seem to be taking place in America. Crawford's political string-pulling is pitted against the strange, supernatural influence of Powell's character who, I suppose, was called "Harlequin" because in a scene near the film's climax, he dons a clown suit and floats around Hemmings' living room. So, who is Harlequin/Wolfe? Is he devil or guardian angel? Will you care by the time the "twist" ending rolls around?


Michael F. Blake, whose books are available through Vestal Press or at

David Colton

Joe Dante

Justin Humphreys

Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at

Bob Madison, founder and CEO of Dinoship, Inc.

Jan Merlin

Jim Nolt

Bryan Senn, whose books are available at and at

Tom Weaver, whose books are available at and at


"See a woman fight to save her man from becoming a hunted forest animal!" -- The Werewolf

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